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Quick tip -- you can record yourself on an IPhone, but do not listen back on one. Listen back on some good headphones or speakers.

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This week I listened to an old recording of a Brahms Hungarian Dance remastered from an old cylinder. There was the version on paper and the recording supposedly by the composer himself. 1 section the L & R sounded slightly out of sync. The commentator said that this approach to playing was acceptable in the 19th century. Great composers like Bach was open to improvisation. The written score is to be used as the starting point. Don’t think composers expected their pieces to be reproduced note for note as written on paper.

Recently listened to a Bach piece performed by Lang Lang. It’s a piano arrangement of an orchestral score. Besides some trills that was in the original, he played a few chords as arpeggios. The separate notes of a chord would be played by flutes, violins, viola & oboes at sync. The piano version you’re combining notes from these instruments as a chord and can play as block or arpeggio.

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Just thinking out loud.

If I were teaching an older hobbyist adult, and he preferred to play a piece in a style that was not really traditional for that repertoire, I might just suggest pieces that did fit that style better.

Why have the battle?

Or if I'm the student, I might just explain i don't like playing pieces in a way that sounds dry and unemotional to me, can you suggest something to work on that fits me better?

I asked my teacher for help on a piece, and he said "you know, I really hate that kind of stuff." Of course he did work with me, and it was a skill that i needed occasionally in performance, but then I started thinking about what I liked to play versus what everybody works on, and I changed some of my practice habits.

I'm also an older hobbyist adult, unlikely to turn pro any time soon, so I play what I like or what I need to if I like the group I might play with.

Last edited by TimR; 05/28/21 07:27 AM.

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Originally Posted by 3B43
BTW.....the recordings, played my way/his way sounded.....not the way I’m hearing them when I play them.
I suggest that you say to your teacher: "You can play Chopin your way; I'll play him his way!" smirk (to paraphrase Wanda L.)


"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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Here is a specific work in yesterday's lesson (with another student) on a specific place in a specific Chopin work - Nocturne in E flat major, bar 16.

https://musescore.com/user/6662591/scores/4383881 :
This passage, beyond any doubt, requires execution rubato. However, I am not trying to impose on the student which type of rubato to use; but indicate the direction towards the principle of its creation.
Rubato reflects the emotional fluctuations of the rhythmic process, not its distortions. Rhythm distortion occurs when each changed note or group of notes is deliberately bulged out , without any connection with the overall rhythmic groove , which tears the musical fabric to pieces. In the rubato area, vocalists will always be examples for us:
- Du Bist Die Ruh ( 0:56:11)
In other words, before performing on the piano, it is necessary to sing the passage while conducting with your hands; and don't worry that you are not a vocalist - and neither am I ;imagine that you are Fischer-Dieskau. ! Already breathing nolens volens will force you to organize the rhythm to some extent.
But that's part of the job.
When I started to work with the student on the phrase on the piano, I simply canceled the entire passage, leaving only the first Bb, lengthening it, and Eb at the seventh eighth, also extending it to the end of the bar. Now can combine bars 15 and modified 16 into one structure, and lay it in rhythm. It's not difficult at all.
In this way, a clear rhythmic framing is achieved, without focusing on particulars.
The principles of vocalizing a melody on a piano work very well in terms of investing or saving energy, which translates into a slight lengthening of the note before a big jump up or the natural acceleration of a ball bouncing down a staircase , so beloved Chopin.
Now the rhythmic tendency of each section of the passage is worked out separately, outside the melody.
If the general rhythmic background of the melody can be regarded as a wall, then the rhythmic modifications will be like small bricks that should be inserted into the wall; and not so easy , but in a specific order. F.e.
[Linked Image]


By adding particulars to the overall picture, a different result is obtained.

Last edited by Nahum; 05/28/21 07:38 AM.
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It is really not possible to give you any opinion without listening to how you play it. Your rubato could be perfectly acceptable ... or be on the overly sentimental. It is all a matter of degree. Besides since you are not Arrau, i would assume you dont really play it like him. The fact that the duration is about the same is not really meaningful. And the way you use rubato along with the articulation is just as important. So it could just be a matter of taste and preferences between you and your teacher, or he could be right and you are not using rubato properly. Also he could be trying to teach you something in the way you play and thus pushing you to play in a more strict manner. Difficult to say.

