\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Parent demands no timing errors while practicing. (Read 7293 times)

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6075
Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
« on: March 23, 2014, 01:41:24 AM »
I had a parent ask me to improve their children's sense of timing while practicing. I asked them to elaborate and they said that they can hear their children practice their pieces in chunks with hesitations and inaccuracies in the timing between these chunks. I said that is quite normal but they didn't believe that it was normal and it would encourage bad habits in the future.

I tried to explain how most people work with music. That we can work in chunks and then learn to connect those chunks more effectively after the chunks are well known themselves. They argued that these should be able to be connected simultaneously while working on the chunks. I agreed that with a more developed practice ability this can be possible but even at the highest levels we still have these connection problems.

So maybe I am missing something here because this parent is adamant that it is possible that all children can be taught to practice without these timing inefficiencies. They wanted their kids to be able to count timing while practicing and to be certain of how things should sound and be able to produce it without hesitation.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #1 on: March 23, 2014, 01:52:36 AM »
I had a parent ask me to improve their children's sense of timing while practicing. I asked them to elaborate and they said that they can hear their children practice their pieces in chunks with hesitations and inaccuracies in the timing between these chunks. I said that is quite normal but they didn't believe that it was normal and it would encourage bad habits in the future.

I tried to explain how most people work with music. That we can work in chunks and then learn to connect those chunks more effectively after the chunks are well known themselves. They argued that these should be able to be connected simultaneously while working on the chunks. I agreed that with a more developed practice ability this can be possible but even at the highest levels we still have these connection problems. If there are notes that are getting connected, nothing is improved by repetitions with a pause between notes that are never linked up.

So maybe I am missing something here because this parent is adamant that it iis possible that all children can be taught to practice without these timing inefficiencies. They wanted their kids to be able to count timing while practicing and to be certain of how things should sound and be able to produce it without hesitation.
.
I always have a rule that any rhythm is fine the first time if notes are felt to be physically connected, but rhythm starts to be expected from the second execution onwards. Preferably this achieved phrase by phrase or bar by bar if need be. But no missed rhythmic connection should be omitted from work to fix the missing join, even in the first session. Alow a pause once to avoid guesses at notes but then go back and fix the rhythm right away. Otherwise bad habits certainly are learned. Instead of allowing pauses to remain, students need to take a smaller unit and get it right.

Can you clarify what type of things you are speaking of? Students who stop at the end of every bar in early work on a piece sometimes never break that habit. However those who practise a bar plus an extra note, so as to overlap, have no missing links. It depends where pauses are and whether any experience had been achieved of bridging across them. If not, it's a problem. There are places where pauses are fine and places where they are disastrous, but your post doesn't clarify which type you're likely to be speaking of- usefully organised ones or ones that leave no experience of missing links. But the places where most people instinctively want to pause usually are disastrous. The places where a student wants to pause are usually the places they shouldn't. They usually need to learn to aim one note further, to the next bar or the next beat. Otherwise no useful experience is ever acquired of the correct flow.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6075
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #2 on: March 23, 2014, 02:13:49 AM »
Usually the hesitations occur during a positional change at the keyboard, which often occurs at the end of phrases and connecting to a new one. During lessons if there is a natural hesitation while moving to new position I encourage the use of a controlled pause (freezing the hands while holding the last position and moving only when you are sure where to go).

These hesitations happen often when we are new to a piece and we become aware that these are issues that require work to improve. When you have a more advanced practice method based on many piece experience you can remove these hesitations rapidly and often immediately before they occur because we have faced them so often, but when dealing with younger students can we really expect that they have the experience to force it to happen?

Coordination/technique issues often cause problems with timing because they are so caught up over the physical movements. These are not really timing problems in my mind. If someone plays something effortlessly but there is a timing problem, then this is a timing problem! But if their timing is mixed up because they are so caught up over the notes, then it is a technical problem not really a timing.

