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Posted By: jamiecw PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 03:04 PM
Hi all,

So long story short, due to various economical reasons I had to cancel my online piano lessons and I am looking at what should my next steps be.

A bit of background on me, I am a grade 6 ABRSM student learning with online tutors for the last 4-5 years; whilst there's no denying that all my lessons have achieved the goal of passing all the ABRSM exams taken thus far, I feel I am not as good as a player as I'd like to be (not as good, in the sense that I can't play pieces as lyrical and as precise as professionals do, instead I splash on notes more than I like and I am told I use a license to alter the pulse as I like, so I was told); that coupled with the loss of a piano teacher I am now contemplating online courses.

I use Piano Marvel and find it okay for learning new repertoire but I do not feel I am becoming a better player; and thus, enter Piano Career Academy, having seen the online free material on their site and YouTube, I must say I am intrigued and my question is for people who have used or currently using this what should I expect? Will it give me the holistic approach to get better at playing and then being good enough to carry on with grades 7 & 8 or will it fall short (mainly on the former not so much the latter as I now have enough experience on what preparations are needed for an exam and can I am diligent enough to follow these through)?

Look forward to hearing some opinions whether positive or negative and why they are so.

Thank you,

Jamie
Posted By: ranjit Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 04:54 PM
I think PCA would be a good idea from what I've seen. Also check out YouTube for useful videos on technical issues.
Posted By: Talão Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 06:00 PM
I'd reach out to forum member Animisha because she knows PCA very well.
Posted By: dogperson Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 06:01 PM
There are members here who have taken the PCA lessons; I’m sure you’ll get some actual-experience feedback. 😊
Posted By: Moo :) Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 09:26 PM
Are you iondon Jamie? I know some people who attend group lessons and this can cater even for diploma level pianists. It is set by standard so you should be able to join at your standard and progress. It is also available online. It is also more affordable being in a group.

https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/performing-arts/music/piano-and-keyboards

I suspect you are too advanced for this piano academy lessons. If you want to progress to higher grades then you may be better off for a lesson a month. I learnt almost nothing after I stopped lessons after grade 6. I could only play at the same level. I returned to lessons as an adult and after after 5 years lessons I can play grade 8 and slightly over now.
Posted By: Moo :) Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/10/21 09:29 PM
This was not from citylit. I only tell you as I know sometime who goes there who is quite advanced but can't afford a teacher also. I hope you find a way to continue learning without a teacher. There is a pianist called antune who makes helpful videos and he posted one about a Scarlatti sonata. It would better to look at that I think you are good enough to learn some pieces from this alone. The Scarlatti sonata k1 from yesterday is probably too hard though but others are great. And it's all free.
Posted By: Animisha Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/11/21 11:47 AM
Originally Posted by Talão
I'd reach out to forum member Animisha because she knows PCA very well.

Hi Jamie, here I am!

Yes, I have been a student for more than three years now.

Originally Posted by jamiecw
I feel I am not as good as a player as I'd like to be (not as good, in the sense that I can't play pieces as lyrical and as precise as professionals do, instead I splash on notes more than I like and I am told I use a license to alter the pulse as I like, so I was told

Yes, PCA is very good for improving your technique! There are quite a few students like you, who have taken exams or who otherwise have progressed, who come to PCA in order to improve their technique. The best way of accomplishing this is to give yourself a couple of months, maybe half a year, in which you forget all about grades 7 & 8, and to start from lesson one in the Beginners' course. Now this is not an easy decision for some, but those who go that road generally understand and pick up the technique very well, and move through the Beginners' course at a fast pace. It is also highly recommended that you regularly submit a recording of your playing for feedback.

However, it is also quite possible to chose a couple of pieces that are at your level, and work with them. And watch technique tutorials at the side.

The great advantage of PCA is that you can watch the videos as many times as you need, and don't have to remember what your teacher told you or showed you. However, it is not a place where you will be guided towards the ABRSM exams. But you can watch the lessons (all lessons are immediately available to you), learn pieces that you submit for feedback, and improve your technique tremendously.
Posted By: jamiecw Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/11/21 03:43 PM
Thank you Animisha and Moo - some interesting food for thought there..citylit sounds interesting but will be remote for me as I am not based in London.

PCA still sound appealing and Aminisha seems to be happy with it - choices, good to have a few!

Thanks again all.

