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Posted By: Ido Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/02/20 05:52 PM
Hi all,

Not a teacher here - I've been studying piano for a little over three years, mostly by learning classical pieces and taking whatever I can from each piece.

I would like to improve my musical freedom on the piano in terms of being able to:
1. quickly understand what's going on theoretically in each piece - e.g. chords, harmony - and not just on paper - but in my fingers (I do analyze my pieces but not on the spot, far from that)
2. experiment with possible alteration of the piece
3. transcribing songs by ear
4. improvising
5. improving my reading, to speed up the learning of new pieces

In general, be more fluent, musically. I know some theory, and have a good ear, but feel restricted.

I realize that these are long term goals and would like to re-structure my lessons to reflect them better, because I will only make progress in something if the lesson somehow covers it.
And I do wish to continue learning pieces, just not 100% of the time.

My question is what would you do during a lesson in order to strengthen these areas? How would you organize/divide the lesson to make a direct, measurable progress in these areas?

I have a teacher who is very flexible and open to requests, I just want to get some ideas from you first.

Thanks!!
Posted By: Peter K. Mose Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/02/20 07:24 PM
Ido, very few piano students have such laudable, comprehensive goals. And very few piano teachers are broadminded enough to accommodate such goals.

But you have such a teacher, it seems. And as an adult learner, you are in charge of your lessons as much as you wish.

To me the major impediment - as you imply - is time. I think you would need two one-hour private lessons a week to embrace such a broad piano curriculum. And/or possibly a second teacher, who is more verse in pop music and/or music theory.
Posted By: Andamento Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/02/20 07:58 PM
Hi Ido,

I'm curious: Why do you want to get ideas first from people who have not seen/heard you play, rather than from your teacher?

Originally Posted by Ido
In general, be more fluent, musically.


Your teacher would have a better idea of what's hampering your fluency than we would.

Originally Posted by Ido
I know some theory, and have a good ear, but feel restricted.


We don't know what theory knowledge you possess, nor what you mean by saying "I...have a good ear, but feel restricted."

Originally Posted by Ido
I realize that these are long term goals and would like to re-structure my lessons to reflect them better, because I will only make progress in something if the lesson somehow covers it. And I do wish to continue learning pieces, just not 100% of the time.


This is something you should run by your teacher. We can't help you with restructuring your present lesson format to something else with such limited knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. (And no amount of writing about them will substitute for actually seeing you playing.)

Originally Posted by Ido
My question is what would you do during a lesson in order to strengthen these areas?


There's no single answer to strengthening the areas you mention. Teachers tailor their instruction to their students' unique strengths/weaknesses/needs.

Originally Posted by Ido
How would you organize/divide the lesson to make a direct, measurable progress in these areas?


I organize my time during lessons according to each student's individual needs. Music theory, for example, might be 1/6 of the lesson time, or 1/3 of the time, or something in between or outside of those bounds. It depends, too, on how long the student's weekly lesson lasts. A 30-minute lesson might get only 1/10 of the time for theory (3 minutes). Students taking 45- or 60-minute lessons might get, say, 10 or 20 minutes, respectively, for theory. Depends on goals, time available, and other factors.

Some weeks the time structuring may vary, too, even for the same student. More emphasis on repertoire one week; theory another; technique yet another. A flexible teacher, while having a general lesson structure in mind, will also be thinking on his/her feet, adjusting as needed in real time, according to how the lesson unfolds.

I second Peter's recommendation that doing two one-hour sessions a week would much better help you reach your goals.

Originally Posted by Ido
I have a teacher who is very flexible and open to requests, I just want to get some ideas from you first.


I would recommend you start by telling your teacher what you wrote in this post. Ask her/him what s/he believes will help you achieve these goals.

Best wishes to you.
Posted By: Ido Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/03/20 07:46 AM
Hi guys,

I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.
I'll try to provide more details and focus my request:

Quote
I'm curious: Why do you want to get ideas first from people who have not seen/heard you play, rather than from your teacher?


The thing about my teacher - he can really teach me anything. But I need to know what to ask. Sure, he has some predefined structure to his lessons, which he will go for if the student hasn't provides special requests. Asking in the forum is a way of getting ideas from various people and by that, realizing what can be done. Of course I'll consult the teacher, but I feel (as can be seen from my initial post) that I cannot state my goals very clearly. Seeing what is actually done by other teachers can help me have more practical idea of what I need.

Quote
We don't know what theory knowledge you possess, nor what you mean by saying "I...have a good ear, but feel restricted."


I understand what chords are derived from the scale degrees, basic modulation techniques, etc. I can also identify chord types and scale degrees by ear. I can transcribe any melody by ear. Harmony - much much less. Both are not quick enough to allow me play songs by ear as I hear them, on the fly.

Quote
This is something you should run by your teacher. We can't help you with restructuring your present lesson format to something else with such limited knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. (And no amount of writing about them will substitute for actually seeing you playing.)


True. My teacher can point my weaknesses (you can see/hear me play in my youtube channel bellow - average beginner I'd say). I'm not asking you to design a lesson structures specifically for me - let me be more specific:
When you say, "Music theory, for example, might be 1/6 of the lesson time" - what do you actually do? I try to understand how to fill the lesson time. If the teacher tries to teach my the 'dry' theory, it will not stick. What can I do <in the lesson itself> which can get this theory and knowledge from the paper to my fingers? What exercises can be assigned to me that I can work on at home and then bring to the next lesson (as done for classical pieces)?

BTW, I'd love to have two lessons a week but with little kids and demanding work hours I'm thankful for having even one lesson per week smile

I hope it's clearer now smile

Thanks!
Seeing that list I'd suggest you ask your teacher to work half of every lesson on improvisation. Teaching improvisation will also inevitably include some practical theory that you wish.

I don't see any point in spending valuable lesson time on ear training. You can use smartphone applications to improve your harmony recognition and song transcription.

To quickly understand what's going on in a piece you need firstly to play all common chords from a note with inversions every day, preferably with a score. It takes time.
Posted By: Ido Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/03/20 08:39 PM
Thanks! I can work with that. More suggestions are welcome.
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/04/20 11:08 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Seeing that list I'd suggest you ask your teacher to work half of every lesson on improvisation. Teaching improvisation will also inevitably include some practical theory that you wish.

I don't see any point in spending valuable lesson time on ear training. You can use smartphone applications to improve your harmony recognition and song transcription.

To quickly understand what's going on in a piece you need firstly to play all common chords from a note with inversions every day, preferably with a score. It takes time.


I agree with most of that. I think what you _want_ to do is more aligned with jazz / pop playing, than with classical playing. Something you might try:

. . . Get a copy of "Improvising Blues Piano", by Tim Richards.

. . . Take it to your teacher, and start working through it with him/her.

It's well-organized, and rewarding.

Recognizing harmonies -- that takes time!
Posted By: Ido Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/05/20 07:16 PM
Thanks Charles, I appreciate your help!
Posted By: gingko2 Re: Help me re-structure my lessons - 04/10/20 03:03 PM
Hi Ido,

I’m not a teacher but a learner with similar goals. Just sent you PM. I’m a fan of Ron Drotos’ keyboardimprov.com
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