I asked this parent to give me examples of when this occurs but they couldn't. So I asked them when they hear their kids play uneven to write down what piece and what bar they were playing. Personally I can't sense any timing problems with these kids, they are very musical and have good rhythm and beat sense, but their parents expect a lot and want their kids to work hard. The only solution I could come up with is to make the kids play everything in slow motion tempo playing everything even. But that is torture isn't it????
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #3 on: March 23, 2014, 02:39:06 AM »
Usually the hesitations occur during a positional change at the keyboard, which often occurs at the end of phrases and connecting to a new one. During lessons if there is a natural hesitation while moving to new position I encourage the use of a controlled pause (freezing the hands while holding the last position and moving only when you are sure where to go).

These hesitations happen often when we are new to a piece and we become aware that these are issues that require work to improve. When you have a more advanced practice method based on many piece experience you can remove these hesitations rapidly and often immediately before they occur because we have faced them so often, but when dealing with younger students can we really expect that they have the experience to force it to happen?

Coordination/technique issues often cause problems with timing because they are so caught up over the physical movements. These are not really timing problems in my mind. If someone plays something effortlessly but there is a timing problem, then this is a timing problem! But if their timing is mixed up because they are so caught up over the notes, then it is a technical problem not really a timing.

I asked this parent to give me examples of when this occurs but they couldn't. So I asked them when they hear their kids play uneven to write down what piece and what bar they were playing. Personally I can't sense any timing problems with these kids, they are very musical and have good rhythm and beat sense, but their parents expect a lot and want their kids to work hard. The only solution I could come up with is to make the kids play everything in slow motion tempo playing everything even. But that is torture isn't it????

I largely agree with you. Certainty of where the hand should be should always be step 1 and I don't like the idea of putting on rhythmic pressure at the very outset, if that just forces the student to take wild guesses. However, I do still tend to abide by the idea of putting in rhythm early. There is a point where a repeated technically induced pause turns into a mistaken internal conception of rhythm, if it goes too many times.

If it's a position shift, I'd start with movements between just the two positions, possible playing all five fingers as a cluster (gently though). Once the shift is clear, I'd get them to start just a few notes before the shift and play just one note into the next position. Free time is allowed at first, but increasingly they are expected to get to the next note by judging for themself what speed permits a proper connection. It really is important to stop there (even though the next bit would be easy to do) as it puts maximum attention into the actual difficult part to master and nothing else distracts from that. From here, literal rhythm is achieved in the single link that is least likely to get connected when playing through as is convenient, rather than in rhythm. The problem with tolerating a stop as anything more than an initial preparation is that nothing gets solved unless there's at least some pressure to deal with it by becoming better aware of the movement and the speed at which to do it. The first step is to get acquainted with each position, but I do feel that a proper link between positions should be part of the foundation stones (of even the first practise session) and not something that can afford to fall by the way side. I think you're right to encourage a controlled pause, but I think you should also encourage the necessary steps to eliminate the pause outright at the very first opportunity. Even if it's only adding a single extra note to a chunk that had ended in a stop, I do believe that the first steps of integration should always be taken in the first sitting.

Offline goldentone

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1682
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #4 on: April 04, 2014, 07:20:43 PM »
Lostinidle, the student has some finished pieces don't they?  If they are without timing issues, I would point that out to the parent so as not to worry.  They need to understand that there is a lot to take in as one learns the piano.
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #5 on: April 05, 2014, 12:49:37 AM »
They wanted their kids to be able to count timing while practicing....

Am I the only person here that thinks this is NOT an unreasonable expectation or request?

Offline polishookm

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #6 on: April 05, 2014, 12:07:07 PM »
i'm with awesom_o on this. It's a totally unreasonable inappropriate request from a parent or parents who for reason known only to them want to exert control in an area that's not appropriate theirs to control.

Developing flow and fluency as a pianist has nothing to do with what the parents have suggested. To engage even the slightest in that argument is in essence to say they have a point and maybe it should be taken literally or refined in some way.

Whether or not the parents can stand being told not to interfere in lessons (which can be said gently) is another matter entirely. And, again, helping students to develop flow and fluency is another matter entirely.

So there's my opinion in a couple of paragraphs. Awesom_o said the same in one sentence!

Having to teach to the inappropriate, unsound, expectations of parents ..  sooner or later that's going to lead to undesirable side effects.

Mark Polishook

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #7 on: April 05, 2014, 01:34:52 PM »
i'm with awesom_o on this. It's a totally unreasonable inappropriate request from a parent or parents who for reason known only to them want to exert control in an area that's not appropriate theirs to control.

