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How to listen as I practice? #2720439
03/10/18 10:23 PM
03/10/18 10:23 PM
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impendia Online content OP
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Adult beginner, tense lesson with my teacher last week. I played Chopin's Waltz in A Minor for her -- I thought I did alright, but she was extremely disappointed.

She said (as she has said in the past) that the "quality of tone" is not there. I asked her what she meant, and she did give me some interesting practical advice: to touch the keys before I play them, and to not move my finger at the very last instant.

But, to my frustration (and no doubt hers also), I don't completely understand what she's driving at. I kind of do -- when she plays and imitates my bad habits, I can usually tell the difference and agree that "the other way" is better. (Sometimes much better.) But not always, and I often don't hear this sort of thing when I am the one playing.

When I practice, I confess that I tend to be happy when I hit the right notes at the right time. I do know that there is much more to playing than that, but I wonder if when I play, maybe my imagination is filling in the details from recordings I've heard, and not listening closely enough to the sounds actually coming out of the piano?

She asked me to hold myself to a higher standard. But I don't understand what this is, and have a difficult time telling if I've met it in my own practice. And my asking her to clarify wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped.

Any advice?

Thank you!

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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720445
03/10/18 11:53 PM
03/10/18 11:53 PM
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With the type of interaction you describe, I would consider the possibility that your teacher is not a good fit for you.

It sounds like there is a lack of real communication between you.

It is her job to get you to understand and to begin making progress on what she is talking about.

I hope your next lesson will bring this about.

Otherwise .... you may have to move on.


Don

Casio PX-160, Mix 5 Five-Channel Compact Mixer, DR 880 Drum Machine, Spacestation v.3 Powered Stereo Monitor
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720446
03/11/18 12:02 AM
03/11/18 12:02 AM
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To answer your question on how to listen when you practice well.. easiest way is to not do it. Instead, record yourself and listen to it after. It is crazy the amount of things you notice when listening to yourself as a spectator.

But will that be enough? If you didn't already, you should discuss your concerns with your teacher. Make it clear that you don't understand what she expect from you and that you need some guidance.

I think your teacher is trying to tell you need to develop phrasing, which is very important in chopin. it could help us if you can tell us a little more about you: how long have you been playing, how long have you been with that teacher, what type of music do you aspire to play, etc.

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720451
03/11/18 12:29 AM
03/11/18 12:29 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,613
Florida
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That sounds like a suboptimal way of interacting for a few reasons. The teacher should be showing you exactly how to do what it is she want an you to do, with specific details. Additionally, it is supposed to be fun; leaving with a sense of disappointment is not that much fun. I changed teachers for similar reasons but it took me to long to do so.

Tone production, dynamics and touch are important, and something you can work to improve. In my case, however, it didn't start to happen until after four years and I still have room for improvement. I think it comes with finger strength, precision, and agility that develops gradually over a long period of playing time. One thing that helped me was learning to center my fingers on the keys, rather than reaching for the keys. There was a video posted on this a while back. Further, a lot of practice to build significant comfort with a piece helps. Finally, my current teacher emphasizes musicality and phrasing and I am working on this specifically.


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720452
03/11/18 12:31 AM
03/11/18 12:31 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,613
Florida
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Here it is. John Mortensen series on tone production. His videos are excellent.



Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720454
03/11/18 12:57 AM
03/11/18 12:57 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
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When it comes to tonality in piano playing, there is usually one or a combination of 2 or 3 factors: the touch on the keys, the use of una coda pedal and the use of sustaining pedal. The most obvious one is the touch on the keys, and the most difficult one.

Touch on the keys doesn't solely involve the fingers. It also involves the hands and arms, sometimes sitting positions. To get the same/similar tonality on different pianos requires adjustments to your playing. Your ears need to learn how to tell the difference, then have your "mechanics" adjust sensitively. It's not possible to put in text to describe the details of how to put it all together. That's why we have teachers to show us the way.

Tonality is not the same as volume. You can get the same volume by playing the same note(s) in different ways but result to different sound quality. For instance, if you want a more "percussive" sound effect/quality, you'd generally play more at the tip of your fingers. For a more expressive sound quality, you'd generally use more finger pads, and go slower into the keys, but applying the right amount hand or arm weight to get the volume you want. For staccatos, depending on the music, you may play from above the keys (fingers dropping onto the keys), or your may play with fingers on the keys, do a "pluck" action and bounce off the keys. All these different techniques produce different tones.

