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I have recently read quite a few posts on this forum (and others) about the famous Bernhard.
Reading them, I think he would be an ideal teacher for me (almost beginning adult).
Do you know teachers who teach in a similar way?
I mean:
- Planning of learning sessions.
- Classification of the repertoire (of the student's taste) by levels of difficulty.
- Route configuration to achieve the student's objectives.
....

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Originally Posted by Aceituna
Do you know teachers who teach in a similar way?
I mean:
- Planning of learning sessions.
All teachers make plans for the coming sessions.
If they don't, they aren't teachers, so give them a wide berth.
Quote
- Classification of the repertoire (of the student's taste) by levels of difficulty.
That depends on what the teacher is comfortable teaching.

If you want to learn pop or jazz, don't seek a classical teacher (- isn't Bernhard one?). Maybe don't bother with a teacher at all.

And beware of what you mean by 'classification' based on student's taste, unless you're purely interested in learning a very specific kind of rep. Well-rounded (classical) pianists can play anything from 4-voiced fugues to full-blown thickly-chorded late-Romantic stuff. Good teachers always know the right pieces for the student to learn the right musical and technical skills, commensurate with the students level.

If you narrow it right down to, say, anime stuff or Einaudi & his ilk, undoubtedly there are teachers who'll do just that, if only to get paid. (They have to make their living, just like everyone else.) The student is the one who will later regret not learning more rounded skills.

Quote
- Route configuration to achieve the student's objectives.
....
If the student's objectives are general, like "I want to be able - eventually - to play everything from Bach inventions to Beethoven sonatas to Chopin nocturnes to Grieg's Lyric Pieces", the teacher will be very happy.

If the student's objectives are very narrow, the teacher knows that he will regret not learning stuff not directly targeted towards his objectives, because almost certainly his outlook will expand or even change as his musicality develops, but by then, if he hasn't already mastered (i.e. been taught) the basics that he can build on to learn the other stuff, he will be severely disadvantaged.....


"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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Originally Posted by bennevis
I mean:
- Planning of learning sessions.

I mean learning sessions of each piece, like is explained in:
https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,7664.msg77057.html#msg77057

".........As it is, this plan assumes one session per day. So yes, you would do session 6 the next day. And it should take you a minimum of 39 days to complete this piece working on it 15 – 20 minutes a day. (more if you need to repeat the same session several days in a row – which is a common occurrence).

Could you do it in less than 39 days? Sure. Just dedicate more than one practice session per day to different sections. Here is a plan that will get you there in 18 days minimum. The session times in brackets represent “joined” sections that can often be mastered in a fraction of the time of a totally new session, so you should be able to tackle more than one of those in a single session of 15 – 20 minutes:
(you must renumber all sessions from 1 to 39 for what follows to make sense):

Day 1: session 1 – session 2 – session 3 (3 practice sessions/day)
Day 2: [session 4] – session 5 (2 practice sessions/day)
Day 3 – [session 6] – session 7
Day 4 – [session 8] – session 9
Day 5 – [session 10] Session 10 – session 11 – session 12 – session 13 (4 practice sessions/day)
Day 6: [Session 10 – session 14] - session 15 (2 practice sessions /day)
Day 7: [Session 10 – session 16] – session 17 (2 practice sessions/day)
Day 8: [Session 10 – session 18] – session 19
Day 9: [Session 10 – session 20] – session 21
Day 10: [Session 10 – session 22 – session 23
Day 11: [Session 10 – session 24] – session 25 - session 26

Day 12: [Session 10 – session 24 – session 27] – session 28 (2 practice sessions)
Day 13 : [Session 10 – session 24 - session 29] – session 30
Day 14: [session 10 – session 24 - session 31] - session 32
Day 15: [session 10 – session 24 – session 33] - session 34
Day 16: [session 10 – session 24 – session 35] - session 36
Day 17: [session 10 – session 24 – session 37] – session 38
Day 18: [session 10 – session 24 – session 39]

By day 18, have you noticed how mush you will have practised sessions 10 (the whole piece in motifs) and session 24 (the whole piece separate hands)? This means that it should take you only a couple of minutes to run through them on day 18, and you will have most of the practice session to do session 39. Does that make sense?

But let us say that you are really in a hurry. Here is a 12 day plan:

Day 1: session 1 – session 2 – session 3 (3 practice sessions/day)
Day 2: [session 4] – session 5 – [session 6](3 practice sessions/day)

....."

