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Micomanaging the phrasing? #2872483
07/25/19 04:03 AM
07/25/19 04:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Hi, I have a question for piano teachers and pianists out there: what is your stance on micromanaging details of student's phrasing, use of pedal etc.?

I recently started taking lessons after 10 years of being self-taught. On one hand, I'm getting invaluable tips on dynamics, on the other hand, the teacher is very very specific on the amount of pedal I should use (often finding a specific point in the pedal travel to ensure that the exact amount of half-pedal is engaged). By default I prefer drier experience, he almost always wants me to engage at least half pedal (raised when harmony changes, ofc).

For example: in Rachmaninoff 23-5 I told him I'd like to keep the first page drier so the next repetition of the phrase is richer by just adding a pedal here and there and that I'd like to follow Emil Gilels' performance when it comes to pedaling (he seems quite conservative with his use of pedal, which I like and I also like his tempo). However, the teacher told me to use half pedal even on the first page. It didn't even help when I pointed to him several interpretations by esteemed pianists who use little pedal on the first page. I know, argument by authority is not a good argument, but playing the piano is a lot about following and mimicking others.

By the way, I think there is no need to micromanage the scores so much (for composers and editors). I know they might have solid ideas in their head, but sometimes details are debatable and various pianists produce beautiful results with different phrasing. At first, it sounds very wrong to be arguing with the composer, after all, he knows best what he meant and when he writes "pp" you better make sure it's very soft, but a lot of concert pianists ignore that laugh is that a good thing? I don't know. All I can tell is whether I like or do not like a performance when I hear it.

BTW I'm not too happy with Rach's own performance of 23-5. The semiquaver groups are weirdly clustered together with an awkward pause before each. I wonder why he didn't write the ta-da-da notes shorter (so dotted quaver rest and demisemiquavers instead of quaver rest and semiquaver notes), if he felt that that's how it should be played?

Makes me think...how would we feel about Chopin's performance of his own works? Bach? Beethoven? Scarlatti? Liszt? Would we be pleased, or terrified? Would we even be impressed (if we put aside the fact that we'd hear playing someone who is dead for centuries)?

Bottom line: (not knowing it's the great Rachmaninoff himself playing) my teacher would probably dissect his interpretation as: too dry, uneven, does not follow the score dynamics, adds unecessary staccato at points, the semiquaver notes are not played correctly. Back to the piano and practice, ideally slowly, with a metronome and learn how to read sheet music laugh well that would be a pretty disrespectful thing to say to Rachmaninoff. If we now know that the pianist is the great Rachmaninoff, the very author of the piece, do we even have the right to criticize him (for how he plays his OWN WORK)? What is the point of following every slightest marking on the score if the author himself basically ignores all of it? Why are the score and his performance so wildly different? Is this an argument why I should be "allowed" to play notes staccato, because "even Rachmaninoff did it that way"? Or does the old "quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi" apply? Had he played the piece the way he'd felt and then intentionally wrote the sheet music the way he'd thought other should be play it, knowing the piano teachers would force students to follow the score rather than his recording, so that his performance stays unique? Crazy thought laugh Kinda makes me want to somehow coax my teacher to listen to Rachmaninoff's performance and make him give his thoughts on that, withouth knowing it's him (because that's when everyone says "oh, who am I to criticize Rachmaninoff?"), so I can get a genuine, real, assessment.

Is micromanaging common with piano teachers? If that's the way it should be, then the student's style is similar to his teacher's style which is similar to his teacher's style etc...nothing creative in that, that way I feel like I wouldn't have much new to add. Should there be my personal touch be felt in a performance, or my teacher's?

Where is the line, how much freedom should teacher give to his students, or how strictly should he control the details of their performance? Dynamics is somewhat more "objective", although sometimes relative (it's more about creating contrast, rather than specific volume in dB) (some pianists do not even follow dynamics in scores), however I feel that pedal is (within some bounds) a very subjective thing - a matter of personal taste and should not be instilled by the teacher.

If there is "the one right" performance of every piece, which one is it for Rach 23-5? The one captured on the score, or the one he played?

