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i talked to my teacher about him sometimes giving me too difficult tasks. It's like some of the exercices was just a little above my level at the moment. He told me that I look better at piano than I might actually be. I guess one of reasons could be that I know a lot of theory. I am a thinker but not really the guy who can play that well. Knowing the theory doesn't make your hands and fingers move in the way you want.
It's like I can play some tunes and sound ok but it is more tought than it should be. Just because I can play them like that doesn't mean I am at that level right now.
Some people might enjoy doing somethng that is a little too difficult at the moment but I only get stuck. People learn in different ways. THis is what my teacher told me and I agree. My personal thinking is that I need more of the fundamentals skills involved before I move on. You can make yourself and others think how much better you are than what you really are, I guess.
Have you experienced this as well?

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/08/21 04:41 PM.

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I love your post because I think I am experiencing the exact same thing! My teacher keeps pushing me, and I keep feeling that I should instead learn to play really easy thing really well. I wonder if a lot of teachers find adults impatient and wanting to play more advanced stuff, and just automatically start pushing everyone in that direction? I would much prefer going slowly and methodically.


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One thing I think you will find, if you haven't already, is that taking a piece that last 10% or so to polish it until you feel you really are playing it well can take a lot more than another 10% of time involved. A lot more. By moving on, your teacher will be exposing you to many more pieces and concepts than if you dwell on each to "perfect it". I remember having thoughts similar to yours when I was going through my first few years. Looking back now, though, it definitely would not have advanced my playing today to have lingered on pieces to perfect them in those early years. Of course everyone learns in their own way, so YMMV, but there is a lot to be said in favor of sheer volume of pieces you attempt to read and play.

On the other side, polishing is itself a skill that eventually must be learned, so there is a place for taking some pieces the extra distance.


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Originally Posted by rocdoc
I love your post because I think I am experiencing the exact same thing! My teacher keeps pushing me, and I keep feeling that I should instead learn to play really easy thing really well. I wonder if a lot of teachers find adults impatient and wanting to play more advanced stuff, and just automatically start pushing everyone in that direction? I would much prefer going slowly and methodically.
Does your teacher think you are better than you are or is he/she just pushing you? My teacher have at times said that pushing, to use your term, is not a good thing for me.
I guess tha fact is: many people who call themselves teachers don't always know how to help people with the basic fundamentals. It can be tough meeting a person where he/she really is. This requires a more personal relationship with the teacher. You will have to be honest about your difficulties and many teachers might find that you are too personal even if you only talk about learning the piano. What I struggle with are not always piano things in itself. It could organizational skills. I am not always that organized. Also, I cannot focus on many things at once. I guess pushing a person is like asking them to focus on more things at once. Also, teachers might think that you are better at planning than you really are.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/08/21 05:28 PM.

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Originally Posted by JimF
One thing I think you will find, if you haven't already, is that taking a piece that last 10% or so to polish it until you feel you really are playing it well can take a lot more than another 10% of time involved. A lot more. By moving on, your teacher will be exposing you to many more pieces and concepts than if you dwell on each to "perfect it". I remember having thoughts similar to yours when I was going through my first few years. Looking back now, though, it definitely would not have advanced my playing today to have lingered on pieces to perfect them in those early years. Of course everyone learns in their own way, so YMMV, but there is a lot to be said in favor of sheer volume of pieces you attempt to read and play.

On the other side, polishing is itself a skill that eventually must be learned, so there is a place for taking some pieces the extra distance.
I am not even refering to prefecting something. Exposing a person to many pieces and making the student frustrated as he/she is given something that is too hard isn't good in my opinion.
I do agree that moving on too slowly is bad but so is doing it quickly.
I really hope you are reffering to something else than that.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/08/21 05:35 PM.

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I agree with JimF following my 8 plus years on this journey. I have been there where I played advance pieces way ahead and sometimes my teacher gives me a challenging piece. THey were experiences I needed at the time to get to where I am now: being humbled by the vastness of repertoire, techniques, patience, and expression. I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting hard pieces: you don’t know what you don’t know until you try it. And communication with teacher is part of the process on where you want to go.

I would like to add that there are 2 parts in learning a piece: the technical side and the musicality side. My technical side often needs more work than musicality part. Hence, I would stay a little longer on technical, but recognizing it will improve as I play more pieces and develop that skill.

And the approach is modified with sitting the graded exams, which I picked up during the pandemic. I will push myself a little more to get it beyond a ‘pass’, and may stay a little longer to quarantine some bars, where I may have moved on otherwise.

Last edited by Pianoperformance; 10/08/21 05:40 PM.

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I’m playing at an intermediate level. When it comes to sight-reading, I’m at a lower intermediate level but still higher than beginner. I’m learning & playing high intermediate / low advanced level.

