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Originally Posted by ebonyk
This thread got weird. 😂😂😂

seriously... there’s an odd, unbalanced sense of perfectionism as virtue that’s enough to put off any aspiring pianist for good in the last few pages.

but to be fair, the thread began weird as well 😬

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Originally Posted by weinstay
Originally Posted by ebonyk
This thread got weird. 😂😂😂

seriously... there’s an odd, unbalanced sense of perfectionism as virtue that’s enough to put off any aspiring pianist for good in the last few pages.

but to be fair, the thread began weird as well 😬


I want it to die so I can post a newer thread but I will update here again xD


My technique has been getting better and more relaxed... I am definitely probably still tense, but, this feels way more comfortable and I did apply a fair bit of stuff I learned.

Here is scales, improv, prelude, and left hand of chopin polish dance (very rough)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iksMk-JFUJA



Also ^ I took a four day break to rest hands and reset some bad habits, so I am a little rusty here... We will see.

Last edited by pablobear; 02/17/21 12:33 AM.

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It's better than before. Some suggestions:
- Try not to lock your wrists. Consciously practice forearm rotation and moving your wrists side to side. Loosen them up!
- Raise your left hand a little. To practice having a higher wrist, raise the wrist up as high as they go without tensing them up. Imagine your fingers are little sausages attached to the wrist. And then try and play basically without "using" the fingers at all.
- As I said, make a recording where your pinky isn't strained and curved backwards. It's possible, I promise!

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Originally Posted by ranjit
It's better than before. Some suggestions:
- Try not to lock your wrists. Consciously practice forearm rotation and moving your wrists side to side. Loosen them up!
- Raise your left hand a little. To practice having a higher wrist, raise the wrist up as high as they go without tensing them up. Imagine your fingers are little sausages attached to the wrist. And then try and play basically without "using" the fingers at all.
- As I said, make a recording where your pinky isn't strained and curved backwards. It's possible, I promise!


-Good call, I'm just used to practicing scales where it's apparently not that good to have your wrists be moving a round a lot so I'm more stiff. I'll trty and be in the same place less.

-Already aware of this, making an effort...

-I can't it's genuinely just how my hands relax... When I wiggle my hand out and go to the natural form the pinky is bent, even when I type my pinky is bent and I am definitely relaxed when I do it and have good teechnique, it's just the natural relaxing form of my finger I THINK... Or i could be horribly wrong.

I can send pics of bent pinky while typing relaxed if you don't belivee me... While I typed this it was bent the wohle time


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Send me a picture where your hands are to your sides doing nothing. If your pinky is still bent, I'll believe you. I have corrected this in the past when it comes to my own playing, and I think it is a technique issue.

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Hi Pablobear. It seems to me that your knuckles are collapsed when you play. Here is a picture that exaggerates this:
[Linked Image]

This picture shows how to hold your hand.
[Linked Image]


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by ranjit
Do you mean that they wouldn't sound like three-legged hippos if they learned from sheet music?
Frankly, I've never yet met anyone who learnt to play by rote without a teacher, who could not only hear the flaws in their own playing, but also know how to correct them. The vast majority believe they're playing really well (because the notes are coming thick & fast, and often very loud), and see no need to learn how to correct their problems (technical and/or musical) because, well, they don't believe they have any.

Just curious, do you believe the best examples out there to be fake? Or have you genuinely not seen any self taught pianists with a good ear and musicality?

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by dogperson
If you want to convince others of the method embedded in your many posts, why don’t you post a few You Tube videos that you consider successful using the elements of learning piano you espouse? They do not necessarily need to be of you playing, your choice.
If I did post Youtube videos, I still couldn't really show that the method itself is successful.


Yes and if your method was more successful than the usual progressive method, a lot of teachers would use it. In fact you can apply your method because the stakes are not very high. What are the risks, loosing some time and learning bad habits. Now if you transpose your method to other activities where the risks would be significantly higher, it would change your point of view. A personal story that highlights that is that when i started learning to ski, i did some simple easy tracks and then it felt good so i decided i could try a red/black one with lots of bumps. How difficult could it be ? Well i did manage to get it done ... in something like 3 hours. I probably spent more time on my butt than on my skis. What did i learn ? Well i certainly learned how to fall. But in terms of technique, nothing really.

If you put a beginner on a difficult climb, he simply will not be able to do it, no matter what he tries. Before doing it, he will need to build up his technique over years of training.

As said, one can be ambitious and it is certainly good to take up challenging pieces, but it has still to be within a reasonable range. That range and the speed of progress is different for each person. Some learn faster so they can pick up more difficult pieces faster. But nonetheless it is still based on a progressive approach.