J
Posted By: Sundew Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/11/21 05:32 PM
Hi Jamie

I presume you have seen the list of lesson tutorials and masterclasses and the extensive FAQ which are freely available on you-tube

My progress with PCA is slow(my choice) but I am seeing improvement through applying her technique in my other pieces. There is such a wealth of information on her site and it is constantly being added to. Sight reading and scale courses too which I have not yet opened.
It is recommended that however advanced one is, one begins at the beginning as Animisha says above.
Black Friday is looming. It might be worth waiting. I bought a black Friday offer a couple of years ago and the amount I pay remains the same so long as I stay a member, which I am very happy to do. It worked out at the cost of roughly 7 piano lessons.
Posted By: jamiecw Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/12/21 05:26 PM
Originally Posted by Sundew
It is recommended that however advanced one is, one begins at the beginning as Animisha says above.
Black Friday is looming. It might be worth waiting. I bought a black Friday offer a couple of years ago and the amount I pay remains the same so long as I stay a member, which I am very happy to do. It worked out at the cost of roughly 7 piano lessons.
I forgot about the Black Friday offers - I did send them an email asking some questions but no one replied..still so far I am reading 2-0 on positives vs cons.. :-)
Posted By: Beansparrow Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 05:51 AM
PCA is a course that builds solid fundamentals, listening and music analysis skills. It is also a mindset changing course that teaches you how to learn. So no matter how "advanced" a player you are there is something to take away from the course. Personally this knowledge helps me "unlock" the understanding from other courses such as Josh Wright's tutorial pieces.

What PCA is not:
- It does not teach a student to game exams and get your qualifications fast.
- It is not a "learn to play Chopin in 10min for beginners" course.

What PCA is:
- It adopts a Russian school of playing, to sum it to the most basic goal, it means able to produce a beautiful tone from the start.

In my area, 5-finger method teachers are a dime a dozen. But a Russian or similar methodology teacher, that is a rare resource and usually audition based only. YMMV.

On an ending note, this is not saying the Russian method is the ONLY method and all others are bogus. Different learning works for different people. It depends on your own learning preference and pianistic goals. There is a monthly option any way.
Posted By: Bart K Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 09:22 AM
Originally Posted by Beansparrow
Russian school
I wish people stoped using meaningless marketing terms such as this.

This term has come to mean so many different things that it is essentially meaningless. There is nothing in the movements or methods presented by Ilinca Vartic or other Russian teachers which is uniquely or exclusively "Russian" and many reputable non-Russian teachers are teaching the same elements. The label "Russian school" is essentially a marketing gimick to give an aura of authority and lure naive students. I am not saying that these teachers or methods are bad, just that there isn't anything special about them.
Posted By: Sundew Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 10:03 AM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Beansparrow
Russian school
I wish people stoped using meaningless marketing terms such as this.

This term has come to mean so many different things that it is essentially meaningless. There is nothing in the movements or methods presented by Ilinca Vartic or other Russian teachers which is uniquely or exclusively "Russian" and many reputable non-Russian teachers are teaching the same elements. The label "Russian school" is essentially a marketing gimick to give an aura of authority and lure naive students. I am not saying that these teachers or methods are bad, just that there isn't anything special about them.

From the PCA faqs

'The Russian piano school is a holistic system of musical education that was developed in Russia (and other countries of the former Soviet Union) during more than 150 years of cultural evolution.

Like all phenomena, this school did not appear out of the blue. Some of its roots were 'imported' from Europe - for example, the Italian school of bel canto, the German tradition dating back to Bach and Beethoven, or the expressive and technical piano innovations introduced by Chopin, Schumann and Liszt (to name just a few). Other roots go even deeper: the melodious Russian folk music, the expansiveness of its breathtaking nature, the archaic Orthodox chants and majestic bell tolls. Yet other roots stem from the intellectual pursuits, philosophical views and even existential dilemmas that dominated the Russian culture of those times.

The Moscow and Saint Petersburg Conservatories can be considered the 'cradles' of this school
...........
we cannot draw 'clean' lines to separate our school from a Western Conservatory-level one. Some principles do overlap - while others are still quite unique.

Also, no two people are the same - and each Russian-trained teacher and performer has a unique 'blend' of knowledge and skills." '


etc


There is a great deal more for those who are interested in investigating further. I am not particularly advocating PCA, I use it and I like it, and it offers a good online classical approach imo. There are plenty of online methods that are not classical based and I think those who are naive are more likely to be sucked in by 'learn piano in 6 weeks' hype than the heading 'Russian School.'
Posted By: Bart K Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 12:35 PM
Sorry, but I am still deeply unimpressed and unconvinced. At this point with the evolution of recording and information technology all those different traditions have long ago blended into a single world wide musical musical tradition. There is no such thing as a "Russian school" anymore and its use in relation to piano pedagogy is just a marketing gimmick.
Posted By: Beansparrow Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 01:18 PM
Marketing or not, some of the posts here have enough information to set the expectation for TS to decide if PCA is of any value to his goals. If you think all music education is one and the same, it’s all good as well.
Posted By: Animisha Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/14/21 03:35 PM
This is just not correct. The "Russian piano method" is not just a marketing gimmick but deeply ingrained into the teaching at PCA.