What determines the different techniques to use is the end results, the sound you want. So first you'll need to know/decide what sound you want to achieve. To decide what sound you want depends on your interpretation of the music. Then your ears have to judge if you are getting the sound you want. Then you apply or adjust your techniques to get it. This goes beyond playing the right note with the right finger at the right time. I believe that is what your teacher is asking from you, that you go beyond elementary piano playing.

In summary:
1. Music interpretation (decides what sound)
2. Techniques (to get that sound)
3. Listening/ear training (judge if you are getting that sound, and apply/adjust techniques accordingly)

From your post, it seems like your teacher is asking for 1 and 3, but he/she needs to be able to explain and show you in a way that you understand, and guide you on how you can practise to achieve it.

I hope I have shed some light and not confuse you further.

Good luck!



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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: Micael K.] #2720459
03/11/18 02:11 AM
03/11/18 02:11 AM
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by Micael K.
To answer your question on how to listen when you practice well.. easiest way is to not do it. Instead, record yourself and listen to it after. It is crazy the amount of things you notice when listening to yourself as a spectator.
. . .


+1.

But I'd put it differently:

. . . It's crazy how much you _don't hear_ while you're busy playing.<g>

If your problems are about phrasing, and uneven dynamics, and uneven timing, a recording will show all those things.

Now, your teacher might be talking about things that _don't_ show up on a recording. I'd call those "technique" -- how you hold your hand, how you strike the keys, how you do (or don't) relax while holding the keys. I'd label those things "technique", not "tone". And they _won't_ show up in a recording -- so you won't hear that kind of mistake.

If no teachers respond to this, here, you might want to start a discussion in the Teacher's Forum. It's a fairly deep problem, and you're not the only person who's had it.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720467
03/11/18 03:33 AM
03/11/18 03:33 AM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 161
England
Lillith Offline
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+1 for recording yourself and listening to it - endless times I've recorded a perfect performance, then listened back and heard the hesitations frown

+1 for not understanding what the teacher means too - their job is to explain or demonstrate it so you can understand. This often takes a teacher with the same mindset as you, or at least an understanding of it, and some teachers just repeat the same thing louder till you shut up.
I'd think about getting another one.


White Roland FP30
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720468
03/11/18 03:40 AM
03/11/18 03:40 AM
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Moscow, Russia
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The ability to hear nuances of one's own playing is, in fact, the most critical thing for every musician. It is the thing that should be trained first of all and I'm sorry to say that without it any other type of training is mostly useless.

What you need to do to develop it, is to get a nice, slow, short phrase, that you feel comfortable playing, close you eyes and imagine how this phrase should sound as vividly and minutely as possible. Play it in your mind how you wish it to be played perfectly. Then, trying to hold that aural image mentally, open your eyes and play it on your piano, carefully comparing every played note to the perfect image that you hold in your mind. Work this way on every phrase until it sounds exactly as you imagine. Just be sure to pick up phrases that are slow and simple enough for you to be able to play it perfectly. You should probably begin with phrases from most simple pieces.

Recording and listening to your recordings is also greatly useful.

Good luck! And be patient!

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720474
03/11/18 04:27 AM
03/11/18 04:27 AM
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Israel
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I can not understand the problem! I have many adult students, some of them even beginners on the piano (after the guitar). I work with everyone, without exception, on the sound, and everyone without exception is progressing. The first progress is usually achieved after working together for 10-20 minutes.
First, I explain that playing with a barking sound like trying to sing while you're trying to strangle yourself (general muscle tension and convulsive movements). And really, instead of singing, strangled barking comes out. Then some students ask: "Yes, there is a difference, but it is very small! (this is exactly so in the first stage) ;is it so important? There are two answers: 1) playing the piano is "art of a little bit" (Heinrich Neuhaus); 2) if we multiply this tiny difference by the number of sounds in a piece of music , they can be hundreds or thousands; then the difference becomes huge.

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720495
03/11/18 09:21 AM
03/11/18 09:21 AM
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Chopin is very hard to play well with the correct tone and feel. This takes years to master so if you are a beginner you wont get it correct.

