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Sightreading: hands together or separate hands? (Read 6003 times)

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #50 on: October 11, 2013, 03:34:45 PM »
How do you determine then as a teacher where exactly the problem lies in a student, in the READING or in the EXECUTION of what they read?

Also, shouldn't READING for that kind of problem spots actually be done during the few seconds of preparation you have BEFORE you actually start EXECUTING the first notes of the piece?

In other words, what sense does it make to start executing the first notes of a piece before you have a clear picture in your mind of how to solve the very last ones? Is this all simply a trial-and-error exercise?


I don't personally draw any distinction - as a really good sightreader is equally capable of linking the significant notes either by slight mental preparation in advance, or by grouping the same necessary notes as they come to them.

The basic skill is to ensure that you never "run out" of notes that you are ready to play. In a beginner, it's a case of training them to see two quavers plus an extra note as as a single unit. Not to play two quavers in strict time but then realise they're not ready for the next. In early stages, guessing is disaster. I'd rather the student realise when they're not ready to make that link and stretch slightly to make accuracy possible over a longer unit that contains a sense of completion. Then they're ready to instate the stricter rhythm right after. A stretched but connected group of short notes to a long one is always preferable to a strict group of short notes followed by either a stop or a wild guess at the important destination. Even in session work, nobody wants a musician who screws up chord changes. It's not about regularly guessing at notes that had not been decoded in time (which is what a beginner will do if forced to play in rigid metre at all times) It's about having a skill set behind you that stops guesswork having to come into the important moments and restricts it lesser details. Forcing yourself never to even stretch time doesn't help you get those important moments right. It teaches you to process and organise less vital information and to make more wild guesses of the kind that will spell disaster in any serious situation. The first step is learn to process large amounts of information accurately and in a connected but not rigid or significantly pressured fashion.

It's a lot easier to go from an accurate and connected execution of a group that is a little stretched, to an execution that is both totally rhythmic and accurate. Trying to turn a rhythmic execution that includes guesses at notes that could not even be mentally processed in time into an execution that is both rhythmic and accurate is really hard. In beginners, I favour what promotes development over what they'll need if they get offered session work. The faking skills can only begin to work well when the reading is good enough to be aimed many notes ahead.

There's a world of difference between guessing notes because you've not processed more than a note or two ahead and guessing minor details, from a position of already having processed and understood the really important arrival that follow. When those key moments of arrival are not even on the radar, forcing that student to make guesses is pissing into the wind. Good fakery comes from seeing the big picture due to good reading capability. Not from guessing whenever you are clueless about everything but the one note you played last. It doesn't matter whether you did a quick plan or process these issues on the fly, but good readers develop by allowing themselves enough space to process connections in advance.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #51 on: October 11, 2013, 03:52:17 PM »

I don't personally draw any distinction - as a really good sightreader is equally capable of linking the significant notes either by slight mental preparation in advance, or by grouping the same necessary notes as they come to them.


I consider it unprofessional to skip the mental preparation step, whether you need it or not. 

It's just part of performance ethics.  Similarly, I never sightread if not necessary.  If I can get the music early and practice it, I do, even if it's easy enough to play or sing on sight.  A professional CAN sightread, but often doesn't need to with just a bit of homework, and would never not do that homework. 

Quote
I'd rather the student realise when they're not ready to make that link and stretch slightly to make accuracy possible over a longer unit that contains a sense of completion
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I'm having difficulty seeing how this works.  I don't disagree with stretching time, if it's for a musical purpose or because it's necessary to follow the other performers.  Stretching time because of a localized difficulty factor just seems wrong.  If you're playing with others it becomes really annoying, because those spots will be unpredictable to them. 
Tim

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #52 on: October 11, 2013, 04:11:21 PM »
I consider it unprofessional to skip the mental preparation step, whether you need it or not. 

