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The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di #2829606
03/21/19 04:15 PM
03/21/19 04:15 PM
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Vladimir Dounin Offline OP
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The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical difficulty."

Many pianists often say that they know perfectly well what to play and how, but “they cannot do this because of physical difficulties.” I talk with my students on this topic only once, when they come to me for the first time. And afterwards we will never need to speak on this topic. This simple secret should be known to anyone who is going to play music or do any other similar thing, but for some reason this is never taught.

Why and how should we practice?

In our head, two completely different brains live together and interact with each other. These are scientific data that people usually do not know about.

One of these two brains is millions of years old - from the dinosaur era. This is a wonderful, amazingly powerful "computer" that can do wonders. For example, we can take a full glass of water in our hands and move it to another room without spilling a single drop. No modern computer installed into robot can perform this task.
This "computer" in our head allows us to run, jump, ride a bike, swim, etc. perfectly. But in general this brain-computer is very stupid, it does not know and understand a lot of things in the world and in our life. And, of course, does not know anything about piano playing.

And all our goals and plans for this "computer" in our head are set by another brain - the human one. Unfortunately, this brain is just a small layer of very new, purely human cells that animals do not have. This human brain knows and understands a lot, it is much smarter than a "computer from dinosaurs". But it is still terribly imperfect, vulnerable and weak. This brain gets tired very quickly, can not work for a long time and ALWAYS makes mistakes of any kind.

We can not do anything, relying only on the human brain. This brain will definitely fail us in any job.
Therefore in any our activity, our main task is to transfer as much as possible the work we need from human cells to the “computer from dinosaurs”. All people do it all their lives, adapting themselves and their brains for a certain job. All the routine work, which is basically the same all the time, they perform not with the human brain, but just with this "computer" in their head. Otherwise, neither the driver of the car, nor the hockey player, nor the dancer could work.

And every pianist has the same problem and the same task. We must give all the work we need to be done on the piano keys to the computer. Because the human brain is fundamentally incapable of performing this work.
For this reason, many pianists "cannot play physically as they understand and want to play". And the secret here is only in our ability to transfer the necessary information from a smart but weak human brain to a silly but extremely powerful "computer from dinosaurs".

This transfer of information is not an easy thing, but it is absolutely possible. It all comes down to repeating the same action WITHOUT A SINGLE MISTAKE many times so that the “stupid dinosaur computer” understands the task correctly and remembers it for a lifetime.

By the way, this “computer” can not remember anything in another way - either it remembers forever, or it suddenly deletes “unnecessary information" for it without warning and any "command to delete" from the human brain.

Only one question remains: how many times do we have to repeat the same action in absolutely the same way and without any slightest mistake for the “computer” to take this work on itself from the human brain?
It depends on the individual characteristics of the person. Someone will need fifty repetitions, and someone may not have enough with five hundred. Moreover, if pianist A needed 50 repeats to master a difficult place, and pianist B needed over 500, then in another difficult place in the same piece they can change their places. Pianist A will need more than five hundred, and pianist B will need less than fifty.

Of particular importance is the specific way of working on a piece of music.
Heinrich Neuhaus said with surprise that his best student S. Richter played easily sight reading from the sheet of the symphony score, but sometimes he could not cope with the trifling technical difficulty available to any first-year student.
By chance, I happen to know the answer to this question. Once at 7:00 PM I came to practice in the 45th class of the Moscow Conservatory, and at that time Richter was practicing already in the 44th class. And by coincidence, he tried to play quickly and flawlessly the same very difficult 16 bars with broken triads from Schubert's "The Wanderer" fantasy finale, which I, too, could not do.

He repeated these 16 bars again and again at an extremely fast tempo, and each time his finger slid and clung the neighboring notes. I had exactly this problem too.
From 7 to 11 pm, I repeated these 16 bars SLOWLY at least 500 times. And if you wake me up today, 50 years later after this evening and ask me to play these bars, I will definitely play them without mistakes at any tempo.
When I left the 45th class to go home to sleep, Richter continued to work on these 16 bars still with the same result. The most striking thing was that he did the same thing at 7 am, when I again came to practice in the same 45th class. He didn’t go home to sleep at all, but worked on these 16 bars ALL NIGHT.