Developing flow and fluency as a pianist has nothing to do with what the parents have suggested. To engage even the slightest in that argument is in essence to say they have a point and maybe it should be taken literally or refined in some way.

Whether or not the parents can stand being told not to interfere in lessons (which can be said gently) is another matter entirely. And, again, helping students to develop flow and fluency is another matter entirely.

So there's my opinion in a couple of paragraphs. Awesom_o said the same in one sentence!

Having to teach to the inappropriate, unsound, expectations of parents ..  sooner or later that's going to lead to undesirable side effects.



I suggest you read his post. He said NOT UNreasonable. ie reasonable. He summarised the antithesis of your post.

A professional teacher needs to be sensitive and indeed encouraging of parents taking an interest. Being questioned should be an opportunity to explain the bigger picture to the parents and help them understand. Only an extremely insecure would feel notably undermined by something regarding such a significant issue. A secure teacher will give a simple explanation as to how things are sometimes done in stages. They will not be challenged by perception of "interference". Sometimes parents have ridiculous expectations that indeed come from a misplaced need to take power over things that they know too little about to have an informed opinion on. But being concerned about the single issue of whether children have a grasp of the importance of rhythm is not an example of that- exactly as awesome said.

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #8 on: April 05, 2014, 01:56:00 PM »
It just don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

I teach all of my kids to be able to count out loud while playing!

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #9 on: April 05, 2014, 04:07:31 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline polishookm

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #10 on: April 06, 2014, 01:41:19 AM »
I suggest you read his post. He said NOT UNreasonable. ie reasonable. He summarised the antithesis of your post.

A professional teacher needs to be sensitive and indeed encouraging of parents taking an interest. Being questioned should be an opportunity to explain the bigger picture to the parents and help them understand. Only an extremely insecure would feel notably undermined by something regarding such a significant issue.

Awesom_o. I'm very sorry. I did misread what you said. Absolutely and totally.

So the point I was making of course was the opposite of what you said - and it still is the opposite. But I do agree with you, totally and completely, on the need for the skill that's at the centre of this thread.

My original point simply is a parent who cites absolutes to a teacher is a difficult individual.

Being able to recognise the difference between a difficult individual and an important skill a difficult individual may raise is indeed a sign of sensitivity In fact it's just flat-out basic professional responsibility.

Because what's important in the end isn't whether the parent is difficult (which hopefully will mostly ber irrevelant) or whether or not the skill is essential (which is abstract).

What's important is whether or not the student's getting the guidance they need. The teacher who works with the student is in a good position to judge that. That same teacher is in a good position to help the parent understand how the concern they've raised fits into the larger learning context.

To point out the obvious, the OP's post was primarily to the demands of the parent and the interaction that ensued from the demands. And the OP described trying to explain to the parent how flow and fluency will develop in time. But it's interesting that the apparent arrogance of the parent has been the least discussed aspect in this thread. So that's what I find to be surprising. Because the OP didn't ask for a full-scale discussion of how to develop sensitivity to rhythm (which I've been renaming as flow and fluency).

By coincidence earlier tonight I posted to my blog on flow and fluency  So that's here

http://www.polishookstudio.com/2014/04/practicing-piano-step-one-leads-to-flow_5.html

It's one more contribution to add into the advice that's been offered in this thread. But I didn't write it as part of the discussion.
Mark Polishook

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #11 on: April 06, 2014, 01:55:14 AM »
Awesom_o. I'm very sorry. I did misread what you said. Absolutely and totally.


No problem! I think we can both agree that any parent who makes these sort of "demands" about their child's practicing is pretty much out to lunch entirely!

I would be inclined to give this parent a small lesson on the comprehension of rhythm, so that he/she could be helpful when the child makes noticeable timing errors in the music.




Offline rachmaninoff_forever

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4903
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #12 on: April 06, 2014, 01:24:56 PM »
Counting?

What's that?
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline bernadette60614

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #13 on: April 06, 2014, 10:36:14 PM »
I'm not a professional, but I would suggest:

Find a recording of Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony.  I don't think the orchestra gets through a single measure without 5 corrections by the Maestro. 

In my mind, those "hesitations" when I play are when I think about the music and how I'm playing it.

