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Joined: May 2015
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
One should play pieces where one can think about whatever's necessary to give a good performance. For example, if thinking about the notes and rhythm at once is too complicated for most of the piece, in general the piece may too difficult. IOW I don't the problem is usually overthinking; more likely the piece is too difficult.

I don’t agree with this at all. An experienced pianist will find a lot is either automatic or can be easily thought of simultaneously,

For a new pianist, no matter if the piece is at his/her level, nothing is automatic as there has not been enough history of playing similar rhythms and patterns. An c major arpeggio first inversion will be quickly recognized by an experienced pianist; for a beginner, not so automatic. Notes, rhythm both require thought.
It takes time to put some elements on automatic pilot so you can concentrate on others.

I guess my message to beginners: you are normal if pulling everything together takes a lot of mental energy. Cut yourself some slack.

Advice? Play a lot of different music. Your ability to recognize note snd rhythm patterns will grow just because your brain will quickly say ‘oh, I’ve seen that before’ 😊


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

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I read the opening post a few times.


Main points. First teacher said "don't overthink" but Athdara had not been thinking anything, and had been lost about what to do. 2nd teacher, again initially frozen by being lost on what to do and thus being blank and frozen. Example of timing problems; teacher's instruction to say "watermelon" - it worked - conclusion; follow instruction without thinking about it. Unpacking.

"Just play" (too often given by some) is a dumb instruction, because when the experienced teacher just plays, he knows what to do, using what he has. "play" holds a lot of things. The student has to know how to get there. "watermelon" gave a specific thing to do, and one the OP was able to do. So having a specific thing to do, rather than being vaguely lost, is one side of it. And that's on the instructor. Too many who can do a thing, don't know how to break it down for students, because it's automatic for them (instructors). It can also be assumed that you don't have to go so slow and detailed with adults, as you do with children.

A 2nd and different element is when an instruction is given - "watermelon" - A trick to working with a teacher is to do the thing that's been said or shown, in that manner ......... focus on that thing ...... do it without thinking about it; without wondering why it's right, or whether it's right; just do it, and do that thing. The learning happens in the doing. Another element is to learn to focus on only one thing; then maybe focus on another thing; when skills are automatic, you can bring in more items. So it might be "watermelon" and nothing else; then another element.

There are two different things in this story. One is not having a clue what to do and thus being a blank. The other is focusing on a single thing you're given (you do know what to do because you've been told), you're not a blank; and further ideas around that.

The words "don't overthink" visceraly make me see red because of when I used to hear them. I'd ask a question, and instead of getting an answer, it was "don't overthink". Almost always, when I did get an answer to that question, it had been an important one that unlocked a problem for me - gave the missing piece. Just because it's easy for you (instructor) doesn't mean that all the pieces will come together for the student, or that he really "gets it" in the way you presented it (or didn't).

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Originally Posted by dogperson
For a new pianist, no matter if the piece is at his/her level, nothing is automatic as there has not been enough history of playing similar rhythms and patterns. An c major arpeggio first inversion will be quickly recognized by an experienced pianist; for a beginner, not so automatic. Notes, rhythm both require thought.
It takes time to put some elements on automatic pilot so you can concentrate on others.

Yes!

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When I get into a piece of music, I'd learn the notes and make recording samples. The first few runs I'm not going to pick up everything. When you hear a section should be played louder you'd practice it louder to the point you'd do it automatically so that particular issue is out of the way. Another section should be more connected with pedal you'd work on it and the issue is out of the way.

In the beginning all I focus on is getting the right notes with suitable fingerings. I'd pick up minor nuances and fix them along the way.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
In the beginning all I focus on is getting the right notes with suitable fingerings. I'd pick up minor nuances and fix them along the way.
I think it's better to try to focus on the notes and rhythm together at the beginning. Of course, if there are particularly difficult chords or unusual rhythms those might have to be worked out separately, but if you can't focus on the rhythm at all I think the piece you've chosen is perhaps too advanced and/or you need to do more sight reading.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
...... but if you can't focus on the rhythm at all I think the piece you've chosen is perhaps too advanced and/or you need to do more sight reading.

If you were to start being a teacher of adult students, and one came to you who "can't focus on rhythm", then I hope you'd start with what that person actually knows and has learned, from the very beginning. How to work with note value, counting. This also involves learning how to work out rhythms in a difficult section as it gets more complex. "Sight reading" only works if you already have those underlying skills.

I would not advise anyone on this site with specifics, because none of us knows these kinds of backgrounds.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
...... but if you can't focus on the rhythm at all I think the piece you've chosen is perhaps too advanced and/or you need to do more sight reading.

If you were to start being a teacher of adult students, and one came to you who "can't focus on rhythm", then I hope you'd start with what that person actually knows and has learned, from the very beginning. How to work with note value, counting. This also involves learning how to work out rhythms in a difficult section as it gets more complex. "Sight reading" only works if you already have those underlying skills.

I would not advise anyone on this site with specifics, because none of us knows these kinds of backgrounds.
People give advice all the time in tens of thousands of posts on this site even though they don't know a lot about the person to whom they give that advice. If a student can't focus on the rhythm that may mean they never learned the basics of rhythm, the piece is too rhythmically difficult for them, or the notes are too difficult for them.

I think one can sight read almost from the beginning if the pieces are of an appropriate difficulty. That's why the very first pieces may be for one hand only and/or in the five finger position. In fact, everyone sight reads the first time they try playing a piece although they may not do it very successfully. It goes without saying that one cannot sight read until one has learned how to read notes and rhythms.

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