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the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ???? (Read 5080 times)

Offline emill

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the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
« on: October 20, 2013, 02:19:38 PM »
The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY just concluded their Mendelssohn Piano Concerto Competition and my son Enzo, a 6 week-old freshman luckily made it to the "finals".  What struck me were the ancestry of the other finalists. Their surnames were:    Aum,  Li,  Gong,  Lee,  Kim,  Park, Chu and finally my son Medel. It could have well been a piano competition at the Yong Siew Toh Music Conservatory of the National University of Singapore.

My son travelled all over the US to audition in 9 schools last February and everywhere they went with his mom ... San Francisco Conservatory, Peabody, NEC, Eastman, Manhattan School, Oberlin, Mannes, Juilliard and Curtiss it was quite obvious to them that the Chinese and Koreans comprised the big majority of the international students. They also learned that a good number of those schools have special auditions in Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul. My wife tells me that at Peabody, the presence of the Koreans were so dominating.

As pianostreet member Rachmaninoff_forever describes his studio class "there's 20 people in my studio class, and there's 18 graduate, one senior, and one freshman (me).  17 girls and three guys.  18 Asians 1 White person, and one black person (me)".

In the studio class of Enzo, there are 7 Chinese, 5 Koreans, 1 Japanese, 1 British,  2 Russians, and my son a Filipino.

Nothing really wrong as most of these guys are extremely talented and driven, but would anyone venture an explanation at this seeming dominance, if it is really such? :)
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #1 on: October 20, 2013, 02:21:46 PM »
sorry....
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #2 on: October 20, 2013, 02:35:42 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 Bob

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #3 on: October 20, 2013, 04:22:14 PM »
That's what I've seen everywhere I've been.  Different cultures.  There is the scary element of just following directions and having technique but lacking something else.... Creativity?  Free-thinking?  Something like that.  Passion.

From what I understand foreign students tend to pay full price or international prices.  U.S. students at U.S. schools have a discounted rate or get more scholarships.  More foreign students?  Of course -- They're paying the bills.  Bad economy... Take on more foreign students to pay for everything.

There are some situations that result.  You get a male piano professor surrounded with a studio of all female, Asian, non-English speaking students.  It just looks a little weird.  "Why does professor So-and-So only have female Asian students?"  "How did he even recruit them?  He doesn't leave the country?"

And then you get profs and students in other areas getting ticked off because none of the accompanists can speak English.  "Crescendo!  Put a crescendo there!  Get louder?  Do you understand?  And we said we're meeting at 1pm.  Does that make sense?  1pm?  All she does is smile and nod...."
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #4 on: October 20, 2013, 05:01:08 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 faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #5 on: October 20, 2013, 07:27:36 PM »
I think this is mostly the result of Soviet-type schooling in Asia with emphasis on technical perfection. The prestigious schools in the West select people they can work with and have no need for "quasi-musical" philosophers without the required technical foundation. :)

No, this is not correct.  There is no emphasis on technical perfection, nor is there some Soviet-type schooling (piano instruction is NOT institutionalized), but there is an emphasis on speed and correct notes during an audition that lasts less than two minutes to a required etude.  How you achieve that is entirely up to the pianist even if s/he has lousy technique.  Universities in Korea have to audition 200-300 pianists each year.  It's the only way they can narrow down the field.  If you're still playing by the end of two minutes - you fail.  Go home and practice more.  One wrong note - you fail. Go home and practice more.  If you finish before the two minutes is up, you may have a shot at one of only a few open seats.

What most Westerners do not understand is the cultural difference.  Most Westerners view talent as innate; you are born talented or you're not.  Eastern cultures view talent as malleable; the more you work at it, the better you become.  As a result, people who grow up in such cultures know and understand that if they want to succeed, they have to work twice as hard as the next person.

According to my Korean friend, the pianists in Korea are crazy.  They will attach lead weights to their fingers to increase the difficulty or make the keys heavier.  Some will practice until their fingers bleed.  All this just for a two-minute audition.  They know that one mistake is an automatic fail and they'll be asked to leave the audition the moment that occurs.  The stakes are high so they do what they have to to not fail.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #6 on: October 20, 2013, 07:35:36 PM »
That's what I've seen everywhere I've been.  Different cultures.  There is the scary element of just following directions and having technique but lacking something else.... Creativity?  Free-thinking?  Something like that.  Passion.
This is a faulty assumption probably based on the Made in China myth.  Western classical music has been a staple art in Asian cultures for over a century so many people in Asian know the music better than most Westerners.  However, one big difference is the mindset of Western performers in "making it his own" by adding idiosyncrasies that distort rather than making it beautiful.  Asian cultures look down upon distortion and would rather play it right without selfish distortions.