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Originally Posted by 3B43
The main area of concern is the way I play bar #12/#20....this is Op 9 No 2
This bar seems pretty obvious. There is 'poco rallentando' written there. Could you please describe what exactly you do in this bar?

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I listened again to the Arrau version and it is clear that not only is it really slow, but there is indeed a lot of rubato. Ciccolini also is playing in the same tempo, but because of the articulation, these 2 versions sound very different. Arrau as usual is darker, almost dramatic and Ciccolini hedonistic. At times i could almost say that there is too much rubato, but the quality of the articulation, the phrasing and the subtle nuances allow both pianists to keep the line flowing and to give an overall consistency to the piece. As a comparison, Rubinstein is playing 30s faster and Pollini 1mn.

But playing slowly and with a lot of rubato is very difficult. For amateur pianists of intermediate level, it is usually better to add enough rubato to let the piece breath but not too much to avoid breaking the flow. Using as much rubato as Arrau requires a consummate art with a great control over the touch. It is usually better to play the piece in a more conservative manner rather than trying to imitate pianists of the magnitude of Arrau. Again without listening to what you are doing, it is not possible to say whether the result is working or not.

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To everyone, thanks for your responses. I listened to Ciccolini’s version and really liked a lot of what he was doing, even though at times he was too slow. I’m not really trying to imitate Arrau, it’s just he plays it the way I hear it in my ‘heart and soul’.

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Follow up: just finished a lesson and the last piece I played was Op. 9 No. 2. I was pleased with the way I played it and after several seconds he said, ‘you’re making it sound too easy’. He made two suggestions, and I played it again, incorporating them. I must say, it sounded great and he was very complimentary of my play. Guess we’ve reached an understanding.

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Great news on the new working relationship with your teacher ! Hope you both keep on the Same path


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by 3B43
Guess we’ve reached an understanding.

That sounds promising for the lessons. Like yourself, I find myself taking lessons for the first time in 25 years. I went through a couple of teachers before I found one that "fits" me. For a lot of older students who are returning to lessons after years, it's a passion. And a lot of older students are seriously into classical music. I might not have played the piano rigorously in 25 years but I have logged hundreds of hours at concert/opera halls and thousands of hours listening to classical music. Your palate evolves over time and I'm nor surprised you know what sound you like. Finding a teacher on the right wavelength who shares a similar approach, for me, was paramount. And it takes more than a few lessons to understand their approach to music as well as what they have to offer you based on why you feel you need lessons. I often think I would be a nightmare to teach smile - lazy (hate doing scales/studies even though I want my fingers to play without 25 years of rust), opinionated (I can't stand anything by certain pianists that others love) and too confident of doing things my way (after all making a success of life means I can't be too wrong!)

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Originally Posted by 3B43
I’m 65 yrs old, have been playing a year since NOT playing for 40 yrs (not a misprint) and am taking lessons. My teacher wants me to play Chopin’s Op. 9 No. 2 in a recital next month, and I probably will if I’m in town. I like my teacher and he has helped me ALOT as I only took lessons for about 18 months....in the late ‘60’s, but.....I played Chopin’s KK IVb Nr. 8 and after I finished, he sat there for several seconds and then said, ‘you’re playing it with a lot of rubato.....and you really shouldn’t be’. I told him that’s the way my heart and soul ‘felt’ it should be played, because it’s a very emotional and full of passion, but he didn’t really agree. And that’s the problem.

I played him the first page of Op 9 No 1 and really nailed the two poly rhythm sections, but again....a little to much rubato...

I’m 65 and playing the piano for the pure enjoyment of it, the pure ‘passion’ of the music....not for playing it
Correctly.

Any thoughts?