It's just part of performance ethics.  Similarly, I never sightread if not necessary.  If I can get the music early and practice it, I do, even if it's easy enough to play or sing on sight.  A professional CAN sightread, but often doesn't need to with just a bit of homework, and would never not do that homework. 
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I'm having difficulty seeing how this works.  I don't disagree with stretching time, if it's for a musical purpose or because it's necessary to follow the other performers.  Stretching time because of a localized difficulty factor just seems wrong.  If you're playing with others it becomes really annoying, because those spots will be unpredictable to them. 


? You defined it as sightreading. If professional ethics are so strong you could say that we should never be sightreading at all- which would make it even sillier to favour guesswork over a little temporary stretching. This is a far quicker way to learn pieces than to flow head first into danger for the same of maintaining a tempo, during practise. Likewise, who says you can look through everything in advance. A friend does a lot of work for the local symphony orchestra including opera rehearsals. He's often too busy to have even glanced at the score in advance.

All I can do is repeat the fact that training and testing are different situations. Are you actually saying that the only valid training for a 100m sprinter is to run 100m at full pelt? They should never train any other way? I'm well aware that I can't slow down for the hell of it with other players. I'm also aware that I can get through significantly harder music at first sight now than I ever could when my only approach to sightreading practise was fakery. The more I practise with freedoms but expectation of total accuracy, the more I can cope with demands properly and in time at the first very sight.

Offline charliefreak

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #53 on: October 11, 2013, 07:08:07 PM »
By the way, the following document mentions many points that are not generally emphasized whenever the topic is under discussion. Enjoy! :)

Cognition and Motor Execution in Piano Sight-Reading: A Review of Literature. Brenda Wristen

This was very interesting.  Thanks for linking to that.

Offline lallino

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #54 on: October 11, 2013, 08:56:40 PM »
I feel this post doesn't belong to me anymore lol. Anyway, it was interesting to read all your comments. Almost no one commented on the initial post, though, which makes me think that most peopleshare my view on the issue. This is sooooo reassuring.




Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #55 on: October 12, 2013, 02:34:10 PM »
Almost no one commented on the initial post, though, which makes me think that most peopleshare my view on the issue. This is sooooo reassuring.

Funny, I would have drawn the opposite conclusion.

There's something that's easy to forget, in our envy of the great sightreaders and frustration at trying to improve. 

We can't sightread anything we can't play.  And if we expect to sightread something that would take us a week to get under our fingers, we're dreaming.  If it's even going to take a half hour to get down, it's too hard to sightread.  Probably anyway. 

Maybe that's part of why some people work on HS sightreading in the early stages - to try and get some exposure to sightreading, before one has the skills to play a piece at that level.  Whether that's a good idea or not I'm not sure.  It does start work on some of the basics of sightreading prima facie, but at the same time one is missing many of the tools to do it properly. 
Tim

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #56 on: October 12, 2013, 03:37:19 PM »
Funny, I would have drawn the opposite conclusion.

There's something that's easy to forget, in our envy of the great sightreaders and frustration at trying to improve.  

We can't sightread anything we can't play.  And if we expect to sightread something that would take us a week to get under our fingers, we're dreaming.  If it's even going to take a half hour to get down, it's too hard to sightread.  Probably anyway.  

Maybe that's part of why some people work on HS sightreading in the early stages - to try and get some exposure to sightreading, before one has the skills to play a piece at that level.  Whether that's a good idea or not I'm not sure.  It does start work on some of the basics of sightreading prima facie, but at the same time one is missing many of the tools to do it properly.  


Isnt that a tautology? Who would seriously expect to sightread something that they wouldn't even be capable of learning to play? Nobody would be dumb enough to expect to get around harder music at first sight than they can get around after practising it. The whole problem with sightreading is when people can learn things slowly but cannot pick them up at sight. Nobody is expecting to sightread Chopin etudes without being up to the standard of even learning easier preludes. Sticking to hands separate allows people to avoid processing two things at once first time around, which means no training of multitasking.