I'm hesitating because I'm correcting myself.

 

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #14 on: April 07, 2014, 01:11:08 AM »
it's interesting that the apparent arrogance of the parent has been the least discussed aspect in this thread. So that's what I find to be surprising. Because the OP didn't ask for a full-scale discussion of how to develop sensitivity to rhythm (which I've been renaming as flow and fluency).

Arrogance? Sorry but that's totally out of order. There are difficult parents out there but nothing could be more reasonable than a parent wanting the best from the child. If they hear them practising in poor rhythm, they have a right to enquire. If the teacher explains things properly (and checks whether the student is struggling on the issue or not) all should be fine. The point where you start thinking of a parent as interfering is if they start bombarding you with unrealistic goals and then complaining that they were not reached. Wanting kids to know how to practise in time is not arrogance by any stretch. We really shouldn't be leaping to such derogatory opinions of parents without justified cause - or it makes teachers look like paranoid and disrespectful individuals who cannot either deal with feedback or respond professionally.

Based on the original post, I agree with the parents. Gaps don't remove themselves. While it's fine to work with controlled pauses, from stage one there needs to be a clear plan regarding how they are going to be bridged. In most cases, I'd expect to bridge the missing connection within the first practise session (even if that means going only a single note past the difficult point and then stopping to repeat the link until it feels normal). If a pause is purely there for difficulty, there should be work at filling in the gap in the very same practise session (even if the gap is only bridged hands separately and by that single extra connected note) or it will be slow and difficult to fill it in later. If chunks are not made to overlap, they don't connect themselves.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #15 on: April 07, 2014, 01:30:59 AM »
I'm not a professional, but I would suggest:

Find a recording of Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony.  I don't think the orchestra gets through a single measure without 5 corrections by the Maestro. 

In my mind, those "hesitations" when I play are when I think about the music and how I'm playing it.

I'm hesitating because I'm correcting myself.

 


But are you going back and making seamless joins? Or are you just hesitating in a way that leaves you without experience of specific rhythmic link (that Solti would have repeated until it was done properly)?

Offline polishookm

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #16 on: April 07, 2014, 03:27:18 PM »
-



Mark Polishook

Offline fleetfingers

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 621
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #17 on: April 12, 2014, 11:04:18 PM »
I have made the mistake of assuming pauses are technical issues, only to realize later that the student was actually misunderstanding the rhythm. Helping them to correct (relearn) the rhythm later is a pain - and sometimes near impossible. I can think of a few times when I decided to drop the issue and let them play it the wrong way (I'm talking about a single measure, not the whole piece)....it was too ingrained....just decided to be more insistent from the outset the next time around.

When working through a piece and learning chunks and sections at a time, it is helpful to play in different rhythms and with varying articulations, and it is not necessary to tediously play through an entire piece without pauses or hesitations each time it is practiced. I'm sure lost is doing the right thing by asking the parents to specify where the pauses are. N gives a good method of achieving fluency in a given chunk. I like the idea of going one note further and repeating until correct and comfortable.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3243
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #18 on: April 13, 2014, 01:04:55 AM »
Deliberate pauses are an underrated practice technique but very useful.

So is practicing in chunks. 

Hesitations are a habit that is almost unbreakable.  I suspect the vast majority of students never fully get past it before dropping lessons. 

I think the parents have a valid concern, but can be reassured if convinced that the pauses are deliberate and at the teacher's direction. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #19 on: April 14, 2014, 12:06:17 AM »
So are the parents pianists themselves?   Do they teach piano?  If so, do they teach beginners and do those beginners that they teach develop into pianists who play decently?  If not, then why do they think they can tell you how it ought to work?

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3243
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #20 on: April 14, 2014, 12:18:00 PM »
  If so, do they teach beginners and do those beginners that they teach develop into pianists who play decently? 

Do most beginners?  Probably not.

Sometimes a nonexpert's perception offers value.  Every instrument has its ideosyncracies, and its players stop hearing them.  The hesitation habit is so common that it can seem acceptable when it's not.
Tim

Offline kevin69

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #21 on: April 14, 2014, 01:09:05 PM »
So are the parents pianists themselves?   Do they teach piano?  If so, do they teach beginners and do those beginners that they teach develop into pianists who play decently?  If not, then why do they think they can tell you how it ought to work?

