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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2710889
02/02/18 09:22 AM
02/02/18 09:22 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,077
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by TimR
What about people who do have an interest, and want to improve, but whose motivation may be less about the music per se than the secondary rewards associated with being a musician?

(The social rewards of playing in an ensemble, the respect of peers at church, etc.)

Then you need a teacher who will work towards those goals, but good luck finding one!


Hee, hee. Good point.

But what I was trying to suggest is there may be a continuum between the person who is deeply interested and finds practice exhilarating, and the students who find a good bit of it a chore but do it anyway.

Something like what keystring suggested maybe:

Quote
Or they may simply be people who take seriously whatever they have taken up, and want to do reasonably well. They may still be the exception as adults may take up new things with a light hobby type of attitude.


We don't necessarily stay stagnant in our approach. This may change over time. A dutiful but not engaged student may develop a deep interest, or vice versa, and it can go back and forth over the years. At least I think so.


gotta go practice
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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Stubbie] #2710949
02/02/18 01:22 PM
02/02/18 01:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,163
Toronto, Ontario
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Gary and Peter, thanks for your responses. I'm trying to get a handle on the relative numbers of adults who (1) are passionate about piano but oftentimes cannot practice due to their work (typical of Gary's current adult students) and (2) those who probably could but don't make time to practice (some of Peter's students).


Stubbie, I have taught so many adult piano students over the years, and thought so much about adult learners, that I was just making a generalization, not referring to my present or recent students. To the contrary, I believe each of my adult students loves the piano, and enjoys their private time of practice, not just their weekly hour with me.

But piano teachers regularly encounter adults who are enamored of the *idea* of learning the piano, and not the *reality* of learning the piano. These are the students who tend to fade out soon. I think many of these music learners might still stick with it if they had a more creative or encouraging teacher, but one still has to carve out 45 minutes a day to work alone at the piano. Or it will fizzle.

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2711013
02/02/18 05:04 PM
02/02/18 05:04 PM
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Posts: 6,244
South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose

But piano teachers regularly encounter adults who are enamored of the *idea* of learning the piano, and not the *reality* of learning the piano. These are the students who tend to fade out soon. I think many of these music learners might still stick with it if they had a more creative or encouraging teacher, but one still has to carve out 45 minutes a day to work alone at the piano. Or it will fizzle.

Peter, thinking outside the box a bit:

We are in the age of computers, tablets, cell phones.

Have you changed?

I have.

I am multi-tasking more and more.

I don't think it's a bad thing.

I used to mostly sit and listen, while teaching, and to be honest it was horribly boring. I remember nodding off, while teaching, when I was in my middle 20s.

In contrast, today I have a computer set up for every lesson. I am typing out instructions or thoughts while students play. I am editing music.

I teach better because I am more engaged, and I think my students are more engaged because I'm engaged.

My model: computer games. I have to compete against them. If I don't find a way of making music rival them, in terms of being positively addictive, I don't stand a chance.

I find today's kids have the fastest minds of any I have worked with, and I think that is a direct effect of multi-tasking. I see that as a plus and minus, both, and adults are going to be more and more the same way. They may not be "there" right now because of a time lag. But it's coming.


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711014
02/02/18 05:05 PM
02/02/18 05:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 635
California
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I'd say half of my adult students practiced and half did not. I think as teachers we ought to do a better job at explaining where practicing fits into the scheme of things, because in other areas or hobbies in life, you don't really need to "practice". Therefore, the concept of "practice" can be kind of foreign. I dropped in at an adult ballet lesson twice, nobody told me I needed to practice. It was kind of assumed that if you kept showing up, you'd improve. Same with yoga. In sports, practice was slotted out for you. We "went" to practice. Growing up, nothing demanded self-discipline like piano did. And yet I didn't have full faith that my practice really did much for me. As students it can be really hard to tell. Your ear for details isn't as developed as your teacher's.


Piano Teacher in Training
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711020
02/02/18 05:35 PM
02/02/18 05:35 PM
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South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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I have to say that if you are an adult and think that you can learn to play the piano without playing the piano, you're not too bright. wink

But I am objecting more and more to the word "practice". When I was young, never ONCE did I think, "I have to practice the piano".

The piano was a wonderful, fascinating toy. When I sat down to play, I "lost time". Meaning that it never occurred to me that I had to play X number of minutes. I grabbed something I wanted to play, and playing it well was my goal.

I see no difference between that and sitting down to play a game, with the goal of beating the game, except that I still think there is more freedom in music, since you have to find a way to "beat the music" YOUR WAY.

It's not always fun. Sometimes it is absolutely vexing. But who stops a game because it gets vexing? People swear at the game, maybe throw things around, or at least get very frustrated, then what do they do? They go right back to it and try again.

