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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: keystring] #2714088
02/13/18 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
I had piano lessons until age 20, so you could say I was already an experienced adult in my final two years of lessons ....

Let's start with this and stay with it. You have told us repeatedly about the excellence and thoroughness of the foundations you received. Anything you learned later as an adult rested on those foundations.

You have no experience of getting advanced material, not having learned how note values work, but expected to somehow play it anyway --- managing to play it somehow, and as a result, you get even more advanced material. Start with that, and then try to explain why a student should refrain from questioning, and just try to struggle through advanced material, while feeling he or she is missing something basic.

Please try to imagine that things may not be perfect in the teacher-student corner, and the problem may not be student attitude. If you cannot imagine this possibility, then you risk missing the picture lots of times.

I think you're misunderstanding what I'm getting at, and which posts I'm referring to. You keep missing my picture, so please do me a favor by ignoring my posts.

I never said anything about half-baked teachers. BTW, beginners won't know by asking them lots of questions, unless they've already had experience of what good teaching is like. And then, there are always those students who have one-track minds, and they get what they want.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714090
02/13/18 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I think you're misunderstanding what I'm getting at, and which posts I'm referring to. You keep missing my picture, so please do me a favor by ignoring my posts.

I will definitely not ignore your posts, when you are advising.
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I never said anything about half-baked teachers.

And that is the problem.
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BTW, beginners won't know by asking them lots of questions, unless they've already had experience of what good teaching is like. And then, there are always those students who have one-track minds, and they get what they want.

There are no beginners in this thread. There are also no students of the second thread either.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714093
02/13/18 07:32 PM
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bennevis, how is what you are describing from your own experience in music lessons, relevant to Epee, who knows he has big gaps and has had a succession of teachers who don’t address those gaps? And now his current teacher, rather than saying “let’s slow down and fill in those gaps”, sends him off to a new teacher to study ever-harder repertoire, still without the gaps filled in?


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: keystring] #2714096
02/13/18 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
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BTW, beginners won't know by asking them lots of questions, unless they've already had experience of what good teaching is like. And then, there are always those students who have one-track minds, and they get what they want.

There are no beginners in this thread. There are also no students of the second thread either.

Are you sure?


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: PianoStudent88] #2714097
02/13/18 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
bennevis, how is what you are describing from your own experience in music lessons, relevant to Epee, who knows he has big gaps and has had a succession of teachers who don’t address those gaps? And now his current teacher, rather than saying “let’s slow down and fill in those gaps”, sends him off to a new teacher to study ever-harder repertoire, still without the gaps filled in?

I didn't address his post directly, but something about what he repeatedly says bothers me, and has bothered others too, and that was what I picked up on.

However, I know nothing about his teachers or what goes on during his lessons, so I can't comment further.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Stubbie] #2714098
02/13/18 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie

No, results aren't everything. I would put them in the category of necessary but not sufficient. To say that you never know if your teacher is competent or not until you've experienced several more teachers and somehow developed a 'feel' for competency (and even that 'feel' might be a misreading) is just too discouraging. frown

But it doesn't mean it's wrong.

And the converse is often true. If you are working with an amazing teacher, even if you have a good idea that the teacher is really good, you may not completely appreciate what you have until you lose that teacher and have to work with someone more ordinary.

In short, if you start off with a really good teacher, at any age, count yourself lucky.


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: keystring] #2714099
02/13/18 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Stubbie
To say that you never know if your teacher is competent or not until you've experienced several more teachers and somehow developed a 'feel' for competency (and even that 'feel' might be a misreading) is just too discouraging.

That would indeed be discouraging. It's more the other way around. You may think things are fine when they're not. You might get an inkling at some point they're not - some bit of a feeling here or there. The point is to not assume that anyone is being taught properly or was taught properly. I remember reading a story by Gary a bit up from mine.
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The student might get away with it once, but surely the teacher--who is working with the student at advanced grade levels--will shortly see that fundamentals are lacking and set about rectifying the omissions. On the other hand, if the teacher is incompetent but working with a student at advanced grade levels, then the adult student should soon notice lack of progress (results) and that will be a red flag.