Nothing exemplifies the problem more than than the step from grade 1 to 2 sightreading. Separate hands is easy but everyone struggles when they have two at once in the next grade. It's essential to practise making space for yourself to think two things through at once (without guessing or missing any notes in either hand, for the sake of rigid tempo) , in order to make headway into the skill of multitasking without neglecting to process important pieces of information. The only thing I'm not clear on is who supposedly preaches that sightreading is to be done hands separately. Only note learning is widely taught this way, not the skill of sightreading.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #57 on: October 12, 2013, 04:22:12 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline lallino

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #58 on: October 12, 2013, 04:40:28 PM »
Sightreading by definition should be reading HT, what else? However, some teachers don't believe it is beneficial to learn that skill. Let's say that you have to start one of chopin waltzes from scratch and you want to prepare it for an exam (talking about students here, rather than concert pianists).

What is the quickest way to achieve the result? The same teachers would argue it is to become fluent HS first, but that misses the point: firstly because it might be the case for those students who never tried consistently to approach HT, secondly because they are missing anyway the development of that "vertical" reading which is very important for a musician (and to enjoy and appreciate music).

I think that those teachers have not really tried different ways. Probably they feel this is less stressful for the student (and the teacher sitting aside...). Everything is difficult the first time you try...

Practising HS is extremely important, to work on technically difficult passages, to work out fingering, etc. but that comes after.

nyiregyhazi , interesting blog. I was reading one of your article re collapsing fingers. I share some of your conclusions and not completely sure about others, but I will give it a thought.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #59 on: October 12, 2013, 04:48:15 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #60 on: October 12, 2013, 04:51:14 PM »
I don't think that is what Tim means.

I think he means that nobody can sightread what they cannot play right away themselves following aural instructions, or while improvising. This has to do with a lack of HAND MEMORY, of which you need a lot more than many teachers seem to realize. The problems of sightreading are often not eye problems. Advanced players who have always looked down on the keys while practising their pieces may well get in trouble with simple grade 1 or 2 pieces. It's not that they can't read what is written; they can't execute and are also very much ashamed because of the poor results their attempts generate. They are supposed to be "good" already, but they can't do something as simple as "reading" that piece. A vicious circle that is VERY hard to break. :)

This is exactly how I interpreted what he said. Does it really need to be said that if you're incapable of executing a demand then you won't be able to execute it upon first reading? If you're not up to doing something at all, obviously you're also not up to doing it by sight. However when people can be learn more advanced pieces and memorise them slowly (as is the case with virtually all pianists) the hands are not the problem. It's the absence of a LINK between the act and the visual representation of it. They are taken separately and not blended into a seamless act.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #61 on: October 12, 2013, 04:53:22 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #62 on: October 12, 2013, 05:00:30 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #63 on: October 12, 2013, 05:01:20 PM »
I was confused with what you said because you did not write "wouldn't be able to play", but "wouldn't even be capable of learning to play", which is quite a difference. :)


Surely it's as self evident either way? If a person can't learn to do execute a passage given time, they won't be able to do it in the moment either. There are no sight readers out there who are seriously expecting to achieve feats on a first attempt that they are not otherwise capable of in general. Everyone falls short of their uppermost capabilities when sightreading. It's one thing to hope to sightread to a comparable level as you can learn a piece, but there's nobody who'd expect to do BETTER when sightreading than they can achieve in general.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #64 on: October 12, 2013, 05:05:34 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #65 on: October 12, 2013, 05:09:56 PM »
Of course, because they do that while looking at the keyboard.  

The problem of the visual aspect is not that the eyes have to read the notes on the page. The problem is that the eyes can no longer check what's happening on the keyboard. They lack the HAND MEMORY to be able to do that. :)


Possibly, but I don't think it's that simple. You can have an excellent feel for the keyboard yet still be vastly hampered by the reading itself. Don't forget that Hofman was a poor sightreader and I'm sure he could play blindfolded.

All too often, I believe that the reason that no "feel" for the keyboard develops outside of by sight is indeed that the student is not first processing the written information with certainty. They don't know what they are to ask their hands to do. Unless you are 100 percent sure of what you have read, you cannot then even begin to link that to the needed physical movement. The reason I object to a hard rule about strict meter at least times is that it forces student who have not learned the link to take wild guesses. There should be no guesswork in learning. Only when you read with certainty, feel the note on the piano with certainty and then finally sound the key (with prior certainty that you are going to be correct) can you form airtight links between all of these elements without any risk of a missing association. Forcing the inexperienced to guess under time pressures is absolutely ruinous.

