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Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950325 02/22/20 08:29 PM
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Some of these comments are rude and ridiculous. Why?

PianogrlNW - You twisted his words to create an issue when you said , "...don't speak for me." Why act that way with another player/member.
"I don’t think it is OK to play wrong notes and incorrect rhythms if you are playing a piece by a composer." - It's not ok, why? If you are playing in front of a crowd you may have to make it ok. If you are practicing, why isn't it ok? You need to learn to keep moving if you want to play in front of people.

pianoloverus - You argue that you can't improvise, but you've been a member since 2001? Is that even possible? Maybe you just aren't good at improvising. Perhaps you should try improvising one piece a day?

Then, you go on to explain how the University should evaluate students? Do you know more than the OP and the University staff? You honestly may be that knowledgable. I would be interested to know your credentials if you are.

Have either of you performed live, with a band in front of hundreds of people? I have. You really can't stop.If you want to stop while you are practicing, that's ok, but if it becomes a habit, it could be a problem for some people.

The OP is an experienced teacher. I appreciate that he visits the beginners area. You two may be teachers/well qualified as well. If so, then state your opinions and explain the experience that they are based on. There is room for civil discourse. The OP has entertained all of your questions and remained civil. He is trying to be helpful. His ideas may help someone other than you two.

Last, READ THE TITLE of this thread. Did he ever say that you have to do these things? There are many ways to do one things.

Last edited by Jack Moody; 02/22/20 08:37 PM.
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Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950336 02/22/20 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
In real life, I think many/most people stop and correct an obvious mistake when reading through a piece the first time if it's a piece they intend to study.


This is a bad habit, and you should stop doing it. It's holding you back.
Why do you continually make statements without any explanation?


This is a bad habit because:

1. If you are in "monitor for mistakes and be ready to stop at the first sign of them" mode, you can't be in "become one with the music" mode. This is what causes tension, speed walls, injury, and stage fright.

2. You are training yourself to stop when you make mistakes. Instead, you should be training the ability to notice mistakes without stopping.

3. It's making pieces seem far more difficult than they are, because you are giving too much importance to every black dot on the page, without putting them in the overall context of the piece.
I don't agree with any of the above.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/22/20 09:22 PM.
Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: Jack Moody] #2950344 02/22/20 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Some of these comments are rude and ridiculous. Why?

pianoloverus - You argue that you can't improvise, but you've been a member since 2001? Is that even possible? Maybe you just aren't good at improvising. Perhaps you should try improvising one piece a day?

Then, you go on to explain how the University should evaluate students? Do you know more than the OP and the University staff? You honestly may be that knowledgable. I would be interested to know your credentials if you are.

Have either of you performed live, with a band in front of hundreds of people? I have. You really can't stop.If you want to stop while you are practicing, that's ok, but if it becomes a habit, it could be a problem for some people.

The OP is an experienced teacher. I appreciate that he visits the beginners area. You two may be teachers/well qualified as well. If so, then state your opinions and explain the experience that they are based on. There is room for civil discourse. The OP has entertained all of your questions and remained civil. He is trying to be helpful. His ideas may help someone other than you two.

Last, READ THE TITLE of this thread. Did he ever say that you have to do these things? There are many ways to do one things.

1. I never said I can't improvise. You must be confusing me with another poster.

2. I simply gave my opinion that wrong notes should be considered when evaluating sight reading. Unlike the OP I almost always include "I think" or IMO when I make a comment. I could be a beginner and it would be perfectly reasonable to offer my opinion/idea about something. Many/most of the posts in this sub forum are by non advanced pianists and they offer their opinions all the time. Most of the millions of posts on PW are people's opinions.

3. I have played countless times, although never as a professional, in front of hundreds of people for more than half a century. Just for starters I was the rehearsal and orchestral pianist in 25 high school musical productions where the rest of the orchestra were professionals. I have never in my life stopped when performing in front of people despite the fact that I may stop when reading music at home.

4. Just because the OP didn't say everyone has to do what he suggests one is not allowed to disagree with what he says?? Every post on this thread should just say "I agree, what a great idea!"?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/22/20 09:53 PM.
Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950347 02/22/20 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by pianoloverus


This is a bad habit, and you should stop doing it. It's holding you back.
Why do you continually make statements without any explanation?


This is a bad habit because:

1. If you are in "monitor for mistakes and be ready to stop at the first sign of them" mode, you can't be in "become one with the music" mode. This is what causes tension, speed walls, injury, and stage fright.

