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I'm a year in, working on piano skills during covid. I mostly read pieces on my own now. But as an early beginner I gave a listen whenever I was fairly certain a piece was not supposed to sound like that. A few months in someone suggested Tchaikovsky's Morgengebet. I tried. It couldn't possibly sound like what I was playing so I pulled up a youtube. Ah, it's in 3/4. Beginner's mistake. With no one to correct us, we're on our own. So yes go ahead and listen if it helps.


Self-taught adult beginner. Started during covid. Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course, Tim Richards Improvising Blues Piano, etc.
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Honestly, how an experienced pianist wants to learn, listening to pieces prior to learning or not, doesn’t bother me at all. It is their decision. They’re experienced enough to know what is good for them. But so many noobs are reading similar threads from the past with very strong opinions about things and getting such a twisted view of the “best” way to learn the piano.
I don't know whether you think I'm still talking about only "experienced" pianists doing that. Or if only "experienced" pianists can do that.

I am not.

I am talking about anyone who has already learnt to read music fluently. Anything from three months to three years into lessons. "Noobs" if you like (though it's not a term I'd ever use - not that I'd use "transfer wrecks" either, except that I couldn't think of a term for 'students who were badly taught by someone else before coming to a teacher who knows how to teach properly' quickly enough to fit into my post before I thought of something else I wanted to say.)

But as I've said often enough in the past - no-one needs to read (let alone agree with, or learn from) my posts. And - to repeat myself ad nauseam - everyone should enjoy their learning, in whatever way they choose.

However, I do practice what I preach. If I had a kid who was learning piano from a teacher who told him to always listen to YT recordings of all his pieces before he learnt them, I'd switch teacher - pronto.


I think noobs is a very neutral term by the way, and newbies or beginners refer to themselves as noobs all the time. This might be a generational thing. Not suggesting you’re older or anything because I really don’t know.

A kid who learns from a teacher who tells him to always listen to YT...come on, you don’t need to use the most extreme example to support your argument. We both know that’s not what I’m referring to and you know that.

I don’t fundamentally disagree with many of the points of view here. And I even understand what the rationale is behind those views. But I don’t believe a beginner should figure out a lot of stuff on their own, even as “homework” if they’ve never experienced it or heard it before. A beginner who has more experience and have been taught or shown how to play a crescendo or diminuendo or ritardando, etc., can repeat that skill in their next piece without watching a YT video, according to their interpretation. But a beginner who has not heard these before trying to figure this out themselves? I think it’s just inefficient and can cause frustration. Some folks might say this is making our youth “soft”, not having to “try and err” and figuring things out for themselves. I think that argument is valid too but practically speaking nowadays, youth are learning things very fast, so much faster than previous generations because they have lots of info at their disposal. This would include YT. While there are horrible interpretations of music on YT, there are also many good interpretations there, such as the University of Iowa Piano Pedagogy project and other teachers and professionals. So much info - why not learn from it?

I know there is much discussion here about how today’s children are poorly taught and lazy. I don’t see the youth of today like that. All the youth I’ve had the opportunity to interact with have always impressed me with their intelligence, work ethic and tech saviness. Maybe my sample is different from others’ samples.

I know my opinion is different than some others here. There’s nothing wrong with different opinions. My teachers are all either my age or younger so there might be a difference as a result of that generational difference. As a result, I do have a more flexible view on learning methods and how different people learn differently. So much so that I’ve consciously chosen to learn violin using the Suzuki method. I wanted to find out for myself why it was being bashed on here and in other forums despite it being THE method for violin in the real world. And my conclusion on that is, while the complaints of it on the forums are valid to a certain extent, they’re also exaggerated and perpetuated versus what they really are in reality.


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Originally Posted by 24000rpm
I think I should have been more clear about this. What my friend was telling me is that : do not listen to a recording BEFORE you learned the piece.
After you can fluently play the piece, listen to anything you want.

The idea, as I was told, is this:

1. a beginner like me occasionally would read the scores wrong , so listening to a recording before you learn the piece will kinda rob you the opportunity to carefully read the sheet and/or double checking because you would have the sound of the recording as an aid.

2. phrasing and dynamics, etc---- phrasing a piece of music and making dynamics are acquired skills. Listening what you are learning would rob you the opportunity to do the "homework" yourself


etc etc
etc etc

I really dont think so. First of all, most great composers started by imitating older composers before finding their own style (sometimes quite early though). So first thing, there is nothing wrong copying a great version. Second, i think that unless you are already quite experienced with various styles and composers and have a good sense of what is or is not musical, it is a bit presomptuous to believe that you can build up your "personal" vision of the piece. Most likely, you will just not do much justice to it. That said, nothing wrong with trying to do it and then compare it. Then if you want to be faithfull to a given style, you need to master the elements of that style.

