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#945159 - 01/15/08 08:52 PM Interview with a piano teacher  
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Akira Offline
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I thought this was an interesting interview with a piano teacher at USC. He seems a bit intimidating. Don't know if I'd feel comfortable with a teacher like this. Interesting what he had to say, nonetheless.

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#945160 - 01/15/08 09:19 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Oh wow! eek My favourite quote was "I'm not there to help you practise."

#945161 - 01/15/08 10:47 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Sort of seems like my kind of teacher. I do better under teachers that yell at me.


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#945162 - 01/16/08 02:21 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Thanks for posting that. He was my teacher's teacher. Based on his comments on integrated practice, he sure doesn't sound like someone who believes in practicing hands separate. LOL!


She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)
#945163 - 01/16/08 02:47 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
Oh wow! eek My favourite quote was "I'm not there to help you practise."
Much of what he says you'd take with a pinch of salt. Circumstances, even for him, will differ from lesson to lesson. Yes, those who reach a high enough level to become his students will have the imagination to know how to practice. Others, especially the young, will need help with this.

Thanks for posting Akira.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#945164 - 01/16/08 03:00 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Daniel Pollack has a history of annual clinics in Olympia WA that I would like to ask performers and piano teachers if they have attended these in the past.

I could do a little more web search and get some info, but I'd like to know a little first hand feedback if possible.

I've been in Washington State since 1981, and a member of MTNA since then, and I was not aware of his long term teaching here.

Thanks for any background and feedback!

Thank you for posting about Daniel Pollack, Akira.

Betty

#945165 - 01/16/08 09:35 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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I thought he had a good many things to say about teaching, actually. His comment about practicing made sense in the context that by that point, the student should already know how to practice. It is the job of private teachers- ones with beginner and intermediate students- to teach them how to practice, and progress practice techniques through advanced repertoire. I like his comment about being more than just a teacher, but being a mentor, and friend, a psychologist, etc. How true that is! I'd be very interested to hear him do a master class to see what exactly he does, because that's what matters more than what he says.


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#945166 - 01/16/08 12:13 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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I've played in masterclass for him before. Very smart man, a bit ambigious though. He did however, seem to be in a bad mood in this particular interview.

#945167 - 01/16/08 05:41 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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He is a coach strictly for advanced level players. He isn't friendly, he's dogmatic, and he takes it so seriously.

Many more clips with him:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Daniel+Pollack&search=Search


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#945168 - 01/17/08 02:01 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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I observed a master class with him. He is very articulate and persuasive. He quoted his own teacher, Mme. Lhevinne, in many instances. It's been several years, but I still remember MANY things he said from that master class, and I've appropriated his words in my own teaching: Just this morning, I told my choir to sustain the melody line and make it not "sag"; I told my other class to sing with dark "round" tone--two of the many words I frequently borrowed from Mr. Pollack. He is very inspiring. Too bad he charges too much for private lessons, or else I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to have him teach me piano.


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#945169 - 01/17/08 03:26 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Opus_Maximus:
I've played in masterclass for him before. Very smart man, a bit ambigious though. He did however, seem to be in a bad mood in this particular interview.
He didn't give off the impression to me that he was in a bad mood. I just took his demeanor as someone who is serious about what they do and has certain convictions.


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#945170 - 01/17/08 04:32 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by rintincop:
He isn't friendly
Right after I forwarded that link to my teacher who studied with him at USC, I got a lightning-fast and terse reply from him saying he wasn't interested in him at all, had "no respect" for him as a person, and that he was an "awful person." He didn't say anything at all about his teaching.


She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)
#945171 - 01/17/08 04:33 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
Too bad he charges too much for private lessons, or else I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to have him teach me piano.
Do you know what his hourly rate is? Just curious.


She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)
#945172 - 01/17/08 04:44 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by DDS24P&FOP87:
Quote
Originally posted by rintincop:
He isn't friendly
Right after I forwarded that link to my teacher who studied with him at USC, I got a lightning-fast and terse reply from him saying he wasn't interested in him at all, had "no respect" for him as a person, and that he was an "awful person." He didn't say anything at all about his teaching.
Unfortunately, people in the music world aren't often the nicest, and they can hold grudges. It happens to the best of people, so I don't really take one person's reaction as necessarily meaning anything, no offense. Just without knowing the particulars, I'd rather not judge either way.


