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Cross-posting this from the Reddit r/piano subreddit as I thought some of you might be interested in seeing these. This is Andrew Remillard's 10 Commandments and 15 Practices for the study of the piano, which he prepared for his students:


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It's a wise thing that you also linked to the comments which give a much wider picture. They are worth reading, and I'd say, almost a necessity.

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Cute!


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These were all good reminders. Thanks for poating.


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I have only one, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law", and I consider mine superior.


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Here are three big NO-NO-NOs for me.

3) THOU SHALT NOT LOOK AT THY HANDS.
We are beginners! If we don't look at our hands a lot we will learn the wrong notes.

4) THOU SHALT USE BOTH HANDS AT ALL TIMES.
We are beginners! If we learn new technique, we need to practise this with one hand only so we can focus fully on learning this technique, instead of also having to concentrate on coordinating our both hands.

7) THOU SHALT NOT SAY “CAN’T”.
We are beginners! It is not very smart to try to learn pieces that are too difficult for us.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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I didn't have time to do more than be cryptic. There's always the danger that someone starting out will see things that look like rules as, erm, rules. That's why the linkT to comments is good.

The first two, being honest with yourself, and the importance of rhythm

No. 3 - not looking at hands - I disagree with this, and the idea of "information flow" being "broken up" doesn't make sense.

Being dependent on the hands, so that reading doesn't develop, that's a different kettle of fish. You'll see a lot of professional pianists glance at the keys (more than their hands), for good reason. There are other reasons, like checking aspects of technique.

No. 4 - use both hands at all times - Again, disagree. If his former teacher told him to always play HS first, that's just as wrong as saying to always play HT. It depends on what is happening in the music, and what you are doing.

For some reason [b]I like his 15 rules /b]. In fact, I think I like all of them

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I think the idea of having "commandments" itself is silly. It gives the impression that these are absolute rules that are to be followed unquestionably. I strongly object to that very philosophy; to think critically about everything is essential.

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I agree with what Animisha and Keystring have said above. Commandments 3, 4 and 7 are very disputable.

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Animisha wrote:

3) THOU SHALT NOT LOOK AT THY HANDS.
We are beginners! If we don't look at our hands a lot we will learn the wrong notes.

4) THOU SHALT USE BOTH HANDS AT ALL TIMES.
We are beginners! If we learn new technique, we need to practise this with one hand only so we can focus fully on learning this technique, instead of also having to concentrate on coordinating our both hands.

7) THOU SHALT NOT SAY “CAN’T”.
We are beginners! It is not very smart to try to learn pieces that are too difficult for us.

As with all things, we can never be perfect, just improving. Of course you will hit a lot of wrong notes, but you need to learn to let your ears tell you this and not your eyes. If you hear a mistake... don't look.... listen and think, am I too high? too low? how far? Gradually you will learn to hear what you should play and how to measure that distance with your arm. But if you never train yourself (with frequent failings), even as a beginner, you will slow your progress.

Boy this HT thing has lit a fire with a number of people. And yes, even my beginners use both their hands at the same time as it is called for in their music. The key thing is to not rush things, go slow enough you can handle the load.

I will stand by "can't" forever! If you are missing a hand... you can't... otherwise you just need help or more practice. Can't is so final!

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Originally Posted by keystring
I didn't have time to do more than be cryptic. There's always the danger that someone starting out will see things that look like rules as, erm, rules. That's why the linkT to comments is good.

The first two, being honest with yourself, and the importance of rhythm

No. 3 - not looking at hands - I disagree with this, and the idea of "information flow" being "broken up" doesn't make sense.

Being dependent on the hands, so that reading doesn't develop, that's a different kettle of fish. You'll see a lot of professional pianists glance at the keys (more than their hands), for good reason. There are other reasons, like checking aspects of technique.

No. 4 - use both hands at all times - Again, disagree. If his former teacher told him to always play HS first, that's just as wrong as saying to always play HT. It depends on what is happening in the music, and what you are doing.

