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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870160 07/17/19 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Omer Setty


Thank you all for the answers.
My English is pretty bad (it is not my native language, and I don't write in English a lot), so I am having troubles with expressing my ideas (if you see grammar mistakes, you are welcomed to correct me).

The ideal way of the piano journey for me, is to learn how to play by myself (I have the basic foundations - I learned with a teacher few months. So I guess I know how to position my hands and press the notes properly), and yet show my progress to a teacher once in a while, in order to fix problems.
When I learned with the teacher, the lessons went like this: He gives me a piece to play --> I read the sheets and play --> He corrects my mistakes --> We move on. And at the end of the lesson, he taught me scales.
The thing is, that I knew when I made mistakes - I just approached the pieces that he gave me, so I couldn't play it perfectly for the first time. If he wasn't there, I know I could fix the mistakes (the mistakes were always playing the wrong notes) alone. So the presence of him was useless in that aspect. Does a teacher suppose to do more stuff than what I mentioned? Maybe the problem is that I choose the wrong teacher?



Yes, much more!! Unfortunately, your teacher was only giving you surface information and not allowing you to delve deep, as you seem to want to do. So please do not judge all teachers according to one example smile .

A good teacher will give you technical assistance on how to execute your interpretation better. I listened to a portion of your nocturne, and although I heard issues with a few wrong notes, the more important problem to address is your trill. I suspect that there may be something to work on with playing faster notes in general. How much work have you done with scale and Classical Era music (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, etc)?

Having said all of this, you certainly can *improve* on your own, but it will be much slower progress than if you get advice from a teacher. I recommend you keep searching, and ask the prospective teacher probing questions, and possibly pay to have a trial lesson with them to see what they say. If they pick only wrong notes, then you know to keep looking. smile


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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870161 07/17/19 06:50 PM
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I liked your playing and you have learned a lot in a very short period of time.

I am not a teacher so take this as you see fit. I do think that this piece is much to difficult for you and you will be better served with easier pieces where

you can concentrate more on dynamics and making it sound good.


Sometimes progress will seem very slow but give it time and your brain will catch up.


If you want to run you need to learn how to walk first.



Good luck,


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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870170 07/17/19 08:20 PM
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Hi Omer,

Welcome to the ABF forum. I am a bit like you in that I am going ahead without a teacher for a variety of reasons and I can attest that it will be faster with a teacher. I just posted a new thread about a question on a piece that I am not sure if I am practicing it correctly. Had I a teacher this wouldn't have been an issue. It's just one example where I have come across questions on technique or how a piece should be played that would be a quick answer with a teacher that has taken me longer to solve or in some case I haven't solved it on my own.

As an aside it would be an interesting thing if there was an option to do on demand drop in lessons. Something where you could schedule ad hoc leason when you had the time or need. I know why this isn't available but for someone like myself that can't commit to a weekly time or schedule it would be nice. Where I live you basically have to commit to 12 weeks on lessons at a time at the same day and time each week. With my schedule that just isn't a possibility. frown


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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Peddler100 #2870176 07/17/19 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by oneilt130
Hi Omer,

Welcome to the ABF forum. I am a bit like you in that I am going ahead without a teacher for a variety of reasons and I can attest that it will be faster with a teacher. I just posted a new thread about a question on a piece that I am not sure if I am practicing it correctly. Had I a teacher this wouldn't have been an issue. It's just one example where I have come across questions on technique or how a piece should be played that would be a quick answer with a teacher that has taken me longer to solve or in some case I haven't solved it on my own.

As an aside it would be an interesting thing if there was an option to do on demand drop in lessons. Something where you could schedule ad hoc leason when you had the time or need. I know why this isn't available but for someone like myself that can't commit to a weekly time or schedule it would be nice. Where I live you basically have to commit to 12 weeks on lessons at a time at the same day and time each week. With my schedule that just isn't a possibility. frown


If you believe your "lessons" need to be with a teacher sitting in the same room with you …. you are probably right about not being able to take a lessons here and there.

