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I had a feeling that
Either
I have the ”musicality" ability already because of my previous non-piano music education. This means that the lacking of my technique causing
lacking of musicality as a result.

Or I don't understand musicality altogether.

I hope it is the former.


Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Wayne2467
By “ musicality” do we mean adding the dynamics to a piece or something else?

Dynamics are one of the basic elements of musicality. Other examples include things like phrasing, articulation, metric pulse, accents, rubato, and tone production. All these elements can be tought individually or together. At more advanced levels teachers talk in more abstract terms like "make the music breathe" or "brighter colors" and similar terms but it mostly comes down to the same basics. These are things all decent teachers teach right from the beginner stages.

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There's no "like" function on the forum so I can't demonstrate that I appreciate all the reply to my post. I'm having a 3rd lesson today and I'll see what's next.

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I don't think you necessarily have to be able to play well to talk about musicality. To what extent does music "make sense" to you? Suppose you didn't have a teacher or anyone to tell you what to do. What does your gut instinct tell you to do? And why?

Forget about the piano for a moment. What makes a piece of music beautiful?

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Many years ago my sister took violin lessons for a few years and quit. Don't think she has plans to return to it as an adult. Back in those days she started learning in school and eventually got a private teacher. Coming from a non-musical family, nobody could tell her anything about the instrument except if you play it properly, it's suppose to sound nice. We all heard of Itzhak Perlman the famous violinist. Other than she had no expectation what she wanted to get out of playing besides what the teacher was telling her. And she didn't listen to recordings of any violinists. It's like travelling to a different city without a roadmap.

While she was taking lessons, the teacher didn't arrange year-end recitals. This would probably make a difference. If a student have something to look forward & prepare for, he /she would practice harder. When you have to perform in front of any audience even just a few people you'd try your best.

Today people are more informed than before. At least the people who post comments here would get feedback. We're not taking music lessons because we have nothing better to do. At least we set goals and try to achieve them.

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so today(Thursday), instead of 2 days ago , is my 3rd lesson since the teacher's re-modeling his home.

Today's lesson is rather short, only 45 minutes as I noticed, I'm not sure why and I didn't ask.

After I played the homework pieces from Beyer's book in front of him, today's only got 2 topics:

1. Three days ago, I asked him on the internet that if he could also train my ears, so today he told me a few methods to train the ear on the piano.

2. Part one of how to strike a key. This is the first time that I got confused.

He told me anything after the knuckle ( fingers) should be rigid when I strike a key. The wrist, which is before the knuckle, should be completely relaxed. He showed me how he does it. He freezes after he strikes a key. Then, he let me push down on his wrist, which can be easily pushed down and lift up (meaning: relaxed). He let me push his knuckle and fingers, and I felt they are really rigid.

I tried myself there and at home, i can never let my wrist relax , its always rigid. I tried several times and I couldn't do it.
It seems that the method he described is that: The only things that keep my hand flat with my forearm are 2 points: 1 is the finger which touches the keys, 2 is the upper arm that keeps the forearm from being dropped. In the middle, the wrist seems to be completely bone-less. I am sure somebody can describe this better but that's all I can articulate now.
He told me an average person could learn this in 3 weeks.
Part two of how to strike a key is from knuckle to finger tip, which will be addressed later. He said this part is what distinguishes a concert pianist from a good piano player.
Part three will be arms and whole bodies, which will be addressed later.
It seems part one's gist lies in a relaxed wrist and a rigid finger.

homework
1. continue to practice the 6 pieces from Beyer's book.
2. ABRSM sight reading material level 1 and 2 : tap the rhythms.

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That was really hard to answer by words. On recorded musics, I know I appreciate certain musics, such as bach's WTC and frech suites, Greg's orchestra musics, mozart's requiem, Scriabins piano music. I can also like certain versions of them and not so much on other versions(players)

that's pretty much it.


Originally Posted by ranjit
I don't think you necessarily have to be able to play well to talk about musicality. To what extent does music "make sense" to you? Suppose you didn't have a teacher or anyone to tell you what to do. What does your gut instinct tell you to do? And why?