Generally if you want to focus on something like tone, you need to start with a piece well within your comfort so if it is a struggle just to get the notes then I would try it with an easier piece.

If your teacher is demotivating or not explaining so you understand, this is something you should say in the lesson as this is poor teaching skills.

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720500
03/11/18 09:40 AM
03/11/18 09:40 AM
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Posts: 16,245
Canada
keystring Offline
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Impendia, I looked back and saw that you and I had a back and forth conversation in the teacher forum I think late last year. I didn't remember the conversation or even your name but when you wrote you were a "beginner" and then named a piece that was not a beginner piece, I wanted to check up. I got lost in our conversation and we weren't meeting: getting at foundations and a certain non-rigid order or sense to that is what I see as working, while you were looking at a model in your own field and students, going out on a limb - something like that. Your geography and what is available where you are. It seems you have found a teacher who will work along the lines you want, and thereby you are lodged "between the cracks". I don't know if I can manage to set this out.

Originally Posted by Impendia
... Chopin's Waltz in A Minor for her -- I thought I did alright, but she was extremely disappointed.

She said (as she has said in the past) that the "quality of tone" is not there. I asked her what she meant, and she did give me some interesting practical advice: to touch the keys before I play them, and to not move my finger at the very last instant.

But, to my frustration (and no doubt hers also), I don't completely understand what she's driving at. I kind of do -- when she plays and imitates my bad habits, I can usually tell the difference and agree that "the other way" is better. (Sometimes much better.) But not always, and I often don't hear this sort of thing when I am the one playing.

When I practice, I confess that I tend to be happy when I hit the right notes at the right time. I do know that there is much more to playing than that, but I wonder if when I play, maybe my imagination is filling in the details from recordings I've heard, and not listening closely enough to the sounds actually coming out of the piano?

She asked me to hold myself to a higher standard.

Ok, when you listen to recordings, you are hearing the final result but not the process the pianist went through to get there, and not the underlying things that go into that playing. The musicians uses basic knowledge and skills to shape the piece he plays, and you have to get at these same tools yourself. You cannot try to imitate a final result. What you're struggling with lies somewhere in this kettle of fish.

(It's hard to know what you do and don't know or have learned.)

Ok, with this waltz you have the waltz meter ofc, a LH accompaniment, and the melody in the RH that wants to go in a flowing singing style. The professionals will add some rubato, knowing when to pause a note a little bit, when to speed something up, for drama and interest, when to get louder and softer, all the while not losing the sense of meter and pulse. Before doing anything even close to that, there are things that you must be able to understand in your mind and senses, and be able to carry out in your body. Does this make sense so far?

* Most fundamentally you need to be able to play the correct notes at the correct time. As a process (practising) you would "chunk" the music into smaller sections, working on fundamental aspects to get them into your system; ideally working with the hardest bits first and then moving into them. When you have those notes, you can concentrate on other things. You will work quite a bit slower than the final tempo. This is one element.

* A fundamental element in this piece is that the melody will be played louder than the accompaniment. Do you know how to do that? Can you do that? If you have not worked on such a thing, you may also not really hear it. In my own work with my teachers, I would "discover" things that I had never heard before, which had always been there in performances, because I had not learned to work toward such a thing, so my senses were closed off from these things.

When I listen to a few professional renderings of that waltz, I can hear choices that the performers made by emphasizing certain notes, by shaping phrases, through crescendo and diminuendo. There are pedal choices. I can hear things that I did not hear a few years ago, because of what I have learned to work toward in my own studies. I also hear things that I, myself, cannot pull off, especially in imitation because it is either without understanding, or without the skills.

This is what I mean with my clumsy metaphor of being "between the cracks". You have music that is more advanced, you have an adult's sensitivity to good music and good playing, but not the underlying tools. You are not alone in this. Most of us have to contend with this in some manner. It is NOT a matter of playing easy baby music before going on to more interesting things: that is a repertoire-based view. It is a matter of getting at fundamental skills and knowledge, which give insight into the very sophisticated things that professional musicians manipulate as their building blocks - we have to get at these things ourselves.

This whole post reads like gobbledygook, but I'll send it anyway. wink

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720511
03/11/18 11:17 AM
03/11/18 11:17 AM
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I was wondering how many times your teacher had explained these things to you. Maybe she had had a bad day, but in my experience teachers (of many subjects) don't get "extremely disappointed" unless it is the third or more time of carefully explaining and demonstrating stuff to students and careful instructions on how to practice techniques at home, and finding the student/s have not listened to a word and don't have a clue what you're talking about in the next lesson.

