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Choosing my own pieces? #2785341
11/27/18 03:49 PM
11/27/18 03:49 PM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 360
Netherlands
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hyena Offline OP
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Netherlands
So my teacher pics a lot of my pieces.

Which I do think is good, because she picks that what I'm weak at.

But sometimes I just feel like I'm playing her taste rather than my own. I usually do three pieces at a time, where one of them have been chosen by myself. I notice that the ones I choose myself are much easier to learn due to my motivation. I notice that sometimes the pieces my teacher pics are just a drag to practice. Hard to concentrate. For example I now do an easy 3-part fuga by Alexandro Scarlatti around the level of the inventions. I don't like the piece, because its purely motif work, no melody. So instead I wanted to do another fuga, by Bach which I think is much more interesting. But she says it's more difficult, but I think the difficulty is surely relative to my motivation for a piece too.



But I do care a lot about progress. I do think I should play what makes me progress rather than build repertoire. I think of piano as a long term goal. So that in twenty years or so, I can choose whatever I wish to play without worrying about the difficulty. Scales are boring, but valuable in the long run. (to give an example)

What do you think of this?

Last edited by hyena; 11/27/18 03:57 PM.
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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785356
11/27/18 04:24 PM
11/27/18 04:24 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,579
Florida
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I cannot advise you as to which method is better, only give you my perspective and experience. I had a teacher that was really fixated on one issue (speed) and was trying to have me do sonatinas, lots, faster, faster, faster. That was fine, he may know better. But week after week went by, then month after month, and after a while I came to dread practicing and the lessons. I changed teachers to one who allowed me to pick my pieces, and enabled to me to get the most of them. Now I'm playing that which will help me build repertoire, and trying to learn something from each piece. I've played some Mendelssohn, some Debussy, some Beethoven, some Bach, some Liszt, and some Chopin. A fairly decent variety of genres, although more heavily weighted towards Romantic. I also enjoy the scales and spend 10-15 min on them each day, major and now minor also, in all keys (although I haven't finished learning the minor scales yet).

I think what you're doing with having your teacher pick two and you pick one sounds like a good balance. As you mentioned, it will pay off in the long run. But there is certainly nothing wrong, imo, with throwing in some repertoire while you're there. You're certainly ready for it.


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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785402
11/27/18 07:08 PM
11/27/18 07:08 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by hyena

But I do care a lot about progress. I do think I should play what makes me progress rather than build repertoire. I think of piano as a long term goal. So that in twenty years or so, I can choose whatever I wish to play without worrying about the difficulty. Scales are boring, but valuable in the long run. (to give an example)

What do you think of this?

Depends on you, and whether you trust your teacher to get you to where you want to be. Remember, you don't have to learn only the pieces that your teacher is teaching you. Why not have your own 'personal projects'? You could learn the Bach by yourself - taking your time over it - while also learning the easier piece your teacher wants you to learn, and they complement each other.

When I was a student, my teachers - all four of them - chose all my pieces for me. I didn't like some of them, but there were skills I had to learn and I knew that they were all selected to help me build them. And because I was doing grade exams every year, there was also musical and technical stuff I needed to master, including specific scales & arpeggios etc, so my teacher and I knew exactly where we stood, and what needed to be achieved every year.

Apart from the exam pieces, each of the pieces my teacher taught me only needed to be brought to a level that she considered sufficient for what I needed to learn from it, whether it's a musical or technical skill, rather than being completely polished (though that didn't stop me from continuing to play it myself if I really liked it, and getting it to a higher level). And there were many pieces that I didn't like initially, but grew to like once I'd learnt them and was able to play them to a good standard. BTW, that applied to some - though not all - of the polyphonic pieces.

Alongside what I was learning with my teacher, I was also learning pieces by myself, pieces that I 'discovered' from various sources (including sight-reading through volumes of scores, and from radio broadcasts and concerts etc) and which I considered to be my own personal 'projects', and nothing to do with my teacher or what I was learning during my lessons. (The same with the other fun stuff like improvising on pop tunes with a violinist friend). Many of them were far above my level at the time, but as I didn't set myself any time limit in which to master them (or even whether to master them), I had no unrealistic expectations as to what I could achieve (though I was - eventually - able to learn & play them properly, even though some took years).

Incidentally, my last teacher introduced me to music which 'plugged' the gaps in my learning, even though I was advanced by then (having finished Grade 8, and working towards my diploma). If I'd chosen what I wanted to learn, I'd never have touched impressionistic stuff like Debussy's Images and Préludes, nor the big Schumann sets (Kreisleriana & Carnaval) or Brahms, nor even the late Beethoven sonatas or Scarlatti. Instead, I'd just be playing lots more Chopin and Rachmaninov and Liszt.