2. You are training yourself to stop when you make mistakes. Instead, you should be training the ability to notice mistakes without stopping.

3. It's making pieces seem far more difficult than they are, because you are giving too much importance to every black dot on the page, without putting them in the overall context of the piece.
I don't agree with any of the above.

Your post actually made me realize something. I am a competant and experienced banjo player and I never go back and correct mistakes. I just keep going and catch it the next time through. I am an incompetant and inexperienced pianist and I sometimes do go back on my mistakes.

I guess we can all agree that the goal is to run through nonstop and not make mistakes.

Have you ever tried what the OP suggests? Have you seen this fall before? I dont know if either is wrong, but I'm curious why you are so sure that OP is.

Did you see my post above?

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950350 02/22/20 10:28 PM
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Many of us have already matured. In fact, are very old! So the get in touch with ourselves bit is not exactly a discovery. Also many members here already have years, even decades, playing other instruments and performing. So we already know what works for us. And with age comes self-awareness, knowledge of who we are. The ADULT beginner group is really a mixed bag. As you know, age 25, 55, and 85 are all adults but are in different stages of life, different levels of experience. The OP should expect disagreements. That's ok. We didn't choose him to be our teacher, we can read his contributions and disagree. He may help others, I don't know, and it's none of my business.

I would only point out that learning piano never stops. Even concert pianists are still learning. We all are. So I assume the OP is still learning as well and practices the items he has listed. (Although it's probably not a good idea for you to post videos of yourself playing badly because the reality is that it WILL damage your business if you're a teacher.)

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950351 02/22/20 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
There's no reason to make a distinction between "reading" and "sight-reading". The goal here is to become fluent. Do it any way you want, and call it whatever you want.

Michael, you're looking at this in retrospect, after having the skills. Our backgrounds are going to be different. I had to look at learning to read for real about a decade ago. Very soon into the journey I did find myself making a distinction between those two things, and it IS important.

First scenario:
A person is brand new, and has no idea what a single dot on the page represents. How are they going to "sight read" anything? Are they going to just play random notes and pretend they're reading the music? One must at least have some rudimentary knowledge that this dot below the treble ledger line connects to the white key between the black ones. Whether he knows it's called "D" is moot. He needs to have some idea that a "white" note lasts longer than a "black" note, which is faster than one with beams or flags. Those are reading skills. One cannot even begin to "sight read" before having skills belonging to "read".

Second scenario (mine):
When I was 8, I was handed a piano, a little book for adult autodidacts of about 10 full pages, and then a book of sonatinas. No instructions. I developed a kind of quasi-reading. It involved things like an ear for major and minor scales, finding Do, predicting common patterns in Common Practice type music (and a lot of music) --- broad visual patterns like: a diagonal line of notes is a scale. That is how I "read" music. Rather "fluently". (As long as it was Common Practice - predictable). There was a long period of decades when I had no piano. When I did get one again, and someone handed me accompaniment to something, I discovered my reading abilities had holes big enough to drive an ocean liner through. I could not really read. I had some useful stuff, though.

I set out to learn to READ. For example, if I see a note on the 2nd line of the treble clef (G), I want to instantly go to respective piano key - like my foot goes to the brakes when the light turns red. Now if that G is in the middle of a C major scale, I'll play it correctly and barely be aware of that note. If its part of I IV V I in C major, which I can feel in common music, I'll also get at that note, by ear or feel - I'm predicting more than reading. But what if there is a leap to that G? If it's out of key? If I have to just play it because it's there? What if I want to start on a random measure, random beat, and just start there without context? I want to be able to read that G, recognize it.

What if I'm anticipating that the music will go a certain way, but it doesn't? What if I anticipate G# or A, and I miss it, because I can't really recognize notes? I'll never catch it.

[i]My experience in my journey[ /i] was that as long as I "sight read", at tempo, "never mind missed notes - keep going", then those notes I was weak on and missing, I continued being weak on and missing. If you can zip past a thing you don't know, how will you ever get to know it? At that point I decided that I needed to get reading skills first, and that what you need to do for "sight reading" was stopping this from developing. I also saw there was definitely a distinction, and it was important. I HAVE managed to get those reading skills now. Whatever the original abilities were, anticipating by pattern and such is also useful, and these have expanded, and are merged with it.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: pianoloverus] #2950363 02/22/20 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Some of these comments are rude and ridiculous. Why?

pianoloverus - You argue that you can't improvise, but you've been a member since 2001? Is that even possible? Maybe you just aren't good at improvising. Perhaps you should try improvising one piece a day?

