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As a beginner, I cannot see how I could avoid learning wrong. When learning a new piece, I cannot see how it would be possible to play it immediately correctly, both notes, rhythm, technique and dynamics, even if I would play at a very slow tempo. So I don't even try, but I start with the notes. I try to also take the length of notes into account, but if I need two seconds each for four eighth notes, I am not going to sit and wait for eight seconds with my finger on the key for the half note. When I more or less can play the notes, I try to integrate rhythm. Only when I can do this, more or less (still making mistakes though), I can start to think about technique.

So when learning a new piece, I do a lot of repetitions with the wrong rhythm, wrong technique and wrong dynamics, before I am able to play the whole piece more or less correctly - and then usually, way too slow.
I think this is unavoidable for beginners. Or am I mistaken?


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Disclaimer: Not a piano teacher.

I think what you describe is correct that the first initial steps with a new piece are like this. But that you need to be fully aware that repeating too often incorrect rhythm and dynamics is going to be hard to unlearn. So you need to transition as quickly as possible to playing correctly and slowly. You also might limit your practise so your teacher can point out clearly where you are going wrong before what you've learnt has become ingrained.

This is my pragmatic approach, or at least I think it is pragmatic.

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Originally Posted by KevinM
Disclaimer:
I think what you describe is correct that the first initial steps with a new piece are like this. But that you need to be fully aware that repeating too often incorrect rhythm and dynamics is going to be hard to unlearn. .


This is an external, superficial interpretation of what is happening, although, yes - mistakes must occur. In the first stage of work on something that requires a set of new skills, a system of work is needed that aims only at one goal: only the right rhythm, only the right notes, only the right fingering; and what is inextricably linked with this - only the right movements; etc. Consider that while working to achieve most of the goals, it is necessary to initially neglect the correct rhythm; therefore, the study of rhythm is necessary in the initial stage; and if it is a song, you first need to learn the text, which largely determines the rhythm of the melody.
The task of the teacher: to organize your work and show how to work independently. Tutorials and videos in this area are helpless ...

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I would hope that you are slightly exaggerating what happens unless you are trying to play something beyond your capabilities. Did you not have a video session with our esteemed Vladimir? How did that go?


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One thing I have found useful to address this specific issue is to try and read the music and try and imagine what it would sound like before actually playing. It was very hard for me initially, but it has become easier over time.
You don't need to actually get all of it right. You can imagine the same pitch with the correct rhythm, or the correct relative pitch differences without correct rhythm. These small exercises have helped me a great deal. A lot more than I thought they would. This is a lot easier to do with pieces below your level while starting out. You can also try singing/humming if imagining is hard.

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Animisha, I think your method is not the most efficient way to go about it. The reason is that you have to re-learn the piece several times several different ways before you finally learn it with all its details included. Please watch this video by Artur Pizarro. It’s long but worth the investment of your time.



Last edited by John305; 05/29/19 08:06 AM.

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Originally Posted by KevinM
But that you need to be fully aware that repeating too often incorrect rhythm and dynamics is going to be hard to unlearn.

Kevin, this is not my experience. But I realise now that when I am fully focused on learning the correct notes, there hardly is any rhythm to speak of. In that way it is different from learning an erroneous rhythm. Also when it comes to dynamics, I hardly ever have a problem unlearning this.

Originally Posted by KevinM
You also might limit your practise so your teacher can point out clearly where you are going wrong before what you've learnt has become ingrained.

Yes, once I got the notes plus rhythm down, I start watching the videos from my teacher.

Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I would hope that you are slightly exaggerating what happens unless you are trying to play something beyond your capabilities.

No, not exaggerating, and also really not playing beyond my capabilities. But the phase with only notes and hardly any rhythm doesn't last very long. But then, even when I have started with some rhythm, my first priority is getting the notes right, so I can have a long break just to make sure I play the next note correctly.

Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Did you not have a video session with our esteemed Vladimir? How did that go?

You have very good memory! He sent me feedback to my video, but unfortunately just then too many things happened in my life and I could not continue our contact.

Originally Posted by Nahum
The task of the teacher: to organize your work and show how to work independently. Tutorials and videos in this area are helpless ...

I respectfully disagree. smile


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If you are not able to do rhythms and correct pitches with some accuracy at a VERY slow tempo, then it's quite possible these pieces are too hard for you. While I like what Pizarro says, he is talking about pianists at advanced levels. I think it can apply to intermediate levels as well since there is more hands together work. But a beginner will spend a lot of time doing pieces that don't contain a lot of simultaneous hands and thus playing hands separately isn't necessary.

I don't know your level, but I think that if you are doing repertoire that contains simultaneous hands, then starting hands separately and adding everything in there is a really good way to go about it. Just remember: when you put hands together, you will have to slow waaaay down or you will start dropping details.