Forget about the piano for a moment. What makes a piece of music beautiful?

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I have read the entire thread, and I've seen nothing that suggests to me that this teacher might be inappropriate for you. Everything you have reported about his interactions with you seems logical and meaningful, especially given the possibility that your profile (adulthood, no piano experience, substantial other musical experience, no desire for exams or creditation, etc.) might be unusual compared to the beginning piano students he normally sees . And, it seems like he is now beginning to teach you in the area where one would expect such a student to have great need, mechanics and musicality (the finger training).

So far, I think you are in good hands.


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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Not sure if you have any experience playing an instrument in the past such as a violin or flute. I have experience playing violin so starting piano was easier. I had to train myself to read the bass clef that violin students don't have to do.

I hate to stereotype people but over the years I find things that are common in the Asian community (Chinese & Koreans):

1. Music grade levels.
I've seen many videos of young Asians playing with the grade level in bold in the title with the piece they're playing such as: ABRSM Gr. 5 - Bach Invention #8 or Mozart Sonata #16 sort of thing.
Every grade level you pass successfully is a sign of accomplishment. In the Asian community they like to show-off their piano grade especially.

2. Lack of praise /complement.
Unless you won a piano competition as #1, there is always room for improvement. People in the West would praise a student even if he/she is not the best. People in the East would get students to work harder to correct mistakes before giving praise.

3. Idolizing concert pianists.
Many young Chinese students would tell you they want to be like Lang Lang or Yundi Li. You ask a young virtuoso like Ryan Wang from Vancouver, Canada and he'd tell you he wants to play like Y. Li. You get a lot of "I want to play the Chopin Concerto #2 or Tchaikovsky Concerto because of LL" from the Chinese community.

4. Learning Classical music.
Many Asians would start with Classical music regardless what instrument they're learning. Although Popular music have been around for more than half a century, it's not as popular in the Asian community.

When someone asks me (assuming I'm a beginner starting my first lesson) what I want to get out of playing piano... I might give a common Asian reply something like I want to eventually pass the ABRSM Gr. 5 exam, I want to play like LL or I want to learn Classical music.

Good luck with your music journey!

@thepianoplayer416

It's easy to dump on the Chinese-way from our western perspective. But do try to remember, they're only 2 generations out from the cultural revolution. Most of their citizens were very poor. Piano has only been a suddenly affordable item thanks to their extremely effective and rapid command economy. They do not yet see the arts as a thing onto itself, they see it as an object with rigid outlines. The majority of Today's Chinese parents grew up with very little, they themselves have never had exposure to the arts in the same way westerners who have been wealthy for longer has.

So really, you're looking at a low-income class mentality having suddenly been elevated by their communist regime. These parents are nuveau-riche, and from our _Old Money_ perspective of artistic pursuit, their structure indeed would seem crass. However, we should be very careful in keeping our own arrogance in check while peering at someone who's only begun their journey to the same Lucky state that we've had. If you talk to some of the Old-Money Asians, their comprehension is much more similar to what we're used to.

The Lack of praise very much has to do with their prevailing Confucian philosophy in preserving harmony. The goal of the philosophy is to mitigate undeserved accolade by promoting modesty. Overall this does not clash with western philosophy/virtues, they're only more overt about it.

Langlang, Yundi Li, Yuja W, These few are marketing vehicles for Steinway, daggers of western Capitalism. This I do believe to be unhealthy, as they are promoted to an undeserving stature, NO pianist is THAT much better than the next. But hey China's the only country buying up pianos these days, so if that's what it takes to keep pianism afloat, I have no objections.

Classical music on piano is typically more verbose than popular music, from a technical standpoint it's pretty straightforward to pursue it. Again I don't see a problem here.

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Not sure if you have any experience playing an instrument in the past such as a violin or flute. I have experience playing violin so starting piano was easier. I had to train myself to read the bass clef that violin students don't have to do.