Some teachers who are aware will see what is going on. But for example, you may come to a student who teaches at an advanced level, where the emphasis is on interpreting music and fine points. That student doesn't work with building foundations, will not recognize the signs, or know how to rectify it. The teacher may be genuinely puzzled: how come the student seems advanced here, can catch on to things quicker than most there, and yet have these mysterious problems. I've seen this.

A teacher who is astute and aware of such things may actually have a checklist of things he tests and looks for.
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Most adult students wouldn't accept that and continue with an endless circle for long.

You may think it's you, that you lack talent. You may think you have to try harder. You may not know what your inklings are telling you. I stayed in my situation for over 4 years. I've started many things from scratch on that instrument, after over a decade. My last assigned etude was gr. 7. I've relearned how to hold a bow, and that took 2 months.


A couple of comments:
Quote
The point is to not assume that anyone is being taught properly or was taught properly.
If you are a piano teacher taking on a transfer student, this might be a prudent attitude. As a student, it seems an unduly harsh pre-judgement of teachers.

Quote
You may think it's you, that you lack talent. You may think you have to try harder.
That is not outside the realm of possibility. It is highly unlikely, imo, but, still, it is a possibility that deserves a good, hard look on the part of the student before blaming the teacher. My spouse has 'talent' for music, but doesn't desire it enough to put in the time and effort. I am not brimming with talent, but I have the desire and am willing to put in the time. And I have a good teacher.


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714101
02/13/18 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by malkin
I get it, but having a competent teacher that you trust is a better way. Then you can dispense with the Q & A and just follow the teacher's instructions.

Sometimes the "missing skill" is pretty obvious, like counting and playing rhythm other times it may be evident only to an experienced instructor, like arm position when playing violin.

Further, a student asking "Why do I have to practice scales?" reminds me of 6th graders asking why they have to do math. There are so many reasons that it is a waste of time to get started listing them. You DON"T have to practice scales in the same way that you DON'T have to do math, but life is really better if you do.

I agree totally.

When I was a student of piano (& music), I never asked my teachers why I need to do/learn this or that. The same applied for other activities/skills I learnt as an adult: I asked questions if I wasn't clear on what I needed to do, but not why I needed to do it. (BTW, counting aloud in pitch with the notes I played was almost the first thing my teacher got me to do - and I felt pretty self-conscious & silly as a ten-year-old kid doing it, but she was doing it along with me, and I trusted her......). Because - from my own perspective - asking my teacher questions about why (as opposed to how) - wasted time, and I hated wasting time; and secondly, as an adult, I've learnt some highly technical activities/skills in small group classes, and I could see that the instructors/teachers got testy when a student kept asking "why?" (And BTW, when you're learning something like ice-climbing on frozen waterfalls, you're also risking life & limb - your own and others' - if you ask "why?" rather than do what you're told immediately......). And in my experience, good instructors will explain why as well as how, when the "why" is important - not when it's obvious or unnecessary.

In piano, very often, the reason for learning something doesn't become apparent until much, much later, when you're much further advanced. If you asked your teacher why you have to learn scales and arpeggios (and master their fingerings), when all you're interested in playing is pop music, you might have a point. But if the teacher answers your question, say when he introduces them to you after six months of lessons, by playing you the first movement of K545, and you say "But I don't like Mozart, and don't want to play him!" - nothing has been achieved on either side, except aggravation.....

And finally, in my job (nothing to do with music), I often have to tell people to do things for their own good, and/or for the sake of others, giving simple explanations why - if I think it necessary. If I needed to explain why each & every time with everything I tell them to do, I'd be tearing out my hair with frustration and thinking of the time wasted, and all the people I still have to see and sort out, who are also getting frustrated at the delay. In my job, we have a term for such time-wasters which I won't mention here......

The problem for me is that what you are saying boils down to:

Do what I say, trust me.

And I agree that IF you have a wonderful teacher, that may well be the best way to proceed.