However, there are numerous teachers available on-line and you may be able to find one who will allow you to sign up for a lesson via Skype periodically for whatever need you have.


Don

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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870180 07/17/19 09:25 PM
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Lots of different answers - and lots of good information.

It is possible to learn to an extent without a teacher. You've had a teacher - and it sounds like you've consolidated what he's taught you.

It may be time to go back to a teacher (in my case, I've had about 7-8 teachers over my life - with more breaks than time with a teacher) - for direction again.

It is quite important that a teacher be consulted (I've got a diploma from nearly 40 years ago - but I went back to a teacher 3 years ago for 2 years) to ensure that you haven't picked up bad (hurtful) habits, that your posture etc are good.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870229 07/18/19 06:52 AM
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For your second question: you can use the rcm piano syllabus (you can download it for free here: https://files.rcmusic.com/sites/default/files/files/RCM-Piano-Syllabus-2015.pdf). You can find hundreds of pieces in it, sorted by levels.

I know, that you didn't ask, if you should learn with or without a teacher. But your goals are very bald, and it's not just about if you can reach your goal or not. It's also about the way you will reach it, and about the quality at the end.

I'm sure (and was always sure), that I could learn many-many stuff without a teacher. I'm ambitious. That's why I have lessons. Because I'm sure I can learn much more by them.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
dmd #2870230 07/18/19 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dmd

Welcome to the ABF forum. I am a bit like you in that I am going ahead without a teacher for a variety of reasons and I can attest that it will be faster with a teacher. I just posted a new thread about a question on a piece that I am not sure if I am practicing it correctly. Had I a teacher this wouldn't have been an issue. It's just one example where I have come across questions on technique or how a piece should be played that would be a quick

If you believe your "lessons" need to be with a teacher sitting in the same room with you …. you are probably right about not being able to take a lessons here and there.

However, there are numerous teachers available on-line and you may be able to find one who will allow you to sign up for a lesson via Skype periodically for whatever need you have.




That is probably what I will look into this fall. I first need to see what type of gear and connections I need to make it happen.


Yamaha NU1X, Sennheiser HD 599 headphones, dabling with PianoTeq
Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870275 07/18/19 10:24 AM
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I think maybe that because your first teacher approached teaching by simply telling you how to push the right notes in the right order and you already knew when you'd made a mistake, you think that this is what teachers do, and what piano learning is all about.

I can tell you that after the very early beginner stages, this is not what it's about. In fact, at the more advanced stages, you are expected to bring all pieces to the lesson learned well enough to play without mistakes. THEN the learning begins. After all, if the student does not have the notes learned, there's no way to work on the actual piano technique part.

When I go to my teacher, she is endlessly correcting weight and angle and attack and approach, phrasing and movement.... She's never once corrected a wrong note--that part is for me to figure out and she knows we both know it happened. And while I know piano very well at this point, there is virtually nothing I could have learned about technique (beyond getting the notes under my fingers) that didn't REQUIRE a teacher. Worse, if I hadn't had a teacher, I might have not understood exactly how complicated the task really was and made the mistake of thinking I could do it myself. The coordination task should never progress much beyond the technical level, so pushing through to learning complicated coordination patterns (such as would be necessary on a Chopin nocturne) before having technique sufficient to master it is not only a waste of time, but simply builds a lot of bad habits unknowingly.

I think a lot of adult self-learners suffer rather innocently from a case of the Dunning Kruger effect, whereby the less you know about something, the closer you think the distance is between what you're doing and what true experts are doing. It often manifests itself just like you describe: often adults make decent progress solving the puzzle of which notes to push and when, and then make the mistake of extrapolating that to the conclusion that advancing technique is mostly learning how to do that with faster and more complicated patterns. And thus, somewhere early on, every adult student wonders if a teacher is just an expensive luxury with no real advantage over a super-motivated and logical thinking adult self-learner. And, then, the adult learner embarks on teaching himself that which he does not know, rather unaware of his own shortcomings.

