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Author Topic: How does Bernhard or Chang's method differ with traditional?  (Read 4719 times)
Bob
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« on: March 27, 2005, 02:23:43 AM »

What's new with them?  No offense intended, but I've heard a lot of these ideas before.  I don't think anything is new.

I don't think I'll ever have things perfect so I'll always be looking for more advice on how to do things better and more efficiently.  The ideas presented sound like good general principles for practicing that have always been around.

Maybe it's the forum?  The ideas seem to be what I found in college.  They were new and great to me then, but I thought that was standard college level thinking.

Are there any college professors on here?  Isn't this just basic pedagogy for piano?  What's new or different?

No offense meant to anyone here, esp Bernhard.
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bernhard
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2005, 10:44:40 AM »

It depends what you mean by “traditional”. The pedagogical tradition at the time of Bach was very different from the pedagogical tradition at the time of Beethoven, which again was very different from the pedagogical tradition at the time of Chopin, and so on and so forth.

Quote
What's new with them?  No offense intended, but I've heard a lot of these ideas before.  I don't think anything is new.

I have now resigned myself that there is nothing new with them. Every time I come up with some revolutionary new concept (at least I thought so at the time), I usually come across some book (sometimes a very old book) that describes my “new” concept. Perhaps there is nothing new under the Sun. Perhaps originality is a myth and it is our fate to keep rediscovering the wheel Cry. This is always on the back of my mind:

“We shall not cease from exploration
 and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."

(T. S. Elliot – Little Gidding)


Quote
I don't think I'll ever have things perfect so I'll always be looking for more advice on how to do things better and more efficiently.  The ideas presented sound like good general principles for practicing that have always been around.

I agree with that. But don’t forget that all sorts of very bad ideas/principles about practising have also always been around. And they do get a strong grip on people’s minds, even if they are proven again and again to be terrible ways of practising.

Quote
Maybe it's the forum?  The ideas seem to be what I found in college.  They were new and great to me then, but I thought that was standard college level thinking.

In my experience standard college level thinking is pretty low. Angry Wink

Quote
Are there any college professors on here?  Isn't this just basic pedagogy for piano?  What's new or different?

Some of it is, some of it isn’t. Considering some of the questions that are asked in the forum by intelligent, interested students presently attending college, it seems to me the professors out there are not doing a very good job.

(e.g., what about this thread: http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7573.0.html

almost randomly selected from many similar ones. The posters are clearly intelligent and knowledgeable and the questioner is a second year music student. Yet they are all confused and following “methods”. Where is the traditional pedagogy then?)

Quote
No offense meant to anyone here, esp Bernhard.

None taken, this is a very interesting thread, and I hope it grows. Cheesy

I particularly like this thought:

“Everyone who remembers his own educational experience remembers teachers, not methods and techniques” (Sidney Hook)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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nomis
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2005, 11:09:34 PM »

Well, it differs from what I've been taught (then again, I haven't been taught much), particularly a set practise method in order to learn repertoire. Sure, my teacher helped me on difficult spots in pieces and artistic interpretation (her interpretation), but she never laid down a practise method, and encouraged me to play from the music. Playing from memory did not seem to dwell with her, and she never provided me with any instructions on how to play technical exercises, and even gave me a couple of her own in order to "strengthen" my fingers (the co-ordination was really the problem).

Also, going over the same 3 Grade 8 pieces over and over and over again for a year did not help my playing at all. As a result, I felt unprepared for the exam, and went into the examination hating my pieces, even though they are probably good pieces, and as a result, I only gained a pass (you have to do really badly in order to fail an ABRSM exam). No performance tips either, she probably assumed too much, me being a rather older student, but she forgot that I was self-taught for two years, and made no advances to smooth any rough ends.

Thankfully, if it were not for video game music, I would've never come across internet forums such as this, and taught myself how to play the piano better. You know, I might have ended up in a rut after three months, never to play again, but I look back over the past 3 years and feel proud of what I have achieved.
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xvimbi
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2005, 12:57:07 AM »

Thankfully, if it were not for video game music, I would've never come across internet forums such as this, and taught myself how to play the piano better. You know, I might have ended up in a rut after three months, never to play again, but I look back over the past 3 years and feel proud of what I have achieved.