I hate to stereotype people but over the years I find things that are common in the Asian community (Chinese & Koreans):

1. Music grade levels.
I've seen many videos of young Asians playing with the grade level in bold in the title with the piece they're playing such as: ABRSM Gr. 5 - Bach Invention #8 or Mozart Sonata #16 sort of thing.
Every grade level you pass successfully is a sign of accomplishment. In the Asian community they like to show-off their piano grade especially.

2. Lack of praise /complement.
Unless you won a piano competition as #1, there is always room for improvement. People in the West would praise a student even if he/she is not the best. People in the East would get students to work harder to correct mistakes before giving praise.

3. Idolizing concert pianists.
Many young Chinese students would tell you they want to be like Lang Lang or Yundi Li. You ask a young virtuoso like Ryan Wang from Vancouver, Canada and he'd tell you he wants to play like Y. Li. You get a lot of "I want to play the Chopin Concerto #2 or Tchaikovsky Concerto because of LL" from the Chinese community.

4. Learning Classical music.
Many Asians would start with Classical music regardless what instrument they're learning. Although Popular music have been around for more than half a century, it's not as popular in the Asian community.

When someone asks me (assuming I'm a beginner starting my first lesson) what I want to get out of playing piano... I might give a common Asian reply something like I want to eventually pass the ABRSM Gr. 5 exam, I want to play like LL or I want to learn Classical music.

Good luck with your music journey!

@thepianoplayer416

It's easy to dump on the Chinese-way from our western perspective. But do try to remember, they're only 2 generations out from the cultural revolution. Most of their citizens were very poor. Piano has only been a suddenly affordable item thanks to their extremely effective and rapid command economy. They do not yet see the arts as a thing onto itself, they see it as an object with rigid outlines. The majority of Today's Chinese parents grew up with very little, they themselves have never had exposure to the arts in the same way westerners who have been wealthy for longer has.

So really, you're looking at a low-income class mentality having suddenly been elevated by their communist regime. These parents are nuveau-riche, and from our _Old Money_ perspective of artistic pursuit, their structure indeed would seem crass. However, we should be very careful in keeping our own arrogance in check while peering at someone who's only begun their journey to the same Lucky state that we've had. If you talk to some of the Old-Money Asians, their comprehension is much more similar to what we're used to.

The Lack of praise very much has to do with their prevailing Confucian philosophy in preserving harmony. The goal of the philosophy is to mitigate undeserved accolade by promoting modesty. Overall this does not clash with western philosophy/virtues, they're only more overt about it.

Langlang, Yundi Li, Yuja W, These few are marketing vehicles for Steinway, daggers of western Capitalism. This I do believe to be unhealthy, as they are promoted to an undeserving stature, NO pianist is THAT much better than the next. But hey China's the only country buying up pianos these days, so if that's what it takes to keep pianism afloat, I have no objections.

Classical music on piano is typically more verbose than popular music, from a technical standpoint it's pretty straightforward to pursue it. Again I don't see a problem here.

That's good advice, EinLudov. Thanks for posting.

One of my very first transactions with a Chinese business resulted in them sending an item that clearly and undeniably did not comply with the specifications agreed upon. Despite not denying the disparities, the seller initially and seriously tried to defend on the grounds that I could just adjust my expectations in order to get the product to meet my expectations. My initial impression was that I was dealing with a thief!

But, through the ensuing conversations, it became apparent to me that no evil was being attempted. I came to the realization that the seller, based upon his particular culture, did not have the same sense of the individual, specifically the sanctity and personal sovereignty of the individual, that we United Statesians have. To the seller, the compliance of the product with our sale terms was something the "authority" (in this case, the seller) could just dictate, and the subject had no choice but to acquiesce. I think the representative of the seller with whom I was dealing was sincerely confounded by my ideas that I (an iindividual) had the right to my money, and could insist on the seller's compliance as precondition him getting any of it. I think he was just trapped by his cultural background , and operating within the confines of the only universe that he knew.

Recognizing the cultural differences that shaped our interactions helped me remain civil throughout, and helped me eventually get the satisfactory outcome I wanted. It took a little learning on both ends to get it done.