Then, you go on to explain how the University should evaluate students? Do you know more than the OP and the University staff? You honestly may be that knowledgable. I would be interested to know your credentials if you are.

Have either of you performed live, with a band in front of hundreds of people? I have. You really can't stop.If you want to stop while you are practicing, that's ok, but if it becomes a habit, it could be a problem for some people.

The OP is an experienced teacher. I appreciate that he visits the beginners area. You two may be teachers/well qualified as well. If so, then state your opinions and explain the experience that they are based on. There is room for civil discourse. The OP has entertained all of your questions and remained civil. He is trying to be helpful. His ideas may help someone other than you two.

Last, READ THE TITLE of this thread. Did he ever say that you have to do these things? There are many ways to do one things.

1. I never said I can't improvise. You must be confusing me with another poster.

2. I simply gave my opinion that wrong notes should be considered when evaluating sight reading. Unlike the OP I almost always include "I think" or IMO when I make a comment. I could be a beginner and it would be perfectly reasonable to offer my opinion/idea about something. Many/most of the posts in this sub forum are by non advanced pianists and they offer their opinions all the time. Most of the millions of posts on PW are people's opinions.

3. I have played countless times, although never as a professional, in front of hundreds of people for more than half a century. Just for starters I was the rehearsal and orchestral pianist in 25 high school musical productions where the rest of the orchestra were professionals. I have never in my life stopped when performing in front of people despite the fact that I may stop when reading music at home.

4. Just because the OP didn't say everyone has to do what he suggests one is not allowed to disagree with what he says?? Every post on this thread should just say "I agree, what a great idea!"?


1. You are right. That's my mistake.

2. My point is that they obviously have a comprehensive program and they likely handle it that way for a reason. It appeared to me that the poster that mentioned his university was supporting part of the OP position. I think you understood that too. Then you came back and said, I think the university is wrong too.

3. It doesn't matter that you weren't getting paid. That's still solid experience and it explains that you have a good base to support your opinion. I never said or implied that you didn't know what you're talking about.

4. You made this wild and confrontational leap in logic. I clearly said that there is room for civil discourse. You quoted me.

You ended your post with an irrelevant and condescending rhetorical question, so I'm pretty sure I didn't mistake your propensity for rudeness. You are well within your rights to be (what I consider)less than polite and you don't owe me an explanation. I have no interest in being rude in return.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950367 02/22/20 11:58 PM
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Everyone's making valid points. However, I don't have the energy to address all of them. If anyone has any questions about why I think the 6 exercises I mentioned above are useful, or any questions about how to do them in practice, I'm happy to talk about that.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: Jack Moody] #2950368 02/23/20 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Moody

Your post actually made me realize something. I am a competant and experienced banjo player and I never go back and correct mistakes. I just keep going and catch it the next time through. I am an incompetant and inexperienced pianist and I sometimes do go back on my mistakes.


cool

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950370 02/23/20 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Everyone's making valid points. However, I don't have the energy to address all of them. If anyone has any questions about why I think the 6 exercises I mentioned above are useful, or any questions about how to do them in practice, I'm happy to talk about that.

The idea of questions for your exercises creates a scenario where you are teaching us something, know what we need, and there is no dialogue. You have jumped the gun.
In regard to energy - we have spent the energy in considering the ideas you have put forth.

I have no "questions" because your ideas do not suit where I am at, at all. How about your question to US, such as "If I were learning piano today" what we would do differently.

In fact, that is precisely what some of us are doing, and we have reasons for our choices. They are not necessarily your choices. A lot of your choices would make me want to quit. Because my experience is not your experience.

This should be a dialogue, not something being handed down.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: keystring] #2950373 02/23/20 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Everyone's making valid points. However, I don't have the energy to address all of them. If anyone has any questions about why I think the 6 exercises I mentioned above are useful, or any questions about how to do them in practice, I'm happy to talk about that.

The idea of questions for your exercises creates a scenario where you are teaching us something, know what we need, and there is no dialogue. You have jumped the gun.
In regard to energy - we have spent the energy in considering the ideas you have put forth.

I have no "questions" because your ideas do not suit where I am at, at all. How about your question to US, such as "If I were learning piano today" what we would do differently.

In fact, that is precisely what some of us are doing, and we have reasons for our choices. They are not necessarily your choices. A lot of your choices would make me want to quit. Because my experience is not your experience.

This should be a dialogue, not something being handed down.

So, what would you do differently?

