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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: keystring] #2776838
10/30/18 02:58 PM
10/30/18 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
No, I wrote about this phenomenon: A student starts lessons with a teacher who does not bother to give any foundations, esp. physical foundations, and simply goes through pieces of increasing difficulty. The student who never got the tools continues to struggle as he "advances" because no teacher has bothered giving the tools.

Well, even at the "physical foundation" level, there are disagreements among teachers. For example, how "round" does the hand have to be? And where does this roundness come from (tension, or naturally relaxed position)? I'm at the point in my teaching where I sincerely doubt the value of teaching round hand shape to young beginners, yet you still see pictures of round hands in these method books; some having all the fingers lined up in a curled position. That will cause more problems further down the line.

Originally Posted by keystring
This happens more frequently when a student has some other background in music, so the teacher thinks he doesn't have to teach basics / the student would be insulted by basics. If you imagine a trumpeter being taught piano under the assumption that his breath control and embouchure will magically teach his hands to move - you get the picture.

No, I actually don't get the picture. This is not applicable. Are there piano teachers who are actually stupid enough to think this way?

Originally Posted by keystring
Besides any specific technique, there is the question of being taught how to move, period. The writer went through five teachers, begging them to help with his mysterious problems when a few said things like "look at your hands". The sixth teacher finally gave some technical advice.

Again, there are disagreements about how to move. Some teachers still teach their students to lift each individual finger as high as possible and slam down into the key. You also have to take the student's individual propensities and abilities into consideration. If you insist on having a round hand shape upon a 6-year-old child with soft fingers and weak joints, you will get nowhere. I teach arm weight, yet there are kids whose joints automatically collapse if I insist on having them transferring weight into each individual finger.

In my experience, almost every single student moves their fingers and hands at an acceptable level of wobbliness and instability--at the beginning level. Only those students with exceptionally bad coordination and/or physical problems need correction. Then, I start teaching technique when it is appropriate, to the repertoire and to the student's physical/mental development. Most of the problems with technique that I've seen is when teachers try to push too far ahead in repertoire, and the student doesn't have the proper technique and/or physical/mental development to play that music.

Right now, I'm teaching a very intelligent 7-year-old boy who is hopelessly small, with very soft fingers. I can't get him to play anything evenly, yet he can read music blazing fast. So I slowed down his repertoire progress and wait until his physical development can catch up. There are other things, such as theory and ear training, that I can do while we wait for the body to catch up to the brain.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2776889
10/30/18 06:31 PM
10/30/18 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
This happens more frequently when a student has some other background in music, so the teacher thinks he doesn't have to teach basics / the student would be insulted by basics. If you imagine a trumpeter being taught piano under the assumption that his breath control and embouchure will magically teach his hands to move - you get the picture.

No, I actually don't get the picture. This is not applicable. Are there piano teachers who are actually stupid enough to think this way?

This is exactly what I'm talking about. By now I've talked to a number of people or read stories that went along those lines. The teacher isn't going to literally say "your breath control as a trumpeter will tell you how to make your hands move", but there is some kind of an idea that if you have a background in any kind of instrument, you can skip steps and don't need to be taught things. I remember one story where on day 1 the teacher had the student start with HT music,and it wasn't totally basic music either. The thing is that if you already play an instrument, you can figure things out after a fashion at home. You can "work out" Minuet in G note by note, figure out where the notes go, and bang out something plausible at the end of the week. But you haven't been taught how to play the piano. You might be better of learning on your own and finding some good technical videos or on-line teachers of the good kind, and work more slowly at your own pace.

By "technique" and "technical foundations" I don't mean round hands holding apples or those kinds of things you mention. But I've talked to students with teachers who didn't know they should be sitting at an optimum height or distance - they were sitting really low or really high, maybe super close to the piano, and then wondered why everything hurt or was that hard. Meanwhile, if you are a student with a musical background in another instrument, you may be pushed super fast. All that creates strain. Going more slowly, observing the student, guiding along the way, makes a lot of sense.

