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Joined: Nov 2011
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Hi everyone,

As part of my music teaching during lockdown, I have started creating short online videos that are aimed at my students.

This one is about how we can develop a natural learning process.

Please let me know your thoughts!


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You made some good points in the short video presentation. Here the learning process refers to learning music and the piano specifically. It can also refer to learning other skills.

We all have different interests and things we are good at. There are many students who are enrolled in music by their parents. Some dropped out early while other stayed.

Over the holidays in December, I met 2 university science professors. They were both highly intelligent. I showed them some video demos of the piano pieces I recorded a few months earlier and they said that they don't have the talent for music and didn't learn to play an instrument. They are highly accomplished in their specialty but assumed music like learning foreign languages requires more than just intelligence and a lot of hard work.

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Originally Posted by David Hartley
Hi everyone,

As part of my music teaching during lockdown, I have started creating short online videos that are aimed at my students.

This one is about how we can develop a natural learning process.

Please let me know your thoughts!

I could only form an opinion after also going on your site to get an impression of your teaching. The reason is that the philosophy is only a part of the story. Taking your plant analogy: that plant needs proper care. It must get the right amount of watering, and once it has grown a bit, the right amount of sunshine.

A student starting a new instrument with a teacher; or coming to a teacher with perhaps some poor habits and prior bad teaching; needs proper guidance by the teacher, which the student then has to apply intelligently. Without that, you only get magical thinking and ineffective positive thoughts. Your video clearly define the goal, and how to get there. Example, staccato on the guitar, what it is, what to do, and what might muddy the waters so what to do instead. If you're also able to observe the student to guide further (we can think we're doing the right thing, but don't see/hear that we aren't) that's the whole package. You'll get, for example, teachers who show what staccato sounds like, the student tries to duplicate it without knowing what to do, and rides out the confusion with "positive thoughts" and slow growing plants. The slow growing plants is the other side of the equation - learning is a gradual state of becoming.

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I like the video a lot. But I would answer both questions for my students differently.
How long does it take to be a good musician? You should sound good from the minute you start playing. If you play two notes, that's a small phrase and is already music. (I don't believe one note is music.) You should sound musical at every stage of your music development.

How long does it take to learn this piece? If you are working at your level, it should take four weeks for beginners, about six to eight weeks for intermediate and advanced students. Those are averages but most people can achieve them.

For the piano, if you practice 45 minutes per day and have good instruction, you can learn the bulk of your music training in seven years.

That's based on me teaching them, of course, and normal child development. Obviously, if they are stubborn and want to argue with me, it will take longer.

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Originally Posted by keystring
You'll get, for example, teachers who show what staccato sounds like, the student tries to duplicate it without knowing what to do, and rides out the confusion with "positive thoughts" and slow growing plants. The slow growing plants is the other side of the equation - learning is a gradual state of becoming.

I get the slow growing analogy. That can be helpful in understanding the journey.

Where I differ from the OP, maybe, is in thinking Inner Game approaches work for everyone. They work very well for those whose learning style is suited to it, and produced endless frustration in those who don't. Teachers who are strong advocates tend to think it works, because the frustrated students quickly drop out and they see only the ones where it works.

Taking your staccato example. The teacher can demonstrate exactly what it should sound like. The student will try to emulate that sound, the goal, without knowing what to do. Some students will luck into what to do quickly, and others never. Some teachers will start out saying your shoulder needs to be here, your elbow here, your wrist this shape, and your finger must move in this arc at this speed. Other teachers either believe that is counterproductive, or (especially in similar scenarios in the brass world) don't know themselves exactly how it is done, and continue to insist "sound like this, don't worry about how it's done." Students vary in which approach will work, I think.

Last edited by TimR; 01/18/21 10:09 AM.

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Tim, we're probably more on the same page than it seems. Also, a person will tend to put forth one idea, when they may actually be operating across several, but we only see the one presented. That's why I went to the OP's site.

Quote
Taking your staccato example. The teacher can demonstrate exactly what it should sound like. The student will try to emulate that sound, the goal, without knowing what to do. Some students will luck into what to do quickly, and others never. ...


I mentioned staccato after watching on-site lessons. The OP teaches classical guitar. I played cl. g. years ago self-taught. If you pluck one string, and then the note on an adjacent string, the first one will keep ringing so you get legato and a sound overlap. The OP showed various things to do physically with either hand, and also shows things students do that don't work well, and why. Therefore he was equipping his students. Define the thing you want to teach, and show how to reach that thing in your learning. You are saying the same thing.

This "inner game" thing - by itself it is too vague and sort of dreamy. You get (I had) teachers who just say "it takes time", set out to "reassure" you when you say "I don't like the sound I'm producing, instead of saying "Well, let's see why that's happening." - or that it's a stage, and why it's a stage. You can have teachers who won't teach you how to do things; who have magical thinking; or think it's all emotional/psychological. In those instances, referring to "inner game" is the wrong thing. (Change teachers! And then work like mad with the new one who actually teaches.)

The "plants" analogy can also be brought further. The plants in the video are in different stages of growth. Skills come in different stages of growth. For example, when I restarted I wanted to learn how to do different dynamics in the two hands - starting with the typical LH accompaniment soft, RH melody loud. (Chopin Em Prelude). First I learned how, efficiently, to do loud and soft. (loud is not, muscle through tensely; soft is not, gingerly and tensely pull back what you're doing while doing it). Then to do soft on a note in the LH, loud on a note in the RH, consecutively - gradually bring them together until they sounded at the same time. Ultimately I had the whole thing and went on from there. ......... Plant-wise, you start with soil and a bit of green showing above. The plant with lots of leaves, proudly showing off flowers all over ---- you do not try in week one to be a flowering plant. You want to show a bit of green, and that IS that stage.

If I were asked "how long it takes" I would reframe the question to "what needs to be learned" and give some kind of idea.

And of course there's the joke (or was it a true story) where a novice called a teacher saying, "I want to learn to play the piano. Will an hour next Wednesday be alright?" (i.e. a single session)

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There is an atmosphere of pleasurable freshness and calm positivity coming from the video. I enjoyed it a lot. You seem to be a nice person.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
How long does it take to be a good musician? You should sound good from the minute you start playing. If you play two notes, that's a small phrase and is already music. (I don't believe one note is music.) You should sound musical at every stage of your music development.
A very good point. I totally agree.

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Originally Posted by keystring
And of course there's the joke (or was it a true story) where a novice called a teacher saying, "I want to learn to play the piano. Will an hour next Wednesday be alright?" (i.e. a single session)

The classic example of this is the bass guitar joke:
Quote
A man gives his son an electric bass for his 15th birthday, along with a coupon for four bass lessons. When the son returns from his first lesson, the father asks, "So, what did you learn?"
"Well, I learned the first five notes on the E string." Next week, after the second lesson, the father again asks about the progress, and the son replies, "This time I learned the first five notes on the A string." One week later, the son comes home far later than expected, smelling of cigarettes and beer. So the father asks: "Hey, what happened in today's lesson?" "Dad, I'm sorry I couldn't make it to my lesson; I had a gig!"


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