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What should I be learning in lessons? (Read 2769 times)

Offline mtpiano

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What should I be learning in lessons?
« on: July 30, 2013, 04:26:18 PM »
Hello everyone. First time poster, but I have been reading some other posts on here as well.

I am 30 years old, and have been working as a Musical Theater pianist (hence the name) since I finished up with High School. I have decided to go back to school in order to get a degree so that I can eventually work at the college level in some kind of MT program, as an accompanist for an MT program, or possibly doing theory classes as that is something that I find very interesting.

I took lessons as a child, but never really practiced what was assigned to me. I wanted to play around on the piano, and figure things out for myself. This has left me with little to no technique training (the first time I sat down and learned fingering for all the scales was my first year at college - and I don't have them at a speed that seems appropriate) but so much of our lesson time is focused on the rep. Specifically, things like articulations and phrasing for certain styles of music.

The thing is - I will NEVER play a Mozart sonata or a Bach fugue once I finish this degree. Never. I can appreciate listening to it, but if I were going to do any further work with classical music, it would be as a conductor. Now I understand that I am working on a B.M. degree (not performance, it is a BMO, which means an outside field is involved - in my case theater) so there are certain things that need to be performed for juries each semester.

So, my question is - What should I be learning in lessons? Mozart articulations mean nothing to me in the long run (with my current goals), and I do want to become a better pianist - but if that is going to happen, I feel like it should be happening with technique. The teacher I have now seems to be from the school that technique is developed from the repertoire - but apparently that is not a good learning style for me. Should I consider switching to another studio? I don't just want to switch studios if that is a basic understanding of how to teach piano and it will be the same with anyone, but I have also come to the decision that I am not going to spend 16 hours a week slaving over rep that I am not going to use again. I would rather get a lower grade in the class and spend more time learning scores on my own......of course, I would really like to get more out of a $35,000 a year tuition then teaching myself.

Thoughts?

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #1 on: July 30, 2013, 04:33:49 PM »
You don't need to spend any money to become a better pianist.

Can you play all of the scales fluently hands together four octaves without looking down at your hands?

If you can actually do that, Mozart should be no problem for you whatsoever.

Offline brogers70

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #2 on: July 30, 2013, 06:05:13 PM »
OK, playing devil's advocate here a little. You'd consider being a conductor of classical music, so at least it doesn't drive you nuts. What if you just gave your teacher six months of dedication to learning technique through the classical repertoire just as he/she wants? Your technique will almost certainly improve, you'll get to know some pieces  of music that you like (at least to listen to) far more intimately than you would by listening to recordings. It's always hard to know whether doing something that doesn't initially seem appealing is a way to make a breakthrough by getting you out of the familiar, or whether it's just a waste of time. Whatever you decide, good luck.

Offline mtpiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #3 on: July 30, 2013, 06:31:56 PM »
@awesom_o - I was in a 2 semester course where they had what they called a Technique Barrier which involved playing all of the Major and Harmonic Minor scales in 4 octaves, along with arpeggios. I felt like I managed to get them learned on my own, but certainly do not feel like I could do them fluently. I don't normally incorporate them into my rehearsal of rep because that is all the we spend our lesson time on - so I am trying to get those pieces up to a level that is appropriate for end of the semester juries. Like I said, this is the first time that I have been asked to play them all. I come from a very different background than typical piano majors and I want to be able to improve my playing over all, I just don't know if this is a good way to do so.

@brogers70 - Devil's Advocate is welcome here, as are all comments - I know I need to make my own decisions, but input from others is going to be helpful. This will be my 2nd year at this school, so I studied with this teacher last semester. I feel like everything that I learned was dependent on the rep, as opposed to things that I could transfer to other pieces. Maybe I am just weak and separating the 2 and being able to apply it myself. Last night I checked out a DVD out of the library - "The Craft of Piano Playing" by Alan Fraser. I have no idea if his methods are good or not, but just watching the DVD along with some other clips of his masterclasses and lectures online - they are filled with things I have never heard before. Should I just tell me professor that I want to spend the first 10 minutes of our 30 minute lessons on basics? Or should I just try to study it on my own and hope that I get it right.