In a way, what I did was similar to what an ambitious amateur tennis player might do, who was having coaching. He'd play friendly or competitive matches with friends for fun without worrying too much about 'improving', while also having lessons with his coach where he might do drills and technical (& repetitive) stuff designed to improve his game, but which he wouldn't necessarily find enjoyable, except the practice games. (But the skills he learnt with his coach would allow him to beat his friends in match after match - eventually.)

Except that I did find what I was learning with my piano teachers to be enjoyable for the most part - eventually, if not always initially grin.


"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: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785410
11/27/18 07:22 PM
11/27/18 07:22 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,201
New York City
pianoloverus Offline
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Scales won't be too boring if you limit your practice to 10 minutes/day.

I agree that playing pieces you love is a big motivator. Instead of just choosing one and your teacher chooses two, maybe discuss what the goal of the next piece is and between you and your teacher come up with one you like. I think your teacher could suggest a long list of pieces that have the same pedagogical goal and hopefully at least one would appeal to you. There are over 500 Scarlatti Sonatas so if one is not to your liking probably another one will be.

Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785478
11/27/18 11:39 PM
11/27/18 11:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 629
Toronto, Canada
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thepianoplayer416 Offline
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Happens a lot when you are taking music lessons. In the beginning you don't have enough techniques and don't read music very well you tend to stick with a teacher's curriculum. When you get to the more advanced level, the pieces you are working on can be very time consuming and doesn't leave you room to play much else.

During the summer and the holiday around Christmas when I'm taking a break, I'd go online and look for interesting pieces to play besides the standard repertoire every other student is doing. Around Christmas many people like myself would get into holiday pieces including piano arrangements of the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker. There are online sites you can download sheet music. Before downloading you can click on the play button to hear what a piece sounds like at a certain tempo. I'd read a few measures to find out if the sample score online is at my level.

Sometimes I hear a piece on radio like a piano arrangement of the Mozart "Eine klien Nachtmusik" and like the music, I'd try to find a playable arrangement online. The first 5 minutes is all it takes to decide whether the score is playable at my level. Otherwise I'd go to a piano store and browse their score selections. Choosing music is a personal thing. 2 people at the same level don't usually like the same styles of music.

Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785547
11/28/18 09:11 AM
11/28/18 09:11 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,256
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
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For pieces and especially exercises that you don't like, keep your focus on the work. In this way, your progress may become interesting.


Learner
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785549
11/28/18 09:18 AM
11/28/18 09:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 93
Worcester. Uk
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Wayne2467 Offline
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Worcester. Uk
The way I do it is to work through every piece in the book- for example I Have worked through the nine pieces in absrm grade two- so some I like more than others but I did them all rather than picking out three.

Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785746
11/28/18 06:54 PM
11/28/18 06:54 PM
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Moo :) Offline
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I really hate Bach but what a truly horrible piece !

As an adult I myself pick all my pieces now, don't play and scales now and play mostly play a few composers.

I think as a child learner I still had some influence over what I played and could say if I did not want to play something.

I would discuss with your teacher.

Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: Moo :)] #2785770
11/28/18 07:27 PM
11/28/18 07:27 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 396
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John305 Offline
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I really hate Bach but what a truly horrible piece !



You don’t need to sugar coat it, tell us how you really feel 😁


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785777
11/28/18 07:34 PM
11/28/18 07:34 PM
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Posts: 1,034
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Moo :) Offline
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ANGRY - NO MORE BACH... RARR ;D

Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785803
11/28/18 08:38 PM
11/28/18 08:38 PM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 516
sara elizabeth Offline
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My teacher for the most part has me pick out my own music. But I like certain styles and she does get me to play other styles. She will basically say “you need to play such and such type piece”. Then she will play a bunch for me and I picked the one I like.

So basically I have a whole bunch of sonatinas I’m working on because those are my favorite. She goes to the back of the book where the more romantic and modern pieces are and makes me pack one of those. I do have a harder time with those and I don’t like practising them as much but I think that they do teach some good skills.

Edit- sorry for typos I am using talk to text.

Last edited by sara elizabeth; 11/28/18 08:39 PM.
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785827
11/28/18 10:30 PM
11/28/18 10:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,256
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
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I find it delightful to bring in a piece that my teacher is not familiar with.
Last year I was on a roll of bringing in easier pieces than what he had assigned, by right now I have signed myself up for quite a doozie.


Learner
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785871
11/29/18 04:59 AM
11/29/18 04:59 AM
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,820
Italy
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Italy
Honestly I find this fughetta very nice and melodic. Played on a piano it will be even better. I know that you've learned several inventions very quickly, you're certainly well equipped for this kind of pieces.

