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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927705 12/05/08 12:43 PM
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TimR writes:

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Sure, John points out they can be doing the fun stuff on their own. But if a student has 30 minutes available to practice, I'll bet he feels guilty if it's not lesson material. The only way I can see around that is to make some of the other stuff lesson material.
Define fun stuff.

Try Prokofiev; now that's fun!


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927706 12/05/08 12:48 PM
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Sure, John points out they can be doing the fun stuff on their own. But if a student has 30 minutes available to practice, I'll bet he feels guilty if it's not lesson material. The only way I can see around that is to make some of the other stuff lesson material.
Has 30 minutes - or makes time for 30 minutes? IF I have so little time, then I want to make sure that every minute is spent well. Bring on whatever piece or study will let me learn and practise the skills that I need to the max, and let that be the criterion. Hang the "fun stuff" if I'm that busy for a less busy time in my life. If I have the skills, then I can play any piece I like.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927707 12/05/08 12:54 PM
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Originally posted by Chris H.:
Pop music I am not so keen on. I don't mind if a student has a pop song they want to learn and will help them with anything they bring to the lesson. However most of the arrangements are truly awful. They are not remotely pianistic and even when played well do not really sound right. The simplified versions are even worse. Also I have very limited knowledge of current pop music and can't even begin to help them with selecting pieces. From what I have seen and heard there is not a lot to be learned about playing the piano from it.
The problem with pop music is that it is such a broad genre which is basically useless as a categorization (as much as classical is)
In a way, whatever music which is not played on a theater by an orchestra is pop. New-melodic or even new-classical music is pop. Sometimes we tend to associate pop with Britney Spears or Spice Girls, but there's so much more and more interesting music in this genre. According to a panel of music critics I saw, pop music is where we have seen the novelty, freshness and ramification once peculiar of classical music, not the contemporary orthodoxy.

Of course, the problem with pop is that it is not usually thought for piano and transcriptions are not the best way to learn to play. That's why I would give piano-pop a chance but I agree with you that trascribed pop is often unpianistic and not so good learning material.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927708 12/05/08 12:57 PM
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Diane, since I'm in the RCM as a student, I'm wondering whether a teacher cannot still teach other things. Are you thinking of things like fake books and improv as being mandatory in the examinations, or an option? I can imagine that some very traditional teachers would not be comfortable teaching that material.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927709 12/05/08 12:59 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
The problem with pop music is that it is such a broad genre which is basically useless as a categorization (as much as classical is)
In a way, whatever music which is not played on a theater by an orchestra is pop. New-melodic or even new-classical music is pop. Sometimes we tend to associate pop with Britney Spears or Spice Girls, but there's so much more and more interesting music in this genre. According to a panel of music critics I saw, pop music is where we have seen the novelty, freshness and ramification once peculiar of classical music, not the contemporary orthodoxy.
I listen to a lot of different styles of music, and rarely do I find anything that has the ingenuity, technical skill, and overall musical affect as does "classical". Much of pop music is repetitive and formulaic to a fault, often appealing to a lowest common denominator and not requiring any effort on the part of the listener to be engaged. I don't have anything against other styles, but I just haven't found many that have qualities I would consider on par with Beethoven, for example.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927710 12/05/08 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by Morodiene:
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Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
[b] The problem with pop music is that it is such a broad genre which is basically useless as a categorization (as much as classical is)
In a way, whatever music which is not played on a theater by an orchestra is pop. New-melodic or even new-classical music is pop. Sometimes we tend to associate pop with Britney Spears or Spice Girls, but there's so much more and more interesting music in this genre. According to a panel of music critics I saw, pop music is where we have seen the novelty, freshness and ramification once peculiar of classical music, not the contemporary orthodoxy.
I listen to a lot of different styles of music, and rarely do I find anything that has the ingenuity, technical skill, and overall musical affect as does "classical". Much of pop music is repetitive and formulaic to a fault, often appealing to a lowest common denominator and not requiring any effort on the part of the listener to be engaged. I don't have anything against other styles, but I just haven't found many that have qualities I would consider on par with Beethoven, for example. [/b]
They're based on completely different philosophies. Pop music is the heir of village music, which had a specific socializing role usually at dinners and parties. Several classical is like that but most of classical is a bit more intellectual, more suited indeed to the environment of the teather where you can sit down and listen in peace attentively. Even minimalist music may appear formulaic and repetitive but it's a conscious stylistic and philosophical choice, not a "lack of content". Pop and classical can't be compared. One is not better than the other, just like oranges can't be better than apples and viceversa, each has its unique distinctive flavour. The best orange will never be enough apple.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927711 12/05/08 02:22 PM
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classical is a bit more intellectual, more suited indeed to the environment of the teacher where you can sit down and listen in peace attentively.
That sounds like it is suited to the environment of the student too - for listening, but especially for being able to immerse yourself into it. There is little pleasure in music that doesn't have some substance to it. I had piano lessons for 6 months when I was a teen and at first I was given popular music. I could barely force myself to practice. Finally I screwed up the courage to bring in something that I liked - it might have been Mozart or Clementi. The teacher changed books so that there was classical music and there were some studies. Then piano was enjoyable again. This other music was just so empty. There was nothing to discover. I don't know why it is assumed that every young person (which I was) only wants to play that kind of music.