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: keystring] #2950385 02/23/20 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Everyone's making valid points. However, I don't have the energy to address all of them. If anyone has any questions about why I think the 6 exercises I mentioned above are useful, or any questions about how to do them in practice, I'm happy to talk about that.

The idea of questions for your exercises creates a scenario where you are teaching us something, know what we need, and there is no dialogue. You have jumped the gun.
In regard to energy - we have spent the energy in considering the ideas you have put forth.

I have no "questions" because your ideas do not suit where I am at, at all. How about your question to US, such as "If I were learning piano today" what we would do differently.

In fact, that is precisely what some of us are doing, and we have reasons for our choices. They are not necessarily your choices. A lot of your choices would make me want to quit. Because my experience is not your experience.

This should be a dialogue, not something being handed down.


Of course, you're entitled to your opinion, and you have the right to tell your story. If you want to do so, I would prefer you start your own thread, rather than hijacking this one (where, yes, I am indeed trying to teach something).

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950386 02/23/20 01:53 AM
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I got exposed to piano at age 5 but didn't get anywhere after a few lessons. Coming from a non-musical family, my parents weren't keen to get anybody into piano. In my school days I got into playing violin where I learned to read music and basic music theory.

Many of us got enrolled in a music program or with a private teacher by our parents at a young age. The focus was Classical music. At that age I don't think too many people would say they want to focus on Jazz or Pop because their exposure to music is too limited.

I got into piano 3 decades later and the first 2 years using online resources without a teacher. I continued playing violin with a music group since my piano playing was not at the performance level. Some people like my father would learn to play a new instrument from the basics. I don't have a problem reading music from day 1. Over the years, my violin playing improved and my piano playing isn't far behind. If I leave piano for another decade means I'd put in more time playing violin. This doesn't mean my violin playing would be further ahead at the expense of piano. Working with 2 instruments simultaneously taught me to practice more efficiently.

Today I wouldn't be starting piano as a beginner. Like someone who doesn't know how to swim gets into the pool at age 65 when he retired is not likely going to learn to swim.

The things I'd keep the same or do differently today than 10 years ago:
1. I didn't always have positive experiences with a music teacher. I would still spend the first 2 years learning the basics on my own. I'd get a teacher when I am at the intermediate level when I feel that my progress is not advancing very much.
2. I'd still have a digital piano. Living in a building with neighbors around, putting on headphones at night is a must. Since I enrolled in music class at a local conservatory, having access to an acoustic piano for practice isn't an issue.
3. In the past I went through a few keyboard changes before getting an 88 with weighed keys due to budget constraints. Today the technology improved to the point that I can get a Casio, Roland or Yamaha 88 from day 1 at a reasonable price without having to upgrade every few years.
4. Today I'd take my time learning my pieces. I'm in adult group class. Most of the people around me are retired and play piano as a hobby in a carefree way. When I was younger, I feel that I need to catch up with the cousins who took piano lessons ahead of me. When parents were paying for lessons, there were expectations how far you should go and possibly become a professional musician. A number of years ago 2 friends got enrolled in Suzuki piano & violin to a high level. Today nobody in the family is into music as a profession and many stopped playing piano years ago. I still practice an hour a day for interest but there is no stress to catch up with anybody. There are pieces I wouldn't give up like the Bach English & French Suites and at least 1 Bach fugue.
5. Download sheet music as much as possible especially Classical pieces and print paper copies only when necessary. Over a decade of playing piano I've accumulated a stack of books and at the same time sheet music from my music group keep piling up. Learning to play piano was my goal but collecting paper was not.
6. As always I'd get my pieces to a performance level. I have been playing for an audience as an amateur musician since my school days.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950394 02/23/20 02:57 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Of course, you're entitled to your opinion, and you have the right to tell your story. If you want to do so, I would prefer you start your own thread, rather than hijacking this one (where, yes, I am indeed trying to teach something).

You did not make clear that you have taken on a teaching role here. In this thread, you started with a story on what you, personally, would do if you were starting piano today. It looked like the presentation of an idea, for discussion. That is what we do here on the ABF. I joined in the discussion of the ideas that you appeared to be presenting for exploration. There is absolutely no "hijacking" - what I explored was one of the ideas that you brought forward. Another member talked of sight reading vs. regular reading, and you countered that no distinction need be made.

We are not your students, and you did not make clear that you were presenting these things by way of teaching. I had some lousy or misguided teaching when I first took lessons, but since then I have worked with some rather good teachers. Any of those teachers that I worked with always welcomed exploration and also tried to find out where a student was at. You cannot even propose a solution to a problem until you know what the problem is, or that there is a problem.