Probably because they are paying you.

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #22 on: April 14, 2014, 04:41:22 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #23 on: April 14, 2014, 06:55:15 PM »
To do something that they actually cannot do.

That doesn't matter. If someone is not willing to at least be sympathetic towards the wishes of their client, they should not take their money.

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #24 on: April 14, 2014, 07:05:52 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #25 on: April 14, 2014, 07:10:50 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #26 on: April 14, 2014, 09:40:52 PM »
Of course it matters.  If somebody with minimal understanding asks me to do something on behalf of their child's development that I feel will disrupt their child's actual development, if I do it just because they ask me to, then I am not going to be doing the job they are actually hiring me to do, despite what they think is in their child's best interest. :P

I never said not to consider it and to be unsympathetic, but what I wrote just above is still true.  If a teacher can't do what is best for the child, even despite what the person paying them to do what is best for the child says they want (if it's not ultimately best for the child), then they shouldn't take the money!

Well, it's a very good thing, for the sake of your argument, that you wrote in hypothetical terms rather than based on the situation under discussion. Because we never established the nature of the pauses in question. The context suggests that they are pauses for technical convenience, however. These are simply unacceptable unless they are already being actively dealt with early on. Guesswork for the sake of keeping rhythm going is destructive, when learning new music, but stopping to figure out a note yet failing to go back and instate that missing link is almost as bad. It leads to far more work than when the link is dealt with at the time the problem arises. That's why I always accept a pause for convenience once, but expect the student (or myself) to go back and bridge the missed join at least once, right after.

Even if we were talking about controlled and deliberately organised pauses, that do not involve missing links outright, a professional teacher should have the courtesy to appreciate that a layman may not instantly understand the issue. It's the teachers job to be able to clarify the issue to a layman. If a teacher is certain that even the finest teacher in the world could not have satisfied the parent with a clear and concise explanation, then you can start to blame the parents as a disruptive influence.

However, no such thing has come even close to being established here. To imply that simply because they cannot play the piano they have no right to get involved is way out of order. Far from being a negative interference, it sounds to me like the parents are probably quite right that their kids could do with making missed rhythmic links early on. Honestly, it appalls me when such threads lead to small-minded and assumptively one sided points of view-as if teachers are incapable of having empathy for anything but the side of the situation that they could imagine themself getting into . I'm afraid that your and Keypeg's post are especially bad examples of this. All they spoke of was from the point of view of what would be most convenient for a teacher in an ideal world- without any consideration of whether the parent may have been right. If any consideration was given to the other side, literally nothing of that was articulated in your post. It reflects very poorly on the teaching profession when such issues as were mentioned here lead to one-sided complaints about the parents daring to get involved- as if it's somehow outrageous for anyone to dare to challenge the power of a teacher who they are paying, rather than give them carte blanche. If that wasn't the impression you wished to give, I'm afraid it's still very much the impression that will come across- when you casually assume that the parent must have been the one in the wrong. Any true professional should look at these situations with empathy (even if the parent is wrong) not from the point of view of how much more convenient it is to both get paid yet also be left to do whatever you please. Even if the parent IS wrong, a true professional does everything in their power to help a layman appreciate the process, before having a go at them for daring to care.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #27 on: April 14, 2014, 09:54:43 PM »
 If they can't all happen at once without taking elements apart and then putting them back together (which they almost always can't), then how do you select what is most important at the time?  

Based on overlapping principles. If you can't make a join first time, you repeat just the note before and after, if that's what it takes to bring it down to a manageable chunk, then expand to a whole bar/phrase plus the note after the gap or to whatever is possible. But if any link has never been bridged without a pause, its simply poor practise procedure. If you've finished by bridging it within a smaller chunk, it's part of the learning process. If not, it's sloppiness that will generate bad habits and riddle the piece with holes.

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #28 on: April 14, 2014, 09:57:33 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #29 on: April 14, 2014, 10:06:15 PM »
Nice.  Let me guess.

