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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
keystring #2852744 05/27/19 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by John305
I A common recurring topic in many of those posts are references to a book called Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan Chang. Has anyone here read that book and if so would you care to share your thoughts?

Mr. Chang is a person who could play the piano and must have had decent lessons himself in the past. He sent his daughters to a good teacher, and tried to get behind what her methodology must have been - or what was behind her teaching. He is a physicist, and wrote from the perspectives of a physicist with that background. He also tried to put things into lay people's perspective.

I browsed through the book when I first joined PW. A couple of things were useful. The part about phrases or similar turned something familiar and intuitive into an impossible chain of "stuff". That made me uneasy about the whole thing, because I didn't know enough to be able to judge, so I left the book alone.


I too browsed through the book when I first joined and when I came across it. I did not find it particularly useful either. It’s seem to me that it was written not by somebody who taught or even played the piano but by somebody who observed somebody else learning how to play the piano. He may or may not be a good pianist himself, but all in all, the book just did not seem right for me.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
keystring #2852746 05/27/19 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I was very fortunate to be able to have an in-depth conversation with Bernhard a few years ago. It happened when the ABF here become "Bernhardified" in a thread, and some people were very insistent on his ideas being applied to the letter. Something felt off - I wrote a PM - by pure chance he happened to visit PS after a few years and caught my message. Ok, so here goes.

(He told me that) when a teacher teaches, a musician plans, etc., he is drawing on many things at the same time, is aware of many things at the same time. All these things kick in, and you're sort of constantly shuttling, switching, recombining. When teaching an individual student, you are gearing that to this student, at this time, on this day. It is also a moment-by-moment thing.

None of that can happen if you're writing to a forum. Writing itself means you have linear rows of words, one sentence and idea at a time; generalized in a forum. You must "dissassemble" those parts that all work together at the same time in this fluid way, and present them as parts. The student reading this, must be able to reassemble those parts, add a large drop of intuition and uniqueness.

That was not happening. People seemed to be taking each thing literally, "unassembled".

Sounds as though he was an excellent teacher. It is true that not everything said can be applied to every individual and everything we do. Of course his recommendations should be individualized. Regardless, it’s a shame he left the forums because it seems like he had quite a lot to contribute.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
keystring #2852747 05/27/19 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I was very fortunate to be able to have an in-depth conversation with Bernhard a few years ago. It happened when the ABF here become "Bernhardified" in a thread, and some people were very insistent on his ideas being applied to the letter. Something felt off - I wrote a PM - by pure chance he happened to visit PS after a few years and caught my message. Ok, so here goes.

(He told me that) when a teacher teaches, a musician [s]plans[/s plays, etc., he is drawing on many things at the same time, is aware of many things at the same time. All these things kick in, and you're sort of constantly shuttling, switching, recombining. When teaching an individual student, you are gearing that to this student, at this time, on this day. It is also a moment-by-moment thing.

None of that can happen if you're writing to a forum. Writing itself means you have linear rows of words, one sentence and idea at a time; generalized in a forum. You must "dissassemble" those parts that all work together at the same time in this fluid way, and present them as parts. The student reading this, must be able to reassemble those parts, add a large drop of intuition and uniqueness.

That was not happening. People seemed to be taking each thing literally, "unassembled".
Yes. If you try to take what he wrote literally, and as your only input, it will not work for you for very long. What the thinking person (musician, student) does is take from many sources and test out what works best for them (and what they can stick with).


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2852749 05/27/19 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by John305
I A common recurring topic in many of those posts are references to a book called Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan Chang. Has anyone here read that book and if so would you care to share your thoughts?

Mr. Chang is a person who could play the piano and must have had decent lessons himself in the past. He sent his daughters to a good teacher, and tried to get behind what her methodology must have been - or what was behind her teaching. He is a physicist, and wrote from the perspectives of a physicist with that background. He also tried to put things into lay people's perspective.

I browsed through the book when I first joined PW. A couple of things were useful. The part about phrases or similar turned something familiar and intuitive into an impossible chain of "stuff". That made me uneasy about the whole thing, because I didn't know enough to be able to judge, so I left the book alone.


I too browsed through the book when I first joined and when I came across it. I did not find it particularly useful either. It’s seem to me that it was written not by somebody who taught or even played the piano but by somebody who observed somebody else learning how to play the piano. He may or may not be a good pianist himself, but all in all, the book just did not seem right for me.
I read through most of the book. Again, some good nuggets to put in one's toolbox. Otherwise, pretty dense reading for not much return.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2852766 05/27/19 01:21 PM
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keystring, as the starter of that over-literal Bernhardified thread that you write about, I think my one biggest mistake in my piano study was to let myself, on that thread, be talked out of what I was trying and having success with — no matter how over-literal and not-what-Bernhard-meant it was.