The day you sit down to play, then realize an hour or two later that you have not wanted to stop to go to the bathroom, or eat, or sleep, and when it never occurs to you that you want to do anything else, that's the day when you are a player.

When you can't wait to get back to it most days of the week, you are a player.

If you are doing it because "it's what you are SUPPOSED to be doing", because of responsibility, or guilt, or because you don't want to admit to someone that you are not playing, you are not a player yet.

It's as simple as that.


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: hello my name is] #2711024
02/02/18 05:39 PM
02/02/18 05:39 PM
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Posts: 6,244
South Florida
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And this:
Originally Posted by hello my name is
Growing up, nothing demanded self-discipline like piano did.

Piano did not require any self-discipline for me. I needed that for mowing lawns, doing my homework, washing the dishes, taking out the trash.

I don't need self-discipline for things I enjoy. I didn't when I was 10, 30, 50, and I don't need it now.

I don't think my best students need any more self-discipline than I did, and even some of the better students.


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711033
02/02/18 06:18 PM
02/02/18 06:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 635
California
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I'm not sure it was a complete matter of not enjoying piano. Admittedly, I wasn't the best student and I am also afraid of failure and have anxiety. My teacher was rather strict. Nowadays, I much enjoy playing, but I don't call it proper practice.. smile I'm not sure, but this could be another topic to explore, what is practicing and what should it entail? I mean, do you really think it's enjoyable to throw free-throws over and over and over? It is much more enjoyable to play an actual game. Yet that is one of those things practice entails. Like scales. I practiced scales. I practiced arpeggios. Enjoyable? Meh. My friend who majored in piano also admitted practicing is not fun. It is tedious. Also I think being judged can suck out some of that internal motivation. I spent a lot of my energy in my teenage years learning web design on my own. If I had to be graded on that, I probably would not have spent as much time on it, honestly. Also, I don't know what your experience was Gary, but I did not get to choose my own pieces. I played what I was assigned. A lot of it wasn't anything I would actually want to listen to.

I'm a bit ADD and all over the place, but the question this brings me to..
What is practice? What should be practice? What should our approach be to the piano, should it even be called "practice"?

.. but that's not even the topic of this thread so..


Piano Teacher in Training
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711038
02/02/18 06:49 PM
02/02/18 06:49 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,798
NJ
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
I have to say that if you are an adult and think that you can learn to play the piano without playing the piano, you're not too bright. wink

But I am objecting more and more to the word "practice". When I was young, never ONCE did I think, "I have to practice the piano".

The piano was a wonderful, fascinating toy. When I sat down to play, I "lost time". Meaning that it never occurred to me that I had to play X number of minutes. I grabbed something I wanted to play, and playing it well was my goal.

I see no difference between that and sitting down to play a game, with the goal of beating the game, except that I still think there is more freedom in music, since you have to find a way to "beat the music" YOUR WAY.

It's not always fun. Sometimes it is absolutely vexing. But who stops a game because it gets vexing? People swear at the game, maybe throw things around, or at least get very frustrated, then what do they do? They go right back to it and try again.

The day you sit down to play, then realize an hour or two later that you have not wanted to stop to go to the bathroom, or eat, or sleep, and when it never occurs to you that you want to do anything else, that's the day when you are a player.

When you can't wait to get back to it most days of the week, you are a player.

If you are doing it because "it's what you are SUPPOSED to be doing", because of responsibility, or guilt, or because you don't want to admit to someone that you are not playing, you are not a player yet.

It's as simple as that.


Gary D, I stopped using the word "practice" years ago, since I wanted to remove any connotation that practice is equivalent to "homework," I tell students, "when you go home to "play" the piano........"

I completely agree with your posts--I looked forward to playing the piano every night after homework. There was and is so much music to learn how to play before I leave this world! In my day, we had no computers, girls couldn't play sports (ouch), etc., and so I played the piano at least 3 hours a day. I had to be called from my practice room. In college, I loved moving from room to room playing all the different pianos, often the last one to leave the building at night.

Could it be that we loved playing the piano because we were destined to become teachers/performers. Can we expect the same from the average student? My sole frustration with teaching adults, is the adults who are so enthusiastic at the start, who agree to the need for "practicing", and inevitably, end up making excuses for missed lessons, then dropping within a year.

I think one of the issues is that people expect to be playing like "Van Cliburn" within a year. They don't have a clue how much work is involved to attain such goals. And they don't "have the time." I always found time to play the piano and still do, even if I end up eating dinner at midnight, there is always time. If you want to, you can find the time.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: chasingrainbows] #2711042
02/02/18 07:12 PM
02/02/18 07:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,244
South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

Could it be that we loved playing the piano because we were destined to become teachers/performers. Can we expect the same from the average student?
Quote

I don't think so. I think it all happens in the first year or two, tops. If by the end of those couple years people do not feel good about where they have gotten to, I think they lose interest.