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From what I understand foreign students tend to pay full price or international prices.  U.S. students at U.S. schools have a discounted rate or get more scholarships.  More foreign students?  Of course -- They're paying the bills.  Bad economy... Take on more foreign students to pay for everything.
I doubt that the piano faculty are thinking of how much money the University is making when they audition them.  And I seriously doubt the registrar is sending emails telling the profs to accept as many foreign students as possible because $.


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And then you get profs and students in other areas getting ticked off because none of the accompanists can speak English.  "Crescendo!  Put a crescendo there!  Get louder?  Do you understand?  And we said we're meeting at 1pm.  Does that make sense?  1pm?  All she does is smile and nod...."

Why would you need to speak Engrish?  Music is an international language!  ;D
But yeah, that happens, especially when musical terms or names are used differently than is expected. E.g. fugue is readily understood to most Americans, but say it to a Korean and they have no idea what you mean.  You have to say "fuga", the German equivalent which is used in Korea.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #7 on: October 20, 2013, 08:06:02 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 faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #8 on: October 21, 2013, 12:14:38 AM »
Prior to being accepted to a university there is no piano syllabus that all teachers follow.  Also, we aren't talking about some conservatory in China.  We're talking about US music schools and how they select the best talent and these people tend to come from asian countries.  I don't know anyone from said conservatory but I bet their technique is horrendous.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #9 on: October 21, 2013, 03:26:28 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 Bob

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #10 on: October 21, 2013, 03:39:32 AM »
What's the Chinese diploma equal to in the U.S.?  A bachelor degree or more like a music conservatory high school degree?
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #11 on: October 21, 2013, 03:45:13 AM »
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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 emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #12 on: October 21, 2013, 03:57:30 AM »
I think this is mostly the result of Soviet-type schooling in Asia with emphasis on technical perfection. The prestigious schools in the West select people they can work with and have no need for "quasi-musical" philosophers without the required technical foundation. :)

I went to the People's Republic when I was barely 20 during their cultural revolution and almost every decade thereafter. The transformation is mind boggling. Whereas in the 70s opinions about the most trivial political issues was practically taboo, we have now a majority of confident, opinionated college students who speak out their minds about their leaders and current issues.

In the field of music education, the Chinese have imported to their faculties so many European and American piano pedagogues that I can not imagine how they would tolerate "Soviet-type schooling".
And the one child policy of China is creating a "spoiled brat" syndrome. These children do not know the meaning of "NO" and have little fear for authority.  Their parents, having only one child, give them practically anything they wish ...they are now the biggest headache of the communists who are authority centered. Perhaps this "Soviet-type schooling" was dominant in the 50's to the 70's, but with continuing robust economic progress this has been slowly but surely eroded and may no longer be the predominant theme in the 21st century.

From what I understand foreign students tend to pay full price or international prices.  U.S. students at U.S. schools have a discounted rate or get more scholarships.  More foreign students?  Of course -- They're paying the bills.  Bad economy... Take on more foreign students to pay for everything.

There are some situations that result.  You get a male piano professor surrounded with a studio of all female, Asian, non-English speaking students.  It just looks a little weird.  "Why does professor So-and-So only have female Asian students?"  "How did he even recruit them?  He doesn't leave the country?"

And then you get profs and students in other areas getting ticked off because none of the accompanists can speak English.  "Crescendo!  Put a crescendo there!  Get louder?  Do you understand?  And we said we're meeting at 1pm.  Does that make sense?  1pm?  All she does is smile and nod...."   

In the 9 schools my son applied to, English is a MUST.  They require the student to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL, an exam administered by US educators.  Each school has a minimum passing mark.  Some schools have even a probationary range, meaning if you fall into the range you must take special summer classes with them and pass it.   Then there is the actual interview.  Each school will allocate for international students 10-15 minutes of interview time which is conducted in English, sort of a check to your TOEFL score.  So that even if you have a passing score, but fail the interview, then you go to summer classes.

