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Topic: Gifted Friend  (Read 2794 times)

Offline coopes

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Gifted Friend
on: June 30, 2004, 02:57:29 PM
Hi all, I have been reading  your forums for a few weeks now, mostly trying to find some advice for a friend I have (He wont post here) but I think he really is a prodigy in the making.
I met him one day at his work where he sells piano’s. After he did his demonstration of the piano I was interested in, I asked him where he studied to be able to play so well. He then told me very modestly that he just messes about on the piano and has never actually had any training. Naturally I was intrigued and started to ask more questions and with each answer he gave me I was becoming more and more amazed at this unbelievable talent sitting before me.

He’s be playing 3 years
He’s never had lesson
He cant read A NOTE OF MUSIC (when he told me this I nearly fell over)

Now im no-where near his level of playing, and ive read all your post about anybody can hit the right notes ect….. But I know beautiful music when I hear it.
I was no longer interested in the piano he was trying to sell me anymore, so I asked him if he would play some more for me- So he did.  He played Debussy’s Caire De Lune like I was listening to it on a CD. It was so beautiful it almost brought tears to my eyes. I asked him what else he plays “I duno…name somthin” he said. Ermmmm…. Rachmaninov “yeh no problem” he said. Prelude No.2 in C-sharp Minor, he made it sound like he could have played it in his sleep!

I vist him a lot now I see him almost every week and no matter how good I tell him he is, he just laughs and says “Nah I jus mess around with it- nothin special”

Someone please tell me this guy is gifted!!!! He plays all this by ear for God Sake HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE Has anyone here ever encountered anything like this before? He’s started  learning Chopin Revolutionary now and although its in the early stages it is shaping up rather nicely Give him another 3 or 4  months and no doubt it will be added to his repertoire.

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 03:17:51 PM
My teacher always says that there's four things that one must posses to play the piano:

1) Good Ear
2) Musicality
3) Patience
4) Love for the music

It's clear that your friend is gifted as he posses a wonderful ear and this in turn gave him a lot of musicality, emotional interpretation and the patience to learn
So he is quite more gifted than some piano students at conservatory as many of them have good tecnique, good repertoire from private lessons (in order to be admitted) but many of them lack musicality, ear, emotional knwoledge of music and most of all patience

I would say that your friend own half the piano knowledge (the spiritual, emotional, interior, unconscious one) now he need the theorical, scientifical, materialistic knowledge of the piano to be able one day to be complete in his piano playing
That's is he need to learn reading notes, reading rythm and hands articulation tecnique

Usually those with such good musicaly and ear need few years to learn about piano theory and reading and they skip alot of grades
They are also the better ones, as far as I can say, has they talent, and a gift and not only scolarly tecnique and a dry interpretation

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline coopes

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #2 on: June 30, 2004, 03:52:38 PM
Thanks for the reply Daniel_piano.
Its just a case of convincing him to do something with his gift at the moment, he seems to be under the impression that this is something that anybody can do if they practice 3 or 4 hours per day like he does. I have been playing the piano now for many years and doubt I will ever reach the standard that he is already at. He has the most amazing Ear / Memory. The more and more I see him I think the more I make him feel like a lab rat being tested, I Have sat down with the scores to some of the pieces that he plays to check how close he is to the originals and asked him to play them slowly so I can examine them. I am never sort of amazement with his near note perfect renditions of all theses classical pieces that he plays. He ONLY plays Classical I might add. He listens to Midi Files and slows them down so that he can hear each note, then some how he can just play them in his mind as he practises them on the piano.  Once he knows the pieces well enough he then adds his own interpretation. He plays Rachmanionv very well and quite a few Chopin pieces too, mostly the Etudes (Op. 25 No.1 is my Favourite, he plays it so well)to name but a few.

I just want to show him some of the replies on this forum so he can see that im not just some crazy old guy that comes in and naggs him!!

Thanks Again.

Offline pies

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #3 on: June 30, 2004, 09:49:03 PM
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Offline thierry13

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 05:33:21 AM
To be able to make all those pieces just by ear PERFECTLY, it's sure that he has perfect pitch. To add an interpretation just like that and be so touching, he has to have a prodigious musicality. I'm sure he could do a career... if he's not allready too old.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #5 on: July 01, 2004, 01:47:57 PM
Not to downplay his talents but he's been playing the way he does for 3 years on piano's that are kept perfectly in tune imitating sounds that sound exactly the way the piano sounds (at least in pitch).  This is learning by imitation, the only way we learn, and doing it with only the necessary information, the fastest way to learn.  He has never looked at music - which really is completely meaningless and irrelavent in making music - so it does not provide a useless distraction in his imitation and leaning.