And I think MOST of that happens in the first 6-9 months.
[quote]
My sole frustration with teaching adults, is the adults who are so enthusiastic at the start, who agree to the need for "practicing", and inevitably, end up making excuses for missed lessons, then dropping within a year.

I get them, the ones who tell me "I'm enjoying this SO much", then 6 months later they don't want to continue.

But I think some people never learn how to set realistic goals. Most adults are not like that.
[quote]
I think one of the issues is that people expect to be playing like "Van Cliburn" within a year. They don't have a clue how much work is involved to attain such goals. And they don't "have the time." I always found time to play the piano and still do, even if I end up eating dinner at midnight, there is always time. If you want to, you can find the time.

Sure, but WHY do you find the time?

The bottom line is that if it is something you want to do, something you look forward to, you will find the time. If it feels like a chore, sooner or later you will bail.


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: hello my name is] #2711045
02/02/18 07:16 PM
02/02/18 07:16 PM
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South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
My friend who majored in piano also admitted practicing is not fun. It is tedious.

What is this friend doing with music now? What's the end of the story?

This is on topic because it's about why people, of all ages, stick with it, or quit, and that ties in with students, of all ages.

My claim is that for most students it goes wrong at the beginning. If students, of any age, do not feel success and do not enjoy the whole process, then it's a chore, and when it's a chore, sooner or later the student finds a way to quit.

If I felt that way, I would quit too.


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711046
02/02/18 07:18 PM
02/02/18 07:18 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,210
Florida
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Rainbows
Maybe I am the exception to the relationship between loving to practice impliying a destiny to perform or teach. As a child I lived to practice the piano. I would practice for hours every day .....I would walk by the living room and see the piano sitting there. I would sit down to play for just a few minutes and the minutes would turn into hours.....

I am neither a teacher nor a performer, but someone who has always just loved music , and how it sounds and feels when I play it myself. I feel the same way as an adult.


"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: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711047
02/02/18 07:36 PM
02/02/18 07:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,866
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline

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Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted by Gary D.
And this:
Originally Posted by hello my name is
Growing up, nothing demanded self-discipline like piano did.

Piano did not require any self-discipline for me. I needed that for mowing lawns, doing my homework, washing the dishes, taking out the trash.

I don't need self-discipline for things I enjoy. I didn't when I was 10, 30, 50, and I don't need it now.

I don't think my best students need any more self-discipline than I did, and even some of the better students.


Is it not possible, though, that playing the piano for enjoyment and playing the piano with the conscious intention of developing and improving technical skills are different things; and that one can do the former without applying any concept of "practice" (or words meaning the moral equivalent) but not the latter (at least, not in a way that is in the least efficient)?


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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: ClsscLib] #2711057
02/02/18 08:53 PM
02/02/18 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib

Is it not possible, though, that playing the piano for enjoyment and playing the piano with the conscious intention of developing and improving technical skills are different things; and that one can do the former without applying any concept of "practice" (or words meaning the moral equivalent) but not the latter (at least, not in a way that is in the least efficient)?

Then aren't you assuming that I did not develop and improve my technical skills?

Because I have already clearly said that I always enjoyed playing.

What am I missing here?


Piano Teacher
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711090
02/03/18 01:57 AM
02/03/18 01:57 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 3,731
Finland
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outo Offline
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Finland
Originally Posted by Gary D.
And this:
Originally Posted by hello my name is
Growing up, nothing demanded self-discipline like piano did.

Piano did not require any self-discipline for me. I needed that for mowing lawns, doing my homework, washing the dishes, taking out the trash.

I don't need self-discipline for things I enjoy. I didn't when I was 10, 30, 50, and I don't need it now.

I don't think my best students need any more self-discipline than I did, and even some of the better students.

I think we are beginning to repeat ourselves, but this is how I feel. I have very little self discipline. Which is why my housework tends to be undone. Yet I have practiced (which is not a negative word for me) the piano a lot. If it was a chore or I had to force myself to stay at it for x number of minutes every day I would have quit very soon. It's as simple as that for me. But I do see there can be other ways. I know people who seem to rely a lot on self discipline. They get things done even if they are not that interested and are very regular in their ways. It's just not who I am. If I have to do something at work that I don't really want to and cannot make it interesting in any way, I delay it as long as I can hoping it will go away and if it doesn't I just grind my teeth and do it without thinking too much. No self discipline needed, just knowledge that it has to be done. With piano it doesn't happen that way because there is no obligation really, it's my choice what to do and what not. If I lose the spark I just quit. So far I have chosen to practice and just like gary says it can be both enjoyable and frustrating. That's part of the fun I guess smile

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: chasingrainbows] #2711095
02/03/18 02:15 AM
02/03/18 02:15 AM
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Finland
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by Gary D.
I have to say that if you are an adult and think that you can learn to play the piano without playing the piano, you're not too bright. wink

But I am objecting more and more to the word "practice". When I was young, never ONCE did I think, "I have to practice the piano".