In our country, the Philippines where the medium of instruction in high school and college is in English, we have tens of thousands of Korean students enrolling in short courses for English usually lasting for 6-12 months.  They are a BOOM to our economy!! ;D ;D

The scene of clueless, non-english speaking, female asian students surrounding a piano professor may not be an accurate picture of what the real score is.

The thing regarding their ability to pay full tuition is partly true.  Their economies are bursting and their countries are awash with surplus money. Many of them are really rich so can easily afford the tuition fees. BUT I really doubt if that plays a major role in accepting students.  Take the case of Curtiss and Colburn, 2 schools where no monies from the applicant to the school are involved. YET, a good number of those accepted, if not most are of Chinese or Korean ancestry.  And besides, one has to pass the auditions composed of a panel of 5 or more faculty members.  I doubt whether the registrar had furnished the Faculty panel the names of those who can afford since applicants have the choice to submit their financial status later after the auditions.

Another case in point is my son.  We have declared our financial standing even before the auditions and in many schools we applied to we were offered generous tuition scholarships. At Eastman he receives 3/4 tuition scholarship annually.

Although I have to admit that there is a possibility that the registrar can influence the final decision in favor of those who do not need a scholarship vs. those who do, as long as the faculty has stamped their seal of approval on the applicants abilities and potential.

What most Westerners do not understand is the cultural difference.  Most Westerners view talent as innate; you are born talented or you're not.  Eastern cultures view talent as malleable; the more you work at it, the better you become.  As a result, people who grow up in such cultures know and understand that if they want to succeed, they have to work twice as hard as the next person.

According to my Korean friend, the pianists in Korea are crazy.  They will attach lead weights to their fingers to increase the difficulty or make the keys heavier.  Some will practice until their fingers bleed.  All this just for a two-minute audition.  They know that one mistake is an automatic fail and they'll be asked to leave the audition the moment that occurs.  The stakes are high so they do what they have to to not fail. 

Thank you for your input.  This is so informative, I did not realize that it can be that strict to qualify ... sort of one mistake, your dead!!! :'( ;D 
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #13 on: October 21, 2013, 04:06:30 AM »
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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 j_menz

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #14 on: October 21, 2013, 04:12:36 AM »
For those who would prefer some actual research, rather than hearsay and speculation, regarding piano education in China, you may find this article (pdf) illuminating.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #15 on: October 21, 2013, 04:14:25 AM »
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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 j_menz

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #16 on: October 21, 2013, 04:21:07 AM »
I linked that document already in Reply # 7, but nobody here seems to be interested enough to read it. :)

Ooops.   :-[

It is a good article.

And to make amends, this is an article from a Korean perspective.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #17 on: October 21, 2013, 05:01:16 AM »
Goodness me, what a ghastly revelation this thread is. But if all these Asian people have lots of money, why do they bother at all ? Why don't they all just sit back and play and create flat out, really enjoy their music like I do ? I don't have much money, but you know what I mean. What drives them do you think ? Why would anyone choose such a desperate battle for breath over a secure life of quiet artistic creation ? It can't be money if they already have enough, and they must realise fame could only settle on a very few. Therefore there is some other motivation at work. What is it ?

Then there is the question of why they consider the immense artistic potential of their own culture, thousands of years in the formation, less worthy, and bend over backwards for two hundred years of European culture.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline j_menz

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #18 on: October 21, 2013, 05:06:12 AM »
Therefore there is some other motivation at work. What is it ?

Just a guess:

"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #19 on: October 21, 2013, 05:09:10 AM »
Some sort of social or memetic compulsion at work you reckon ? How awful.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #20 on: October 21, 2013, 05:21:28 AM »
Maybe you should ask yourself instead why US people start becoming this crappy at playing the piano ;)
1+1=11

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #21 on: October 21, 2013, 05:45:23 AM »
Maybe you should ask yourself instead why US people start becoming this crappy at playing the piano ;)

I don't personally know many Americans who create piano music, but the few I do know are very good at it indeed.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #22 on: October 21, 2013, 06:06:00 AM »
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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 faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #23 on: October 21, 2013, 06:15:49 AM »
But if all these Asian people have lots of money, why do they bother at all ?...  I don't have much money, but you know what I mean. What drives them do you think ? Why would anyone choose such a desperate battle for breath over a secure life of quiet artistic creation ? It can't be money if they already have enough, and they must realise fame could only settle on a very few. Therefore there is some other motivation at work. What is it ?