Or your post like this:

I've just met this 4-year-old toddler and he can talk!  He talks pretty well.  I asked has he ever read Stephen King or Dostoyevsky and he said "no, I can't read."  My jaw dropped when he said this.  He's been talking for 3 years according to his mother, and hasn't read a word in a book yet.  This was incredible!  I asked how he learned to talk said that he doesn't know, he just does.  


On the piano, there are only 12 notes that are repeated.  That's just 12 notes that has to be remembered.  Once it is remembered, it is very easy find and play it.  By notes, I mean the sound it makes, not the relative location on the keyboard and definitely not those dotted ink spots on pieces of paper.  Once a sound is heard, the sound is played on the piano - imitation.  It gets a bit more complex when more than one note is played together but it's not difficult if the 12 sounds are already understood.

The reason we are not more like this is because we rarely imitate immediately after hearing a note because the CD player is in our bedrooms, not the room the piano is in.  And because our memory is not sufficient to hold a piece of music in its entirety, we never repeat the sounds on the piano after it is heard.  Because of the lack of note-playback technology (another person playing another piano or a computer that can play the music, etc.) when we sit at the piano, we do not learn through direct imitation.  We, instead, rely on pieces of paper with ink dots all over them and imitate the sound these dots make. ::)

Imagine a parent only making the sounds used by the English language so the baby will learn those sounds.  Then he shows the baby a piece of paper with letters on them and shows him how each sound is written out.  Then the parent stops talking for good and instead gives him a book to learn how to talk and use those sounds.  In 5 years of this, he will have learned how to say "Chopsticks" and "Happy Birthday" but he's really good at reading and saying aloud the words as he sees them. ::)

This is how we classical pianists learn how to play the piano.  Many people think and repeat this falsehood: music is a language.  This is balognious to the utter most degree.  There is no dialgue in such music; no one ever makes a few notes and someone responds with another few notes.  If language is the exchange of ideas through the same medium, then music is not a language.  There is no exchange, only sounds thrown at another who cannot respond.  To visuaize this idea: you are playing Fur Elise while someone listens.  When you finish, the person does not play in response to what he has heard as he has no idea how to.  There is no exchange; you are just giving money to a street beggar who will never give you anything back.

Because classical pianists learn in the manner we are taught how to play (by reading sheet music) many of us will never learn how to use the piano other than repeating notes on the pages.  If this is the most effective technique, why is it that parents do not teach their children by handing them a book?  If we learned how to speak by imitating our parents, then why not music?

Coopes, your friend is a perfect example of the most effective way to learn how to make music.  Some jazz pianists learn how to play in the same manner, though the difference is that there are other people who can make music for them to imitate.  This is why I have said that their should be two pianos so one can play and the other to imitate.  It's much more effective than handing a child pieces of paper with dots all over it.

I have bashed just about everyone's piano teacher on this forum and the piano teachers on this forum for teaching the way they do.  For this, I will not apologize but will ask to prove me wrong.

Offline dlu

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #6 on: July 03, 2004, 08:44:11 PM
I really think that there is something special in your friend...but....I really think it would be to his benifit to learn to read music (from the bottom up) and also it would certainly save him alot of time and he would be able to learn a piece faster. And, I find it hard to believe that he could learn a piece (to perfection, note for note). From  what you are saying it seems he is only playing pale immpresions of these pieces.

Offline DarkWind

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #7 on: July 04, 2004, 06:28:05 AM
Quote
Or your post like this:

I've just met this 4-year-old toddler and he can talk!  He talks pretty well.  I asked has he ever read Stephen King or Dostoyevsky and he said "no, I can't read."  My jaw dropped when he said this.  He's been talking for 3 years according to his mother, and hasn't read a word in a book yet.  This was incredible!  I asked how he learned to talk said that he doesn't know, he just does.  


You forgot to mention how he was able to recite many chapters of the Iliad, Shakespeare's works, etc. from memory. ::) Anyways, your argument is way too complicated and confuses itself in many parts, making it difficult to understand. Even if we could, what you are trying to do is change centuries of thought and methods of teaching. Music is like a language, but then it is not. When you gave the example of you playing and the person not playing back something, when someone reads to you, you don't read back to them, do you? It could inspire thoughts, ideas, bring up philosophy, and music can also inspire musical thoughts and musical ideas. Music is a language. If you play simply by reading everything from the sheet music, you should give up piano. The music is there only to teach you that. The Music. Music has many other areas, like emotion. We then pour in all of that into the piece, add fire, beauty, strength, you name it. Same thing with language. We learn the words. We then use the words to create sentences, but we come up with them, make them colorful, come to life. Think about speeches. The content would be meaningless without flair, without charisma, to give the words life. How do we yell by things like messages. WE WRITE LIKE THIS. We might bold it, but thats the best we can do. Like music, we can add a crescendo, a forte, and piannissimo, but its up to the pianist to give life to the music. The person who gives the speech gives life to the words much like how the musician gives life to the music.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #8 on: July 04, 2004, 07:18:52 AM
How is the argument complicated?  What he is doing is not amazing.  Anyone can do it just as anyone can talk.  The only reason it seems amazing is because no one has met someone who can play without sheet music.  The example of the baby was just to show that babies learn from talking to people.  Classical pianists just sit down with sheetmusic and recite it and usually don't know how the piano works in the musical sense; they don't know how to make melodies out of the blue.