Sorry, I kinda went on tangents here, but I'm really confused by all of this. Where does the truth lie? Anyone any ideas? Thanks.

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Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872760
07/25/19 10:21 PM
07/25/19 10:21 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,954
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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First off, I don't usually like the interpretations of composers playing their own music. I think they're too close and familiar with it that they miss things that fresh eyes see. The same thing happens in literary circles: people see things in a poem or novel that the author didn't see nor intend, but it's really cool.

Secondly, you don't mention your age, but I assume you're an adult. Personally, I will not even tell my high school students how to interpret something if they have a specific thing they're going for. If it's completely outside of the style, I will mention it, but ultimately the student is responsible for their sound. Even if I totally disagree with it musically, it is far worse for me to trample on another musician's ideas. A lot of damage is done this way all the time. sadly.

As an adult, you do have the ability to speak with your teacher about your concerns. Put it plainly like, "When you do this, you make me feel as though my own musical taste is secondary or unimportant." Then discuss how you can go forward - or if the teacher refuses, then you look elsewhere. I say this even if everything they're telling you is 100% correct musically and historically speaking. A teacher who cannot be respectful of a student's own musicality and impedes that is not teaching.

Instead, teachers should lead a student to be able to express how they want to express what's on the page. They can educate on performance practices of the time period and offer suggestions, but too often I see teachers or coaches squash something that student feels convicted to play. Why is the teacher's ego more important than what the student wants to say? It boggles my mind.

So to answer your question:

Quote
If there is "the one right" performance of every piece, which one is it for Rach 23-5? The one captured on the score, or the one he played?


Well, there's no one right way for everyone - not even Rach's way (although I'm sure it was right for him). But there may be several ways you can explore. Try out your teacher's way, of course, but int he end, you get to decide.

Last edited by Morodiene; 07/25/19 10:22 PM.

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Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872778
07/26/19 12:05 AM
07/26/19 12:05 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Morodiene, thank you for the answer.

I am 26. Although I'm an adult, I feel like an eternal beginner on the piano.

I can try to discuss this with him, but I don't want to lose him as a teacher and I don't want to cause him to become bitter/clam up and stop giving me tips (someone could react like "fine, if you think you know better than I do, I can take the money for the lesson and just sit here for 45 minutes")...after all, as I mentioned, his tips on how to play softer are absolutely invaluable, it's like there's a whole another range of dynamics at piano I wasn't able (willing?) to hear on my own!

However, I get that a pianist must be able to project his own ideas into the piece, not just repeat what his teacher said...

Also, one thing came to my mind: maybe by micromanaging my phrasing and pedaling he wants to make sure I can do whatever there is possible with dynamics and pedal? That his effort to follow score punctiliously does not stem from the desire for me to play this particular piece in a precisely prescribed manner, rather to make sure that I can do whatever the score asks? The dynamics thing is a huge help, I had to start by acknowledging the fact, that there's a lot softer range of tones available than I could/cared to produce, however, I'm well aware that there is actually a whole range of half-pedal available (from no pedal through adding more and more "reverb"-like effect up to full sustain of all notes played).

Some other musician mentioned to me that we should always follow and obey our teachers to learn something new, but then play it to our own taste. I'll try to communicate with him so that possibly no (emotional) harm will be done.

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872792
07/26/19 01:34 AM
07/26/19 01:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 730
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Hi Chopin Acolyte!
I am not a teacher myself, but I have a video teacher. Sometimes she tells her students in the videos to play a piece in a certain way, and I don't always necessarily agree. And it is hard to argue with a video. wink But I think that even when I don't agree, there is no harm in learning to play the piece the way she wants me to - because I learn a lot from her. As she also said, in a feedback video to me, in your free time you can do what you want!
So my advice to you would be, let this teacher micromanage you as long as
Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
his tips on how to play softer are absolutely invaluable, it's like there's a whole another range of dynamics at piano I wasn't able (willing?) to hear on my own!
you feel that you still have a lot to learn from him. Give the micromanagement a chance. Play the pieces in the way he tells you to.

Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Some other musician mentioned to me that we should always follow and obey our teachers to learn something new, but then play it to our own taste.
Exactly. Once he has signed off that piece, you can still revert to playing it the way you want to play it. You might find though, maybe to your own surprise, that there are some aspects of his way that you would like to incorporate in your playing.

Good piano teachers are not always easy to find. Eventually, you may find that you would like to get another one. But first, let this teacher teach you what he can teach you.

Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
I am 26. Although I'm an adult, I feel like an eternal beginner on the piano.
This is probably just because you have been self-taught, so there may be some very basic things that you need to be taught first. But you will learn those things, and this feeling will pass. smile


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
*
... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872793
07/26/19 01:45 AM
07/26/19 01:45 AM
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Groove On Offline
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It may very well be that your teacher is being an over-controlling busy-body, but do consider that you “may not know what you don’t know”.

Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
However, I get that a pianist must be able to project his own ideas into the piece, not just repeat what his teacher said...

1. You present this as a paradox, but they are not mutually exclusive. Repeating what your teacher said may actually help you project your own ideas better.

2. It sounds like you and your teacher need to clarify if he’s teaching you to become a better musician or if he’s helping you “express yourself”. That difference might be source of the confusion.

3. I’m in the camp with those musicians who say follow your teacher for all their worth and then do as you please on your own time - but first really absorb what they have to teach.

4. A red flag in your post is that he has made you aware of subtler dynamics. And now he’s “micro-managing” the pedal work. You intellectually understand and are aware of what he’s trying to get you to do but I gotta wonder if we asked your teacher if he’d say “yeah he knows it, but he can’t pedal worth a damn”. I guess the question is do you know how to pedal musically? I don’t mean does it sound better to you. Are you cognizant/fully comprehend the effect within the harmonies, rhythms & melodies of the piece - down to the in/and out points? You can get a long way with “it sounds more pleasing to me” - but that’s the difference between an amateur and someone who’s thinking more like a musician.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Animisha] #2872797
07/26/19 02:05 AM
07/26/19 02:05 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Chopin Acolyte  Offline OP
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Thank you, Animisha, for your answer!

I will probably try to manage his micromanagement for now laugh

I'm just afraid that without his mighty leadership when I try to play piece "my way", it will fall apart. Funny I have never had this feeling about anything: I always had a solid idea about how pieces should sound like (usually inspired by several performances "out there" from which I would pick the "best sounding" (for me) snippets and that would be the best version for me)...

Originally Posted by Animisha
This is probably just because you have been self-taught, so there may be some very basic things that you need to be taught first. But you will learn those things, and this feeling will pass. smile


I hope so! ^_^

Although he rarely adresses technical questions in my playing, it's usually me who doubts everything, like "this phrase doesn't sound pretty and even to me, what would you do about it?" or "I struggle to make this leap in tempo on time, what should I do?" to which he usually answers "well, how do you think you should practice it?" to which I usually say something I seen other people do ("practice the phrase either rhythmicized, or with the metronome, slowly rising the tempo to the desired value" or "leap with hands separately until it clicks in each and then together") and he would say "yes" laugh kinda strange approach, it reminds me of my MSc. course of quantum field theory in which the professor said "so, we want to come up with a quantum, relativistic theory...any ideas?" and we would proceed to "derive" the whole thing ourselves, with his guidance. Very funny style of teaching!

Anyway, things I struggle with most and feel bad about it:

- chromatic thirds in faster tempos (also, trills in thirds, 4/5th finger trills etc.)
- fast arpeggios, smooth, even sound (both hands)
- in-scale major thirds, smooth sound (there seems to always be some disconnection, especially when thumb passes, that cuts the legato feeling). The worst is C-major, the more black keys, the better for me
- very fast passages of semiquaver (or any fast) notes, lacks evenness. No amount of rhythmization or slowly rising tempo with the metronome helps. I would stop at a certain tempo marking without being able to move up while keeping the phrase together (so it doesn't fall apart).

