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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Something keystring has pointed a number of times, which I also believe, is that often, a pianistic technique is described by teachers or in a master class, in a way which is not one that the teacher or pianist themselves actually does.

Exactly. If you want to find out what you do, video yourself, then watch full speed and in slow motion. Most teachers don't do this.

There is a huge difference between what we feel in our bodies, what we experience as "true" for us, in a subjective sense, and what actually happens. For instance, because I played with huge amount of tension as a kid (horrible teaching, no help with fingering), the answer to most of my problems was straightening my fingers. I began with the mental image of playing from my knuckles and swinging my fingers through from that joint. I teach beginners do do that in black key scales because it gets what I want happening. But in videos I make of my actual playing, there is no sign at all of straight fingers. None. I have demonstrated this dozens of times, showing a start with very straight fingers, on black keys, slow motion, big striking motion on each key, then accelerating and bringing the dynamic level down. At a high speed, playing softly, it looks as though my fingers are right on the keys, no lifting, and semi-curved. In other words, exactly what you normally see.

The reason is that there are micro-movements in fast playing that you can't even see except in slo-mo, and even then you sort of have to know what you are looking for.

There are hundreds of illusions at the piano, most of which are directly caused by the sustain pedal. The moment that pedal is down, everything you hear is a trick.
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For example, I find descriptions of using arm-weight to be like that. The actually descriptions of how to use arm weight seem to violate the laws of physics! (Not that it isn't good to use arm-weight as I am sold on that - I'm just referring to the descriptions of how it works.)

I never teach that, never mention it. I think it is total BS. For example, if you play a scale portato, meaning detached. every moment a finger is not depressing a key the weight of your whole arm is carried in the shoulder. There is no arm weight. During the moment when you are depressing a key, you can support that much weight on a finger. But if you are sweeping up and down the whole piano with such a scale, it's not too much different from placing your hands an inch over the keys, because so little weight is there most of the time. If you play a slow legato scale, there will be a lot of weight. The amount of "weight" you use changes radically according to touch. There are so many factors going on at the same time, it would take an incredibly accurate, detailed analysis to get even close to what actually happens. It's a lot like something like walking or running. These "simple" things are actually incredibly complicated, and we mostly do them by feel, instinct, and we initially learn to do such things by watching other people and mimicking their movements.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.

I absolutely don't understand skipping lessons, as a teachers OR as a student. If you can't make it to a lesson every week, DON'T FREAKIN' START LESSONS. And if, as teacher, you can't be there for lessons, because you have all these other things to do, your head is not in the game. DON'T TEACH.


Excuse me?? Some of us do have to make a living in the non arts world and we are expected to put our money jobs over our hobbies every now and then. Some people also have children (or pets) that can get ill.

That's like saying do not start any long time activity if you are not 100% sure of what will happen in your life in the next 10 years...

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Originally Posted by outo
Excuse me?? Some of us do have to make a living in the non arts world and we are expected to put our money jobs over our hobbies every now and then.

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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Gary D.

I absolutely don't understand skipping lessons, as a teachers OR as a student. If you can't make it to a lesson every week, DON'T FREAKIN' START LESSONS. And if, as teacher, you can't be there for lessons, because you have all these other things to do, your head is not in the game. DON'T TEACH.


Excuse me?? Some of us do have to make a living in the non arts world and we are expected to put our money jobs over our hobbies every now and then. Some people also have children (or pets) that can get ill.

That's like saying do not start any long time activity if you are not 100% sure of what will happen in your life in the next 10 years...


Bravo!

Of course, I always made it clear that there would be times when I couldn't leave work and that I would pay for the missed lesson. Turned out I wasn't as important as I thought I was and it didn't happen much.

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Each situation is so different that a bold and un-nuanced statement like that one can't apply to everyone.

I'm my teacher's only student, so we are both very flexible with lesson schedule. We see each other each week, but we often change the day or time of our lesson. Often at his demand more than mine. And I don't see why it would be bad if we both agree to it.


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There has to be some longevity and regularity of course when starting lessons, otherwise it's difficult to get through the first steps. If you cancel the lesson every time something more interesting comes up or you are a bit tired after work and cannot make a commitment, you should not expect to advance much. It's understandable that a serious teacher would find this frustrating.