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#945173 - 01/17/08 05:26 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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if he were my teacher for 1 day, either i quit or he quits me after that lesson... it's just too scary. he's for advanced students, which i'm not.

but it's interesting to hear the teaching philosophy from a teacher like that.

#945174 - 01/17/08 05:26 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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I don't know...having grown up in the musical scene of L.A, from what I know and hear, his reputation is not particularly high. I don't like his playing, and very recently a friend of mine went to play for him and he charged her 350$ for 45 minutes, and refused to make any critique on her playing, good or bad. I played the 4th Ballade for him a while back in a masterclass at the Colburn School when I was a senior in high school, and to be honest I don't remember much about what he said - I remember not actually understanding a lot of what he was talking about, and, while he was not terribly mean or strict, I do get the impression that he's not very genuine, and is - contrary to what he says in the video - quite frustrated indeed with the way his career turned out.

Then again, this is speculation, I have never actually studied with him for a long period, so I could be wrong.

#945175 - 01/17/08 05:27 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Unfortunately, people in the music world aren't often the nicest, and they can hold grudges.
Maybe it's more a piano/classical music thing. wink


She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)
#945176 - 01/17/08 05:30 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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ignore this smile


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#945177 - 01/17/08 05:32 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Wow...$350 for 45 minutes? That seems like something I'd pay for a lesson with Horowitz or something. I've never heard his playing, and that is a big part of what matters in the advanced level. Of course, the other part is what he can do as a teacher and facilitator. Sounds like you didn't learn much, nor did your friend.

**edited to add: Does anyone know what famous pianists have come from his studio? Certainly when someone has made a name for themselves at a good school, they'll get a lot of the most talented people out there by default. But if they can consistently produce excellent pianists, then that counts for something. Proof is in the puddin'! laugh


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#945178 - 01/17/08 05:35 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by DDS24P&FOP87:
Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Unfortunately, people in the music world aren't often the nicest, and they can hold grudges.
Maybe it's more a piano/classical music thing. wink
Could be, although I knew some real jerks in the jazz world too (and was a personal victim in the vocal world). I attribute it more to the "diva" mentality that some musicians have. It really gives the rest of us hard working nice people a bad name!


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#945179 - 01/17/08 06:17 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Unimpressive.

I tend to measure pianists like that by using the name-drop ratio. In other words, the number of interesting ideas divided by the number of times they have to drop their teacher's name.

Some people can get away with it. A colleague of Pollack's at USC often mentions Ms. Genhart and Mr. Mannheimer, but it's usually because he's giving them credit for a particularly brilliant idea he doesn't want to usurp.


"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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#945180 - 01/17/08 07:30 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by DDS24P&FOP87:
Quote
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
Too bad he charges too much for private lessons, or else I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to have him teach me piano.
Do you know what his hourly rate is? Just curious.
I asked him after the master class, and he said he charges $300 per hour. That was several years ago. He may have raised his rates.

I once studied with another big-name professor who charged me $150 per hour. I could afford only a handful of lessons with him.


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#945181 - 01/18/08 05:13 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Opus_Maximus:
I don't know...having grown up in the musical scene of L.A, from what I know and hear, his reputation is not particularly high. I don't like his playing, and very recently a friend of mine went to play for him and he charged her 350$ for 45 minutes, [b]and refused to make any critique on her playing, good or bad. I played the 4th Ballade for him a while back in a masterclass at the Colburn School when I was a senior in high school, and to be honest I don't remember much about what he said - I remember not actually understanding a lot of what he was talking about, and, while he was not terribly mean or strict, I do get the impression that he's not very genuine, and is - contrary to what he says in the video - quite frustrated indeed with the way his career turned out.

Then again, this is speculation, I have never actually studied with him for a long period, so I could be wrong. [/b]
Have you any idea what he did do for his money in that 45 mins? Also, did he show any generosity with his time?


John


Vasa inania multum strepunt.
#945182 - 01/18/08 04:06 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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I can relate to just about any master class pianist or teacher - they always have something that offers a new insight, a new way of saying it, or things to think about. Or they demonstrate their personality and character during their presentation.