The piano was a wonderful, fascinating toy. When I sat down to play, I "lost time". Meaning that it never occurred to me that I had to play X number of minutes. I grabbed something I wanted to play, and playing it well was my goal.

I see no difference between that and sitting down to play a game, with the goal of beating the game, except that I still think there is more freedom in music, since you have to find a way to "beat the music" YOUR WAY.

It's not always fun. Sometimes it is absolutely vexing. But who stops a game because it gets vexing? People swear at the game, maybe throw things around, or at least get very frustrated, then what do they do? They go right back to it and try again.

The day you sit down to play, then realize an hour or two later that you have not wanted to stop to go to the bathroom, or eat, or sleep, and when it never occurs to you that you want to do anything else, that's the day when you are a player.

When you can't wait to get back to it most days of the week, you are a player.

If you are doing it because "it's what you are SUPPOSED to be doing", because of responsibility, or guilt, or because you don't want to admit to someone that you are not playing, you are not a player yet.

It's as simple as that.


Gary D, I stopped using the word "practice" years ago, since I wanted to remove any connotation that practice is equivalent to "homework," I tell students, "when you go home to "play" the piano........"

I completely agree with your posts--I looked forward to playing the piano every night after homework. There was and is so much music to learn how to play before I leave this world! In my day, we had no computers, girls couldn't play sports (ouch), etc., and so I played the piano at least 3 hours a day. I had to be called from my practice room. In college, I loved moving from room to room playing all the different pianos, often the last one to leave the building at night.

Could it be that we loved playing the piano because we were destined to become teachers/performers. Can we expect the same from the average student? My sole frustration with teaching adults, is the adults who are so enthusiastic at the start, who agree to the need for "practicing", and inevitably, end up making excuses for missed lessons, then dropping within a year.

I think one of the issues is that people expect to be playing like "Van Cliburn" within a year. They don't have a clue how much work is involved to attain such goals. And they don't "have the time." I always found time to play the piano and still do, even if I end up eating dinner at midnight, there is always time. If you want to, you can find the time.


I can only speak for myself. I honestly thought I could be very good at piano when I started as an adult. Why not? I am intelligent and musical and have very good rhytmic sense. Obviously I knew it takes a lot of time to learn to play since this was not my first time to study an instrument and I knew I will have trouble reading music and an unstable memory, but thought some practice at it would deal with those. But still I had unrealistic beliefs about what could be achieved and how soon. Obviously the demands became more clear soon. And my goals modified themselves as I went along. If they didn't and I just kept on thinking I must be able to play like my "idols" of course I would have lost my motivation. So the love for learning to play piano is not tied to wanting to be someone but the process itself. I think this is important for both yoing and old people, but us old ones just do not have the option of our parents forcing us through the downs that occasionally come. A teacher and regular lessons can help with this but in the end we just must find the will inside again and again.

I do believe high "self discipline" is something that is both genetic and planted in childhood and difficult to form as an adult. If one relies too much on self discipline one can become rigid to the point of not really developing much. If there is little one has to compensate with other assets or one will keep failing. People fall on different places on the continuum and that's why it is sometimes so difficult for us to undestand each other...

Last edited by outo; 02/03/18 02:56 AM.
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711120
02/03/18 05:42 AM
02/03/18 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
But I am objecting more and more to the word "practice". When I was young, never ONCE did I think, "I have to practice the piano".

The piano was a wonderful, fascinating toy. When I sat down to play, I "lost time". Meaning that it never occurred to me that I had to play X number of minutes. I grabbed something I wanted to play, and playing it well was my goal.

I see no difference between that and sitting down to play a game, with the goal of beating the game, except that I still think there is more freedom in music, since you have to find a way to "beat the music" YOUR WAY.

It's not always fun. Sometimes it is absolutely vexing. But who stops a game because it gets vexing...

Re: Losing track of time
I passed this point, sometime between signing up for PianoWorld and now. But I can't really say when or how it happened. I just looked up one afternoon and I'd played through a bunch of books almost to the ends. The pieces weren't polished or sophisticated, but I had gotten each piece under my fingers to my satisfaction and then moved on to the next piece and the next piece after that. I completely lost track of time just like a video game. It's an addictive feeling.