But if too much trust is given to someone who does not deserve that trust, I think it's obvious that a lot of bad results happen.

When people ask me questions that I know are coming at the wrong time, I usually say:

Can you trust me when I say that I DO have a good answer to your question, but you are not going to understand it at this time? Can we wait a while until a better time?


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714105
02/13/18 08:15 PM
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Thanks for explaining, bennevis.

I think that many people are picking up on the surface form of Epee's posts, and even the thread title, which may be read as "I ask questions about how what I'm being taught will improve my technical ability" and offering suggestions about that.

But I think that surface form is a red herring.

If you read all the examples Epee gives of what he doesn't know, and what frustrates him that he doesn't know, it is not about technical ability. It is about a lack of basic musicianship skills and knowledge. So the coaching he needs on his questions is not about how or whether to ask about technical ability, but rather that the questions he's asking ("how will this improve my playing", which is getting interpreted as a question about technical ability) are completely irrelevant to what he really wants. And what he wants is entirely reasonable! Asking in a more respectful or thoughtful or nuanced way about "why do Hanon?" or simply continuing to do Hanon without asking any questions at all, is never ever ever going to get to a place where he and his teacher both understand the true situation and agree to work on the fact that he can't read rhythms (and other skills that he wants to learn, that are not about technical ability or ever-harder pieces at all).

The tone policing about question asking could send Epee in a direction of "just keep doing what you're told." But doing what he's told -- diligently! for hours of practice every day! -- has brought him to his current situation, where he's playing repertoire to the level of Chopin Etudes, but is lacking something as basic as knowing how to read sixteenth notes. He's even had two teachers who rejected or ignored his desire to learn how to read rhythms. That's a situation that needs a drastic change, not more of "keep taking lessons that are only about learning ever-harder pieces, and trust that you're getting everything you need".

Epee, I think that starting off with the new teacher by explaining that you know you have fundamental gaps in your musicianship skills and knowledge, and that you want to work on filling in those gaps, deferring the Chopin Etude for however long is needed in order to fill in the gaps, and working on dead simple material if that's what your teacher thinks is best, would be a useful way to rethink things.


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714112
02/13/18 08:48 PM
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I could offer advice but I fear that would only get some people's hackles raised, including the OP's. wink

But hey, I don't lose any sleep over anything I post here, so here goes:

1) Ask your teacher to pick pieces with complex rhythm (pieces you've never heard before - including contemporary - but not technically difficult ones) - and read them (N.B. not "sight-read" at tempo and pushing on regardless of mistakes) slowly in front of the teacher during the lesson. Your teacher gives you the score at the lesson and you learn it there and then, not at home with the help of YT. Ask the teacher to correct everything wrong with your rhythm/timing instantly, and don't go any further until you have corrected them and know why it was wrong. Write down the beats (1+2+3+4+) etc into every measure beneath the notes if you need to. In fact, write them down even if you don't think you need to. And remember, you don't pick the pieces (because that would mean you already know how they're meant to sound) - your teacher picks them. Whether you like the music or not is irrelevant - you're in 'skill-acquisition' mode, and the satisfaction and enjoyment is in the acquisition of that skill.

2) Study theory at home, using a good theory book at the piano (it's very important to hear what you're studying, so that means you play on the piano everything you're learning, whether it's a scale in C# melodic minor or C major, or any chord progressions), and bring to the lesson and ask your teacher anything you don't understand or aren't sure about.

3) Forget about technically difficult rep like Chopin études until you've got the above sorted out to your teacher's satisfaction.