Thank you both for your thoughts.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 07:03:04 PM »
Alan Fraser is generally well-regarded around here, I believe.

I don't think you should suggest too strongly to your teacher what you think you should be learning, but rather share with him or her your concerns that what you feel you have learned is too specific to individual pieces, and that you would rather concentrate on building strong foundation skills that will be then transferable to different periods of repertoire and even styles of music.

Could you play something like Happy Birthday, hands together, in any key signature upon request ? If that is too simple, could you play your national anthem in the same manner? With improvised figuration in the bass?

How is your sightreading?


Offline mtpiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #5 on: July 30, 2013, 09:12:17 PM »
Quote
share with him or her your concerns that what you feel you have learned is too specific to individual pieces, and that you would rather concentrate on building strong foundation skills that will be then transferable to different periods of repertoire and even styles of music.

This may be the best option for me. I don't want to sound like I am discounting the fact that studying Bach will be unimportant for learning finger independence, but what we have had so far has been so directly related to the 3 pieces we work on for the semester....maybe I am just bad at separating the technique from the pieces. Hopefully telling him what I am hoping to take away from lessons will be helpful.

To answer your question - the transposition are really easy for me, as is sightreading since I often get called in for auditions. My "wants" in terms of lessons are to improve speed and accuracy - for example I just finished a show this weekend that had a song that that was about 180 BPM, with a chromatic run of an octave and a half in octaves in eighth note triplets. I managed to figure out the RH, but the LH was never where I wanted it. I would like to work on things like that since a lot of what I aim to do involves accompanying others.

I think your idea may be what I should bring to him, and see how this next semester goes!

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #6 on: July 30, 2013, 09:33:10 PM »
So tell me-can you play the scales with confidence without looking down at your hands? Not at a blistering speed, but rather with control of the pulse coming from your own mind?

Offline ajspiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 10:27:29 PM »
I rather like alan frasers material,  though I have the craft of piano book rather than DVD.

For the record, alongside other work in different forms I might typically aim to improve speed and accuracy in a student through a rough progression of sonatas from

clementi -> kuhlau -> mozart -> beethoven... I also do talk about stuff like that which you will find in frasers book along the way..

..dont go confusing technique with speed and accuracy tjough, that is but one part.

Offline rembetissa

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #8 on: July 31, 2013, 02:15:53 AM »
Hello there :) I hope I understand your question and will take a stab at it. If you're in a degree program, keep in mind that it has certain requirements, benchmarks you need to accomplish before your degree will be awarded. So maybe your teacher will be able to work in what you want, but you also need to meet those requirements. Maybe you can have lessons as your teacher plans them, then request a special individual course with a supervisor to help with the musical theatre goals? Best of luck!

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #9 on: July 31, 2013, 05:43:25 AM »

For the record, alongside other work in different forms I might typically aim to improve speed and accuracy in a student through a rough progression of sonatas from

clementi -> kuhlau -> mozart -> beethoven...

I wonder if there's any other way than classical sonatas...?
Speed and accuracy are something I would need to improve a lot...I have done some Clementi and didn't like it, and the rest I simply cannot stomach...Do you ever have students that don't like this stuff? What would you do with them?

Offline j_menz

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #10 on: July 31, 2013, 05:56:06 AM »
Do you ever have students that don't like this stuff? What would you do with them?



(either that or try Kabalevsky/Dohnanyi/Bartok)
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 07:53:56 AM »


(either that or try Kabalevsky/Dohnanyi/Bartok)

 ;D

Offline ajspiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #12 on: July 31, 2013, 09:11:28 AM »
triple dosage of bach  ;D

no seriously, just dive into chopin etudes..

no seriously, hanon.

no seriously..  I just go with level appropriate material that they do like - or in other words, I don't force people to develop technique that their genuine musical desires do not necessitate...

..unless I can myagi them to do so along the way with whatever material - which is always, because movement principles are transferable into different musical contexts.

I like to assign alot of listening work, so my students have a broad range of potential learning material that I know they like. ( I also often already know what they don't like).