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Originally Posted by pablobear
My technique has been getting better and more relaxed... I am definitely probably still tense, but, this feels way more comfortable and I did apply a fair bit of stuff I learned.

Here is scales, improv, prelude, and left hand of chopin polish dance (very rough)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iksMk-JFUJA
I think your video is an example of why most people need a good teacher. When you play the scale, your hands are not together some of the time. You only seem concerned about hitting the correct notes and not with evenness, smoothness, and most importantly how you negotiate the thumb under or fingers over parts. You do not seem to realize that there are other scales to learn besides C major.

As far as the Bach Prelude goes you again play only a portion of it and there wrong notes, unsteady rhythm, unusual articulation(although it's not necessarily wrong not something a beginner should do IMO), and musical misconceptions.

In general, your playing gives the impression that you don't have objectives/focus when you play and you are just noodling in some very casual way.

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Hi Pablo
My advice for scales: speed is not the highest importance in practicing. Slow WAY down and listen to every note: are the notes even in sound? Even in timing? Did my thumb behave? Hands played at the same time?

When any of us are playing very fast, it’s easy to miss the color of the leaves on the tree 😊

Try playing the Bach like a flowing river without the strong accents on the beat and see how it sounds to you


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by pablobear
My technique has been getting better and more relaxed... I am definitely probably still tense, but, this feels way more comfortable and I did apply a fair bit of stuff I learned.

Here is scales, improv, prelude, and left hand of chopin polish .

You would need to slow your scales way down. Your hands are not synched up and eveness can be improved. When you can play them smoothly at slow speed, you can start increasing the tempo. You should practice other scales also. Tension is still pretty high. Your fingers are really uptight and frozen. Try to relax your hand, so that you dont put any extra tension into it. Slowing down will facilitate that.


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I too have struggled with tension. It does improve in time when you relax. I still find myself being tense in general when I play. I put way too much mental pressure on myself when I play. My legs, shoulders, etc. tighten up, and if I’m doing something challenging with one hand the other hand not being used will actually move and flex and get tight. It’s bizarre to me. When I realize this and relax and enjoy it then everything feels and sounds better. It’s a big challenge but you can correct it.

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I think you should really talk to your teacher about the very fundamentals, because your hand looks visibly tense, which will effect your playing even as the geography and mechanics of the piano become familiar. You want to be relaxed when you play, so you can control your tones, rhythms, and musical flow. I also think that because you are so interested in improvisation (and composition?), you should learn music theory as well, which can help augment the rudimentary exercises you need to do at your level (you can do things like practice scales to modulate to other scales, chord progressions, or try out some of the harmonies of Scriabin, like the mystic chord or the octatonic scales he grew fond of in his later works)--with your curiosity you can turn what must be very basic at the moment into something more stimulating. But if you want to progress in order to play Scriabin with refinement and control over color (absolute necessities for his music), or to manage the intense technical requirements of a Rachmaninoff, you have to work on not going through your exercises with brute force but with conscientious rigor for evenness, touch, rhythm, fluidity, and control. You're gonna have to walk (or maybe crawl) before you run. You don't want to start of flippantly, or when you become able to tackle the works you love, you won't have the command requisite to turn sequences of notes into art. It's good having a goal, but you want to have a great foundation for your lofty aspirations, otherwise it will be hard to do justice to the things you love.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Sidokar
I dont know if your reasonning applies to specific pieces or is that a general point of view. So to take a piece that is at diploma level (dont know which diploma you are referring to), for example the Sonata Pathetique. Would you then say that beginners could start playing this sonata and after 3 years be able to play it (or even just the first mouvement) with good musicality ? I can also take other pieces maybe a little more approachable like a Mozart sonata. But then why not start playing any piece of music one wants ?
I've observed people who have started to play something really hard for a couple of years and work at it obsessively, and then got a teacher and were able to play it pretty well after a few additional months.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
I think that playing poorly pieces does not teach you that much other than playing poorly. So if you play poorly one piece, you will continue to play poorly the next one which is at similar level.
It still teaches you coordination, and dexterity. It's like zooming in on a painting -- first, you see a rough sketch, and then fill in all of the details.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
Being able to play somehow a difficult piece learned by rote does not mean one has reached that level.
Sure, it doesn't. I just thought that it could expedite the process of reaching that level for a lot of people.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
I have seen many vids or recording of people who start playing Bach or other composers too early and the only thing they achieve is to butcher the piece while believing they are playing it.
Yes, but do they keep butchering the pieces forever? I have seen that a lot of kids, and even adults sometimes, who start out that like that often end up getting good and going to conservatory down the road, or are able to attain a skill level where they perform semi-professionally.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
That said, there are always people who are gifted in a particular area, and make progress much faster than average students. I am talking here about adult beginners who never played before.
It's possible that only the "gifted" students end up succeeding along the kind of path I mentioned. I only know that from what I've seen, the people who end up advancing really fast starting as an adult tend to attempt difficult repertoire early on. I have seen multiple examples of this happening on online forums. There was a man who at 42 who suddenly realized he just had to play a Chopin scherzo, and managed to play it two years later (this was mentioned in Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks iirc). There are several people I've seen in the anime pianist community, where a lot of people tend to think that hard work can get you anywhere. But as I said, these people may be the exception to the rule and could only manage to do what they did because they were gifted.