As self-studiers, each of us has to find our own balance point of what works for us and what needs adjusting — even if it doesn’t match what our source of inspiration would actually do. I wish I’d been more self-aware about protecting the things that worked for me then.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
Stubbie #2852769 05/27/19 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
[quote=Stubbie]Verrrry easy to get lost in Bernhard's posts. Here are Bernhard's practice tips from 2006.

He has (imo) some very useful things to say about learning how to play the piano. Where things fall down is that many (most?) people experience a loss of discipline and persistence when they set out to follow his "plan." ......
Oh, I'm sure they worked on his students, at least for the time he had them as students. What I'm questioning is how well one could make this work for themselves, for the long term. Bits and pieces of it, yes, for sure. ....


There is no "plan".
I hope my earlier post doesn't get lost in the shuffle. wink

Re: Bernhard’s Tips
PianoStudent88 #2852770 05/27/19 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
keystring, as the starter of that over-literal Bernhardified thread that you write about, I think my one biggest mistake in my piano study was to let myself, on that thread, be talked out of what I was trying and having success with — no matter how over-literal and not-what-Bernhard-meant it was.

As self-studiers, each of us has to find our own balance point of what works for us and what needs adjusting — even if it doesn’t match what our source of inspiration would actually do. I wish I’d been more self-aware about protecting the things that worked for me then.

You absolutely should do what works, and not be talked out of it. You are right. I think it was that developing atmosphere that got me to reach out to B in the first place. I suspect that he'd be the first to support your conclusions. smile

Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2852779 05/27/19 01:41 PM
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Thank you, keystring.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
keystring #2852780 05/27/19 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
[quote=Stubbie]Verrrry easy to get lost in Bernhard's posts. Here are Bernhard's practice tips from 2006.

He has (imo) some very useful things to say about learning how to play the piano. Where things fall down is that many (most?) people experience a loss of discipline and persistence when they set out to follow his "plan." ......
Oh, I'm sure they worked on his students, at least for the time he had them as students. What I'm questioning is how well one could make this work for themselves, for the long term. Bits and pieces of it, yes, for sure. ....


There is no "plan".
I hope my earlier post doesn't get lost in the shuffle. wink

That's why "plan" is in quotes. laugh

The trouble is, many readers of his posts did take them as a sort of guidance on how to go about learning a skill or technique or a particular piece. That it was never his intention that his tips and comments were to be taken as gospel (as a "plan") is, imo, reasonably clear from the sum total of his posts. He was a good writer and had some good suggestions and comments. It really is too bad he stopped posting.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2852792 05/27/19 02:02 PM
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Stubbie and keystring, how is one to use ideas from Bernhard’s writings without having them be part of some sort of plan?

It might be as simple as “today I’m going to try an idea derived from Bernhard about which 2-piece Invention to learn next, and see how that works for me.” But that, to me, is still a plan.

It’s even more a plan if one decides that in order to try out ideas (drawn from Bernhard’s posts) about the sequencing of 2-Part Inventions, one will follow that sequencing for several inventions in a row: this will take at least several days if not weeks.

This isn’t necessarily specifically about Bernhard — I think the concern about using what a teacher has written as a guide for oneself has come up in several contexts.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
keystring #2852808 05/27/19 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I was very fortunate to be able to have an in-depth conversation with Bernhard a few years ago. It happened when the ABF here become "Bernhardified" in a thread, and some people were very insistent on his ideas being applied to the letter. Something felt off - I wrote a PM - by pure chance he happened to visit PS after a few years and caught my message. Ok, so here goes.

(He told me that) when a teacher teaches, a musician plans, etc., he is drawing on many things at the same time, is aware of many things at the same time. All these things kick in, and you're sort of constantly shuttling, switching, recombining. When teaching an individual student, you are gearing that to this student, at this time, on this day. It is also a moment-by-moment thing.

None of that can happen if you're writing to a forum. Writing itself means you have linear rows of words, one sentence and idea at a time; generalized in a forum. You must "dissassemble" those parts that all work together at the same time in this fluid way, and present them as parts. The student reading this, must be able to reassemble those parts, add a large drop of intuition and uniqueness.

That was not happening. People seemed to be taking each thing literally, "unassembled".


This is exactly what I was thinking when i read through some of these posts. There are some good nuggets, for sure, but every musician has to find their own system, which is a compliation of things teachers taught them, what they’ve learned from various other resources, and personal experience.

For example, I prefer to practice in the morning. I find my practice to be more focused and productive then. So that has become one of my “rules” for myself. But I dont tell my students to do that, but rather point them to the principle of finding a time where their brains are able to focus.