I don't follow why you think I'm denying hand memory. I'm not. I'm saying it's self-evident to the point of being a tautology to state that if you couldn't do something at all, neither can you do it by first sight.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #66 on: October 12, 2013, 05:15:43 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #67 on: October 12, 2013, 05:28:36 PM »
Sightreading by definition should be reading HT, what else? However, some teachers don't believe it is beneficial to learn that skill. Let's say that you have to start one of chopin waltzes from scratch and you want to prepare it for an exam (talking about students here, rather than concert pianists).

What is the quickest way to achieve the result? The same teachers would argue it is to become fluent HS first, but that misses the point: firstly because it might be the case for those students who never tried consistently to approach HT, secondly because they are missing anyway the development of that "vertical" reading which is very important for a musician (and to enjoy and appreciate music).

I think that those teachers have not really tried different ways. Probably they feel this is less stressful for the student (and the teacher sitting aside...). Everything is difficult the first time you try...

Practising HS is extremely important, to work on technically difficult passages, to work out fingering, etc. but that comes after.

nyiregyhazi , interesting blog. I was reading one of your article re collapsing fingers. I share some of your conclusions and not completely sure about others, but I will give it a thought.


But if we learn pieces with the same attitude as we take sightreading tests, we will simply make needless errors and fail to realise that we make them. I'm a good sightreader and could learn a Chopin waltz purely hands together, or indeed sightread most pretty well at first sitting. However, it's only in recent years that I discovered how much fine detail I typically missed in the quality of movements and sound production. It's a matter of balance, but it's a big hope to expect the same level of detail to come from hands together work. Usually everything grinds in the right order but neither hand has any flow or fine control. Once you've already infected your experience with these flaws, it's a big ask for later hands separate work to truly rectify the faults.

The problem is that after learning separate hands, student typically STOP reading thoughtfully and expect to just run programmed movements and expect the meetings to happen by magic . In an ideal world, technical difficulties should be conquered fully by separate hands work first (only for a few bars at a time - not from start to end) and then the assembly should almost immediately be done with care and attention - not by running movements without properly observing the vertical meeting points. Sightreading skills should almost always be trained hands together, but inexperienced players should never be applying the mindset of sightreading tests to learning new repertoire.

Which bits did you disagree with regarding collapsed fingers, btw? I'm always interested in any views.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #68 on: October 12, 2013, 05:50:55 PM »
Sightreading by definition should be reading HT, what else? However, some teachers don't believe it is beneficial to learn that skill. Let's say that you have to start one of chopin waltzes from scratch and you want to prepare it for an exam (talking about students here, rather than concert pianists).

What is the quickest way to achieve the result? The same teachers would argue it is to become fluent HS first,

Ah.  As I was suspecting, you aren't really talking about learning to sightread HS.  You are talking about learning new pieces HS. 

I would agree that real sightreading is done HT, and is a skill (collection of skills, actually) that must be practiced, and that many teachers don't work on it in the early years.

And there's a good reason for that.  Most people have to sightread a couple of levels below what they can learn, and if you're at level 1, there isn't anything easy enough.  Yet. 

As far as the quickest way to learn a new piece, I think it depends on the particular demands of the music.  For me personally, I've found a Bach invention needed to be worked on HS, but HS did very little for an SATB hymn, which instead needed to be worked on HT from the beginning, simplified if necessary by going slow or by taking small chunks.  But I don't play at a high level, so as always YMMV. 
Tim

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #69 on: October 12, 2013, 06:00:49 PM »
This has to do with a lack of HAND MEMORY, of which you need a lot more than many teachers seem to realize. The problems of sightreading are often not eye problems.

Yes.  I think of it this way, could be wrong of course.
 
