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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: PianoStudent88] #2650477
06/04/17 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
dmd did not ask lucky to "demonstrate how he worked." He asked lucky to demonstrate "that [his] methods are working well."


Direct quote: ".... what would go a long way toward showing that your methods are working well is demonstrating how you have learned the piece."

When a teacher asks me "Show me how you learned this piece." then he expects me to show the steps or process that I took. I have been asked to do this by more than one teacher. Those times that I still teach or troubleshoot in teaching, I will ask this as well.

That is why I understood it as I did. The word "how" suggests it, I'm thinking.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650478
06/04/17 07:27 PM
06/04/17 07:27 PM
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Ah, I read his post as missing the 'well', as in "demonstrating how well you have learned the piece", which is a common phrase in the context.


Richard
Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650547
06/04/17 10:28 PM
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Ah, I see. So while Don wrote "What would go a long way toward showing that your methods are working well is demonstrating how you have learned the piece." you think he intended to write "What would go a long way toward showing that your methods are working well is demonstrating how well you have learned the piece."

Thinking about this:
I went by what had actually been written, and what had been written "how you learned the piece" also made sense. Because if you want to know if a method is good, you first have to understand it, and we didn't know much about that method yet. If you want to get a feel for a method being a good one, a demonstration of that method - in stages - is a good thing. So the request, as it was written, made sense - but didn't seem that easy to carry out. Then also, is the person asking for this capable of judging if the method is good, when demonstrated? I was quiet about it, because it seemed puzzling.

Now in what you both (PS88, Richard the 1st), (we now have a 2nd Richard wink ) both understand. ..... "how well you have learned the piece" ...... What does "learning a piece well" mean? If there are particular criteria in mind, are those the right criteria, and do they actually reflect whether a methodology is good or bad? For this, I would point again to my example of Teacher A and Teacher B.

I also felt uneasy about the question, because if somebody is working with a teacher and feels confident about what that teacher is doing, then is it up to members in this forum to try to judge whether that teacher's methodology is good, by judging how well the piece has been learned, according to what we think we ought to hear?

I did not respond to that post when I saw it, because there were too many doubts; writing anything would just add to the confusion.

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650548
06/04/17 10:29 PM
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I'm also thinking that if this thread is about what Kesolo is learning with his teacher, we've sort of gone adrift, and that may not be fair to K.

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650556
06/04/17 10:40 PM
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I'm waiting to see if there will be a command performance.

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Richrf] #2650563
06/04/17 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Richrf
I'm waiting to see if there will be a command performance.

Yours? wink
(Kesolo has already posted two videos from what I have seen.)

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: keystring] #2650613
06/05/17 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I'm also thinking that if this thread is about what Kesolo is learning with his teacher, we've sort of gone adrift, and that may not be fair to K.

I think it's also unfair how everyone spells my name wrong (though I do see plenty of unique variation!) laugh

I don't mind a discussion which sheds light on one's piano practice, as I think much can be learned from it, but I do agree with you that it has slightly drifted off-topic.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650633
06/05/17 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Keselo
1. Make every piece sound like music.
2. Don't (consciously) memorize a piece.

Making a piece sound like music is done by using the technique that she teaches; it allows me to play freely. A lot of practice is needed, both for making sure I adhere to her technique, and for getting the piece to sound just the way that I want. Using this technique is only possible when you're in control; it can't be executed without a proper balance between relaxation and tension.

Because I can't consciously memorize the piece, I'm forced to keep my eyes on the page if I want to play it. Yes, eventually I'll know the piece through sheer repetition, but by that time I've read the score 20, maybe even 30 times in about a week. I get a very good understanding of the piece that I'm playing. This is, I think, essential to becoming a better sight reader.

Ok, getting back on topic (or starting on it in my case), let me first say that I'm not attacking the method but I do have points that I'd like to draw out and discuss.

Making every piece sound like music is excellent and I have no issue with that but I would like to know more about the techniques. I don't have an issue with not consciously memorsing it, either. But being forced to keep the eye on the page is rubbing with me - the interpretation of point 2 - and the assertion that it might improve sight-reading.

When you first read a piece, what we call prima vista or reading at first sight, there is a benefit in keeping the eye on the page and the mental process is quite involved, taking a symbolic language and translating it into a sound and an action. An advanced reader is likely to hear it in his head first and then play it, while a less experienced player is more likely to not know how it sounds until it's played.