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Originally Posted by outo
There has to be some longevity and regularity of course when starting lessons, otherwise it's difficult to get through the first steps. If you cancel the lesson every time something more interesting comes up or you are a bit tired after work and cannot make a commitment, you should not expect to advance much. It's understandable that a serious teacher would find this frustrating.


I agree here. Sure, life will happen sometimes. But, it is the mindset that matters.

Gary D. has the correct point of view in my opinion.



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Originally Posted by Gary D.


I absolutely don't understand skipping lessons, as a teachers OR as a student. If you can't make it to a lesson every week, DON'T FREAKIN' START LESSONS. And if, as teacher, you can't be there for lessons, because you have all these other things to do, your head is not in the game. DON'T TEACH.

I rarely cancel, but recently I was really sick with a bad head cold and missed 3 days of teaching. I probably should have missed 4 since I was still coughing like crazy, but I try not to miss unless absolutely necessary.

I really do not do every other week lessons or infrequent anymore. I used to, but it just meant less practice happened. and they all ended up quitting. It's just not a good idea for most people.


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Originally Posted by Gary D.

I absolutely don't understand skipping lessons, as a teachers OR as a student. If you can't make it to a lesson every week, DON'T FREAKIN' START LESSONS. And if, as teacher, you can't be there for lessons, because you have all these other things to do, your head is not in the game. DON'T TEACH.


Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by outo
There has to be some longevity and regularity of course when starting lessons, otherwise it's difficult to get through the first steps. If you cancel the lesson every time something more interesting comes up or you are a bit tired after work and cannot make a commitment, you should not expect to advance much. It's understandable that a serious teacher would find this frustrating.


I agree here. Sure, life will happen sometimes. But, it is the mindset that matters.
Gary D. has the correct point of view in my opinion.


I started lessons in mid December, 2 weeks later I missed my weekly lesson, then I missed a lesson in February because I had a cold, I could have actually physically gone to the lesson but it was right at the beginning of the cold when I was most contagious. My teacher was pleased I cancelled. I am now not going to my next 2 lessons as I will be on holiday.

I already know I am going to miss at least one lesson in June for a work trip to The Hague and there is every chance it will be two.

But perhaps trying to do this whole thing is a fools errand since my commitment to it is not enough.

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Originally Posted by KevinM
Originally Posted by Gary D.

I absolutely don't understand skipping lessons, as a teachers OR as a student. If you can't make it to a lesson every week, DON'T FREAKIN' START LESSONS. And if, as teacher, you can't be there for lessons, because you have all these other things to do, your head is not in the game. DON'T TEACH.


Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by outo
There has to be some longevity and regularity of course when starting lessons, otherwise it's difficult to get through the first steps. If you cancel the lesson every time something more interesting comes up or you are a bit tired after work and cannot make a commitment, you should not expect to advance much. It's understandable that a serious teacher would find this frustrating.


I agree here. Sure, life will happen sometimes. But, it is the mindset that matters.
Gary D. has the correct point of view in my opinion.


I started lessons in mid December, 2 weeks later I missed my weekly lesson, then I missed a lesson in February because I had a cold, I could have actually physically gone to the lesson but it was right at the beginning of the cold when I was most contagious. My teacher was pleased I cancelled. I am now not going to my next 2 lessons as I will be on holiday.

I already know I am going to miss at least one lesson in June for a work trip to The Hague and there is every chance it will be two.

But perhaps trying to do this whole thing is a fools errand since my commitment to it is not enough.


I don’t think so. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Teachers are of varying flexibility. If you are ok with progressing slowly, and enjoy learning, why not? So long as you are somewhat consistent.


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I would think that in the understanding of the comment on students and teachers missing lessons, common sense or the principle of reasonableness (as my lawyer once tried to explain to me) prevails. I don't think it's about students who miss a lesson here and there due to illness or a job commitment they can't get out of but folks who are more out then in. In terms of the OP's original question, I remember the advice of one or two of our fellow students was "Make sure you have the time to commit / Find out what is involved." Piano is a long term thing more as years than weeks.