[edit] Oops, I forgot to include that I did not take thepianoplayer416's commentary as being any form of "dumping" on Chinese persons or culture. I thought they were just honest observations from, and interesting reflections on, his experiences.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 03/26/21 04:02 PM.

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As an Asian American I appreciate the understanding of cultural differences, but I want to point out there’s actually more commonality than differences. Of the 4 items thepianoplayer416 mentioned, only #2 — the lack of praise — I would concede as something characteristic of Asian, and even that is probably changing with time.

#1 the emphasis on ABRSM levels — I have never seen the types of videos where ABRSM level is highlighted, except for instructional videos that are meant to be references for students who want to take the exams.

#4 the interest in classical music — I don’t even know why this is singled out as a fault, but look at this forum and the types of music being discussed here, look at the playlist of the most recent recital, the vast majority is classical music. What’s wrong with that?

Finally, #3 the idolization of famous pianists — this one I don’t know enough about what young Asian or non-Asian learners would say, as I mostly talk to adult beginners like me, so for us being like Lang Lang is next to impossible. But again, what’s wrong? If we switch to a different field — we see kids playing sports and say “I want to play basketball like Michael Jordan”, do we not smile encouragingly thinking it’s cute that little kids have big dreams? Or do we actually think “oh no this kid is obsessed with his idols that he’s not playing basketball for his own enjoyment anymore”?

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Originally Posted by Yao
If we switch to a different field — we see kids playing sports and say “I want to play basketball like Michael Jordan”, do we not smile encouragingly thinking it’s cute that little kids have big dreams? Or do we actually think “oh no this kid is obsessed with his idols that he’s not playing basketball for his own enjoyment anymore”?
You took the words out of my mouth. Allow adults to dream too! And I think being able to dream big is very important, otherwise your small dreams will limit you! People complain about adults, but don't realize that the fact that they don't allow adults to "be children" and make mistakes is a large part of why they don't end up successful. If an adult wants to play like Lang Lang, but "just" ends up getting an ARCT diploma, isn't that still awesome?

About #4 -- I think it is very rational to start with classical music because there is an established tradition of teaching and pedagogy, and clear goals.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Yao
If we switch to a different field — we see kids playing sports and say “I want to play basketball like Michael Jordan”, do we not smile encouragingly thinking it’s cute that little kids have big dreams? Or do we actually think “oh no this kid is obsessed with his idols that he’s not playing basketball for his own enjoyment anymore”?
You took the words out of my mouth. Allow adults to dream too! And I think being able to dream big is very important, otherwise your small dreams will limit you! People complain about adults, but don't realize that the fact that they don't allow adults to "be children" and make mistakes is a large part of why they don't end up successful. If an adult wants to play like Lang Lang, but "just" ends up getting an ARCT diploma, isn't that still awesome?

About #4 -- I think it is very rational to start with classical music because there is an established tradition of teaching and pedagogy, and clear goals.

I absolutely agree with this. Adults should be allowed to have big dreams. In fact, they should be encouraged to dream big. Why not? Does growing up mean life is over? Of course not.

While I don’t aim to be Lang Lang, there’s no reason why I can’t get an ARCT if I work hard and give myself adequate time.

Having said that, dreaming big is not working on ARCT pieces while a beginner though (ok, exaggeration here). To me, that’s not called dreaming big. That’s called fantasizing.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 03/27/21 09:33 PM.

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As an adult learner myself, I'm more concerned with keeping my mind active to prevent /delay the onset of dementia than dreaming to become a virtuoso.

Some people in the family took piano lessons at a young age. I'm 1 of the few who started late. Practice is time consuming and it is also very personal. Nobody in the family is into music as a profession. I'm doing it as a hobby. In time of lockdown that we're in, playing music and my weekly lessons provide relief to the stress we're facing everyday.

Besides playing the required pieces assigned by a teacher, I also download short pieces regularly and play them my own way. I started off with a mostly Classical repertoire. Today I also include pieces from other genres.