4) Do an exam - practical and theory - like RCM. Tell your teacher you really, really want to do it and don't take 'no' for an answer.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714122
02/13/18 09:21 PM
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The OP starts with a new teacher next week. A lot of these problem may well find their solutions through what that teacher finds and says.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714154
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ROCK SOLID ADVICE HERE:
Originally Posted by bennevis

1) Ask your teacher to pick pieces with complex rhythm (pieces you've never heard before - including contemporary - but not technically difficult ones) - and read them (N.B. not "sight-read" at tempo and pushing on regardless of mistakes) slowly in front of the teacher during the lesson. Your teacher gives you the score at the lesson and you learn it there and then, not at home with the help of YT. Ask the teacher to correct everything wrong with your rhythm/timing instantly, and don't go any further until you have corrected them and know why it was wrong. Write down the beats (1+2+3+4+) etc into every measure beneath the notes if you need to. In fact, write them down even if you don't think you need to. And remember, you don't pick the pieces (because that would mean you already know how they're meant to sound) - your teacher picks them. Whether you like the music or not is irrelevant - you're in 'skill-acquisition' mode, and the satisfaction and enjoyment is in the acquisition of that skill.

That's it right there. And let me emphasize: Write in all the counts. If you can't do this, you are missing a skill.

And you have to do this before anyone plays the music for you. You have to start from scratch, no cheating. And the music has to be on an easy enough level so that you can concentrate solely on on this one "layer", which for many students is totally missing - and faked.


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: bennevis] #2714164
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I could offer advice but I fear that would only get some people's hackles raised, including the OP's. wink

But hey, I don't lose any sleep over anything I post here, so here goes:

1) Ask your teacher to pick pieces with complex rhythm (pieces you've never heard before - including contemporary - but not technically difficult ones) - and read them (N.B. not "sight-read" at tempo and pushing on regardless of mistakes) slowly in front of the teacher during the lesson. Your teacher gives you the score at the lesson and you learn it there and then, not at home with the help of YT. Ask the teacher to correct everything wrong with your rhythm/timing instantly, and don't go any further until you have corrected them and know why it was wrong. Write down the beats (1+2+3+4+) etc into every measure beneath the notes if you need to. In fact, write them down even if you don't think you need to. And remember, you don't pick the pieces (because that would mean you already know how they're meant to sound) - your teacher picks them. Whether you like the music or not is irrelevant - you're in 'skill-acquisition' mode, and the satisfaction and enjoyment is in the acquisition of that skill.

2) Study theory at home, using a good theory book at the piano (it's very important to hear what you're studying, so that means you play on the piano everything you're learning, whether it's a scale in C# melodic minor or C major, or any chord progressions), and bring to the lesson and ask your teacher anything you don't understand or aren't sure about.

3) Forget about technically difficult rep like Chopin études until you've got the above sorted out to your teacher's satisfaction.

4) Do an exam - practical and theory - like RCM. Tell your teacher you really, really want to do it and don't take 'no' for an answer.



Yes Yes YES! Could not have said any of it better.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 02/14/18 04:14 AM.
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714281
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Any of the parts that start with "ask your teacher" may not be feasible. Epee starts with a new teacher next week. That teacher may well institute some of these ideas after observing where her student is at. Trying to start any new approach with the old teacher when there is less than a week left in lessons wouldn't make sense. wink This is why I mentioned that there will be a new teacher very soon. In this case it's definitely the teacher who should be suggesting how to approach things. A student can mention concerns and goals (I think I'm missing skills / fundamental knowledge) with a teacher. But the new teacher should be given a chance to direct things, esp. in the beginning.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714283
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Fwiw, I did the "ask your teacher" thing when I was in my situation. It felt like I was graduating from grade to grade way too fast, and that I was missing things though being inexperienced I couldn't know what. I actually asked to go back to a lower level. This did not cause us to go at fundamental things I missed first time round. We simply skimmed through pieces even faster. I did not have the experience or knowledge to ask for the things that were missing. That is the problem with this.

Some years later I did know more. I could say specifically, "I would like to study theory so that I can apply these things to the pieces I play." I could say, "It's not enough for me to feel this section grows in passion. I'll know I do that via crescendo, but then I have to know how to crescendo." This was language the teacher could understand. That did open the door finally. Though I should not have had to initiate any of this in the first place, imho.