I also dont teach classical music/piano, I just teach music. So for some people that means things very different to what we talk about here. Eg. Last night I was working on piano parts with a hip hop MC. We were working on adding contrapuntal lines into certain accompaniments to compliment the lyrical element, some of the lines were fast (so he had to improve speed and accuracy). I wouldn't give him a sonatina, its an incompatible musical context and he wouldnt practice it anyway. I give him a "riff" or a chord voicing to experiment with, supervise him transposing it through modes and different keys and then just let him free for another week. If he comes back and is having physical trouble with something he created I fix it with direct contextual technique instruction.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #13 on: July 31, 2013, 09:49:38 AM »
triple dosage of bach  ;D


I should have known that without asking...

no seriously..  I just go with level appropriate material that they do like - or in other words, I don't force people to develop technique that their genuine musical desires do not necessitate...

..unless I can myagi them to do so along the way with whatever material - which is always, because movement principles are transferable into different musical contexts.

I like to assign alot of listening work, so my students have a broad range of potential learning material that I know they like. ( I also often already know what they don't like).

I also dont teach classical music/piano, I just teach music. So for some people that means things very different to what we talk about here. Eg. Last night I was working on piano parts with a hip hop MC. We were working on adding contrapuntal lines into certain accompaniments to compliment the lyrical element, some of the lines were fast (so he had to improve speed and accuracy). I wouldn't give him a sonatina, its an incompatible musical context and he wouldnt practice it anyway. I give him a "riff" or a chord voicing to experiment with, supervise him transposing it through modes and different keys and then just let him free for another week. If he comes back and is having physical trouble with something he created I fix it with direct contextual technique instruction.

Sounds like some very dedicated teaching work :)

When I try to practice things like classical era sonatas I never get to the point of speed and accuracy, because it takes me so long simply to learn the notes. When I finally have I am already so fed up with the music that I cannot stand practicing it anymore... It's a bit difficult for my teacher, every time she gives me something to learn I don't really like it. I do always try but it never ends well  >:(

I guess I could try some Clementi again, but I need to get a better edition, the one I have gives me a headache...

Offline maitea

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #14 on: July 31, 2013, 10:10:17 AM »
Hello,

I suspect that part of the "issue" is that 30 min lesson is not a great deal of time, and possibly as hinted already, your teacher is concerned with getting you through the degree, that means learning the required pieces..

In itself, Bach and classic sonatas are a very good combo to improve your speed and "accuracy" (sorry, I hate the word, but understand what you mean). But I also think that you possibly need to do a little bit of extra work if you really want to put your piano playing on other level. I suggest:

Daily routine of scales and arpeggios, master every key. Some feel less comfortable than others, take those to your teacher. The "standard" problems tend to be the passing of the thumb, jerky movements of the arm/wrist, incorrect placement of the hand etc.. And tension. So, observe your practice and go to your teacher with doubts.

There is plenty of literature that needs "fast fingers", maybe Chopin etudes is a bit more complex  (and time consuming in the reading and getting the text handy) depending on your interests, there is other etudes by Heller, Czerny, or even "pieces" like Schubert's Impromtu like op.90 n2 that require that type of technique. (My general observation is that you relate fast and accurate with "piano technique", but the picture of what piano technique is, is a bit broader, with other piano "techniques", chords, ocatves, thirds, but maybe they are not as frequent in the literature you want to deal with.) I would prepare pieces/etudes like these and bring them to the teacher to help you. Be proactive in that regard.

Finally, I would also bring to the class the specific passages, like the one you mention, from shows you are playing and cause you trouble. And ask the teacher to help you master those.

I might be absolutely wrong, because I have never seen you play. But something that I have seen before both in jazz and mt pianists is that they tend to play with far lower wrists, arms. Whilst some pianists (like Glenn Gould) were exceptional and had that type of technique, well, they are the exception, and there are more ergonomic and efficient ways of playing. Maybe discussing the your current general sitting, playing position with your teacher would be good.

Just some suggestions! :)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #15 on: July 31, 2013, 12:19:46 PM »


When I try to practice things like classical era sonatas I never get to the point of speed and accuracy, because it takes me so long simply to learn the notes. When I finally have I am already so fed up with the music that I cannot stand practicing it anymore... It's a bit difficult for my teacher, every time she gives me something to learn I don't really like it. I do always try but it never ends well  >:(

I guess I could try some Clementi again, but I need to get a better edition, the one I have gives me a headache...