I personally felt the additional motivation and the thrill of learning techniques which were "too difficult" to greatly aid my progress. I have been able to progress to an unusual extent on my own, and I have a lot of reason to believe that challenging myself was one of the main reasons behind that happening. I simply couldn't find a teacher because there were none around, and partly in desperation (and partly to prove to myself that it was possible), taught myself instead of waiting it out.
A lot of what you say and said in the past makes a lot of sense to me and I've used these techniques when I was teaching myself the piano. I had good fortune to have some organ lessons when I was between the ages of 5 through 10 years of age and I took clarinet lessons and played with our concert band in my high school making it to first clarinetist. I think most of my theory in music was learned by application.

I am a big proponent of learning progressively difficult/challenging pieces as an adult learner and I do think as the OP's teacher's have suggested that this is the way to go for adults. Skill acquisition through exercises, arpeggios, exercises should really occur in your childhood because physiologically this is the optimal time to do it. You can gain skills as an adult learner but this is unfortunately at a superficial level such that it might not be the best use of your time. Most of it will ended up being a lot of busy work. If your goal is to learn music, start playing music but accept that fact that as hard as you try no amount of scale practice, exercises etc... will make you a better player. It's simply too late. Learn the theory behind those scales, learn fingering relationships for example- yes you can learn that equally well at any age. That's explicit, declarative learning and we know that that continues throughout your life but if your goal is to start learning music. Do it.

Very few adult learners nor even experienced pianists would understand what you are suggesting because this not the traditional way to learn the piano. I for one, understand what you are saying. Adult learners are really uncharted territory and if there enough adult learners who have become reasonably accomplished pianists by doing what has been traditionally taught learners I would say the traditional way really works effectively. What I have seen is that the adults who are learning or being taught the way you are suggesting more often than not seem to be progressing the fastest and yes, the most musical. Once again, to make it clear, this does NOT apply to children. Children should go the whole nine yards through RCM and ABRSM as they appear to be excellent programs and they have are proven to have produced excellent pianists, but even then those methods are not the only effective methods- take the Russian school for example. All of this is my opinion but that's pretty much was going on here with all these comments.

All of this being said, I do believe it is very important that whatever route you take to learn this wonderful instrument that you DO seek out the best teachers you can find to look over your shoulder and give you feedback. They are not there to spoon feed you as my teacher happens to remind to me from time to time smile. I think they understand that there is not just one way to learn the piano. Whatever works, works. Ultimately the goal is that you play well however you got there and that's all that matters.

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To all:

Read your comments and taking your advice...

Thanks @lautreamont
Going to mess around with the scriabin chord/octatonic and apply more of the theory I already know in my playing. I also have to learn more theory ofc, there are these videos I've been meaning to watch but, I've been procrastinating them. I havesome music theory knowledge, I am starting to finally understand like the roman numeral chord language stuff too, so that's good.


All of your philosophies on what makes someone the best learner are interesting, to me, I feel like it depends on the pianist and goals. I think there is obviously like an average method that works efficiently for most people, but, I feel like for every person they can see immense improvement if they just pick what style works for them. I feel everyone has like an individualized optimal learning style, and it takes them trial and error in other things to find it. Maybe some student who improves immensely fast just finds their style instantly, it's possible. My thoughts on how one should improve is simple: Focus technique first and when it is completely effortless, then start developing a brain/greater feeling for music. I think every pianist should be able to play everything all 24 scales/arpeggios/etc. before they can even call themselves more than a beginner. But, I am not even trying to do that now because I still need to work on my basic technique. One of the reasons I'm mostly practicing c major (I do practice others I know about 12 total, but not hands together just so I memorize notes, and I do them in chords a bit too) is so I can just optimize my technique across white keys with that fingering. I still have a lot of kinks to work out on my technique, so I'm going to be practicing it for a while, but it makes it much easier to learn other scales I feel when you build muscle memory on c-maj cuz other scales similar...