Of course, I could be wrong in your particular case.

(How come when I post what I think are valuable videos from John Mortensen everyone complains ..?)


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTc4esj9xQG6NjLIr9an29Q
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720513
03/11/18 11:22 AM
03/11/18 11:22 AM
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Posts: 3,795
Florida
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pianopiI am not finding a post you made of a Mortensen video where everyone complains.....In fact, CMB posted one in this thread. Keep posting them as he is well respected


"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: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720519
03/11/18 11:48 AM
03/11/18 11:48 AM
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Portland, OR, USA
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Originally Posted by impendia
When I practice, I confess that I tend to be happy when I hit the right notes at the right time. I do know that there is much more to playing than that, but I wonder if when I play, maybe my imagination is filling in the details from recordings I've heard, and not listening closely enough to the sounds actually coming out of the piano?

She asked me to hold myself to a higher standard. But I don't understand what this is, and have a difficult time telling if I've met it in my own practice. And my asking her to clarify wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped.

One suggestion: When you begin a new piece next time, do not listen to any of its recordings. Figure out notes, timing, dynamics, phrasing etc. on your own and finish the piece and record it. Then, listen to your recording and other professional recordings. This way, your imagination of previous impressions of recordings play no role and it will enable you to understand positive/negative aspects of your interpretation.

Osho


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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: pianopi] #2720520
03/11/18 11:52 AM
03/11/18 11:52 AM
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Posts: 161
England
Lillith Offline
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Originally Posted by pianopi
I was wondering how many times your teacher had explained these things to you. Maybe she had had a bad day, but in my experience teachers (of many subjects) don't get "extremely disappointed" unless it is the third or more time of carefully explaining and demonstrating stuff to students and careful instructions on how to practice techniques at home, and finding the student/s have not listened to a word and don't have a clue what you're talking about in the next lesson.


Or perhaps the pupil has listened to every word and not understood a word of it. Not all pupils find it easy to say they don't understand, especially when to the teacher it is obvious.

Last edited by Lillith; 03/11/18 11:53 AM. Reason: typos :(

White Roland FP30
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720525
03/11/18 12:45 PM
03/11/18 12:45 PM
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pianopi Offline

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dogperson, I had posted a suggestion to look at a Mortensen video on someone else's thread, and quite a few people (perhaps not "everybody") were derisive of that video and Mortensen in general. I saw CMB's post in this thread and found it valuable, and that's why I posted my grumpy comment.

Lillith, I presumed the teacher, if any good, had asked the student - in the lessons - to demonstrate a good number of times and describe in his/her own words, the things the teacher was teaching. Perhaps that counters the idea that the student had not listened. Perhaps it was more a case of not practicing what specifically taught.


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTc4esj9xQG6NjLIr9an29Q
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: pianopi] #2720539
03/11/18 02:08 PM
03/11/18 02:08 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,245
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by pianopi
..... but in my experience teachers (of many subjects) don't get "extremely disappointed" unless ....

I have found that in terms of music instruction (or "instruction") in particular, we cannot assume anything, and at times some sleuthing may be in order. The path can be wrong, the instructions may be unclear, and also, student attitude or student-driven direction can be wrong. I've seen "disappointment" to be genuine, in the manner you're getting at, and I've also seen it used to "motivate" a student to try harder, when the student has every reason to be lost. I'm wondering, since your post came right after mine, whether you had a chance to read it. smile

I'm off to see what you wrote about Dr. Mortenson, since that is a teacher whose videos I respect.

.... edit. Can't find it. Can you link?

Last edited by keystring; 03/11/18 02:32 PM.
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: pianopi] #2720540
03/11/18 02:11 PM
03/11/18 02:11 PM
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Posts: 161
England
Lillith Offline
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Originally Posted by pianopi


Lillith, I presumed the teacher, if any good, had asked the student - in the lessons - to demonstrate a good number of times and describe in his/her own words, the things the teacher was teaching. Perhaps that counters the idea that the student had not listened. Perhaps it was more a case of not practicing what specifically taught.


