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Sharpening The Learning Curve #2870041
07/17/19 09:40 AM
07/17/19 09:40 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 1
Buenos Aires
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Agustin Roses Offline OP
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Agustin Roses  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 1
Buenos Aires
Hi! Im Agustin from Argentina and this is my first post here! (joined yday)

I played the piano for just 2 years when I was 13 and now Im 29 and Ive started at it again with great success in my opinion (learned 3 plays of Debussy by heart, Clair de Lune, Arabesque No.1 and Reviere).
Astonished by my superb memory(?) I still feel a little empty with these accomplishments: I still fail to read music effectively (working on it) and my left hand dissociation with the right is off sometimes, so....

a.what do you guys recommend me to do? I dont have money for a teacher right now so Im trying to do my best on my own, I was thinking about doing some ostinattos exercises or something in different keys (if anyone has a good pdf about this, with progressive exercises on the matter Id be very grateful.

Cheers !

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Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870051
07/17/19 10:30 AM
07/17/19 10:30 AM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 146
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Pinkiepie Offline
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Pinkiepie  Offline
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Posts: 146
Hi Augustin!

I have the impression that you would like to avoid having to deal with the absolute basics.

But that will be necessary if you want to be able to read and interpret music on your own.

To reproduce a few familiar melodies from memory is not the same thing. You already notice and feel this yourself.

Depending on how serious you are, I would get a good set of basic lesson books and work through it.
So you can be sure to be ideally equipped.

There is nothing wrong with working on selected melodies/pieces in addition.



Because you hinted at a problem with two-handed play (?):
Scale exercises (both in parallel and contrary motion) can be a good place to start.

You can find free patterns on the internet.

Everything else is a matter of regular (and smart) practice.


But I am not a teacher ...so you better wait for more professional advice.


See ya! smile

Last edited by Pinkiepie; 07/17/19 10:37 AM.
Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870100
07/17/19 02:11 PM
07/17/19 02:11 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,384
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
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malkin  Offline
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Posts: 5,384
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With or without a teacher it is necessary to practice the things that are difficult.
Having a teacher speeds up the process of identifying problems and effective solutions.


Learner
Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870104
07/17/19 02:29 PM
07/17/19 02:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 192
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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MichaelJK  Offline

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Posts: 192
Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted by Agustin Roses
Hi! Im Agustin from Argentina and this is my first post here! (joined yday)

I played the piano for just 2 years when I was 13 and now Im 29 and Ive started at it again with great success in my opinion (learned 3 plays of Debussy by heart, Clair de Lune, Arabesque No.1 and Reviere).
Astonished by my superb memory(?) I still feel a little empty with these accomplishments: I still fail to read music effectively (working on it) and my left hand dissociation with the right is off sometimes, so....

a.what do you guys recommend me to do? I dont have money for a teacher right now so Im trying to do my best on my own, I was thinking about doing some ostinattos exercises or something in different keys (if anyone has a good pdf about this, with progressive exercises on the matter Id be very grateful.

Cheers !


Let me see if I can restate your question:

"I'm having great success learning piano, but I still feel empty with my accomplishments. What should I do about that?"

I can take this in one of three ways (all three are actually very common):

1. You're asking how to get rid of the "empty feeling".
2. "Great success" isn't enough for you, and you want to know how to go even faster.
3. You're not actually succeeding at anything, but for some reason you feel you need to say that you are.

In the first case, I would say it's probably better to practice accepting the feeling that you aren't going as fast as you'd like. Look around at how many top-level professionals in all sorts of fields are totally unsatisfied with their abilities. Feelings of inferiority don't go away so easily, but they don't have to affect you too much. Judge your practicing by whether or not you are achieving specific, very simple goals, not by how you feel.

I'll leave it there for now.

Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870109
07/17/19 02:56 PM
07/17/19 02:56 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,940
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,940
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by Agustin Roses
Hi! Im Agustin from Argentina and this is my first post here! (joined yday)

I played the piano for just 2 years when I was 13 and now Im 29 and Ive started at it again with great success in my opinion (learned 3 plays of Debussy by heart, Clair de Lune, Arabesque No.1 and Reviere).
Astonished by my superb memory(?) I still feel a little empty with these accomplishments: I still fail to read music effectively (working on it) and my left hand dissociation with the right is off sometimes, so....

a.what do you guys recommend me to do? I dont have money for a teacher right now so Im trying to do my best on my own, I was thinking about doing some ostinattos exercises or something in different keys (if anyone has a good pdf about this, with progressive exercises on the matter Id be very grateful.

Cheers !