What I realize now is that I'm reading the music and playing like it's a never-ending puzzle. Like Goldilocks I don't play too fast or too slow but I have a happy medium somewhere in-between. Before all that happened, I was just 'reading and playing the notes' - and THAT felt like a freakin' chore ... !!

Re: Environment
I don't think enough emphasis or importance is placed on a student's environment. My belief is that your environment is what carries you through the long-term. Self-motivation and discipline are good in the short run, but cultivating a good cultural musical environment can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to the ups/downs in life.

By good environment I mean - a musically supportive family and friends, a musical environment in the home, a local music , school, community or peer group (like PianoWorld) and also a physical space conducive to learning/playing. This all contributes in ways that can't really be measured - but what I've noticed is that musicians who are successful usually have one or all of these things in their lives.

It's quite interesting to make mental notes of the lives of past and present musicians. For example, if you look at the lives of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, the 4 Strausses - they all had a significant / exceptional musical environments (parents, friends, teachers, communities) which supported and helped them all along the way (one environmental factor - the musical father seems to come up again and again).

In modern times, you can point to Celine Dion's or Michael Jackson's musical families. And we wouldn't have Lennon without McCarthy (or any of the other Beatles for that matter). Joey Alexander and his father, Justin Bieber and his mother. All just tips of the iceberg when it comes to environments that promote musicianship.


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And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711210
02/03/18 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by ClsscLib

Is it not possible, though, that playing the piano for enjoyment and playing the piano with the conscious intention of developing and improving technical skills are different things; and that one can do the former without applying any concept of "practice" (or words meaning the moral equivalent) but not the latter (at least, not in a way that is in the least efficient)?

Then aren't you assuming that I did not develop and improve my technical skills?

Because I have already clearly said that I always enjoyed playing.

What am I missing here?


You could as easily be saying that you've always enjoyed practicing, and that what you mean when you refer to your "playing" is what others mean when they refer to practicing.

My point is that I don't see how one progresses efficiently without concentrated, guided effort towards that goal. It doesn't really matter what you call it. The effort is going to be similar under any term.


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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711228
02/03/18 03:37 PM
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I've had a feeling from the get go that something isn't coming across right in the idea of losing track of time and the things around that. Like, I'm rather sure I know what was meant in the larger picture as well, but other things could be understood - I'd like to explore this rather broadly.

Ok, losing track of time - I'd say, you're totally absorbed by the thing you're doing, immersed in it, not wanting to leave it. I can definitely identify with this. But there is also something larger: tenacity, following through in the long run. There is something driving you to keep with it. Now, "being driven" is passive, so we should add to this, the conscious will that decides to go into action every day in the act of music ("musicking").

The fact is that some elements of music and musical growth can be hard. We may fail at first, or barely inch forward until something "gels", or we may be on the wrong track until we find the right one. These things are not pleasant, not a "pleasant stimulus" - but here the drive to get there, the vision that maybe you can, will keep you at it. This may in fact also make you lose track of time (have the wisdom to know when to stop, and not see stopping on the problem that day as "failure.) There have also been days where I don't feel like doing music, maybe from exhaustion from life and I might go into "tooth brushing mode" wink where the small gains ultimately are rewarding. UNDER this is still tenacity, the "drive", and the "decision".

Part of the bigger picture: Gary, I know because you've written it here before, that one of your primary aims for your students is to give them the tools so that they can become independent. Reading is one thing you value highly in that respect. When we start having those tools, we can also explore and become absorbed in doing music. With a decent teacher, if we do go off track and struggle, we've been taught how to find the answer, and your teacher will also help get on track. With the growing skills, as a student you will be able to:
- do more with the music
- see more in the music
- move forward in the music
- notice improvement and gradually greater ease in your playing
.. and all this makes you "lose time" / get absorbed in what you're doing. The challenge for the teacher is to get the student over the first bump when all is new, unfamiliar, and not yet easy. In that respect, beginner music is not very interesting. wink

Especially in respect to the last part - one thing that helps in getting fascinated (losing time) is to switch your attention to the things inside of music and inside of playing. If you're doing simple beginner music and want to be inspired, it's not going to happen. But if you pay attention to the relative loudness of each key and your physical movements to make it happen; your ability to count and keep track of time; your coordination; what you can hear when others play --- then you can quickly "lose time", and you're also starting to think like a musician. Here, again, if a good teacher is guiding you, that is more likely to happen.