The student who was quoted on Reddit was a music student who had studied theory, and so he is likely to have been rushed through in this manner. It is a pattern I have seen. It happens to adult students because of the tale that adults want to move fast, and it can happen especially to any student who has any kind of musical background and starts piano with a teacher. I agree that it is stupid.
quote] Most of the problems with technique that I've seen is when teachers try to push too far ahead in repertoire, and the student doesn't have the proper technique and/or physical/mental development to play that music.[/quote ]
Yes, that is the kind of thing I'm talking about. It happens especially with students who have some background in music, but not piano.

Quote
Right now, I'm teaching a very intelligent 7-year-old boy who is hopelessly small, with very soft fingers. I can't get him to play anything evenly, yet he can read music blazing fast. So I slowed down his repertoire progress and wait until his physical development can catch up. There are other things, such as theory and ear training, that I can do while we wait for the body to catch up to the brain.

He is lucky to have you as a teacher. smile

I like the expression body catch up to the brain. This is a particular issue for adult students, because we can comprehend things very quickly and that fools some teachers. Our bodies need to catch up. Not only that, but our way of moving may no longer be as natural as a child's (though there are some awkward children I'm sure), and we don't want to entrench the habits of strain that comes from the body falling behind the brain. (love the analogy!)

Last edited by keystring; 10/30/18 06:33 PM.
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: keystring] #2776936
10/31/18 12:24 AM
10/31/18 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
But I've talked to students with teachers who didn't know they should be sitting at an optimum height or distance - they were sitting really low or really high, maybe super close to the piano, and then wondered why everything hurt or was that hard.

Oh, there's no consensus on that, either!!

When I transferred to my last piano teacher before college, he made me sit lower at the piano and quite a bit far away from the keys. Like I'm supposed to "lean into" the piano. It resulted in awkward arm position and unbelievable tension. This idea came from three different teachers at Juilliard.

Now that I sit much higher and not SO far away from the keys, I tell my students the same. Then I get these stupid judges and evaluators who tell my students they are sitting too high and too close. This old-world, unscientific view is like a chronic disease that won't go away.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2777028
10/31/18 10:25 AM
10/31/18 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
When I transferred to my last piano teacher before college, he made me sit lower at the piano and quite a bit far away from the keys. Like I'm supposed to "lean into" the piano. It resulted in awkward arm position and unbelievable tension. This idea came from three different teachers at Juilliard.

Now that I sit much higher and not SO far away from the keys, I tell my students the same. Then I get these stupid judges and evaluators who tell my students they are sitting too high and too close.


From Gould to Garner, pianists have made all kinds of positions work. The one notion that has some common sense behind it is that it's better to have your tendons straight while they're moving, which means straight wrists while your fingers are moving.

Perhaps it would be best to have students try a variety of positions and see what works.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: JohnSprung] #2777032
10/31/18 10:35 AM
10/31/18 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
From Gould to Garner, pianists have made all kinds of positions work.

Early pianists like Hanon even apparently made 'piston fingering' work:
[Linked Image]
In my opinion, not every technique suggested by every pedagogue is equally valid.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: JohnSprung] #2777035
10/31/18 10:42 AM
10/31/18 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
From Gould to Garner, pianists have made all kinds of positions work. The one notion that has some common sense behind it is that it's better to have your tendons straight while they're moving, which means straight wrists while your fingers are moving.

Perhaps it would be best to have students try a variety of positions and see what works.

I disagree with that last statement. If I know for certain what works best, that is what I will teach. At the same time, I don't intend to fix what is not broken.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2777112
10/31/18 05:04 PM
10/31/18 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
From Gould to Garner, pianists have made all kinds of positions work. The one notion that has some common sense behind it is that it's better to have your tendons straight while they're moving, which means straight wrists while your fingers are moving.

Perhaps it would be best to have students try a variety of positions and see what works.