But real, sustainable, and mature technique needs to be built properly starting from very early on in the learning process. The student can (and should) figure out the coordination, but the teacher is there to build the movements so that as coordination is built, so is technique. Even with my young son, who isn't even quite at playing with two hands together, his teacher (not my teacher) is endlessly nudging his position and movement, training him to listen and imitate, manage tension, build velocity properly, and give him the foundation he'll need now so that when he sits down in front of a Chopin nocturne several years from now, his technique will be ready to take the step forward to learn it properly.

I listened to your nocturne. What I hear is not technique, but that you have the general coordination to get most of the notes in the right order. I hear clearly that you taught yourself and focused exclusively on the primary task of note-pushing coordination. And I don't think that was what you were hoping to accomplish.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870537 07/19/19 06:29 AM
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Omer, one more thought. Without a teacher, you'll probably only use your hearing to find out if you play correctly or not. Now presently I work with my (video) teacher on my staccatos. It is not hard for me to make them sound like they should, but there is something in my technique that is not correct, and that she spotted by watching me play them. One of the problems is that I push up too much from the keys instead of focusing on pushing down into them, and this erroneous technique would sooner or later get me in trouble. And my thought is, without a teacher, how would you discover a problem like this?


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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870570 07/19/19 08:26 AM
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Omer, as some here know I can be a fervent advocate of self-teaching, but I really think you need a teacher. I'm afraid you will continue to waste your time with the method you're using right now, as many others have explained above.

To self-teach, you must be self-confident but never arrogant, ambitious but realistic; you have to follow your instincts but you also have to start from the assumption that you know nothing. This is the only way that you can learn, even if it won't happen as quickly and effectively as with a very good teacher. You can still do better than a lot of people who have average or below-average teachers, though. Classical music is especially tricky; even the easiest piece can have many layers of complexity, and there are people who study period practices and interpretation all their life to come up with meaningful performances. Deciphering written music to understand what the composer really meant is difficult, and it's just the first step. After 7 years of self-teaching, I think I know more about music theory and interpretation than many others who only do as much (or as little) as their teachers say, and I'm certainly doing much better than those who quit because their teachers stifled their love for music. But it's a long road, which I feel I've barely started, and I don't recommend it to you. Just beware, even a great teacher can't do miracles, you'll still have to work hard and learn patience and humility.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2870905 07/20/19 12:35 PM
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When it comes to learning music on your own, there are people out there who has done a reasonably good job watching YouTube videos. Of course speed is not something you accomplish from day 1. You can't really do finger exercises for hours hoping to be able to play faster. Playing faster is has to do with getting your fingers to relax and using your muscles properly without getting repetitive strain injury.

A few years ago I met a man who learned a few pieces from online videos for a year and a half. He can played them well enough that he convinced people who listened to him that he must have taken lessons and played for a lot longer. However... I asked him a few times about getting a teacher and eventually gave up on it. Part of it may have to do with money but his answer was always the same: that the notations is a foreign language that would be impossible for him to learn. And having a teacher would require that he learn to read. After talking to him a few times I gave up. We all started sight reading with "Twinkle", "Mary Had a Little Lamb" sort of thing so I don't really see why in the beginning learning to read would be an issue.

A lot of our progress have to do with learning from other people whether we have a teacher or we watch people's hand positions through video demos.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
thepianoplayer416 #2870920 07/20/19 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
You can't really do finger exercises for hours hoping to be able to play faster.

Technically correct, but I feel it’s a bit misleading.

It’s important to make the distinction between spending hours a day on a technical exercise; which is not very efficient vs. practicing an exercise perfectly once a day every day for a week or a month; the cumulative effects can be quite amazing for general skill and musicianship.