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711236
02/03/18 04:07 PM
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It's been hard for me to get what I wrote into words, and it's not complete without adding the NOT part --- what "it's not". (Also not easy to put into words). wink

It is possible to amateurishly and mindlessly indulge yourself by dashing through music for hours, where it is more a kind of "let's pretend", imagining what you sound like, without hearing what you sound like. You can lose track of time that way - this is not what you meant, Gary. Students come in, self-satisfied, and present the results of that - maybe bring in their own choices of music that got that treatment, and their skills stay as dismal as ever. Otoh you may be "playing" music, and in the course of doing that, you're listening, exploring, discovering, that is a different kind of "losing time" --- some might even call it "practising" (the fine line between the two). As a child without a teacher - one minute I'd be playing a piece - the next minute I'd be "off on a tangent", being fascinated by a series of intervals or some kind of pattern. That was actually formal learning of things like theory. "Play" - playfulness - as a child does it, is exploring and learning.

Another "NOT":

Teaching can also go toward an "indulging mentality" (instant gratification and the like). Choose music that "they" like. (Elvis Presley for that age group? Fuer Elise? Some sweet romantic song that was popular in that era?) Make it easy. Avoid anything that will make the student have to think or try or learn. Block chords (in simple keys like C, G, F) with melody, predictable rhythms. Not that far removed from "let's pretend" - especially if you've supplied a full orchestral backing track to make it sound like there are dynamics. Give only as much theory as is necessary for those simple pieces, and oversimplify. The "boring beginning" may be more palatable, but 6 months or a year later either a ceiling is reached, or it falls apart. The TOOLS I wrote about before are not part of the equation.

I know that you do not mean anything like these scenarios. But quite a few adult students here will be familiar with them, and may associate the idea of "playing" while losing time with this kind of thing. They may have had to circumvent this. That is not what a musician does. Even when he has the skills, if he gets absorbed, he is absorbed in a conscious, aware, alert manner.

A number of the adult students here may have had a first teacher (or two) who did not aim at skills, did not teach how to organize your practice, and so there's a knee-jerk reaction to the word "play" - when it's not meant that way.
-------------
I have also seen this a few times:
A relative novice writes in worried. Originally she was all motivated and inspired, and this first honeymoon period drove her to practise every day. You get a kind of "high" in the beginning from the adventure. Now that "driving sensation" isn't there. Some will believe that musicians are always inspired, always in this higher state, and worry when it's not there. In that instant, the "toothbrushing analogy" might not be a bad idea. I.e., it is ok not to feel absorbed some days, not feel like practising ... you can work on your music tasks even if there isn't an inspired bone in your body, and if on that day you'd rather be doing anything but that. I've gone through periods like this, where I "just do" - one foot in front of the other - and when,. days or weeks later, I'm out of that slump, I'm often surprised at how much I accomplished while I "didn't feel much".

------------
These are the "Nots" that I could drag out, that might get in the way of the message. smile

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: keystring] #2711255
02/03/18 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I've had a feeling from the get go that something isn't coming across right in the idea of losing track of time and the things around that. Like, I'm rather sure I know what was meant in the larger picture as well, but other things could be understood - I'd like to explore this rather broadly.

Ok, losing track of time - I'd say, you're totally absorbed by the thing you're doing, immersed in it, not wanting to leave it. I can definitely identify with this. But there is also something larger: tenacity, following through in the long run. There is something driving you to keep with it. Now, "being driven" is passive, so we should add to this, the conscious will that decides to go into action every day in the act of music ("musicking").

The fact is that some elements of music and musical growth can be hard. We may fail at first, or barely inch forward until something "gels", or we may be on the wrong track until we find the right one. These things are not pleasant, not a "pleasant stimulus" - but here the drive to get there, the vision that maybe you can, will keep you at it. This may in fact also make you lose track of time (have the wisdom to know when to stop, and not see stopping on the problem that day as "failure.) There have also been days where I don't feel like doing music, maybe from exhaustion from life and I might go into "tooth brushing mode" wink where the small gains ultimately are rewarding. UNDER this is still tenacity, the "drive", and the "decision".

Part of the bigger picture: Gary, I know because you've written it here before, that one of your primary aims for your students is to give them the tools so that they can become independent. Reading is one thing you value highly in that respect. When we start having those tools, we can also explore and become absorbed in doing music. With a decent teacher, if we do go off track and struggle, we've been taught how to find the answer, and your teacher will also help get on track. With the growing skills, as a student you will be able to:
- do more with the music
- see more in the music
- move forward in the music
- notice improvement and gradually greater ease in your playing
.. and all this makes you "lose time" / get absorbed in what you're doing. The challenge for the teacher is to get the student over the first bump when all is new, unfamiliar, and not yet easy. In that respect, beginner music is not very interesting. wink


I see what you are getting at, but not sure I can fully identify with it. Maybe because I did not start my adult studies with a teacher from the scratch but relearned how to interpret notation on my own and went straight to music that was at least a little inspiring. I am well aware that it is probably a lot harder to begin as an adult with no prior music study, because it may take quite a while to just learn the "alphabet". But on the other hand it was difficult for me to get over the physical challenges of playing so I did not escape the hardships of a beginner either.