I disagree with that last statement. If I know for certain what works best, that is what I will teach. At the same time, I don't intend to fix what is not broken.


Hmmm.... It sounds like you now disagree with the very thing you did yourself when you were a student. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Personally, I too head a bit more towards Garner than Gould.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: keystring] #2777119
10/31/18 05:38 PM
10/31/18 05:38 PM
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Keystrings thanks for your response, that makes sense. My first teacher I had for 2 years, he was playing for a symphony and went on to advance his career. My current teacher of 3 years recently has me going back to easier music so I am leaning to play without stopping and getting all the counts correctly. As a novice, I do think there is value in keeping the same teacher and working with them even if the student does not agree. Novice students don't know what they don't know. Now if the student is advanced and the teacher and the student have different theoretical views, that may be an issue. However, novices , as myself, that would probably not be an issue.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: AZNpiano] #2777333
11/01/18 06:08 PM
11/01/18 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
But I've talked to students with teachers who didn't know they should be sitting at an optimum height or distance - they were sitting really low or really high, maybe super close to the piano, and then wondered why everything hurt or was that hard.

Oh, there's no consensus on that, either!!

When I transferred to my last piano teacher before college, he made me sit lower at the piano and quite a bit far away from the keys. Like I'm supposed to "lean into" the piano. It resulted in awkward arm position and unbelievable tension. This idea came from three different teachers at Juilliard.

Now that I sit much higher and not SO far away from the keys, I tell my students the same. Then I get these stupid judges and evaluators who tell my students they are sitting too high and too close. This old-world, unscientific view is like a chronic disease that won't go away.

I do not like any kind of dogma in any direction. I had a variety of experiences before being where I am now in things. My conclusion at present is that there are some general principles at work. For example:
- sit high vs. sit low; sit close vs. sit high (which you just presented). --- Instead of this: Your seating may affect the comfort and ease with which you play. Or as you worded it: optimum height. And then play with that. Are we on the same page?

I'd want a teacher to have a feel for and understanding of how the body works, esp. on the instrument, how the instrument functions, and then to be observant. S/he addresses what is seen, what the student reports, and maybe encourages the student to experiment and then sees the results. There should be some focus on this at the beginning, especially with adult students where the tendency may be to rush forward in repertoire levels too fast. (Our conversation started with the implausible but common story of the hypothetical advanced trumpet student starting piano).

I am also very cautious about "dogma" teachers who press some rule they learned; or some solution that worked for their own personal problem. From what I encountered, these teachers don't see the student in front of them. They see what is supposed to work, even when it doesn't. They may blame the student for not trying hard enough, anything except question whether that dogma actually works.

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2777356
11/01/18 07:42 PM
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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: DFSRN] #2777361
11/01/18 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DFSRN
Keystrings thanks for your response, that makes sense. My first teacher I had for 2 years, he was playing for a symphony and went on to advance his career. My current teacher of 3 years recently has me going back to easier music so I am leaning to play without stopping and getting all the counts correctly. As a novice, I do think there is value in keeping the same teacher and working with them even if the student does not agree. Novice students don't know what they don't know. Now if the student is advanced and the teacher and the student have different theoretical views, that may be an issue. However, novices , as myself, that would probably not be an issue.

The inherent problem in being a novice student is that if you are being misled or mistaught, you can't tell. The Reddit article that was the start of this thread seems to have had this component. My own experience was that I started on an instrument that is known for being technically difficult: I had played other instruments self-taught and so could get at a lot of things through ear and instinct - I was being advanced way too fast, something didn't feel right but I figured that the teacher must know what he was doing. It is possible to produce the music you want to produce that you hear in your head while straining the whole time. The "foundations" you create this way will then cause everything to collapse at some point - either that or you stop progressing. The phenomenon I wrote of earlier, which astounded AZNpiano, was at the heart of this. The first teacher and the first teaching you receive is really important. I would stress to any adult to let the teacher know that you want to get the foundations, and you want to take your time - esp. adults who did music in some other way before. Some teachers don't dare to even though it's their preference, thinking that these students will be insulted or impatient.