A few things that I've learned: Students may cancel lessons because they think they haven't achieved enough and don't want their teacher to be disappointed or disgusted with them. But it seems that teachers prefer they show up even when little has been done, because teaching can go on regardless, and because esp. at the start poor habits can creep in to start becoming permanent and are a dickens to undo (and unpleasant). This has nothing to do with earning more dollars as some cynic will propose, because for prepaid lessons where the student voluntarily forfeits the lesson, the feeling still seems to be the same. What you think is "not good enough" will not be measured by the same yardstick of a decent teacher, who may also be seeing progress where you might not think to look.

The teacher who keeps rescheduling or cancelling lessons: that's a questionable thing I'd think except maybe in some rare circumstances I've read about in some mutual arrangements - otherwise it doesn't seem that professional.

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It was the absoluteness of the statement leaving no room for flexibility. All it will tell someone in my situation is that I shouldn’t bother, that I am just wasting the teachers time.

It leaves no room for awkward circumstances. My motivation for deciding on taking up the piano is completely suspect in terms of aiming for the stars with learning to play again.

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Originally Posted by keystring
I would think that in the understanding of the comment on students and teachers missing lessons, common sense or the principle of reasonableness (as my lawyer once tried to explain to me) prevails. I don't think it's about students who miss a lesson here and there due to illness or a job commitment they can't get out of but folks who are more out then in. In terms of the OP's original question, I remember the advice of one or two of our fellow students was "Make sure you have the time to commit / Find out what is involved." Piano is a long term thing more as years than weeks.

A few things that I've learned: Students may cancel lessons because they think they haven't achieved enough and don't want their teacher to be disappointed or disgusted with them. But it seems that teachers prefer they show up even when little has been done, because teaching can go on regardless, and because esp. at the start poor habits can creep in to start becoming permanent and are a dickens to undo (and unpleasant). This has nothing to do with earning more dollars as some cynic will propose, because for prepaid lessons where the student voluntarily forfeits the lesson, the feeling still seems to be the same. What you think is "not good enough" will not be measured by the same yardstick of a decent teacher, who may also be seeing progress where you might not think to look.

The teacher who keeps rescheduling or cancelling lessons: that's a questionable thing I'd think except maybe in some rare circumstances I've read about in some mutual arrangements - otherwise it doesn't seem that professional.
Agree, and I think this--skipping lessons on the part of the student or the teacher, for reasons other than work issues or illness--is what Gary had in mind.

There are likely a fair number of adults who start lessons without a real grasp of how much of a time commitment it is. They miss lessons early and often, both for legitimate (travel for work, illness) and non-legitimate reasons (e.g. don't feel they got enough practice in). I think these people drop piano fairly quickly, by and large. Teachers who can't keep to their teaching schedule probably don't last forever, either.


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Originally Posted by KevinM


I started lessons in mid December, 2 weeks later I missed my weekly lesson, then I missed a lesson in February because I had a cold, I could have actually physically gone to the lesson but it was right at the beginning of the cold when I was most contagious. My teacher was pleased I cancelled. I am now not going to my next 2 lessons as I will be on holiday.

I already know I am going to miss at least one lesson in June for a work trip to The Hague and there is every chance it will be two.

But perhaps trying to do this whole thing is a fools errand since my commitment to it is not enough.

I assume you are answering me. Hey, it's the Internet, so why not get a grudge when you don't even know me.

I would answer you politely, but since your answer was incredibly sarcastic, hostile, I'll go past you and explain to other people, who perhaps are not jumping to conclusions, as you just did.

One of my adults has to travel to South America about every other month or more. He makes lessons whenever he can and is quite obviously committed to doing what he is able to do. And he's one of my favorite students. I want students, especially adults, to make lessons as often as possible.

I should probably see a lawyer before I post here.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by KevinM


I started lessons in mid December, 2 weeks later I missed my weekly lesson, then I missed a lesson in February because I had a cold, I could have actually physically gone to the lesson but it was right at the beginning of the cold when I was most contagious. My teacher was pleased I cancelled. I am now not going to my next 2 lessons as I will be on holiday.

I already know I am going to miss at least one lesson in June for a work trip to The Hague and there is every chance it will be two.

But perhaps trying to do this whole thing is a fools errand since my commitment to it is not enough.

I assume you are answering me. Hey, it's the Internet, so why not get a grudge when you don't even know me.