The one that turns me off most quickly is the "ego" speaking. "I", "I", "I".

Another type that turns me off is the "mumbler" as though nothing being said is very important, or "I know you've heard this all before".

I have little knowledge of Daniel Pollack, but from what I'm reading about him here, I'm even more curious about him than I was previously. I'd like to think I'd find him interesting and contributing to my knowledge.

In my lifetime, I remember two performers who I did not enjoy (not that I saw them all - but I say quite a few). One was Kris Kristopherson and group - all dressed in black standing still on the stage - barely projecting to the audience. Even though I was writing notes about the performance for review purposes, I actually could find nothing to write about. Scratch that one.

The other was Peter Serkin, with Nehru jacket and love beads. He also played remotely and therefore, I listened remotely, and have nothing to remember from that occasion.

Mind you they said not a word in teaching - but their persona's were barely present and they didn't have much to give at those particular events.

Both events were about 25 years ago. To me, non-happenings.

Why do we relate to some and not to others?

Betty

#945183 - 01/18/08 04:44 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Betty - projecting and remote playing in which capacity - physical presence or the playing itself? If you closed your eyes and listened without the love beads and or the black immobile figure, would the performer have given a different impression? How we present ourselves on stage physically, even what we choose to wear, does make a difference and something that we who are still learning need to become aware of.

#945184 - 01/18/08 05:22 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Hi, Keystring,

I don't remember the program contents, I just never settled in to any part of it. They were wearing the fad clothing for the era, and perhaps what added to this lack of impression and nothing memorable, is that I have a loss of vision discrimation at twilight with dark colored vehicles they melt into the pavement for me until they turn their lights on. Maybe this was similar. With Kris, all members had the black turtlenecks and pants, shoes, so the head was visible and the hands somewhat. It may have been a very personal idiosyncracy on my part - but that's definitely how I remember the experience, it wasn't. Neither the music nor the person(s) communicated to me. Around the same time, I saw Neil Sedaka, and Andy Gibbs and the Brothers Gibb, and those were memorable songs and sounds and the entertainers were fantastic. (This is really dating me!)

At Neil Sedaka's intermission, the piano tuner came out and tuned for about 40 minutes before going on with the program. Even that part was interesting. No one seemed to mind.

Some performers seem not to be totally aware of the audiences experience - not so much on the professional stage - but definitely in the community level of performance. (Water bottles on the stage for the band, purses, next to their chairs on the stage. Scratching, waving to friends. Adjusting clothing. You know?

This is the 'critic - presenter' in me, who thinks recitals, performances, music, should be memorable in public. And, we're all in the mix together!"

Betty

#945185 - 01/18/08 05:33 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Would a single lesson with a great teacher help really?

I find that in order to help a student really, you do need to know him somehow. Masterclasses and single lessons with "amazing" people (not that Pollack doesn't seem amazing) seem somewhat overated to me.

I've had a few, masterclasses and can't say I remember them vividly. Or that I went home with some deep thought in mind. I would imagine that a 45 minutes lesson must be even worst to that account.

Is it just me with such thoughts?

#945186 - 01/18/08 06:35 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Thanks, Betty. I imagine that if the disembodied person in black had played powerfully and well, he would have reached his audience and even make them want to close their eyes in order to hear him better. Between the crowd-waving amateur musician, and the silent statue, I think I'd prefer the statue because he's not distracting. When we perform ourselves, we have to remember that we are visible to the audience - we are not just producing sound. When I was in various choirs, great attention was paid to how you walk on, in which hand you hold the music, when you open it (everyone together), when to close your music again etc. Proper dress, facial expression, they all are part of the show.

This does get away from the theme of masterclasses, however.

#945187 - 01/18/08 07:18 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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It's in the theme, Keystring. When you have the center stage, and you are the focal point, you must consider the listener who is participating with you. Whether it's communication in music, speaking engagements, tv camera interviews, or making introductions, or being a member of the chorus, all of what the audience sees and hears is their impression of you (singularly) and you (collectively).

If you are memorable, your speech or music is memorable, or your "act" is memorable, for all the good reasons, you will light up their lifes.