If you are not a child, and you can get at music through feeling it, then many a teacher will be fooled and not know just how little you know at the bottom level. If you yourself are majorly lacking in knowledge, it will be hard to identify and ask for what you need. Suppose you ask for easier pieces. Such pieces can be vehicles for learning basic things like key signatures, time signatures, note values etc. But you'll also be able to play these quickly and easily in front of the teacher (the kind who is not aware) who will say "I have no idea what the problem is supposed to be. Your playing sounds fine to me." You can play a simple waltz, feeling the "oom pah pah" without ever knowing how time signatures work. You can play a diatonic piece in D major because you know how a major scale sounds, without ever knowing how key signatures or keys work.

I think the teacher change is timely. In the least, there will be new perspectives.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: keystring] #2714336
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Epee, I think that starting off with the new teacher by explaining that you know you have fundamental gaps in your musicianship skills and knowledge, and that you want to work on filling in those gaps, deferring the Chopin Etude for however long is needed in order to fill in the gaps, and working on dead simple material if that's what your teacher thinks is best, would be a useful way to rethink things.


keystring, I proposed the above. Do you think that’s a useful way to approach things with the new teacher? There’s a balancing act here: letting the new teacher take the lead, but what if the teacher doesn’t think they can raise the question of gaps, because the student has been sent to them as an advanced student to work on harder literature?

I think putting out in the open that Epee knows he has gaps and wants to work on fixing them would allow the new teacher to raise the subject of gaps without fearing that they have to soft pedal the news, or try to address the gaps in a non-optimal way because they think Epee will only work with the chosen Etude, or with pieces at that level of difficulty.


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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714353
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Okay, had my last lesson from my old teacher, less than a year. We parted with very good feelings, and she wants me to play in her recitals with her adult students who I have met and enjoyed immensely. She stated again that she wanted me to advance to a higher level due to the repertoire and if this new teacher did not work out that she was happy to take me back. So I'm comfortable with the move. I was just starting to get comfortable communicating with her, and she moves me on, oh well.

My old teacher knows the new teacher and has communicated to her about what I know and don't know. Monday, I will meet her.

PianoStudent88,

I think you have come the closest to describing my situation. Yes, musicianship, is most likely what I'm lacking. Thank you for putting it into words.

Gentlemen,

For a living I mediate very contentious meetings with attorneys, advocates, parents, and various agencies on behalf of special needs children. When I ask "why," trust me I'm very diplomatic, and never intimidate or come across as a child. If the teacher wants me to sign on to her methods, in which I'm going to spend huge amounts of time practicing, and money invested I need to know what the goal is. I don't think that is unreasonable or childish if asked in a respectful manner.

From all accounts this new teacher is very good. She has a bio that anyone would be proud of. The only question remains, is can she teach. I was told I was fortunate that she accepted me, that her plate is full. I am looking forward to long relationship with this teacher.

Keystring,

You too describe my situation very well.

Bennevis,

I envy your musical background. Thank you for your perspective, and the time you took to respond. ABRSM level 8, I looked it up, congratulations, that is really some achievement.

Stubbie,

My ex-teacher noticed my holes, and I even told her my weaknesses, just like I have described them to the members here, but for whatever reason she didn't backup or suggest what I needed to do. She just assigned more pieces. Did I improve under her. You bet! Do I still feel like I don't know anything. You bet! Here's how I see it, the teacher taught the monkey how to jump through the hoop, but the monkey doesn't know why he's jumping through the hoop, and the monkey jumps through the hoop because he wants to please his teacher. I hope that made sense.

dogperson, Adamento,

Thank you for your support and time to respond.


To all:

So what questions would you recommend I ask and tell this new teacher, that would be appropriate, knowing what we have discussed in this thread? Things that I may not be aware of due to my lack of musicianship.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714420
02/15/18 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Epee

Bennevis,

I envy your musical background. Thank you for your perspective, and the time you took to respond. ABRSM level 8, I looked it up, congratulations, that is really some achievement.




ABRSM Grade 8 isn't even at the level of any of Chopin's études (which you say you want to start working on), so it's not really as much of an achievement as you might think.

The question really is: how prepared are you to return to basics to acquire the skills you believe you lack (or 'fix the holes' as you put it), along the lines I suggested?