BTW If you go to their facebook site, https://www.facebook.com/PianoCareer, two days ago there was a black friday offer.
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/19/21 09:11 AM
I feel I need to try to bring some clarity. Ilinca Vartic, the PCA founder, refers to the particular method for beginners which is informally called "Nikolaev's school". It was created and first published by Alexander Nikolaev (1903-1980), Natalia Lyubomudrova and a group of other professors of Moscow conservatory in 1950. They published a methodology book called "The essays on methods of learning to play the piano" ("Очерки по методике обучения игре на фортепиано") and also a book with collection of pieces for their method, named "The piano school" ("Школа игры на фортепиано") which became immensely popular. This method, created for children bearing professional music careers in mind, was in fact dominating Russian piano pedagogy for about three decades, with majority of all state music schools using it at some point. My mother studied piano using this method. My grandmother, a music professor, was teaching teachers how to use this method. I think it became ubiquitous at some moment. The book was printed in millions of copies at that time, in Russian and other languages. In other languages it was often called just "Russian school". And although, as far as I know, many advanced music schools abandoned it in 1980's in favor of more fast-paced methods, and I already was not taught with it in 1980's, but there are music teachers who swear by it even now. For example I know that one of adaptations of the method is currently very popular in Germany ("Die Russische Klavierschule", link). That said, it's worth mentioning that the original method was tailored towards music schools with almost every day music lessons (including theory, solfeggio, etc.), not towards private teaching, so it may need some adaptation. The method is focused on building solid musical and technical foundation and originally it was very classical music-centric (zero jazz or something), modern editions and adaptations are more versatile musically.

Ilinca Vartic says she is from Moldova, which is a former Soviet Union republic. I have no doubts that she was taught there using Nikolaev's method, and judging by the videos I saw, I conclude that she was taught well and she knows what she is talking about. I may highly recommend her videos for beginners. (I'm not affiliated with her in any way.)
Posted By: Animisha Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/19/21 10:30 AM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Ilinca Vartic says she is from Moldova, which is a former Soviet Union republic. I have no doubts that she was taught there using Nikolaev's method, and judging by the videos I saw, I conclude that she was taught well and she knows what she is talking about. I may highly recommend her videos for beginners. (I'm not affiliated with her in any way.)

Actually, she has told in a video that she originally was not taught according to the principles of the Russian piano school, but when she was admitted to the Academy, her teacher re-trained her according to those principles. This was of course not easy for her, but I think that for her as a teacher, this was almost an advantage, because she became very aware of the differences between these principles and how she was trained previously, and therefore she can explain it all very well.

Neither I am affiliated with her in any way, but I have been her student for more than three years now.
Posted By: Sundew Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/19/21 10:44 AM
Thank you Iaroslav for that information. Very interesting.

I have just watched her intro video to her scale course. Much more inspiring than "here is the c major scale go home and practice it" I had from my teacher.
Posted By: jamiecw Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/25/21 10:20 PM
Originally Posted by Animisha
This is just not correct. The "Russian piano method" is not just a marketing gimmick but deeply ingrained into the teaching at PCA.

BTW If you go to their facebook site, https://www.facebook.com/PianoCareer, two days ago there was a black friday offer.

Thank you very much Animish (& Sundew) I have just taken the Black Friday offer and going through some of the beginner vids. So far I’m liking what I see!

J
Posted By: Animisha Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/26/21 09:42 AM
Originally Posted by jamiecw
Thank you very much Animish (& Sundew) I have just taken the Black Friday offer and going through some of the beginner vids. So far I’m liking what I see!

Great Jamie! Now my next recommendation. Practise a couple of days more and then make a recording of one of the pieces of lesson 1 or 2, that you submit for feedback. The pieces may seem overly simple but it is good to find out right from the start if you understood everything correctly.
Posted By: Richrf Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/26/21 03:39 PM
I was using this online course on and off for about two years. At the end, I was paying for it, but hadn't used it for many months, so I terminated my subscription. I'll give you some brief bullet points about my experiences:

1) The method employed is completely different than the chord/melody approach employed by most methods. It is carefully crafted to develop dexterity and flexibility at the keyboard and equally on both hands. It attempts to develop a totally different body/mind skill set, relying heavily upon imagining the sound in the mind and transferring that sound to the instrument using a relaxed and dextrous whole body motion.