I realized that he would by no means wish to play these bars at least once slowly. He did it only super fast. I don’t know if he managed to cope with those 16 bars at the end, and if he made the record of the "Wanderer". But these 16 bars definitely cost him many times more because of his stubbornness. Perhaps he simply did not want us-students to hear him playing slowly.

If we want a dumb student to understand something perfectly, we have to explain this something to him in very simple words and SLOWLY. And we must repeat ABSOLUTELY THE SAME words many, many times. At a fast pace and each time with slightly different or new words our stupid student will not understand anything.
Similar, like a stupid student, we must teach our "dinosaur computer". Patience and perseverance along with the right way of working will overcome ANY technical difficulty in music.

Please, play no one time fast. Set the metronome to a speed that GUARANTEES absolutely correct notes in each measure and do not play faster before you plaid 100 times WITHOUT slightest mistake in a slow tempo. If somewhere your finger slipped off or you accidentally played the wrong note, you didn’t work AT ALL, but only wasted your time.


And the main thing in this secret is to always win, never give up and never get up after practicing being defeated by your problems. Always difficulties must be overcome. not you.

To do this, just do not take too much work for one time. If it is difficult to do more, make only one page, one line, one measure, two consecutive notes, but do it absolutely the way you want and how you should be.

With this way of work, victory is inevitable.


Vladimir Dounin
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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829658
03/21/19 06:22 PM
03/21/19 06:22 PM
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Given there are existing recordings of Richter playing the work perfectly 10 years before you were allegedly at the Moscow Conservatory, I think this anecdote can be taken with a pinch of salt

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829677
03/21/19 07:59 PM
03/21/19 07:59 PM
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The summary of the OP is that to solve any physical technical difficulty, all one needs to do is practise slowly, repeating a thing many, many times. Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing. There are actual causes, some of them simple. For example,a student who sits squeezed in tight at the piano and seated very low, will be constricted in numerous ways, and will struggle. The solution is not to practise 100 times slowly, but to find an optimum height and distance. Slow 100 times while in the bad position can lead to cramping, pain, possible injury, and the entrenching of resulting habits that have now been practised in. (For example). Might this therefore be expanded?

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: keystring] #2829729
03/21/19 10:57 PM
03/21/19 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
.... Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing...

I find it disturbing for other reasons too, but that's a great point right there -- and I think it's the main one.

Including because: When we practice slowly, especially if we practice any given passage or piece slowly A LOT, very often our movements are different than how they are when we play at tempo. That's just how it is, unless we make a special effort to force the movements to be the same, which I doubt is completely possible anyway.

And, a related aspect, just as important: When we play something at a different tempo, the best fingering may seem to be different than what our best fingering really would be. Even if we've worked out a good fingering (from having played the piece at tempo), if we start practicing the piece very slowly (and especially if we do it repeatedly), we can easily start feeling like it's not a good fingering -- and we might change it, mistakenly, to one that's good at the slow tempo.

That actually happens to me a fair amount, even though I don't do slow practicing to the extent being advocated here (I do it, but not to such an extent), and even though I know very well to be on the alert for it.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Waxwing] #2829735
03/21/19 11:10 PM
03/21/19 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Waxwing
Given there are existing recordings of Richter playing the work perfectly 10 years before you were allegedly at the Moscow Conservatory, I think this anecdote can be taken with a pinch of salt


In which year this recording was made? Could you provide link, please?

Last edited by Vladimir Dounin; 03/21/19 11:11 PM.

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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: keystring] #2829737
03/21/19 11:16 PM
03/21/19 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
The summary of the OP is that to solve any physical technical difficulty, all one needs to do is practise slowly, repeating a thing many, many times. Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing. There are actual causes, some of them simple. For example,a student who sits squeezed in tight at the piano and seated very low, will be constricted in numerous ways, and will struggle. The solution is not to practise 100 times slowly, but to find an optimum height and distance. Slow 100 times while in the bad position can lead to cramping, pain, possible injury, and the entrenching of resulting habits that have now been practised in. (For example). Might this therefore be expanded?


Your body will simply not let you to repeat some difficult spot 500 times in a wrong position. You will have to adjust all your movements and posture automatically in the very best and economical way. "REPETITIO EST MATER STUDIORUM". And this mother takes care better than anyone else.


Vladimir Dounin
Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Mark_C] #2829740
03/21/19 11:24 PM
03/21/19 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by keystring
.... Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing...