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Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2871394 07/22/19 06:46 AM
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Others have already said most of what I wanted to say. Unfortunately I have heard this from many self-taught adults before: "to me it is important that I try it out myself". And even if it sounds good, it mostly lead to a person who blocks himself (or herself) from the best advice. I have friends who have said: "oh, that sounds good, please show me how to play that!" and then I take a deep breath and explain that it is not "just to show". It is like asking a gymnast to just show how to make a backflip on the balance beam. You need some extensive preparation before you can do such a thing, right? And they say "no, no, I don't need to know that, just show me how to do THAT piece."

Some days ago we needed to fill up the hydraulic steering oil in one of our cars and my husband said "you can do it, I showed you the other day, ok?" I got a bit sulky and said sure, I can do it but I kind of forgot your instructions so please get out to the car with me and supervise what I do, because if I make a mistake I could be very expensive ... And so we did that. I did not let him touch anything, I told him it was very important that I used my own hands and read the measure stick myself. So what that he just HAD to spice it up with some degrading comments. Next time I will be able to do this myself because now it is easy to me as well. (No, I am not an idiot, but I was very unsure how to make the reading and to estimate how much fluid I should add to the tank.) But I really needed someone to guide me, or it would have taken a very long time.

Everyone who has ever worked with computers has also probably experienced the annoying situation when you ask some guru (sometimes your children ...) how to do certain things. They sigh, sit down at the keyboard and do some quick hacking and then, "here you are. I just changed some parameters in the registry and run a system check, now you will be fine." And you stand there like "ooookay ..." and you know that you have to ask for help next time as well ...

So this "just show me how to do" does not work unless you are very experienced in the field already.

I can tell you that a lesson with a real good piano teacher will be fantastically uplifting. They teach you things you did not know you didn't know and suddenly you HEAR that your playing sounds much better than before. I listened to your recording of the Nocturne and I think that if you bring this kind of playing to a good teacher, he or she will stop you after three bars and start discussing your posture, your hand positions, your breathing (yup) and your pedalling. And then ask you to play a sequence of a few notes over and over again until you start to feel the flow. And then do some counting exercises with you, hand clapping, singing etcetera. Maybe discuss some aspects of Chopin's style. From your recording I could tell that you knew what notes to play, and you had an idea of how this pieces is supposed to sound, but you had no idea how YOU sounded. Actually you are quite far from going through this piece from start to end, as there obviously are many basic aspects to work with first. This is not something you "get fixed" with a few tips about this and that, it needs hard WORK with someone supervising every little movement you make and helping you to make adjustments and ding preparing exercises, until you have learned to supervise yourself. Then you go home and repeat, repeat, repeat what you just learned, because now you know what to do.


So when you say that you must try by yourself, you are right, that is what you need to do. We learn by trial and errors. But that does not mean "try without guidance and supervision". As a pianist you can sometimes feel quite lonely, so take every chance to get into some kind of community. Piano groups, weekend courses, concerts etcetera. They are not easy to find, especially if you are an adult, but try anyway - it is incredibly fun, inspiring and you will get so many new insights. I have socialized a lot with both concert pianists and beginners and everything inbetween and each and every person has taught me invaluable things. For example, your recording of the Nocturne taught me several things about that piece, especially your mistakes did.

If you want to know what pieces to study the answer is that you listen, listen, listen to music on the net, go to every recital you can find, even beginner's - and stream them from the Internet if you cannot find any in your vicinity. You can also find literature about theory just about everywhere, and they are good for self-studying. Then I recommend that you search on the net for Graham Fitch, who has an extensive site where you will find tons of good advice on how to practice and about technique. He also have many videos on YouTube. My favourite piano instructor is otherwise William Westney, who I had the pleasure to have as a personal teacher for a few lessons last summer. The best lessons I've ever had. He has written and excellent book, "The Perfect Wrong Note" which I found very enlightening.

