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Is any of this a help for the original question?

I was alone in writing in that the path to advancing fast is to make sure a student has proper foundations. This also implies that student is well guided by a good teacher who knows what he or she is doing. In which case this question might not even come up. In the very least, it should be looked at.

The only attention that my post got from any teacher who could have supported the main ideas, or critiqued them, was to say it was "too long to read". And yes, it was long. frown

I was accused of beating a dead horse, with lots of merriment. Well guess what? That horse is still being dragged into the streets. The premise is still being trotted out that there are no teachers who teach properly - and means of teaching are proposed, again with the premise that nobody does these things. The POINT is that the way to advance and get proper skills (see opening post -not just title) is through good guidance. So this is not some minor side subject. I'll even contend that it is the main one.

Is it really helpful to the question to figure out how often solos are performed?

This is the question from the first opening post:
Originally Posted by Musiqientist

In terms of playing, this student wants to build the strongest foundation of all necessary skills required to play the hardest works in the entire piano repertoire and wants to get to the highest level of playing they are capable of. I think the best way to start would probably be to build a strong base of all the necessary skills, for example technique. So what sort of repertoire should they start with .....

Is that question being answered?

Seeing this another way - If a new student came to your studio today and said "I want to get the necessary skills for playing, what repertoire will you give me?" would you answer the question in terms of repertoire, or do something else? I'll bet it's the latter.

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Originally Posted by keystring
If a new student came to your studio today and said "I want to get the necessary skills for playing, what repertoire will you give me?" would you answer the question in terms of repertoire, or do something else? I'll bet it's the latter.

You'd lose that bet - and probably more than once. Many of us have spent considerable time developing a general curriculum from which we draw repertoire necessary for the student's progression. However, in answering the potential adult student's question (or parent's), I would caveat it by saying that I won't assigned repertoire to no purpose. And likewise, I'll assign some repertoire that every piano student should know, regardless of whether it enhances technical skills or not (note - this is very seldom the case).


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Reports of the death of the solo piano recital are greatly exaggerated.

Here's one series (not all piano) in DC, which is something of a mid-market town as far as musical performances go:

http://www.wpas.org/genre/index.aspx

I imagine that the solo recital scene is a lot livelier in places like NY, London, and other larger cities -- perhaps even in smaller towns hosting large universities.


The term is concert pianist, in that you can, like Eddie van Halen (what a joke comparison), feed yourself by flying all over the world playing Beethoven Sonatas, Ravel, Islamey, etc.

No, the average contest winner, under the age of 40, cannot do that! Without an Artist in Residence gig, which are rare in themselves, most of these Gold Medal Winners would have to get a "Day Job" to pay the bills.

Do you think Andre Watts is Artist in Residence at Michigan because he likes teaching? When he was at Peabody, he didn't initially graduate because he refused to take a one hour course in piano pedagogy.

Accordingly, I am not going to con this young and talented soul into everything that has led everyone else to the classical piano music slaughter.

And that is, if one follows the modern conservatory road of repertoire, contests, repertoire, and then more contests, then when and if you WIN, you will eventually be making a "living" playing classical piano. That is major bull, and you all know it!

As stated in my other threads, I know what popular, even locally popular musicians make, in terms of annual income. Classical pianists, of a U.S. stature, do not even come close.

In the 1970's, Claudio Arrau was getting paid $5,000 for a performance, when your average rock stars were getting $10,000! And, the income discrepancy has gotten even worse, over the years.

Other than Lang Lang, no one even comes close. Bruno Mars sold out (75,000 tickets) at Reliant Stadium in Houston at an average ticket price of $75. You do the math.
What you describe here is not just the plight of the solo pianist. Artists of all media are struggling. The same dang sopranos get cast for principle roles all over the country while there are plenty of talented singers available to sing at A and B houses. Animation and CGI artists are now in competition with their counterparts in China and will work for much less than Americans who deserve to be paid a decent wage for what they do.