For the beginner, the first problem is keyboard geography.  The second is fingering.  What a mystery!  The third problem is the process of converting visual information on a page into a motion in space that lands the right finger on the right key.  That is what is commonly thought of a sightreading, and it is, but only a part of it.  At that point you still lack what dima calls hand memory and I could a library of prememorized fragments that are recalled.  Here's an oversimplified example:  suppose you're reading a moving eighth note bass line, and pretty smugly think you're doing well getting most of the notes - but A haven't noticed it is just an Alberti bass, or B have noticed but have never spent enough time on an Alberti bass to really have it down cold in every likely key or C have done it but can't apply it sightreading.  3 separate problems, all of which will limit sightreading, but need to be approached differently.  Bottom line, if you can't play that pattern smoothly from hand memory, you are missing a tool in your sightreading bucket.  Stop sightreading, close the book, and work on that tool until it is the sharpest one in the shed, then go back to it.  The more of those patterns you can thoroughly learn - not just hit once or twice sightreading, but really learn deep into the memory library - the better you will sightread.

Tim

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #70 on: October 12, 2013, 06:43:06 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #71 on: October 12, 2013, 07:18:56 PM »

P.S.: I am not against taking it slowly, and I am not against rittardandos while sightreading. Students should feel confident to play NEW notes rather fluently right away with both hands, and the practice of "learning the notes" for months and months should be abolished by law. A person's sightreading level (and level of improvisation!) is his/her REAL level. Period. :)

Bingo!!!

And the prize goes to dima_ogorodnikov!  ;)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #72 on: October 12, 2013, 08:20:06 PM »
A person's sightreading level (and level of improvisation!) is his/her REAL level. Period. :)

The more I think about it the more I agree with this. 

It seems a novel way to look at it though, I don't think I've heard it expressed this way before.
Tim

Offline lallino

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #73 on: October 12, 2013, 09:00:01 PM »
I don't agree on the bracketed part. I know people incredibly good at playing the most difficult pieces who can't improvise.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #74 on: October 12, 2013, 09:47:29 PM »
How can you call yourself an incredibly good musician if you can't even improvise Happy Birthday?

There is no way you can be incredibly good at playing music and have zero ability to improvise.

The people you know who you think are good at playing but can't improvise anything would get eaten for breakfast by people who are accomplished classical improvisers.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #75 on: October 12, 2013, 10:27:39 PM »
How can you call yourself an incredibly good musician if you can't even improvise Happy Birthday?

There is no way you can be incredibly good at playing music and have zero ability to improvise.

The people you know who you think are good at playing but can't improvise anything would get eaten for breakfast by people who are accomplished classical improvisers.

I can't improvise at all. Far be it from me to claim that I'm a great performer, but I think I could easily fool people, were I to claim that this is an improvisation.



You might think that you'd have to have at least some basic improvisation ability to put together something in this style at all, but I have none. It was actually a slow painstaking process to write it, that I do not intend to attempt again.  

I've heard some great improvisers of notes who are hopeless at making other people's compositions sound interesting or improvisatory. They have a mind for textures and notes but not for interesting executions of those notes or for pianistic colouring. I don't see why it would be impossible for a non-improviser of notes to be capable of "improvising" in terms of tonal colouring and shaping. Obviously the greatest musicians ought to be able to do it all, but I don't think improvisation of notes and an improvisatory attitude to voicing and sound are necessarily intertwined.

Offline lallino

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #76 on: October 12, 2013, 11:02:39 PM »
Of course, you are 100% right. And Awsom_o, please make an effort to read the meaning of the words before going back with these blunt statements. The point made was about the level of sightreading and improvisation reflecting the general level of a pianist. I agree on the former, not on the latter. Obviously, it is not about basic improvisation, it is about the fact that a mediocre improviser can be a brilliant pianist.

Not all the great pianists are able improvisers, the same as not all the great musicians are great composers.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #77 on: October 12, 2013, 11:24:12 PM »
Of course, you are 100% right. And Awsom_o, please make an effort to read the meaning of the words before going back with these blunt statements. The point made was about the level of sightreading and improvisation reflecting the general level of a pianist. I agree on the former, not on the latter. Obviously, it is not about basic improvisation, it is about the fact that a mediocre improviser can be a brilliant pianist.