Well, that probably sums it up nicely and explains a lot of things that have puzzled me. For example, I am always perplexed at questions like "I am going to start [insert very advanced piece here, e.g. Rach3, OC, Hungarian Dances, etc. etc.]. Can anybody give me any tips?" Don't these people have teachers? After all, they are tackling very difficult repertoire. Also, can't they answer these questions themselves? They must have a lot of knowledge and experience, having gotten that far that they would even think about attempting such a difficult piece. I always have the feeling, well if you have to ask such a question, you are not "ready."

They probably do have teachers, but then what is the problem?

I do believe that there are many teachers out there who can in fact answer such questions, but they don't participate in this forum. Likewise, really advanced students don't have questions that are discussed here. I have not seen any serious pianist here with a "trivial" question (Koji, Elena, Ted, etc.). They only supply answers (did anybody notice?). Questions are always asked by students who happen to have inadequate teachers (common), or who are exceptionally curious (rare). There are many, many students who find their answers, no matter how advanced, within their circles. Very few, if any, participate in this forum. I have asked around recently in my circle and found only myself participating in this forum, but then again, I'm hardly advanced, so there seems to be the correlation. My girlfriend, who is quite advanced, however, already does not have the desire or time to participate.

I have seen people outside this forum talk a lot of the things that Bernhard, CC, and the other excellent teachers here are talking about. Among them are University professors who really know their stuff. There are also plenty who don't know their stuff. I have found many of the so-called "novel" concepts in various books. When people act surprised that one can even think about living without Hanon, then they haven't read enough, because discussions like those are as old as the technical exercises themselves. In that respect, there is really nothing new under the sun. It's all out there. Plenty of times, I enthusiastically presented something new I learned here to my girlfriend, only to hear a lengthy treatise why or why not the idea is a good one, what the implications are, what the historic context is, etc. I didn't have an idea what a truly advanced piano student actually knows.

So, I do believe that there are quite a few people who know their stuff. There are also plenty of people like Bernhard and CC who have truly reflected on everything piano. They have read it, discovered it, applied it, breathed it, turned it upside down, lived it, discussed it, assimilated it, rejected it, re-discovered it, thought about it, they wrote it up, rejected it again, agonized about it, and finally they understood it.

The difference is that Bernhard and CC are gracious enough to take their time to share their vast knowledge FOR FREE on THIS forum (or in form of a public-domain book) to the benefit of the rest of us. That is truly exceptional.
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Mayla
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2005, 02:18:10 AM »

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Mayla
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2005, 04:45:23 AM »

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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 03:28:17 PM »

I find have found that this is not common knowledge (as a package) in the univeristies and what not.  It is different.

Mayla


(sorry, I got really shy and erased most of my two posts  here Embarrassed Embarrassed Embarrassed)

Luckily I read the first post before your erased it.  You should put it back; it was/is worth keeping.

On another note, I do find something very interesting about this thread.  Bob, I'm going to take you to task a little here but please rest assured that as I write this it is in the friendliest of tones (I say that because on the internet it is so hard not to come across as sounding rude and condescending).

I noticed that in the teacher's forum about eight hours before posting this topic you had posted a topic requesting information about Bernhard's method (to preempt him here it is not HIS method) looking for someone to point you in the right direction or, more importantly, to give you a simplified explanation.

I don't know how long you've read Chang's book, I can't deduce that.  But can I deduce from the timing of these two threads that you were able to find everything that Bernhard has posted about learning/teaching the piano on this forum, read it, apply it, and then come to the conclusion that there is "nothing new" in his ideas?

Experience levels with piano teachers obviously vary by student.  I have had a total of 6 piano teachers in my life, 2 of which were college professors.  Not one of them ever, ever talked about efficient methods of learning music.  Perhaps they assumed this was a skill I should have already acquired in my youth.  The problem is that the teachers of my youth probably assumed I would learn this skill when I went on to more advanced teachers.