On your points, i dont see why listening to other versions would rob you of anything. To do the homework as you say implies that you have the skills to do so. Learning how to phrase is not innate. There are things that works and others dont. Listening to other versions will give you some guidance as to how to do it. It is not very different from a session with your teacher where he will correct you when you are playing incorrectly (not technically). If you have no clue as to how to phrase, listen to other versions. If you have an idea, give it a shot and then check it out.

I dont think you have to make it a rigid kind of rule, like never or always.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by ranjit
I think child prodigies tend to listen more, not less. Tiffany Poon used to listen to recordings repeatedly until she got a piece in her head before she sat down to play as a child.
If you watch her practice sessions (which are usually looooooong, LOL), you'll also see her pause and go to Youtube to see how other pianists play a certain section. I do this, as well. It's helpful.
Are you talking about the Patreon ones?
She’s on YouTube.


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I wish I had YouTube available when I was a lad back in the day to take a listen to some pieces. Do have to side that I don't think it is a great idea to use it all the time though. Use it when you need to but don't listen to the piece when just starting out IMO. It will help you with learning to read the sheet music.

But mostly keep enjoying playing/learning the piano smile


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We all learn differently, as well. I started my musical training with the violin as a child, so I developed a very good ear. That’s the way I learn best: by listening. We all have our own particular strengths. We should be using them to our advantage.


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Originally Posted by Wayne2467
Trouble with YT is that you not necessarily listening to a recording played as it should be
Obviously, which is why you should probably choose actual pianists, not some kid using Synthesia. 😂😂😂

You might want to pick Agerich or Horowitz instead, LOL.


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
We all learn differently, as well. I started my musical training with the violin as a child, so I developed a very good ear. That’s the way I learn best: by listening. We all have our own particular strengths. We should be using them to our advantage.

I agree with that as well. Take advantage of your strengths but remediate your weaknesses. I’m a visual learner so strong visually but weak aurally.


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I have, during the last years, actually met music teachers who don't go to concerts. They just shrug and say they don't have the time. When I was a teenager, me and my family often went to classical concerts whenever that opportunity was given in our fairly small town. (Note, this was Before Internet, ok?) And all music teachers from the municipal music school, where I took lessons, were there too. Of course!
Today I really wonder why someone chooses to teach music och play an instrument if they don't love to LISTEN to music as well?

When I encounter an adult person who has just begun learning to play the piano and wonder how to increase their motivation and stamina, my advice usually is to "immerse" in it. Listen to recordings, go to concerts, visit websites, discuss with people, enjoy all kinds of activities connected with piano, explore piano models in the piano store - the music world is big and lovely, and the more you dwell in it, the more easily practice will come to you. If piano playing, however, is an odd activity that barely can be squeezed in your other daily routines, you will find it difficult. You will not find time to practice, it will never be an integrated part of your life ... and you will miss so much fun. Yes, it is fun to be a bit obsessed ...

When I'm about to learn something new, I may study the notes first, but sooner or later I look for recordings and listen to them. It is nice to get a good grip of the melody and hear it in tempo, because when I start to play, I play slowly, I work with single bars or even shorter bits, and it is hard to understand what I'm aiming at. But I don't want to, I CANNOT "copy" someone else. It is simply not possible.
But, well, Chopin's etudes for instance, are always performed in an insane tempo and it is easy to get totally disencouraged when you hear that. They seem so utterly difficult. But one fantastic thing with these etudes are that they sound wonderful even in slow tempo, and you can even use parts of them to learn something or drill certain technical things. So listening to recordings of the etudes is one thing, and learning them is something else.

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You might want to pick Agerich or Horowitz instead, LOL.[/quote]
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Wayne2467
Trouble with YT is that you not necessarily listening to a recording played as it should be
Obviously, which is why you should probably choose actual pianists, not some kid using Synthesia. 😂😂😂

You might want to pick Agerich or Horowitz instead, LOL.

I avoid synthesia. The instructor will let me know sometimes if it’s being played correctly.

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Originally Posted by Mosotti
I think that's the worst "advice" ever.

Fully agree terrible advice do just the opposite listen to many different pianists and listen closely to how they phrase, their idea of the tempo, and etc. Remember no matter how many people you listen to you're always going to be you. Listen to others for reference and absorb the piece of music then play and record yourself and listen to yourself. You are your own best teacher and recording yourself is greatest tool for practice.

