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#940751 - 08/22/07 02:19 AM Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Mile Hi Steve Offline
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I don't know if this is possible, but if it is, I was thinking it would helpful to know some advice on what music topics/skills lend themselves to being more easily learned while being self taught versus identifying topics/skills that are more suited to learning while taking lessons. I am currently approx at a late elementary - early intermediate level. I may be entering the self taught phase for a while and wonder what skills are more suited to self taught versus what skills are best left to lessons.

For example, it believe I can do a fairly decent job learning the notes of the staff on my own.

Thanks.


Previously known as NorwegianForest a long long time ago right here in this very forum.
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#940752 - 08/22/07 02:45 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Any music theory can easily be self-taught. A book I recommend is Alfred's Essentials in Music Theory. It comes in 3 volumes, so you can decide where you'd come in (or you can buy all 3 in one book).

You may also be able to do scales, chords and arpeggios, at least get the basics. As long as you have the correct fingering, that can be self-taught as well (I believe there are several books that show the fingerings for all key signatures).

Choosing repertoire may be a little harder at your level. I would say that you should choose music that looks like it is something you can play. There's nothign wrong with stretching yourself a bit, as long as it's not too far from what you are capable of doing now. The only proble is that wehn self-teaching, you may develop some bad habits or get stuck, and frustration will set in. If at all possible, try and find a teacher who would be willing to let you "check in" every once in a while, say, once a month or so if regular weekly lessons aren't possible for you. They can at least keep you on the right track.


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#940753 - 08/22/07 03:57 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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I agree that theory can be easily taught without instruction. Pieces can be memorized and fingering can be worked out.

However, I disagree with the idea that technique is a good thing to try on your own. You will be able to memorize notes and fingerings, but that is only one part of technique. If you are serious about learning the piano, then tone production is the goal of technique, and this is frustratingly difficult to learn...even with a professional instructor.

If you are not serious about learning the piano, then just have fun with music, nothing wrong with that.

If it is a financial issue, then really zero in on the theory, and listen listen listen to good pianists untill you are in the place where music can be a priority.

I tried to teach myself 8 years ago, for about 4 years...and I was disciplined. When I got fed up and began taking lessons, I had moments every lesson where something completely clicked, and I could not imagine how I managed without this new information. I learned more in one year than the previous 4.

Don't set up any barriers for yourself. Get a teacher(preferably registered) If you don't you'll never know what you may have been capable of!!


Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
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#940754 - 08/22/07 06:29 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Norwegianforest wants to fly ... bravo!

Knowing how highly individual each and every pianist measures up to the formal teaching regimen ... it is a brave and exciting stage to throw off the apron-strings and take responsibility to "go it alone".

In everybody’s secret heart is a wish to master a keyboard favourite ... why not use the bountiful help of the Forum to attain this goal.

#940755 - 08/22/07 11:05 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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All this teacher-taught, self-taught stuff. I really don't get it. I had one of the best teachers around and still learned most things myself. Teaching is one side of a process. Learning the other. A teacher presents the material (leads the horse to water). The student learns the material. Any student who waits to be lead won't get far. Any teacher who does not self-teach themselves (ha,ha) is a poor teacher.

Teacher, student, who's who? I know it's very 70's, but we're all in the same boat.

Is someone who takes advice from Piano World still a self learner? Is someone who uses a book? Is someone who uses a textbook in school one?

Or sadly, is it just financial?


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#940756 - 08/28/07 02:37 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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anything can be self-taught, so does the piano playing, because there're plenty of resources you can use to do just that: internet, youtube, books (theory/technique/music) and anything. the only hard things left are self-discipline and follow through, and the only thing that one who self-taught cannot get is 'feedback' or 'judging yourself' part, even with aid of video/audio recording, because one cannot always tell a certain technique is good or bad unless watched by a professional.

i had self-taught before, and would do it again if i have to, but in the mean time i treasure my teacher greatly for his advices and help.

#940757 - 08/28/07 03:11 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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As this is the "Piano Teacher's Forum," it's not very likely that teachers are going to line up and tell you to learn the piano on your own. However, it is true that it is the student who does the learning, not the teacher. Of course, there is lots for you to study on your own. You can start learning about musical history, and the history of the times when composers lived. You can start learning music theory. There are numerous texts available, written at easily understandable levels. You can learn about musical forms and nationalistic forms. You can learn music aurally, that is, by listening to recordings, so that you become acquainted with different styles (we used to call this music appreciation when it was taught in elementary and secondary school).