It rather depends what you want to get from your lessons. It's very hard to be objective as you play, which is why investing in a teacher is a worthwhile venture. I'd also consider your listeners, should you wish to perform at a recital - are they listening to what you're playing, or watching you? Where is their interest? Playing without a sense of pulse can be very frustrating for listeners who know, and enjoy, the music.

There's certainly times I've played something and felt 'in the moment', only to listen to it back and think my playing lacks clarity/definition and that wouldn't be enjoyable for anyone else listening.

If you want to play the music for your own satisfaction, then do what you want. If you want to play it so that others are engaged, then put their wants/needs ahead of your own.

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Here’s the thing: I’ve listened to numerous pianist, concert grade folks that have a zillion albums, play this piece numerous ways! IF....they can play it numerous ways.....I’m NOT comparing myself to these folks, but if there’s that much leeway, that much latitude, that much ‘rubato’, why can’t ‘I’ play it the way my ‘heart & soul’.......FEELS?

One of my ‘go to pieces’ is the 1st Mvt of Moonlight Sonata......heard a lot of them, but only a few that make me ‘FEEL’ it! HE wrote this piece for a ‘woman’....I’ve re-named it Michelle’s Sonata.....and play it for the way Michelle made me ‘feel’.....makes me ‘feel’.......

If that’s a problem, we’ll.......

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I suggest you record yourself and listen to how it sounds in the final form— not how it sounds while you are playing it. There can be a big difference.

I’m sure you will get honest opinions if you post a piece or two here.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by 3B43
Here’s the thing: I’ve listened to numerous pianist, concert grade folks that have a zillion albums, play this piece numerous ways! IF....they can play it numerous ways.....I’m NOT comparing myself to these folks, but if there’s that much leeway, that much latitude, that much ‘rubato’, why can’t ‘I’ play it the way my ‘heart & soul’.......FEELS?

One of my ‘go to pieces’ is the 1st Mvt of Moonlight Sonata......heard a lot of them, but only a few that make me ‘FEEL’ it! HE wrote this piece for a ‘woman’....I’ve re-named it Michelle’s Sonata.....and play it for the way Michelle made me ‘feel’.....makes me ‘feel’.......

If that’s a problem, we’ll.......

Some of the hyperbole, excessive ellipsis and CAPS you use suggest elements of your personality that I know many teachers would struggle to work with.

Like I say, you can absolutely play the piece how you want to - especially if you're playing for yourself. You don't need to justify that by comparison. However, you're paying someone to teach/improve your musicianship - this can only prove fruitful if the student is open to being taught, and that often involves playing things that go against how the student feels it should be played. 'Unfamiliar' is an apposite, and maybe desirable, word to describe how a student feels as, then, it's only a matter of time before the student becomes 'familiar'

In your follow up message you said:

Quote
Follow up: just finished a lesson and the last piece I played was Op. 9 No. 2. I was pleased with the way I played it and after several seconds he said, ‘you’re making it sound too easy’. He made two suggestions, and I played it again, incorporating them. I must say, it sounded great and he was very complimentary of my play. Guess we’ve reached an understanding.

This sounds to me like he has tried to bring a positive energy into the teaching space following the previous disagreement. He seems to have placated you with compliments and you've responded positively (compliments do that). I know many teachers who give up on truly engaging with their students who aren't open to following direction - just be careful that he isn't now turning up for the money!

dogperson's suggestion of recording yourself and listening back is an adroit one, just make sure you give yourself a few days in-between so that your ears are 'fresh'.

Wishing you all the best in your endeavours.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
dogperson's suggestion of recording yourself and listening back is an adroit one, just make sure you give yourself a few days in-between so that your ears are 'fresh'.

You should really do both.

Listening later does let you hear things more objectively.

But setting up your recording equipment so you can listen as immediately as possible is important too, for a different reason. It helps you calibrate your ear to hear more accurately. For this to work you play much shorter sections and listen right away, trying to learn to hear what the recording shows you.


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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by fatar760
dogperson's suggestion of recording yourself and listening back is an adroit one, just make sure you give yourself a few days in-between so that your ears are 'fresh'.

You should really do both.

Listening later does let you hear things more objectively.