Last edited by Aceituna; 04/15/21 03:10 PM.
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Originally Posted by Aceituna
I mean learning sessions of each piece, like is explained in:
https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,7664.msg77057.html#msg77057

....."
And what happens (or more accurately, how will you feel) if you don't accomplish all that Mr B claims you will, even if you follow everything he prescribes to the letter? Is it your fault - or is it his?

I now remember some of his very prescriptive nonsense he dispenses to his followers....... whistle


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Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Aceituna]

I now remember some of his very prescriptive nonsense he dispenses to his followers....... whistle

Which ones?

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Does Bernhard still post? Also, did Piano Street change its forum to a paid model or something?

In my first few years of starting piano (as an adult beginner), I really got a lot from his ideas and practice methods. Bennevis obviously doesn't think very highly of him, and I certainly branched out, in terms of how I spend my practice time, as I progressed.

But Aceituna, I know what you mean in asking if there are "teachers like Bernhard." Most teachers don't talk very much about how practice time should be spent.

Another great resource (and another thing I haven't looked at in ages) is Practiceopedia. If you're not familiar, I can go find a link.


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Originally Posted by Aceituna
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Aceituna]

I now remember some of his very prescriptive nonsense he dispenses to his followers....... whistle

Which ones?
To many to list them all.....and I'm certainly not going to look them up in pianostreet (which I never read).

One that made me ROTFL was when he recommended that students should have daily lessons.....presumably with him (so that he can rake in your $$€€££, as well as spoon-feed you in your daily practicing) - he wouldn't want you to shirk your four-hourly daily practice session at the piano, would he?


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Bernhard achieved guru status on Piano Street mostly because of his lengthy authoritative responses that made it seem like he had the answer to every question. He did have many interesting ideas but basically what he preaches is to learn how to practice effectively. Not all teachers teach that but it's something anyone can figure out if you seek to solve problems and not just be spoon-fed by your teacher.

I disagree with the approach of breaking a piece into N distinct sessions in advance and plan those sessions as above. It's very inflexible and doesn't take into account the type of difficulties you may encounter. Instead, I would start out by choosing an overall stratrgy to approach the piece and then plan each session out based on that strategy. Most people just sit down and start practicing. I think the main point to take from Bernhard is to stop doing that and think about what and how you're going to practice.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Aceituna
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=Aceituna]

I now remember some of his very prescriptive nonsense he dispenses to his followers....... whistle

Which ones?
To many to list them all.....and I'm certainly not going to look them up in pianostreet (which I never read).

One that made me ROTFL was when he recommended that students should have daily lessons.....presumably with him (so that he can rake in your $$€€££, as well as spoon-feed you in your daily practicing) - he wouldn't want you to shirk your four-hourly daily practice session at the piano, would he?


Maybe if you haven’t read his teaching plan you should withhold ROFL until you do.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Maybe if you haven’t read his teaching plan you should withhold ROFL until you do.
I've read enough of it to know that I wouldn't want to touch anything he writes with a barge pole.


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I have a teacher who responds to whatever I am doing in each lesson.

He doesn't predict where I will be in a week, or maybe he does predict, but he attends to my playing and works from there, giving feedback and suggestions for practice.


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I checked the original post on pianostreet.

This is Bernhard's outline for Bach's Invention no. 1.

The first 10 practice sessions (15 – 20 minutes each) to master the motif score:

Session 1: bars 1- 2.
Session 2 : bars 3 – 4.
Session 3: bars 11 – 12.
Session 4: bars 1 – 4 & 11 – 12.
Session 5: bars 5 & 7 – 10.
Session 6: bars 1 – 12.
Session 7: bars 13 & 15 – 18.
Session 8: bars 1 – 18.
Session 9: bars 19 – 21.
Session 10: bars 1 – 21 (the whole piece).

I can see immediately from this way of practising that measures 1-4 and 11-12 get practised five times, whereas measures 19-21 get practised twice. Therefore I don't think it is a good schedule at all. If you make a schedule like this, I would prefer all measures to be practised more or less the same amount of time.

However, I don't work with a rigid schedule like this one. Now I don't know Bach's Invention no. 1, but I would look through the score and listen to an analysis, or make my own analysis, and try to identify which measures will be the most difficult to play. I will start my practise with those measures, because they will need the most time to learn.
There is an exception to this: when I see that the most difficult measures are a more complicated repeat of a previous measure, I may start with the easier of the two.