So I think if one reads through his posts, try to pick out the underlying principle behind his instructions, rather than following them to the letter. That, and dont be so willing to throw out all of what you have accumulated from teachers and experiences, unless you have hit a brick wall in that particular aspect of your playing.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
PianoStudent88 #2852811 05/27/19 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Stubbie and keystring, how is one to use ideas from Bernhard’s writings without having them be part of some sort of plan?

The plan is your plan. It morphs with what you discover as you work, and it blends with where you are just before starting to work on it, blending with other things you know or intuit. But it is not a "plan" in the sense of an absolute blueprint, like when you put together Ikea furniture where screw LM2 must go into slot LM2 at Step 4.

Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2852879 05/27/19 07:36 PM
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I miss Bernhard’s invariably sensible and broadminded presence on Pianostreet. He must have helped very many players during his time there, and it is pleasing to see links to his posts appear here. His unselfishness was amazing, given the number of silly questions people asked him. I hope he is still enjoying his music and his Bombay Sapphire. Every time I see a bottle of it I think of him.

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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
PianoStudent88 #2852911 05/27/19 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Stubbie and keystring, how is one to use ideas from Bernhard’s writings without having them be part of some sort of plan?

It might be as simple as “today I’m going to try an idea derived from Bernhard about which 2-piece Invention to learn next, and see how that works for me.” But that, to me, is still a plan.

It’s even more a plan if one decides that in order to try out ideas (drawn from Bernhard’s posts) about the sequencing of 2-Part Inventions, one will follow that sequencing for several inventions in a row: this will take at least several days if not weeks.

This isn’t necessarily specifically about Bernhard — I think the concern about using what a teacher has written as a guide for oneself has come up in several contexts.
Maybe the problem is we have two, differing, uses of "plan" going on. For example, we plan how we are going to allocate our paycheck to pay for the sofa on an installment plan. One type of plan is how we decide to use our time and resources (our paycheck) and the other type of plan is a contractual obligation.

Certainly we plan our practice--how best to allocate our energies and strategies for learning a new skill or piece. But the things Bernhard wrote are not rules by which we are obligated to operate--he wrote that we need to try things out and see how it works for us. And--imo--I think most of what he suggested would work for many of us, but it is just so hard to keep it up day after day, week after week, month after month without Bernhard himself sitting in a chair off to the side and keeping us on the straight and narrow. In one of his posts he said he had a student who had a lesson five days a week (supervised practice) and the student made rapid progress. Not something most of us can (or would want to) do.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
Ted #2852914 05/27/19 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ted
I miss Bernhard’s invariably sensible and broadminded presence on Pianostreet. He must have helped very many players during his time there, and it is pleasing to see links to his posts appear here. His unselfishness was amazing, given the number of silly questions people asked him. I hope he is still enjoying his music and his Bombay Sapphire. Every time I see a bottle of it I think of him.
He must have spent one heck of a lot of time writing up his posts. No wonder he made up his list (which must have taken a good chunk of time to put together in itself). Yeah, I think it's too bad he decided to stop posting. His posts were both useful/sensible and readable, the combination of which doesn't always happen. smile


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
Tyrone Slothrop #2852932 05/27/19 10:09 PM
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I just read the first few of his posts on the very first entry on this list on the 2 part inventions. The guy is amazing; his wealth of knowledge and wilingness to spend the time sharing it.

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2714.msg23310.html#msg23310

He really should compile all this information into a book. I'd purchase it for certain.


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2853020 05/28/19 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
I just read the first few of his posts on the very first entry on this list on the 2 part inventions. The guy is amazing; his wealth of knowledge and wilingness to spend the time sharing it.

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2714.msg23310.html#msg23310

He really should compile all this information into a book. I'd purchase it for certain.


I agree with you. I would buy the book as well.



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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
Morodiene #2853161 05/28/19 02:34 PM
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I didn't see this.
Originally Posted by Morodiene
For example, I prefer to practice in the morning. I find my practice to be more focused and productive then. So that has become one of my “rules” for myself. But I dont tell my students to do that, but rather point them to the principle of finding a time where their brains are able to focus.

So I think if one reads through his posts, try to pick out the underlying principle behind his instructions, rather than following them to the letter. That, and dont be so willing to throw out all of what you have accumulated from teachers and experiences, unless you have hit a brick wall in that particular aspect of your playing.

That last paragraph especially.
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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
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Thanks cmb! Great timing for me in my early life as a pianist. I did figure out a few months back that we all have to experiment to determine what works of us. Some real nuggets in here - I read one about how to get speed and thought is was brilliant.....and totally love what he said about metronomes. Cheers!


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Re: Bernhard’s Tips
cmb13 #2853305 05/28/19 09:04 PM
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I went blind reading those posts, so, no go for me.

Reminded me why I joined PW instead of P S.


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