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Sam S Offline OP
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A new free video from Josh Wright, including his "Piano Mastery Checklist":



I tried to take notes, here is what I got:

1) right notes
2) right rhythm
3) articulation
4) pedalling
5) voicing
6) dynamics
7) rubato
8) tempo

Sam

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Thank you Sam for posting. Very interesting approach.
Here is a previous video from him (from 2017) where he goes into more detail about this checklist.

Piano Mastery Checklist

Best,


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Seems like he has a shorter haircut, for those sensitive to capilar fashion.

In summary, what i get is that it is better to play well the piano rather than poorly .... not sure exactly what is the point of that vid ? Seems like a lot of empty rumbling, mixing generic advices for a very wide audience. I dont dislike JoshW, as some of his vids are usefull, but not this one.

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Funny that I just watched this video too and found it as a nice recap of most principles he teaches through his videos.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
Seems like he has a shorter haircut, for those sensitive to capilar fashion.

In summary, what i get is that it is better to play well the piano rather than poorly .... not sure exactly what is the point of that vid ? Seems like a lot of empty rumbling, mixing generic advices for a very wide audience. I dont dislike JoshW, as some of his vids are usefull, but not this one.


I think he provided a lot more value than "play well rather than poorly", even if you just take as main insight the importance of investing in yourself whether through a better piano, music books, teacher or the summarisation of his checklist as an interactive step from the first two into the collection of all 8 and speeding it all up. Perhaps, the 400+ likes and 0 dislikes in less than a day is a quick validation of the value.

Regarding the "generic" advice for all audiences, he has 100k+ subscribers and of course 99% are probably beginners/intermediates/early advanced for which this advice is gold. If you're extremely advanced that you basically know all of this already and it's deep embedded in you, you're probably better off just watching his technical videos or not watching his content at all and sticking to the masterclasses on YouTube.

Either way, I found the video useful, even though I knew most of the stuff, as I've been following him for quite a while (but would've loved to see something like this as a first video. let's say smile )


I've been playing the piano since Jan '18.
More recently, I passed Grade 6 with distinction and plan to take Grade 7 in late 2021.

I am documenting my progress, recitals and experiences of learning how to play the piano as an adult on my YouTube channel.
https://www.youtube.com/PeterHontaru
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I think that having 100k subscribers (which is not that much) or whatever the number of likes is not a criteria for value. But i have nothing personally against JW vids. Some contain good advices. Some others less so, the problem being that of course, it is difficult for a beginner or intermediate players to know which ones are really usefull.

For this video, if you like it and find it great, so be it. I think that what he is saying is simply that as your level increases you naturally pay more attention to all the various components of a piece of music right from the beginning. As far as the order, i could easily define another one just as valid. And to be honnest a lot of those actually are treated in parallel. In some cases that i could illustrate, i did not use the pedal until the very last step, because i did not need to and i wanted to get the basic movement right and using the pedal was actually counterproductive. In some other cases, i used the pedal right away, even before nailing all the notes right, because using the pedal had a significant impact on the way the other elements would need to be played.

That is why i think in this particular vid, JW is not saying anything really practically and specifically interesting.

Like all the people who operate on YT, one has to fill in the space, so to speak, and so i understand that doing a vid like this one is easy, requires little work and feed the audience.

But if you have found golden advice in there, which i dont see, by all means, take advantage of it.

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Sam S Offline OP
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Tough crowd. The video is a couple of inspiring thoughts for the New Year. Hopefully it encourages some to check out his other videos, which are excellent and more in depth, or even to purchase some of the content from his site (which I have done, and found very helpful).

Sam

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You have to keep in mind he has 100k subs as a channel that teaches piano, which puts him probably in top 5, if not at the top. That's not impressive generally speaking, where big means way over 1 million, but definitely impressive for his niche.

Anyway, that's not important as I did not mention the fact that he has 100k subscribers to prove he has valuable content, which is what you understood, but to emphasize the need for generalistic content. That is due to the fact that out of these 100k+, most are the type of people that would consider this video useful as they are in the early/intermediate/late stages and always ask questions answered in this video alongside the usual "how long do I need to practice", not Julliard graduates/highly experienced pianists.