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ok, so my fourth lesson on Thursday again.

1st is me to perform all the Beyer book's 6 pieces. all 5 were performed without hiccup, and there's just one that I would stumble upon one note(Beyer OP101, #24, 3rd measure, left hand, last note) and even if I tried the 2nd time it will stumbles, 3rd time, still. My teacher stopped me and tells me that it is because your control over your 2nd and 3rd finger (left hand) is less than the other fingers. To do it correctly, he said, is to slow down at the error point, not trying to fix it in the same tempo I had. There's another piece that I had one note played unknownly wrong and he pointed it out. I re-read the sheet music, heck, how can I not notice it before.

2nd, from one of the Beyer's pieces. He said this piece needed a lot of expression. He demonstrated how I should ( or at least an option of how to) do it. He was talking about 4 kind of hitting keys. 1) finger speed is high but hit strength is low. 2) finger speed is high and hit streng is high. 3) finger speed is low and hit strength is low 4) finger speed is low and hit strength is high.


3rd from one of the Beyer's pieces, he pointed out how Rubato is different from alternating the relative length of notes. ( example: one 1/4 note followed by a 1/2 note, he'd play it like 1/8 followed by a slightly longer than 1/2 note). Rubato is different, Rubato is a change of tempo, meaning you enlarge or diminish the total time of these 2 notes. In the above-mentioned case, the total length of the 2 notes is not changed. And this case is called "cheating"(some chinese folk way of saying it), as mentioned in my first lession. Rubato is different than cheating.

4th, again from one of the Beyer's pieces(#46), he said the way I played it is too mechanical, rhythm is not played out as it should. In particular, the first note of each measure should be louder than the rest. He said we can deal with it later. But I said I can do that, I'll let you see me perform it the way he described next time. He said ok

5th, again from one of the Bey'ers pieces(#11). again, I play it in a too mechanical way. He put a few arches(is that called a slur?) on the notes saying these are the phrasing and I should be allowing slightly a little bit of a delay between the phrases. Also my left hand's sound is a little too loud. He said the accompaniment should not be noticed by untrained listeners. He also showed me how my right hand has to roll somehow to play the first 2 notes, which I imitated on site. I also noticed that, while all of my fingers are on the keys, when he plays, I saw he doesn't do that. Maybe because the music is too simple. He only sticks out one finger that's about to be used.

here's the sheet music :
https://cn.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=lchbunK%2F&id=69BA5118412C7061ADF711343C08A4C569D7F4CB&thid=OIP.lchbunK_rquQFCEnCIl3RwHaJl&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fmusescore.com%2Fstatic%2Fmusescore%2Fscoredata%2Fgen%2F7%2F8%2F1%2F4880187%2F90d416a241235ecef5883723c8dbe6853892689f%2Fscore_0.png%40850x1100%3Fno-cachee%3D1531731922&exph=1100&expw=850&q=beyer+%2311&simid=608038855176965124&ck=E2017743E421B0C2C257892D0DD91FB7&selectedindex=3&form=IRPRST&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&sim=11


6th, on Beyer's #23's 11th measure, he mentioned how a staccato is different from a shortened note(or whatever it is called...im not sure what's the english for that)


homework:
1) 3 more Beyer's pieces (46,47,48)
2) re-play the #11, attention to the phrasing and articulation

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On a side note, I found another music teacher ---- for music in general. I told him that my purpose is to be able to

analyze full scores of complex musics, such as beethoven's symphonies.
tell the difference between different composer styles and tell them apart solely by reading the scores.
ear training

The new teacher is a recent grad majored in singing from my local conservatory and is going to be a grad student next semester. He is refered to me by the piano teacher.

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This all sounds good to me. I'm happy for you. thumb


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The teacher sounds like he has some clear ideas and that is good. For Beethoven sonatas, you could check out the Coursera course by Jonathan Biss.

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5th Lesson on a thursday again, which is today. The session lasts only 30 min coz he has to leave early for something I am not sure. He'll compensate this for doing 1.5 hours next time. He mentioned he'll have a mini concert this saturday at 6pm. I asked if I can go, he said yes. I am surprised he didn't invite me.