For what it's worth, the way I worked with all my four teachers was exactly as I prescribed in my last post: I read through each and every new piece my teachers gave me to learn right there and then, during the lesson (except with my last teacher for some pieces). There was no hiding, no bluffing, no 'listening to Youtube to understand how the piece is meant to sound' (not that the internet existed in those days).....nothing of the sort. My teachers could immediately spot any weaknesses, whether in reading skills, rhythm problems and/or inability to know exactly where the beats are etc, and fix them there and then.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I get the impression that you're not prepared to work this way to get your problems fixed, and I doubt very much that your new teacher would insist if you didn't want to. After all, you're an adult.

"The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.". — Albert Einstein (attributed).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714425
02/15/18 01:54 AM
02/15/18 01:54 AM
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To OP:
Unlike Bennevis I do have more faith in you. The work methods he suggests are great, only thing I disagree is the suggestion of taking exams. It's not relevant in your situation and it does not necessarily fix anything. You might end up spending a lot of time with things that won't actually fix anything and pass the exams by compensating with the things you are good at.

Times have changed and we cannot get back to our childhood without the internet...also you cannot become a blank slate and erase the skills you already have and fully "start over". If you want to fix what's missing you just investigate and isolate what those things are and work on one thing at a time. It's possible if you want to. Most of the things you lack are not rocket science and do not even require extensive practice after you just "get it". Start with acquiring basic understanding of rhythm in notation and that can be done in the way described by bennevis above.

I am a bit sceptic of the role of the teacher here. Even if the teacher is good at teaching absolute beginners and/or advanced students she may not have a recipe for a situation of yours. How many teachers specialize and are good at "filling" holes with adults? As a special education expert you know that conventional methods are not always enough and one has to be creative as one goes because every case is different. As someone who has a specific learning disability I know that teachers can completely miss the real issue and insist on something that could never work.

What you need is time to spend on things you missed because they are the kind that YOU need to understand. It is importand that your teacher gives you this time instead of assigning new advanced pieces that you spend your time preparing for lessons. If your new teacher has not worked this way before you might end up continuing on your present path. None of the things bennevis suggested really requires and advanced teacher, just someone to evaluate if you are going right or wrong.

But do not give up on the new teacher, give it a chance. You will know pretty soon if anything changes...

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714438
02/15/18 04:34 AM
02/15/18 04:34 AM
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Teachers teach, students learn. Good teachers will point out problem areas, good students may or may not be able to learn and 'fix' the problem areas. If you haven't got a good teacher then try becoming one yourself. Switch roles. In the end without a proper understanding of your own problems you won't solve them.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Colin Miles] #2714448
02/15/18 06:47 AM
02/15/18 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Teachers teach, students learn. Good teachers will point out problem areas, good students may or may not be able to learn and 'fix' the problem areas. If you haven't got a good teacher then try becoming one yourself. Switch roles. In the end without a proper understanding of your own problems you won't solve them.


Hi Colin
My perspective is there are many different categories of problems and whether we can identify them on our own as a student and fix them. I certainly have problems I can identify, some I can fix, and some I need my teacher ‘s guidance. I also have some problems that I do not identify on my own; I need my teacher to identify them and provide guidance as well. So my proper understanding of issues comes from both myself and from my teacher. Her goal is that I will no longer need her, but I am a long way from that. She has the training and experience that as a student I rely upon.... if I didn’t need her, I would play well enough to proceed to Carnegie Hall.


"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: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714471
02/15/18 08:11 AM
02/15/18 08:11 AM
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Epee Offline OP
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Bennevis,

I will give it a shot. I have nothing but time and effort on my side. Thank you for being blunt.


Colin,

Good point, I'm working through a theory book now. Questions that come up, I can address with this teacher.

outo,

Yes creative is an important skill. Sometimes we hit on unusual fixes. I had one child who couldn't learn their basic math facts, so instead of a calculator, I taught him how to use an abacus. It clicked with him, and he carried around an abacus for several academic years. It didn't work with all of my students, but for him it did wonders.