45 minutes is a very short time to barely address 1% of my questions I have about piano and music (that doesn't include only technique, phrasing, dynamics and pedal, but also details on how piano works, piano parts, tunings, harmonics, intervals, hearing etc.), I have no clue what to do. I realized I actually would prefer much more time in the lesson. I scribble something in my notebook every day to ask my teacher only to find out we barely have time to go through one page of a piece, thoroughly discussing the desired end product, settling on what I should focus on until the next time and say bye until next time frown

Does anyone have the same problem, or are you able to answer the questions yourself? Sometimes I feel like I might explode from the stuff going on inside my head I want to talk to about to someone, but there isn't anyone shocked I wish I had more musicians around me to jam, listen to and discuss music with them smirk

Edit:

Originally Posted by Groove On

4. A red flag in your post is that he has made you aware of subtler dynamics. And now he’s “micro-managing” the pedal work. You intellectually understand and are aware of what he’s trying to get you to do but I gotta wonder if we asked your teacher if he’d say “yeah he knows it, but he can’t pedal worth a damn”. I guess the question is do you know how to pedal musically? I don’t mean does it sound better to you. Are you cognizant/fully comprehend the effect within the harmonies, rhythms & melodies of the piece - down to the in/and out points? You can get a long way with “it sounds more pleasing to me” - but that’s the difference between an amateur and someone who’s thinking more like a musician.


Actually we discuss a lot (when it comes to it) where exactly should the pedal come in, beginning of the chord, before the chord, there's differences between adding a bit of running water to the phrasing, or using pedal as a means of tying (tiing? tieing? tiyng? omg) chords in legato...

Not sure what you mean exactly, but since my profession is physics and not playing the piano, I guess I naturally fall into the "amateur" category, if at all. (funny thought: maybe I just "press the right buttons at the right time", it would be fun to calculate the probability of this happening) smile

Last edited by Chopin Acolyte; 07/26/19 02:11 AM.
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872813
07/26/19 03:20 AM
07/26/19 03:20 AM
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Florida
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I would recommend you watch this piano master class with Barenboim ‘why did you play louder?’

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WS3-T0Et0

To me, it was an eye opener in analyzing my own interpretation of the score rather than just ‘I like mine better’ that is our first thought. Think about ‘but do I know why I like mine better? Can I explain it? I don’t see any harm in asking your teacher ‘why, could you explain ?’ Or explaining ‘I like this better BECAUSE....’ It will help you start a dialogue where you are not on different sides of the fence. Dialogues, IMHO, are good

Last edited by dogperson; 07/26/19 03:27 AM.

"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872819
07/26/19 03:37 AM
07/26/19 03:37 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 730
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Animisha  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
45 minutes is a very short time to barely address 1% of my questions I have about piano and music (that doesn't include only technique, phrasing, dynamics and pedal, but also details on how piano works, piano parts, tunings, harmonics, intervals, hearing etc.), I have no clue what to do. I realized I actually would prefer much more time in the lesson. I scribble something in my notebook every day to ask my teacher only to find out we barely have time to go through one page of a piece, thoroughly discussing the desired end product, settling on what I should focus on until the next time and say bye until next time frown

I think this is because you have ten years of self-teaching behind you. Most people start from scratch with their first teacher and they may focus only on getting their two hands to work together according to the notes on the sheet. There is no thought about phrasing, dynamics and pedal, let alone on all the other details you mention. Slowly, the teacher introduces new concepts that the students integrate in what they already know.
Give it time. But also consider expanding your lesson to 60 minutes.

Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Does anyone have the same problem, or are you able to answer the questions yourself? Sometimes I feel like I might explode from the stuff going on inside my head I want to talk to about to someone, but there isn't anyone shocked I wish I had more musicians around me to jam, listen to and discuss music with them smirk

We are here! smile Please feel free to discuss to your heart's delight. And since you feel like a beginner, I would recommend the Adult Beginners Forum instead of the Piano Teachers Forum. smile


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
*
... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872876
07/26/19 08:22 AM
07/26/19 08:22 AM
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When I was a student, I'd do exactly what my teachers advised while still doing my ABRSM grade exams, though not necessarily continue to follow it when we'd finished with the piece, if I wanted to keep playing it for myself. But then I was starting piano (and classical music) from scratch at ten, and I was a kid......