You mention you don't have money for a teacher, but I have found that there are misconceptions about taking lessons, so I'll address that first. You can take lessons once in a while - like one per month, or you can have them more often like every other week, or whenever you have saved up enough for your next lesson. Many teachers like these kinds of lesson because they can be easier to schedule around other students and performances, and you can learn quite a bit more this way than guessing at what you should be working on. So you may want to consider that option and find out what teachers in your area charge per lesson, and see if you can budget for that.

Beyond that, without hearing you play, I am going to assume that you need to be exposed to more different kinds of music. Debussy is great, but what about Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chopin, etc.? There is a good order to learn things rather than randomly choosing pieces, and each different musical style period has something to offer to help you become a better pianist overall.

There are also technical concerns that need to be addressed that can hold you back. Scales, chords and arpeggios are great to practice in all keys - you can find fingerings and notes on Google - in addition to other technical exercises (Hanon, Czerny, etc.). But do be careful - if at any time you feel pain, that's your body telling you that you've played with improper technique and/or you've played for too long. Technical exercise especially can cause this issue if not done carefully.

Last edited by Morodiene; 07/17/19 02:57 PM.

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Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870128
07/17/19 04:02 PM
07/17/19 04:02 PM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 157
Long Island, NY
A
AssociateX Offline
Full Member
AssociateX  Offline
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A

Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 157
Long Island, NY
Hola Agustin, welcome to the forum! I too, was like you when I started considering going back to piano in a serious manner. I did not have time/money for a teacher a few years ago so tried to continue self-studying and obviously it didnt go very well (see my channel below for examples of poorly played pieces I recorded before I started with formal lessons again recently).

I really think finding a good teacher will help speed things up a lot. It is VERY hard to unlearn wrong notes, wrong technique, wrong musical ideas of a piece based on recordings you listen to on the radio or YouTube. These are all currently some of my problems (among many)in getting back on track with my piano studies. It takes years and it feels like you move backwards more than you move forwards.

If you do not have $ for a teacher, I heartily recommend watching as many of the Piano tutorials from Josh Wright, Paul Barton or a few of the teachers that are recommended by some on this board. There is also Skype lessons you can take with some of these teachers. I think thats really the first step because until you have someone actually LISTEN and WATCH your hands play on a piano, you have no idea where you are going astray or how to practice effectively so you will be able to see progress.