It is also a good idea to let people know what you are doing, so that a story of "what I would do" doesn't turn out to be "I'm telling this story because I intend to teach something." We cannot guess this.

Hoping this helps.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: Jack Moody] #2950396 02/23/20 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Moody
So, what would you do differently?

Jack, do you mean in regard to the specific regarding reading, or do you mean in general, "a different kind of start"?

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950403 02/23/20 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
If I started learning the piano today, here are 6 things I would do differently. On as many days of the week as possible, I would try to do the following:

1. Sight-read at least one piece of music. From beginning to end, no stopping, no hesitation, no correcting mistakes, no stuttering. No looking it through once to prepare. I would do it at full tempo.

2. Improvise at least one piece of music. With a beginning and an ending. No correcting mistakes, no hesitation or stuttering. Trying my best to enjoy whatever sounds came out, even if they weren't what I was expecting.

3. Sit on the piano bench for a few minutes, doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting, feeling what it's like to PHYSICALLY SIT THERE, while not playing any keys, not hearing any sounds.

4. Work on a piece of music that is way above my level, with no expectation of playing it well. Just pretend to be a great virtuoso, and go for it, even if it's all wrong. Just to leave open the door for the possibility of growing into it.

5. Post videos of my playing online. Not to ask for feedback, but simply to expose myself to the discomfort of doing it. I would try not to take feedback too seriously, unless I had a specific question.

6. Perform from memory, even if just for a recording device. Especially pieces where I didn't feel confident in my memory. If my mind went blank, I would fall back to my improvisation skills to carry me through.



Woah this thread has gone a bit wonky. I just see the OP's post as a fairly light yet compelling comment as an invitation to reflect on better ways to progress. As an adult learner and late starter this is really helpful. All those suggestions make sense. Thank you


So I say:

I have adopted this and made it my own: [clap clap]
Cut back the weakness, reinforce what is strong. [repeat]

[guitar solo]
[fade over incoherent yelps]
Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950417 02/23/20 05:28 AM
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Interesting thread, Michael - I appreciate it. I need to do more sight reading!


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

YouTube

Working On
Chopin Nocturne E min
Bach Inventions

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950453 02/23/20 09:10 AM
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I like #6, play from memory.

I’m an adult beginner. I have a tendency to stare at the music too much, not realizing that I actually have the piece memorized. At my last lesson, my teacher took away my music in the middle of the lesson. I discovered that I did have relatively simple pieces memorized.

So, now, I just sit at the piano and try to pay through my rather limited repertoire from memory. I can do it and it helps to build my confidence. Sure, I make some mistakes, but I have found that I can correct them without looking back at the page.

My teacher’s point about staring at the music too much was that I was not watching my hands, and, therefore, not using my eyes to command the movement of my hands.

On pieces that are harder, and that I’ve been playing for a while but that are not memorized, I’m working on playing from music but being able to just use the music as a safety net to save myself if I have to. I assume that professional pianists are doing this when they put an iPad on top of a grand piano.

Last edited by LarryK; 02/23/20 09:11 AM.

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Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: keystring] #2950464 02/23/20 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Jack Moody
So, what would you do differently?

Jack, do you mean in regard to the specific regarding reading, or do you mean in general, "a different kind of start"?

Honestly, I read your post and thought you felt very strongly about the topic. I thought you you might have something positive to add to the discussion and I was curious what it was. Just to be clear, because sometimes things are lost in text, I mean that in a positive and productive way.

Re: If I were learning piano today [Re: MichaelJK] #2950473 02/23/20 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK


3. Sit on the piano bench for a few minutes, doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting, feeling what it's like to PHYSICALLY SIT THERE, while not playing any keys, not hearing any sounds.




Oddly, this is possibly the most radical idea listed. People now want constant stimulation. It's odd to me that the internet has decreased communication, by increasing it.

People seem so agitated and they cant sit for 5 minutes without doing something.

The internet and modern politics consume people. Some people say that is because people are more comfortable dealing with things they can't control rather than working through meaningful change.

How many times do you see two people sitting at a restaurant table using their phones? People run from true connection.

Music, like many things, can be approached in different ways. I've met frustration in the past by trying to dominate it but I've also felt true connection when it flows.

On my best days of playing banjo, I barely knew what I was doing. It just flowed perfectly and I didnt get in its way. I was overjoyed by what was happening. I recall this mostly while I was playing with other people.

I think that Michael is looking for a way to cultivate this feeling and pass it along.

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