The bottom line is that there are different kinds of students who like different kinds of things. Age is not necessarily an indicator. I think I am more tolerant of non-classical music now than when I was young, and am even starting to enjoy some of it.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927712 12/05/08 02:26 PM
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I agree, keystring. I've enjoyed classical music since I was a child. Sure I listened to pop music, but I always enjoyed classical music to play for myself.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927713 12/05/08 02:37 PM
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Actually, one of my sons opened my eyes to popular music by guiding me in my listening. Not all pop music is shallow, and as was written before, it is a broad spectrum. Of the things I remember, there has been: a song about unrequited love in which the bass line is set up in a way to create a sense of diminishing completion, the tonic being totally missing in the last cadence; a subtle interplay between words and meaning with both seeming codified; implied melody in the harmony by what wasn't there; symbolism in altered pitch influenced by Indian ragas. It's what happens when you combine a young person with a fair bit of music theory and awareness, and an open mind. My view of pop music changed at that point. What I learned in particular is that not all of it is shallow, and what is forced on us in shopping malls is not all that exists.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927714 12/05/08 02:45 PM
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Originally posted by keystring:
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classical is a bit more intellectual, more suited indeed to the environment of the teacher where you can sit down and listen in peace attentively.
That sounds like it is suited to the environment of the student too - for listening, but especially for being able to immerse yourself into it. There is little pleasure in music that doesn't have some substance to it.


There's a lot of substance in popular music, only of a different kind than what a classical listener seek in music. Personally I seek both the kind of substances and relate to both according to the circumstance. Music is a language. Sometimes it's interesting to seek what lies beneath the structure, sometimes you just want to listen what the musical dialogue is all about and ignore technical nuances.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927715 12/05/08 02:58 PM
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The important thing is to not say that students of any age like one kind of music, agreed? Reading that classical music belongs to the "environment of the teacher" gave me an odd feeling in that respect. Besides, I bet there are lots of teachers who have varied tastes in music, and maybe more open than a student because with greater knowledge you are also more open to more things.

For playing music, I want to have enough that I can immerse myself into. If that is there and I can bring it out, then practising will be enjoyable. Listening is not the same thing as playing.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927716 12/05/08 03:00 PM
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Originally posted by keystring:
Diane, since I'm in the RCM as a student, I'm wondering whether a teacher cannot still teach other things. Are you thinking of things like fake books and improv as being mandatory in the examinations, or an option? I can imagine that some very traditional teachers would not be comfortable teaching that material.
Yes!!!!

You make a great point!

Most classical pieces, once learned are "extremely" hard to keep up. Unless you play them every day! But most of the popular pieces, kids learn, for whatever reason, are easier to recall, and are more often better received than classical. Like TimR said, classical was contemporary way back when! How true!

And, as an example of how classical festivals look down on anything that isn't "classical" I registered my students in the RCM music festival with non-classical piece that were categorized as "recital" piece! You can imagine how shocked my students and I were when I got a letter from the RCM's festival office stating that they would not be allowed to play their piece, and that they would appreciate it very much if in the future I would send only students who have a "classical" piece prepared! That is, and was unacceptable! A few other words come to mind, but I'll hold back!!!!!!

Also, I have 2 adult students who both passed their Grade 9 Royal Conservatory exam and are now coming to me for lessons because they aren't happy with just playing the 3 pieces they played for their exam. They want to improvise and play from lead sheets and they haven't a clue how to go about it. I just think they should not have come to me for "more" lessons because shouldn't they have gotten this in the first place?

You make a good point keystring! Most traditional teachers can get you to play a specific classical piece to perfection . . . because they've heard it played the same way, over and over and over and over again!

Think I'll stop now! But I sure have a lot more to say about this!


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927717 12/05/08 03:44 PM
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Most of us grew up using the language "Classical" and non-classical or pop or jazz or folk. I have come to prefer using the terms art music and social music. Art music being defined as music written for its own sake, and social music being define as music written to support something else, such as dance, worship, social causes, youth causes, etc.

These terms seem to me to remove judgmental tones like "high brow" (remember that one?), vulgar, etc. and sort music into categories based on the reason for composition. It says nor implies anything about validity. Folks wanting to argue that can go over the "Let's argue validity" forum.

When I teach, I use music which is fundamentally composed for training students to develop facility. As students progress, I try to use music which is composed specifically for piano, not adapted, which is often extremely awkward. Most of it is art music, as there isn't very much social music composed specifically for advancing piano students. However, there is quite a bit of instructional material which incorporates various social music idiom, and those are very helpful for students who are feeling socially awkward.