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Isn’t Bernhard pre-identifying the measures that will need the most work and assigning
Them more time?

I’ve been fooled by looking at the score for the complicated measures, but once I find them those are the ones which I concentrate on in practice


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Please read. smile I was fortunate to be able to contact Bernhard a few years ago, and had some e-mail exchanges. It was pure luck. I shared the info here then. So:

When a teacher is teaching in person, he observes the student and selects some of the things he sees; he has a mass of knowledge and experience to draw on and draws on some of it. The interaction is live, and from moment to moment. If what you know is multifaceted and interconnected, you cannot however transmit this in the same way. You cannot duplicate what happens in a lesson, when sharing on-line. Written words are linear, sequential, and permanent. So you have to "disassemble" this "whole" into parts, and present those parts one at a time. The hope is that students reading will manage to reassemble it into a whole - that they will not take what was written literally. But it seems it often was taken literally.

If you (OP) try to duplicate what was in those posts, then you are also taking things literally and not as intended.

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I wasn’t a big fan of his posts. I felt it was tons of jargon and basically it always came down to play small chunks. But I’m no expert just my thoughts on it.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Please read. smile I was fortunate to be able to contact Bernhard a few years ago, and had some e-mail exchanges. It was pure luck. I shared the info here then. So:

When a teacher is teaching in person, he observes the student and selects some of the things he sees; he has a mass of knowledge and experience to draw on and draws on some of it. The interaction is live, and from moment to moment. If what you know is multifaceted and interconnected, you cannot however transmit this in the same way. You cannot duplicate what happens in a lesson, when sharing on-line. Written words are linear, sequential, and permanent. So you have to "disassemble" this "whole" into parts, and present those parts one at a time. The hope is that students reading will manage to reassemble it into a whole - that they will not take what was written literally. But it seems it often was taken literally.

If you (OP) try to duplicate what was in those posts, then you are also taking things literally and not as intended.

I discovered Bernhard when I got back to piano after a long gap. I had never been overtly or systematically taught practice methods so I found his posts very useful on that account; his mantra was try it and see. He also emphasised that he wasn't claiming originality nor was he proposing a "method." He always responded to peoples' queries and did not set up preachy threads of his own. I found his posts entertaining, interesting and informative on wider aspects of music and they led me to researching new (for me) ideas off my own bat.

@keystring: he stopped posting very suddenly and I hoped nothing bad had happened, do you happen to know that he's all right?

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Originally Posted by dorfmouse
@keystring: he stopped posting very suddenly and I hoped nothing bad had happened, do you happen to know that he's all right?

He didn't tell me, but I had a guess. To backtrack - at the time on PW there was a thread started which was for the purpose of following Bernhard, and as it evolved, people seemed to be checking each other to make sure they were following tightly enough. I had a feeling that this was not what B had been after, this tight following and decided to try check with him - sent a PM. By pure coincidence, he happened to pop into PianoStreet after a long absence and saw my message. My feeling is that he had hoped for this "reassembly" thing to take place, but the literal following was happening, so the attempt wasn't working and was better abandoned. Or he didn't have the time anymore. He has quite an extensive and full background.

It was a few years ago now. He was quite alright.

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Thank you keystring, I'm glad to hear that. 😊

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I think he said in one of his posts that he felt he had said all he had to say (he put together an index) and would only be repeating himself if he continued posting.

His comment about students having daily lessons--he had a couple of students whose parents could afford it--was to illustrate the ideal of daily supervised practicing (think Wolfgang and Leopold) and how it could speed up the process of learning. He was fully cognizant of the fact that very, very few people had the time or money to do it.

He never touted his posts as advocating a "method." He did try to break down, for the reader, how to go about practicing (which I think most teachers don't get into nearly enough). The problem was that a few people (readers) took this literally and found they couldn't sustain the effort. I think most readers took from it what they found useful and were happy to have the tips.

Index of Bernhard's tips


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
He never touted his posts as advocating a "method." He did try to break down, for the reader, how to go about practicing (which I think most teachers don't get into nearly enough).

I agree with you on this while I've only had two teachers my first one never gave advice or tips on how to practice. It was "here's a piece have at it" where as my current teacher is always breaking things down and showing me methods to get to the end result. While I was not a big fan of all the posts I do think giving readers some basic practice skills is helpful. I still feel like I need to get better at practicing and learn more how to practice.

Last edited by Sebs; 04/17/21 03:57 PM.
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