2) The first few months are most valuable. After that, the instruction becomes repetitive. Most valuable are the demonstrations so that one can listen to and observe how the teacher Vartic creates the music. However, and this is a big however, the demonstrations are buried in the tutorials, and extremely frustrating to find and repeat many times. It's the primary reason I stopped the course. I then turned to the German version channel available on YouTube, which has just the demonstrations without any instruction. I actually found this more useful.

3) I am not sure how much teacher Vartic is involved anymore. She is not nearly as active on YouTube as she once was. Others may be better and to comment on this.

4) I think at $30/month it is a good value. I wouldn't spend more than that though for anything beyond the first three months.
Posted By: Animisha Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/27/21 01:22 PM
Originally Posted by Richrf
The first few months are most valuable. After that, the instruction becomes repetitive.

For me, it is more than three years now and still very valuable.


[quote=Richrf] I am not sure how much teacher Vartic is involved anymore. She is not nearly as active on YouTube as she once was. Others may be better and to comment on this.

She is still very much involved and creates new tutorials, or answers questions about tutorials. In addition she has hired another teacher to give feedback.
Posted By: Hammertime Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 11/27/21 05:18 PM
For the premium price of PCA I would expect not only high quality teaching but also a high quality experience regarding filming and editing. Sadly the latter lets PCA down. Many of the videos are old, poorly filmed and the choppy editing really makes watching Ilinca hard work. This is just my opinion and YMMV.
Posted By: Ajax69 Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 12/04/21 11:05 AM
Originally Posted by Animisha
For me, it is more than three years now and still very valuable.


[quote=Richrf] I am not sure how much teacher Vartic is involved anymore. She is not nearly as active on YouTube as she once was. Others may be better and to comment on this.

She is still very much involved and creates new tutorials, or answers questions about tutorials. In addition she has hired another teacher to give feedback.

This is also my impression. In the process of deciding wether to enroll at PCA or not I posted a question in the remarks field on one of her free YT videos. I got an answer from her within a couple of hours. And not just a formal "Thank you!" type of answer. During these two hours she actually had noted that I in that time had joined the PCA and bid me welcome.

I'm starting at beginner level after playing "self teaching" a couple of years. I have high demands and expectations on my teachers after a long guitar career. And I must say that so far the PCA method - and teaching - is meeting my expectations more than well. In fact I much prefer this way than having a so-so personal teacher next to me (which I also tried).

What I find unique at PCA is the heavy focus on HOW to play the piano. Not just WHAT you should try to learn. This suits me perfectly, since I need all help I can get to develop my technique. (There may be other online schools that have the same pedagogic method, but I haven't found any after a year of deep search. YMMV).

Anyway OP - best of luck on your continued piano journey!
Posted By: Ralphiano Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 12/05/21 01:47 AM
Has Piano Career Academy restricted its reach to Facebook members only?

Per a post earlier in this thread, I saw the pre-announcement of a coming "Black Friday" offer. So, I went to the PCA website and did all that I could to express my interest, including sending a message per their on web message facility.

However, I heard nothing in reply. It is now several days past Black Friday, and I am disappointed in their failure to reply.

I am not a member of Facebook.

Does anyone know of a way to learn about and take advantage of the Black Friday offer without sacrificing my life and privacy to Facebook?
Posted By: Ajax69 Re: PCA - what can I expect? - 12/05/21 07:08 PM
Originally Posted by Ralphiano
Has Piano Career Academy restricted its reach to Facebook members only?

Per a post earlier in this thread, I saw the pre-announcement of a coming "Black Friday" offer. So, I went to the PCA website and did all that I could to express my interest, including sending a message per their on web message facility.

However, I heard nothing in reply. It is now several days past Black Friday, and I am disappointed in their failure to reply.

I am not a member of Facebook.

Does anyone know of a way to learn about and take advantage of the Black Friday offer without sacrificing my life and privacy to Facebook?

Hi Ralph.

Sorry not being able to help. I'm a member of FB, but had not seen - nor looked for - the PCA FB site. I picked up PCA on Youtube and went from there to their home page where I enrolled in their program.

Maybe a PM to Ilinca could set things straight for you?
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