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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by LarryK
Well, it takes patience. It takes patience to practice every day, work through mistakes, and show up every week for lessons. It’s a form of discipline. No musician reached a high level without putting in countless hours of practice.

Studying an instrument is an infinite time sink. It will consume as much time as you are willing to devote to it.
This right here. 👆

You can put as much or as little time into learning something as you want, but understand that the more disciplined you are, and the more time you put in, the better results you are going to have. You’ll also have better results if you learn all the basics, starting from the beginning and progressing gradually. That’s valid for leaning, anything, not just piano. 👍
Yes, discipline, discipline, discipline!

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Originally Posted by Jethro
Yes, discipline, discipline, discipline!
I honestly think that’s why so many people quit. So many hobbies you can learn pretty quickly, but learning an instrument really takes a lifetime. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, lol, but for me personally, I take solace in the fact that this will be something I can do until I die. I know that my brain synapses will continue to expand and grow just from the act of learning more difficult pieces. And music is so healing, so it’s wonderful for the spirit. ❤️🙏


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Jethro
Yes, discipline, discipline, discipline!
I honestly think that’s why so many people quit. So many hobbies you can learn pretty quickly, but learning an instrument really takes a lifetime. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, lol, but for me personally, I take solace in the fact that this will be something I can do until I die. I know that my brain synapses will continue to expand and grow just from the act of learning more difficult pieces. And music is so healing, so it’s wonderful for the spirit. ❤️🙏
It does take a lifetime or two. But can you imagine a life without piano music? I can't.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
My very point is NOT to proselytize that one way is better than another but to be open to new ideas. The conversation doesn't have to always be one way.

I am not sure what is a new ideas vs an old idea. The question is not so much whether it is new but is it actually working.

Originally Posted by Jethro
There is no proof either way that one way works better than another when it comes to adult learners.

I couldnt be more in disagreement with this relativism where sort of everything is equal to everything else. There are things which work better than others for the majority of people. I think it is an easy way to justify any kind of weird idea that would come across.

For example you said "At PW unfortunately if you are a self learner or go by a way of learner outside the "method" there oftentimes some pushback here if you share that.", but in the same a little later you say "Yes without a doubt I personally made the most progress with the piano under a teacher's guidance". So i guess it is better to have a teacher rather than do self learning ? But of course people are free to do self learning if they prefer it that way.

Originally Posted by Jethro
If some are showing success using their method let them explore. Let them enjoy? What do they have to lose?

I dont see that anybody is in position to forbid anything. But they could make more progress with another way of working.

Originally Posted by Jethro
No one here is in any position to say one way is better than another.

I am not an expert and I cant say my point of view is the right one, but again this is a form of relativism which I completely disagree with.

Originally Posted by Jethro
But I think it is important to question things. That's how we learn. That's how we improve. I think JaserLee has a series of excellent videos that warn self learners and adult learners of some of the pitfalls and common mistakes he sees as a teacher. I think he offers excellent advice.

I think it is good to question things if one has to offer something that works instead based on some proven experience. Otherwise it is just pure theoretical intellectual speculations. Which is fine for PW forum discussions like this one. It is different when one has the responsibility to teach students and is accountable for their progress.


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Jethro
Yes, discipline, discipline, discipline!
I honestly think that’s why so many people quit. So many hobbies you can learn pretty quickly, but learning an instrument really takes a lifetime. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, lol, but for me personally, I take solace in the fact that this will be something I can do until I die. I know that my brain synapses will continue to expand and grow just from the act of learning more difficult pieces. And music is so healing, so it’s wonderful for the spirit. ❤️🙏

Thank you for your beautiful post. Playing a musical instrument is good for one’s spirit and music is healing, absolutely. I lose track of time when playing so I know I’m doing something right. I get into flow.