But setting up your recording equipment so you can listen as immediately as possible is important too, for a different reason. It helps you calibrate your ear to hear more accurately. For this to work you play much shorter sections and listen right away, trying to learn to hear what the recording shows you.

I completely agree in principal (and it's why session players get really good very quickly), but I often see less-experienced players struggle to hear it any differently immediately after, and they need to give it time before revisiting the recording. Chicken and egg though, right?

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Originally Posted by 3B43
Here’s the thing: I’ve listened to numerous pianist, concert grade folks that have a zillion albums, play this piece numerous ways! IF....they can play it numerous ways.....I’m NOT comparing myself to these folks, but if there’s that much leeway, that much latitude, that much ‘rubato’, why can’t ‘I’ play it the way my ‘heart & soul’.......FEELS?

One of my ‘go to pieces’ is the 1st Mvt of Moonlight Sonata......heard a lot of them, but only a few that make me ‘FEEL’ it! HE wrote this piece for a ‘woman’....I’ve re-named it Michelle’s Sonata.....and play it for the way Michelle made me ‘feel’.....makes me ‘feel’.......

If that’s a problem, we’ll.......
Methinks you doth protest too much.

You are 65 (which you've said more than a few times, lest we forget, so we know), you are set in your ways (which you never said, but we know), and you're only playing for yourself and your good wife, who likes what you do........so what's the problem? Why do you feel the need to keep justifying yourself?

Just play anything and everything the way you like it (or "feel" it, in your parlance). If your teacher doesn't like it, sack her.

If you were my student, and I need your money, I'd go along with everything you want: most teachers of adult students do that..........(but you are not, and I don't).

BTW, I do a lot of things in the privacy of my own home (and also outdoors) which most people wouldn't even consider. I never feel I have to justify myself. Nobody (except myself, possibly) gets hurt, so what's the problem?

One story from my childhood: I was staying with my uncle and his family during my school holidays, when he had a visitor. (I had just started piano lessons then.) Almost as soon as he set foot in the house, he saw the beautiful gleaming upright, and invited himself to play on it - La Paloma, by ear. (He was self-taught.) RH playing in (roughly) C major, the LH accompaniment in an indeterminate key. (Actually, he just played any chord his hand happened to land on.) Lots of rubato - in fact, it wasn't obvious whether he was playing it in duple, triple or quadruple time, or a mixture of all three. We kids kept a straight face, while my uncle winked at me.
Moral of the story? Do what you like in private, but be careful what you do in front of others.......


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I've been reading silently on and off and still opt to be mainly a lurker and not give advice. Some subjectively gleaned info:

1. There are things we hear, things we don't hear, and things we learn to hear (if open to it). The thing about what we learn to hear is that until we hear it, we are oblivious to it - it does not exist for us. Once you do learn to hear it, it's everywhere! You will hear that thing's absence, or weakness due to that factor, all over the place and wonder why it doesn't bother anyone else. You're hearing what you didn't hear before. Our world - our hearing world - consists of what we can perceive at the moment.

A few years ago I did a little Grieg piece for a project in the ABF. I chose a "simple" piece, and sort of mused why it was the only one I never saw recorded by students, or demonstrated for students. In fact, only a handful of pianists played it. Arrau was one, and he did magic with it. The piece was slow and repetitive, which created the challenge of making it come alive. Problem was, as soon as I tried rubato, everyone said "There's no pulse." If adding pulse, it was this dead metronomic thing again. Arrau et alia did something subtle and knowledgeable which kept the pulse (which ultimately I learned to hear) while also not being metronomic. I was not ready for this, and so reluctantly submitted a recording that to me was metronomic, but everyone said was better.

I've learned since then, can hear more, and do more. When these "strict" things get applied, there is an added quality to one's playing. When playing with "feeling", say, it may in fact sway others with less good ears, but it will be iffy to many a musician.

2. There is a flip side. There are teachers who are rule followers, who may not have much of a musical bone; who may be imitators who say that a piece "must sound" exactly like xxx, or stringently follow particular rules. This is not the same thing.

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