It's a faulty assumption that people in Asia have a lot of money. They don't.  But what they do is invest what they have so that their child will have the best of what their money can buy.

This is a large cultural difference that Westerners can't understand: children are not separate from their parents; they are a family.  Their child will support them when they are old, not put them in a nursing home.  As a result, it's in the parents best interest to give their children the best so that they succeed, primarily financially but fame and status is just as important.  In fact, status is slightly more important than the money since in many asian cultures, a famous person exerts a lot of social power.

"Some parents from Western backgrounds might find the "Korean way" of parenting to be a bit overbearing and strict. However, according to Kang, "The stakes are very high so the parents feel they must help their children in every way possible. In Korea, the golfing community is relatively small, so everyone seems to know each other. In our culture, reputation is very important, so parents and children alike are motivated to make a name for themselves and be recognized as being successful"."
http://www.puregolftraining.com/public/How_is_Korea_producing_so_many_good_golfers.cfm

This is why when one person succeeds in a field (Tiger Woods, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, et al.) many Asian families try to emulate that success by enrolling their Korean daughter in golf. (Tiger Woods is half Korean.)

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Then there is the question of why they consider the immense artistic potential of their own culture, thousands of years in the formation, less worthy, and bend over backwards for two hundred years of European culture.
This is another faulty assumption.  It's not less worthy to Western culture.  Western culture is simply different and this novelty is something people are attracted to.  However, accepting it has consequences.

There is an invisible distinction between Eastern cultures and Western ones that make the blending of the two virtually impossible without destroying a part of the original.  Western cultures emphasize dominance while Eastern cultures emphasize harmony.  These two philosophies are fundamentally incompatible.  One dominates and destroys - the other attempts to harmonize with the aftermath.  It's obvious that there is no fight here but a landslide burying the original inhabitants.

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #24 on: October 21, 2013, 07:50:25 AM »
I see. Thank you for that comprehensive explanation, faulty_damper. It will be interesting to see what intermingling of the two takes place over the next few decades with increasing mutual influence and, at the level of individuals, more intermarriage. A major influence for my taking a completely improvisational direction was in fact a little book called "The Chinese Eye"; largely to do with painting rather than music, but the underlying philosophy was the same. I was strongly attracted to the harmony you describe, and to the concept of "nothing special" in works of art. In Western art "being special" is very important; as you imply, dominance and competition.  
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline johnmar78

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #25 on: October 21, 2013, 10:33:54 AM »
ok, Emill, let me say this as I have gone thru the similar cultural as most Asian did.

The social pressure of competition  is high especially among the parents, how proud they wanted their kids to be ahead of each other. When  I was 4 I can already remember that piano sound is every way around my neigbourhood---first thing in the morning before the school -6.30am. Where us in Australia you would not allowed to that, your neigbour will knock on your door or complain at city council for noise pollution  ;D. At night, after school you hear the same noise every where, but no one seems to complain. If you dnt play piano, you have no social status so as loose face in front of your relatives/friends. Sorry to say, but tis is the facts.
This applies to academic studies too- tiger parents. This can be good and bad, after all, I think its GOOD.
So, this kind of practice is different to Western society, except Russia. ;D..So if just by looking at the probability wise, more people participate in piano practice = more chances being selected. I suppose, if you look at sports, why black people are good at boxing and running short springs/long.  But not much in Swimming. Once this was explained by scientist that a particular black race had a thicker skull and higher bone density. Thereofre better for heavy sports. Where as in swimming you prefer a lighter bone density to muscle ratio. ;D. In this case, white race and Asian race just stuck in right in between. So as table tennis...etc.anyway, by all means no racist here, this is my observations, slap me if you disagree with me. ::)

Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #26 on: October 22, 2013, 01:20:39 AM »
I think your idea of "Soviet-type schooling" is negative, but it was actually an IDEAL system to filter out "talent" that, notwithstanding the rigid norms for all at the base, emphasized individuality in the "privileged" performers.