1.  We will see some bout of "Keypeg" in which s/he and I will be paired together as having the same "voice."

2.  I am either supposed to:
  A.  be crushed at this reminder of last year's forum competition crap, or
  B.  have reached a point where I realize I am OK, all is "forgiven," in fact I am actually grateful!  :D, hey, look, I'm stronger than ever  :D :o

3.  Everybody turns into an a**hole  :P

4.  Didn't expect me to bring it up at this precise moment, but you've been secretly wondering and waiting for when/if I did.  Probably you'll need to change your plan now though, since I bothered to make this little list.



PS - I do not play the piano because I am sad, because I am mad, because I am happy ... no amount of emotion will change the practical direction of my life, at the moment.  4 minutes to go before one of my little students show up.

I'm not particularly clear what any of that has to do with the topic. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about your false accusations of the past. Also, I have no idea what the PS is supposed to either mean or pertain to-either in relation to this thread or in relation to anything in general.

Offline Mayla

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #30 on: April 14, 2014, 11:11:22 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline pianoplunker

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 792
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #31 on: April 15, 2014, 04:18:25 AM »
I had a parent ask me to improve their children's sense of timing while practicing. I asked them to elaborate and they said that they can hear their children practice their pieces in chunks with hesitations and inaccuracies in the timing between these chunks. I said that is quite normal but they didn't believe that it was normal and it would encourage bad habits in the future.

I tried to explain how most people work with music. That we can work in chunks and then learn to connect those chunks more effectively after the chunks are well known themselves. They argued that these should be able to be connected simultaneously while working on the chunks. I agreed that with a more developed practice ability this can be possible but even at the highest levels we still have these connection problems.

So maybe I am missing something here because this parent is adamant that it is possible that all children can be taught to practice without these timing inefficiencies. They wanted their kids to be able to count timing while practicing and to be certain of how things should sound and be able to produce it without hesitation.

If the kid is blowing chunks, perhaps he/she does need to slow down and count. Keep everything at an evenly slow pace so when transitioning from chunk to chunk all stays the same speed whatever that is. Metronome is useful but it might not indicate whether you just played 4 beats or 5 .  I dont think counting out loud should be the focus of practice but it does not hurt if you are having issues with how things should sound.

Offline kevin69

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #32 on: April 15, 2014, 11:50:04 AM »
Usually the hesitations occur during a positional change at the keyboard, which often occurs at the end of phrases and connecting to a new one.

I have this problem with hesitations when i need to change position of my left hand (such as from an F triad to a Bb triad). Playing LH only or RH only is smooth, but both together have a hesitatation. When playing through to smooth this out i can either look at my hands, which is slow and unconfident but accurate, or not look at my hands which is quicker and more confident more not reliably accurate. Which is best?

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #33 on: April 15, 2014, 12:12:25 PM »
I have this problem with hesitations when i need to change position of my left hand (such as from an F triad to a Bb triad). Playing LH only or RH only is smooth, but both together have a hesitatation. When playing through to smooth this out i can either look at my hands, which is slow and unconfident but accurate, or not look at my hands which is quicker and more confident more not reliably accurate. Which is best?

For now practise both ways. But primarily, don't play the next note. Just get there for now and feel if you are where you should be. Do it with your eyes closed and then open them to see it you got where you thought you did. You need to develop the ability to self-verify without looking, before playing the next note. You say it's more confident without looking, but that's just empty confidence if you don't reliably both get to the right place and KNOW that you did. It's extremely important to learn to move quickly and confidently into position but to already be certain whether you're in the right place - before playing the next note as if you were there all along.

PS also practise looking not at your hand but at the notes where you want your hand to reposition to.

Offline kevin69

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #34 on: April 15, 2014, 12:45:36 PM »
PS also practise looking not at your hand but at the notes where you want your hand to reposition to.


Thanks for the advice in general and this enlightening titbit in particular.
Once stated, it now seems obvious to look where your hand is going, not where its coming from.

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #35 on: April 15, 2014, 08:36:52 PM »

....-as if teachers are incapable of having empathy for anything but the side of the situation that they could imagine themself getting into . I'm afraid that your and Keypeg's post are especially bad examples of this. All they spoke of was from the point of view of what would be most convenient for a teacher in an ideal world- without any consideration of whether the parent may have been right. If any consideration was given to the other side, literally nothing of that was articulated in your post. It reflects very poorly on the teaching profession when such issues as were mentioned here lead to one-sided complaints about the parents daring to get involved- ....
My attention was caught primarily by Mayla's vehement protest so I had to hunt for the paragraph.    So the first point is rather basic, namely that we wrote different things for different reasons - there is no link between us.  Consider the fact alone that Mayla is a teacher and for physical playing I am a student.