With the piano I cannot remember ever working in "toothbrushing" mode or forcing myself to do things that I could not engage with. If a task does not put me into the right mode, which for me is the problem solving and learning mode, I will put it aside and try something else. If nothing seems to work I stop (these are the occasions when I am usually unconsciously occupied with some other problem to solve). So far everything important has found it's place and time, meaning that sooner or later I have been able to return to it and found a way to process it succesfully. When in the right mode I do not think about anything else than the matter at hand. Time means little to me and I am not aware of it. If I cannot get to this mode I feel I am just wasting my time.

Conscious will is only needed to drag me from the sofa to the piano bench. After that it all just happens, all the procrastination disappears. I work until I start noticing my ability to concentrate fading altogether and changing the target of work does not help anymore. I seem to have a rather long span of concentration when in the right mode. Today I have had 3 very inspiring practice sessions, all of them 1-2 hours without any break.

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: 8 Octaves] #2711265
02/03/18 06:06 PM
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What I have tried to do is to bring to the surface the main possible issues in a broad spectrum that can exist. We have a wide range of people from all over the world who have extremely varied experiences in the area of piano study and music study. This includes both students and teachers: people who had good or bad lessons as children, people who started as adults, and teachers with their experiences both in teaching and when they were students. ALL of them are coming together here.

Anyone reading what anyone else is saying is likely to relate those things to his own experiences, and the chance of getting a distorted picture is high. Therefore I put all the variables I could think of out there. Some people who reacted to this or that might get a fresh view of "So that's what I was picturing." or .... "So that's what the person reading my words was imagining."

The whole thing is fraught with booby traps. What does a person mean by "playing" versus "practising"? What do you picture when..... I wrote two long kitchen-sink posts, from two opposing sides, because I felt this might be of use as a kind of reference, something to check back on.

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: outo] #2711267
02/03/18 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
If a task does not put me into the right mode, which for me is the problem solving and learning mode, I will put it aside and try something else.

There's an element right there in that kitchen sink collection. For example, there are teachers who aim to make music "fun" in a superficial manner, who expect everyone to want instant gratification. If I'm not learning and growing, that's a turn-off. Some such teachers may think that "learning" means - a new piece - another new piece - another new piece - no new skills, no new knowledge - that to me is depressing. I put a number elements in my original two posts for a reason.
Quote
Conscious will is only needed to drag me from the sofa to the piano bench. After that it all just happens, all the procrastination disappears. I work until I start noticing my ability to concentrate fading altogether and changing the target of work does not help anymore.

I can identify with that. That first dragging to the bench is an important step, though. wink

Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: ClsscLib] #2711270
02/03/18 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib

You could as easily be saying that you've always enjoyed practicing, and that what you mean when you refer to your "playing" is what others mean when they refer to practicing.

Sure. We can go round and round about the words we use.

But that was not my point.

My point was that many people associate playing or practicing - whatever you want to call it - with something that is unpleasant, an obligation, responsibility, duty.
Quote

My point is that I don't see how one progresses efficiently without concentrated, guided effort towards that goal. It doesn't really matter what you call it. The effort is going to be similar under any term.

Again, that's not what I'm getting at. I'm saying that concentration and guided effort can be fun, or it can be a torture.

Last edited by Gary D.; 02/03/18 06:22 PM.

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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: Gary D.] #2711274
02/03/18 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by ClsscLib


My point is that I don't see how one progresses efficiently without concentrated, guided effort towards that goal. It doesn't really matter what you call it. The effort is going to be similar under any term.

Again, that's not what I'm getting at. I'm saying that concentration and guided effort can be fun, or it can be a torture.


You have a very good point there, but for some reason this does not seem to resonate with everyone...for me it seems to make all the difference for an adult starter with other responsibilities who wants to progress and be able to play more advanced music. AFAIK most never go beyond the basics.

But I frequently read about how one must endure boredom and other sorts of suffering especially in the beginning. I cannot help wondering why it seems so very alien to me. What have I missed?

Last edited by outo; 02/03/18 06:47 PM.
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: outo] #2711292
02/03/18 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by outo


But I frequently read about how one must endure boredom and other sorts of suffering especially in the beginning. I cannot help wondering why it seems so very alien to me. What have I missed?


For you practice is like video gaming must be for a lot of kids. (It has no appeal for me, but I have relatives who play endlessly.)

So one question that occurs to me: is it live, or Memorex?

Er, sorry, wrong commercial. Is it inherent in your makeup that you are drawn to music and see it as rewarding? Or can a person decide to approach it that way consciously?

