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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Colin Miles #2714448 02/15/18 05:47 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

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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2714471 02/15/18 07:11 AM
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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?
Epee #2714635 02/15/18 05:07 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?
Epee #2714677 02/15/18 09:00 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?
Epee #2715366 02/18/18 11:01 AM
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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?
Epee #2715427 02/18/18 02:31 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!!



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Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716009 02/20/18 08:31 PM
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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?
Epee #2716067 02/21/18 05:40 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 LX706

South Wales, UK
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716070 02/21/18 06:40 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?
Epee #2716077 02/21/18 07:31 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."
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716090 02/21/18 09:36 AM
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Bennevis,

The easiest one as my teacher pointed out to me. Chopin Etude E Major Op. 10 No. 3.

The only reason I picked that one was simply because my parents were married to that piece over 65 years ago. God bless them they are both still going strong.

You are correct for Brahms's Op. 117/1. That piece was assigned to me by my previous teacher.

My oversight and apology for not being specific.

Thank you for pointing it out.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716274 02/21/18 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Epee

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.

Hi Epee, Now that is a wonderful response and I recognize the feeling from lessons with a couple of really excellent teachers... I'd go in to the lesson thinking "this piece has got to be about ready to perform" and I'd leave the lesson thinking "I have to completely relearn this piece all over again"...
Quote
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.

Since you're new with this teacher, maybe consider just asking questions as you go and seeing how the questions and answers affect your learning and the new teaching relationship? If you don't know something that you think you should know, just ask. Like "I don't understand how to count the beats in this measure." There are a lot of eighths and sixteenths in Chopin 10/3. Do you understand how to count them all? If not, walk into the next lesson and ask the teacher about any measure where you feel uncertain. Ditto with knowing what key you're in. If you don't know, ask. And if the teacher just tells you rather than coaching you through the process of figuring it out, ask "How did you know that was the key?"

Teachers don't read minds. Sometimes if a new student makes a piece sound good, we assume the student has a solid base of knowledge that s/he drew on to make it sound good. (Quite often the reverse happens-- the student knows what's going on but can't get it to come out the fingers that way-- and we have to figure out what's a knowledge issue and what's an execution issue.)


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
hreichgott #2716278 02/21/18 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott

...If you don't know something that you think you should know, just ask...


Right now, I'm formulating a question for my teacher..."Would it be helpful if I knew what chords these are? (Because I don't.)"


Learner
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
malkin #2716313 02/22/18 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin


Right now, I'm formulating a question for my teacher..."Would it be helpful if I knew what chords these are? (Because I don't.)"


If you can play them properly, surely not.


Roland LX706

South Wales, UK
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716331 02/22/18 06:59 AM
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hreichgott,

Thank you for your insight!

You are correct in that I need to ask her questions while learning a piece in areas I don't understand. When I was 9 years old, with my teacher, I said nothing and did what my teacher told me, never asking questions. As an adult, I am still respectful, but need to ask about things I don't understand. It's a small paradigm shift. I know I bug my students all the time to ask questions if they don't understand some math concept. As you say, I can't read minds.

Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Colin Miles #2716353 02/22/18 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by malkin


Right now, I'm formulating a question for my teacher..."Would it be helpful if I knew what chords these are? (Because I don't.)"


If you can play them properly, surely not.



If I could play them properly, I wouldn't be thinking about them so much.


Learner
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
malkin #2716362 02/22/18 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by malkin


Right now, I'm formulating a question for my teacher..."Would it be helpful if I knew what chords these are? (Because I don't.)"


If you can play them properly, surely not.



If I could play them properly, I wouldn't be thinking about them so much.


Surely the thinking is the problem! Chords are for doing.


Roland LX706

South Wales, UK
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Colin Miles #2716366 02/22/18 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by malkin


Right now, I'm formulating a question for my teacher..."Would it be helpful if I knew what chords these are? (Because I don't.)"


If you can play them properly, surely not.



If I could play them properly, I wouldn't be thinking about them so much.


Surely the thinking is the problem! Chords are for doing.


I'll just save it for my lesson.


Learner
Re: Consensus on what improves technical ability?
Epee #2716557 02/23/18 12:26 AM
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Epee,
You're welcome! And that's cool that you are a math teacher. There are probably more similarities to music teaching than are apparent at first. You know something of what it's like to be working with students on a subject that's hard but fascinating and benefits from being examined from multiple angles.

malkin,
it never hurts to understand the way the music works, its structure and the logic behind it... even if you ultimately won't be thinking much about theory while performing the piece.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
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