Benjamin Zander gave a TED talk on the transformative power of classical music. I found his talk to be funny and moving.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
It does take a lifetime or two. But can you imagine a life without piano music? I can't.
NEVER. ❤️

Originally Posted by LarryK
Thank you for your beautiful post. Playing a musical instrument is good for one’s spirit and music is healing, absolutely. I lose track of time when playing so I know I’m doing something right. I get into flow.

Great video!! I lose track, as well. I’m sure it’s been a short time and suddenly it’s 90 minutes, lol. I’ll be happy to die on my piano bench, or at the very least, in my music room. So much of the time, there’s nowhere’s else I’d rather be. 🎹❤️


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Before Christmas I took out a piece of holiday music I haven't played for a few years. It's under 3 minutes, not too challenging. The last time the counting was off. I made recordings so I can relearn it within a week.

Coming from a non-musical family, some relatives took music lessons but stopped playing ages ago. I'm happy to be able to play a tune at a Christmas party. I don't need to compare myself to anyone else.

I can play some pieces well & others still work in progress. I enjoy playing the pieces at my level. Leave the pieces you're not ready for another day. In between practices I also experiment with different ways to make a piece sound better like a section slower, louder, more legato, etc. After learning the notes, the rest is putting personal touches on a piece. In the beginning the learning process would take longer. After a while, you actually spend more time polishing up a piece to get the ideal sound than learning it. To survive the first few years I made recordings regularly to track my progress. Wrong notes don't bother me. It's part of the process to create the ideal sound.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
[quote=Jethro]
I think it is good to question things if one has to offer something that works instead based on some proven experience. Otherwise it is just pure theoretical intellectual speculations. Which is fine for PW forum discussions like this one. It is different when one has the responsibility to teach students and is accountable for their progress.
Sidokar, one can never be a good teacher if ones thinking is too rigid and if the statistics are correct what defense does one have for "the method's" 80% failure rate. Yes it can work and very well for 20% of those who follow it but what about the other 80%? Who's responsible and accountable for that?

As for self learning versus a teacher, I've always wished I had the opportunity to learn under a good teacher in childhood who could properly assess how to teach me and who didn't subscribe to the one size fit's all Burger King mentality of piano pedagogy. Someone who could have identified my learning style and filled in all the holes in the process. I never had the opportunity to have a piano teacher in my youth but fortunately in adulthood I continue to be lucky to work with some of the creme de la creme of young teachers out there who are accomplished concert pianists as well. And what do you think they did? Put me in a straight jacket and force me to study under the "method"? No each of them came to the conclusion that what I was doing was working and there would be no reason to change it but they've been taking me under their wing so to speak and just guiding me along the way but still allowing me to explore with the pieces of my choosing. I still learn strictly through the repertoire as I always have since I began teaching myself the piano at 12.

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The discussion between having a teacher & self-learning can go on forever with people on both sides of the debate. You see a lot of online videos beginners starting from 0 to learning their favorite pieces on their own in a year.

A lot of people who failed probably don't practice enough and over-rely on their teachers. Over the years I discovered many things on my own downloading pieces at my comfort level and learning them. In a typical lesson you should come prepared with questions for your teacher from your practice at home. Last week my teacher assigned the first movement of a Sonatina, this week I brought all 3 movements of the piece to class just in case even when we're working on page 1. Even when my teacher is taking time off, I have enough pieces to keep me playing for weeks.

Having a good teacher to guide you along the way is a good thing. At the same time there is a lot of self-learning going on when the teacher is not around. Once my father picked up playing accordion but haven't touched it for many years. The first thing after retirement was to get a beginners book. He didn't want to pay for a teacher and didn't feel confident doing anything beyond the basics on his own and quit after a few months. He has the mindset he needs to learn everything from a teacher.

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Like someone said, there is always self-learning going on, even when you have a teacher. I pick some pieces and my teacher picks some pieces, it’s a collaborative effort.

I’ve never walked out of a lesson, on any instrument, feeling that the lesson was a waste and that I had not learned something to improve my playing. When you study with someone who plays at a high level, it happens naturally.