I simply just wanted to show you that there are people who find value in it, as you said it's a bit useless. That is at least 400 people that found it helpful within a day, if you judge by the number of likes and 0 dislikes, plus another one if you count my comment.

And of course the advice is overly simplistic and there could be so many other valid ways (likely much better too) to teach piano, but sometimes you have to simplify to teach in a generalistic way through a 5 min video or state general rules of thumb. I am not subscribed to any of his premium stuff but I am sure he goes into a lot more detail in there and definitely in his private lessons as each piece is unique in its own way.

Lastly, of course, there are different orders for different pieces as you say (pedal at the beginning vs pedal right at the end) but I am sure he wouldn't have got to where he is today if he targeted the top 1% of his audience rather than offer generalisted advice likes this.

Again, totally agreed with everything else you said about pedal, various orders of each element in his checklist but some people don't even know about all of these aspects, let alone put them in an effective order based on the piece/their preference that would generally work.

The golden advice was just that he covered a pretty good checklist in a short video, one that quite a lot of beginners would be able to apply ASAP.

If you find a 5-10 min video that targets everything you would think is useful, please do share it with others.

Originally Posted by Sam S
Tough crowd. The video is a couple of inspiring thoughts for the New Year. Hopefully it encourages some to check out his other videos, which are excellent and more in depth, or even to purchase some of the content from his site (which I have done, and found very helpful).

Sam

Exactly smile No matter the video, you can never please everyone (although not every video is targeting everyone).

Last edited by Peter Hontaru; 01/01/21 05:16 PM.

I've been playing the piano since Jan '18.
More recently, I passed Grade 6 with distinction and plan to take Grade 7 in late 2021.

I am documenting my progress, recitals and experiences of learning how to play the piano as an adult on my YouTube channel.
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I'm a subscriber to Josh Wright's ProPractice academy and frankly I too didn't find the video that helpful. It's mostly a re-cap of what he said in lots of other videos.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
I think that having 100k subscribers (which is not that much) or whatever the number of likes is not a criteria for value. But i have nothing personally against JW vids. Some contain good advices. Some others less so, the problem being that of course, it is difficult for a beginner or intermediate players to know which ones are really usefull.

For this video, if you like it and find it great, so be it. I think that what he is saying is simply that as your level increases you naturally pay more attention to all the various components of a piece of music right from the beginning. As far as the order, i could easily define another one just as valid. And to be honnest a lot of those actually are treated in parallel. In some cases that i could illustrate, i did not use the pedal until the very last step, because i did not need to and i wanted to get the basic movement right and using the pedal was actually counterproductive. In some other cases, i used the pedal right away, even before nailing all the notes right, because using the pedal had a significant impact on the way the other elements would need to be played.

That is why i think in this particular vid, JW is not saying anything really practically and specifically interesting.

Like all the people who operate on YT, one has to fill in the space, so to speak, and so i understand that doing a vid like this one is easy, requires little work and feed the audience.

But if you have found golden advice in there, which i dont see, by all means, take advantage of it.
I thought the video was excellent.

He made many other suggestions besides the one you focused on as not being useful. And for that one, all he said was that some pianists are used to learning certain aspects of a piece before other aspects, and that one should attempt to start learning more of them simultaneously as one's skill level increases. For some people this is a very natural thing but others may think that the way they learned pieces after one or two years of study is the way they should learn pieces later in their course of study.

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Now I've thought a bit more about the 8 points, I can see now the direction my teacher is pushing me - to incorporate more aspects into my initial learning. To that extent I found the video particularly useful, as it made me ponder more the whole learning process.


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Originally Posted by Sam S
A new free video from Josh Wright, including his "Piano Mastery Checklist":



I tried to take notes, here is what I got:

1) right notes
2) right rhythm
3) articulation
4) pedalling
5) voicing
6) dynamics
7) rubato
8) tempo