I also admit a personal bias here.  I have been "attempting" to implement many of the suggestions Bernhard has provided on this forum into my own playing.  I always found learning repertoire to be very difficult.  I fully admit this may have been my own stubborn pigheadedness, but I also think it has something to do with the fact that EVERY one of my teachers in the past seemed to work on the principle of "bring me ready the first two pages of this piece by your next lesson."  Followed by, "bring me the next two pages, blah, blah, blah."

From my current point of view, after reading this forum, the methodology of my piano instructors was very, very different from the ideas presented here.  I was never taught to analyze pieces, figure out appropriate (for me) fingerings, identify the most technically challenging parts of the piece, use easier pieces to acquire technique for harder pieces, etc., etc. (there are many more posts going into many more concepts than the one or two that were provided in answer to your orginal thread)

In the short two months I have applied (not even remarkably well) the principles I've learned here I have "learned" more pieces than I ever learned in the same period of time with any other teacher.

If you had this type of knowledge when you were growing up I can only say that I'm jealous.  I can only imagine the effect this information would have had on me if I had learned these concepts when I was 5 instead of 40.  I'm just glad I found them at 40 instead of 85.

Jef

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doowlehc
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 07:51:30 PM »

hi so which book(s) you suggest to read s oI can learn more about different pedagogies and methods.  I find some books but they talk excessively about anatomy, or about minute details of how you should practise with Hanon.

I want a book that is a bit higher level - like how do you train a well-rounded musician? 
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will
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2005, 05:28:57 AM »

Great posts everyone. Respect.

What's new is that on most occasions Bernhard and Chang can provide a well reasoned, scientific answer as to why an aspect of their 'method' will work. Their 'method' is based on a knowledge of anatomy, psychology etc. whereas in the past these aspects were less fully understood. In my experience, most teachers lack this knowledge.

Bob: What college did you go to? If it had teachers like Bernhard and Chang there it must be a piano student's heaven.  Wink
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xvimbi
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2005, 01:23:39 PM »

What's new is that on most occasions Bernhard and Chang can provide a well reasoned, scientific answer as to why an aspect of their 'method' will work. Their 'method' is based on a knowledge of anatomy, psychology etc. whereas in the past these aspects were less fully understood.

I am not so sure about this. Let's take anatomy, for example. If you look through the "standard" literature (books by Berstein, Fink, Sandor, and the like), you'll find an awful lot of anatomy in there. It is not always presented in a very concise manner as found in Mark's book, but the principles have been known for a long time. There are even entire schools that incorporate sound anatomic/physiological aspects in their teaching. Taubman and Alexander are just two of them. I have yet to see a Taubman or Alexander teacher on this forum. Likewise, there are myriads of teachers and pianists who educated themselves in these techniques, but only occasionally one can find someone in this forum who has taken an Alexander class. Does that mean nobody knows about all this? Does it mean it's novel? No. It means that people who do know all about this rarely participate in this forum. People who do participate don't know about it, because we are all amateurs (most of us anyway), so it's not to be expected that we know all this stuff. Professional pianists have other venues, but not this forum.

The situation is probably similar for the other aspects you mentioned.

Because dealing with all the intricacies of piano playing is a time-consuming, full-day job, most knowledgeable teachers and pianists don't have the energy or time in the evening to log onto the forum and participate in discussions. They want to relax and take it easy. At least that's what I've been told by the advanced people in my circle.

And that's why it seems to us that there is so much new stuff, because all we know about is things like Hanon, Steinway and antiquated methods. This forum is an attractor for "our kind of people." It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And there is nothing wrong with it, because we are amateurs.
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2005, 03:07:39 PM »

I think that the most talented pianists that do teach (Ive had 3 concert pianists) dont know "how" they play because it comes naturally or they have practiced what they think their teachers have told them and reverted to something more natural with a different label on it.  My current teacher for example sight reads concertos/ works a few days/weeks before the concert and gets good audience response.  But he may tell me to bend my fingers instead of being flat which I dont agree with in the Chopin Op10.2 RH.  For my its natural to play naturally how my hand responds best to the passage and he thinks what I play is good - so whats the problem if I dont "bend" my 3rd finger.