Anyways, this thread has a lot of really good advice and I will definitely save it and keep reading it...

But, I hope people stop posting here, because I have a completely new mindset now compared to the beginning. And, a lot of the advice/discussions in here are redundant... If we could shift this energy to talking about other stuff I feel like it'd be more productive, but, there has been a lot of great stuff already in this thread so that's good...

I will maybe make a new thread after my lesson w/ my teacher Thursday? Or maybe a bit later than that once I work on the things that he teaches me... I'll probably be eager to update and tell you what he said about my technique and how I should get better, so I probably will end up posting again Thursday night or Friday afternoon.


So yeah, if you guys want keep posting here I don't care... But, after my lesson with my teacher, I'm going to try to not respond here as much. We will see what he says.


Best


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Originally Posted by weinstay
Originally Posted by ebonyk
This thread got weird. 😂😂😂

seriously... there’s an odd, unbalanced sense of perfectionism as virtue that’s enough to put off any aspiring pianist for good in the last few pages.

but to be fair, the thread began weird as well 😬
Yes, it did, LOL!!


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by weinstay
Originally Posted by ebonyk
This thread got weird. 😂😂😂

seriously... there’s an odd, unbalanced sense of perfectionism as virtue that’s enough to put off any aspiring pianist for good in the last few pages.

but to be fair, the thread began weird as well 😬
Yes, it did, LOL!!

One person’s definition of perfectionism may be another person’s definition of ‘good enough’.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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It's very important to understand for those who are reading a thread such as this is that there is a lot of "big fish in little ponds" syndrome going on here. (Amazingly sometimes it is even the guppies that seem to want to swallow the biggest baits)

In the circles of people that I've been fortunate to be around through the years I am certain that even amongst best so called expert pianists that post here the professional pianists and pedagogues that I know could rip their playing to shreds, but knowing them they would just offer their encouragement. So for those who wish to pontificate in regards to others technique, maybe a little restraint would be nice.

Learning the piano is a life-long journey. You never stop learning. Personally, I feel as if I've just started my journey and look forward to the challenge. I think Pablo asked some valid questions and deserves some respect and politeness when responding to them. It never hurts to listen to other people's viewpoints regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Most of us are just offering our opinions on these matters anyway to possibly stimulate further conversation; maybe we're right, maybe we're wrong but no one has to be rude.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
You can gain skills as an adult learner but this is unfortunately at a superficial level such that it might not be the best use of your time. Most of it will ended up being a lot of busy work. If your goal is to learn music, start playing music but accept that fact that as hard as you try no amount of scale practice, exercises etc... will make you a better player. It's simply too late.

Interesting


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Originally Posted by Jethro
Skill acquisition through exercises, arpeggios, exercises should really occur in your childhood because physiologically this is the optimal time to do it. You can gain skills as an adult learner but this is unfortunately at a superficial level such that it might not be the best use of your time. Most of it will ended up being a lot of busy work. If your goal is to learn music, start playing music but accept that fact that as hard as you try no amount of scale practice, exercises etc... will make you a better player. It's simply too late.
I disagree - profoundly, utterly, immensely.

And I'm speaking from experience, having watched the progress of many adult beginners in the past decade (though I don't teach adults), as well as that of a good friend who started learning from scratch at 60. The only he had in his favor (apart from the fact that he'd also retired) was that he'd spent decades going to classical concerts, so he knew what high-level piano playing should sound like. And he requested of his teacher that he should be taught everything that kids would be taught, using the ABRSM syllabus - which meant progressive scales & arpeggios for each grade, as well as aural skills and sight-reading. He was intending to do the exams, but eventually decided against them because he felt they would be too stressful at his age.

And he's reaped the rewards of progressive, thorough, all-inclusive learning. He can play the runs in Bach, Mozart & Beethoven just as well as he can play the thick chords & arpeggios in Chopin and Brahms. He can also play by ear, and improvise a little. He's joined a choir, where sight-singing is a pre-requisite. Nearly a decade on, no-one would have guessed that he hadn't had lessons as a child.

And he doesn't need to practice scales & arpeggios anymore (just like I haven't practiced them since I finished with lessons as a teenager) - because he can basically play any of them with no effort, in any piece he cared to tackle.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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