When it comes to difficult pieces, I had 3 months during the summer to work on them when my teacher was on summer break. I can read through easier pieces but need to practice challenging pieces for a few weeks. There are books with Classical & Jazz pieces arranged for beginner & intermediate. They’re stripped down versions of the original. I don’t pick pieces because of the level. If I like the music, I’d find the original online than an arrangement for easy piano that is suitable for my level. A lot of pieces for easy piano take away too much from the original.

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I have days (or weeks) when I wonder why my teacher doesn't just start me over at the beginning.


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That is interesting.I do think that teachers normally know perfectly where the students stand.
In my case, she gives me tasks that i find difficult and others no. The not too difficult ones are easy to play them like a "robot" so to say, but a lot of time to understand them and play them correctly. The difficult ones stay mostly at the" robot" level.....😅😂


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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
My personal thinking is that I need more of the fundamentals skills involved before I move on. You can make yourself and others think how much better you are than what you really are, I guess.
Have you experienced this as well?

Yes on the first one, no on the second one. I have never thought I was good. wink But yes, during those first years I had many times the idea that I needed to practise more fundamental skills before moving on. And it was true, I needed it and I did it. Actually three times! (Long story). And I am very, very happy that I did start over three times.

For a beginner, if pieces and exercises are slightly above your level, you cannot apply everything you have learned so far, a sharp staccato, a smooth legato, weight coming from your arms and shoulders, relaxation, a beautiful crescendo etc etc.

Originally Posted by rocdoc
I keep feeling that I should instead learn to play really easy thing really well.

Yes!


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I also agree with JimF and Pianoperformance. After 7 years of piano and having played advanced pieces I see things from a different perspective.

The truth is that learning piano is not linear. It is not the case that you master some basic concept A and then move to a slightly more difficult concept B. That's how you learn math but not piano. In piano when you get exposed to some a new concept for the first time it seems strange and awkward and you have the impression that you can't do it. Then you move on to something else. Then later you encounter the same concept again and it feels a bit more natural. Eventually, you learn the same concept in many different pieces and it becomes very natural and you wonder how you ever found it difficult. You need many instances of the same concept/technique and time for it to sink in.

I have felt like you when I was a beginner. My teacher quickly pushed me to more difficult pieces and I felt I didn't really master them. But looking in retrospective I think I would not have made so much progress if I had taken the baby steps approach. I am now playing pieces about RCM 10 and find that to be appropiate for me. I can get a level 7 piece in my fingers at the first sitting and polish it to performance in less than 2 weeks. Anything under level 9 feels very easy (although I clearly remember it being very hard). I don't think I would be at this level if my teacher didn't push me and waited for me to "master" a level before moving on.

And just to be clear, my teacher didn't assign only pieces that were difficult. There were instances of easier pieces too. When I was already playing inventions and French suite movements my teacher assigned a theoretically much easier little prelude. I thought "really?" but in fact I learned a lot from it even though it was easier. Again, learning is not linear. There are phases of stretching followed by phases of consolidation.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
i talked to my teacher about him sometimes giving me too difficult tasks. It's like some of the exercices was just a little above my level at the moment. He told me that I look better at piano than I might actually be. I guess one of reasons could be that I know a lot of theory. I am a thinker but not really the guy who can play that well. Knowing the theory doesn't make your hands and fingers move in the way you want.

There is a possibility - something like that happened to me, and to some people I talked to over the years. The clue is when you say "that I know a lot of theory".

Piano playing, on the one side, involves what you understand with your mind, and/or what you can hear. If you hear a melody you might be able to produce it. The other side of paino playing involves physical skills, technique, and also skills such as reading. An adult can grasp the intellectual side quickly (or get at music through theory) and so you can play new pieces rather quickly - or if you are assigned pieces, you can work on them at hime and come back producing them. But if you are not also being taught the physical-techical side (and also things like control of counting), then your playing will stay poorish, and not advance quality-wise. The body and nervous system develop much slower than intellectual understanding. Some teachers won't quite catch that, and a student ends up getting rushed along.

Could that be happening?

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I have felt like you when I was a beginner. My teacher quickly pushed me to more difficult pieces and I felt I didn't really master them.
I kinda like to be able to play through easier tunes/pieces before I move on to more difficult ones. I hated it when a teacher told me to play a waltz with many chords and technichal difficulties before I could even play through an easier waltz in a simple arrangement. I couldn't even play simple pieces and was asked to play much harder pieces.
If one cannot even play a simple waltz why move on to something harder? Where is the benefit? I see it as teacher refusing to assess your level.
Why did this work for you? I have even asked myself why I try to play the piano if I cannot play through simple tunes/pieces. Teachers really love pushing students too hard sometimes.


