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Originally Posted by dogperson
This thread has evolved into something that I’d more suitable for the Pianists forum and is of little benefit to the beginners on this forum. They don’t need to read what an advanced or concert pianist does, but what they should do as an early learner.

Can we start a new thread for advanced pianist discussion on the Pianists corner and discuss the appropriate path for beginning to low intermediate students?

Moving this to another forum is a good idea.

However, in my experience, beginners and early learners by definition typically do not know how to proceed in matters such as this.

Perhaps a more appropriate venue would be the Piano Teachers forum here on PW.


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ok, an somewhat negative example. When I started , i stretch myself too much and I learnt bach's 2part invention #13 and wtc book 1 #2 prelude.
After I learned these, I listened to recordings again and again, from various artists.
I spotted an error today on my invention #13, I missed one hidden "#" after the same note appeared before in the same measure.
The problem is, I didn't spot the error because I listened to the recordings. I read the scores again and again to appreciate its beauty and found it suddenly, without a piano.

Last edited by 24000rpm; 02/23/21 03:25 PM.
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Things have got lost in translation - not unexpected, if you go from English to Urdu to Aramaic to Mongolian and back again via Esperanto.

[movie clip]

I watched the clip but I didn't get how it fits in what we're discussing.
Yes, we have to contend with this, and there isn't always a chance to find the original. However a professional translator will not just translate words. We do research, use background knowledge, and ask questions. We consult others, or say "Sorry, this is outside of my expertise." Here is the pertinence to music: Interpreting the music involves some knowledge which you apply; or experience that may be more instinctive. If a piece is in 3/4 time and you know it's a waltz, you will probably know what to do with those notes.

I'm still not quite getting the English to Urdo to Aramaic etc. bit. Do you mean; there's a composition - pianist A copies pianist B who copied pianist C who copied pianist D, and maybe D has seen the score and the rest haven't?

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Originally Posted by 24000rpm
ok, an somewhat negative example. When I started , i stretch myself too much and I learnt bach's 2part invention #13 and wtc book 1 #2 prelude.
After I learned these, I listened to recordings again and again, from various artists.
I spotted an error today on my invention #13, I missed one hidden "#" after the same note appeared before in the same measure.
The problem is, I didn't spot the error because I listened to the recordings. I read the scores again and again to appreciate its beauty and found it suddenly, without a piano.

If you listen to others play it, the objective is not to compare note by note to check if you are playing the right notes. You can occasionally spot an error but thats not the main purpose. What you are looking is things like the effect various tempo can have, the articulation, phrasing, some stylistic elements. How difficult places are managed.

So after you listened all those other versions, what did you get out of it ?

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Here's a thing about listening when you are still relatively new, or there are things you have not yet learned to hear or understand. It happed a few years ago when I took part in a themed recital here, and I took the only composition which for some reason seemed never to be played by student - yet the notes were so "simple"? I got the simple notes down. But I could not turn it into music i.e. make it interesting.

There were only 4 or 5 professionals who played it, and no students. I think one was Arrau. Each pianist played it differently, each made it interesting. I could hear that they were doing something to the rhythm: some speeding up, some agogic accents maybe. But I could not hear what I was hearing. When I experimented, if it got interesting with some kind of cool flow, people I tested it on said "I can't hear your pulse." Well, I had a weak sense of pulse, even if I could do proper timing, and also could not hear when it was lacking. If I counted strictly I could end up with good pulse. But it got boring again. I had to grow my hearing and understanding. Before improving these, no amount of listening would have helped.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Here's a thing about listening when you are still relatively new, or there are things you have not yet learned to hear or understand. It happed a few years ago when I took part in a themed recital here, and I took the only composition which for some reason seemed never to be played by student - yet the notes were so "simple"? I got the simple notes down. But I could not turn it into music i.e. make it interesting.

There were only 4 or 5 professionals who played it, and no students. I think one was Arrau. Each pianist played it differently, each made it interesting. I could hear that they were doing something to the rhythm: some speeding up, some agogic accents maybe. But I could not hear what I was hearing. When I experimented, if it got interesting with some kind of cool flow, people I tested it on said "I can't hear your pulse." Well, I had a weak sense of pulse, even if I could do proper timing, and also could not hear when it was lacking. If I counted strictly I could end up with good pulse. But it got boring again. I had to grow my hearing and understanding. Before improving these, no amount of listening would have helped.

Yea well that sounds about right. Most likely you won't be even able to hear everything that a professional does when you are still a beginner. So worst case the impact of listening to someone else playing ist simply zero.

I'm an adult beginner and I have been listening to classical music for most of my live. Apart from total beginner stuff that no one would ever touch I have heard all of the pieces I want to play hundreds of times. I'm not choosing those pieces by accident, I want to play them because I like them and I have heard them before. What I'm learning now "Träumerei" is probably one of my favorite pieces of all time. Countless people have played that before and I have listended to a large amount of them.
So now I stop listening to one of my favorite pieces of classical music, because I'm learning it? I'm not going to erase the memories of how others interpreted it, it's impossible. That might be different for children, but as adult beginners, you have have listened to piano music before, unless you live in shed in the wilderness.

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I think that even children who play well at a young age have formed a subconscious corpus of hundreds of pieces just by being exposed to classical music at home.

If you already have that listening experience especially as a young child, it's kind of like having learned a language. You may forget that you actually learned it, but it stays with you. So the ideas which come to mind, which you use to interpret pieces, are heavily influenced by your database of pieces, and understanding of the style.