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: JohnSprung] #2777364
11/01/18 08:41 PM
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Each student only has one body, and for many of us it isn't a body ideally suited for playing piano. Good teachers help us make the most of it. Sometimes our bodies get better as we go along and sometimes they get worse; good teachers still help us make the most of it.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: JohnSprung] #2777391
11/01/18 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Hmmm.... It sounds like you now disagree with the very thing you did yourself when you were a student.

High school or college? Now I'm confused by your confusion.

In high school, I was told to sit low and far.

In college, I was told to sit high and not far (not close, either), and there's a scientific explanation that went with that instruction. It was presented in a rather dogmatic way, but when then dogma is correct, it makes my previous instructor sound inane and antiquated.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2777658
11/02/18 11:31 PM
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So what's the scientific explanation?

I sit low and far, and it's comfortable for me perhaps out of habit but it feels most natural, but I'm all about relieving excess tension if high and not far is better.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: hello my name is] #2777958
11/04/18 03:15 AM
11/04/18 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
So what's the scientific explanation?

You can find out the physics of the posture really easily. Get electronic kitchen weights, place it on a table, place your hand on your fingertips on the weights (in a position like you were playing 5 notes) and measure the arm weight. Now try sitting closer/further and higher/lower measuring the weight each time.
Also note the degree of tension in your arm and armpit in every posture.

Any guesses about the results? wink

Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2777985
11/04/18 07:18 AM
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High and near will not work for some people. Their knees won't fit under the keyboard.

They sit farther back and lean. They figure a way to sit in dynamic balance. I can post a link to a performance if you'd like.

At any rate, I suspect one factor affects all the others, so that there is a range of distances that will work for any one person, given the necessary effects on the other parts of the posture.

I don't think the scale idea can work, because it depends so much on not affecting the results yourself, but it's an interesting idea.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: TimR] #2778077
11/04/18 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
High and near will not work for some people. Their knees won't fit under the keyboard.

And that is the player's fault? If they have to sit back farther due to the piano's height, then they are compromising their posture. Sitting back farther and leaning into the piano CAUSED the tension that I used to play with.

The correct solution for folks who are tall and have long legs--raise the piano! Insert some slab of wood under each wheel and raise the piano by the necessary height.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2778138
11/04/18 04:18 PM
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Well, look at this performer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=NV3TfpY1hRo

Ignore the unusual concert attire. There is no way her legs fit under the average piano desk. There are a number of other videos of her on youtube, mostly performing in a more popular venue context.

To me it looks like she's compensating well staying in dynamic balance.


gotta go practice
Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: TimR] #2778151
11/04/18 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Well, look at this performer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=NV3TfpY1hRo

Ignore the unusual concert attire. There is no way her legs fit under the average piano desk. There are a number of other videos of her on youtube, mostly performing in a more popular venue context.

To me it looks like she's compensating well staying in dynamic balance.

That's a very bad example. First off, she's wearing high heels. Hello?? Her legs will fit under the piano no problem. If you are talking about a six foot eight man with super long legs, then the only solution is to raise the piano. But, then, if you are six foot eight, your arms are probably also very long, so you wouldn't be sitting close to the piano, anyway.

Her biggest problem is that she's sitting a good two inches too low. She has the body type that's "long limbs, short spine" so she needs to sit relatively high at the piano. On the reverse, if you are "short limbs, long spine" then you need to sit lower.


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Re: interesting posting on technique & how it affected the OP [Re: TimR] #2778158
11/04/18 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
I don't think the scale idea can work, because it depends so much on not affecting the results yourself, but it's an interesting idea.

Yes, it's important to stay relaxed. In my case I repeated measurements twice with both hands and I got suprisingly consistent results.

So does sitting higher or closer help to apply more arm weight? Any bets?

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