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I think there's a need for recognition of the various stages of proficiency different people are at on their journeys. It has obvious significance to the issues underlying this whole discussion.

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Originally Posted by Monica K.
Originally Posted by jotur
So, I'll vote with a viewpoint I made in an earlier post. It behooves us to appreciate that all of us are different, and to not insist that our way is the only way for "everyone" to do it.

JMHO, of course.

Cathy


Now I'm wishing I had simply quoted this to begin with and said "+1". Cathy's nailed the main issue, in my opinion: recognition of the various paths one can take in the journey toward piano, and respect for people's autonomy in choosing the path that is right for them at the time. thumb



Monica, Cathy, I join you both in a joyful AMEN! grin yippie .... as I go rushing back to the piano.

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Originally Posted by jotur
...It behooves us to appreciate that all of us are different,...
I'm not.

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Well, it looks like many of us here have managed to agree on a common-sense, respectful consensus on this.

Now, I hesitate to throw the cat among the pigeons, but what has previously struck me (and the reason I didn't want to join this thread) is the lack of respect sometimes shown on this matter.

Here's something that happened a little while ago, I will mention no names. Someone starts a thread, says that they have a piano and will start lessons in the future, but want to start playing now. What can they do? Well, several people reply, and I do too, and I suggest a way to begin to get come finger-co-ordination going, and to begin to train a musical ear. Somebody else posts that if the OP follows my suggestion, they will develop bad habits that will take months of practice to eradicate.

Perhaps I should also say that I am relatively new to the forum, and I don't know what kinds of topics come up all the time. Clearly I had hit a nerve in what I said.

I managed at the time not to respond in the anger I felt. But I can say now that I feel the post was sarcastic and disrespectful to me, as I had posted in good faith.

Now, I'm thick-skinned enough not to let something like this get to me. But I'm also amazed (as a newbie here) that people can get so het up about something like this. Someone else want to learn in a way that you don't think is right? Let them! smile

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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs


Perhaps I should also say that I am relatively new to the forum, and I don't know what kinds of topics come up all the time. Clearly I had hit a nerve in what I said.

I managed at the time not to respond in the anger I felt. But I can say now that I feel the post was sarcastic and disrespectful to me, as I had posted in good faith.


I've been finding this true myself. There's a certain amount of "clique-ish" and condescending behavior and it can be very frustrating.


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
that people can get so het up about something like this.
Yes, het up about art. For some, what else is there? For others, hmm...

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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
Here's something that happened a little while ago, I will mention no names. Someone starts a thread, says that they have a piano and will start lessons in the future, but want to start playing now. What can they do? Well, several people reply, and I do too, and I suggest a way to begin to get come finger-co-ordination going, and to begin to train a musical ear. Somebody else posts that if the OP follows my suggestion, they will develop bad habits that will take months of practice to eradicate.

I didn't see that thread, and agree that your suggestions about finger coordination and ear training seem innocuous enough that the response you describe does sound like an overreaction.

There's a fine line, though, between safe (and even beneficial) activities for new players and problematic (or even hazardous) ones, and a novice won't know the difference. Neither will the piano neophyte (nor the newcomer to Piano World) be able to distinguish between the sound counsel that predominates here and the specious suggestions regularly dispensed by at least one member.

Advice is sometimes given from a position of ignorance, incompetence, dogma and even malice instead of knowledge, skillfulness, open-mindedness and goodwill. I'm sure some people take that for granted and read what's offered with the appropriate filter; others, whether susceptible to snake oil or just naïve, do not.

I surely understand that people should take responsibility for themselves and their decisions. I also understand that art and artistry really are worth getting het up about! Unfortunately, inexperience means vulnerability to danger and nonsense alike. I doubt that those with the benefit of experience wish to control anyone's choices by counseling caution; I think instead that they hope to prevent damage that can and should be avoided.

Steven

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A really good mentor is invaluable, but it's much worse not to play at all. Never find excuses or reasons not to play.

Last edited by J Cortese; 07/22/09 01:16 PM.

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Having had a chance to contemplate the issue even further and poke around in my brain as to why I really think beginners (especially beginners) truly need a good teacher/coach/mentor in regards to the 'physically interacting with the piano' issues...I guess it's this...

Due to poor instruction as a child, I know how frustrating it is to get to a certain level of playing (say, intermediate) and "hit a wall" so to speak. To have difficulties that it seems I should not be having...for things to be difficult or impossible that really should not be.

Then to have to relearn things and correct, not only bad habits, but improper technique, takes so much longer and is about as discouraging as anything I can think of regarding piano. To have played (or at least thought you were playing) intermediate music fairly well and to have to go back to the beginning and relearn basic skills is disheartening.

It can just ruin any pleasure you get from playing.

So, since the people who bother to come here and post (or who ask me in real life) are generally excited about piano and learning to play, I'd like to see them avoid that particular pitfall. When you are just starting, there's no way to know what is going to end up 'grabbing' you about piano and no way to really guess what your goals might be down the road.

Even if you start playing "just for fun" and think you'll never need to have 'this' skill or want to play 'that' kind of music...you might change your mind as you learn to play and get more involved with piano. So why not get the best start possible to be able to play the widest variety of music?