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Animisha,
I don’t know if it’s similar for you, but for me the rhythm or tension problems in the beginning, are mostly hand independence related. Had to alter my practicing a bit. Now, I don’t practice something for a long time in the beginning phase of learning a piece. Just a few repetitions section wise, spread across multiple sessions. I work on several pieces at a time, so I don’t get restless anymore. Within a couple days and sleep cycles, the co-ordination improves for the section giving me trouble, and then I’m better able to concentrate on whatever’s required. At this point, and if it's a lesson piece, I try to spend more time on it.


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I forgot to add this. I find it helpful to count from the very beginning, even if there are pauses, hesitations, etc. If the counting gets automatic, I find it much easier to maintain the rhythm later on, even without counting. I also do HS work, if the piece is tough for me. Don't know whether this has any basis in reality, or I've misinterpreted it. smile

I don't like to check with the metronome until much later. Though, I used it extensively in the first few months.

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One should make a serious attempt to play the notes and rhythm as accurately as possible from the beginning. Basic rhythm should be ingrained and not pose a problem while learning the notes. If the rhythm is complex(relative to whatever skill level one has)than one should stop and figure out the rhythm for that phrase. If one has continually stop to figure out the rhythm than I think the piece is too advanced for one's level.

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The way that I learn a new piece is to split it into phrases, and then play each phrase very, VERY slowly, concentrating initially on getting the note pitch and duration right. Once I can play the notes I gradually speed it up. I do that for each phrase separately and only when I can play each separately at a reasonable speed do I put them together to form the complete piece. Dynamics come last for me.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
[I respectfully disagree. smile
This you say as an educator in both areas?

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Animisha
[I respectfully disagree. smile
This you say as an educator in both areas?

As a teacher, I also disagree that videos and tutorials are useless. Some are, but some are very helpful, like the one posted in this thread.


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I agree that getting everything right from the get-go is just not going to happen for most of us, but a big mistake I made when I started out (self-teaching) was getting the notes down but not paying enough attention, early on, to rhythm and counting. I've had to spend a lot of time and energy fixing my rhythm/counting issues and it's still a struggle at times.

Nowadays, the first thing I do with a new piece is write in the counts (in pencil, so I can erase it later) for the first however many measures and for tricky ones. Then I count either out loud or in my head constantly. If you stood next to me while I practiced you'd hear me counting under my breath (actually more like singing) as I play. Adding in dynamics, pedaling, and interpretation layer-wise after that doesn't seem to present a problem. But it's the notes and the rhythm (count) that everything else is built on.


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Animisha,

After observing several teachers do this, I would advise you to hum the rhythm before you start playing. This is the pulse of the music, and you can get the feeling for the piece by doing just that. What I do is hum the rhythm, while also gradually taking phrasing and dynamics into account - and then I try to get some sense of the pitches - phrase by phrase. Try to understand the general line of the piece. The ups and downs.
Only then I would start playing. I found out it really speeded up the process.


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Originally Posted by Tech-key
I forgot to add this. I find it helpful to count from the very beginning, even if there are pauses, hesitations, etc. If the counting gets automatic, I find it much easier to maintain the rhythm later on, even without counting. I also do HS work, if the piece is tough for me. Don't know whether this has any basis in reality, or I've misinterpreted it. smile

I don't like to check with the metronome until much later. Though, I used it extensively in the first few months.


I do what Tech-key does - start counting from the first practice session on a new piece and HS. I include pedal with bass cleft HS. I make an effort to get the dynamics in place HS as speed comes up. Then when I put HT it all slows down but speed comes along with practice. I am learning to do this a phrase or line at a time (or even just a tricky measure).


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Thank you all for your answers!

Originally Posted by Tech-key
I find it helpful to count from the very beginning,


Originally Posted by Stubbie
If you stood next to me while I practiced you'd hear me counting under my breath (actually more like singing) as I play.


I simply cannot count in the earliest stages of practising. It's just that my whole focus is on playing correct notes with the correct fingers. It must be a lack of my capacity for multitasking. smile
But I will try to see if I can "hear" some of the rhythm before playing the first notes. I always start hands separately, but even then I sometimes need to play with a metronome to hear how I should count. And yes, once I switch to playing hands together, all rhythm usually is gone again.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
But I will try to see if I can "hear" some of the rhythm before playing the first notes.
People can do that?! Is it possible to get this power? frown laugh

Animisha, I don't like multitasking either. I've started doing some rhythm drills, where I play both hands with just one finger. Just one key, per hand. One finger, per hand. And with counting. Any random piece from any book, as fast as I can (which is not very fast ATM!). I've only been doing this everyday, for less than a week. Doing this as part of the sight reading drills. Will let you know, if I stick with this, and feel that it actually helped with anything.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Animisha
[I respectfully disagree. smile
This you say as an educator in both areas?

As a teacher, I also disagree that videos and tutorials are useless. Some are, but some are very helpful, like the one posted in this thread.


I join Morodiene and Animisha in that. I have worked using various resources. It is the quality of the resource, and the manner of working, which count. By "resource" of an on-line type I am including the interaction that one may have with the teacher, in whatever fashion.

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