I do think part of the problem lies with music programs offered and most colleges and universities. They pump out people who aren't really prepared to perform after 4 years (no voice major with a bachelor's degree is ready to go on stage) - you've got to at least have a masters if not a doctorate to be taken seriously. Part of me wonders if that is just to feed other programs.

What other major in college recruits students for an industry in which there's little or no change of job placement after obtaining a degree? I think music and other arts belong in the conservatories and individual studios. /rant


Very well put - however, the pressure pot conservatories with the back stabbing that goes along with it, can destroy a good talent. Plus, Charles Rosen, and Malcom Frager both got their doctorates in foreign languages. John Nakamatsu has his two degrees in Germanic languages.

What we have in the U.S. is a system dominated by the National Association of Schools of Music and their 644 accredited institutions. As my former dean, Robert Freeman, at UT can tell you, over 56% of all degreed classical musicians are working in a field that has nothing to do with music.

The same could be said for your average psychology major, but then again, they didn't have to audition to get in, and then have to go through the mental stress of earning 131 credit hours for a degree for which there are no jobs.

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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by keystring
If a new student came to your studio today and said "I want to get the necessary skills for playing, what repertoire will you give me?" would you answer the question in terms of repertoire, or do something else? I'll bet it's the latter.

You'd lose that bet - and probably more than once. Many of us have spent considerable time developing a general curriculum from which we draw repertoire necessary for the student's progression. However, in answering the potential adult student's question (or parent's), I would caveat it by saying that I won't assigned repertoire to no purpose. And likewise, I'll assign some repertoire that every piano student should know, regardless of whether it enhances technical skills or not (note - this is very seldom the case).

Ok, I worded the question badly. What I bet was that when that student comes in, the first thing you would do is ask the student to play for you and do other things to assess what they know and can do, and then develop a program around what you find. What you present to the student may still be couched in terms of repertoire, but what you do with that involves loads of other things. It's the initial assessment that I was betting on, but I never mentioned it specifically (and should have).

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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook


I suspect that most better teachers help student learn to dissect music before just jumping in.


Hi, John,

This is what my current teacher and I do before starting a new piece. We study the form and chord structure, repetitions etc. You learn how the piece is constructed and where each part is going and more.

A R


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when that student comes in, the first thing you would do is ask the student to play for you and do other things to assess what they know and can do, and then develop a program around what you find.


If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Probably not a bad thing, few teachers are capable of making a drastically different program that is better or close to the established ones.

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
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when that student comes in, the first thing you would do is ask the student to play for you and do other things to assess what they know and can do, and then develop a program around what you find.


If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Probably not a bad thing, few teachers are capable of making a drastically different program that is better or close to the established ones.

When I write, I am assuming a good teacher. These may be a minority - how small I don't know. When you say "established curriculum" what do you mean? Established (created) by the teacher, or do you mean something that has been created by outside entities?

When I wrote the part that you highlighted, I pretty well assume that this is exactly what a decent teacher will do when he gets a transfer student and has assessed that student's strengths and weaknesses. One hanging point may be how you understand "program" and how I understand it. I was also describing something that I have seen, so I know it exists.

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Originally Posted by A Rebours
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook


I suspect that most better teachers help student learn to dissect music before just jumping in.


Hi, John,

This is what my current teacher and I do before starting a new piece. We study the form and chord structure, repetitions etc. You learn how the piece is constructed and where each part is going and more.

A R

It is also what I expect. I am also realistic enough to expect that this, or anything else we might expect, may not be happening out there in the world.

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys

If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Ok, imagine the scenario we often see described. Our transfer student has been given 3 pieces per year by the previous teacher which the student plays brilliantly. He cannot read music, doesn't recognize notes, is used to being spoon fed. How do you "patch" this? More importantly, does "patching" work? Or will this be just another unfortunate transfer student who ultimately fails?

Meanwhile, if you have been reading this forum, teachers will ask "How do I address this?" They are doing precisely what you say is a fantasy world - they are looking at what and how to teach. What else would one do?

While this is extreme, it is so for lesser things too.