The "Soviet" thing is the system of competitions and preliminary rounds (something like 10 I believe) you have to go through before you finally get accepted in Beijing. The standards are well-known to everybody and you simply do what's necessary to get there. Once again: the really huge number of potential candidates in the process is guarantee that only the best survive. :)

Oh I am so sorry :-[ ... so stupid of me "thinking" or as if this was a political forum. :-X :-X ;D I am not a pianist but forever part of the adoring crowd for classical piano ... and the words "Soviet-type schooling"  automatically registers a regimented, brainwashing system!!  Thank you for the clarification.  I must admit with a good amount of embarrassment that several Filipino pianists who have studied abroad and who know my son have strongly recommended a Russian teacher for him.  Among some names given were Boris Slutsky of Peabody, Irina Morosova of Manhattan School and Natalia Antonova of Eastman. My son chose Eastman and we were more than glad because the school offered a very generous tuition scholarship. :)  He is now with Prof. Antonova and their chemistry seems to be GOOD, at least for the last 7 weeks!
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #27 on: October 22, 2013, 04:09:54 AM »
ok, Emill, let me say this as I have gone thru the similar cultural as most Asian did.

The social pressure of competition  is high especially among the parents, how proud they wanted their kids to be ahead of each other. When  I was 4 I can already remember that piano sound is every way around my neigbourhood---first thing in the morning before the school -6.30am. Whereas in Australia you would not allowed to that, your neigbour will knock on your door or complain at city council for noise pollution  ;D. At night, after school you hear the same noise every where, but no one seems to complain. If you dnt play piano, you have no social status so as loose face in front of your relatives/friends. Sorry to say, but tis is the facts.  This applies to academic studies too- tiger parents. This can be good and bad, after all, I think its GOOD. 

ME THINKS TOO it is GOOD!! ;D ;D ;D

So, this kind of practice is different to Western society, except Russia. ;D..So if just by looking at the probability wise, more people participate in piano practice = more chances being selected. I suppose, if you look at sports, why black people are good at boxing and running short springs/long.  But not much in Swimming. Once this was explained by scientist that a particular black race had a thicker skull and higher bone density. Thereofre better for heavy sports. Whereas in swimming you prefer a lighter bone density to muscle ratio. ;D. In this case, white race and Asian race just stuck in right in between. So as table tennis...etc.anyway, by all means no racist here, this is my observations, slap me if you disagree with me. ::) 

hehhhe  I will be "careful" about these explanations ... like what one prominent researcher said about asian women having proportionally larger pelvis to accommodate the birth of babies with bigger skulls (therefore bigger brains) in trying to explain why the student proportion in Berkly is over 40% Asian (mainly Chinese, Korean and Japanese) compared to less than 5% for African-Americans.  It is now becoming clearer among many social scientists and sociologists that in all likelihood a seeming predominance of a particular race is based mainly on cultural environment, practices, traditions and habits.  Other races brought up in the same milieu would perform equally well.
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #28 on: October 22, 2013, 05:42:43 AM »
ME THINKS TOO it is GOOD!! ;D ;D ;D

Do you really ? You surprise me.  I think it a perfectly hideous way to bring a child up. Happiness, moderation, creativity, contemplation, kindness, social interaction......I can think of a whole heap of things more important than achievement and competition. I concede it is becoming the way of the world, but I do not have to embrace it. Had my parents been like that I would have used a blunt instrument on them and rightly so.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #29 on: October 22, 2013, 06:54:24 AM »
Do you really ? You surprise me.  I think it a perfectly hideous way to bring a child up. Happiness, moderation, creativity, contemplation, kindness, social interaction......I can think of a whole heap of things more important than achievement and competition. I concede it is becoming the way of the world, but I do not have to embrace it. Had my parents been like that I would have used a blunt instrument on them and rightly so.
You are comparing apples to oranges when the farmer is growing oranges.  It's a different cultural context; a different environment.  That's something that many people from the West don't understand and assume the context is the same for everyone when it isn't.  Even your assertion that it is wrong or not the right way is clearly Western.  A person of Eastern descent would say it is a different way.

There's a reason why many Asian families in the US note that Americans are lazy.  They prioritize being "happy" instead of the means to bring stability and content.  As a social scientist, the study of happiness strongly suggests that you cannot focus on happiness to become happy.  Doing so, ironically, actually makes you unhappy.  Instead, you must focus on factors that bring social stability and standing.  In other words, you must focus on forming relationships with family, friends, and community.  Once that is achieved, happiness tends to results.  Happiness is a symptom, not a cause to achieve it's own end.


Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #30 on: October 22, 2013, 07:54:10 AM »
In other words, you must focus on forming relationships with family, friends, and community.  Once that is achieved, happiness tends to results.  Happiness is a symptom, not a cause to achieve it's own end.