I find it disturbing for other reasons too, but that's a great point right there -- and I think it's the main one.

Including because: When we practice slowly, especially if we practice any given passage or piece slowly A LOT, very often our movements are different than how they are when we play at tempo. That's just how it is, unless we make a special effort to force the movements to be the same, which I doubt is completely possible anyway.

And, a related aspect, just as important: When we play something at a different tempo, the best fingering may seem to be different than what our best fingering really would be. Even if we've worked out a good fingering (from having played the piece at tempo), if we start practicing the piece very slowly (and especially if we do it repeatedly), we can easily start feeling like it's not a good fingering -- and we might change it, mistakenly, to one that's good at the slow tempo.

That actually happens to me a fair amount, even though I don't do slow practicing to the extent being advocated here (I do it, but not to such an extent), and even though I know very well to be on the alert for it.


As long as you control your movements and fingering with your human brain it is exactly as you described. However, when you repeated hundreds of times you would be surprised, that fingering and movements are suddenly changed without your involvement. It means, that "computer" took steer from you and teaches your body the most rational and economical movements. And these fingering and movements are really the best for YOUR body. (Different body can require different actions).


This happens in ALL professions, not only in piano playing.

Last edited by Vladimir Dounin; 03/21/19 11:25 PM.

Vladimir Dounin
Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829747
03/21/19 11:47 PM
03/21/19 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
Originally Posted by Waxwing
Given there are existing recordings of Richter playing the work perfectly 10 years before you were allegedly at the Moscow Conservatory, I think this anecdote can be taken with a pinch of salt


In which year this recording was made? Could you provide link, please?

Here's the earliest recorded performance of The Wanderer by Richter I was able to find - dating back to 1953.
https://youtu.be/Jw8vypo1zsM


Here's the 1970 re-release of the landmark 1963 recording (which I purchased soon after it was released in 1963 and still own). For some reason the sound quality is lacking.

https://youtu.be/lDY2E8LGpDI

The original 1963 record cover looked like this...…
https://www.discogs.com/Schubert-Sv...-Sonata-In-A-Major-Op120/release/6627735





Last edited by Carey; 03/21/19 11:55 PM.

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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829749
03/21/19 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
As long as you control your movements and fingering with your human brain it is exactly as you described. However, when you repeated hundreds of times you would be surprised, that fingering and movements are suddenly changed without your involvement. It means, that "computer" took steer from you and teaches your body the most rational and economical movements. And these fingering and movements are really the best for YOUR body. (Different body can require different actions).....

No.

I don't think you really understood what I said. It looks like you didn't. In any event, to the extent I understand what you're saying, which I can't be sure I do, it's not so.

The "computer" that you're talking about would reach different conclusions and give different teachings according to the speed at which you are playing -- which is pretty much what I meant in my post. Since it would be making you do different things at the different speeds, your practice at the slow tempo would be training you into different habits than what will be needed at the actual tempo. To that extent, depending on the kind of passage or piece, it could literally make it harder to play it well.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Mark_C] #2829751
03/22/19 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by keystring
.... Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing...

I find it disturbing for other reasons too, but that's a great point right there -- and I think it's the main one....

Mark, I will respond to you because you are a thinking person, also a pianist as I understand it, and also one who actually reads what a person writes. What you are saying about slow practise is an additional point for me to consider. I think I've seen this stated before.

What I wrote were my own experiences. I was a child under no supervision or guidance, given a book of sonatinas, mostly Clementi. I went at it like a child does, with spontaneity. The argument you'll see about the human brain controlling, that simply didn't happen. I heard the sounds through the page, because of the kind of solfege I'd gotten at school, and my hands simply sought out those sounds. I loved music, loved playing, so I spent some years and many hours at the piano in this untaught way. The Clementi sonatinas are mostly on white keys, and favour particular physical actions, plus I didn't know how anything was supposed to sound. Had there been Chopin and other works,requiring more varied movement, it might have developed differently. What I ended up with was motionless arms, where you could have rested a pencil, fingers that hammered down like little round hammers, locked wrists. It is quite possible to play a limited repertoire with such habits, and even do so expressively. If you're 15 you won't hurt yourself. If you're 65 you might well do so. In any case, the kind of music you play in such a manner will be quite limited - as a pianist you will know this.