With my last teacher (a concert pianist), he usually suggested things rather than prescribed them, and then I'd try them out and decide whether I wanted to follow his suggestions. Usually, I did, but not always. He didn't mind if I didn't, as long as what I chose to do was convincing. He never micromanaged things, but I was already making the pieces "my own" in my interpretative choices. By then I was working towards my performance diploma, and I needed to be 100% convinced by whatever I chose to do - and also I knew a fair amount by that time (- enough to occasionally surprise and delight him in my interpretative nuances, to the extent of asking me to play a section again so that he could take it in grin), even though I was still a teenager.

I suppose it wasn't in his nature to expect his students to do what he'd do himself, as long as they knew what they wanted to do with the music - which I did (unless the composer was Debussy or Bartók wink , who I had no affinity for at the time).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872888
07/26/19 08:59 AM
07/26/19 08:59 AM
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Moscow, Russia
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Also, one thing came to my mind: maybe by micromanaging my phrasing and pedaling he wants to make sure I can do whatever there is possible with dynamics and pedal? That his effort to follow score punctiliously does not stem from the desire for me to play this particular piece in a precisely prescribed manner, rather to make sure that I can do whatever the score asks?

Good guess. Learning is acquiring new technical skills by using pieces as the training material. Every good teacher has a plan like that, 'Firstly I'll teach piece P1 to develop skill S1, then I'll teach piece P2 to develop skill S2'.

When you say, 'I don't want to play it like that!', you kind of break the whole plan. The teacher then has to find a replacement piece in order to teach skill S1, teach it between P1 and P2 and pray for that you will like the composer's interpretation. Otherwise the second replacement will be necessary, then the third, and finally all the curriculum for the year will be ruined.

In my teens I was often told, 'Firstly learn to play it exactly like the composer wrote, and only then do whatever you want.' That will also be my piece of advice for you. wink

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872956
07/26/19 01:03 PM
07/26/19 01:03 PM
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Posts: 242
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte

45 minutes is a very short time to barely address 1% of my questions I have about piano and music (that doesn't include only technique, phrasing, dynamics and pedal, but also details on how piano works, piano parts, tunings, harmonics, intervals, hearing etc.), I have no clue what to do. I realized I actually would prefer much more time in the lesson. I scribble something in my notebook every day to ask my teacher only to find out we barely have time to go through one page of a piece, thoroughly discussing the desired end product, settling on what I should focus on until the next time and say bye until next time frown

Does anyone have the same problem, or are you able to answer the questions yourself? Sometimes I feel like I might explode from the stuff going on inside my head I want to talk to about to someone, but there isn't anyone shocked I wish I had more musicians around me to jam, listen to and discuss music with them smirk


I can relate to your post, because I have been a piano student with a science background, and I have had students like this as a piano teacher. So, let me give you my perspective, based on my experience:

Why do you feel the need to address all of these questions in your piano lessons? Many of them can be looked up on Wikipedia, or discussed on forums such as this one.

You might find that you get more use out of a teacher if you simply do what he says, without trying to control the lesson yourself. Honestly, try to keep your mouth shut. The scientist in you will probably rebel against this concept. But, you need to realize that learning music is not something that is done with the intellect. You need to experience it. Asking 1,000 questions on as many different topics will make it impossible for you sit still long enough to experience anything.

Your teacher is one human being, who doesn't know everything there is to know about music. He knows what he knows. If you want to know what he knows, you need to let him teach you. If you don't care to know what he knows, why take lessons with him?

It's great to have your opinions about how the music should sound, and it's great to explore them. No one can tell you that your opinions are wrong (well, they can, but you don't have to believe them). But, this isn't the point here. Your teacher's job is not to change your mind, and you're just slowing everything down if you try to change his. This is not like physics, where you arrive at answers through argumentation. It is more like learning to walk.