I don't understand how one can hate Bach. Not even one of my friends who are completely new to classical music complained about me playing Bach to them - on the contrary. Such wonderful melodies everywhere, in the inventions, the suites, the concertos... not to mention the Goldberg Variations, or the cello suites. Playing Bach is a struggle for most people, that's for sure. I have a picture of him looming over my piano, and I can almost hear his thoughts when I butcher one of his pieces. But I will gladly struggle on.


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To create a beautiful sound, one must imagine it at first and then learn to produce fluid physical motions that breathe life into music. (Shirley Kirsten)
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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785878
11/29/18 05:32 AM
11/29/18 05:32 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 390
Hershey, PA, USA
Handyman Offline
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Hershey, PA, USA
Play only what you like - insist on it - demand it - find a teacher (if you really think you need one) who will work with you professionally and devotedly on just those pieces - if there are any special techniques required to play the pieces you really like you will learn them - any techniques that you never run across in the music that you really want to play are irrelevant - life is short so have fun - stop wasting your time and energy on distasteful works and unneeded exercises - play only what you like...enjoy the journey.


John

"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: Handyman] #2785925
11/29/18 09:37 AM
11/29/18 09:37 AM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 173
England
Lillith Offline
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Originally Posted by Handyman
Play only what you like - insist on it - demand it -


Amen to that!
I just can't bring myself to play things that I don't like, whatever the supposed benefits in technique or whatever.
Sort of eyes glaze over, start looking for other things to do instead, whereas if it's a piece I like I'll 'work' at it for hours. But it's not work because I'm enjoying it.

Perhaps if you're going to do it for a living there's a case to be made for forcing yourself to do all kinds of stuff, but doing it for fun? Pieces you don't like aren't fun.

ps I love Bach and the fughetta there is a fine piece of music, but it sounds so jangly and echoey there - is that just using pedal or is it the instrument? Either way I'd prefer a straight piano with no pedal smile


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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: Lillith] #2785979
11/29/18 11:46 AM
11/29/18 11:46 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 390
Hershey, PA, USA
Handyman Offline
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Handyman  Offline
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Originally Posted by Lillith
...if it's a piece I like I'll 'work' at it for hours. But it's not work because I'm enjoying it.

Exactly!

Perhaps if you're going to do it for a living there's a case to be made for forcing yourself to do all kinds of stuff...

Chances are slim to none on this...



John

"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2785998
11/29/18 12:23 PM
11/29/18 12:23 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,222
Midwest USA
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I think there is a time and a place for playing pieces that you don't 'love.' They don't have to be long-term project pieces and you don't have to ever play them again once you've taken in what they have to teach you. I also find that I often warm to pieces which I initially didn't care for, once I'm able to play them with some success. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I've overcome hurdles and weaknesses in my technique by playing those pieces.

My teacher picks most of my pieces, though she has encouraged me to take a more active role there. Problem is, I'm so dang ignorant of what would be suitable for me. Finding suitable pieces (level of difficulty, addressing weaknesses, new skills and technique) is one of the essential functions of a teacher, imo. Fortunately, my tastes and my teacher's tastes are similar.


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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: Handyman] #2786011
11/29/18 12:48 PM
11/29/18 12:48 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,629
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by Handyman
Play only what you like - insist on it - demand it - find a teacher (if you really think you need one) who will work with you professionally and devotedly on just those pieces - if there are any special techniques required to play the pieces you really like you will learn them - any techniques that you never run across in the music that you really want to play are irrelevant - life is short so have fun - stop wasting your time and energy on distasteful works and unneeded exercises - play only what you like...enjoy the journey.


Part of the "enjoy[ment of] the journey" consists in discovery. If one plays only what one knows one likes, one may miss out not only on some discoveries but also on some new and unexpected enjoyment.

I question the ability to "enjoy the journey" if one advocates a philosophy of "insisting" and "demanding." Those terms suggest a highly egocentric from of mind and an inflexible one which thinks only of itself.


Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2786049
11/29/18 02:39 PM
11/29/18 02:39 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 311
UK, EU
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precise Offline
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It depends on several things:

If you have to play certain repertoire for, say, an exam, then you'll have to work through not necessarily liking certain repertoire. That's part of the process.

But, you should always be playing pieces that YOU want to play, as well. To that end, you should (and must) work with your teacher in deciding repertoire. Collaboration is essential.




Re: Choosing my own pieces? [Re: hyena] #2786073
11/29/18 03:43 PM
11/29/18 03:43 PM
Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 93
Worcester. Uk
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Wayne2467 Offline
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Worcester. Uk
Bach was great btw

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