It sounds like you are fed up with trying to play Classical sonatas entirely from memory, and that perhaps you would better enjoy playing them with the score in front of you? This way you don't have to spend time 'learning' each one individually, and your reading and musical skills will increase rapidly. Trying to memorize individual pieces is what I call 'wrote learning' and it doesn't help us to develop our musicianship as much as we think it does.

This is the way I teach Classical sonatas and sonatinas to my students. The emphasis isn't on 'learn the notes first by memory so I can teach you the music next week', but rather learning to play the Classical style with quality sound-production, stylistic awareness, and musical character.


I don't understand what you mean by 'I never get to the point with speed and accuracy because it takes me so long to read the notes'.

I can sightread Sonatinas by any Classical composer in tempo,with good style intact, with enough accury to be on a recording. 

Any professional-level keyboard player will be able to do this, if they have been correctly trained in the arts.

I am more interested in teaching my pupils the underlying foundation skills, physically and mentally, that will enable them to reach this level in time. Other teachers are more interested in having their pupil memorize a single movement. The problem is, the technique required to play Classical sonatinas at a high level is quite advanced. Once you've memorized a short piece, you will usually play it looking down at your hands the whole time.

The problem with that is that virtuoso technique often requires us to NOT look down at our hands. So the sooner we learn to play Classical Sonatinas fluently, with the eye following along on the page rather than looking down at the keyboard, the sooner we can get to more advanced stuff.





Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #16 on: July 31, 2013, 12:27:01 PM »
It sounds like you are fed up with trying to play Classical sonatas entirely from memory, and that perhaps you would better enjoy playing them with the score in front of you? This way you don't have to spend time 'learning' each one individually, and your reading and musical skills will increase rapidly. Trying to memorize individual pieces is what I call 'wrote learning' and it doesn't help us to develop our musicianship as much as we think it does.



You are right about that. But playing fast pieces with the score is impossible for me, I can't read well enough... I am working on it, but I have visual problems, I can only read for 10-15 minutes at the time...not enough for this purpose.

I am not learning the notes first and then the music. I am learning both simultaneously. It just takes ages for me to set fingerings and passages to my mind...it's a bit hard to explain to someone with normal memory capabilities...

And of course unlike OP and yourself I am quite far from any kind of professional keyboard player...

But really I get fed up with the music itself...the better I learn these pieces the less I like listening to what I am playing. This type of music is just SO annoying...

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #17 on: July 31, 2013, 12:39:53 PM »
Really? Tonight I'm recording Winterwind and Oceanwave using the score. I can't think of anything much faster than those two off the top of my head.

The better you know a piece, the less you are reading the individual notes off of the page and the more you are using the entire score as a sort of aide-memoir to help you render the musical details honestly and accurately in the moment. Think of professional chamber music performances.

I don't know, I really disagree with the whole 'memory' thing. There is just so much wonderful music out there to play that you could not possibly memorize and do justice to at the same time.  The Liszt arrangement of the Beethoven 9th for two pianos, for example, that I am working on with my girlfriend right now. It's over 100 pages long. No conductor would be expected to memorize the entire 9th, why the heck should a two-piano team be different?

Like Richter said, it is one thing to memorize the notes of a composition.... but no musician could possibly memorize everything, all of the expression, all of the movement, all of the detail.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #18 on: July 31, 2013, 12:43:08 PM »


I don't know, I really disagree with the whole 'memory' thing. There is just so much wonderful music out there to play that you could not possibly memorize and do justice to at the same time.  The Liszt arrangement of the Beethoven 9th for two pianos, for example, that I am working on with my girlfriend right now. It's over 100 pages long. No conductor would be expected to memorize the entire 9th, why the heck should a two-piano team be different?


I had to edit my reply, it left before it was ready...

Anyway I agree 100% that a pianists should be allowed to use the score. I just cannot properly play from the score myself...I really hope I will be able to do it one day.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #19 on: July 31, 2013, 12:46:15 PM »
The real magic of keyboard playing lies in what Nadia Boulanger called 'hear with your eyes and see with your ears'.