Do you trust your teacher, or not? If you do, then do what he says, because you might learn something new. If you don't, you should directly express your skepticism to him. He needs to know that you are skeptical, so that he doesn't waste his energy fighting a battle about "what Rachmaninov would have done", which is not the real issue, and is just a distraction. Always keep in mind that learning a new skill is going to require you to do some counter-intuitive things...if they weren't counter-intuitive, you'd already be doing them.

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: MichaelJK] #2872988
07/26/19 02:42 PM
07/26/19 02:42 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I would recommend you watch this piano master class with Barenboim ‘why did you play louder?’

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WS3-T0Et0

To me, it was an eye opener in analyzing my own interpretation of the score rather than just ‘I like mine better’ that is our first thought. Think about ‘but do I know why I like mine better? Can I explain it? I don’t see any harm in asking your teacher ‘why, could you explain ?’ Or explaining ‘I like this better BECAUSE....’ It will help you start a dialogue where you are not on different sides of the fence. Dialogues, IMHO, are good


Oh yes, I love Barenboim ^_^ I like to watch master classes (not only for piano btw, my friend is a cellist and I sometimes watch cello masterclasses for entertainment, although making canon D jokes to him is sometimes more entertaining) and I notice details they point out, which I wouldn't otherwise smile

Animisha: 11 years ago in Europe I had this composition teacher with whom we led lenghty discussions about various aspects of music, it was very refreshing! She also sometimes tested my ear. (before I moved here) I also had a friend who could sightread amazingly, we would sometimes play together, it was fun watching him playing even my own arrangements (which he'd never seen or heard before) in a decent tempo! It used to be called "friends", now I have to go online or pay people to do that.

Originally Posted by MichaelJK
...


I'm speechless; what century have you come from? Anyway, from all this I will address the third paragraph onward. First of all, for 10 years I have been playing on my own, listening to other musicians on YouTube, reading books and experimenting on my own, without having the option to interact with someone. Since I was on my own, I didn't have anyone to talk to. I guess that qualifies for "keeping my mouth shut". Is 10 years of my mouth shut enough?

If I now finally pay someone who is alive and able to respond (as opposed to books and videos), why would I keep my mouth shut? It defies the whole purpose of having a real teacher: being able to communicate with him and having a plan that's fitted to me specifically. If he just comes, spills out what I should do according to him without leaving any room for my questions and concerns, how is that different from watching a youtuber for free? Is your idea of education to keep one's mouth shut? It reminds me of our Eastern Europe soviet era teachers, I'm glad we've slowly moved forward since.

Something I want to ask which I couldn't find on google (some people think that "everything is on the internet") is a specific thing related to tuning and perfect pitch, but I don't know anyone who has perfect pitch, not even my teacher, or my friend (the cello player), so all they would say is a guess.

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2872998
07/26/19 03:13 PM
07/26/19 03:13 PM
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Posts: 242
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte

I'm speechless; what century have you come from? Anyway, from all this I will address the third paragraph onward. First of all, for 10 years I have been playing on my own, listening to other musicians on YouTube, reading books and experimenting on my own, without having the option to interact with someone. Since I was on my own, I didn't have anyone to talk to. I guess that qualifies for "keeping my mouth shut". Is 10 years of my mouth shut enough?


My only concern here is that you get the most possible benefit from the lessons that you are paying for. And that's for you to decide, not me.

Quote

If I now finally pay someone who is alive and able to respond (as opposed to books and videos), why would I keep my mouth shut? It defies the whole purpose of having a real teacher: being able to communicate with him and having a plan that's fitted to me specifically. If he just comes, spills out what I should do according to him without leaving any room for my questions and concerns, how is that different from watching a youtuber for free?


The difference is that a live teacher can watch you play, and adjust his instructions accordingly. To be clear, I am not literally telling you to avoid ever speaking to your teacher. What I am suggesting is that there is a time for questions, and a time for allowing the teaching to happen to you. (If you were my student, I might suggest going out for coffee to chat about music, and reserve lesson time for actual training).