I used to teach piano and Ive learnt alot, since I returned to serious playing (concerts etc) after a break of 6/7 yrs, on the application of learning the piano from this forum; whether its been a referral to books (chang) or just reading on this site.  I consider myself Advanced (M. A Piano Performance) and Im glad I stopped teaching when I did because although I was succesful getting pupils through ABRSM exams with merit and distinction I feel that I was still experimenting myself.  I was always looking long term for my pupils not just the exam and I kind of feel a responsibility to teach worthwhile objectives.  Incidentally I always taught better than I practiced myself!
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Mayla
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2005, 05:55:42 PM »

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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2005, 06:26:40 PM »

Mayla,

I absolutely forbid you to get shy about this post!!!!!! (Like I'm in any position to forbid anything Grin )  Your words are passionate and they obviously come from a lot of internal searching.  They are worth sharing and I value their content.

Jef
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Mayla
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2005, 06:32:29 PM »

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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2005, 07:48:50 PM »

Mayla, no need to get stirred up.

To make sure, if you think I am discrediting Bernhard's or CC's contributions, then you got me completely wrong. They do have a very coherent and complete view, they can offer their comprehensive knowledge as a package and they are willing to share it freely. In that respect, they are very special, and we are very lucky to have them around. But there are many more teachers who know their stuff as well and have valuable contributions, but don't make them on this forum. Instead, they teach in their own studios or at Universities, give masterclasses, perform, write professional books, lecture, etc.

So, essentially, I agree with what Bob said in his initial post.
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Mayla
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2005, 08:08:53 PM »

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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2005, 09:35:23 PM »

But, by all means, please direct me to know exactly which books these may be (besides all the ones I can find reviewed in Chang's book already, of which, I do not know of any other book that offers a review of most of the other books out there, but maybe you do ) and which universities and studios I can go to?  Which master classes and lectures I should participate in?

Besides, if both Bernhard and Chang have come to the conclusion about their research and experiences that they have nothing unique to say, then why do you suppose they would waste their time and energy saying it?  I am quite certain they could find ways to redirect that energy if it was not needed from them in the ways they provide it.

I have already agreed that Bernhard and CC are special in that they can offer a comprehensive package of their teachings, which probably not many can do or would do. And indeed, CC's book may be the latest comprehensive introduction into piano playing. Generally, new books are compilations of old books plus (sometimes) some new material or old material presented in a different way. Bernhard often lists books that he deems good. I assume those are the ones he extracted knowledge from and added it to his own obtained through the direct experience he has had as a teacher of many students. Luckily, we don't have to wade through all those sources, because Bernhard and CC have already done so and have presented what they think are the good parts. That is what we should be grateful for, because it saves us a lot of time and experimenting. This is where I see their "contribution". It is no trifle to go through all that material (as far out there as martial arts and juggling), extract the small bits of wisdom, find correlations and connections and come up with a complete system. One doesn't have to have novel and unique things to say. "Wasting one's time" to teach old stuff to others is just as valuable if the students have never heard of it.
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Mayla
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2005, 10:08:01 PM »

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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2005, 10:25:28 PM »

And actually, I took other things in your posts personally and reacted to that a little.  Sorry, I got a little angry  .  That's just my stupid pride.  Some of these things are indeed new to me, and it bothers me deeply, while it is a relief at the same time.

Are you mad at me ?  Please check the box : Yes [__]   No [__]

Not at all. I do realize that all this is dangerous territory. Apparently, you found yourself in what I have said. I found myself in it too. That's only too natural, because we all admire people like Bernhard and CC, which indirectly means that we admit to our own inadequacies. At least that's how I feel about it. I have yet to achieve in my profession what Bernhard has done in his. The principles are the same. I still have a chance, and so does anybody else.
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2005, 10:30:22 PM »

I'm glad you two got this worked out.  I was afraid I was going to have to send you to your rooms without dinner Grin

Jef
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« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2005, 08:02:16 AM »

Bernhard and Chang differ with the way I teacher piano.
Teacher for 45 years. BJW, Ph.D.
Author of: FASTWAY PIANO METHOD

My students results in one year: Advanced Level. Composers and Piano Arrangers as early as 7 years old.