How is this complicated?

Offline Motrax

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #9 on: July 04, 2004, 07:34:37 AM
Faulty, can you play anything by listening to it a bunch? Note-for-note, perfectly. Why don't you give it a try, and then come back and tell everyone else how easy it is?

To pick something random, and something you've probably never read before, lets go with Rachmaninoff's 4th Etude in D minor, Op. 33. Come back in two years and lets hear your success story of how you learned the piece perfectly just from listening to a recording.
"I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play." --  Artur Schnabel, after being asked for the secret of piano playing.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #10 on: July 04, 2004, 07:36:29 AM
That's not the point.  I haven't any practice doing it.  He has had 3 years of doing it and that's the only way he's been doing it.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #11 on: July 04, 2004, 07:43:50 AM
But for the sake of experimenting, I'll try it!
Rachmaninoff's 4th Etude in D minor, Op. 33
I've never heard that piece before.  Is it very hard?

Offline coopes

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #12 on: July 04, 2004, 03:16:40 PM
LoL...... By Ear it is!  :D

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #13 on: July 04, 2004, 03:47:06 PM
Quote
Faulty, can you play anything by listening to it a bunch? Note-for-note, perfectly. Why don't you give it a try, and then come back and tell everyone else how easy it is?

I have already said it in the other thread about the same question, but it seems I need to repeat it here: Blind people play by ear. It is nothing really too spectacular.

Quote
To pick something random, and something you've probably never read before, lets go with Rachmaninoff's 4th Etude in D minor, Op. 33. Come back in two years and lets hear your success story of how you learned the piece perfectly just from listening to a recording.

Here is where I would like to hear that person. I doubt it very much that one can accurately pick out complicated chords, fast runs, different voices, etc. just from listening to recordings. In addition, one will repeat the mistakes of the performer. Even if he uses MIDI files and plays them slowly over and over, I doubt it's possible. But hey, just because I can't do it, doesn't mean nobody else can.

Offline willcowskitz

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #14 on: July 04, 2004, 05:23:55 PM
Quote
But hey, just because I can't do it, doesn't mean nobody else can.


I don't think the point of this thread was to announce that this human being is superiour to the rest, but rather just get confirmation that he possesses talent that should be admitted and taken advantage of (from his behalf of course).

Also, with perfect pitch chords can be "fragmented" into tones. One user on this forum, e60m5 (or something), has perfect pitch and he says he can distinguish exact tones from 5-note chords.

Offline coopes

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #15 on: July 04, 2004, 05:45:59 PM
Yeh I just wanted to know what other people’s views were on this, but it seems to have now turned into sort of competition!

Offline coopes

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #16 on: July 04, 2004, 06:11:19 PM
Anyway, I’m going to show the responses to my friend so he can see that its not just me that thinks hes got something special. And the fact that some of you don’t believe me or think this sounds impossible is even more promising. I think he will find it quite amusing to read the more sceptical posts, but like I said before, its not HIM that thinks hes special. To him it’s easy, and I wasn’t exaggerating about the accuracy off his playing! Imagine listening to someone play Rachmaninov’s Prelude No.2 in C-sharp Minor (a piece that consists of almost entirely chords) and then have him tell you that he has learnt it by just listening to it! Sure you would be impressed! And that piece in particular is the sort of piece that you cant really simplify and get away with it. It just wouldn’t sound right. I’ve heard that piece of music so many times, and even play it myself (badly) it’s sure not the easiest piece to read never mind play by ear!

If I can some how get a recording of him then I will most certainly post it on here so you can hear for your selves! But I would probably have to secretly record him though, as I doubt he would want to make a fuss over it

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #17 on: July 04, 2004, 06:29:55 PM
I think the gist of this thread is that you should try to convince your friend to take formal lessons, because it will definitely improve, perhaps even propel, his level of playing.
Whether he has perfect pitch and is able to pick up music just by listening to it, is secondary. Some people are annoyed by having perfect pitch, but that's a different topic.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #18 on: July 07, 2004, 02:00:07 AM
Does anyone know where I can find a midi file of Rachmaninov's Etude Tableaux Opus 33 No. 4?  I've checked the classical archives but they don't have that particular etude.

Offline Lilo

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Re: Gifted Friend
Reply #19 on: July 11, 2004, 07:42:50 PM
faulty damper, you can find a sound file of rachmaninov's etude n°4 on www.kunstderfuge.com.
I think there are both a wma and a midi file of this piece.

good luck  ;)
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