The second time through, though, it's no longer being translated into sound and action even with an attempt to "read" it because the player already knows how it sounds, has done the necessary translation and has associated the symbols with that sound and with the figuration of the hands and basic fingering. Even in this second time through there aren't the issues faced the first time. You can't stop the brain learning this just by not consciously trying to.

By the tenth time, though, most of what's being done is memory work and the score is being used as a cue. The process won't improve future reading at all but is more likley to frustrate it because the translation process hasn't been exercised for the last nine repetitions.

Not consciously memorising a piece doesn't mean don't memorise it. You will memorise it even without conscious effort and keeping your eye on the score will not improve reading. It will improve awareness of the keyboard topography a little but not to the extent that it will improve sight-reading because it is still relying on the muscular actions already learnt to assist hand placement and finger sequences.

I'd like to hear more about 'the technique that she teaches' to make it sound like music. That, I think, would be of benefit to others.

I use a systematic method to build a foundation that the music has to fit into and leave the experience of playing the piece to massage it around that framework. I'd be interested in knowing how Tim's teacher goes about it.


Richard
Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: zrtf90] #2650649
06/05/17 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90

Ok, getting back on topic (or starting on it in my case), let me first say that I'm not attacking the method but I do have points that I'd like to draw out and discuss.

Making every piece sound like music is excellent and I have no issue with that but I would like to know more about the techniques. I don't have an issue with not consciously memorsing it, either. But being forced to keep the eye on the page is rubbing with me - the interpretation of point 2 - and the assertion that it might improve sight-reading.

When you first read a piece, what we call prima vista or reading at first sight, there is a benefit in keeping the eye on the page and the mental process is quite involved, taking a symbolic language and translating it into a sound and an action. An advanced reader is likely to hear it in his head first and then play it, while a less experienced player is more likely to not know how it sounds until it's played.

The second time through, though, it's no longer being translated into sound and action even with an attempt to "read" it because the player already knows how it sounds, has done the necessary translation and has associated the symbols with that sound and with the figuration of the hands and basic fingering. Even in this second time through there aren't the issues faced the first time. You can't stop the brain learning this just by not consciously trying to.

By the tenth time, though, most of what's being done is memory work and the score is being used as a cue. The process won't improve future reading at all but is more likley to frustrate it because the translation process hasn't been exercised for the last nine repetitions.


I'll use Mikrokosmos Book 1 Nos. 32, 33, 34 as my example. These are the three pieces that currently give me the most difficulty. Why? Because it feels like both hands are kind of doing their own thing, and because I have to play notes that are further than a 2nd interval apart. So, every day when I play these pieces, I have to read these intervals. I do not know (consciously or unconsciously) what to play next without reading the sheet, which means that every time I play the piece I'm reading these intervals. I make my brain get used to reading these intervals. Because I read and then immediately play, there's also the tactile aspect of how my arms, hands, and fingers feel when I play such an interval.

I understand what you are saying, but I haven't been able to sight read a single piece on the first try, yet the material that I can get decently right on my first try keeps getting increasingly more difficult.

Originally Posted by zrtf90

Not consciously memorising a piece doesn't mean don't memorise it. You will memorise it even without conscious effort and keeping your eye on the score will not improve reading. It will improve awareness of the keyboard topography a little but not to the extent that it will improve sight-reading because it is still relying on the muscular actions already learnt to assist hand placement and finger sequences.


I definitely agree that I do memorize my pieces, even when it's not a conscious process. This becomes very clear with material that I eventually want to add to my repertoire. If it's a canon or a piece with counterpoint, it's a bit harder, but when there's some very clear patterns it takes little to no effort. I do not feel like this memorization comes from me relying on muscular actions which I've picked up (something I associate with 'muscle memory', which I do not think is a healthy or beneficial way of learning). If it were this muscle memory, I would play the piece the same every time, and if I wanted to add different dynamics to the piece, I would have to relearn parts. This is not the case. I can play any part of a piece that I can play from memory softer or louder at will. I can slow down, and I can speed up as fast as my current abilities allow me to. This does not come from memorization through muscle memory. Memorization comes from the understanding of what I'm playing.

Originally Posted by zrtf90

I'd like to hear more about 'the technique that she teaches' to make it sound like music. That, I think, would be of benefit to others.

I use a systematic method to build a foundation that the music has to fit into and leave the experience of playing the piece to massage it around that framework. I'd be interested in knowing how Tim's teacher goes about it.