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Originally Posted by A Rebours
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook


I suspect that most better teachers help student learn to dissect music before just jumping in.


Hi, John,

This is what my current teacher and I do before starting a new piece. We study the form and chord structure, repetitions etc. You learn how the piece is constructed and where each part is going and more.

A R


As Morodienne can attest, as well as Keystring, your teacher is an extreme rarity. Please do not assume that when a 9-12 year old sits down at a piano for a half hour lesson, then that is what happens.

It does not!! And, then you multiply this by the 50,000 teachers in the U.S.

Parenthetically, when my dear friend the composer Ramon Sender sat down at the piano with a lesson with George Copeland (the only American to study under Claude Debussy), at the age of fifteen, he did not have this problem. Copeland insisted, just like he had been taught in the 19th century, that Ramon study counterpoint under this new and upcoming composer by the name of Eliott Carter!

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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
Originally Posted by A Rebours

Hi, John,

This is what my current teacher and I do before starting a new piece. We study the form and chord structure, repetitions etc. You learn how the piece is constructed and where each part is going and more.

A R


As Morodienne can attest, as well as Keystring, your teacher is an extreme rarity.

What I have stated (often) is that there ARE teachers who do teach well. What proportion of teachers teach well is an unknown, though it's probably a minority. There is probably a disproportionate number of better teachers in this forum, because their very presence is often due to interest in teaching. In fact John, the teacher being addressed, is one of the teachers who does these things with his students.

Those teachers who do want to teach more thoroughly also encounter resistance from students. Our culture is "fast and instant", which is another thing to overcome.

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Probably not a bad thing, few teachers are capable of making a drastically different program that is better or close to the established ones.


I would argue this is a bad thing for students who, as a result, end up quitting lessons and/or hating music as a result of poor - or non-existent - pedagogy. Louis Podesta mentioned in a recent post that his teacher forced Bach on him as a child and that, as a result, he's now unable to appreciate the composer's music. This is just one such example of the ineffectiveness and harm of cookie-cutter teaching methods.

As for whether or not teachers are capable of improving, I would argue that if students and parents were more selective and discerning with who they or their children study under (not aimed at you, but simply the masses), then most of the teachers of the world would suddenly be forced to become far more capable as a result of the demand for higher quality - especially if their competition was already providing said higher quality. This is mainly why government-funded education is mediocre at-best and privatization will trump it every time.

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Originally Posted by Bobpickle
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Probably not a bad thing, few teachers are capable of making a drastically different program that is better or close to the established ones.


I would argue this is a bad thing for students who, as a result, end up quitting lessons and/or hating music as a result of poor - or non-existent - pedagogy. Louis Podesta mentioned in a recent post that his teacher forced Bach on him as a child and that, as a result, he's now unable to appreciate the composer's music. This is just one such example of the ineffectiveness and harm of cookie-cutter teaching methods.

As for whether or not teachers are capable of improving, I would argue that if students and parents were more selective and discerning with who they or their children study under (not aimed at you, but simply the masses), then most of the teachers of the world would suddenly be forced to become far more capable as a result of the demand for higher quality - especially if their competition was already providing said higher quality. This is mainly why government-funded education is mediocre at-best and privatization will trump it every time.

Very well put, especially the part about government funded education. I need to make one correction though, which is that I hated Bach as a kid, as in past tense. Now, that I have a trained ear, and some life experience behind me, I find his music to be some of the most spiritual that there is.

However, in terms of co-contraction, playing some of his music which holds over certain notes can be very damaging to a young or older hand.

Further, it finally dawned on me that when you play the D Minor Keyboard Concerto that it is normal to play from the score. This is the way Bach played it, and further conducted it from the keyboard. And, that goes for the rest of the Baroque repertoire, all of it! (Reference Kenneth Hamilton, "After The Golden Age")

Originally, playing from memory was frowned upon because the people in the audience thought the performer was improvising. So, why make the young student memorize it in the first place.