In regards to what you wrote, you have made assumptions about motivation and then ran with it.  I have no interest whatsoever in making things "convenient" for me as a teacher, since I'm not the teacher - I'm the student.  How about letting me explain what I mean, instead of you guessing what I mean.

LIW wrote that the he explained to the parents how musicians approach music, and how it develops.  The parents were discussing how things were done.  Now, if these parents play piano themselves or are musicians, perhaps they do have some input.  That is why I asked about that.  But if they don't play piano or any other instrument, then they are guessing how it works, and should be open to the teacher's explanation.

As a student I am fortunate to be working with a teacher who knows what he is doing, and who can develop me as a musician.  Much of what we do is in stages, and the beginning stages may not sound like the "final results" one thinks of when we think of how we hear polished performances.  But the end result over time does give that.  As student (or parent) you have to know this is going on and trust it.  It's the "how" of the thing.

This has nothing to do with arrogance or convenience, but doing things that will give results.

At the same time, both student and parent must be free to approach the teacher with concerns or worries, and get an ear.  I think that LiW did that, by explaining what he did.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #36 on: April 15, 2014, 11:57:54 PM »
My attention was caught primarily by Mayla's vehement protest so I had to hunt for the paragraph.    So the first point is rather basic, namely that we wrote different things for different reasons - there is no link between us.  Consider the fact alone that Mayla is a teacher and for physical playing I am a student.

In regards to what you wrote, you have made assumptions about motivation and then ran with it.  I have no interest whatsoever in making things "convenient" for me as a teacher, since I'm not the teacher - I'm the student.  How about letting me explain what I mean, instead of you guessing what I mean.

LIW wrote that the he explained to the parents how musicians approach music, and how it develops.  The parents were discussing how things were done.  Now, if these parents play piano themselves or are musicians, perhaps they do have some input.  That is why I asked about that.  But if they don't play piano or any other instrument, then they are guessing how it works, and should be open to the teacher's explanation.


Perhaps, but if that explanation is based on things going in stages, I'm not quite convinced myself (unless overlaps are being included and that was explained to the parents- and really this is vital). We never really established that there is a deliberate organisation behind the pauses or, if not, that there is a very organised way of tackling them and correcting them. I suspect that the parents are right. No teacher is perfect and sometimes we need to take on board external ideas- rather than express indignance that a parent dares to care about how their child is being taught. It's really not right to talk about it as if it's outrageous for the parents to get involved- as if they ought to be written off as unqualified to have any views at all on their kids and banned from having any involvement. You spoke as if a teacher is supposed to have absolute power and that parents have no rights to challenge anything. But pauses for convenience don't go away easily unless there is a clear organisation to removing them. Even if the teacher explains it well in lessons, do the kids practise equally well? Or do they simply pause whenever it's convenient in the same places without doing anything about it? The parents are in better position than anyone to tell whether their kids are simply repeating the same error every time, or whether they are dealing with them and improving on them. The parents just might be clueless idiots who have the wrong end of the stick, but we neither have any business assuming that or suggesting that parents in general should be expected to bow down to the teacher's authority.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3243
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #37 on: April 16, 2014, 12:34:46 PM »
Quote from: nyiregyhazi
I suspect that the parents are right. No teacher is perfect and sometimes we need to take on board external ideas- rather than express indignance that a parent dares to care about how their child is being taught.

I thought you gave a good explanation.

Now, here's another of my radical ideas. 

Perhaps the teacher is a good one faithfully adhering to traditional piano teaching principles.

But on this particular point, piano teaching is fundamentally flawed.

I say this because in my very inexpert opinion, almost no beginners succeed in ever breaking the hesitation habit and playing fluently.

Sure, the kids who advance through the grades, go to conservatory, become classical pianists or piano teachers do. 

The other 98% or so eventually drop.  They may have gained a lot of benefits from their enrichment experiences but playing well is not one of them. 