She frequently spoke about this with her pupils. What it means is quite an advanced concept to get your head around. An amazing musician can look at a score he or she has never heard before, and hear it in their head with incredible accuracy and clarity, just by looking at the notes. They can HEAR with their EYES, a complex document that would amount to gibberish to a layperson.

On the flip side, that amazing musician knows their repertoire and their instrument so thoroughly, that any music that they hear, their eye can instantly visualize on the staff.


It is this link, this powerful link, between the score and the music, that creates musical authority. Great conductors can read thick-textured scores and hear every single voice or part with perfect clarity. They can hear with their eyes and see with their ears. This is primarily why they get the big bucks.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE LEARNING in your lessons is this. How to see with your ears and how to hear with your eyes.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #20 on: July 31, 2013, 12:52:14 PM »


WHAT YOU SHOULD BE LEARNING in your lessons is this. How to see with your ears and how to hear with your eyes.

I am not sure if you meant this for the OP or me, but learning this is quite a task and will take years for someone who is not studying music full time. It is a good goal, but not all of us will ever reach that stage...

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #21 on: July 31, 2013, 12:59:11 PM »
I am not sure if you meant this for the OP or me, but learning this is quite a task and will take years for someone who is not studying music full time. It is a good goal, but not all of us will ever reach that stage...

Learning this will take years for anyone, regardless of what they study full-time.

If being an artist was easy, everyone and their brother would be an artist.

I meant it for anyone who wishes to become an artist.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #22 on: July 31, 2013, 01:03:58 PM »
Learning this will take years for anyone, regardless of what they study full-time.

If being an artist was easy, everyone and their brother would be an artist.

I meant it for anyone who wishes to become an artist.

OK...I'm afraid my artistry will be on other areas...When it comes to piano I'll settle for being able to get a nice sound from my piano and hopefully be able to play/read through as much as possible of all the wonderful piano music before I die...

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #23 on: July 31, 2013, 01:13:40 PM »
OK...I'm afraid my artistry will be on other areas...When it comes to piano I'll settle for being able to get a nice sound from my piano and hopefully be able to play/read through as much as possible of all the wonderful piano music before I die...

ahhhh... but you see, those are the goals of the artist. To get a nice sound from his or her instrument and be able to play/read as much of the wonderful literature as possible.

The rest is all just a matter of degree or relativity. One person's 'nice sound' is another person's....not so nice sound. And that person's 'large repertoire' is seeming to yet another person still quite small.

If you are suggesting that there should be a lesser method for lesser players.... an easier method intended for the mediocre pupil to stay forever mediocre, well then I suppose there are plenty of such methods, and plenty of teachers out there, who will be forever happy to cater to this pupil.

This is why I joke around a great deal saying things like 'the answers to piano are hidden in plain sight'..... and calling it an occult science, etc.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #24 on: July 31, 2013, 03:13:20 PM »

If you are suggesting that there should be a lesser method for lesser players.... an easier method intended for the mediocre pupil to stay forever mediocre, well then I suppose there are plenty of such methods, and plenty of teachers out there, who will be forever happy to cater to this pupil.


No, I'm defintely not suggesting that...I'm just being a realist, unfortunately my time in this world is limited :)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #25 on: July 31, 2013, 03:21:17 PM »
unfortunately my time in this world is limited :)

All the more reason to make sure that every minute you spend at the keyboard is one spent maximizing your musical potential in the absolute best way possible....  :)

Offline mtpiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #26 on: July 31, 2013, 03:28:27 PM »
Hey all - thanks for the interesting thoughts. A couple points:

1) I don't feel 100% comfortable with all of the scales and arpeggios yet, mostly because in working on them, I did them on my own. I don't feel any kind of pain or tension while I am playing them, but I still don't know if I am doing them "correctly".

2) Someone mentioned that the half horu lesson may be part of the issue. Basically from week to week, I go in, we chat for a moment while we set up a camera to record the lesson, I play a piece, and then we talk about it and work on specific spots. We don't actually have technique time worked in - maybe that is because of the short amount of time that we have, but like I mentioned before, I have little to no actual technique. The professor knows this, but I feel like I have dived in head first and I am just going from piece to piece without getting concepts engrained - or understanding how to bring them different rep.