Haha!! Never having been a teacher, and having been subjected to some bad ones (not music), I always blame the teacher smile
Slightly more seriously, I have had situations where I didn't have a clue what the teacher was talking about, and the teacher thought it was so obvious that my obtuseness needed her to repeat it again and again till I said OK then. That's why I never understood calculus, still don't.
I can say dy by dx with the best of them, but why is another matter!

Anyway pianopi, rest assured that I shall quibble no more!! In addition, I shall google Mortensen and look forward to checking out his videos smile


White Roland FP30
Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720545
03/11/18 02:40 PM
03/11/18 02:40 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,795
Florida
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Hi Lillith

As adult students we need to tell our piano teachers that we do not understand and ask him/her to show a different way or explain a different way...... repeatedly, until we do understand. I’m afraid if we don’t do that, the teachers will assume we do understand and we will soon be lost..... the teacher will assume our understanding and be disappointed when we do not improve.

Communication should actively involve both of us, and it is so important!!


"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: How to listen as I practice? [Re: pianopi] #2720570
03/11/18 06:19 PM
03/11/18 06:19 PM
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I think the posts about Mortensen that pianopi is thinking of were on the Should recitals be error-free? thread.

There were also two other recent Mortensen threads: Mortensen on tension at the piano and More Mortensen.

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 03/11/18 07:03 PM. Reason: added links

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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: PianoStudent88] #2720575
03/11/18 06:57 PM
03/11/18 06:57 PM
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Posts: 16,245
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I think the posts about Mortensen that pianopi is thinking of were on the “Should recitals be error-free?” thread..

Found it, and also a "reaction" - mine. It was not a "complaint" but placing the video in context. It was in the context of 6 videos that presented a complete idea, and if that one was seen alone and out of context, it would be misleading. As part of the whole, it was spot on.

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720584
03/11/18 08:28 PM
03/11/18 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by impendia
Adult beginner, tense lesson with my teacher last week. I played Chopin's Waltz in A Minor for her -- I thought I did alright, but she was extremely disappointed.

What made you conclude that she was "extremely disappointed"?

Was this the first time playing the Waltz for her? If so, what were you hoping her reaction would be? If not, what were her reactions and suggestions the previous times?

A common scenario for the first few months with my second piano teacher was that I would learn the notes of a piece and bring it the week after, and she would stop me after a few bars and start reconstructing it completely. After a while I learned that just knowing the bare notes (and hacking them out) was not at all what she was looking for. Slowly I learned to pay attention during my practice to more than "did I play the right note at the right time."

Quote
She said (as she has said in the past) that the "quality of tone" is not there. I asked her what she meant, and she did give me some interesting practical advice: to touch the keys before I play them, and to not move my finger at the very last instant.

With my second teacher, every desired tone from the piano had a specific touch that produced that tone. My lessons could have been called "how to touch the piano" lessons instead of "piano" lessons smile . Is this the first time your teacher has given you physical suggestions for how to produce a certain tone?

Has she made "quality of tone" comments on other pieces beside this Chopin waltz? If so, which pieces? Are there any pieces where you have achieved her desired quality of tone?

Quote
But, to my frustration (and no doubt hers also), I don't completely understand what she's driving at. I kind of do -- when she plays and imitates my bad habits, I can usually tell the difference and agree that "the other way" is better. (Sometimes much better.) But not always, and I often don't hear this sort of thing when I am the one playing.

When you can't tell the difference or when you don't agree that "the other way" is better, do you tell her? What does she say in reply? When you can tell the difference, does she explain how she's producing the different effect? (If she is, I have some more thoughts, but it starts with whether she's explaining at all.)

There is perhaps something to be said for learning to produce different sounds by experimenting with different kinds of touch and listening for the different effects, but when I was taking lessons I had no idea of all the variables I could put into how I touched the piano, and would never have arrived at my teacher's solutions ever in a million years on my own. Fortunately, she gave me actual instruction and I did leave lessons understanding the physical motions and effects she wanted me to practice, and able to hear the difference it made in the sound, and thus I was able to practice on my own. Some effects took me weeks or months to achieve (e.g. the desired sound for the LH part in your Chopin waltz), but I was not operating in an instructionless vacuum.