Not all the great pianists are able improvisers, the same as not all the great musicians are great composers.

As a pianist, I do think I should rightfully be ashamed that I'm not an all-round musician who can play by ear and improvise. However, the idea that creativity in terms of composing means creativity in terms of performing I cannot agree with. A creative person will simply be creative within the skill sets they have. Playing by ear is not a skill set I have so I can't be creative in it. However, anyone who is creative and who cares about tone production (yet who does not have the quick pitch instincts required to play by ear) can be creative within the skills that they do have. For me, these skills as the ones that matter most. For an improviser to impress me either in improvisation or in playing of compositions, they must have this creativity in how they shape sounds.

It's largely about having the internal desire to explore sound. If you have that desire but not the skills to fool around by ear, you'll still have a chance to develop tonal interest. If anything, you may even be more focussed on it. In some cases, good improvisers channel so much of that desire into the selection of notes, that they don't begin to explore how they sculpt those notes into interesting qualities of sound via issues of execution.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #78 on: October 12, 2013, 11:28:58 PM »
I can't improvise at all. Far be it from me to claim that I'm a great performer, but I think I could easily fool people, were I to claim that this is an improvisation.




I don't think you could trick anyone into thinking that is an improvisation. Certainly not anyone particularly intelligent.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #79 on: October 12, 2013, 11:36:16 PM »
I don't think you could trick anyone into thinking that is an improvisation. Certainly not anyone particularly intelligent.

What would make them assume otherwise? I borrowed half of the techniques from Cziffra's improvisations. Does it sound somehow cautious or mechanical? I hadn't actually practised it in many months at the time I made the film and I don't think it exactly comes across as "over-practised" or sounding calculated.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #80 on: October 12, 2013, 11:36:25 PM »
The point made was about the level of sightreading and improvisation reflecting the general level of a pianist. I agree on the former, not on the latter. Obviously, it is not about basic improvisation, it is about the fact that a mediocre improviser can be a brilliant pianist.

Not all the great pianists are able improvisers, the same as not all the great musicians are great composers.

You have stated your opinion that a mediocre improviser can be a brilliant pianist as though it were fact.

I do not think that is the case. Glenn Gould was both a brilliant pianist and an extremely skilled improviser.

I can't imagine someone being a truly brilliant pianist if they are really bad at improvisation.

A truly brilliant pianist is a brilliant musician. Are we now saying that a brilliant pianist doesn't have to be a brilliant musician in order to be a brilliant pianist? That they could be a brilliant pianist but actually be quite a mediocre musician?

That just doesn't make any sense to me  :o

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #81 on: October 12, 2013, 11:37:21 PM »
What would make them assume otherwise? 

What would you do if they asked you to 'improvise' something else? ;)

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #82 on: October 12, 2013, 11:39:35 PM »
You have stated your opinion that a mediocre improviser can be a brilliant pianist as though it were fact.

I do not think that is the case. Glenn Gould was both a brilliant pianist and an extremely skilled improviser.

I can't imagine someone being a truly brilliant pianist if they are really bad at improvisation.

A truly brilliant pianist is a brilliant musician. Are we now saying that a brilliant pianist doesn't have to be a brilliant musician in order to be a brilliant pianist? That they could be a brilliant pianist but actually be quite a mediocre musician?

That just doesn't make any sense to me  :o

You speak as if they are inseparable though. On a rational level, it makes no more sense than the idea that a great actor is a fraud unless they can improvise or write their own plays. Why should quality of execution of other people's work hinge upon the ability to produce your own work? I don't see any logic behind the connection. Just as a great classical actor is judged by how he adds inflection to the work of others (rather than whether he can also improvise a spontaneous rap), a classical pianist should be judged by how effectively he inflects the music of others.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #83 on: October 12, 2013, 11:40:32 PM »
What would you do if they asked you to 'improvise' something else? ;)

That's why I never lie that I can improvise. :-)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #84 on: October 12, 2013, 11:48:01 PM »
You speak as if they are inseparable though.