It sounds like you are looking for a teacher who will basically be a resource for you to have your questions answered, rather than someone to give you instructions. Nothing wrong with that, as long as both you and the teacher are on the same page. I wonder, however, if there is some misunderstanding between the two of you here, since you are reacting to your teacher's micromanagement of your phrasing. This suggests to me that he views his role as instructing you in how to play, rather than as a resource to answer the burning questions on your mind.

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: bennevis] #2873040
07/26/19 06:45 PM
07/26/19 06:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,804
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
Originally Posted by bennevis
When I was a student, I'd do exactly what my teachers advised while still doing my ABRSM grade exams, though not necessarily continue to follow it when we'd finished with the piece, if I wanted to keep playing it for myself. But then I was starting piano (and classical music) from scratch at ten, and I was a kid......

With my last teacher (a concert pianist), he usually suggested things rather than prescribed them, and then I'd try them out and decide whether I wanted to follow his suggestions. Usually, I did, but not always. He didn't mind if I didn't, as long as what I chose to do was convincing. He never micromanaged things, but I was already making the pieces "my own" in my interpretative choices. By then I was working towards my performance diploma, and I needed to be 100% convinced by whatever I chose to do - and also I knew a fair amount by that time (- enough to occasionally surprise and delight him in my interpretative nuances, to the extent of asking me to play a section again so that he could take it in grin), even though I was still a teenager.

I suppose it wasn't in his nature to expect his students to do what he'd do himself, as long as they knew what they wanted to do with the music - which I did (unless the composer was Debussy or Bartók wink , who I had no affinity for at the time).



What great stories!! And teacher!


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Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2873140
07/27/19 07:53 AM
07/27/19 07:53 AM
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Posts: 17,146
Canada
keystring Offline
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I read the opening post through a number of times. There is a basic thing that I am not managing to get. What is your purpose in lessons?

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2873144
07/27/19 08:13 AM
07/27/19 08:13 AM
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Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Animisha: 11 years ago in Europe I had this composition teacher with whom we led lenghty discussions about various aspects of music, it was very refreshing! She also sometimes tested my ear. (before I moved here) I also had a friend who could sightread amazingly, we would sometimes play together, it was fun watching him playing even my own arrangements (which he'd never seen or heard before) in a decent tempo! It used to be called "friends", now I have to go online or pay people to do that.

Chopin Acolyte: Friends are so important! I found a true friend here on Piano World.
But of course, meeting in person, playing together, talking over a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, has a very sweet quality that is hard to find sitting at a keyboard.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
*
... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Animisha] #2873219
07/27/19 01:19 PM
07/27/19 01:19 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Originally Posted by keystring
I read the opening post through a number of times. There is a basic thing that I am not managing to get. What is your purpose in lessons?


I want to be helped with technical aspects of various things: fast semiquavers and evenness, arpeggios, thirds, 4/5th finger trills, fast octaves etc. and I found myself at a point where youtube tips are kinda not enough; they are valuable but I can't ask questions like "I do this over and over again and it's just not improving, is there something I'm doing obviously wrong?" or "my hand always tenses up at this point, how do I prevent that?"

I also want to discuss specific pieces that require implementation of the technique. Like, he told me that Chopin 10-1 is a good piece to address arpeggios (probably better than 25-11, which has a lot other minutiea on the top of arpeggios) and once we get to it, he will probaby have good tips for me on how to get arpeggios flowing without tension. But that's only gonna happen once he looks at me while trying to play it, which cannot happen on youtube.

Originally Posted by Animisha

Chopin Acolyte: Friends are so important! I found a true friend here on Piano World.
But of course, meeting in person, playing together, talking over a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, has a very sweet quality that is hard to find sitting at a keyboard.


I'm happy you found a friend on PW! ^^ Despite practicing in a building full of musicians couple of days a week, musician friends seem to be hard to find. People are busy practicing and don't seem to be interested in socializing.

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2873249
07/27/19 02:33 PM
07/27/19 02:33 PM
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Posts: 17,146
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Originally Posted by keystring
I read the opening post through a number of times. There is a basic thing that I am not managing to get. What is your purpose in lessons?