I leave to others to give you even more literature tips. I wish you good luck.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
ghosthand #2871686 07/23/19 02:35 AM
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Interesting and useful post, ghosthand; I'm just not sure that people who only want to know how to do THAT thing would even take the time to read, let alone understand. You explained very well the attitude of those who just want to be able to play that piece or the other, but never really end up learning to play the piano, which is completely different. Many self-learners are like that, and it's a shame, and it's what brings us to that old argument over and over again.

It should be quite obvious that we all learn from someone else, even if not always and not necessarily from an instructor who's there to show us and explain every step of the way. In Italian we say that one "steals with their eyes", meaning that some people can learn a skill just by observing someone doing it. This is especially true for manual skills. On the contrary, some people seem impervious to any kind of teaching; they just don't look and don't listen, they are inattentive to what's outside, or they just think they already know. A friend of mine who worked as an engineer in the RAF used to teach aircraft welding, and he said that women were the best students because they listened and didn't pretend they already knew everything about it.

Personally, I've been indulging in what I call "extreme DIY" for many years now. I used to be all books and intellectual stuff, but then I saw how rewarding and empowering it is to actually BUILD something, especially for women. Through the years I ended up renovating an entire house, pouring concrete, tiling floors and walls, fixing the electrical system, building tables, and more. Coming from the city, I learned how to take care of an olive grove and a garden. I rebuilt the stone walls around my property. Even if I'm just 110 pounds, there is not much that I feel I can't do myself with some thinking and the right tools.

So, to make a long story short, I also approached music and piano as a DIY project. It's the perfect mix of brain + body training that I needed. You must think hard but you also need to move your hands and do something to realise what you have in mind. Such a fascinating endeavour. And there is so much knowledge and so many people out there that you can "steal" from. Many people take lessons and only listen to their teacher, and never see anything else. Others take lessons and are also curious and attentive to everything that's around them, and learn from many sources - probably the best way. Many don't take lessons and end nowhere, some find their way. Most people quit - at least I'm not one of them.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2883584 08/26/19 09:22 AM
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Hi! Since you are trying to learn by yourself, maybe some online videos could help. Here is one that focuses on warm-up exercises to improve technique:

https://youtu.be/qAAQk3FhQt4

The same channel also has videos on trills, octaves, thirds and all kinds of technical challenges of the piano.

I hope this can help!

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2883604 08/26/19 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Omer Setty
Is there a reason for what you said? why do you think is it impossible?
It is hard for me to accept that because I have already learned a few pieces, that I actually can play in a way that satisfies me - I press the right notes at the right time. So when I look at more complex pieces that I want to play (like 'Clair de Lune' by Debussy or 'Etude Op. 10 No. 3' by Chopin), I don't see a reason that I won't be able to play them also in the future.

My question is, what things the technique-developing requires, that I cannot achieve by myself (to be clear, I mean through books and the internet - not totally on my own)? can you elaborate?
It's quite possible that the piece you already play to your own satisfaction are not played as well as you think they are technically or musically. YouTube is filled with mediocre and even very poor performances by people who, I assume, think their performances are quite good because otherwise they wouldn't have posted them.

Even if you find good instructional videos or books they cannot tell you if you are doing incorrectly when you try to follow the advice. So you could think you are following the advice correctly even thought that wasn't the case.

Re: How can i improve speed and technique, without a teacher?
Omer Setty #2883637 08/26/19 12:16 PM
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Yesterday I went to yoga class. I've been to the same class many times. I know the routine. I was also in front of a mirror, so I can see what I was doing. I was doing the eagle pose (Google it if you must). I was doing it right. I see it in the mirror. I've done it many times. I swear it was right. The instructor walks by and says, "Elbows up". I think, "FINE..." He says, "Nope, even higher." So I lift it higher. There and then, I realized how much difference an instructor can make, even when I've done something so many times before, and I can even see myself doing it in the mirror. There's really no substitute for a good teacher for feedback, IMHO, unless, as I've said before, finances are an issue.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 08/26/19 12:17 PM.

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