I agree mostly but not completely. Sixty-six years have taught me that happiness, and by that I mean a reasonable degree of contentment, not constant ecstasy, can be deliberately cultivated. The first prerequisite is to know precisely what things make one happy, and therein lies the trap, because most either do not know, or if they do, the objectives are so unrealistic they shoot themselves in the foot before starting.

It is all interesting, good fun to debate, but probably starting to diverge from the original topic. My son's academic background is probably similar to yours, and we have endless arguments about relative and absolute values, "wrong" or "different" and so on. My wife is from a culture very different to mine, so I have learned to be more tolerant, to see "different" rather than "wrong", if I wanted the marriage to survive. I also had an idyllic childhood, which maybe does not augur well for objective thought, and I might be just lazy, I guess. That might lie at the root of it !

But back to music. Why is playing all that old-fashioned European music so appealing to so many Asians ? I still can't quite see that.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #31 on: October 22, 2013, 08:03:49 AM »
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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 theholygideons

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #32 on: October 22, 2013, 08:13:48 AM »
But back to music. Why is playing all that old-fashioned European music so appealing to so many Asians ? I still can't quite see that.


Why not listen to what lang lang sincerely has to say about Asian culturing and his reasons for choosing european music. It may help you to understand the point of view of how asians feel. 



Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #33 on: October 22, 2013, 09:23:48 AM »
Why not listen to what lang lang sincerely has to say about Asian culturing and his reasons for choosing european music.

Thanks for the link; I just watched the lot now. Fascinating man, wonderful playing, riveting interview, but it doesn't really explain the phenomenon which puzzles me. Mind you, come to think of it, I don't really understand why anybody in the West bothers with concerts and classical music, so maybe my gracious withdrawal from the discussion is appropriate at this stage. One thing I have learned from being on piano forums for eleven years is how utterly different I am and how careful I have to be in posting opinions. Every now and then I like to try entering a discussion though, as a break from a weekly glance at the Audition and Improvisation boards before improvising for hours.

Multiple choice (pick what you like best as an answer, either or both):

A) genuine interest in ANYTHING from the West that has good quality, and a strong wish to absorb it (for their culture, it is most likely not "old-fashioned" at all!);
B) a ticket to the Promised Land if you are really good at it.

Yes, those points make a lot of sense. Thanks.

"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #34 on: October 22, 2013, 10:02:03 AM »
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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 ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #35 on: October 22, 2013, 10:09:41 AM »
Excellent point ! Now there I think you just might have hit on the answer. The musical answer, that is, not the social ones. I hadn't thought of that, how obvious.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #36 on: October 22, 2013, 02:17:39 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 j_menz

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #37 on: October 22, 2013, 10:16:08 PM »
By the way, from the musical point of view: can you imagine how exciting the tensions of minor and major sound (in the sense of "are perceived") in a culture that has been listening to pentatonics only (no half-tone intervals present) for ages and ages? From what I hear, the experience is so "new" and "exotic", that many Asian pianists really don't know what to do with it. :)

You don't listen to much Chinese pop music, I'm guessing. Very popular in China. And heptatonic with half note intervals in all the usual places. Well tempered, as well.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #38 on: October 22, 2013, 11:20:02 PM »
@ ted

And here is a research document that tells us how relatively "new" the piano and the Western music written for the instrument are in Chinese society: The Development of Chinese Piano Music

Thanks, that is an interesting document which deserves a lengthy perusal. I was struck at once, on glancing at the examples, by the infrequency of accidentals and key changes, but this may not imply anything in particular.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #39 on: October 22, 2013, 11:23:48 PM »

In the studio class of Enzo, there are 7 Chinese, 5 Koreans, 1 Japanese, 1 British,  2 Russians, and my son a Filipino.



I'm 1/8th Filipino!!!

I know it's only 1/8th, but it's still something!



As to your question, I have no idea.
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #40 on: October 23, 2013, 03:11:48 AM »
x.x.x.x.. In other words, most Chinese (and I guess Asian) pianists that enter prestigious US music schools already have a diploma from their own best conservatories at home.