I rely on my teacher for advice on repertoire and technique. He has so much to offer in both departments. I’d be lost without some guidance from a teacher because there would be no accountability week to week. In the end, I want to play a piece at my next lesson and so, I work on it.

If one never practices, and shows up to lessons unprepared, a good teacher will find a way to divorce the student. It’s just too painful for both parties to continue that way.

One week, my teacher said that, as a kid, he only practiced on the day of his lesson. That nagged me for s whole week. At the next lesson I asked him,

How did you get into Juilliard when you only practiced on the day of your lesson?
Came the reply, daily lessons.

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I agree with Jethro and I think what he's saying should not be dismissed outright. He has achieved at the piano more than what most achieve with a teacher -- and I'm sure all of you will most probably ascribe this to innate talent. However, I think that is not a sufficient explanation. Whether teachers improve you or hamper your individual personality is very much open to debate. In fact, many of the pianists I like the most are those who have studied on their own to a considerable extent, such as by playing hindered of pieces by ear in their first few years of playing the piano.

It's usually somewhat clear that competent teachers will improve your technique. However, this doesn't mean that the artistic direction will be to your liking. And in fact, famous teachers producing clones of each other is a pretty common complaint.

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The word "talent" can be interpreted in different ways. Once met a young man who was in Suzuki play beautifully at his grandfather's funeral including the slow moment of the Beethoven Pathetique sonata. Suzuki said every child has the talent for music. He meant giving the right training & nurturing a child can play music at a high level. The majority including myself don't become concert pianists. We enjoy playing just as much as hobbyists. There is another element of Suzuki which is parental involvement. At least 1 parent would attend a lesson and act as a mentor at home. As an adult learner I'm very much on my own.

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There's a lot of noise on the thread so I'm going back to the OP and picking out some points...

Originally Posted by RichV
Each time my teacher gives me a new piece, I am absolutely terrible at it for at least a few days...
This is common until you've begun enough pieces on a regular basis that you develop a more systematic way of working. There are so many skills being used when we first begin a piece that aren't really exercised once the piece is under way. Many of these skills are perishable and need constant nurture in the early years. It might be better in the first years to spend more time on unfamiliar pieces and only single out one or two pieces concurrently for continued development.

Originally Posted by RichV
Is this a normal timeline for this stage of my development?...
If you're a normal person the progress you're making is normal. If it's not enough for your potential or your ambitions try comparing other ways of working and see what difference they make over a reasonable timeframe. You may need to diarise your practise and progress to make good comparisons.

Originally Posted by RichV
maybe I just need to work on sight reading more to be able to learn things more quickly...
There is no doubt that our reading ability affects our initial learning speed. At the moment there has been no clear evidence that practising sight-reading as a discipline has any benefit over just trying new pieces. When trying new pieces there is a greater tendency to listen to what you're playing and be more mindful of the results. It's about getting to the music rather than getting better at reading. Is it a piece you want to come back to? Would you enjoy working on one of those passages on its own? There's a motive and incentive for reading better.

When just doing sight-reading as a discipline there's less emphasis on the musical quality or enjoyment of the piece. It's more about just keeping time and getting more right notes than wrong. The reading is more 'forced'.

You will often find it said on these pages that the best sight-readers didn't "practise sight-reading" but explored more music.

Originally Posted by RichV
When I get over the hurdle of actually being able to play the notes, then I really really enjoy the work to try to play the piece *well*. The reward is definitely more than sufficient that I'm going to keep working at it, but if it sounds to all of you like I might be taking on pieces that are too much of a challenge then I might talk to my teacher about lowering the difficulty level of the pieces for a while. I hate to do that because I am finally playing music that I enjoy playing!
If you're enjoying the developmental work but are frustrated by the initial process then I suggest you add more of the initial process to your schedule but don't change the essence of what you're doing.

I'm not trying to sell the 40-piece challenge, where the emphasis is on finishing 40 pieces. I was inspired by JimF, a member here whose teacher gave him a throwaway piece every week. The emphasis there is on starting 40 pieces. I tried it and noticed a marked improvement in my reading skills within a few months. There is a great benefit in exercising the skills we use when first getting to know a piece.