If you have such engrained habits, then every time you play anything, you will automatically go into it. This is NOT intellectual: It is NOT the mind taking over. It is that same "dinosaur brain" (reptilian mind?) doing what it has always done, and will continue doing. Anyone who was taught properly from a young age, cannot imagine what it is like, and then make broad statements. These ideas are harmful to any student who is trapped in poor physical habits, and it can lead to futility if taken seriously. The only blessing is that this thread is where it is, and not in a place for struggling or novice students.

I have worked very hard, with good teaching, to overcome my beginnings. There have been many successes and "fruits of the labour". To have this trivialized into "just play slowly" - any student needing to work these things out should go to a teacher who has no preconceptions or one-way answers, but will look at what is really going on, and then work with the student on that basis.

The "response" I got is no response at all. It does not reflect the reality I described. I just don't want any students to be fooled.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829763
03/22/19 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
With this way of work, victory is inevitable.

Victory?


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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Waxwing] #2829802
03/22/19 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Waxwing
Given there are existing recordings of Richter playing the work perfectly 10 years before you were allegedly at the Moscow Conservatory, I think this anecdote can be taken with a pinch of salt


Anyway, Richter was born in 1915. So if we say 50 years ago, that would be circa 1968; Richer was 53 years old and in the middle of his international career. His studies at the conservatory with Neuhaus started around 1937 and ended somewhere around 1941. All of this is highly unlikely and seems like a nice story for children.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829862
03/22/19 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
Originally Posted by keystring
The summary of the OP is that to solve any physical technical difficulty, all one needs to do is practise slowly, repeating a thing many, many times. Anyone who has had to overcome actual difficulties of this nature will know there is much more to it. Slowly practising the wrong movements, for example, is an exercise in futility. Anyone who teaches and who has had to help such a student, likewise. Unless this was meant differently than it comes across, I find it disturbing. There are actual causes, some of them simple. For example,a student who sits squeezed in tight at the piano and seated very low, will be constricted in numerous ways, and will struggle. The solution is not to practise 100 times slowly, but to find an optimum height and distance. Slow 100 times while in the bad position can lead to cramping, pain, possible injury, and the entrenching of resulting habits that have now been practised in. (For example). Might this therefore be expanded?


Your body will simply not let you to repeat some difficult spot 500 times in a wrong position. You will have to adjust all your movements and posture automatically in the very best and economical way. "REPETITIO EST MATER STUDIORUM". And this mother takes care better than anyone else.

This is just not true. A teacher who does not look at his student to see that they are sitting too low and too close and say" Scoot your bench back a bit and let's raise it up" is not a teacher.

Perfect practice makes perfect. If a student has mechanical issues at a slow tempo, that will only get exaggerated at a fast tempo.


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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Morodiene] #2829898
03/22/19 10:52 AM
03/22/19 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene

This is just not true. A teacher who does not look at his student to see that they are sitting too low and too close and say" Scoot your bench back a bit and let's raise it up" is not a teacher.

Perfect practice makes perfect. If a student has mechanical issues at a slow tempo, that will only get exaggerated at a fast tempo.
This is the correct thinking. Just practicing slowly without knowing what one should be doing to solve the simplest to the most complex technical problems will be of minimal help.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829923
03/22/19 11:24 AM
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Um ... I cannot say I agree with the OT at all when it comes to the "scientific facts" that are mentioned about our brain. Indeed it is true that we have, generally expressed, two brains. But learning is not about transferring knowledge from the conscious part, which you call "the human brain" to the unconscious part which you refer to as the "dinosaur/reptile brain".

The reptile brain is the most primitive part of our brains, true. It contains many functions that are necessary for our survival, including the instincts that we need to eat, drink, move, mate, maternal instincts, fear of heights, snakes, darkness and other essential things that also reptiles have. The cerebrum, though, contains "higher functions" that we need to learn, consider, and develop things. The learning functions in the cerebrum are essentially the same no matter what skill we talk about: a signal travels through a certain neural circuit. The more advanced skill, the more advanced circuit (or circuit combination, of course). During our first attempts the signal easily get lost on its way; we need to repeat the same thing over and over again so that the signal path gets more and more secured. And the means for this is a substance called myelin, a thin film of isolation material that wraps around the neural circuit. For every repetition the myelin layer will get thicker, hence isolating the circuit better and better, making the signal travel faster and faster and becoming less and less inclined to slip astray. And the better myelin isolation, the less "willpower" you will need. Finally the whole skill seems to be totally automatic, our conscious mind can focus on other things.