Until quite recently in musical history, they were.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #85 on: October 12, 2013, 11:55:13 PM »
Until quite recently in musical history, they were.

Agreed, but in terms of what makes it intrinsically possible to interpret to a high level, they are not inherently inseparable. It's good sense that musicians should have a wide skill set but being unable to improvise doesn't mean being unable to interpret. The fact that Laurence Olivier might not have been able to beat Eminem in a rap-off, or improvise liberally around the scripts that he performed like some great comic actors doesn't make him any less of an artist. I don't have to be able to improvise remarkable chromatic harmonies to appreciate when Liszt is using them and it wouldn't make be better equipped to give them their right context within a phrase. The key is that I understand the construction and know how to work with it when producing corresponding tonal effects- not that I could casually throw off something similar myself. I know that Leslie Howard can improvise well, but his coloration of Liszt is extremely unremarkable.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #86 on: October 13, 2013, 12:12:07 AM »
Agreed, but in terms of what makes it intrinsically possible to interpret to a high level, they are not inherently inseparable. It's good sense that musicians should have a wide skill set but being unable to improvise doesn't mean being unable to interpret.

Hmm. I think that in order for a person to interpret at a high level, they have to have original interpretations.  In order to have your own original style of interpretation, you have to have your own individual style.

After all, when you interpret a composer, you are trying to play that composer's original style. How can you really interpret the original stylishly if you don't have your own style?

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #87 on: October 13, 2013, 12:16:54 AM »
Hmm. I think that in order for a person to interpret at a high level, they have to have original interpretations.  In order to have your own original style of interpretation, you have to have your own individual style.

After all, when you interpret a composer, you are trying to play that composer's original style. How can you really interpret the original stylishly if you don't have your own style?

Again, it makes no more sense than the idea that Olivier would have had to have his own style of writing plays in order to interpret other people's. What matters is that he formed his own view of the character as written by the author. In doing so he automatically placed his own touches into it. Any pianist who is creative will do the equivalent- regardless of whether they also channel creativity into improvising notes. What people hear of me when I play a piece of Chopin is my style of producing sound and shaping phrases- not whether I could improvise my own notes in the style.

Style of sound-production and style of note selection in improvisation are just two different things. Volodos isn't a great pianist because he's an improviser of notes, but because he "improvises" tone colours within predefined notes. If improvising notes were the trick to making colours happen, many others could equal him. It's his characterisation of notes written by others that matters though. Not many pianists actually do both aspects to a truly high level.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #88 on: October 13, 2013, 12:58:10 AM »
What would make them assume otherwise?

Hee, hee. 

If you have to ask, we can't tell you.

No way that sounded improvised.

BUT!  Very impressive performance.  Nice job. 
Tim

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #89 on: October 13, 2013, 01:03:36 AM »
It's largely about having the internal desire to explore sound. If you have that desire but not the skills to fool around by ear, you'll still have a chance to develop tonal interest. If anything, you may even be more focussed on it. In some cases, good improvisers channel so much of that desire into the selection of notes, that they don't begin to explore how they sculpt those notes into interesting qualities of sound via issues of execution.

I think you are overestimating the availability of the tonal resources. 

Even in your best acoustically designed practice chamber, they are not as extreme as you think.  Some of them remain in your imagination and do not leave the piano strings.

In comparison to say a pipe organ, the piano has a meager tone palette, but one that is important to you.

Contrast that to the working performer and improviser's area, which is filled with ambient noise, intoxicated patrons, etc.  The tonal nuances you value do not exist there.  That performer must let his creativity out within the resources he has. 
Tim

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #90 on: October 13, 2013, 01:30:23 AM »
Again, it makes no more sense than the idea that Olivier would have had to have his own style of writing plays in order to interpret other people's.

What makes you think music and acting are so similar?

To me, they aren't at all similar. When I play music, I'm not acting. I'm playing.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #91 on: October 13, 2013, 02:43:54 AM »
What makes you think music and acting are so similar?