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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
i talked to my teacher about him sometimes giving me too difficult tasks. It's like some of the exercices was just a little above my level at the moment. He told me that I look better at piano than I might actually be. I guess one of reasons could be that I know a lot of theory. I am a thinker but not really the guy who can play that well. Knowing the theory doesn't make your hands and fingers move in the way you want.

There is a possibility - something like that happened to me, and to some people I talked to over the years. The clue is when you say "that I know a lot of theory".

Piano playing, on the one side, involves what you understand with your mind, and/or what you can hear. If you hear a melody you might be able to produce it. The other side of paino playing involves physical skills, technique, and also skills such as reading. An adult can grasp the intellectual side quickly (or get at music through theory) and so you can play new pieces rather quickly - or if you are assigned pieces, you can work on them at hime and come back producing them. But if you are not also being taught the physical-techical side (and also things like control of counting), then your playing will stay poorish, and not advance quality-wise. The body and nervous system develop much slower than intellectual understanding. Some teachers won't quite catch that, and a student ends up getting rushed along.

Could that be happening?
I think what I struggle with is playing music and not understanding the harmony. I am a pattern (eg harmony) seeking guy but this is not something that happens naturally to me all the time. Some people can play music without caring much about the underlying harmonic structure. I even need that when singing. Some people just play and are happy with that but I don't. If they are given Für Elise they don't care about the harmony at all. They just wanna play. I find is extremely hard to play if I don't understand or can hear the harmony or the other things involved in that style.

I think a lot of times a teacher wants to push the adult student too hard. And why? It is my understanding that we as adult are supposed to be very good at planning and organizational skills. Playing something that is a little too difficult requires you to be good at planning and organizing but I am not. I have even needed to seek professional help for this. I takes much longer time for me to learn the basic stuff but when I do it I become very good at it.
So pushing me is like saying that you want to be seen as a very bad teacher.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/09/21 05:55 AM.

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I think playing more difficult pieces requires you to break down a task into many different smaller tasks. Many people, including me, struggle with this. This is one of the reasons why pushing some students can be really bad. This is what I have been told. I don't know how teachers think. I'm just saying what I've been told by professionals who know a lot about how execuive functions work.
What do you think?


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Dan,

maybe it would be helpful if you explained exactly which piece(s) you wanted to linger on longer and which piece(s) you felt were being pushed on you too soon?


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Originally Posted by JimF
Dan,

maybe it would be helpful if you explained exactly which piece(s) you wanted to linger on longer and which piece(s) you felt were being pushed on you too soon?
I actually mentioned Für Elise. Before I could actually play the beginning part of it I was told to play the beginning part of Moonlight sonata. I was also told to play hymns with four-part harmony which included a lot of strange finerings and harmony I could not understand. I should have played easier arrangemts before trying the harder ones.
With Für Elise I was never taught what the harmonic structure looked like. It seems like it's easy for a teacher to think that you really just automatically understand the harmony.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/09/21 07:19 AM.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I think playing more difficult pieces requires you to break down a task into many different smaller tasks. Many people, including me, struggle with this. This is one of the reasons why pushing some students can be really bad. This is what I have been told. I don't know how teachers think. I'm just saying what I've been told by professionals who know a lot about how execuive functions work.
What do you think?

There are things we need to be taught and guided through. Breaking down tasks, and building various skills is part of this. From what you are describign, you are probably not being guided that way.

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Originally Posted by playplayplay
That is interesting.I do think that teachers normally know perfectly where the students stand.
There is a huge variety among those people who take on the task of teaching music in exchange for money, and all of them acquire the title of teacher due to their activity. It is especially confusing when it involves adult students.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I think playing more difficult pieces requires you to break down a task into many different smaller tasks. Many people, including me, struggle with this. This is one of the reasons why pushing some students can be really bad. This is what I have been told. I don't know how teachers think. I'm just saying what I've been told by professionals who know a lot about how execuive functions work.
What do you think?

There are things we need to be taught and guided through. Breaking down tasks, and building various skills is part of this. From what you are describign, you are probably not being guided that way.
well said! Also, I have difficulties with it more than people ussually have. I had to seek professional help. Not all teachers understand that.

Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by playplayplay
That is interesting.I do think that teachers normally know perfectly where the students stand.
There is a huge variety among those people who take on the task of teaching music in exchange for money, and all of them acquire the title of teacher due to their activity. It is especially confusing when it involves adult students.
They often use one specific method, I guess. Their method might not be that flexible, ie learn in the way you are told or leave. But that's not how all teachers are. Even teachers like that help some students.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/09/21 01:50 PM.

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