For some reason [b]I like his 15 rules /b]. In fact, I think I like all of them



One of the challenges of a teacher is to get a student at least pointed in the right direction. On the one extreme you have the student who looks at the music, finds the note, looks at the piano and plays the note, looks back at the music for the next note, etc. The occasional glance is not what worries me, but the more independent your hands are from your eyes the better you will be. It is quite possible to play well even blind!

I would have to do some digging for the research paper I read which I base the importance of not breaking the informational flow, but it is based upon scientific research.

Now keep in mind this is most important during the initial learning stages. If you have the music memorized you can do whatever you want, stare at the moon for all I care. I just usually play with my eyes closed.

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My two cents.

The problem I have with these quasi absolutist sets of rules is that they seem to convey a "one size fits all" mentality. Meaning: If it works for one student (or in this case, the teacher), it has to work for every student.
Not everybody learns the same way. Some people have good hearing but are lousy at sight reading. Others are excellent sight readers but don't know harmony.
And learning hands together or hands separate may also be dependant not only of the player, but also of the piece. A complex Bach fugue might be more challenging hands together than a waltz where the left hand just plays oomph ta ta oomph ta ta.

But on the other hand, Andrew Remillard has piano teaching experience; I don't. So his opinion is at least not unfounded.


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Andrew - thanks for the list. Seems there are some good tips here but some that are not universally promoted. Would you tell us what your qualifications are as a pianist and as a teacher? It might be nice to put this list into context, as we have seen some people promoting ideas that come from a variety of backgrounds, levels of experience, and schools of training. Thank you.


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Nice morning read. As with all things it's best with a little salt for seasoning.

That reminder to start at the end and work back is a good one for me. Of my three repertoire pieces, I learned one that way and while tedious to begin that way, as the last 2-4 measures of a piece can be devoid melodic coherence, I must admit that piece is the one I have the most confidence in and never hit an "oh, crap, here it comes" moment of panic. I needed the reminder to give myself at least a few sessions per piece where I do my sections in reverse order and work the sections from last measure to first.


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Originally Posted by cmb13
Andrew - thanks for the list. Seems there are some good tips here but some that are not universally promoted. Would you tell us what your qualifications are as a pianist and as a teacher? It might be nice to put this list into context, as we have seen some people promoting ideas that come from a variety of backgrounds, levels of experience, and schools of training. Thank you.


Started my piano journey just under 50 years ago. I have a BM & MM in piano performance. I have taught hundreds of students through the years with many going on to get their own music degrees and establish themselves as professional musicians in some capacity. I have also owned and operated a piano tuning and rebuilding business. I have a YouTube channel with over 3600 recordings of my playing. About 110 of solo piano music and rest traditional Christian hymns.

These rules and commandments are simply arrows in my quiver, to be used on an as needed basis with each individual student. Many people tremble at the idea of creating a list of "best practices" for the study of music. The rest of the world welcomes this type of work. "Best practice" doesn't mean ONLY practice, just what works the best for most people. If it doesn't work for you, think about your own "best practices" and share them!

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Very interesting read as well as the comments. Food for thought...



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Thank you, Andrew, for the response. We have had some on the forum that wanted to develop guides and apps with no experience whatsoever. One more thing....I'd love to see some of those youtube videos. Would you pls post a link?

Thanks


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Originally Posted by cmb13
Thank you, Andrew, for the response. We have had some on the forum that wanted to develop guides and apps with no experience whatsoever. One more thing....I'd love to see some of those youtube videos. Would you pls post a link?

Thanks


https://www.youtube.com/andrewremillard

It is best to search through the playlists than try to directly weed through the videos. Everything is in at least one playlist. The solo music is separated by composer. The hymns are sorted by hymnal (I have recorded 8 complete), season, and some living composers.