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Originally Posted by ranjit
I agree with Jethro and I think what he's saying should not be dismissed outright. He has achieved at the piano more than what most achieve with a teacher -- and I'm sure all of you will most probably ascribe this to innate talent. However, I think that is not a sufficient explanation. Whether teachers improve you or hamper your individual personality is very much open to debate. In fact, many of the pianists I like the most are those who have studied on their own to a considerable extent, such as by playing hindered of pieces by ear in their first few years of playing the piano.

It's usually somewhat clear that competent teachers will improve your technique. However, this doesn't mean that the artistic direction will be to your liking. And in fact, famous teachers producing clones of each other is a pretty common complaint.

Do you have any sources for famous teachers making clones of their students? I haven’t heard this prior to your post. In fact, Horowitz told his student, Byron Janis, that he did not want him to be a good Horowitz but a great Janis. “You don't want to be a second Horowitz. You want to be a first Janis”


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ranjit
You don't need to use the metronome, just count. Imo it's preferable.
The main purpose of the metronome is to count with a steady rhythm which is not the same as just counting. Also, some people think their rhythm is steady but it isn't and the metronome can help them with that.

I fully agree with this. When I'm first learning a piece and getting it under my fingers, I just count in my head or out loud (depending on the need). Later on, I use the metronome for evenness throughout the piece (several times I thought I was even but realized I was accelerating around the middle), and to bring a piece up to a specific target tempo (little by little). More recently, I'm using it to help me fit a trill inside the space of a beat and there's no way I would be able to clean that up without the tick, tick's help.


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Originally Posted by Talão
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ranjit
You don't need to use the metronome, just count. Imo it's preferable.
The main purpose of the metronome is to count with a steady rhythm which is not the same as just counting. Also, some people think their rhythm is steady but it isn't and the metronome can help them with that.

I fully agree with this. When I'm first learning a piece and getting it under my fingers, I just count in my head or out loud (depending on the need). Later on, I use the metronome for evenness throughout the piece (several times I thought I was even but realized I was accelerating around the middle), and to bring a piece up to a specific target tempo (little by little). More recently, I'm using it to help me fit a trill inside the space of a beat and there's no way I would be able to clean that up without the tick, tick's help.

When my classical guitar teacher started his studies at Juilliard, he told his teacher that he did not need to use as metronome, as his rhythm was excellent. She, a world class soloist, said, Oh really?, and stuck a metronome in front of him. He was aghast to learn that his rhythm was not perfect.

I was embarrassed at last week’s lesson to see how much I was rushing. I should know better by now. It so so tempting to never use a metronome but that’s not a good idea.

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Larry
I suspect many of us here think ‘oh, I don’t need the metronome, I can just count’ snd then are embarrassed to find out we really do need the $*#! Thing, I still have a love/hate relationship with the metronome, but I’m finally resigned to it


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Originally Posted by LarryK
I was embarrassed at last week’s lesson to see how much I was rushing. I should know better by now. It so so tempting to never use a metronome but that’s not a good idea.
I totally agree! I check myself often, especially when I’m practicing for performance. I’m always slightly off if I ignore it. 🙄 I also use it to force myself to practice slowly at an even pace. I need a lot of discipline. 👍


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by LarryK
I was embarrassed at last week’s lesson to see how much I was rushing. I should know better by now. It is so tempting to never use a metronome but that’s not a good idea.
I totally agree! I check myself often, especially when I’m practicing for performance. I’m always slightly off if I ignore it. 🙄 I also use it to force myself to practice slowly at an even pace. I need a lot of discipline. 👍

I don’t think anybody is immune. I remember a young classical guitarist who was surprised to discover that she was slowing slightly in long pieces. She was advanced and played at a high level. She attributed the slowing to fatigue. I think that makes sense, as the small muscle groups definitely fatigue, just like the large muscle groups.

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