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Originally Posted by Sebs
I often forget to listen while playing though it sounds like common sense it's actually easy to neglect that part.

It is all too easy to not listen to what you are playing, to experience the music through your fingers rather than through your ears. This is far from automatic, you have to train yourself to really listen to what you are playing.

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I've faced this issue often. I will play something at a certain standard, and then all the professional pianists will clamor to tell me I'm not quite playing it right, lol. When I hear myself, I'm not able to get that level of polish and refinement -- although I always have some nice, musical spots, the difference between me and a good pianist is quite recognizable.

I am happy that I'm able to bring out a decent amount of musicality, and people recognize it in my playing too.

Here's my suggestion -- imitate! Compare your recording to a professional recording and try to narrow down exactly what makes their recording better. Listen keenly -- you should at least be able to pick up on different kinds of rhythmic accents, rubato and phrasing, dynamics, the overall feeling...

Now, try and play like the person in the recording does. Keep going until you are somewhat satisfied.

I have used this to considerable effect.

Last edited by ranjit; 05/09/21 08:07 PM.
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@Ranjit

I see several problems with copying what a professional pianist does:
First, if you don’t yet have the technical skills to produce the same effect, you can try to copy but you won’t be able to pull it off. One example: a professional pianist emphasizes an inner voice in a phrase. It is a skill that a beginning pianist will not have. You will not be able to copy.

Secondly, why try to copy? Why not just review the score snd see what you have the skills to incorporate? You will be developing skills in interpretation rather than skills in copying. Much more useful long-term IMHO. A beginning pianist can always listen to what they play and ensure all notes are heard and evenly played as the other technical skills are being developed


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Sebs, listened to several of your selections. Nice.
Some have intimated there's a difference between learning a piece and rehearsal.
Recording can be equivalent to a performance. One needs to rehearse a piece, well, a great deal. Resist the hunger to move on, and learn more. Divide your time. A bit of learning. A bit of what Ben mentioned, polishing what you've already essentially learned.


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Thank you for posting this thread. I feel as you do. The responses were very interesting. I'm not to the point of sounding good yet! I will keep learning and improving too, hopefully.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
@Ranjit

I see several problems with copying what a professional pianist does:
First, if you don’t yet have the technical skills to produce the same effect, you can try to copy but you won’t be able to pull it off. One example: a professional pianist emphasizes an inner voice in a phrase. It is a skill that a beginning pianist will not have. You will not be able to copy.
You can try, and will sometimes succeed. I have had times when I have succeeded at this kind of thing. I have often found it easy to change things like these -- if you can generate the new effect, it's well and good. Otherwise, you have a cool new skill to develop.

Originally Posted by dogperson
Secondly, why try to copy? Why not just review the score snd see what you have the skills to incorporate? You will be developing skills in interpretation rather than skills in copying. Much more useful long-term IMHO. A beginning pianist can always listen to what they play and ensure all notes are heard and evenly played as the other technical skills are being developed
Honestly, you keep saying this, but the score tells me nothing! All I can see are the notes and dynamics, crescendo/decrescendo etc., but where is the music?

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Also, to your point, I was following everything in the score. There were nuances in the touch and sound which I was finding hard to pick up on. I've been trying to achieve proper "touch" at the piano. And that does create a difference in sound! I find your view to be short sighted. You don't learn English by reading posts on pianoworld! Sure, the words are all there in the right order and the instructions are clear. But you miss out on all of the extra textual information which actually gives it life. And I can pretty much guarantee that no amount of following the score can teach you that.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Also while I do study pop I assume trying to master these things and working on all these classics will also make my pop music sound better? I would have to imagine classical and more exposure would not have a negative impact.
The classical exposure is definitely going to help make everything else more expressive.

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It could actually have a negative effect. For example, pop requires a different kind of touch, and if you have gotten really used to the cantabile touch you use for classical, it might just seem wrong and you might resist it.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
It could actually have a negative effect. For example, pop requires a different kind of touch, and if you have gotten really used to the cantabile touch you use for classical, it might just seem wrong and you might resist it.
I have no idea what you're talking about. There isn't anything special about playing pop that doesn't also exist in classical technique.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
I listened to a couple of your pieces. There are essentially 2 areas you can work on. One is that you are playing in a metronomically correct way but then it creates a mechanical sound. With time and practice you will learn how to add breathing so that your melodic line becomes more meaningful.