Sam
Those 8 points he brings up were basically the methods I used to teach myself the piano. Even when I had lesson as a child on the organ I don't think we ever got past the right notes, the right rhythm, and maybe tempo. There is no real articulation, voicing, or "pedaling" techniques in organ other than utilizing the pedals to play bass notes. When my parents purchased a piano I went from piece to piece playing hands together from the start making sure I had the right notes, the right rhythm (and sometimes not so well when I played by ear), articulation, pedaling, voicing, dynamics etc... But I would play each section (a group measures) all the way to step 8 and not move on until I had that section somewhat down. Then I would move on adding additional measures until I finished the piece. By the time I learned the last few measures the piece was already up to speed and with considerations to voicing, dynamics, pedaling, rubato etc. already made. I never did any hands separate. I was very careful to listen to the notes I was playing the tones and colors I was producing and I enjoyed that immensely. I listened very carefully to the "music" and what story I was trying to tell. One of my biggest errors in self teaching however was that I believed that the only way to learn technical difficult parts was to play faster and faster into overdrive so that when I slowed it down to the actual tempo I had it down. It was not until in recent years that I learned the true value of slow practice. My second biggest error was that my fingering was absolutely atrocious and it took years with several teachers to fix this and that continues somewhat today.

The reason why I bring this up is that playing an instrument like the piano is really as simple as these 8 steps. Yes you need a basic foundation (and a good/FLEXIBLE teacher) on how to read music but with a very basic foundation your skills at understanding what is on the written page increases as you play more advanced pieces and you can look up what all the markings mean and you can listen to music to understand the rhythm of difficult passages. I think some adult beginners make learning the piano so much more complicated than it needs to be by relying on very strict teaching methods that might suck the very life out of learning this wonderful instrument. I was reading that other thread from that poster whose New Year's Resolution was to give up the piano because he doesn't get any enjoyment out of it. Maybe he just needs to see this video to get the message across that making music has very little to do with what he's doing. Examinations, drills, endless scales and boring pieces. Yes, if you want to be a professional, a teacher, a concert pianist, or go into academics you need to go through the whole 9 yards, but you really should have done that as a child.

For adult learners (ON A NON PROFESSIONAL TRACK) I think it is best just to keep it simple in my opinion. Have them play the pieces they want to learn within reason and follow these 8 steps emphasizing the connection between their sense of touch and what they hear. Give them the foundations for music but don't kill them with endless drills, scales, exercises, theory, test etc... They will never become concert pianists so why are they being trained as such? I think sometimes adults use these syllabus as measuring sticks almost like the adults you see who go after black belts in martial arts and then quit when they've accomplished their goal never to practice the "art" again. The syllabus' are a means to and end and that is to produce good music, but it is not the only way to learn and it doesn't have to be so painful. It's also big money btw. I'm not saying that the RCM/ABRSM are useless. In fact, I think they are excellent for children and I wish I was taught in that manner, but I don't know how effective these teaching methods would be for the adult learner who had never picked up an instrument until say their 20's.

I learned the piano following these 8 steps and nothing more over several decades (no matter how you do it you have to put in your time). No scales, no drills, no arpeggios, no tests, little theory, no RCM or ABRSM and I think I am fairly proficient given I had none of this. I just kept on taking on gradually more difficult pieces and only pieces that I enjoyed. My teachers I think have seen that this has worked for me and they are teaching using the same method I had used all my life. I'm not saying that I'm the worlds greatest amateur pianist, far from it but it seems to be working well for me in the few years of training I've had thus far and I'm tackling some pretty advanced pieces. All the elements to learning how to play the piano are already in the music. You can just learn it as you go if you don't want to follow a formal syllabus, but if you're a glutton for punishment you can always go the other route as well.

I think I will go ahead and tell that quitter wannabe to check out this video.


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Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru
You have to keep in mind he has 100k subs as a channel that teaches piano, which puts him probably in top 5, if not at the top.

If you find a 5-10 min video that targets everything you would think is useful, please do share it with others.

Originally Posted by Sam S
Tough crowd. The video is a couple of inspiring thoughts for the New Year. Hopefully it encourages some to check out his other videos, which are excellent and more in depth, or even to purchase some of the content from his site (which I have done, and found very helpful).

Sam

As i said, i think popularity is not necessarily a sign of value. But it is a matter of offer and demand. As long as people find it usefull for them, whatever is the reason, there is nothing else to say.

I did not say that one in 10 mn one can cover everything essential. It is obviously not possible and that is my main point here. Practically speaking, there are plenty of different ways to tackle a piece. A more interesting angle would be to separate out what is in the order of playing the notes as written vs shaping a melodic/harmonic phrase. Typically balancing the rubato, the voicing and even pedalling is more related to overall expression.