I also remember that in my college days I developed some considerable skill practicing some activities mostly because I was avoiding doing something else that was more important.


gotta go practice
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: dogperson] #2711294
02/03/18 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Rainbows
Maybe I am the exception to the relationship between loving to practice impliying a destiny to perform or teach. As a child I lived to practice the piano. I would practice for hours every day .....I would walk by the living room and see the piano sitting there. I would sit down to play for just a few minutes and the minutes would turn into hours.....

I am neither a teacher nor a performer, but someone who has always just loved music , and how it sounds and feels when I play it myself. I feel the same way as an adult.

Hi dogperson, just generally speaking that if I have to constantly implore students and parents to spend more than a freaking half hour a week at the piano, clearly they are viewing it as something like "homework." I changed my wording from "practice" to "play.".


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: TimR] #2711307
02/03/18 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR

For you practice is like video gaming must be for a lot of kids. (It has no appeal for me, but I have relatives who play endlessly.)

It has "no appeal":

Are you talking about piano, or trombone, or playing video games?

If you are talking about what you do to prepare for piano lessons, I certainly hope that none of the people who come to me feel as you seem to be saying you do. wink

Last edited by Gary D.; 02/03/18 10:41 PM.

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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: outo] #2711309
02/03/18 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by outo

You have a very good point there, but for some reason this does not seem to resonate with everyone...for me it seems to make all the difference for an adult starter with other responsibilities who wants to progress and be able to play more advanced music. AFAIK most never go beyond the basics.

If the process is not interesting and its own reward, most people will quit.

That's simply a fact.

I don't know why the process is not interesting for some people. But I do know that if it is not, adults will not last more than a year, and usually a much shorter period than that.

I believe success means this, for most people:

They start out thinking that there is SOMETHING they want to be able to play. And that something is at least a vague goal. It may be something pop, or Romantic, or Baroque. Anything.

So, how long will it take for them to play this "something" well enough to feel good about it?

And will they be able to do it?

If they have something reasonable for a goal, something that is doable for most people in the first year or so, then it's a matter of how long it takes to get this one "thing".

Then it's the next "thing".

If people do not have the skills to play what they want, they will eventually quit. If it takes too long, meaning weak reading skills, something else is taking too long, they will quit.

For most people you see success happen in the first 6 months. A few move slower but are stubborn, or persistent, a great urge to accomplish what they want to do. They will stay at it longer.

But something has to happen in a reasonable length of time.


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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: keystring] #2711310
02/03/18 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
For example, there are teachers who aim to make music "fun" in a superficial manner, who expect everyone to want instant gratification.

Piano in a Flash...
Quote

Some such teachers may think that "learning" means - a new piece - another new piece - another new piece - no new skills, no new knowledge - that to me is depressing. I put a number elements in my original two posts for a reason.

What most people are probably not getting: If you move from piece to piece, and each piece builds so that you have solid skills, it is a way in. That is essentially how I was taught. But my first teacher, my grandmother, was very good at teaching basics, which I absorbed.

We went over lines and spaces each week, so by the time I had had lessons for about a year, I knew them. We did not go over scales enough, so that was a hole that had to be fixed later. She did not teach chord structure, so that was a hole.

These things I teach all students.

Music is mostly chords and scales. You have to understand basics of fingering. You have to be able to find the lines and spaces easily. You have to understand how to count.

These are all skills, basics. If you do not have them, you will not play well, and sooner or later not playing well will lead to frustration, which leads to quitting.


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Re: Adult vs Child Students [Re: keystring] #2711313
02/03/18 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring

The whole thing is fraught with booby traps. What does a person mean by "playing" versus "practising"?

The words don't matter. It only means that IF you have a negative feeling about the process, sooner or later you will quit. As an adult you do not have a mommy or a daddy to say, "Did you play/practice today? How long? No computer games until you get your PRACTICE done."

Now, people need to turn this around:

"How long did you practice on your I-pod today? I hope you got at least 30 minutes of PRACTICE, or you won't get to play the piano."

I will repeat: my time at the piano each day was a high point. I could not wait to get back at it. All of my students who are doing well tell me that they feel the same way, of all ages. The ones who are not making progress don't enjoy it.

Now, do they not enjoy it because they are not doing well?

Or did they never put in enough time to find out if they MIGHT enjoy it?

This is why I talk about a "honeymoon period". If what I teach does not connect, if somehow I am not able to help beginners do something that impresses themselves, enough so that they want to commit to more lessons, it's all going to fail. The only question is: How long until they quit?

Scott Houston has part of this right. He's very good at hooking people. He sells them on the idea that what he teaches is easy and will lead to success. I personally believe it's smoke in the mirror, but at least people START with him and start OUT feeling that they CAN do what he is teaching.

Last edited by Gary D.; 02/03/18 10:52 PM.

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