What about self-teaching an instrument? Of course, it's possible. How do you think we got to where we are today? But why on earth would you want to reinvent the wheel, when it's so much easier to learn piano with the help of a qualified teacher? Chopin and Liszt developed very advanced playing techniques, but they based it on a very solid foundation, which they learned from their teachers. When you self-teach from scratch, you have to learn what Bach and Scarlatti learned, then add to it what Mozart, Beethoven and others added to it, then discover what Chopin and Liszt added to it. In the end, it's a decision you have to make - Do you want to become a top notch player in a reasonable amount of time, or do you want to spend your entire life trying to rediscover what's already been learned?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#940758 - 08/28/07 08:42 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Forgive me for finding the foregoing diatribe just so much flagrant piano teacher propaganda.

It is high-handed subterfuge to lace the pro-teacher argument with a Bach/Chopin potted history... when the nitty-gritty aim of every young hopeful is a secret wish ... to freely play keyboard favourites independent of frills or apron-strings .

Teachers conveniently hide the fact that the inherited antiquated notation never allows this to happen ... with the rare exception of the few with freak aural memories (concert pianist material) ... by comparison 99.9% of us are reduced to laboured sight-reading ... hours of endless practice to come close to mastering a keyboard favourite ... but this we can do at home ... and perhaps reach out in a supportive emergency to the Forum.

If only piano teachers could guarantee a full and rich keyboard life to their students after they’ve done with them ... but in making a
living at $40 a lesson ... why spill the beans?

Sorry chaps ... stirring!

#940759 - 08/28/07 10:24 AM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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John, btb is right. If only I could find a teacher who could hand me down Mozart, Bach, Chopin I'd travel half the world. To paraphrase btb - it's taking advantage of the youngster's innocence offering such things (Jack and the Beanstalk?).

$40 a lesson? I charge $60!


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#940760 - 08/28/07 12:14 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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I'm a senior in high school, and I've done both, flown solo and studied with teachers. On the whole, they're right. I can tell you three of my teachers were absolutely useless and not worth studying with, and that's why I don't study with them anymore. My first teacher seemed to think I would have to stay with her if I wanted to continue study, but she found out that you might want to try assigning interesting pieces before your student leaves. My current teacher serves a couple of purposes: 1) She gets me into competitions, and she puts her students in two recitals a year. It is ALWAYS preferable to have a performance and a deadline to really streamline your practice. Also, she is helping me to prepare, finacially and music-wise, a senior recital before I go to college. 2) I am responsible to her every week, even if it's one of those hectic ones where life seems to be whirling around you. Yeah, everyone says it's easy to get yourself to do something, even something you love, but it's not. Read about all the novelists out there who love to write but find themselves procrastinating. Of course, like us, when they find themselves stretched for time, they devote all their free time to writing, as we do to practicing. 3) My teacher guides me into keeping up a varied repertoire. I can say I would be able to do it, but I know after a year by myself all the pieces I could play well would probably be by Debussy. 4)This is not a reason I stay, but I'll tell you I've been playing for ten years, and without the foundation that I got in the beginning, I would have gotten nowhere. Maybe you can drop a teacher by the time you can play Fur Elise, let's say, but before then someone's got to show you where to put your hands, and someone's got to really show you the difference between piano and forte, and you need that feedback.

So, if you can't afford a teacher, I'm sorry. I basically played on my own. I kept up in the jazz band at school, so there was always something to practice. I just played whatever I could get my hands on, chorus music, the few pieces I owned at the time. You can do it, but as a student I would say teachers aren't just advertising, they do play an important role in your studies. They know what they're talking about. As for what everyone else is talking about, I wouldn't bother with history. Yeah, it's nice, I took the course and I loved it. But no matter how history goes, if you simply put pieces in a chronological order, like Bach->Beethoven->Chopin, etc. you can see how technique and style developed over the years and that's all you'll really need. Theory is wonderful to me, but I'm a composer and a singer. Are you going into these too? Scales you should study, be sure to get the correct fingerings for all of them, major, harmonic minor, melodic minor. Make sure you have a metronome (I know I probably don't need to point that out). And do your best. Read widely. If there's anything you're not sure about, it's your job to find out about it. You don't have a teacher to get you that kind of info. As always, the decision comes back to you. I don't know how much you like that, sometimes I hate to make decisions. But everything's in your hands now.