There is nothing new under the sun.....The course I teach and help others to better themselves, has a built in color system, number system...showing God's Creative Design On The Piano.

I took from a European Concert Aritist for 6 years, who gave me this wonderful piano method, which was handed down through his family back to the Chopin era etc an un-published work. After I had studied this method for three months, my husband said, "Wow! You sound so great on the piano, different then before, better!" He asked me, "HOW?" I said, "I now have all the information at my finger-tips, and I see the complete picture." 

If I can help you all out there....I am humbled by God to have this information to help.
I love this piano forum, but I have been away, because of a car accident, and I am still not able to be up to full speed yet. I have taken a new direction in piano teaching too, and that took time away from visiting you all.

I am 64 years old, who also composes and arranges for Sacred Music in churches.

Read what my method is all about and compare it to Bernhard or Chang. They are good people....I never tried to go into areas where they are, for I LOVE to do research and developing piano programs in high tech areas, with doing workshops and teaching on the side.

The "controlling purpose".....
Exercises: Well founded musical figurations that bring about the immediate ability to cover the entire keyboard even for youngest beginning student. Exercises based on the Harmonic Series; non-harmonic tones adjusted to any given harmony by "Pure" and "Impure" adjustments; scales and chord tones connected by harmonic and non-harmonic links; contrapuntal exercises and many others to help coordination and speed up the ability to play difficult passages with clear accuracy but also with a sense of abandon.
Points of Musicianship:  This section includes among other things a study of the relationship of the tones within the  Harmonic Series and the Major Scale including at least ten other scales derived from the Major scale; The study of Chords, their names (the names given chords in this program are those names which best describe the structure of the chord), and uses from the Triad through the thirteenth; The study of Harmonic Devices, Cadences, and Keyboard harmony; Six types of irregular resolutions of the dissonant tones of the small major seventh chord. Twelve ways of modulation; The harmonic structures necessary to shape sections, phrases, and periods; How to develop larger units in form; The study of various contrapuntal devices and their use in improvising as well as many other points of musicianship.
Letter Notation: A system of writing music notation with letters in combination with all musical signs of notation; Written for both bass and treble clefs it is a musical shorthand system for any music. This system acts as a reading-readiness program for those who may have trouble in fluent sight-reading and also facilitates note reading for the early beginner.
Letter Notation makes the learning of difficult pieces easier and faster for the adult or younger beginner and keeps the interest of the student as the lessons progress toward reading of standard notation. The system has proven to be a "Life Saver" for many and an educational musical enrichment for all.
Note Reading & Related Subjects:  Note reading is presented with two diagrams containing four simple steps. The nature of these diagrams and the method of introducing the subject makes unnecessary the use of the worn out rhymes and
limericks of the past used as a "Crutch" for the teaching of staff notation. Key signature, time signature, and the subdividing of beats in simple time, compound time, and irregular time is simultaneously presented along with other signs, symbols,
and expression marks necessary to intelligent sight-reading. The selected compositions, by their very nature, will illustrate the technique of sight-reading with intelligent musicianship. For more than the last two hundred years Music has been essentially chromatic. The Chromatic exercises presented in this program are neutral exercises which have, in the manner presented, never been put in print before. Hundreds of technical problems developing from difficult Chromatic passages are solved through these unique exercises and small Etudes.
Playing by "Sense of Touch" exercises, cadences, scales, harmonic and non-harmonic adjustments, passing tone scales derived from major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads and other musical figurations followed by "Letter Notation" form a better medium of approach to the piano for the beginning student (child or adult) than the numerous teaching methods, books, and piano theory courses on the commercial market. All music grows out of the relationships of the tones in the Harmonic Series. A vibrating body whether it is a column of air inside an organ pipes, a string on a violin or piano gives out besides its fundamental tone a series of partial tones or overtones -- exercises in this program are constructed from the lower notes of the Harmonic Series and gradually advance through the higher notes. Practice of these exercises is musically sound and has absorbing interest. The theory and Technique of music is still in its primary stage and is in a constant state of development. Contrary to the belief of some programs assumes there is still a great deal of development yet untouched in the equal tempered system. The program is concerned with the music of the composers not the ideas of academic theorists, adjudicators and so-called mater class teachers. The program brings the practice of music back to its original natural origin -- SCIENTIFIC, INTELLECTUAL, and AESTHETIC: It brings balance to the present day hodgepodge of teaching ideas and methods so
diversified because of the loss of musical direction. Here is a return in truth and fact to a rational background in music that gives a basic for teaching, performing, improvising and constructive criticism. Analysis of music starts with the reading of the simplest of pieces and continues through the most difficult. By observing the habits and customs of good composers the student will learn good usage of Chords, Figurations, Cadences and will gain skill in improvising at the keyboard. Analysis will help discover the meaning of the music, the "WHY" of it all.
There will be a more intelligent understanding, appreciation, improved interpretation and the recognition of beauties hidden and lost to those who have been deprived of this study. The musical knowledge now developing should be applied to every note in every piece. No person can properly call himself a musician who is not aware of the inner relationships of the music he/she is teaching or playing. The following are some of the steps included in Musical Analysis:

A. The structure, derivation, and name of every chord.
B. The relationship of every chord to those, which precede and follow.
C. The relationship of every chord to the key or tonality (if any).
D. The analysis of the same function, when present of apparently different chords.
E. More than one analysis for the same note, chord, cadence or passage when more than one is possible.
F. A complete explanation for every non-chordic tone.
G. The relationship of every tone to the scale or system from which it is derived.
H. Discover the Harmonic Basis of the form and general harmonic trend of the composition.

A piano theory program that offers less than has been stated here is in all respects unfair and unjust to both teacher and student.



The following are the individual books included in the Bon's Way Fastrak Piano Educational System:


  • Book One: Introduction to piano 88 keys, concepts and beginning performance at 3-5 Level.

    Book Two Musicianship Training in 27 music patterns with both hands using the full 88 keys.

    Book Three: Musicianship Training continued

    Book Four: Musicianship Training continued.

    Book Five: Continued study from Book One page 14, Black Key Technique

    Books Six & Seven: Continued study from Book Five, to Master Levels in Performance & Theory of 10 Chapters.

    Book Eight: Continued study from Books 1-4 Musicianship Study presented in Tonal Formulations of 12 studies

    (using the number system of 7 natural tones).

    Books Nine & Ten: Continued study from Book 8, complete Master's Study in Tonal Formulations of 30 Chapters.

    Books Five, Six & Seven: Continued study from Book One, page 14 in Black Key Technique.

    Book Eleven: Note Drills & Related Subjects (includes a small Music Terminology Dictionary).

    Book Twelve: Continued study "Letter Notation Songs" and Notes Songs of those Letter Notation Songs.

    Books Thirteen, Fourteen: Continued study in Note-songs, "The Classics."

    Book Fifteen: Continued study for the Church Musician.

From these 10 books, I show how to go into advanced levels using the same books.

Sincerely yours,
BJW Smiley

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Nordlys
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« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2005, 01:40:14 PM »

I have read the Chang book, and also a lot of Bernhards posts on practicing. I have found these ideas very helpful, like most people in this forum. As I see it these ideas are mostly about practicing efficiently, and something about piano technique in the sense of dexterity.
As a former conservatory student I will discuss the teaching of this in conservatories.

What's new with them?  No offense intended, but I've heard a lot of these ideas before.  I don't think anything is new.

I don't think I'll ever have things perfect so I'll always be looking for more advice on how to do things better and more efficiently.  The ideas presented sound like good general principles for practicing that have always been around.
...
Are there any college professors on here?  Isn't this just basic pedagogy for piano?  What's new or different?



I do believe that there are many teachers out there who can in fact answer such questions, but they don't participate in this forum. Likewise, really advanced students don't have questions that are discussed here.