To me, they aren't at all similar. When I play music, I'm not acting. I'm playing.

What makes them so different? In both you are judged not on what you can create yourself from nothing, but how you can bring out the character in someone else's material. Why would a rule that you have to create your own original material in order to do justice to another person's apply to music but not acting?

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #92 on: October 13, 2013, 02:47:18 AM »
I think you are overestimating the availability of the tonal resources.  

Even in your best acoustically designed practice chamber, they are not as extreme as you think.  Some of them remain in your imagination and do not leave the piano strings.

In comparison to say a pipe organ, the piano has a meager tone palette, but one that is important to you.

Contrast that to the working performer and improviser's area, which is filled with ambient noise, intoxicated patrons, etc.  The tonal nuances you value do not exist there.  That performer must let his creativity out within the resources he has.  

? If I am bored by lack of tonal nuance I don't typically assume that the performer is a master of it but that the piano has too meager a palette. I blame them for being too incompetent to bring what is possible out of their instrument. Keith Jarrett has no problem bringing out shape while improvising. And Fiorentino could do this on a crap upright recorded by a crap video camera.


Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #93 on: October 13, 2013, 02:51:47 AM »
What makes them so different? In both you are judged not on what you can create yourself from nothing, but how you can bring out the character in someone else's material.

But the thing is, you ARE judged on what you create from nothing. You create the sound on your instrument, from nothing. From silence.

In order to bring out character in someone else's material, you need to have character.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #94 on: October 13, 2013, 03:02:40 AM »
But the thing is, you ARE judged on what you create from nothing. You create the sound on your instrument, from nothing. From silence.

In order to bring out character in someone else's material, you need to have character.

What does it matter whether  pianist can improvise notes? When you play classical repertoire the only area where you can constantly "improvise" is in tone production. The area where you can do virtually no improvisation is in the notes to be played- rendering it of little relevance. Just as a great writer can be an atrocious actor, a good composer of notes can be a very poor at making them "speak". Being good at inventing notes doesn't mean you'll know any better how to make them speak with character and a voice. Many who improvise well are very dull pianists to listen to. You haven't come up with any convincing arguments as to why it's any different to with actors- who are never assumed to need to be good improvisers in order to do justice to fully scripted material. If anything great improvisers are often worse at delivering a script well- eg. Peter Cooke, who was rather poor at bringing out interest in a rigid script, when he was not free to do his own material on his own terms.

The part of the great improviser-pianists that makes them great in other people's music is the part of them that improvises in terms of balance and colours- not the part of them that improvises notes. They don't get to use that much.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #95 on: October 13, 2013, 03:13:56 AM »
What does it matter whether  pianist can improvise notes?

I didn't say anything about improvising notes.... I'm more interested in music than notes.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #96 on: October 13, 2013, 03:16:33 AM »
I didn't say anything about improvising notes.... I'm more interested in music than notes.

Exactly. I have more than enough to "improvise" upon within the musical possibilities of a Chopin nocturne, without troubling myself about whether I can improvise a combination of inferior notes to those Chopin came up with. With a work like the C minor nocturne, I could happily spend ages just experimenting with the tonal possibilities of a single bar. You don't need to make up your own notes to be creative. I'd rather explore what can be done with existing music.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #97 on: October 13, 2013, 03:18:58 AM »
I think you and I have very different ideas about what extemporaneous playing consists of.

I don't add funny notes to Chopin's nocturnes. I play them exactly as written.

I improvise my own nocturnes!

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #98 on: October 13, 2013, 03:20:08 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #99 on: October 13, 2013, 03:21:40 AM »
I think you and I have very different ideas about what extemporaneous playing consists of.

I don't add funny notes to Chopin's nocturnes. I play them exactly as written.



Yes, that's my point. So it's what you DO with those existing notes that defines everything about how successful you are as a pianist and as an artist. Not whatever notes you might be able to come up with in an alternative situation. It's no more relevant to your success in that nocturne than whether Olivier could improvise convincing pastiches of Shakespeare.