P.S.: They're also very large in number so in the selection process described in the document I linked to only the best survive, who then enter US conservatories and easily outdo the local candidates in virtually every respect. "Resistance is futile." (c) 

This could be very well one of the main reasons ... the Asian candidate being top-notch; but there is definitely a good number of those who enter with only a high school diploma. But again, it would be logical to assume that even with a high school diploma, Asians who seek admission to prestigious US music schools have established their abilities in their respective countries, like winning national piano competitions. As you said - "Resistance is futile."

I really doubt if an Asian with average or "mediocre" piano skills would even attempt to apply and would just be eliminated in the preliminary "DVD" or "VIDEO" stage.  It will be a waste of 100-150 USD in application fees per school.

You are also right about the large number of applicants you have to contend with coming from Asia. As one professor member of the screening committee told my wife .... they had to listen to and screen over 5,000 videos or dvds, with a large number of those from Asia!!
member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #41 on: October 23, 2013, 03:21:15 AM »
I'm 1/8th Filipino!!! 

Then you must be TALENTED!!!! ;D ;D ;D      glad to know!!
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Offline emill

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #42 on: October 23, 2013, 03:44:31 AM »
Do you really ? You surprise me.  I think it a perfectly hideous way to bring a child up. Happiness, moderation, creativity, contemplation, kindness, social interaction......I can think of a whole heap of things more important than achievement and competition. I concede it is becoming the way of the world, but I do not have to embrace it. Had my parents been like that I would have used a blunt instrument on them and rightly so. 

Hello Ted,

If I impressed on you that we brought up Enzo in such an environment, the answer is NO. He LOVES the piano and is DRIVEN when it come to that. I have never hinted to him in words or actions that I was not 100% in favor of his going to music school especially it being an extreme challenge to us financial-wise.  In fact, everyone thinks I have been more than fully supportive (as I feel it is my duty to give all possible help for education). 

We have allowed him all the opportunities to bloom in a pleasant environment.  Practically everything he wished for his art ...  including bringing him to far places and waiting for hours on end for him to learn, we did. Cancelling trips and important appointments to accompany him in practice and to watch his recitals.... we never missed one. He had 12 public solo recitals and inumerable practice sessions into the late evenings and numerous competitions in a span of 7 years. In fact after so much guidance, we now worry a lot as he is suddenly totally on his own now in Rochester, NY.

Although this may not really be in topic, there was always the Filipino brand of discipline especially to the elders.  No arguing with the elders, you courteously state your opinion or objection, if the elder rules against it ... then that is final ... end of discussion! you have to follow. ;D    We were strict about certain rules ... no TV or computer games or FB etc during weekdays, must be up to date with homework, absolutely no truancy, etc. etc.  if they break those no more need for explanation ... you will be disciplined including a good spanking if needed!  We were raised that way and so were they.

This brand of discipline may not conform to the no spanking policy ... explain every time the rationale for the punishment .... be forgiving ... respect opinions of the child ... etc.  etc.etc.

member on behalf of my son, Lorenzo

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #43 on: October 23, 2013, 04:32:35 AM »
Hello Ted,

If I impressed on you that we brought up Enzo in such an environment, the answer is NO.

I had realised that. I was thinking more of the pushy parents, who take no account of what makes the child happy and seemingly seek to redeem, through the child, some sort of psychological fulfilment they themselves lack. It is by no means restricted to Asian parents, although those have brought it more into public view. You see it in sport a lot, and it is not pleasant to observe. When the motivation comes from the child himself, as with Enzo, that is an entirely different matter. I probably lacked clarity in my comments.

Neither did I wish to imply that discipline is unimportant or that parents should accede to every childish whim and desire. On the contrary, in general there is too little parental discipline everywhere, and parents are mostly far too slack. Moreover, in the end , the only adult discipline worth having is self-discipline, and we are now seeing a conspicuous lack of that everywhere in the generations raised thirty of forty years ago.

Again, all seem to suffer from this, Westerners, Asians, Filipinos, everybody. I need only look at my wife's family to realise how lack of discipline has produced problems in later life in the Philippines, precisely as it has here in New Zealand and elsewhere. In the time of my wife's childhood, grandparents took a dominant role in raising the children, as you probably know, and the old standards were insisted upon. As her grandparents aged and could no longer cope, the younger two thirds of her siblings were left in a disciplinary limbo. The difference in personal discipline between the surviving older siblings, now in their sixties and seventies, and the younger ones, is now very obvious and quite sad.