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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
A kid who learns from a teacher who tells him to always listen to YT...come on, you don’t need to use the most extreme example to support your argument. We both know that’s not what I’m referring to and you know that.
Actually, I thought that's exactly what you said:

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
All 4 of my instrumental teachers encourage me to listen to others to get a sense of different people’s interpretations

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
A beginner who has more experience and have been taught or shown how to play a crescendo or diminuendo or ritardando, etc., can repeat that skill in their next piece without watching a YT video, according to their interpretation. But a beginner who has not heard these before trying to figure this out themselves? I think it’s just inefficient and can cause frustration.
Of course no teacher would expect a student to know how to do all that.

That is what a teacher is supposed to do: teach the skills so that the student can use them by himself when the music requires them. Just like a child is taught how to read so that he can then read books by himself (rather than having books read to him).

Incidentally, several people still seem to have misconceptions of what I'm talking about.

Every student must do as much listening to good music as he can. If you're going to learn a piece by Mozart, it's imperative that you listen to his operas, because Mozart's music is operatic and "vocal" in nature - including his piano music. If you're going to learn Chopin, it's imperative that you listen to the bel canto operas of Bellini and Donizetti, because Chopin's melodies (especially in his nocturnes, but also pieces commonly played by near-beginners like Préludes Op.28 Nos.4 & 6) are similarly based on his profound love of them. And I'm not talking through my hat - all good pianists know that, because they have been taught that by their teachers. If a 'Chopin pianist' doesn't know about bel canto singing, he shouldn't be playing Chopin.

Listen to these pairs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg4L5tcxFcA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtIW2r1EalM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsLlv1Ntdg4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U37SB4i54JU

That is how you develop real musicality with composers' music - by listening to lots of recordings and attending live performances - just like composers & performers of their time did, and still do today. Not to the pieces you're about to learn, but to the music that influenced their writing, and to lots of their other music that you're not learning.

In other words, lots of listening around the music you're learning will teach you how to phrase, how to inflect the phrases, how to use rubato, how to.......be a complete musician.


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Originally Posted by MrShed
Originally Posted by Mosotti
I think that's the worst "advice" ever.

Fully agree terrible advice do just the opposite listen to many different pianists and listen closely to how they phrase, their idea of the tempo, and etc. Remember no matter how many people you listen to you're always going to be you. Listen to others for reference and absorb the piece of music then play and record yourself and listen to yourself. You are your own best teacher and recording yourself is greatest tool for practice.
To add to that, I'd say that trying to mimic a concert pianist 1:1 is an incredible learning tool. I've tried it before -- listen to them playing, and then try to keep the recording going on in your head while you play. Then, you compare your playing to theirs. It will sound worse. But listen very carefully to both recordings side by side. You'll realize -- oh, I need to give that downbeat some more oomph, I need to create a rum-pum-pum left hand accompaniment by shortening the second beat, I need to play this section softly to create space for the next one, this time around is just an echo of the previous one, etc. It is super instructive.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
A kid who learns from a teacher who tells him to always listen to YT...come on, you don’t need to use the most extreme example to support your argument. We both know that’s not what I’m referring to and you know that.
Actually, I thought that's exactly what you said:

Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
All 4 of my instrumental teachers encourage me to listen to others to get a sense of different people’s interpretations


My teachers encouraging me to listen to other people’s interpretations does not equal them telling me to ALWAYS listen to YT. So no, that is not what I said. You are beginning to put words in my mouth.

I really do not wish to “argue” with you over this anymore. I’ve made my point and ready to move on.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 02/20/21 07:28 PM.

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Well as a beginner now when I have the choice to choose the music I play, I don’t get motivated playing a piece that I might not like much, so I definitely do listen so I know what to look forward to after I have put in the hard work.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by MrShed
Originally Posted by Mosotti
I think that's the worst "advice" ever.

Fully agree terrible advice do just the opposite listen to many different pianists and listen closely to how they phrase, their idea of the tempo, and etc. Remember no matter how many people you listen to you're always going to be you. Listen to others for reference and absorb the piece of music then play and record yourself and listen to yourself. You are your own best teacher and recording yourself is greatest tool for practice.
To add to that, I'd say that trying to mimic a concert pianist 1:1 is an incredible learning tool. I've tried it before -- listen to them playing, and then try to keep the recording going on in your head while you play. Then, you compare your playing to theirs. It will sound worse. But listen very carefully to both recordings side by side. You'll realize -- oh, I need to give that downbeat some more oomph, I need to create a rum-pum-pum left hand accompaniment by shortening the second beat, I need to play this section softly to create space for the next one, this time around is just an echo of the previous one, etc. It is super instructive.
.

