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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037155 10/18/20 07:35 PM
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I think dmd had the best advice. I'm not sure we can help you online but was an interesting discussion.

'Well, it does seem that you need to sit down with your teacher and discuss these concerns'

I agree!

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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
dmd #3037158 10/18/20 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Among the many things that have come up in this thread, this one jumps out: you probably need to spend more than two week on Bach Inventions...

Why ?

Partly because JB (the OP) has biweekly lessons and isn't able to practice every day. But also because for most pianists at the stage where Inventions are challenging, there's so much to be learned from them that I can't imagine moving on so quickly. Others may feel differently, but that's my take.

JB, I really hope you'll try some trial lessons with a few other teachers. You deserve to have someone you click with, and not feel like you "have to lighten up."


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
ShiroKuro #3037162 10/18/20 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
JB, I really hope you'll try some trial lessons with a few other teachers. You deserve to have someone you click with, and not feel like you "have to lighten up."

To be fair...that's totally valid advice for me. laugh

I really appreciate everyone's input. It's given me a lot to think about. I will probably decide what the biggest issue (or 2) is with my current teacher, and think of a tactful way to discuss it in my lesson. I will need to be more direct than I have in the past, which is uncomfortable...but I should at least give it a shot.

If I'm not satisfied with the results, I'll start checking out my other options. I don't want to do that unless I'm ready to pull the trigger.


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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037169 10/18/20 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Didn't you say your teacher mainly works with beginners? So if you want to advance...

No, I'm her only adult student who is not a beginner. She has several (amazing) teenage girls who are much better than me. I think they are all on the exam course, which is MTAC (I think) here in Oregon.

Oh ok I misunderstood. In that case, would be nice if she teaches you no different from the others. That's one of the things I like about my teacher: she teaches me as if I have a future in music, hahaha...

Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037171 10/18/20 08:41 PM
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Hmm...that might be an easy way to start this conversation with her. I could ask how her lessons with those girls differ from mine, and then maybe suggest some changes based on that. I certainly don't want to jump through all the hoops they have to (like all the memorizing), but I can't deny that she's getting results with them. Could just be raw talent too, I don't know.


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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037175 10/18/20 08:56 PM
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The best way to progress is to keep moving forwards, not get bogged down by a feeling of inadequacy that pieces aren't 'finished' until you've played them to a certain standard or speed. (BTW, Bach didn't give any tempo indications of his Inventions.)

If there are pieces you specially like and want to keep, by all means keep working on them by yourself if your teacher has passed you on them, but don't let them keep you back from learning others. Stagnation is the enemy of progress. By continually working on new stuff, you'll keep developing, and if you then return to a piece you've previously learnt a year - or even a few months - ago, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much better you can play it, and with less effort.

When I was a student, the only pieces I spent a lot of time on (i.e. more than two to four weeks) were my exam pieces: three a year. For all the other pieces, my teachers (all four of them over a period of ten years) moved me on when I'd learnt what they wanted me to from them, regardless of how well I actually played them. As a kid, I simply took my teacher's advice, and never thought any piece I learnt was 'unfinished' when my teacher passed me on it.

That's the way I teach my students too. I don't expect complete mastery of each piece before moving them on to new pastures, as long as they'd learnt what I wanted them to from each piece. With piano, there is a lot to learn, and the best way to master new skills is to learn aspects of each with different pieces, rather than get stuck on one particular piece.


"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: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037177 10/18/20 09:07 PM
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I returned to the piano and lessons after not playing for over 40 years. I was concerned that a teacher would not take me seriously because of my age. I chose a teacher who was known to expect a lot from his students. Like dog person said I also do not want praise when I know it’s not good so it is not just you. The few times I have gotten praise I know it means something.
I cannot imagine being finished with an invention in two weeks.

When I was doing them, I had to memorize each hand separately and then together. He is also very picky about articulation. While I can see some easy pieces getting done in two weeks, I cannot imagine it for a Bach invention. From what you say about the teenage girls, it sounds like your teacher is treating you differently. Some teachers think adults want that.
In the beginning, I told my teacher that I wanted to play as well as possible, wanted him to be tough on me and I was willing to do the work. I would have a serious talk with your teacher .


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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037192 10/19/20 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
I certainly don't want to jump through all the hoops they have to (like all the memorizing).

Oh! But DO jump through hoops! Teachers can't help getting all excited when you jump through a ring of fire and didn't collapse :-) At least when you try, you raise this to a different level and a good teacher will meet you there.

Yes start a conversation about how lessons differ with the other students. You won't have as much time to practice as those teenagers, so you will progress slower. But ideally you get a slow version of the same approach. (And do weekly)

Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037226 10/19/20 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
I'm not trying to play anything complex. Burgmuller Op. 100, easier SWW, Heller Etudes, Bach Inventions, some easy Scarlatti. Lately some the Schytte etudes, which are challenging for me.

Tell me this (anyone): what percentage of the pieces that you work on in your lessons do you feel proud of when you move on? You really feel like you did a good job...you're satisfied that your tempo is acceptable (for your current level) and you're playing with good musicality? Maybe my expectations are too high.

The Bach inventions are very difficult to play well. They involve a lot of different skills, ornaments, articulation, hand independance, ... many people in my opinion try to play them too early and then feel frustrated because the result is not good. I have seen a bunch of vids of kids butchering these pieces. The Heller etudes can be very difficuly, it depends which ones, so are the Schytte etudes. And Scarlatti, it also depends which ones. So if you only had a few years of piano as a kid and then 2 years with a teacher, all these pieces would normally be quite difficult for your level, and it would not surprise me if you are unsatisfied with the end result.