This description is very simplified of course! In reality it is not about ONE neural circuit and ONE skill when it comes to a complicated task like playing an advanced sequence on the piano. During learning you have gradually refined them all, and when you play, the active circuits will fire in a grandious laser show. (I hope to see a full scale animation of this process soon, because it must be a most amazing and beautiful sight.) You have the circuits that know how to position your hands and fingers, the ones that keep trace of the pulse, the melody, the movements when you jump around in scales and arpeggios, the dynamics, and so much more!

But by no means these circuits move down from the cerebrum to the reptile brain. They stay where they are! And the "trick" of learning is to know that each and one of them have to be "perfected" to make the whole picture perfect. Therefore you need to break down every skill, including the art of having a correct seat position, so that you get a solid and reliable myelin isolation around every single point.

And how do you make sure that you really attend "every single point", then? By making mistakes, actually. I don't say you should make a lot of mistakes and just ignore them, or even repeat them ten times, because then you wrap your myelin around WRONG circuits. But you must play fast enough to challenge yourself, and when you slip and fall you know where to focus your attention, where you need to work. The "never make a mistake" philosophy is true in SOME aspects, but it could easily lead to misunderstandings. For example, for many years I feared my mistakes. They felt Fatal every time. They were proofs that I was not good enough. There was also a time when teachers believed in the method of hitting the children's fingers with a ruler when they played a mistake. I think we can all now agree that is was not a very good idea. But the belief that "it is a mistake to make a mistake" became my own mental ruler, so to speak, and the pain almost made me give up playing. Fact is, that this fear did no good for my musical development.

A better phrasing is that you must never ignore your mistakes. When they occur, be happy, work with the spot until the mistake vanishes, and proceed with the happy feeling that you just have improved your playing - success, that is. I think it is a good idea to play a section slowly when you learn it, just as the OP suggests, and it is also a good idea to repeat until you can play that part effortlessly. But you need to be bold as well, to take risks when you practice, or the result may be rather lifeless. If you never make a mistake, it means that you don't learn, don't evolve, just maintain the skills you already have.

Last edited by ghosthand; 03/22/19 11:27 AM.
Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2829958
03/22/19 12:20 PM
03/22/19 12:20 PM
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An aspect of this that I don't think has been mentioned, and which to me was the biggest alarm, the biggest turn-off, more than any of the specifics that we're disagreeing with, is the insistent certainty of it. That would have given me the willies (does that expression exist any more?) grin even if I agreed with all the specifics.

That's also what bothers me about much of what I see and hear from many of the Taubman advocates -- but even from the most dogmatic of them, I've never seen anything as insistently certainly dogmatic as this.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Mark_C] #2830130
03/22/19 06:53 PM
03/22/19 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
An aspect of this that I don't think has been mentioned, and which to me was the biggest alarm, the biggest turn-off, more than any of the specifics that we're disagreeing with, is the insistent certainty of it. That would have given me the willies (does that expression exist any more?) grin even if I agreed with all the specifics.

That's also what bothers me about much of what I see and hear from many of the Taubman advocates -- but even from the most dogmatic of them, I've never seen anything as insistently certainly dogmatic as this.


What bothers me about non-Taubman advocates or ("neutrals") who bring it up for occasional gibes is that they tend to circumvent any actual discussion of technical details by focusing on social aspects because it never actually moves the discussion forward.

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: ghosthand] #2830131
03/22/19 06:55 PM
03/22/19 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ghosthand
Um ... I cannot say I agree with the OT at all when it comes to the "scientific facts" that are mentioned about our brain. Indeed it is true that we have, generally expressed, two brains. But learning is not about transferring knowledge from the conscious part, which you call "the human brain" to the unconscious part which you refer to as the "dinosaur/reptile brain".

The reptile brain is the most primitive part of our brains, true. It contains many functions that are necessary for our survival, including the instincts that we need to eat, drink, move, mate, maternal instincts, fear of heights, snakes, darkness and other essential things that also reptiles have. The cerebrum, though, contains "higher functions" that we need to learn, consider, and develop things. The learning functions in the cerebrum are essentially the same no matter what skill we talk about: a signal travels through a certain neural circuit. The more advanced skill, the more advanced circuit (or circuit combination, of course). During our first attempts the signal easily get lost on its way; we need to repeat the same thing over and over again so that the signal path gets more and more secured. And the means for this is a substance called myelin, a thin film of isolation material that wraps around the neural circuit. For every repetition the myelin layer will get thicker, hence isolating the circuit better and better, making the signal travel faster and faster and becoming less and less inclined to slip astray. And the better myelin isolation, the less "willpower" you will need. Finally the whole skill seems to be totally automatic, our conscious mind can focus on other things.