I would not recommend copying the interpretation of a concert pianist. As a exercise, listen to the same piece performed by a variety of pianists, and there will be individuality to how each interpret and play the music. You want to establish your own voice not a copy of someone else's.

And an anecdote that was shared with me: a teenager was applying to Juilliard if the fall and decided it would be great to play the Goldberg Variations like Glenn . Gould. So she did. It was recognized and not received well at the audition.


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Of course listen to the music of the composers you are or will be studying. Don't limit your listening to piano music, however, because many of the composers of piano music put much of their heart and feeling into other genres: symphonies, other orchestral music, chamber music, opera, etc.

What I do object to quite strongly - and fortunately these are in the minority, but they are there:

"I can't find the music on Youtube, so I don't know how it is supposed to sound, so I can't play it." or
"I need to hear my teacher play the music so I know how I am supposed to play it."

These few individuals need to learn from the outset how to read music and understand all that the score is "telling" them; if they are taught properly, they will . This is a far cry, a very far cry, from those who say we should or shouldn't listen to recordings of others playing the works we study; that's a different discussion.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by ranjit
To add to that, I'd say that trying to mimic a concert pianist 1:1 is an incredible learning tool. I've tried it before -- listen to them playing, and then try to keep the recording going on in your head while you play. Then, you compare your playing to theirs. It will sound worse. But listen very carefully to both recordings side by side. You'll realize -- oh, I need to give that downbeat some more oomph, I need to create a rum-pum-pum left hand accompaniment by shortening the second beat, I need to play this section softly to create space for the next one, this time around is just an echo of the previous one, etc. It is super instructive.
.

I would not recommend copying the interpretation of a concert pianist. As a exercise, listen to the same piece performed by a variety of pianists, and there will be individuality to how each interpret and play the music. You want to establish your own voice not a copy of someone else's.

And an anecdote that was shared with me: a teenager was applying to Juilliard if the fall and decided it would be great to play the Goldberg Variations like Glenn . Gould. So she did. It was recognized and not received well at the audition.
Yes, but we're talking about mimicking a concert pianist as a pedagogical device, not to fix your interpretation along those lines. If you want to, you can attempt to mimic multiple concert pianists.

I think it's healthy to mimic other people's playing and steal their ideas. You shouldn't go all out and simply copy all of the time, but how else will you broaden your horizons? You may never get the idea to play something a certain way unless you copy a certain concert pianist who managed to get that sound.

There is something to be said about not going overboard with that though, and I thought I would mention one of my favorite interviews of all time, Oscar Peterson and Andre Previn.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFNMw3GW3Ng

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Even when I had a teacher, when I played something incorrectly, the teacher would show me the right way by playing it correctly right there in front of me. I'm willing to bet that 99% of face-to-face teachers do the same thing today.

So what is different having your teacher play it then listening to Lang Lang or Horowitz play it?
Yeah, listen and learn...

Or as they used to say in Spanish class, escucha y repite

Last edited by trooplewis; 02/20/21 11:29 PM.

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in my untrained ear, i found Gould's style has a lot of staccatos, even the original sheet doesn't mark as so,
and of course hi lines of voice separation is crystal clear


Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by 24000rpm
I think I should have been more clear about this. What my friend was telling me is that : do not listen to a recording BEFORE you learned the piece.
After you can fluently play the piece, listen to anything you want.

The idea, as I was told, is this:

1. a beginner like me occasionally would read the scores wrong , so listening to a recording before you learn the piece will kinda rob you the opportunity to carefully read the sheet and/or double checking because you would have the sound of the recording as an aid.

2. phrasing and dynamics, etc---- phrasing a piece of music and making dynamics are acquired skills. Listening what you are learning would rob you the opportunity to do the "homework" yourself


etc etc
etc etc

I really dont think so. First of all, most great composers started by imitating older composers before finding their own style (sometimes quite early though). So first thing, there is nothing wrong copying a great version. Second, i think that unless you are already quite experienced with various styles and composers and have a good sense of what is or is not musical, it is a bit presomptuous to believe that you can build up your "personal" vision of the piece. Most likely, you will just not do much justice to it. That said, nothing wrong with trying to do it and then compare it. Then if you want to be faithfull to a given style, you need to master the elements of that style.

On your points, i dont see why listening to other versions would rob you of anything. To do the homework as you say implies that you have the skills to do so. Learning how to phrase is not innate. There are things that works and others dont. Listening to other versions will give you some guidance as to how to do it. It is not very different from a session with your teacher where he will correct you when you are playing incorrectly (not technically). If you have no clue as to how to phrase, listen to other versions. If you have an idea, give it a shot and then check it out.

I dont think you have to make it a rigid kind of rule, like never or always.

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