I want to be helped with technical aspects of various things: fast semiquavers and evenness, arpeggios, thirds, 4/5th finger trills, fast octaves etc. and I found myself at a point where youtube tips are kinda not enough; they are valuable but I can't ask questions like "I do this over and over again and it's just not improving, is there something I'm doing obviously wrong?" or "my hand always tenses up at this point, how do I prevent that?"

I also want to discuss specific pieces that require implementation of the technique. Like, he told me that Chopin 10-1 is a good piece to address arpeggios (probably better than 25-11, which has a lot other minutiea on the top of arpeggios) and once we get to it, he will probaby have good tips for me on how to get arpeggios flowing without tension. But that's only gonna happen once he looks at me while trying to play it, which cannot happen on youtube.

Not much time right now. Thank you for the answer.
I forgot to ask the other half of this question. Has the teacher stated what his purpose is in teaching you, or in teaching? Have you asked - did you get that far - did any kind of discussion in that direction take place?

Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: keystring] #2873270
07/27/19 03:56 PM
07/27/19 03:56 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 308
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline OP
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Chopin Acolyte  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by keystring

Not much time right now. Thank you for the answer.
I forgot to ask the other half of this question. Has the teacher stated what his purpose is in teaching you, or in teaching? Have you asked - did you get that far - did any kind of discussion in that direction take place?


I don't quite get that "not much time right now" shocked

Actually, I didn't! I probable should have, shouldn't I? I naturally assumed that he would acommodate to my plans. By the way, he didn't say anything, when I said what pieces I was working on he just said "okay" and when I played them for him he said okay, but this this this and that (pedal, details of dynamics etc.). I assumed that that's kinda like lessons work, student plays and the teacher will say what is to be improved. I also assumed that the technical things will get resolved over time (like some things got resolved when I studied alone, with a teacher I just hope to speed up the process by maybe figuring out what would help me quicker than I would figure it out on my own).

Edit: btw I mentioned particular technical difficulties I wanted to address in the preliminary talk. I didn't expect it to be solved at once, these things take time. One also doesn't learn figure skating overnight, or calculate triple integrals involving Gamma function after a week of calc.

Last edited by Chopin Acolyte; 07/27/19 03:58 PM.
Re: Micomanaging the phrasing? [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2873285
07/27/19 05:06 PM
07/27/19 05:06 PM
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Posts: 16,954
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Originally Posted by keystring

Not much time right now. Thank you for the answer.
I forgot to ask the other half of this question. Has the teacher stated what his purpose is in teaching you, or in teaching? Have you asked - did you get that far - did any kind of discussion in that direction take place?


I don't quite get that "not much time right now" shocked

Actually, I didn't! I probable should have, shouldn't I? I naturally assumed that he would acommodate to my plans. By the way, he didn't say anything, when I said what pieces I was working on he just said "okay" and when I played them for him he said okay, but this this this and that (pedal, details of dynamics etc.). I assumed that that's kinda like lessons work, student plays and the teacher will say what is to be improved. I also assumed that the technical things will get resolved over time (like some things got resolved when I studied alone, with a teacher I just hope to speed up the process by maybe figuring out what would help me quicker than I would figure it out on my own).

Edit: btw I mentioned particular technical difficulties I wanted to address in the preliminary talk. I didn't expect it to be solved at once, these things take time. One also doesn't learn figure skating overnight, or calculate triple integrals involving Gamma function after a week of calc.

I think that unless you come to lessons with specific questions, teachers will generally listen to the whole piece and offer suggestions that run the gamut.

I think that it's worth just trying whatever your teacher suggests since you've been self-teaching for so long, but definitely if you have specific issues to be addressed, be sure to say that right at the beginning of the lesson and jump right in to that.

As for musician friends, does your teacher have other adult students? And if so, do he hold an adult student recital or piano "luncheon" or something? Another option would be to find a piano group in our area, where people who love to play just get together to play for one another, and that might be a great way to meet like-minded musicians. This social aspect to piano is not really something addressed during lessons (and rightfully so - you're spending money on education, not socializing), however, it's wonderful to keep things from getting too serious and to be able to share what you're working on with other musicians.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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