I do not see myself fit to teach others the technique that she teaches me. For one, I'm barely two months in. The first month, she made me play in a very relaxed way, so if I were to tell people how I'm taught, I'd say to play from relaxation at all times. The last two lessons, however, we're moving more towards finding a balance between relaxation and tension. It helps me produce a more consistent and clear sound, but I can not explain how to achieve this, not in person, and definitely not over the internet.

What I can say is this. This method where relaxation is root of playing, where tension is held only for as long as it's needed, that is what helps me express my musicality. It's what makes me feel in control of what I'm playing, and as such, I feel in control of the music. I hear a piece of music in my head a certain way, or I have certain expectations of it, and this technique allows me to express exactly that.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650679
06/05/17 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Keselo
...it feels like both hands are kind of doing their own thing
Yes, this will be with you for a while. Hand independence comes slowly.

Originally Posted by Keselo
...every time I play the piece I'm reading these intervals.
Yes, I see that. You're not working with diatonic music here so that helps to make hard to remember. This is why modern atonal music is still played in concert with the score.

I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to sight-read it. That will come long after hand independence. My points were aimed at the general assumption that keeping the eyes on the score would improve sight-reading. In Bartok's case it's less applicable until you're as familiar with modal music as you are with diatonic.

Originally Posted by Keselo
...something I associate with 'muscle memory', which I do not think is a healthy or beneficial way of learning
I don't want to sound like I'm nit-picking when I'm just trying to clarify but there's nothing wrong with muscle memory. It's not unhealthy at all it's just unreliable if that's all the memory there is. We actually use several kinds of memory when we're learning, there's aural, visual and tactile memory assisting the muscle (implicit or procedural) memory. If you can play be ear aural memory will sort you out in performance and knowing the start of each phrase may be enough to restore 'where you are' from muscle memory. But deliberate (explicit or cognisant) memory is almost bulletproof in performance and this is the best to have. But all forms of memory are healthy and natural.

Explicit memory comes from deliberate recall whereas implicit memory responds to cues without deliberate recall. What strengthens explicit memory is struggling to recall the memory. The struggle builds more neural pathways to the memory and makes recall very secure. When you have something in implicit memory you only have to start it off and there's no struggle to recall it. This is why when you want to memorise a recital piece it's safer to memorise it deliberately from the beginning and not wait until it's in implicit memory. It's not that implicit memory is bad or unhealthy - it's that it makes deliberate memorisation harder to achieve - by removing the struggle. smile

Originally Posted by Keselo
The first month, she made me play in a very relaxed way, so if I were to tell people how I'm taught, I'd say to play from relaxation at all times.
Ah, so it's a physical thing. That's fine, Tim. I was expecting an intellectual approach as to how to find, understand and shape a phrase and get at the music that way but it seems you're being taught a way to allow an instinctive response to the music to just come through you to the keys. I understand that and you're right, it's not something that can be discussed easily in words.

My way of getting to the music would be easier to discuss (though not so much with Bartok wink ) as it's an intellectual exercise that can be done away from the piano and that's what I thought your teacher's techniques might involve.


Richard
Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650683
06/05/17 09:23 AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about sight reading at this time. You are learning to read by playing pieces. You are playing a lot of pieces, which imo is a plus for learning to read well. All these piano skills take years to learn. A lot of times, seems like beginners get way ahead of themselves concerning themselves with issues an intermediate player would be working on. Piano world just encourages that! I wonder if the teacher always teaches relaxation, or just saw that you personally were rather tense. Or maybe because you're an adult (you may have said, but I'm not going to re-read the whole thread). It is customized instruction when you have an experienced teacher.

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650699
06/05/17 10:08 AM
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@Richard, I'm glad that you nit-picked on the muscle memory part, because you managed to word my thoughts better than I could myself. I do indeed mean that I want to avoid having muscle memory as my main/only way of memorization. I'm aware that there's a response from the brain to the hand when I see a certain interval, and I can definitely see the benefits to that. A few days ago, when I played through a Kabalevsky piece for the first time, I had to play a fifth chord (D A), for which my left hand had to move two or three keys over to the left. I saw it and my hand automatically moved over and played the right keys. To be quite honest with you, it left me shocked for the remainder o the day, and it only happens when I'm truly focused.

I've read through most of the FOYD thread, so I've read a fair bit about your methods of learning a piece. I've used a somewhat similar method (which was infinitely less analytical, but still lots of memorization from the start and away from the piano), but at this point in my playing I definitely feel like my current method is more efficient.