So simple enough yes, but if too simple one gets to something that is just a bunch of general ideas. I think that JW probably covered this stuff in more details elsewhere, and he was just doing a sort of recap here. So for those that are followers of JW or even customers, this is just a continuity and it sounds like a natural follow up.

Now, i dont see who the video is aiming. He says at one point, "if you are a VERY accomplished player" .... you should think including rubato from day 1. And he gives the example of Mazurka opus 17 n4. Well that piece is somewhere in the range of rcm 9 or 10. A player at that level does not need that sort of advice. Of course that i try to play a new piece as close as possible to final performance right away. It is just a question of how difficult is the piece vs my level. If i am very comfortable, i can even sight read the piece pretty much at performance level.

So a video that covers anybody from beginner to experienced player with very generic advices falls into what i call space occupation. It generates views and fills the space while giving the impression to some people that they have received valuable tips while costing little efforts.

Sam, you are right. I am a bit tough. This is free staff and thus, if i dont find usefull i should just skip. Others may find it relevant for them and thus will like it. Surely no one can please everybody. JW sounds like a nice person and he certainly has plenty of value add vids elsewhere. So i'll stop here and wish him a lot of new subscribers and customers.

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My impression of JW in general is that he is not a teacher for beginners - quite a number of skills have to already be there.

Ok 1) "right notes" - How do you get there? Reading skills - do you have them, and do you know what they consist of? This might become a goal right there - getting those skills. Do you know how to practise in sections, isolate hard parts, so that you're not trying to get the right notes for an entire piece in one day? Do you end up with muscle memory which later on fails you because it was merely the result of drilling something over and over to get those "right notes"?

As you try to get those right notes, do you know how to move your hands, to not be awkward. fingering

2) "timing" - You may want to just get the "right notes" without worrying about timing, first - depending. You might even adopt alternate rhythms as a trick of getting at certain things.

Timing problems can also be physical. When I first restarted piano, a series of even eighth note chords came out uneven and jerky; my teacher noted where I was putting tension into my hands, so that I was sort of "get stuck, jerk loose with a jolt".

I could go on. The very act of trying to get these perfect results as "end goals" can lead to physical tension, frustration, and discouragement. I'd always go after the means to these things, and have those goals almost as a secondary thing in the back of my mind.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Peter Hontaru
You have to keep in mind he has 100k subs as a channel that teaches piano, which puts him probably in top 5, if not at the top.

If you find a 5-10 min video that targets everything you would think is useful, please do share it with others.

Originally Posted by Sam S
Tough crowd. The video is a couple of inspiring thoughts for the New Year. Hopefully it encourages some to check out his other videos, which are excellent and more in depth, or even to purchase some of the content from his site (which I have done, and found very helpful).

Sam

As i said, i think popularity is not necessarily a sign of value. But it is a matter of offer and demand. As long as people find it usefull for them, whatever is the reason, there is nothing else to say.

I did not say that one in 10 mn one can cover everything essential. It is obviously not possible and that is my main point here. Practically speaking, there are plenty of different ways to tackle a piece. A more interesting angle would be to separate out what is in the order of playing the notes as written vs shaping a melodic/harmonic phrase. Typically balancing the rubato, the voicing and even pedalling is more related to overall expression.

So simple enough yes, but if too simple one gets to something that is just a bunch of general ideas. I think that JW probably covered this stuff in more details elsewhere, and he was just doing a sort of recap here. So for those that are followers of JW or even customers, this is just a continuity and it sounds like a natural follow up.

Now, i dont see who the video is aiming. He says at one point, "if you are a VERY accomplished player" .... you should think including rubato from day 1. And he gives the example of Mazurka opus 17 n4. Well that piece is somewhere in the range of rcm 9 or 10. A player at that level does not need that sort of advice. Of course that i try to play a new piece as close as possible to final performance right away. It is just a question of how difficult is the piece vs my level. If i am very comfortable, i can even sight read the piece pretty much at performance level.

So a video that covers anybody from beginner to experienced player with very generic advices falls into what i call space occupation. It generates views and fills the space while giving the impression to some people that they have received valuable tips while costing little efforts.