That said, the fact that your teacher does not seem to have a structured approach is certainly an issue, if you are serious about piano. My sense is that instead of choosing randomly pieces and various studies or exercices is to really first assess what is your true level, roughly, for example against an rcm grading system, and determine what gaps you have. Then you can choose the right pieces within a range of choices to fill those gaps. And after that you can define a progress path, based on your abilities, learning capability, hours available to learn the piano, ...

Dont compare yourself with others. It is useless. Your capability to progress are unique. Maybe faster than some or maybe slower. What you should be aiming to is to be able to play well pieces that are within your current level. Playing poorly pieces too difficult for you is unsurprising. And the fact that you think Bach inventions are not complex, makes me think you probably dont have a very clear view of what your level is.

For the teacher, online or not, ... I always prefer face to face if possible, for someone in your situation. Once you know your teacher well (assuming you change) and you are on a good progress track, you can switch to online.

Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037239 10/19/20 05:47 AM
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I played through many bach invention during covid lockdown and a few in more detail. It is possible to play a bach invention in 2 weeks. It does not have to be full tempo. It is not clear what the correct tempo is as we have no clear instructions for this.. It only the teacher can answer why so quick to move on. Why did you spend so long to memorize and work on each voice separatly in such detail? I would not agree at all it is necessary to memorise them. This would be a slow process. Similarly people here suggested say it needs hours singing. I found very odd. Bach inventions an not an overly complex academic exercise. Whilst they are not easy pieces, they range from grade 4 to grade 6ish. You can spend too long. If it's an exam piece maybe a good idea to aim for a polishes version but it may be good idea to move on quickly.

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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037242 10/19/20 06:05 AM
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I see the bach invention 12 is on the new trinity grade 7 syllabus, so some of these are of higher difficulty especially at speed. It may be good to work on a few to a higher standard. I found really helped left hand playing.

Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
Sidokar #3037300 10/19/20 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
The Bach inventions are very difficult to play well. They involve a lot of different skills, ornaments, articulation, hand independance, ... many people in my opinion try to play them too early and then feel frustrated because the result is not good. I have seen a bunch of vids of kids butchering these pieces. The Heller etudes can be very difficuly, it depends which ones, so are the Schytte etudes. And Scarlatti, it also depends which ones. So if you only had a few years of piano as a kid and then 2 years with a teacher, all these pieces would normally be quite difficult for your level, and it would not surprise me if you are unsatisfied with the end result.

I misspoke. I should not have said the Inventions are not complex. It just seems like these are often assigned to people within a couple years of learning piano (from what I've read here). I was just trying to say I'm not one of those people trying to play something like La Campanella after 2 years and complaining that it's not going well. smile

Over the last 2 years, I have worked on 7 or 8 Inventions. I have moved on from each of them before I'm satisfied. I'm used to that. I've learned from each one, and I know that I'm not going to be able to play them "well" right now. Having my teacher tell me to move on from the last in 2 weeks just seemed a bit silly to me. I was barely digging into it.

I would estimate I'm around grade 4-5 ABSRM. I'm working through the syllabus on my own (scales & arpeggios...I'm almost through the grade 5 goals and for grade 4 I just need to go back and do the contrary scales, those are tough for me). I also recently bought the grade 4 repertoire book and I can sight read them OK (some much slower than others), but would need to spend some time to make any of them sound nice. This doesn't seem advanced for the amount of time I've been playing, but sometimes I do forget that playing clarinet for 30+ years doesn't have much bearing on my piano playing!


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Re: Frequent indecision about teacher
JB_PW #3037412 10/19/20 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
I misspoke. I should not have said the Inventions are not complex. It just seems like these are often assigned to people within a couple years of learning piano (from what I've read here). I was just trying to say I'm not one of those people trying to play something like La Campanella after 2 years and complaining that it's not going well. smile

Over the last 2 years, I have worked on 7 or 8 Inventions. I have moved on from each of them before I'm satisfied. I'm used to that. I've learned from each one, and I know that I'm not going to be able to play them "well" right now. Having my teacher tell me to move on from the last in 2 weeks just seemed a bit silly to me. I was barely digging into it.

I would estimate I'm around grade 4-5 ABSRM. I'm working through the syllabus on my own (scales & arpeggios...I'm almost through the grade 5 goals and for grade 4 I just need to go back and do the contrary scales, those are tough for me).

Grade 4,5 in abrsm would be something like a grade 7 in rcm. In the Rcm syllabus, invention 1,4 and 8 are rated 7 and all the other ones are level 8 (out of 10 which is about Abrsm 8). I would not give a Bach invention to a true beginner with only 2 years of piano. The average beginner would need about 4 to 5 years. But you have already a lot of experience in music so that helps. I would agree with you that spending only 2 weeks on such a piece is short. I think it is fine to move from one piece to another as long as you also have 1 or 2 pieces which you really work out on a longer run to get to a musically satisfying result.

It is good to work out the technical elements but if you want to really know what is your musical level, for example grade 4 or 5, you would need to pick a piece at that level and work on it a longer period of time and see if you can get to play it really well. So for example, if you think you are at that level, you should be able to play at tempo, with a clean articulation and good phrasing one of those inventions. Of course you can also pick other pieces.

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