1. I was asked to play the homework piece Beyer 101 #47. I told him that from learning the this piece, I found that a low left hand sound is very difficult to control, which he agrees. He says that in the end , the ultimiate goal is that you should be able to play ppp, pp, p , f, ff, fff at will for either hand. But he does say soft/low volume is more difficult to control than loud ones. Also, when playing "do la re la mi la" (all quarter notes), the la's should be played softer than other notes. Also, he corrected a rythem mistake--- I did a rubato for too long, too much.

He told me a way to execise the control of speed and strength of hit of fingers/hands. Using one hand, Just play do mi so or do re mi fa so, from loud to soft from loud to soft, rince and repeat. After that one was felt good, you can add a "noise" from another hand, do whatever you want with it on the piano, like hitting a key loudly or even all five fingers on lots of keys to make a noise. Pay attention to the playing hand, the noise hand shouldn't affect any play quality of the playing hand.

2. I played beyer 101 #48. He said i played perfectly with a good soft left hand accompaniment sound.

3. I played a previous homework, "the cuckoo", and he said im much better this time. He repeated the technique that when you encounter 2 notes to be played consecutively as a slur, I need to kinda roll the hand and play the 2nd note softly. There's a special word for it, but im not sure what's that in English. In chinese, its called "qi luo"

4. Homework: Beyer #50,52,55. He played all 3 piece for me. He said that's how a "regular pianist" would play it. From these lessons he has learnt that I kinda have an inclination for a mechanical way of playing things (bach-like style). He said its not "wrong" to play it like a mechincal machine but just not popular. meaning ,usually poeople don't play like that. Then he demonstrated #52 how a good mechanical way of playing it, saying its ok to play like this. He also played another interpretation of #55, saying that the previous version should be correct since the music very mozart ( left hand: do so mi so do so mi so"

Small detail from conversation from social network: Since im learning music theory at the same time, I have a measure from a Liszt's piano score that I can't read. I asked him how was that note supposed to be played, he answered. Then he asked me what music is this, then I showed him the full score.
He ask me if I could send all of the digital scores I have. Then I brought my thinkpad to the lesson and he copied them on his thumb drive saying that he has a habit of hoarding scores. LOL.

Another detail: also online, a few days ago, I send him a video that I played outside of our education ---- a random well-known piece my dad is playing. His comment: "good, all notes are correctly read and pressed" I vote this comment of the year. LOL. Then, in the lesson, when we met, he said "its ok to play outside of what we teach/learn, and its ok to send me videos and show me what you are doing." He continued, " from your blogs and what you send me and what you play in front of me from the past weeks, I consider you a very musical person, in spite that you always claim that you do things in a mechanical way because of your engineering background"

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Many years ago as very young children, my sister (3 years older) and I had piano lessons.

We always had the same teachers.

I got as far as passing Grade 1 and found myself totally uninspired by the teaching, which led to me to put less and less effort in and ended up quitting, whereas my sister loved her lessons, got all the exams, ended up both teaching music at school and a piano teacher.

She’s the sort of pianist you can put almost any sheet of music in front of and usually she can just play it.

Just goes to show how what works for one individual doesn’t always work with another.

Last edited by Ojustaboo; 04/08/21 06:34 PM.

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Children get into playing the same instrument with the same teacher out of convenience don’t always work. Even at a young age some kids know the instruments they want to play. Yo-Yo Ma was handed a violin by his parents but passed for a cello.

A while ago an online newsletter was posted by the president of the Kawai Association of America. The man wanted his son to learn piano. After a few lessons the son got into playing baseball. Shouldn’t push a child into music hoping he/she would like it later. Don’t expect to put a child in front of a piano and he/she would eventually become a virtuoso. The first few months is enough to determine if a child is interested in an instrument or learning music in general. Many start as adults like myself who have the inclination to practice everyday.

Some families you have child A playing piano & B doing violin. You can have a duet or quartet but let the kids decide for themselves.

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