...
Does that mean nobody knows about all this? Does it mean it's novel? No. It means that people who do know all about this rarely participate in this forum. People who do participate don't know about it, because we are all amateurs (most of us anyway), so it's not to be expected that we know all this stuff. Professional pianists have other venues, but not this forum.
...
Because dealing with all the intricacies of piano playing is a time-consuming, full-day job, most knowledgeable teachers and pianists don't have the energy or time in the evening to log onto the forum and participate in discussions.


Like Xwimbi says here, I think that it is clear that most people that participate in this forum are amateurs, and young students. There are not many professionals here, but there are some.

I consider myself professional, as I have studied piano in conservatories for 7 years, and as I give concerts that I want to be judged professionally. I don't make a living from playing concerts though (but who does?)

Mayla and Torp ask why their teachers couldnt provide them with the same very helpful ideas that they have found here in this forum:


I have had a total of 6 piano teachers in my life, 2 of which were college professors.  Not one of them ever, ever talked about efficient methods of learning music.  Perhaps they assumed this was a skill I should have already acquired in my youth.

...
[My teachers] have obvisouly developed practice techniques because they are in demand as performers.  And I have definitely acquired technical tools from them, particularly from my current teacher, but nothing anywhere close to Chang's description of parallel sets.

If my teachers who have some of the "best" educations in the world have not been able or have not been willing to help me as such, who can?
...
What I do know for certain and what I will state clearly and confidently is, that should I have stayed on the road I was on, prior to what I learned/am learning here on this forum and in Chang's book, surely, I would not have come anywhere even respectively close to reaching my goals.  That's disturbing, to say the least.
...

I cannot imagine that teachers would not be 'willing' to teach everything they knew. So is it that they are not able to teach this?

In my experience as a student, I have had different teachers who have teached me different things.When it comes to teaching technique and practicing techniques, luckily some have been quite good, others have teached my almost nothing about that. I have to say that none have been good enough in this respect, so I agree with Bernhard that “standard college level thinking is pretty low.” Also a problem is that this depends to much on the individual teacher.

There are some reasons for this:
- The conservatories try to attract the most famous performers to teach, because then they will attract good students. The problem is that a good concert pianist is not necessarily the best teacher for basic things like technique and practicing techniques. But they are the best for music making and performing, and this is what these teachers want to teach.
- Therefore these teachers expect to get students who already know how to practice, and they will not use their effort on things like this. And in the prestigious schools you really have to have a finished technique before you can enter. But this is not the case for every students (like me).
- Besides, conservatories are quite old fashioned and conservative (is it in the name?). They prefer to stick to the romantic idea of art as something mysterious, and not as a science.

Now, after graduation I feel I have learned a lot about practicing and piano technique, things I wish I knew earlier. This information I have gotten gradually from different teachers, and also by discovering things myself. When I recently read Changs book, I was impressed because here was a lot of sound advice, which I haven't seen collected like that before, but most of which I have already learned/discovered. But I have for example not heard the term “thumb-over” before, and when I became conscious of this I improved my technique.

What conservatory educations should have but don't is a course on practicing. To practice efficiently definitely makes a huge difference. I just lament all the hours I have wasted practicing unefficiently. This course should be in the beginning of study. It could be common for all or most instruments, because most of these ideas can be used for all instrumentalists. Most piano students spend 6-7 hours practicing every day; it should be self evident that they learn how to do this efficiently.

There are some efforts being made about this. I know that Mr. Harald Jørgensen at the Norwegian State Academy has done some research on practicing. He also made a book with 19 tips on practicing, intended for students there. Unfortunately this was not compulsory to read, but it was available. There is internationally some scientific research on this, but I have a feeling it is very little.

After having praised Chang, I have to say I find it a bit funny how he describes his book as “scientific”. I view it more as personal ideas and a practical method, based largely on the way his teacher teached (as he says himself). It is not very scientific; he is not backed up by any research. He has a very short reference list at the back of the book, and doesn't refer to any modern research, only quite old anecdotical books. But I can recommend to read it.


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Torp
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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2005, 02:48:42 PM »

So much for the idea that Bernhard and Chang are "common" knowledge.

http://www.pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,7768.0.html

Jef
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