I plan on sticking with this new teacher for a long time, and I seriously doubt I will ever pass her ability level. This will be my last teacher. At my age a few more years probably.

dogperson,

Like you I'm a long way from not needing a teacher. I will always benefit from a teacher. They provide for me the positive can do attitude that I can accomplish what I am attempting, guiding me over the rough spots when I would have given up and decided it was to difficult.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714635
02/15/18 06:07 PM
02/15/18 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Epee
So what questions would you recommend I ask and tell this new teacher, that would be appropriate, knowing what we have discussed in this thread? Things that I may not be aware of due to my lack of musicianship.


Epee, I would state what my goals were for piano study, explain any deficits I know I have, ask how I can remedy them, and ask what repertoire the new teacher would suggest that would be appropriate to my stated goals. Also feel free to state what repertoire you would like to play (like the Chopin Etude you mentioned), understanding that she may feel some additional skill acquisition might be necessary before studying certain repertoire of your choosing.

Your situation as described in your original post reminded me of a student who came to me after her previous teacher released her. The student was a senior in high school, wanting to continue her piano studies in college, and she asked her then-current teacher to help her focus on certain objectives she had to prepare herself for her future music department auditions.

Like your teacher with whom you just had your last lesson, her teacher said she couldn't do that for her. Which was honest. But, unlike your teacher, this particular teacher recommended no other teacher to this young lady, and flat out told her you're on your own, and dismissed her from her studio.

I can tell you this student was one of the sweetest, gentlest young persons I've ever been privileged to meet, so I know it wasn't some attitude problem on her part that led to her sudden dismissal.

She was so traumatized by the way her lessons ended, she stopped studying piano for months before she had the courage to try again with another teacher. I was the blessed recipient of her decision to restart lessons, and worked with her for four months before she went off to college.

Anyway, the girl and her mom came to the initial interview with me, and she was quite articulate about her goals and deficits. Almost all of her repertoire had been from the Classical period, and she had never had any Baroque.

So if there are certain eras of music--I think you said Baroque and Classical?--that you haven't studied, Epee, consider asking to study repertoire from those periods, to get a balance of different styles.

My student also wanted to study hymns and chorale-style pieces, which she needed to play for her auditions, so I loaned her my grandmother's old, old hymnal, and also had her playing chorale-type music by Bach, Schumann and Handel.

In addition, she wanted to be able to play contemporary hymn arrangements in church, so I got her Kevin Olson's Make a Joyful Noise, which are gorgeous, flowing arrangements of the hymns I assigned her in the old hymnal.

Do you aspire to play for worship services, or for friends/family, or other occasions? Let your new teacher know.

Playing thick textures in music (she'd done very little chord study) was another deficit she knew she had, so she let me know that at our interview, and I had her study some of the more chordal pieces in Schumann's Kinderscenen, as well as contemporary chordal literature.

She also wanted help preparing her music as one of two accompanists for her high school musical, and had two Debussy pieces she'd always wanted to learn.

It was an ambitious agenda, but she applied herself diligently, and we had a productive and delightful four months. Her straightforwardness in delineating her goals, and her willingness to tackle a lot of different types of music (like sightreading short Baroque works, and studying theory), compared to what she'd previously done, made for a wonderful experience for both of us.

Be clear about what you'd like to do with your music, and why, Epee, and we'll hope that your new teacher will develop a plan you can both get behind. smile Best wishes to you!

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2714677
02/15/18 10:00 PM
02/15/18 10:00 PM
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Adamento,

Thank you! Your example of the student you had was very illustrative and helpful. Yes, I like playing for friends, family, church, and graduations. Also for the sheer joy of playing beautiful pieces of classical music. I will try and fill in the holes with a more rounded repertoire, and I'm sure this new teacher will help me with that.

An ensemble asked me to play with them. I turned them down simply because they needed someone for a performance 10 days from now. Never having played with a group I was uncomfortable getting a piece ready for performance in such short notice. Someone with more experience would probably not have a problem with it. This is something I will bring up with my teacher.