My audition into the school involved a Chopin Prelude, a 3 part Bach Invention, and a Haydn sonata. My first semester we went up to a Bach Prelude and Fugue, a Beethoven Sonata, and a Chopin Waltz. I get through the course, and I manage to get good grades and comments from the other professors at jury times. I just feel like IF we are going to play Bach, I should know how to play a 2 part invention pretty close to perfect, and then take what I learned there to go to a 3 part, and eventually 3 and 4 voice fugues. I mentioned that to him and he said that you can learn just as much from more challenging rep. Someone else in my studio did a 2-part invention last semester so I know it isn't a strict requirement for certain pieces, but that things are tailored to the students abilities.

@maitea  - So, I am all about improving my skills which is why I posted this. You mentioned working with scales and arpeggios - and possibly some other exercises. Would you suggest working on them on my own and just bringing in pieces, or saying i want a specific assignment based on my level? I can pull out some Hanon exercises and start work on them, and then just go in and say "Look at this....why does this happen or feel like this in my hands"?

Thanks all.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #27 on: July 31, 2013, 03:30:00 PM »
All the more reason to make sure that every minute you spend at the keyboard is one spent maximizing your musical potential in the absolute best way possible....  :)

Which is exactly why I'm trying to find repertoire that would suit my personality better the ones mentioned above...and still develope my skills in several ways :)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #28 on: July 31, 2013, 03:50:50 PM »
From the looks of your signature it seems you have a very interesting repertoire developing!

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #29 on: July 31, 2013, 03:54:44 PM »
Hey all - thanks for the interesting thoughts. A couple points:

1) I don't feel 100% comfortable with all of the scales and arpeggios yet, mostly because in working on them, I did them on my own. I don't feel any kind of pain or tension while I am playing them, but I still don't know if I am doing them "correctly".

2) Someone mentioned that the half horu lesson may be part of the issue. Basically from week to week, I go in, we chat for a moment while we set up a camera to record the lesson, I play a piece, and then we talk about it and work on specific spots. We don't actually have technique time worked in - maybe that is because of the short amount of time that we have, but like I mentioned before, I have little to no actual technique. The professor knows this, but I feel like I have dived in head first and I am just going from piece to piece without getting concepts engrained - or understanding how to bring them different rep.

My audition into the school involved a Chopin Prelude, a 3 part Bach Invention, and a Haydn sonata. My first semester we went up to a Bach Prelude and Fugue, a Beethoven Sonata, and a Chopin Waltz. I get through the course, and I manage to get good grades and comments from the other professors at jury times. I just feel like IF we are going to play Bach, I should know how to play a 2 part invention pretty close to perfect, and then take what I learned there to go to a 3 part, and eventually 3 and 4 voice fugues. I mentioned that to him and he said that you can learn just as much from more challenging rep. Someone else in my studio did a 2-part invention last semester so I know it isn't a strict requirement for certain pieces, but that things are tailored to the students abilities.

@maitea  - So, I am all about improving my skills which is why I posted this. You mentioned working with scales and arpeggios - and possibly some other exercises. Would you suggest working on them on my own and just bringing in pieces, or saying i want a specific assignment based on my level? I can pull out some Hanon exercises and start work on them, and then just go in and say "Look at this....why does this happen or feel like this in my hands"?

Thanks all.

The repertoire you described is frighteningly advanced for one who doesn't feel confident with basics like scales and arpeggios and feels they have 'no basic technique'....

Be careful of teachers who charge a great deal of money and give you material that is too advanced for you at this stage.

Can we see a video of your playing? It would help a great deal in answering your questions.

Offline maitea

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #30 on: July 31, 2013, 04:09:14 PM »
Hi @mtpiano!

yes, I wouldn't do Hanon though.. But that is personal. What I meant (as a teacher and also student) is that I think it is good (for both) if the student is proactive about the lesson, brings in questions 'prepared' at home, and practices other things by himself. (This is at least my understanding of how an adult experience learner should approach his development).

