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Am I "cheating?" #2770812
10/09/18 12:21 PM
10/09/18 12:21 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 103
Liverpool, NY
P
pathguy Offline OP
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pathguy  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 103
Liverpool, NY
So, I kind of feel funny. I have been taking private lessons with my teacher now since about March or April, going through Alfred's All-In-One Adult book 1 and also learning some other songs. By now, we both realize that I have a tendency to memorize what I play (working on that!), and that I "play by ear". I learned a few Carole King songs before starting lessons by sitting at the piano with the songs playing, so I guess that's true.

I've spent a little time on HDpiano.com and found a couple of songs that I thought would be fun to play (not songs I would have thought about doing originally). I can get through "Against All Odds" from Phil Collins, and (since the whole song wasn't free) I know at least the intro and verse to "Sailing" from Christopher Cross.

I know any time at the piano is good, and I honestly feel accomplished that I learned all this in a few hours....but I kind of feel like I'm cheating eek Do any of you use this (or another) site to learn songs that you might not do in your lessons? I wonder if I'm just the type of player who does play mostly by ear?

It's been less than a year since I started, and I won't soon be playing Carnegie Hall so I'm not going to worry about it too much. Just wondering what experiences the rest of you have had.

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Re: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770816
10/09/18 12:38 PM
10/09/18 12:38 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 314
Toronto, Canada
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thepianoplayer416 Offline
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Joined: Sep 2017
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Toronto, Canada
Playing other songs outside of your teacher's assigned repertoire isn't a bad thing. Being able to read / sight-read music well is not something you acquire in a week or a few months. It is a gradual process. Some people like myself rely on memory to learn songs. After many years I'm better at reading music but still rely to some degree on my memory (including muscle memory).

I went to a piano recital to see this 9 year-old whiz kid Ryan Wang from Vancouver who came to town. The entire 40m performance was done from memory. I don't think the audience cared whether he read any of his pieces.

I've met a few Suzuki piano teachers. In the first year they get students to play by songs by ear before learning to read. Conventional teaching methods tend to neglect ear training until later on. Being able to reproduce a song by ear isn't a bad thing. A lot of people can't play a tune without their music.

Re: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770817
10/09/18 12:44 PM
10/09/18 12:44 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,605
Florida
dogperson Offline
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dogperson  Offline
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Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,605
Florida
Hi PathGuy
I see nothing wrong with it. as long as you are not taking away time from your teacher-assigned work. If you are trying to learn to read music however, I would suggest it would be preferable to concentrate on scores where you read the music rather than default to the learning by ear which you were comfortable with already. It would speed up the reading process


"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: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770827
10/09/18 01:16 PM
10/09/18 01:16 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 241
Dublin
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johnstaf Offline
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Dublin
Playing by ear is by far the most important skill any musician can develop. Well that and improvising. If you get good at these, you will be a great memoriser. If you find music you want to learn, and it encourages you to play, then that's a good thing.

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Re: Am I "cheating?" [Re: johnstaf] #2770838
10/09/18 02:11 PM
10/09/18 02:11 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,832
Pennsylvania
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dmd Offline
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Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,832
Pennsylvania
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Playing by ear is by far the most important skill any musician can develop. Well that and improvising. If you get good at these, you will be a great memoriser. If you find music you want to learn, and it encourages you to play, then that's a good thing.


Playing by ear is a good thing.

Playing by rote (in my opinion) is not.

What is the difference ?

Playing by rote is when you are instructed (video or otherwise) as to which keys on the piano to press down to make the sounds of the tune.

Then you press those keys and .... there it is .... the tune.

Playing by ear is when you listen to a tune, decide upon a key to play it in, and with your knowledge of keys, chord progresions, chord voicings, and scales .... you put together your version of that tune.

Now, your "knowledge" with which to play may be as simple as knowing chords to play (C, F, G) to play twinkle twinkle by ear in the key of C or it may be developed to the point of being able to come up with your "by ear" rendition of Tenderly in the key of Eb. or any other tune you can name.

I agree with DogPerson in that as long as you are not short-changing the lesson assigned by your teacher, go ahead .... have fun.


Don

Current: ES8, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Spacestation v.3 Powered Stereo Monitor, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors (as Subwoofer).
Re: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770842
10/09/18 02:16 PM
10/09/18 02:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 103
Liverpool, NY
P
pathguy Offline OP
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pathguy  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 103
Liverpool, NY
Thank you all for the words of wisdom thumb

I will certainly not let my lessons suffer; I know these are building blocks that will continue to serve me well into the future of my playing.

Maybe I'll just consider those other songs "treats" for something a little different.

Re: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770870
10/09/18 05:33 PM
10/09/18 05:33 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 10,903
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by pathguy

I will certainly not let my lessons suffer; I know these are building blocks that will continue to serve me well into the future of my playing.

Maybe I'll just consider those other songs "treats" for something a little different.

If you're happy doing what you're doing, why not?

But if you consider reading skills important, why not treat yourself in an alternative way - by downloading simple pieces off IMSLP and just reading through them for fun? Or getting yourself a book of original simple classical pieces: mine was Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns, which my teacher gave me when I was three months into lessons - by the end of the year, I'd read my way through the whole book by myself - the pieces that my teacher didn't teach me, that is. I just had to know what each piece sounded like, and the only way to do that was to (try to) play them myself. The same way I'd read children's adventure books in English with a dictionary by my side (at that time, I'd just started learning English).

Doing that rapidly improved my reading skills - both in music and in English grin.

I was also playing pop and folk songs by ear (and making my own 'variations' on them), but as I much preferred classical tunes, I spent most of my 'fun time' at the piano sight-reading classical pieces, when I was a student. I still do that now.

If pop is your preference, then reading skills aren't so important.


"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: Am I "cheating?" [Re: pathguy] #2770915
10/09/18 08:34 PM
10/09/18 08:34 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,085
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Ralphiano Offline
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Ralphiano  Offline
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Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,085
Originally Posted by pathguy
...we both realize that I have a tendency to memorize what I play (working on that!), and that I "play by ear"....
s....but I kind of feel like I'm cheating...
...I wonder if I'm just the type of player who does play mostly by ear?


If you are wondering whether the fact that you are memorizing the pieces constitutes "cheating", or,more likely, some sort of ineffective shortcutting, don't worry. As a beginner, and I am still one at three years in, unintentional memorization is the natural consequence of having to play a piece many, many times in the quest to master it. In fact, I think it would be rather odd if someone undertook a task that required hundreds or thousands of repetitions to reach perfection and did not end up memorizing the task along the way. Memorization is a part of natural human intelligence, don't berate yourself for doing it.

Likewise, do not equate the natural memorization that comes from repetition of the music on the music scores you are reading while learning pieces, and the different act of memorizing something with memorization as the only way you intend to learn it. Your score reading skills will likely develop at a slow and gradual pace. In the meantime, you will naturally be memorizing the pieces you are learning through your budding sight reading skills.

Have fun!

Last edited by Ralphiano; 10/09/18 08:36 PM.

Ralph

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