You have to instill discipline in children,  else the consequences for them in later life will be very sad. The blunt instrument part is of course purely metaphorical as I loved my parents beyond measure; no such thing would have happened, it is just a figure of speech. However, I have seen far too many cases where the ambition of parents is transferred onto hapless children, who never meet expectations no matter how hard they try to please. That is a very sad thing to see.

It boils down to unconditional love, of which discipline is a part. If that is present, all sorts of deficiencies on both sides can be pardoned. If it is absent, nothing in the world can ever replace it.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline outin

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #44 on: October 23, 2013, 05:22:16 AM »
  We were strict about certain rules ... no TV or computer games or FB etc during weekdays,

This might be the road to success actually. Considering how much time an average western kid spends in front of the TV or computer, how would they have time to learn something like playing the piano, which demands  a lot of concentrated practice time? It's not only the time spent, because staring at the box does not seem to do good for one's concentration span.


must be up to date with homework, absolutely no truancy, etc. etc.  if they break those no more need for explanation ... you will be disciplined including a good spanking if needed!  We were raised that way and so were they.

This brand of discipline may not conform to the no spanking policy ... explain every time the rationale for the punishment .... be forgiving ... respect opinions of the child ... etc.  etc.etc.



I am not sure it's a good thing really, but spanking or any kind of corporal punishment is illegal in many western countries these days, even inside a family setting. Quite challenging to parents who happen to have a very stubborn kid...

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #45 on: October 23, 2013, 06:51:43 AM »
I am not sure it's a good thing really, but spanking or any kind of corporal punishment is illegal in many western countries these days, even inside a family setting.

It is illegal in England, which is why we have a generation of little shits who are either parents at 14 years old or in jail.

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Offline faulty_damper

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #46 on: October 23, 2013, 08:15:25 AM »
@ ted

By the way, from the musical point of view: can you imagine how exciting the tensions of minor and major sound (in the sense of "are perceived") in a culture that has been listening to pentatonics only (no half-tone intervals present) for ages and ages? From what I hear, the experience is so "new" and "exotic", that many Asian pianists really don't know what to do with it. :)

You heard wrong.

Western music, with the many dissonances, was not liked by Asians in general, especially the older ones even today.  It was not considered exciting and many of them regarded Western music with disdain.  However, they did have an affinity for the music of Tchaikovsky and Chopin, whose melodies they found pleasing.  Composers whose music was primarily melodic were easily accepted because it is easier to understand.

The reason for this is because music mimics speech.  Asian languages are tone languages and they are consonant so the music is primarily consonant.  Thus, the most consonant scale is pentatonic.  Western languages, oth, have a lot of dissonances, so the music reflects that.  E.g. German has a lot of appoggiaturas, like the word "tragen" and the music reflects that such as Bach's works, which are a prime example.

Even for American English speakers, Western classical music is foreign because it uses sounds that the English language does not employ.  For someone who has never heard Western classical music, it is incredibly difficult to listen to unless there's a good melody to follow.  Pop music, however, is very easy to understand since it uses English language tonal equivalents and intonations. 

Western classically trained singers have an incredible difficulty singing pop; they sing notes straight when pop uses a lot of minute slides (glissandi) in the music, often attacking a note off pitch (thus causing tension) and gradually sliding into pitch.  This matches perfectly with the way American English speakers speak, which always centers around a pitch but not directly on it.  It has a feeling of uneasiness if you only listened to the sound American English speakers make and not the meaning of their words.

Offline ted

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #47 on: October 23, 2013, 09:51:17 AM »
The reason for this is because music mimics speech. 

That is another good thought but I struggle to see how mine, by way of arbitrary example, specifically mimics speech. I can understand how melody can arise in that way, i. e. through song, and indeed, quite often various verbal associations will occur during improvisation or when I listen to other music. But unless the process is so deep I am unaware I am doing it, I hesitate to say it is invariably true. Just exactly what is happening is a rather deep mystery to me. I frequently form very strong rhythmic and visual associations with various aspects of perception, past and present, but I do not think many of them are verbal.

I can understand how music generally might have originated in that way in the beginning though, when the human voice was the primary instrument.
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Offline j_menz

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #48 on: October 23, 2013, 11:51:52 PM »
American English speakers

Seem to be such a rare breed as to be an irrelevant consideration.  ::)
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: the Chinese and Korean "invasion" ????
«Reply #49 on: October 24, 2013, 05:03:38 AM »
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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.