The second is that you basically play every note the same. To add expressiveness, it requires to manage dynamics and articulation, again so that your phrases have a meaning. You can work on that by practising small chunks with your teacher and add some touch control. Good luck.
I aslo listened to your recordings and I agree with Sidokar.

I get the impression that you're always thinking about what your hands are doing at a particular moment and that bogs you down and makes the music too static. When learning something that is difficult it's normal to be always analysing the present moment but to achieve greater fluency (and musicality) you have to think at a higher level and imagine the music ahead of what you're playing.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Also, to your point, I was following everything in the score. There were nuances in the touch and sound which I was finding hard to pick up on. I've been trying to achieve proper "touch" at the piano. And that does create a difference in sound! I find your view to be short sighted. You don't learn English by reading posts on pianoworld! Sure, the words are all there in the right order and the instructions are clear. But you miss out on all of the extra textual information which actually gives it life. And I can pretty much guarantee that no amount of following the score can teach you that.


If you think copying someone else is the way to learn, I’m afraid I find your view short-sighted. How do you think pianists before the internet implosion learned? It wasn’t by copying others and nuances were not missed. If all you learn is how to copy, you will never be able to pick up a score that is not recorded and explore the nuances of the music and develop a personal interpretation.

You are limiting your own development.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
How do you think pianists before the internet implosion learned? It wasn’t by copying others and nuances were not missed. If all you learn is how to copy, you will never be able to pick up a score that is not recorded and explore the nuances of the music and develop a personal interpretation.
They went to concerts since early childhood and were actively involved with the music, ergo, they remembered the music from live performances, and were able to recreate what they had heard (not perfectly literally, but still).

I never said you "only" copy. But if a pianist manages to produce a different sound than you, and if you'd like to achieve it, it's obvious that you lack the knowledge to produce that and there are two options -- keep learning and hope that you will someday realize how to do it in a flash of insight, or actively try and replicate what they are doing, and hope you get some ideas. Which one do you think works better?

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Even though playing with expression takes time and improves with greater technique and experience, it is always better to start incorporating some basic elements of expressiveness very early on. Simple variations of dynamics, a little breathing here and there, some rubato at the end.... It is always good to try to give a sense to a piece, even if very simple. The objective of playing at the piano is expression, and it is just as important as playing the right notes in the right rythm.

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Sebs,

- don't beat yourself up or overthink the 40 piece thing. These are supposed to be toss offs...just do with what you can for a week or so and move on. The purpose is exposure to lots of music, not perfecting performance skills.

- it is a good thing that you can hear stuff you don't like in your recordings. Now you can go to your teacher and ask about improving whatever you perceive as needing work.

-good suggestion already about singing or humming the melody. Try marking where each phrase begins and ends, then try singing that phrase a few different ways. Think of all the nuanced ways you can speak a phrase to give it meaning. Then step back and look at groups of phrases to see how the "conversation" flows. Have fun with it finding what sounds pleasing to your ear. Over time, in years, this kind of becomes second nature.

Good luck,

Jim


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Keyboard control comes with increasing technical mastery, which takes years. That's why when an advanced pianist sight-reads the simplest Grade 1 piece, he still sounds like a pro, whereas a Grade 1 student sounds like, er, a Grade 1 student even though he's playing all the right notes at the same speed (and he's been practicing the piece for three months, not sight-reading it).

Don't overthink or beat yourself up over it. A kid is usually just happy to play all the right notes in the right order at the right time at the right speed, whereas an adult learner thinks he should be able to play it with the same polish & artistry as his teacher (or like that whizz-kid on YT who's been having lessons since he was in diapers). That's not going to happen for another ten years.

Incidentally, when I'm teaching my (child) students, I never play any piece they are learning in its entirety for them, because I don't want them to think they haven't properly 'completed' it, just because there is slight unevenness or 'imperfections' in their execution compared to mine. A good teacher knows when to move on to something else, not keep flogging a dead horse, which, in years to come, would still have been alive and eager to run faster. But by then, he would be running a much tougher course......

This advice is worth repeating.


Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by EinLudov
When was your piano last regulated. grin

haha Yes it's those terrible digital grands, I bet Kawai crapped out on the action. Surely I would play and sound better on Steinway if only I could afford it. I like this excuse

I believe there is actually something to the inferior quality of a digital. I've owned a baby grand. And, I've had frequent access to a Steinway D. But, I've spent more than 99% of my playing time on a digital piano,

My experience is that there is a substantial difference between digitals and acoustics. And, that difference is at its greatest in the area of feel and control. The acoustic somehow just provides feedback that is massively better than the feedback you receive from your digital. And it is that feedback that allows you to make those finely graduated, instantaneous adjustments to your tactile input that make all the difference in the quality if the sound you can produce. This difference is an impediment to learning and honing your fine touch and tone.

I think this difference is the greatest for learners in the early stages of learning. It seems pianists who already have learned great control and expression on acoustics do not have great difficulty in reproducing those qualities on digital pianos. But, learners with no access to acoustic pianos find the path to the desired pianism more difficult, perhaps for lack of an internalized standard (form an acoustic) with which to compare their own performance while trying to learn.

My advice, based upon what has proved helpful to me, is to arrange to get periodic time on an acoustic. And, don't waste that time practicing your learning materials. Rather, use that precious time to play for beauty. Focus solely on the quality of your tone and the expressiveness of your playing. I think becoming more familiar with what is possible on an acoustic will help you in your quest to refine your technique and to elicit the maximum possible beauty from your digital.


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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by dogperson
How do you think pianists before the internet implosion learned? It wasn’t by copying others and nuances were not missed. If all you learn is how to copy, you will never be able to pick up a score that is not recorded and explore the nuances of the music and develop a personal interpretation.
They went to concerts since early childhood and were actively involved with the music, ergo, they remembered the music from live performances, and were able to recreate what they had heard (not perfectly literally, but still).

I never said you "only" copy. But if a pianist manages to produce a different sound than you, and if you'd like to achieve it, it's obvious that you lack the knowledge to produce that and there are two options -- keep learning and hope that you will someday realize how to do it in a flash of insight, or actively try and replicate what they are doing, and hope you get some ideas. Which one do you think works better?

Ranjit, I think you have a useful grasp of the concept of modeling in learning. What is copying but the student's part in the great teaching process of modeling. I have a hard time imagining effective skills training without some modeling going on. Dogperson's admonitions to not limit yourself to just mimicking great pianists has value. But, from what I've read of your approach, it seems to me that your are already aware of this limitation, and have properly focused on incorporating the skills and techniques of great pianists rather than just attempting to reproduce their performances.

For me, mimicking quality performances has been a great way to learn about the various ways to influence the sound I make. I'd love to have a teacher who could impart these techniques, but, in the absence of that, mimicking quality piano performances has been a helpful way to learn. I would say keep on doing what you are doing and learn all you can from great performances.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 05/10/21 10:00 AM.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Here's my suggestion -- imitate! Compare your recording to a professional recording and try to narrow down exactly what makes their recording better. Listen keenly -- you should at least be able to pick up on different kinds of rhythmic accents, rubato and phrasing, dynamics, the overall feeling...

Now, try and play like the person in the recording does. Keep going until you are somewhat satisfied.

I have used this to considerable effect.

The professional players make it sound and look to easy no way I could pick up on the subtle things they do or how they do it. haha Also just my style I just don't listen to a ton others play it when learning a piece.

Originally Posted by Farmerjones
Sebs, listened to several of your selections. Nice.
Some have intimated there's a difference between learning a piece and rehearsal.
Recording can be equivalent to a performance. One needs to rehearse a piece, well, a great deal. Resist the hunger to move on, and learn more. Divide your time. A bit of learning. A bit of what Ben mentioned, polishing what you've already essentially learned.

Thanks! Great advice. I will pick a piece and take it a polish level then see what I think of the recording. I do think this is because these are bonus pieces I'm doing outside of lesson work for the challenge so it takes some balance for sure.



Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by ranjit
It could actually have a negative effect. For example, pop requires a different kind of touch, and if you have gotten really used to the cantabile touch you use for classical, it might just seem wrong and you might resist it.
I have no idea what you're talking about. There isn't anything special about playing pop that doesn't also exist in classical technique.