This description is very simplified of course! In reality it is not about ONE neural circuit and ONE skill when it comes to a complicated task like playing an advanced sequence on the piano. During learning you have gradually refined them all, and when you play, the active circuits will fire in a grandious laser show. (I hope to see a full scale animation of this process soon, because it must be a most amazing and beautiful sight.) You have the circuits that know how to position your hands and fingers, the ones that keep trace of the pulse, the melody, the movements when you jump around in scales and arpeggios, the dynamics, and so much more!

But by no means these circuits move down from the cerebrum to the reptile brain. They stay where they are! And the "trick" of learning is to know that each and one of them have to be "perfected" to make the whole picture perfect. Therefore you need to break down every skill, including the art of having a correct seat position, so that you get a solid and reliable myelin isolation around every single point.

And how do you make sure that you really attend "every single point", then? By making mistakes, actually. I don't say you should make a lot of mistakes and just ignore them, or even repeat them ten times, because then you wrap your myelin around WRONG circuits. But you must play fast enough to challenge yourself, and when you slip and fall you know where to focus your attention, where you need to work. The "never make a mistake" philosophy is true in SOME aspects, but it could easily lead to misunderstandings. For example, for many years I feared my mistakes. They felt Fatal every time. They were proofs that I was not good enough. There was also a time when teachers believed in the method of hitting the children's fingers with a ruler when they played a mistake. I think we can all now agree that is was not a very good idea. But the belief that "it is a mistake to make a mistake" became my own mental ruler, so to speak, and the pain almost made me give up playing. Fact is, that this fear did no good for my musical development.

A better phrasing is that you must never ignore your mistakes. When they occur, be happy, work with the spot until the mistake vanishes, and proceed with the happy feeling that you just have improved your playing - success, that is. I think it is a good idea to play a section slowly when you learn it, just as the OP suggests, and it is also a good idea to repeat until you can play that part effortlessly. But you need to be bold as well, to take risks when you practice, or the result may be rather lifeless. If you never make a mistake, it means that you don't learn, don't evolve, just maintain the skills you already have.

Very good post, but I especially like this part. Because, as it's been pointed out, things change when you speed up, and you need to be able to accommodate those changes or "mistakes" by understanding what's wrong, then arriving at possible solutions that directly address the problem. Sometimes this may entail some slow practice again, but it may also be hands separate, or in rhythms, or in blocks, or in accents. Or perhaps even changing the fingering that was first chosen at the slower tempo.

Mistakes are good because they show us what exactly the problem is, and if we pay attention, we can actually gain a deeper understanding of the passage than we had before.


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Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: anamnesis] #2830148
03/22/19 07:26 PM
03/22/19 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by anamnesis
Originally Posted by Mark_C
An aspect of this that I don't think has been mentioned, and which to me was the biggest alarm, the biggest turn-off, more than any of the specifics that we're disagreeing with, is the insistent certainty of it. That would have given me the willies (does that expression exist any more?) grin even if I agreed with all the specifics.

That's also what bothers me about much of what I see and hear from many of the Taubman advocates -- but even from the most dogmatic of them, I've never seen anything as insistently certainly dogmatic as this.


What bothers me about non-Taubman advocates or ("neutrals") who bring it up for occasional gibes is that they tend to circumvent any actual discussion of technical details by focusing on social aspects because it never actually moves the discussion forward.

Well, that's not true. smile

In numerous discussions on here that I was in (none of them since a long time ago, though, so maybe you didn't see them), we certainly did -- including me.

And BTW, notice, it's not like I tarred the whole field or all its advocates (some of whom I have as close friends).

Re: The simple secret of victory over ANY "physical technical di [Re: Vladimir Dounin] #2830371
03/23/19 11:14 AM
03/23/19 11:14 AM
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It's not all that simple. The two brains argue with each other, about fingering for instance, but other things too. Who's right?

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