@Pianocat3, I try not to worry about my sight-reading ability, ever since someone made a similar point to yours earlier in the thread. My reading ability is improving by leaps and bounds, and that's more than enough for the time being.

I do know that she teaches this method for all her students (she only teaches adults), but you are right in your assumption that there was a lot of tension in my body. My body reacts incredibly badly to stress or prolonged tension, and if I do not deal with them momentarily I'll get pains through my entire body. It's quite annoying in my daily life, but it's quite handy when trying to learn the piano. The instant feedback has saved me from developing a bad habit or two. Anyway, due to this issue, I asked her to monitor my technique more closely, and she really does do so.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650712
06/05/17 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Keselo
...at this point in my playing I definitely feel like my current method is more efficient.
Another thing that's easily overlooked is that all the efficiency in the world isn't worth the effort if you're not comfortable with the process. You have to grow into these disciplines. It's taken me years - I sincerely hope you get there quicker than I did - and I still try other methods in the hope of finding one only 'slightly' slower but more enjoyable.

It takes a lot of discipline to adopt these efficiencies and you have to see the success on a continual basis to recognise the worth of it. I still take shortcuts to the music even though I know it'll take longer to learn a particular piece but it has so much more immediate appeal - and that itself is an efficiency! smile

We each have to make our own compromises between efficient and enjoyable and while piano playing is more journey than destination the efficient can take a back seat more often. The important thing, really, is to know what works when it matters and for that a written and dated journal can be priceless.


Richard
Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: zrtf90] #2650720
06/05/17 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Another thing that's easily overlooked is that all the efficiency in the world isn't worth the effort if you're not comfortable with the process. You have to grow into these disciplines. It's taken me years - I sincerely hope you get there quicker than I did - and I still try other methods in the hope of finding one only 'slightly' slower but more enjoyable.

You're absolutely right. In that regard, I consider myself very lucky to have found a method which yields good results and is very enjoyable. I just love working on multiple pieces by multiple composers at a time, but I also know that I will lose interest after I've played a piece for too long. What "too long" exactly is, differs per piece, but so far there has been only one piece which I wanted to get over with. I think I'm very lucky with how broad my musical tastes are, there's enough that I want to play to last me a lifetime and then some.

I try and stick to my method, but it would be arrogant to think you can't learn anything from the approaches of others. I apply what I think might be a good addition, or at least keep them in mind for future evaluation. The way I do things may slightly change over a period of time, but the bigger picture remains the same. I'm not looking for a perfect method, I'm looking to get good at working with one method, and make that method better when I can.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650725
06/05/17 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Keselo

.....I also know that I will lose interest after I've played a piece for too long.....


That concerns me. Over the 2 years of exposure I had acquired of piano, I realized that there are some aspects of a piece which take a lifetime to cultivate.
I started on a grade 2 piece (Comptine D'un Autre Ete) after 1-2 weeks of my first piano class. My teacher assigned it to me. I could play the whole piece fluently within a month. I got it to a point where I could get distinction for it's performance in a piano exam, in no more than 2 months of starting it. That was when my piano exposure was half of what yours is currently.
Could I impress an audience? Yes. Could I make them cry? No.
I got the notes right, it was an easy piece to play fluently with no real technical challenges, but that piece takes a lot of emotional maturity to bring out everything from it. It's been nearly 2 years now, and 6 months ago I couldn't play it as beautifully as I can play it now, and 6 months into future, I'll probably be able to play an even more beautiful version of it than I currently can.
This is the same with all of my pieces. I regularly practice each and every piece I learned so far and manage my time accordingly. Try not to loose interest and abandon a piece once you manage to play it sufficiently good. Chances are, you are capable of bringing out much more from it, if you still keep at it for a few years.

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650731
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I don't have the time or energy to bring all my pieces to such heights. The ones that do really interest me, I can probably play for the rest of my life, but if I don't 'feel' what the composer meant, or if I can't appreciate a piece for what it is, then I'm not going to spend my time on it.

If I decide to commit to a piece, it must always be because it's special in some way to me. If it doesn't make me happy to play it, I'm not going to keep on doing so just because of the time that I've invested into it. Whether I like it or not, when I abandon a piece I've made an initial recording and learned many of the things that the piece teaches. It is also worth mentioning that the material that I play right now has some room for growth, but the truth is many of these pieces are very simple.