A few little missteps and you have shortened your "15 minutes of fame". (Andy Warhol).

Betty

#945188 - 01/18/08 08:38 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Nikolas:
Would a single lesson with a great teacher help really?

I find that in order to help a student really, you do need to know him somehow. Masterclasses and single lessons with "amazing" people (not that Pollack doesn't seem amazing) seem somewhat overated to me.

I've had a few, masterclasses and can't say I remember them vividly. Or that I went home with some deep thought in mind. I would imagine that a 45 minutes lesson must be even worst to that account.

Is it just me with such thoughts?
I would agree. Sometimes, there's not much that you can do within a master class. Many things take time to really get good results, and it seems like it's all just a bunch of "quick fixes" to satisfy the audience's need of hearing a dramatic difference.

However, I did attend one master class that was eye-opening, put on by instrument maker Keith Hill and pianist Marianne Ploger. I have yet to go to a master class that was as enlightening to the performer as it was to the audience as this was.


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#945189 - 01/19/08 12:38 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Hmm...I don't know...

My experience with master classes have been wonderful. Although I'm not a cellist, I observed Yo-Yo Ma at a master class once and I learned a thing or two from him that I could apply to piano, or singing.

As a teacher who always strives to find new ways of teaching, I found most of the master classes at our association's convention quite helpful. I don't think one session can help the piano student "take it to the next level," but I think the point of the master class is to teach the audience.


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#945190 - 01/20/08 09:33 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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#945191 - 01/20/08 09:34 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by drumour:
Quote
Originally posted by Opus_Maximus:
[b] I don't know...having grown up in the musical scene of L.A, from what I know and hear, his reputation is not particularly high. I don't like his playing, and very recently a friend of mine went to play for him and he charged her 350$ for 45 minutes, [b]and refused to make any critique on her playing, good or bad. I played the 4th Ballade for him a while back in a masterclass at the Colburn School when I was a senior in high school, and to be honest I don't remember much about what he said - I remember not actually understanding a lot of what he was talking about, and, while he was not terribly mean or strict, I do get the impression that he's not very genuine, and is - contrary to what he says in the video - quite frustrated indeed with the way his career turned out.

Then again, this is speculation, I have never actually studied with him for a long period, so I could be wrong. [/b]
Have you any idea what he did do for his money in that 45 mins? Also, did he show any generosity with his time?


John [/b]
Well..She was planning to audition to USC for Masters, and had wanted to study with him, so she wanted to play for him before the audition for coaching (a very common thing to do for what school you want to apply.) According to her, he simply heard her ENTIRE Program (Being an entire audition program it was about 45 min) Afterwards, he smiled, said Thank you very much, and showed her to the door. Presumably she was too shocked/intimidated to ask him for a critique (I didn't ask her why she didn't) .

But the main thing is that this whole business of charging people insane amounts of money is just something that is accepted amongst the elite of the piano world. I'm sure that one could learn just as much or more from many unknown piano teachers at state colleges and universities throughout the country who would charge less than 100 dollars an hour, but it's just the way prestige presents itself. I've heard Kaplinsky at Juilliard charges 450 an hour. Would I really get more from her than I could get from a well trained, experienced teacher at a number of other schools? Probably not. But since she teaches at Juilliard, she can get away with it, and people (or their parents) will be ready and willing to pay that because of the prestige associated with having a lesson with that person, not because of actual musical gain. But it can also boil down to the teacher's personal ego - I know another teacher at Juilliard who is only 150, and another who doesn't even charge. Pollack obviously feels he can get away with 350, so why not?

#945192 - 01/20/08 09:47 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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The ironic reality is the most famous piano teachers don't produce good students. Good students COME to famous "teachers" to help their careers. A famous teacher may alter the student's attitude a bit, and change the way they think about music, but anyone coming to study with a world class teacher will already be a world class pianist.