The aim of any teacher should be to create autonomous pianists, you should ultimately be able to teach yourself, makes sense, no? If you don't think that the repertoire that you are currently are doing is 'enough', then 'do' something about it. Not suggesting you fly solo, but ask him weather it would be good for you to also look at xxx (insert as wanted) and practice it and go back to class with your doubts. Don't just expect him to "fix" everything. A teacher is a guide, and opens doors, but you have to walk...

 Not sure how much you practice a day, but even if it's only 2 hours a day, compared to 30 min weekly lesson.. It's pretty much "on you" to improve!(of course teacher are VERY important! But hope you get my point)

Ask him about the technical doubts you have and how to practice (very important) Be specific. Help him to help you!!

Again, that is just me! :)

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #31 on: July 31, 2013, 04:13:05 PM »
From the looks of your signature it seems you have a very interesting repertoire developing!

I guess...but very slowly  ;D

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #32 on: July 31, 2013, 04:34:27 PM »
Learn to play slowly, but think quickly, so that the sound is full of life and never dull, and greatness will be yours.        8)     eventually.

Offline mtpiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #33 on: July 31, 2013, 04:55:33 PM »
I will be going in later on today to do some work - I think I can set up some kind of recording as long as one of the rooms with a camera is open up there (Or I may be able to try and set up my small camera). I can try to put something together and put it either on here, or make a link to the "Audition Room" forum.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #34 on: July 31, 2013, 11:10:13 PM »

Sounds like some very dedicated teaching work :)


..I have a student who only speaks mandarin (well, very little english) dedication would be if I learnt to explain things in mandarin.

we have some odd moments where I say something and she clearly has no idea what I meant, or if she tries to ask something in English and I clearly can't make sense of it.. consequently we do a lot of guided experiments with look and point observations about both my playing and her playing.. as well as listening obviously.

aside from the need to get better at reading, perhaps the odd bit of material with a technical push would be good for you, but where there is a great deal of use made out similar but vaired figures. So the reading and memorising is less of a factor, but the faster passage work is.

Consider say trying a bit of Debussy's Dr Gradus, its littered with semiquaver passaged, primarily RH broken chord figures that you can learn in hand position clusters of 4 - and it sounds nice a bit slower too I think. (hopefully) not too hard...




Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #35 on: August 01, 2013, 05:10:07 AM »

aside from the need to get better at reading, perhaps the odd bit of material with a technical push would be good for you, but where there is a great deal of use made out similar but vaired figures. So the reading and memorising is less of a factor, but the faster passage work is.

Consider say trying a bit of Debussy's Dr Gradus, its littered with semiquaver passaged, primarily RH broken chord figures that you can learn in hand position clusters of 4 - and it sounds nice a bit slower too I think. (hopefully) not too hard...


Thanks, I'll look into that...Lessons also start soon, so I'll see what my teacher thinks I should do.
EDIT: Tried this one, but the right hand is very uncomfortable for me because of the thumb issue...

Broken chords have been one of my biggest problems since the beginning. I just cannot get the figurations into my head, not even simple arpeggios. I have been trying to securely memorize the left hand of op 72-1 for the whole summer and still struggling with the first two pages...what makes it especially hard is the little variations, it's rather similar but never exactly the same when the piece progresses :(
Technically the RH arpeggios are more difficult, maybe because of my lack of reach the "cluster" approach does not always help as it should.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #36 on: August 01, 2013, 12:10:01 PM »
Maybe your thumb needs some more training?


Czerny believed the thumb to be the principle difficulty involved in playing the piano. It is the most important finger.... the one which allows all of the others to glide seamlessly over the keyboard in any scale, arpeggio, or passage.

Offline outin

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Re: What should I be learning in lessons?
«Reply #37 on: August 01, 2013, 12:21:03 PM »
Maybe your thumb needs some more training?


Czerny believed the thumb to be the principle difficulty involved in playing the piano. It is the most important finger.... the one which allows all of the others to glide seamlessly over the keyboard in any scale, arpeggio, or passage.

I have a specific thumb skin issue, which I have explained to AJS in another thread...A very sensitive part of my right thumb rubs against the sharp edges or sides of my piano keys when I need to strech from 1 to 2 or 3. It gets sore really fast :(

But of course it also needs more training, just like avery other part of my body :)