I hope you have the best of success. In the end, the music reigns supreme, whether the musician is self-taught or had a teacher. Focus on the music, and you'll be heading in the right direction.


Piano Hero Encore Rocks the 1800s!

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Bach Prelude and Fugue in Bb Maj, D min, and C Maj from Bk I
Mozart Sonata K.280
Brahms Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2
Bartok Six Roumanian Folk Dances
Prokofieff Visions Fugitives Op. 22

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#940761 - 08/28/07 12:20 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Quote
Of course, like us, when they find themselves stretched for time, they devote all their free time to writing, as we do to practicing.
2008, an ideal teacher will also practice their art. Liszt famously gave up practicing but I kinda get his point. For the rest of us mortals...


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#940762 - 08/28/07 12:45 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Hi klutz,

At today’s conversion rate of R7.24 to the Dollar ... your fat $60.00 piano lesson fee would be equivalent to a Pretoria R434.40 ... and imagining standing in your plutocratic shoes ... working on 10 lessons per day and 20 working days per month ... with 20 students that would haul an annual income of R208,512.00 ... enough here to buy a brand new BMW ... and a tankful of petrol if Bush doesn’t invade Iran.

But don’t you think you might be charging too much ?... I know that you have risen in posh society ... to become Her Majesty’s Royal Musician at Buckingham Palace ... what’s the grub like at the Palace?

#940763 - 08/28/07 12:57 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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btb, I used to charge 50 bucks an hour but a mature student insisted, as she'd just got a raise, in paying 60. I gave the extra 10 back but she insisted.

Any established teacher in London who thinks a lot of themselves charges at least $90. I charge less than 60 for a friend's kids.

I just gave my Golf GTI away. I had to choose between an extra pupil or losing the car. I'm very selfish with my time.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#940764 - 08/28/07 01:53 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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btb, why do you insist that teaching is a racket? Most teachers I know have the student's best interests at heart, and don't get rich off of teaching. I charge $18/half hour lesson. I teach my students improvisation, composition, theory, sight-reading, and while giving them repertoire to help them progress, I always try to find at least one piece they will enjoy working on at any given time.

You obviously have been burned, and so it is probably best that you study alone. I studied alone for 10 years until I realized that I was stuck, and then returned to lessons. No one can learn everything from one source/teacher, and so I expect that all of my students will move on at some point, and that is fine. No one is held captive at my studio through guilt trips or any other manipulative techniques. I only want students who want to be here.

Even if you think that I charge too much, you must understand that your calculations are off. You do not consider how expensive it is to live in certain places. If the cost of living is a lot higher, then prices in general are higher. The average median income for women in my area is $24,303. On a good year I'm lucky if I make $20,000, and that includes playing/singing for weddings, accompanying vocal competitions, accompanying at churches, etc. I'm not complaining, but I am pointing out that you cannot compare apples to oranges. It costs more to live in large cities. Students drop out over the summer, cutting one's income down by 1/3. Students graduate and go off to college. There are so many factors that are taken into consideration. I know of no piano or voice teacher who can afford to drive fancy cars on their income. We do it becuase we love it. Are there bad teachers out there? Sure. But don't lump the good in with the bad.


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#940765 - 08/28/07 02:06 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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btb, why do you insist that teaching is a racket?
For most teachers it is a racket.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#940766 - 08/28/07 02:31 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Morodiene Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Quote
btb, why do you insist that teaching is a racket?
For most teachers it is a racket.
Do you know most teachers to make such a statement with any accuracy? I would think not. The best you can say it most teachers you know are or aren't something. And most teachers I know, as I stated before, have their student's best interests at heart, and continue to learn and try different songs to keep their interest, refer them to another teacher when they've done all they can with a student, and encourage their students so that they can enjoy the process of learning.


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#940767 - 08/28/07 02:45 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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In the United States, that would mean an annual income of just under $30,000. After taxes, that leaves $20,000. Enough to by a nice Honda Civic, provided you don't eat and live in a box for a year.

Quote
Originally posted by btb:
Hi klutz,

At today’s conversion rate of R7.24 to the Dollar ... your fat $60.00 piano lesson fee would be equivalent to a Pretoria R434.40 ... and imagining standing in your plutocratic shoes ... working on 10 lessons per day and 20 working days per month ... with 20 students that would haul an annual income of R208,512.00 ... enough here to buy a brand new BMW ... and a tankful of petrol if Bush doesn’t invade Iran.