Quote
When I practice, I confess that I tend to be happy when I hit the right notes at the right time. I do know that there is much more to playing than that, but I wonder if when I play, maybe my imagination is filling in the details from recordings I've heard, and not listening closely enough to the sounds actually coming out of the piano?

Do you want to learn to discern more in your playing than solely whether you're playing the right notes at the right time? If you do, is that your own goal or is it only because you want to please your teacher?

Quote
She asked me to hold myself to a higher standard. But I don't understand what this is, and have a difficult time telling if I've met it in my own practice. And my asking her to clarify wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped.

What did she say when you asked her to clarify? Also, there are two separate issues here: (a) what she means by "a higher standard", and (b) how you achieve that (including how you learn to discern it).

Quote
Any advice?

Thank you!

I have more ideas, but I want to understand more about your situation before going further, hence all the questions above.


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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720610
03/12/18 02:46 AM
03/12/18 02:46 AM
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"More hearing, less playing" - as Anne Goldsworthy's teacher kept repeating (in her book Piano Lessons).

This is something I have been focusing on recently - even if it's so much easier to just play through something, do scales and exercises, and basically complete your homework without paying enough attention. I'm also still at a point where I'm usually happy if I get all the notes right, especially with some pieces and when I try to practice "performing", but it's very clear to me that when I don't really know how something is supposed to sound, I just can't play it. If I don't "hear it", maybe I can read the notes and rhythm alright, but I can't really learn it and play it fluently, let alone give it expression.

What this really means and how to fit it into your practice, is very subjective and not at all straightforward. Recording yourself is good, even mandatory, but you should also learn to listen while you play. Maybe just slow down enough, and/or practice only short bits. I usually find that I play better if I listen to some great pianist's recording of the piece just before recording myself. I think that if I had a better ear and if I had listened to classical music since childhood, everything would be much easier for me now. I try to make up for it now by listening to a lot of music and also doing ear training exercises, even if that's quite frustrating.


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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720635
03/12/18 07:11 AM
03/12/18 07:11 AM
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Hi Impendia,

Maybe you can ask your teacher to work with you on listening in small sections, such as 4 measures, RH only. There's a lot to work on in 4 measures of a Chopin melody. If your teacher can't zero in and demonstrate how to improve your sound at this level, I'd suspect that she doesn't know how to teach. Tone quality, phrasing, shaping, shouldn't be tacked on AFTER you've learned all the notes. You have to undo all the bad habits of motion that you've practiced in.

I don't want to read too much into your situation, and I almost didn't reply because I'm painfully reminded of a teacher (highly credentialed BTW) I had some decades ago. I'd work on the entire piece and then she tear it to shreds--especially my "tone." I only had her for a year but she did a lot of damage.

There are teachers who will work with you, right as you start a piece, on tone, articulation, shaping, dynamics in small sections. They can demonstrate and make sure you hear differences and can play them yourself too. You can try out different ways of shaping a phrase, right in your lesson. Then you go home and practice your interpretation (again, in small sections). Eventually you improve your ear and technique and are able to apply what you've learned on your own.

The process is learning how to approach details in a piece and feeling confident about the appropriate movements (technique) to express them. After that, it's fluency, which is lots of practice--more for some of us than others:-)

Sorry if I misunderstand, but alarms went off as I read your post. Decide, as others have suggested, on your goals. Discuss with your teacher--she may not understand that playing musically is important to you. If she can't teach you, rather than just critique you, find a better teacher.


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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720648
03/12/18 07:46 AM
03/12/18 07:46 AM
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Twin cities MN US
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Sometimes our teachers disappoint US too! My teacher is--for the most part--wonderful, but she catches colds, gets watery red eyes, has sinus issues, and sometimes can be distracted by her own discomfort and health problems. I have learned to take the good with the bad, because her "good" is really amazing. She can tell me precisely what I need to do differently, and can figure out exactly why certain passages are difficult for me. However, I distinctly remember a time when she kept repeating the same words over and over and I had no idea what she meant. Finally, I put it into my own words, and she said "no thats' not what I mean," so I tried again, and eventually MY words fit with the meaning behind her words. and suddenly I "got it." It's messy business working so closely with someone who is far superior in skill and ability but trying to speak on equal footing with each other. I'd suggest that you let her know that you need different words to explain what she means, and then if this keeps continuing, I'd find someone else. The most damaging part of what you wrote---to me---is that she was disappointed in you. That's not acceptable, and it can make you feel horrible in the long run. If that continues, you must find another teacher. I hope that she just had an off day.

Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720673
03/12/18 10:18 AM
03/12/18 10:18 AM
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It is necessary but not sufficient that your teacher shows you how to do it. You need to do it yourself during the lesson, after your teacher has demonstrated it, and be able to repeat it at least three times (five would be better).

My teacher can explain something and demonstrate it and it makes perfect sense to me. Then when I try to repeat it myself, I find that I really wasn't picking up on some critical aspect. The time to deal with that is during the lesson, in front of the teacher. There should be a back-and-forth discussion and demonstration until you, the student, get it right.


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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: gingko2] #2720680
03/12/18 10:29 AM
03/12/18 10:29 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,245
Canada
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Ginkgo has managed to express the kinds of things that came to my mind. Stubbie's as well.
Originally Posted by gingko2
Hi Impendia,

Maybe you can ask your teacher to work with you on listening in small sections, such as 4 measures, RH only. There's a lot to work on in 4 measures of a Chopin melody. If your teacher can't zero in and demonstrate how to improve your sound at this level, I'd suspect that she doesn't know how to teach. Tone quality, phrasing, shaping, shouldn't be tacked on AFTER you've learned all the notes. You have to undo all the bad habits of motion that you've practiced in.

I don't want to read too much into your situation, and I almost didn't reply because I'm painfully reminded of a teacher (highly credentialed BTW) I had some decades ago. I'd work on the entire piece and then she tear it to shreds--especially my "tone." I only had her for a year but she did a lot of damage.

There are teachers who will work with you, right as you start a piece, on tone, articulation, shaping, dynamics in small sections. They can demonstrate and make sure you hear differences and can play them yourself too. You can try out different ways of shaping a phrase, right in your lesson. Then you go home and practice your interpretation (again, in small sections). Eventually you improve your ear and technique and are able to apply what you've learned on your own.

The process is learning how to approach details in a piece and feeling confident about the appropriate movements (technique) to express them. After that, it's fluency, which is lots of practice--more for some of us than others:-)

Sorry if I misunderstand, but alarms went off as I read your post. Decide, as others have suggested, on your goals. Discuss with your teacher--she may not understand that playing musically is important to you. If she can't teach you, rather than just critique you, find a better teacher.


Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2720689
03/12/18 11:19 AM
03/12/18 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
The ability to hear nuances of one's own playing is, in fact, the most critical thing for every musician. It is the thing that should be trained first of all and I'm sorry to say that without it any other type of training is mostly useless.

What you need to do to develop it, is to get a nice, slow, short phrase, that you feel comfortable playing, ....

Recording and listening to your recordings is also greatly useful.

Good luck! And be patient!


This is the most useful post in this thread (Iaroslav's, not mine).

Recording and playing it back lets you put your full attention on listening, without the distraction of actually playing at the same time.

To give the same quality of attention to the sound you're making while actually playing, you have to work on something slow, short, and easy. It has to be no problem at all to get the right fingers to the right keys fast enough. Four bars melody only is enough to start with. But once you get that right, adding more gets easier.

It's a waste of effort to memorize a bunch of notes without the right tone and feel. That would all have to be un-learned and re-learned to get it right, because the muscle memory would be wrong.




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Re: How to listen as I practice? [Re: impendia] #2720709
03/12/18 12:55 PM
03/12/18 12:55 PM
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My own experience of Chopin is that this 'tone' is very hard to achieve. I've spending a lot of time on how to get the effect in some Chopin but I'm never happy with the result when I play the recording. I'm not saying that the above people are wrong, its just that I ask my teacher to explain and improve but I didnt get it sounding really nice. I know Chopin is very popular composer to play but I find get the sound right can be very difficult and I get quite impatient. I don't normally finish his pieces and dont really enjoy playing him. So to be honest I've stopped. There is a lot of other composers to play so I'm not without choices!

I think it is most important that you enjoy what you are playing. If you are not enjoying the Chopin and it is causing frustration , if you cannot get it dont worry. Rather than switching teacher or searching out for a magically tonal style, switching music pieces might be the best option. I often find you learn tone and musical style from many pieces and there are often many ways (hotly debated!) amongst piano players about how to achieve the best tone.

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