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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
Further, it finally dawned on me that when you play the D Minor Keyboard Concerto that it is normal to play from the score. This is the way Bach played it, and further conducted it from the keyboard. And, that goes for the rest of the Baroque repertoire, all of it!.

The hall Bach played in did not use electric lights, either. Does that mean we should now light all concert halls with candles?


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Originally Posted by Bobpickle
As for whether or not teachers are capable of improving, I would argue that if students and parents were more selective and discerning with who they or their children study under (not aimed at you, but simply the masses), then most of the teachers of the world would suddenly be forced to become far more capable as a result of the demand for higher quality -


But is there any way for a musically naive parent to judge the quality of the teacher? I doubt it.

Then you'd still have the problem of what quality teacher they'd be willing to pay for. If the goal for the child is simple enrichment rather than a high level of accomplishment, the acceptable quality might be low, and hence cheap.


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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
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when that student comes in, the first thing you would do is ask the student to play for you and do other things to assess what they know and can do, and then develop a program around what you find.


If we live in a fantasy world....
I think majority of the teachers just follow an established curriculum, patch the student when they see holes then carry on.

Probably not a bad thing, few teachers are capable of making a drastically different program that is better or close to the established ones.


Just to clarify a bit.

When I said established curriculums, I meant, for elementary students, use one of the good method books as the main teaching material, for the developing students, follow one of the systems like RCM, Guild, CM, ABRSM etc.

There were many years of work behind these well established curriculums to help students to build balanced skills in a sensible order.

That does not mean teacher shall not use supplement materials when seeing a student is weak in a particular area, nor does it mean to sent a student to test. It just means to base your teaching on some collective wisdom.

Of course nothing is perfect, and the programs do not fit everyone.

And, of course, someone does not fit any of the programs.

However, if someone says he does not use any of the established systems, not even as a reference framework, and he has totally different plans for everyone, I probably will walk, no, I meant, run away.

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The statement that you are arguing about, The Monkeys, is my idea that if a teacher gets a transfer student, he will first assess that student for ability and knowledge, and will then plan his teaching around what he finds. I used the word "program" to express that. I don't think it's outrageous, and I suspect it's standard. I don't think you understood the idea first time round.

Systems like RCM are open ended. Even if a teacher ascribes to such a system he/she can still individualize his teaching to suit the needs of his students, and the goals he has for them.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Systems like RCM are open ended. Even if a teacher ascribes to such a system he/she can still individualize his teaching to suit the needs of his students, and the goals he has for them.

It's my understanding that the RCM is a coordinated program, consisting of teaching material, the Celebration Series[/size][/font], and an evaluation program, the [font:Comic Sans MS][size:14pt]RCM Exams. The core teaching materials are exceptional and could be used with any American testing program.


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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by keystring
Systems like RCM are open ended. Even if a teacher ascribes to such a system he/she can still individualize his teaching to suit the needs of his students, and the goals he has for them.

It's my understanding that the RCM is a coordinated program, consisting of teaching material, the Celebration Series and an evaluation program, the RCM Exams. The core teaching materials are exceptional and could be used with any American testing program.

I have the 2006 syllabus for violin. In the grade 5 section, I counted a choice of 52 pieces. The Celebration series contains a portion of these choices which are contained in one book of repertoire for each grade. I counted 16 of these 52 pieces in the book. The syllabus suggests editions for pieces, which have been vetted by them. You will find the same for technical requirements.

John, in your response I can't tell whether you agree or disagree with the idea of individualizing teaching to suit the student within such a system. I also can't tell whether you are for or against the idea of "open ended".

I wrote that teachers are expected to have some expertise and be able to make choices.

Last edited by keystring; 01/17/14 11:45 PM.
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Originally Posted by keystring
John, in your response I can't tell whether you agree or disagree with the idea of individualizing teaching to suit the student within such a system. I also can't tell whether you are for or against the idea of "open ended".

I'm trying to do neither. I'm trying to point out that RCM, like Guild, is an evaluation program (a very good one at that) and that the Celebration series is a coordinated method.


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