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Andrew, thank you for taking the time for your response to me and others. I am only quoting part, but read all. smile
Originally Posted by anrpiano
One of the challenges of a teacher is to get a student at least pointed in the right direction. On the one extreme you have the student who looks at the music,

... These rules and commandments are simply arrows in my quiver, to be used on an as needed basis with each individual student.


The second part is important, "as needed basis". When older students start, esp. if they can't get a teacher, they tend to take things very seriously, "as gospel" (pardon the pun) and may "religiously" and strictly apply what they read. When a thing looks like a rule, and comes from those with title of teacher, this is especially so. With your own students you will teach according to who is in front of you, what is happening, and adjust. If the student is too extreme about some advice, you can guide him back to a more central path. The "as needs" is important.

I'm thinking there are some broader things at stake. Learning to truly read music, and how that might be done; familiarity with piano topography again also linked to reading and a kind of "practical theory" to start with. All this works together for pointing things in a right direction, and lead to the desired end results.

I have seen students here tie themselves into knots trying never to look - ever! - and experienced teachers coming into this forum to give a more balanced approach.

I study with a teacher, actually several but a main one, and by now have a well rounded broad view. My own issues are unique to me, which is probably true for everyone.

---------------------------
Seguing to the last:

On a personal level: I first learned to play on my own when my parents gave me a keyboard (organ, 1960's), then a piano, a book for adult autodidacts (I was 8), and then a handed down set of sonatinas; diatonic Common Practice era music that went well with the solfege I'd learned in grade 2. I mostly "heard" what I saw on the page, and I "sought out the sounds". I never looked at the keyboard. I lost the piano at 18 and didn't have access to one for 35 years. I knew about technique when I got one, that mine was iffy due to the self-teaching. Otherwise essentially I had reached the ideal you are presenting as my default way of playing. This here:

Quote
but you need to learn to let your ears tell you this and not your eyes. If you hear a mistake... don't look.... listen and think, am I too high? too low? how far? Gradually you will learn to hear what you should play and how to measure that distance with your arm.


That was my first reality that I carried with me as I restarted piano (fortunately finding teaching this time round).

Here are things my "not looking past" left me with:

- I could play diatonic music, sonatinas and sonatas, esp. Clementi-like, incl. sight reading, because those patterns were ingrained. this was prima vista, in 2008, after discussing reading with someone then, technical warts and all:
https://soundcloud.com/usernewtothis/sightreadkuhl/s-v1IXE
It has predictable patterns which my eyes snatched, my brain caught, and my ears heard. It is not real reading. It's mostly or all white keys - you can fell your way along. I was shocked that I was lost in other kinds of music, and discovered I couldn't really read in a true sense.

- Part of my rehabilitation is learning how to use my hands and body (arms) etc. to express the sounds with efficient movement. Looking at the hands to see what I am doing, how I'm doing it, and changing that, has been part of the journey. At first seeing my hands and the keyboard was disorienting. I was all touch and sound, "feeling my way along".

- One cause of stiff movement was geography. A pianist moves in and out of the black keys, and the hands change shape and angles. The sonatinas etc. leave you in one area of the keyboard, mostly in a range of maybe 3 octaves. We have a thing called eye-hand coordination, and part of that, to my discovery, was "picturing" the keyboard, adding the visual input to the sensory and sound input I already had.

- On my own personal journey, I am building a visual "map" of the keyboard. B major (scale) = all black keys with two whites in the valley, with a hand that has a shorter digit at either end. Seeing this helps my playing. The visual comes together with tactile and sound. I've concluded that is an important component. I believe ALL sides matter. Because I was at the other extreme end, it has given me this particular angle.

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(adding) - The prima vista was a few weeks after getting a piano after 35 years, with nothing new learned yet. Some notes are faded because of lack of technique. I could play this kind of music at sight because it contained familiar patterns, was diatonic, etc. It was not real reading, but had some components that musicians use for reading.

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