#945193 - 01/20/08 10:32 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Opus_Maximus:
The ironic reality is the most famous piano teachers don't produce good students. Good students COME to famous "teachers" to help their careers. A famous teacher may alter the student's attitude a bit, and change the way they think about music, but anyone coming to study with a world class teacher will already be a world class pianist.
Yes, that was my point exactly! But really, who are we to blame for such things? It's mostly the people who willingly pay the money that allow people to charge this much. But, it's their money to waste as they see fit. When it comes right down to it, the most important thing a person can learn is how to entertain/communicate with their audience (if they are studying performance), so no matter how much money you spend, if you don't perform well, it won't matter who you studied with or how much they charge per hour.


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#945194 - 01/21/08 12:18 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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i guess that some teachers, famous ones, think the more they charge the more important he/she looks, and thus they put $$$$ above their values rather comparing how much they charge to how much other famous teachers would charge. it's insane, and to me, no matter how respectful or well-known or famous a teacher is, if he/she charges that much, i would respect such a teacher much much much less than my teacher who only charges a fraction of that amount!

#945195 - 01/21/08 04:28 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Must go with rintincop on the high-handed approach of this expensive masterclass goof ... such arrogance must be the result of a deep seated inferiority complex ... perhaps the runt of the litter ... but discovering that his rare genetic aural memory allowed him to get ahead of the pack ... now he can wreak impatient revenge on the unfriendly world who first put him down.

His memory yardstick for masterclass enrolment is a skill held by very few ... aural memories for advanced keyboard are the possession of a scrawny minority ... most of us are delightfully scatterbrain (but artistically the salt of the earth) ... and with loopy memories (can’t shop without ticking the items off a list) ... and have to plod measure by measure with our sight-reading ... memorisation comes hard.

The offhand debunking of playing hands separately (considered a bad habit) deserves a hefty kick in the pants ... it’s the only way some of us know how to build up to the requisite tempo ... by building up muscle memory in one hand and throwing the role over to auto-pilot we are able to focus on the other hand ... doesn’t he just put his foot in it?

This chappie is a monster ... those scheming shrunken eyes are from standing too close to diabolical fires ... he likes playing God with a forked tail ... such postulating arrogance deserves a punch on the nose.

Avoiding this nerd is recommended ... thanks Akira ... feel better now!!

#945196 - 01/21/08 11:02 AM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Well, I don't say I totally disagree with him on hands separately stuff. I think as an intermediate student, it is essential. For advanced, students, however, I think it is something reserved for difficult passages, and not learning a piece entirely. I think this has to do with being able to sightread hands together. It is a skill that is a little uncomfortable at first to learn, but once you do it, it is much more efficient practice. Then you use the hands separate stuff for those tough passages that need your focused attention. Other than that, I agree with you btb.


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#945197 - 02/10/08 02:25 PM Re: Interview with a piano teacher  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Unimpressive.

I tend to measure pianists like that by using the name-drop ratio. In other words, the number of interesting ideas divided by the number of times they have to drop their teacher's name.

Some people can get away with it. A colleague of Pollack's at USC often mentions Ms. Genhart and Mr. Mannheimer, but it's usually because he's giving them credit for a particularly brilliant idea he doesn't want to usurp.
Absolutely. Given the circumstance, I mention Adele Marcus' name, for the few who remember her. But it is only when using a specific quote, like 'Don't do anything to the music; let the music do something to you', or, 'Technique is like money: it isn't everything, but without, you can't do anything'; or, 'Listen, don't just hear; look at it, don't just see it', or, 'In order to understand the invisible, one must carefully study the visible', or, 'Don't manufacture; play from the inside out', and 'We don't push sound into the piano, we draw sound from the piano'. (OK, that'll be $500!!) Kidding- I had the pleasure to teach a master class at San Diego State University this past week for nearly 2 hours. The students played very well, which included Chopin 4th Ballade, Mendelssohn Rondo Capriccioso, Rachmaninov Etude-Tableau in e-flat minor, and Beethoven Sonata in E-flat (Fantasia) 1st movement. After suggestions, their playing was transformed--very talented players. I remember (name dropping!) Adele Marcus teaching master classes, and how she was able to get the players to sound like new artists in the half-hour she spent with each. It's all about pulse, line, pedaling and sound. I always stress singing out loud (even if you have a horrible voice like me) and counting out loud. Then, record yourself and try to conduct yourself while listening back. If a teacher creates a supportive and constructive environment for the student, the results can be magical.

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