Again thanks for the encouragement and taking the time to respond.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2715366
02/18/18 12:01 PM
02/18/18 12:01 PM
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You're welcome, Epee. Glad it was helpful. smile

Let us know how it goes with your new teacher!

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2715427
02/18/18 03:31 PM
02/18/18 03:31 PM
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As a complete older adult beginner on the piano, (but brought up from childhood on opera and classical music), I have found these posts to be EXTREMELY helpful. It has given me much information to use in my own journey. I thank ALL for their posts. And to Epee, I really look forward to hearing how it is going with your new teacher!!

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2716009
02/20/18 09:31 PM
02/20/18 09:31 PM
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Epee Offline OP
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Ok,

So first lesson. I explained to her my history, pretty much as explained here. So you know the old saying, "be careful what you ask for."

Pieces I thought I knew, I don't know. LOL

My old teacher said these pieces were good, they ain't good. I feel like I'm starting all over again. I'M NOT COMPLAINING. I actually find it very interesting, and can see that I have a whole lot to learn. Now in terms of musicianship? She seemed to downplay that, but she is having me examine scores with a lot more detail than I ever did.

She is having me practice the Chopin Etude hands separate for the next two weeks, and only the first page. I thought I was playing legato, NOPE, I just thought I was. She gave much more detailed instructions than just that.

For the Brahms piece:

4 bars

1st play a melody - RH
2nd Play octaves - RH
3rd Play just LH

Then combine the 3 voices in different combinations.

Just RH
LH with RH melody
LH with RH ocatves

Then you play both hands together.
Try to play melody louder than other voices.

Anyway you get the drift.

So I'm working again on the Brahms Intermezzo, Chopin Etude, (which she told me was the easiest one to learn), and 10 Czerny etudes Vol. 1 Part 1, with different finger emphasis and rhythm.

I hope that all made sense.

To put it mildly, it was a very humbling experience, but I'm not complaining. I will do exactly what she tells me to do and will stick with this teacher. So I see her every two weeks for one hour. She seems very accessible, sent videos of what she wanted with Czerny-Germer, and detailed written lesson plans of what I need to be working on.

In the scheme of things, I can think of nothing better than spending my free time at the piano, unless of course it's a good game of chess, but to be honest I would give up my chess before quitting on piano.

Thanks everyone, need to go practice.

NobleHouse,

Hope you found the above interesting. I'm sure for the pianists here it's standard fare, but not for this old guy. I have never had a teacher at this level, so it's all very different to me.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2716067
02/21/18 06:40 AM
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Hi Epee

Following your progress with interest. Your teachers comments me think again about how I play and practice. If she is getting you to go back to basics that is always worthwhile. In any case I think that this is always something that one should do periodically anyway, on everything.

Had to look up what musicianship is! Seems rather a nebulous concept to me. Suppose the same idea could be applied to everything - chessmanship?


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2716070
02/21/18 07:40 AM
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Colin,

Thanks, yes musicianship is possibly a nebulous concept, and very difficult most likely to pin down, but we all know intrinsically what and who is one when we see and hear one. I definitely know I am no where near being a good musician. Chessmanship? Not me, I'm lucky to push around the pieces. I teach all my students chess who are willing to learn. But I don't want to turn this thread into a chess discussion, which would be easy to do, since I do love chess almost as much as the piano.

So I will post back when I have my next lesson in two weeks, if everyone here is interested, or just let the thread die the good death. From here on out I see a LOT of work, which is what I want, and progress will be determined by my skill/abilities, and her skill/abilities to pull it out of me. I am looking forward to the challenge, because in my world the finish line is when I stop breathing and the Lord calls me home.

Thanks again everyone who responded, I learned something from all of you, and for the teachers, and professional musicians my hats off to your dedication and skill.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability? [Re: Epee] #2716077
02/21/18 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Epee



So I'm working again on the Brahms Intermezzo, Chopin Etude, (which she told me was the easiest one to learn)

Which Chopin étude? There are twenty-seven of them.

I assume you mean Brahms's Op.117/1 but again there are many intermezzi by Brahms.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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