Sam, you are right. I am a bit tough. This is free staff and thus, if i dont find usefull i should just skip. Others may find it relevant for them and thus will like it. Surely no one can please everybody. JW sounds like a nice person and he certainly has plenty of value add vids elsewhere. So i'll stop here and wish him a lot of new subscribers and customers.
In this video I think he was answering the question, "what is essence in mastering the piano and how to do it efficiently". He said in the video that he thought long and hard about this question as it applies to beginners as well students he has taught at the university level. I think the did a good job without bringing up RCM/ABSRM requirements, testing, scales etc. The points he brought are basically a checklist of mastering the piano and if you along with your teacher can figure out a way to get through that checklist, the student will be producing good music. Of course there are a lot of details in between and a foundation that has to be set- but there are many ways to get there. Tactically speaking he made it a point to emphasize that as you gain more experience at the piano try to incorporate increasingly more of these elements from the moment you start learning a piece and you will progress much faster. With all the years he has been teaching now I'm sure he's seen how effective it is to learn new pieces holistically rather than piecemeal or one step at a time. It is valuable advise for those who are struggling or haven't figured out yet what learning the piano is really all about.

Last edited by Jethro; 01/02/21 02:21 PM.

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John Mortensen teaches pretty much the same ‘checklist’. I think most teachers worth their salt would do similar.


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I think if any of these videos provide inspiration or motivation, they have served their purpose. When I sit down at the keyboard I often hear the voices of former and current teachers as well as online teachers like John Mortenson, Josh Wright and Noa Kageyama nudging me along and I ask myself, “What would they say about this passage, or How do I get myself out this mess?” It’s empowering to figure out solutions on your own using tools these experts provide and not have to depend on a teacher (if you have one) to solve all your pianistic problems.



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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
John Mortensen teaches pretty much the same ‘checklist’. I think most teachers worth their salt would do similar.
John Mortensen teaches the substances behind such a checklist.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
In this video I think he was answering the question, "what is essence in mastering the piano and how to do it efficiently".

The points he brought are basically a checklist of mastering the piano and if you along with your teacher can figure out a way to get through that checklist, the student will be producing good music.

Tactically speaking he made it a point to emphasize that as you gain more experience at the piano try to incorporate increasingly more of these elements from the moment you start learning a piece and you will progress much faster.

I think to produce good music you have to play properly the piece. The checklist is just a reminder of what are some of the key components to think of. BTW he did not not mention a couple essential ones.

Actually, i had built a long time ago a very similar checklisk, even more detailled with a step by step approach as to how tackle a new piece and include those elements into the learning process. And i think any person with some playing experience can build a similar one because it is naturally what constitutes some of the pillars of music in general, notes, rythm, dynamics, articulation, ...... and also by natural extension, depending on the difficulty of the piece you can tackle all these in parallel or take a step wise approach if the piece is really difficult. All of that is just common sense. I would think any player that is able to play his example, will know that already.

So i dont disagree with the theoretical concept and it is good that beginners (BTW the example that he gives is not for beginners) have in mind the key elements to get a piece right, i just think it a) becomes naturally obvious as soon as the level increases and b) the list in itself is good but the priority order is practically speaking useless.

The reason it is useless is that there is no set priority. It depends of the nature of the piece, its difficulty level. Bach for example, i start without the pedal, but with Chopin i put the pedal right away. So if the message is that one should include as many elements as possible (of those that are necessary) right off the start, that is common sense. Of course a beginner will struggle just to get the notes right, so he will put aside other components, until he fixed that part. When i tackle a piece which has a very difficult segment, i will put aside everything and just focus on getting the finger mouvement right, and then add on dynamics, articulation and then refine the rythmic pace. But if i am comfortable, i will play the part the best i can immediately. In fact learning a new piece is an iterative proces with usually 3 or 4 main phases, and typically one where i refine my concept and the tempo of the piece as i progress. All common sense. I would think any teacher or experienced player can do pretty much the same.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
..... No scales, no drills, no arpeggios, no tests, little theory, no RCM or ABRSM .....
Why throughout this do you keep referring to scales, drills, and arpeggios ( and the rest)? I wrote my thoughts about this earlier on, and it has nothing to do with scales and drills. In fact, I can't see how scales, drills and arpeggios would be the way for someone one a professional track. The other things I mentioned matter more.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Jethro
In this video I think he was answering the question, "what is essence in mastering the piano and how to do it efficiently".