Same here. I was thinking all playing/practicing has a positive effect as long as practicing properly. The more playing, the more exposure to reading, listening, etc. all helps. I recall a video from LivingPiano where he said even classical pianist would benefit from knowing some pop skills.

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Sidokar
I listened to a couple of your pieces. There are essentially 2 areas you can work on. One is that you are playing in a metronomically correct way but then it creates a mechanical sound. With time and practice you will learn how to add breathing so that your melodic line becomes more meaningful.

The second is that you basically play every note the same. To add expressiveness, it requires to manage dynamics and articulation, again so that your phrases have a meaning. You can work on that by practising small chunks with your teacher and add some touch control. Good luck.
I aslo listened to your recordings and I agree with Sidokar.

I get the impression that you're always thinking about what your hands are doing at a particular moment and that bogs you down and makes the music too static. When learning something that is difficult it's normal to be always analysing the present moment but to achieve greater fluency (and musicality) you have to think at a higher level and imagine the music ahead of what you're playing.

Yes, I am. Im always thinking things like "was that in time 1 AND 2 AND.. then I think dont miss that 3 finger like you did before... oh look out hard part coming up... " those are a few thoughts while playing. Sounds like to play expressively it takes time to learn and to clear you head I imagine you simply need to know the piece very well?


Originally Posted by Sidokar
Even though playing with expression takes time and improves with greater technique and experience, it is always better to start incorporating some basic elements of expressiveness very early on. Simple variations of dynamics, a little breathing here and there, some rubato at the end.... It is always good to try to give a sense to a piece, even if very simple. The objective of playing at the piano is expression, and it is just as important as playing the right notes in the right rythm.

Agree. I also think of time as such a strict thing. I know you need to keep time but Im always thinking it must be exact instead of being more expressive playing like art.




Originally Posted by JimF
Sebs,

- don't beat yourself up or overthink the 40 piece thing. These are supposed to be toss offs...just do with what you can for a week or so and move on. The purpose is exposure to lots of music, not perfecting performance skills.

- it is a good thing that you can hear stuff you don't like in your recordings. Now you can go to your teacher and ask about improving whatever you perceive as needing work.

-good suggestion already about singing or humming the melody. Try marking where each phrase begins and ends, then try singing that phrase a few different ways. Think of all the nuanced ways you can speak a phrase to give it meaning. Then step back and look at groups of phrases to see how the "conversation" flows. Have fun with it finding what sounds pleasing to your ear. Over time, in years, this kind of becomes second nature.

Good luck,

Jim

Will do. I'm probably too worried about the pieces I'm posting when really who cares? No one and it's getting me to practice and play more so no matter what it's already a win!

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I believe there is actually something to the inferior quality of a digital. I've owned a baby grand. And, I've had frequent access to a Steinway D. But, I've spent more than 99% of my playing time on a digital piano,

My experience is that there is a substantial difference between digitals and acoustics. And, that difference is at its greatest in the area of feel and control. The acoustic somehow just provides feedback that is massively better than the feedback you receive from your digital. And it is that feedback that allows you to make those finely graduated, instantaneous adjustments to your tactile input that make all the difference in the quality if the sound you can produce. This difference is an impediment to learning and honing your fine touch and tone.

I think this difference is the greatest for learners in the early stages of learning. It seems pianists who already have learned great control and expression on acoustics do not have great difficulty in reproducing those qualities on digital pianos. But, learners with no access to acoustic pianos find the path to the desired pianism more difficult, perhaps for lack of an internalized standard (form an acoustic) with which to compare their own performance while trying to learn.

My advice, based upon what has proved helpful to me, is to arrange to get periodic time on an acoustic. And, don't waste that time practicing your learning materials. Rather, use that precious time to play for beauty. Focus solely on the quality of your tone and the expressiveness of your playing. I think becoming more familiar with what is possible on an acoustic will help you in your quest to refine your technique and to elicit the maximum possible beauty from your digital.[/quote]

I'm sure there are plenty of benefits to an acoustic although I won't have regular access to an acoustic if I ever get use one I will definitely try to play something I know even if it's just dynamics with scales.

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I just made a long reply to this...
But, it seems to have been lost in space.
No way I'll try and re-write that.


Will do some R&B for a while. Give the classical a break.
You can spend the rest of your life looking for music on a sheet of paper. You'll never find it, because it just ain't there. - Me Myself
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