I would answer you politely, but since your answer was incredibly sarcastic, hostile, I'll go past you and explain to other people, who perhaps are not jumping to conclusions, as you just did.

One of my adults has to travel to South America about every other month or more. He makes lessons whenever he can and is quite obviously committed to doing what he is able to do. And he's one of my favorite students. I want students, especially adults, to make lessons as often as possible.

I should probably see a lawyer before I post here.


Yes it was aggressive. Your absolute statement left no room for interpretation, fed directly into my own doubts as to whether I should be doing this, whether I can make the commitment to make it worthwhile, whether I should selfishly set aside time for something I love when I have more responsibilities than I feel I can manage.

Also, long enough experience of using the internet, I now just parse all caps as someone shouting at me.

I do apologize because my reply was overly aggressive.

I would also suggest you think about how you frame things, that there will be people like me reading what you say who have stressful lives that they are struggling to cope with. For me, one reason why I took up the piano was trying to help deal with stresses I'm frankly not managing. Your words said to me I shouldn't be wasting my teachers time or my time. I did not realize the joy I would find learning to play the piano again and I want to do what I can to keep playing.

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Originally Posted by KevinM
Yes it was aggressive. Your absolute statement left no room for interpretation, fed directly into my own doubts as to whether I should be doing this, whether I can make the commitment to make it worthwhile, whether I should selfishly set aside time for something I love when I have more responsibilities than I feel I can manage.

Also, long enough experience of using the internet, I now just parse all caps as someone shouting at me.

I do apologize because my reply was overly aggressive.

I would also suggest you think about how you frame things, that there will be people like me reading what you say who have stressful lives that they are struggling to cope with. For me, one reason why I took up the piano was trying to help deal with stresses I'm frankly not managing. Your words said to me I shouldn't be wasting my teachers time or my time. I did not realize the joy I would find learning to play the piano again and I want to do what I can to keep playing.

Kevin

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And based on what you've said here about your progress as a 'piano returner,' you've been doing great in this Round #2 of your Piano Journey! smile


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Originally Posted by Gary D.


I should probably see a lawyer before I post here.


Or maybe Dale Carnegie.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by KevinM


I started lessons in mid December, 2 weeks later I missed my weekly lesson, then I missed a lesson in February because I had a cold, I could have actually physically gone to the lesson but it was right at the beginning of the cold when I was most contagious. My teacher was pleased I cancelled. I am now not going to my next 2 lessons as I will be on holiday.

I already know I am going to miss at least one lesson in June for a work trip to The Hague and there is every chance it will be two.

But perhaps trying to do this whole thing is a fools errand since my commitment to it is not enough.

I assume you are answering me. Hey, it's the Internet, so why not get a grudge when you don't even know me.

I would answer you politely, but since your answer was incredibly sarcastic, hostile, I'll go past you and explain to other people, who perhaps are not jumping to conclusions, as you just did.

One of my adults has to travel to South America about every other month or more. He makes lessons whenever he can and is quite obviously committed to doing what he is able to do. And he's one of my favorite students. I want students, especially adults, to make lessons as often as possible.

I should probably see a lawyer before I post here.


Agree with Gary D. again. If anyone has read most of Gary D's posts/comments on PW, they would know exactly where he was coming from and know his real thoughts on teaching and learning. thumb



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Who goes and reads all of a poster’s prior posts when contemplating what he meant in one particular post? Give me a break.

NobleHouse, I’m sure you know what you’re talking about and I’m sure what you said about where Gary D. is coming from is true. But the fact is, that one post was “off”. And I found it rather offensive too.


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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Who goes and reads all of a poster’s prior posts ....

Actually I do, for good reason, and strongly suggest to fellow PWers to do the same. For example, when anyone is asking for piano help or advice, or presents a problem, you cannot really help effectively until you know where that person is coming from. We are strangers who don't know each other. In fact, we are nothing but names and pseudonyms with squiggles and called words imperfectly trying to evoke thoughts. In this particular instant there were actually two or three posts, and if all of them were read you'd get a broader and different impression. If you hopped over to the teacher forum, that impression would change again.
Emotion can lead us astray both in receiving posts, and also in writing them. People have off days and on days. The point is to learn, and to share information. Look for the information, be helped by it, and pay less attention to the negative. The point is to help and be helped.

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