The points he brought are basically a checklist of mastering the piano and if you along with your teacher can figure out a way to get through that checklist, the student will be producing good music.

Tactically speaking he made it a point to emphasize that as you gain more experience at the piano try to incorporate increasingly more of these elements from the moment you start learning a piece and you will progress much faster.

I think to produce good music you have to play properly the piece. The checklist is just a reminder of what are some of the key components to think of. BTW he did not not mention a couple essential ones.

Actually, i had built a long time ago a very similar checklisk, even more detailled with a step by step approach as to how tackle a new piece and include those elements into the learning process. And i think any person with some playing experience can build a similar one because it is naturally what constitutes some of the pillars of music in general, notes, rythm, dynamics, articulation, ...... and also by natural extension, depending on the difficulty of the piece you can tackle all these in parallel or take a step wise approach if the piece is really difficult. All of that is just common sense. I would think any player that is able to play his example, will know that already.

So i dont disagree with the theoretical concept and it is good that beginners (BTW the example that he gives is not for beginners) have in mind the key elements to get a piece right, i just think it a) becomes naturally obvious as soon as the level increases and b) the list in itself is good but the priority order is practically speaking useless.

The reason it is useless is that there is no set priority. It depends of the nature of the piece, its difficulty level. Bach for example, i start without the pedal, but with Chopin i put the pedal right away. So if the message is that one should include as many elements as possible (of those that are necessary) right off the start, that is common sense. Of course a beginner will struggle just to get the notes right, so he will put aside other components, until he fixed that part. When i tackle a piece which has a very difficult segment, i will put aside everything and just focus on getting the finger mouvement right, and then add on dynamics, articulation and then refine the rythmic pace. But if i am comfortable, i will play the part the best i can immediately. In fact learning a new piece is an iterative proces with usually 3 or 4 main phases, and typically one where i refine my concept and the tempo of the piece as i progress. All common sense. I would think any teacher or experienced player can do pretty much the same.
Yes, I think this video was just a recapitulation of concepts he has described in detail in other videos he has posted in the past that his regular subscribers are more familiar with. I don't watch his videos but I imagine someone who does would have a better understanding of the details. The main point of his challenge was for students to implement more of these checkpoints simultaneously rather than sequentially though in general he recommended practice to be in the sequence he suggests starting with the right notes and rhythm simultaneously.

This video struck a chord with me because often when I have read several threads about how some adult learners were having difficulty picking up new paces, or they were disappointed with the speed of their progression I often wondered what was different in the way they were approaching a piece and the way I approached pieces in my youth when I taught myself some of the fundamentals of playing the piano. Just imagine a naive pre-teenager who decided that he wanted to learn piano pieces without any preconception of how it should be done, without the foresight to look for method books (we didn't have internet at the time), nor the means to hire a teacher. He simply told himself, hmm I would like to learn how to play piano and play my favorite songs. Well, when I watched this video the core pieces of what he recommended were what I naturally attempted to do but I always did them from the start of a piece at every level. Whether it was a beginner, intermediate, or advanced piece from day one I would try to play the sections of the piece as it was supposed to be played from the first measure on. I just moved from measure to measure hands together (often slowly at first) learned the notes, learned the rhythm and tried to play every line with sensitivity listening very carefully to the effect of my playing technique. I think the listening part was very important. I was always seeking a beautiful line and a "good" sound. Now I was inexperienced in regards to what constitutes a beautiful line but I was headed in the right direction. My current lessons just take the 8 points he has brought up and take them to a deeper level with outstanding teachers.

The point I am trying to make is that I concur with Josh that the fundamentals of music playing are what he mentioned and you can be very efficient at learning pieces if you incorporate them as soon as you are technically capable no matter how simple the piece is or what level of learning you are at. Even if you are a complete beginner the sooner you incorporate these elements when learning each piece you are attempting the faster you will progress. This was always the way I approached my learning and it came naturally. There were no drills, scales, arpeggios, tests etc. The learning took place within the music I was playing and I just chose more challenging pieces as I went along. Many of my teachers have asked (and some were amazed) me how did I get so far without teaching, any prescribed methodology, or standard repertoire. This was basically how I did it.


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Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
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