just my 2 cents.


~~~~~~~
Finished:
1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)

Working on:
1. Beethoven Sonata Op 2 # 1 (2nd-3rd mvmnts)
2. Chopin Prelude Op 28 # 24
3. Chopin Nocturne Op 48/1
*****************
My YouTube Channel :

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: Agustin Roses] #2870184
07/17/19 10:04 PM
07/17/19 10:04 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,170
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
8000 Post Club Member
AZNpiano  Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,170
Orange County, CA
I am not as optimistic as the other posters here. I think you are really deluding yourself about your progress. If you are not yet reading music effectively, then you really should not be working on later-intermediate repertoire without assistance. There's a chance that you are a musical genius, but I highly doubt that.

I would recommend that you get one of those basic method book series like Piano Adventures and get online support, where you'll find more information. There's nothing wrong with going back to the basics and learning everything the right way. Maybe then you won't feel so empty.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: MichaelJK] #2870349
07/18/19 02:22 PM
07/18/19 02:22 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,098
Canada
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
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Canada
Originally Posted by MichaelJK

Let me see if I can restate your question:

"I'm having great success learning piano, but I still feel empty with my accomplishments. What should I do about that?"

I can take this in one of three ways (all three are actually very common):

1. You're asking how to get rid of the "empty feeling".
2. "Great success" isn't enough for you, and you want to know how to go even faster.
3. You're not actually succeeding at anything, but for some reason you feel you need to say that you are.

In the first case, I would say it's probably better to practice accepting the feeling that you aren't going as fast as you'd like.

I think I understand where you're coming from, Michael. One side of the equation is that our negative feelings can undermine our ability to play, and are even more deadly if performing. We do not want to allow that to happen. BUT, there is another side ..............

.......... gut feeling; nigglings.

The OP had two years of lessons a decade ago, is now returning at a more mature age a decade later and is taking stock of where he's at. It is very common for teaching to have been far from complete - a younger student's manner of working might have been less stellar as well - so we can end up with holes in what we learned. When we are in that situation, we don't know what it is that is missing, because we're missing it. Our picture of music playing and music learning is a tunnel vision view, restricted to what we have experienced with that teacher. We end up with "vague feelings", "nigglings". Gut feeling can be a pretty good guide, in my experience. I've come to embrace nigglings. wink I do not agree with any suggestions going toward ignoring such feelings. I'd start exploring. Find out more. From many resources, taking everything with a grain of salt. After a while, I also see such nigglings as a POSITIVE thing, because it can lead to learning and growth.

My list is different from yours:

1. OP has discovered with pleasure that he has a good memory; found a strength
2. identifying a weakness in reading music - not "effectively"
3. LH - RH coordination

Concrete things, rather than feelings, are in my list. Just taking no. 2 In the OP's shoes, I'd want to learn more about reading, note recognition, associating written notes with piano keys like your hand goes to the light switch when night falls. I might be exploring some elements of theory, and check what things I only think I know, but but don't actually have a good handle on (note values, time signatures, keys, whatnot). This, in turn, might lead to a host of new activities and new things to learn. Those "things to learn" in turn may become tools that change the piano learning experience, enriching it, making it more effective etc.

There is a relationship between the good memory and poor reading, because if you have the one, you won't need the other, and the one can compensate for the other. I'd want to have both, and create some bonds between the two.

Above all, I find it good to embrace a gut feeling, rather than dismiss it, and see where it leads. I have not written the T-word - (teacher). A decent teacher, even on just a consultation, might also be able to point out some areas that need strengthening and developing. To me these are adventures, and doors to new places, and not a negative thing.

Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: keystring] #2870357
07/18/19 02:54 PM
07/18/19 02:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 192
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

Full Member
MichaelJK  Offline

Full Member

Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 192
Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted by keystring

The OP had two years of lessons a decade ago, is now returning at a more mature age a decade later and is taking stock of where he's at. It is very common for teaching to have been far from complete - a younger student's manner of working might have been less stellar as well - so we can end up with holes in what we learned. When we are in that situation, we don't know what it is that is missing, because we're missing it. Our picture of music playing and music learning is a tunnel vision view, restricted to what we have experienced with that teacher. We end up with "vague feelings", "nigglings". Gut feeling can be a pretty good guide, in my experience. I've come to embrace nigglings. wink I do not agree with any suggestions going toward ignoring such feelings. I'd start exploring. Find out more. From many resources, taking everything with a grain of salt. After a while, I also see such nigglings as a POSITIVE thing, because it can lead to learning and growth.


I basically agree with everything you're saying, and I want to clarify something. I didn't mean to suggest that the feeling should be ignored.

What I was suggesting is that the feeling might need to be "accepted". For example, many students learn in school that failure is unacceptable. When they grow up to be adults, they feel discouraged when they see themselves performing less-than-perfectly. Then, because of conditioning, they assume that they are not working hard enough, not trying hard enough, etc., and they (futilely) attempt to remedy these deficiencies.

However, the fact is that all human beings will perform less-than-perfectly all of the time. So, someone with that kind of history is pretty much doomed to feeling discouraged from time to time. It can be very distracting if you assume that such feelings of discouragement must be acted upon.

Feelings do give us information. Specifically, they tell us a lot about what we care about. A feeling of discouragement, for example, can clue us in to the fact that there is a little child inside of us that is worried about "not being good enough" and needs compassion. It can make us aware that we have been ignoring what we "really care about", and have instead been pursuing what we think we're "supposed to do".

I want to emphasize that the point of my post was to encourage the OP to take things one practice session at a time, working toward small goals, rather than asking the question "am I playing well enough?"

Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: keystring] #2870500
07/19/19 02:59 AM
07/19/19 02:59 AM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 146
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Pinkiepie Offline
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Pinkiepie  Offline
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Posts: 146
Originally Posted by keystring

Above all, I find it good to embrace a gut feeling, rather than dismiss it, and see where it leads. I have not written the T-word - (teacher). A decent teacher, even on just a consultation, might also be able to point out some areas that need strengthening and developing. To me these are adventures, and doors to new places, and not a negative thing.


Very nicely put. smile


Quote
There is a relationship between the good memory and poor reading, because if you have the one, you won't need the other, and the one can compensate for the other. I'd want to have both, and create some bonds between the two.


That's an interesting thought and yes, I think you might have a point here.
I used to have an excellent muscle memory and automatically memorized all the pieces I practiced. I could still orient myself to the notes, but only did it when it was really necessary.
Most of the time I relied on my memory.
Since I played much too difficult pieces far too early, this was the only way for me to compensate for a lack of practice in sight-reading.

The more advanced (and practiced?) I became, the more this changed and a kind of balance was created between these two abilities.

And today it's almost the other way around. My muscle memory seems to have atrophied a bit over the years...at least I hardly play anything by heart.

Since I don't perform anymore, it's not necessary either.





Last edited by Pinkiepie; 07/19/19 03:03 AM.
Re: Sharpening The Learning Curve [Re: MichaelJK] #2870967
07/20/19 04:00 PM
07/20/19 04:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,098
Canada
keystring Offline
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keystring  Offline
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Michael, thank you for responding.
Originally Posted by MichaelJK

I basically agree with everything you're saying, and I want to clarify something. I didn't mean to suggest that the feeling should be ignored.

What I was suggesting is that the feeling might need to be "accepted". For example, many students learn in school that failure is unacceptable. When they grow up to be adults, they feel discouraged when they see themselves performing less-than-perfectly. Then, because of conditioning, they assume that they are not working hard enough, not trying hard enough, etc., and they (futilely) attempt to remedy these deficiencies.

However, the fact is that all human beings will perform less-than-perfectly all of the time. ....


Yes, I understand that. This will be a thing that you undoubtedly will encounter a lot, with students you teach (I think you teach?) and you will have encountered it yourself as a student and then as a performer. This exists, and where it does, it has to be addressed. However, when I read the same first opening post that you responded to, I see concrete things: reading ability, hand differentiation - and a "gut feeling" that these are amiss. While "gut feeling" has the word "feeling" in it, it's more in the area of "knowledge" - a "partial knowledge" or sense. We're in a different plane than you are addressing, I think.

It is quite common to have a few years of lesson, where we end up missing (not being taught) some essential things. Once you learn them, you recognize what's missing. Until then you only have a niggling feeling about "something". And the solution is to chase that "something". Going on:

I want to emphasize that the point of my post was to encourage the OP to take things one practice session at a time, working toward small goals, rather than asking the question "am I playing well enough?"[/quote]

Here you must identify those small goals, and know how to work toward them. This brings us back to the practical nigglings. My reading seems off: hand differentiation seems off. What does reading consist of? What prerequisite skills relate to reading and how do I get those? What practice processes will give hand differentiation? Are there particular pieces that might help me get this?> ........ We get this kind of answer and we start knowing what kinds of small goals to set, and how to work toward those small goals practice-wise. Doing this can be a powerful and empowering thing.

On a personal note, when I was first a student as an adult, there weren't that many tools given, and if I said "I don't like how this passage sounds", I'd get "emotional support". I'd be "encourage" - don't worry it will come, etc. etc. - I wanted something practical and concrete. It doesn't sound good because you are not yet doing X. Or it won't sound ideal until you get skill Y, which we're working toward it. It is infuriating to ask for help in a practical matter, and to be "comforted".

There are three co-existing factors in learning to play an instrument.
1) understanding the nature of goals - You might aim to play these three notes in this manner. You can achieve that. You might aim to play this piece to sound wonderful from all angles. You can't achieve that, and it is literally "unreal".
2) understanding how to work toward those goals. - crescendo, produced how. how do I get at this skill. step 1. step 2 step 3. 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
3) feelings, how we talk to ourselves

Each influences the other. The ineffective goal will find no good step for reaching it, and the failure to reach anything unleashes helplessness, and frustration. Not knowing what steps to take also makes the goals unreachable (or hardly reachable), though usually good small goals will also bring you toward good steps. This also creates feelings. But also, preexisting negative feelings will undermine the first two. You are addressing no. 3. I tend to address no. 1 and 2. But all three matter.

As a side note:

Quote
For example, many students learn in school that failure is unacceptable ....


My first profession was as a teacher in the primary (formative) years. Later I worked one-on-one as a tutor for students having problems of some kind. What you have stated is NOT what school should be about. Unfortunately in many parts of the world, politics have turned it into that. Interference by higher ups existed even when I taught, but it was not that bad.

Here, too, the actual teaching goals is (should be) to give students skills, knowledge, including how to get at things. The understanding should be real. The role of tests is supposed to be an assessment of whether the student has learned what needs to be learned, so that, if not, you teach what is missing. It is not supposed to be about "failure" or "non-failure". Unfortunately, tests are also used as a form of "extrinsic 'motivation' " (which btw I disagree with). Fear of failing tests: pride of on-upmanship over fellow children, is supposed to drive the child to "want" to study. It is a good way of killing any existing love for a subject, and any curiosity. It is NOT what school is supposed to be about.

One thing one can do in music, perhaps, is to turn this around at least there, and perhaps create a backward influence back toward everything else in life. If, otoh, you latch onto the same mindset, since it's familiar and parents etc. will be clamouring for it, then you're just perpetuating the disease. But I've gone way OT at this point. wink


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