But don’t you think you might be charging too much ?... I know that you have risen in posh society ... to become Her Majesty’s Royal Musician at Buckingham Palace ... what’s the grub like at the Palace?


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#940768 - 08/28/07 02:52 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Somebody must be doing something right in piano teaching, because many of us have students who have been with us for a long time. I have 3 with 7 years, and 2 with 5 years that have continued in study with me although we moved last October. It is a longer driving time one way than most of us would put up with for piano lessons, the distance is only 7 - 9 miles, but on roads that become gridlocked during commuter time a one way trip can be 30 - 45 minutes, which affects anything after 3 PM weekdays. I did lose 2 students during the past winter because of the traffic and weather conditions.

My students pay my rates faithfully - paying for a quarter, half year, or year in advance has been the "norm" over the years in my previous location. Is this a sign of "disgruntled" clients?

I am rebuilding my piano studio and hope to have the same statistics at this location.

I would wish for everyone who teaches with integrity and has given value to their students to not think of the mockery some here would like to make of our chosen career. I find some of this detestable when generally assigned to all teachers.

When you find a music teacher not to your liking, you vote with your feet, any bad mouth applies only to your own bad experiences, and does not transfer to those of us who are held in esteem by our clients and our peers. It is specific between you and the teacher you are talking about.

We don't earn the money you think we do, as expenses for business operation and maintenance, and music activities and supplies take a chunk, as do taxes and putting money away for our retirement. It is not a walk in the park. I think most of us manage our money with careful consideration.

It seems to come down that most of the ranters think it's about money. It's about love of music, dedication, hard work, and forgiving those who trespass on our reputations without knowing us. I know an insult when I hear one, and they are being passed out wildly today. If what I am saying here today is insulting to you, so be it.

I am not trying to depend those who are poorly prepared for piano teaching, or unorganized, or not giving much for the money spent, or just plain detached, dull, cold, or sour in their demeanor.

"Great Students Deserve Great Teachers!"

Betty Patnude

#940769 - 08/28/07 02:52 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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And most teachers I know, as I stated before, have their student's best interests at heart
Are you sure they're not taking a sneeky look in their pocket books much of the time?


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#940770 - 08/28/07 03:08 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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A "sneeky look"? Where did that come from? By racket, it is usually a term meaning that the person is a con artist. Making promises and not delivering with the intention to be fraudulent. Taking a "sneeky look" has nothing to do with it. Many people of all professions are concerned about monetary issues, putting food on the table, roof over their head, etc. And yet it's piano teachers who are singled out as somehow racketeering? And all this coming from a teacher. Perhaps it is more a reflection on oneself than anything else, since you do not offer lessons for free. :rolleyes:


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#940771 - 08/28/07 03:25 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Have you ever heard: "My lessons are free, it's my time you are paying for"?

I must object to the insufferable, irrascible, provoking comments being made here. It is offensive to me.

In your small little corner of the world, are you part of the solution or part of the problem?
My small little domain is my sanctuary, what is yours to you?

Are you equally capable of giving a sincere compliment as much as you can supply scathing criticism?

Betty Patnude

#940772 - 08/28/07 03:53 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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I could settle for a Honda Civic ... Kreisler.

My beef with piano teachers is that they don't deliver the prime goods ... as earlier stated

"the nitty-gritty aim of every young hopeful is a secret wish ... to freely play keyboard favourites independent of frills or apron-strings."

Please forgive the sharp return to the battle at Yorktown ... at no time could I ever suggest that piano teachers were money-grubbing con-artists .. but talking frankly ... they can be terribly, terribly "nice" ... and in the isolation of their
well-meant piano lessons tend to lose the plot .. the whole object of the exercise should be to graduate fully capable, enthusiastic and confident students.

#940773 - 08/28/07 03:57 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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btb said:

"...the whole object of the exercise should be to graduate fully capable, enthusiastic and confident students."

I can very much agree with that, btb.

Betty

#940774 - 08/28/07 04:22 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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btb, whole heartedly agree. There seems to be some raw nerves out there. The music profession has always, since time immemorial, had it's share of charlatans.

Quote
Most teachers I know have the student's best interests at heart
Morodienne, remember the road to heck is paved....