I have violin envy. I took some lessons in my early 20's. When I was looking for a teacher and told someone that I "only wanted to play bluegrass" that person (an accomplished violinist) answered "Find the best teacher you can. Learn the best technique you can. Then you can play ANYthing you want." I ended up loving classical strings music, which I NEVER expected to do. Too bad I can't play violin worth a darn.


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I just started viola. It's an absolute joy transferring my knowledge of piano technique to strings. I find every few seconds re-adjusting my posture as the body tries to wriggle out of consciousness (become tense). Go back! Intonation is the ultimate teacher.

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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
I just started viola. It's an absolute joy transferring my knowledge of piano technique to strings. I find every few seconds re-adjusting my posture as the body tries to wriggle out of consciousness (become tense). Go back! Intonation is the ultimate teacher.


keyboardklutz: Viola? Cool... Do you have the capability of recording two tracks (one with you playing viola and one with you playing piano?) I bet hearing that back would be a great teacher as it gives you feedback as to how you'd sound playing a duet...good luck with the viola!

Last edited by angelojf; 07/23/09 07:32 AM.
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Not quite. The best intonation comes from hearing the note you are playing resonate with the open strings. Much of the time you tune to tone not pitch. Another instrument could well distract. But I shall be doing duets with others.

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I have mixed emotions about this topic. I stated off with a teacher years ago. However, I find that today there are so many great resources available that I wonder if you need a teacher. We now have DVDs, MP3, YOU TUBE, etc... Also, if you are into learning some cool gospel, R&B, Soulful blues, good luck finding a teacher for that. At some point to play what you really like, you might be forced to teach yourself. Many great African American musicians are self-taught for this reason.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
The bottom line is that no teacher is better than having a really bad one.

This is why so many people prefer to teach themselves. They have had horrendously bad experiences with totally incompetent teachers, some of whom are equally nasty.

On the other hand, I have never spoken to any pianist who was lucky enough to find a really good teacher who did not feel the teacher was of enormous benefit.

There is a famous saying: "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client."

If you choose to teach yourself piano if you have the money for lessons and the opportunity to study with a really good teacher, then you have a fool for student.


Can't agree more! A bad teacher is worse than no teacher but a good teacher is invaluable! I have made tremendous progress both technically and musically since switching to my current teacher a little more than a year ago. I consider myself very, very lucky in this regard. smile

Last edited by SophieM; 07/23/09 04:14 PM.
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I agree. A good teacher would watch your progress carefully. I learned more with my current instructor than on my own. And it all started in a group class which eventually lead to private instruction.

- Mark


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I have taught myself in less than a year and am now learning to play the organ with a teacher. Even though a teacher is useful to correct errors and bad habits but after all, they cannot change them. They are there to give you guidence which, if you pay enough attention to spot it yourself, you correct yourself.

However, it does help to hear what things are meant to sound like and to be shown how the best way to play is. Teachers are also good for confidence boosting!

A teacher is not nessecary but is useful.

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Here is an interesting quote on the topic taken from The Contemporary Keyboardist from an interview with Charlie Banacos: " I don't think that anyone really needs a teacher! That may sound like a strange thing for a teacher to state, but I really think that if a person wants to play, he'll learn by listening, imitating, and altering, and comparing, and creating. I think teachers have a purpose and that is basically to save the student a lot of time. For example, I can show someone something in five minutes that might take him five years to put together if he tried on his own. Literally."

My experience would concur with the quote.

John Novello's Contemporary Keyboard book is a great resource. I have also just picked up his contemporary etudes for my students. Lots of great sight reading in different styles at an intermediate level, a resource that I feel has merit. -I do not own shares in his company.

Last edited by Pete the bean; 08/14/09 02:21 PM.
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Do you know how to stand? How to sit? How to walk? Then OK, you can teach yourself.


Hey...I thought you were against self-teaching due to the possible development of bad habits?


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Originally Posted by angelas
Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Do you know how to stand? How to sit? How to walk? Then OK, you can teach yourself.


Hey...I thought you were against self-teaching due to the possible development of bad habits?
So, you know how to do these things?

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I agree that it depends on the person, their goals, their enjoyment, and their physical feelings.

Here's the "just me" part:

I've been playing now for 4 years as an adult after 7-8 years of lessons as a child. I can't afford lessons, but if I could I would take them in a heartbeat. I have made very little progress since I got my piano. Why is that?

1. I don't have a weekly deliverable--needing to prepare for a lesson. So I often don't practice at all. A teacher would help me be more disciplined.

2. I tense up at passages that are difficult. I work them and work them, but I always mess up in the same places. I think it's like sports psychology--I think I'll fail, so I do. A teacher, I think could help me work through my brain.

3. After all this time, I still struggle with things like bringing out the melody. I sing alto, so I think part of this is because I LIKE hearing the harmony. But an objective, experienced listener could help me identify and correct.

4. My music director is a pianist, composer, and gives lessons. He plays all kinds of music from classical to jazz to show tunes, to folk. He's very positive and encouraging, and inspiring. I am not positive, encouraging and inspiring to myself. I would love to take lessons with him.

5. I like to play ragtime. My forearms literally ache after I play/practice. I gotta think I'm doing something wrong. I'm thinking a teacher could help me.

6. Being in a teacher's studio would give me an opportunity to play live recitals and possibly duets, which I would really enjoy.

So for me, if I could afford it, there would be no question at all. None.


Last edited by rustyfingers; 08/15/09 11:31 AM.

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