I think that immersion is incredibly powerful in that sense. It is what I've used to learn classical music so far. Every other system of music has an aural tradition. The fact that the European classical tradition has gotten divorced from that does not mean that music learning happens any differently. Of course, once you have a strong imprint of a hundred Strauss and Chopin waltzes in your head, you can probably come up with meaningful ways to interpret the next one you hear. Notation is just an approximation of the actual music.

You will usually not find the interpretive ideas written down. It's not as if there will be a note in the margin -- "agogic accents might be a good idea here ^^". So how do those ideas come about in the first place? This is where listening to recordings is instrumental. It's very common to see people who decide to learn entirely from the sheet music play like robots -- and it's because this whole internal machinery isn't in place which "tells" them what to do, where to take liberties, what makes sense musically.

So, you listen to recordings to get a sense of those tools. You try and imitate them so that you can be sure that you properly understood and internalized the specific ideas, and check if they're working as they should.

It's a misconception in many creative fields that ideas come "out of nowhere". It is useless to think this way imo, because while your idea may be a very clever combination of existing ideas, it will never be new in a fundamental sense. So, it's a great idea to keep collecting ideas of other masters, and eventually, you will be able to draw the links to come up with your own ideas. If you actively handicap yourself by not listening to and imitating recordings, you will probably never get many of those ideas in the first place.

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Originally Posted by rocdoc
Yeah, if I find myself accidentally sounding like Glen Gould because I listened to him performing the piece I was working on, I will bravely accept that terrible draw back smile

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I always try to find someone good to listen to. I do not take lessons so that is about as close as I can get to understanding how the piece should be played.

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A lot of times you'd get into playing a piece because you listened to a recording and like the music. Even if you're not learning by listening to the recording you're familiar enough with the music to know how it should sound. Once I got into playing the first mvt of the Bach Italian concerto in F. This was after hearing the 1985 Keith Jarrett recording. 2 months ago I learned a piano arrangement of the Irish tune "Danny Boy". A year ago I was in a music group and we started working on DB with a few musicians. The piece was a different arrangement and in another Key it's still the same song.

Even a piece assigned by a teacher he/she would suggest the tempo, dynamics and phrasing. Last year I worked on an old Jazz tune "Stormy Weather" from the 1930s with a teacher. she played the first section slowly for the students so we had some idea if we were playing the right notes. And the Gershwin song "Summertime" I worked on with my music group years ago. The next piece I worked on was the Disney theme "When You Wish Upon a Star" from 1940 that I heard on radio recently. Hearing it just once was enough.

I worked on the Cat Stevens arrangement of "Morning Has Broken" before Christmas. Of course I heard a recording on radio many years ago. Suppose you're registered with an online program like Piano Marvel, you can pick songs at random that you don't know and try to do your best. A lot of people like myself would get into a song because we like the music, not because we are good sight-readers and love the challenge of trying something totally new.

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when I hear pros playing it, I got surprises here and there, for sure.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by 24000rpm
ok, an somewhat negative example. When I started , i stretch myself too much and I learnt bach's 2part invention #13 and wtc book 1 #2 prelude.
After I learned these, I listened to recordings again and again, from various artists.
I spotted an error today on my invention #13, I missed one hidden "#" after the same note appeared before in the same measure.
The problem is, I didn't spot the error because I listened to the recordings. I read the scores again and again to appreciate its beauty and found it suddenly, without a piano.

If you listen to others play it, the objective is not to compare note by note to check if you are playing the right notes. You can occasionally spot an error but thats not the main purpose. What you are looking is things like the effect various tempo can have, the articulation, phrasing, some stylistic elements. How difficult places are managed.

So after you listened all those other versions, what did you get out of it ?

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I try to learn things without hearing them first. It's like reading aloud rather than trying to remember what I've heard and piece it together as I read it. I'm intermediate level, but I also like the challenge of seeing whether I can make a piece sound like something on my own.

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Originally Posted by 24000rpm
do you actively avoid listening to the piece that you are working on. For example, if you are working on a Bach invention, you avoid listening to that on a Gould's CD.

One of my friends told me that , to test if you have the ability to interpret the piece yourself and not to have a 'pre-impression' of it or phrasing, etc, you need to avoid listening to other poeple's play, especially virtuoso's.

I found this notion make a little bit sense after a while. Do you?

Being able to listen to what you are working on shortens the time that you need to work on the piece, though, IMHO.

Hi,

I like to listen to the piece before I start to learn it. However, I don't it it really helps me too much because I'd forget the details, probably because I've not played it. I do feel more confident learning once I've heard the piece though; maybe it is psychological (which is still valid and helpful).

I know it is very important for me to repeatedly listen to the piece while learning. This helps me check my phrasing and articulation. For example, just now, I don't play a note staccato (because the book I used did not explicitly indicate it), while Youtube plays it staccato. So I change the way I play it. (I don't think the book is wrong, likely I'm not interpreting the music correctly.)

Even in the past (40 years ago) when I took piano lessons, before starting each piece the teacher would play it for me. Back then, I can't hear the piece whenever I wanted to, so I paid a lot of attention to the initial playing. (Now, thinking back, why wasn't I smart enough to tape the playing I don't know.) So, I think, in general, people put some value on hearing the piece correctly played before starting.

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