Diane wrote:
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Most classical pieces, once learned are "extremely" hard to keep up.
I find that an odd statement, Diane. At least, it's not true in my case. I find it no harder nor easier to return to a piece set aside years (make that decades) ago based on what it was written for. Difficult works take a few run throughs if being prepped for a performance, but I pick up and read through music I haven't touched in decades without any stress.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927718 12/05/08 03:47 PM
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By the way, Diane, I'm in complete agreement with you on the RCM festival. That seems to me something which should be elevated. If you have a student who can play, "Kitten on the Keys" up to tempo, they should certainly be allowed the chance to perform.

Here's a fun version of Kitten on the Keys


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927719 12/05/08 04:02 PM
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Originally posted by keystring:
The important thing is to not say that students of any age like one kind of music, agreed?


Age doesn't determine anything, let alone tastes.
Age has nothing to do with styles of music. The only reason why older people nowadays seem less likely to listen to pop modern music, is that they had already shut their openess to the new when it appeared. But this has always happened.
There were people who never learned to appreciate/use/relate to cash machines, televisions, cars, washing machines. Nowadays several older people can't relate or use the computer, the net and simply dismiss it as some kind of modern nonsense outside of their sphere.
Pop music communicates with everyone just like classical music or jazz, but differnet things strike different chords in different individuals

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927720 12/05/08 04:16 PM
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Most traditional teachers can get you to play a specific classical piece to perfection . . . because they've heard it played the same way, over and over and over and over again!
This is slightly OT - Is that how it's done in some quarters? I have always had to develop my piece according to my interpretation, though under guidance. I'm starting to get some new perspectives.

Back *on* topic, Diane. I am remembering now what short practice times I'm reading about in these forums. We were told, as beginners after the first few months, that a ** minimum of 3 hours ** practising per day was recommended - not half an hour to an hour. If you practice that amount of time you can easily encompass the RCM material and still have time to spare for plenty of other things. I wonder if that makes a difference.
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You can imagine how shocked my students and I were when I got a letter from the RCM's festival office stating that they would not be allowed to play their piece
That does not sound right. To be honest, I wasn't even ware that such festivals exist.

Have you noticed that the revised theory book has additional scales, including blues, expanded on modes, and created three pages on "popular chord symbols". They do seem to be trying to reach out a little bit from before. Is it a matter of education and awareness-creation, do you think?

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927721 12/05/08 04:33 PM
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Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
Diane wrote:
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Most classical pieces, once learned are "extremely" hard to keep up.
I find that an odd statement, Diane. At least, it's not true in my case. I find it no harder nor easier to return to a piece set aside years (make that decades) ago based on what it was written for. Difficult works take a few run throughs if being prepped for a performance, but I pick up and read through music I haven't touched in decades without any stress.
Sorry John, I should have been clearer in my statement. Was referring to playing a classical piece polished from "memory"! Yes I agree with you that it's no problem to refer back to a classical piece that we had worked on for months, and bring it back up to speed. But if I have my choice at a party and someone asks me to play something, chances are that I will play popular pieces as opposed to performing a classical piece that has to be played from memory on the spot!

My point is that most people take piano lessons to play what they want to play, not what the Royal Conservatory wants them to play.

Variety, jazz, blues, pop, boogie woogie, AND classical! I just want it all! laugh


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927722 12/05/08 04:59 PM
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Are Bach chorals social music since they were written for worship and thus sort of utilitarian? I am serious in the question.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927723 12/06/08 05:09 AM
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In my opinion and according to philosophies of art, art is everything which is supported by a need for creative expression. A 3 year old child drawing something on a sheet or creating an origami at the kindergarten is doing pure art. Actually according to some philosophers of arts the spontaneous creations of young children are the quintessence of artistic expession.

Modernism has showed us that even a telephone box filled with leaves or canned peas can be art. The point about common objects becoming art is very interesting. As long as they're used for their purpose they're not art, but every day commodities. But as long as they become a conscious mean of individual artistic expression, they're art. The problem with modernism is not showing us that even those things can be artistics, but (at some point) bypassing the creative process and using commodities randomly.

Music with a purpose is still art is supported by a need to express one's creativity. Trance music can be art, it only depends on the motivation of the creator. And even if music is used as a background, as a soundtrack, as a supporter for a social movement, it can still be pure art.

Likewise, lot of classical music, is not music created for the sake of it, but music supporting philosophies, ideologies, social settings and aggregation.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927724 12/06/08 07:30 AM
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Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
Likewise, lot of classical music, is not music created for the sake of it, but music supporting philosophies, ideologies, social settings and aggregation.
Hmm...I won't go that far, but as the hopeless Romantic that I am, I'm borrowing some ideas from Wordsworth. Wordsworth defined poetry as the "spontaneous overflow" of emotions, "recollected in tranquility." I think composers are doing the same thing using musical notation instead of words. And when a performer plays those written notes, the composer's emotions can be re-lived by anyone hearing the music, just as when you read poetry you re-live the poet's emotions.

I know this is a limited view on art/music, but it's the one that I prefer to live by. laugh


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