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#940775 - 08/28/07 04:50 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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arpeggio4 Offline
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I am self taught in almost everything I play. I also teach. But, I know what I am capable of and what I am not capable of. I am extremely honest with my students and parents about my expectations and capabilities. I keep my fees low based on my level of training and inform my students that I am a stepping point for the next level of their training. I do not presume to tell my students that I can make them into a Mozart or any other prodigy. I am always prepared to pass my students along to the next level, which is always a requirement for learning new aspects of the field.
Most extremely professional teachers would never take on a beginner student anyway,unless they showed extreme promise! My main goal in teaching music is to instill a strong love of the arts, whether it be music, art, dance or theater that my students choose to go on to as their main goal. Most students are diverse in their studies and ultimately end up doing something else. I do not care what they choose. The arts are all relative and one hand helps the other. The reason for doing any kind of music is for enjoyment and self expression. So long as my students develop a passion for music, I know that they will have everything they need for continuing through the boring part of drills, theory or history.
Because they have a passion for it and strong desire to learn!!!
We can't direct the wind we can only adjust the sails and harness it's power.

#940776 - 08/28/07 05:07 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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arpeggio4 Offline
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On another subject. I would like to know a general opinion from most people about piano's stored in houses by the ocean. How does this affect their long term playability? If the piano does not hold a tune for more than a year does it mean there is slipping in the tunning pegs based on the constant moisture, bad strings or could something be wrong with the sound board?? How do you tell when something is wrong with the soundboard? I would have to assume it has something to do with the way that it resonates & aplifies? I previously owned a

#940777 - 08/28/07 05:09 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
btb, whole heartedly agree. There seems to be some raw nerves out there. The music profession has always, since time immemorial, had it's share of charlatans.

Quote
Most teachers I know have the student's best interests at heart
Morodienne, remember the road to heck is paved....
You neglected to quote the rest of what I said in the same sentence: "...and continue to learn and try different songs to keep their interest, refer them to another teacher when they've done all they can with a student, and encourage their students so that they can enjoy the process of learning." Which qaulifies that it is not only best of intentions, but they also do whatever they care capable of to follow through on those intentions. Please try to keep things in context when you quote.


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#940778 - 08/28/07 05:16 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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arpeggio4 Offline
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arpeggio4  Offline
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On another subject. I would like to know a general opinion from most people about piano's stored in houses by the ocean. How does this affect their long term playability? If the piano does not hold a tune for more than a year does it mean there is slipping in the tunning pegs based on the constant moisture, bad strings or could something be wrong with the sound board?? How do you tell when something is wrong with the soundboard? I would have to assume it has something to do with the way that it resonates & aplifies? I previously owned a wonderful upright that was completely rebuilt. It was an exciting learning experience to watch. But, I would never want to have to pay for all that work just to have a cheap piano! I am currently looking at a Koler & Campbell baby grand 20+ years in the situation I stated above and don't want to waste my time if it will need a complete overhaul can you help? P.S. My teaching salary would never allow me to purchase a Steinway or any good piano brand new so I have to resort to cheap ones or throw aways! Ah, what I wouldn't give for my old rebuilt one!It had wonderful sound and action and was so easy on the hands!

#940779 - 08/28/07 06:04 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Morodiene Offline
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arpeggio: it all depends on the humidity fluctuation. I would just be careful that you try to keep humidity constant. I use a damp-chaser drying bar on my grand and a room humidifier in the winter when needed. Still, I do need to have the piano tuned 6 months to a year. I'm very sensitive to when my piano is out of tune, so perhaps I'm picky. But I've heard once a year is common.

To find out if something is wrong with the soundboard, all you need ot do is look at it. It shoudn't have cracks, but if it does it may not be the end of the world. My current pianos both have cracks, but they are minor and don't affect the sound, and really, an old piano is bound to have some.

What's your budget? I would recommend buying a refurbished Yamaha. They are very inexpensive, and if you keep the humidity under control, you'll be very happy with them. I paid about $7k for my 6' grand.


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#940780 - 08/28/07 06:16 PM Re: Learning music topics: Self taught vs Lessons  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Betty Patnude  Offline
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Keyboardklutz:

Definition of Charlatan: Imposter, Fake, Fraud, Swindler, Con Artist, Quack, Counterfeit, Pretender, Sham.

Which musicians or piano teachers are we talking about here - since "time immemorial"?

We can disagree with philosophies and interpretations of music and be polite about it, but to go as far as you have in "charlatan" causes a reaction in me.

Exactly under what conditions do you label someone a charlatan? And, who gets to label charlatans...a court of law? If we were to find a charlatan, what would our recourse be?

Betty

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