There are pieces that I've learned by now that I can see myself playing well into the future, and there'll be only more pieces added as time goes on. There's so much that I want to play that is out of my reach right now, and I want to find a path which leads me to a point where I can play these pieces. One such goal is Grieg's Op. 12, his first Lyric Pieces album. I love all 8 pieces, and my two favourite Lyric Pieces (#2 Waltz and #3 Watchman's Song) are on that album.


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650746
06/05/17 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Keselo
I don't have the time or energy to bring all my pieces to such heights. The ones that do really interest me, I can probably play for the rest of my life, but if I don't 'feel' what the composer meant, or if I can't appreciate a piece for what it is, then I'm not going to spend my time on it.

If I decide to commit to a piece, it must always be because it's special in some way to me. If it doesn't make me happy to play it, I'm not going to keep on doing so just because of the time that I've invested into it. Whether I like it or not, when I abandon a piece I've made an initial recording and learned many of the things that the piece teaches. It is also worth mentioning that the material that I play right now has some room for growth, but the truth is many of these pieces are very simple.

There are pieces that I've learned by now that I can see myself playing well into the future, and there'll be only more pieces added as time goes on. There's so much that I want to play that is out of my reach right now, and I want to find a path which leads me to a point where I can play these pieces. One such goal is Grieg's Op. 12, his first Lyric Pieces album. I love all 8 pieces, and my two favourite Lyric Pieces (#2 Waltz and #3 Watchman's Song) are on that album.


I totally agree with not needing to hang onto every piece. Yes, there can always be room for improvement (even over decades), but sometimes the goal of the piece is not to add to your repertoire, but to learn the associated skill. Once the skill is learned, you can move on. For those that you want to retain, you can work on the interpretation for months/years/decades.
IMHO, it is important for me to make this distinction as I cannot continue to polish every new piece or keep it at performance standard.

In fact, don't concert pianists even make the distrinction about what they want to retain in their repertoire?


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650752
06/05/17 12:07 PM
06/05/17 12:07 PM
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Posts: 4,239
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PianoStudent88 Online content
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PianoStudent88  Online Content
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This discussion about keeping pieces or polishing pieces or how long one has been working on a piece makes me think: I am always practicing, and never getting to play the piano for fun. Also from practicing I now have a critical attitude towards my playing, even when I'm trying to play through a piece for fun, where stumbles really bother me and I'm afraid I'm ruining my playing by playing through them.

I recently had occasion to listen to my (4 years ago) Grieg recital pieces and there were imperfections in them, but they weren't critical and didn't affect my enjoyment of listening to them now. Watching (I videotaped them) and listening, I was mostly struck by a fluid sense of ease.

I feel like I've gone backwards in terms of ever feeling good about my pieces like that.


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Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650758
06/05/17 12:18 PM
06/05/17 12:18 PM
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dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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Posts: 3,795
Florida
PianoStudent88: To turn off the 'critic' in ourselves and just enjoy is really difficult for all of us-- as we spend so much time 'practicing', 'working of problems', 'working on polishing'.
The ONLY thing that works for me to is to mentally say to myself 'NO CRiTICISM ALLOWED THIS AFTERNOON. YOU WILL JUST PLAY FOR FUN (without stopping and correcting)
I just need to do it more often! P.S. You won't ruin your playing to tell the internal critic to go take a nap smile

Re: Nothing is too easy - A Beginner's Journey [Re: Keselo] #2650763
06/05/17 12:33 PM
06/05/17 12:33 PM
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luckiest_charm Offline
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Posts: 247
I'm sorry I forgot to exclude exercises and other similar pieces from my initial comment because I never practiced exercises apart from during the first 15 days of starting piano maybe.

I really played about 6-7 pieces off of sheet music so far that I can recall, so I can keep track of each one individually.
If you got a lot of pieces in your repertoire, it'd be stupid to practice each piece regularly. My apologies for the misleading post.

I was talking about the pieces you love only. I love each and every piece I took up so far dearly. I never take a piece up if I don't find it dear to me. So, give due years to the pieces you wish to convey your emotions with and keep up the good work. wink

Edit - I'm kind of guilty of criticizing myself during practice too, even when I don't want to. It just feels wrong somewhere that I am playing just for fun and plowing through the wrong phrases and mistakes instead of correcting myself, or playing at concert speed with a flurry of mistakes instead when I clearly know that I'm not up to the job yet. I wish I had that turn off button you got, dogperson.

Last edited by luckiest_charm; 06/05/17 12:40 PM.
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