Contrast that to beginners in a school band.  They play sloppily.  They don't articulate, they can't play in tune, they don't know all their fingerings, they miss accidentals - but they play on the beat.  They practice playing without hesitations, while counting, and with the reinforcement of multiple others doing the same thing.     

I may be overly sensitive to the hesitation problem.  I am not "neurotypical," I have a slight brain function disorder, and timing errors are physically painful while wrong notes are merely annoying.

Almost everybody who picks up guitar succeeds.    But most of their practice is playing along with music, being forced to play in good time.

It sounds like N has a strategy for dealing with the time problem in the early stages before the bad habits are fixed, or at least trying to. 

Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #38 on: April 16, 2014, 11:21:48 PM »
Perhaps, but if that explanation is based on things going in stages...
No I was not thinking of that, nor of anything in particular.  I was talking of the general idea that a teacher may have a methodology, and may be used to things happening in a particular which he expects to see.  A parent needs to be open to finding out what that is about.  There are end results and there are processes.
Quote
It's really not right to talk about it as if it's outrageous for the parents to get involved ...
And I do not believe it is outrageous for parents to get involved.   I was a parent myself.

 
Quote
but we neither have any business assuming that or suggesting that parents in general should be expected to bow down to the teacher's authority.
I would never expect such a thing.   Apparently you read a lot into what I wrote.  Hopefully that is cleared up now.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #39 on: April 17, 2014, 12:08:03 AM »
No I was not thinking of that, nor of anything in particular.  I was talking of the general idea that a teacher may have a methodology, and may be used to things happening in a particular which he expects to see.  A parent needs to be open to finding out what that is about.  There are end results and there are processes.And I do not believe it is outrageous for parents to get involved.   I was a parent myself.

 I would never expect such a thing.   Apparently you read a lot into what I wrote.  Hopefully that is cleared up now.

Okay, but when the only thing you wrote unequivocally suggested that the parents should necessarily have been expected to subjugate all opinions to the authority of the teacher (without adequate basis on which to form any balanced opinion on whether they had a point or not) a one-sided opinion is what will  come across. These situations are not about authority. They are about trying to find what's right for the best learning. All teachers have strengths and weaknesses and only by via extreme casual assumptions about the scenario would it be possible to make the one-sided point you made- suggesting that they had no right to an opinion, due to insufficient qualification.

Offline bernadette60614

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 525
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #40 on: April 18, 2014, 12:55:52 AM »
Here's another thought:

Make one lesson a session where the student practices with you there and the parent there.  Thus far, you haven't given any indication that these are unmotivated pupils or ill prepared.  It may be that you need to see how the student practices, and if they are practicing appropriately, explaining to the parent why this is appropriate.

 

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #41 on: April 18, 2014, 07:00:18 AM »
Okay, but when the only thing you wrote unequivocally suggested that the parents should necessarily have been expected to subjugate all opinions to the authority of the teacher ....
I did not write any such thing.

What I wrote was:
Quote
So are the parents pianists themselves? 
Gathering information, because if they are pianists, then the explanation or exploration will be different than if they are not.  From the opening post we know nothing about the parents.
Quote
Do they teach piano?
Ditto.
Quote
If so, do they teach beginners...
Asked, because teaching a beginner is different than teaching an advanced student.  That includes what you expect to hear in practising.
Quote
...  and do those beginners that they teach develop into pianists who play decently?  [.quote]
Keyword among others being "develop", because some of the things that is done in the beginning is for the purpose of creating skills.  Practising does not necessarily sound like a smooth finished product, because you're developing things.  If these parents are pianists, who also teach students, especially beginners, and if they develop beginners, then LiW would have one kind of conversation with them, because they might have common ground.  That is why I asked those questions.
Quote
If not, then why do they think they can tell you how it ought to work?
This may not have been the best wording - I was in a hurry that day.  The emphasis is on "how to work".  I understood the LiW explained the process to them and that they would not accept what he was telling them.  That may not have been the case.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #42 on: April 18, 2014, 11:48:40 AM »
may not have been the best wording - I was in a hurry that day.  The emphasis is on "how to work".  I understood the LiW explained the process to them and that they would not accept what he was telling them.  That may not have been the case.

Yes, the last sentence is what creates the impression. When you ask a question of a party of who is not present to answer and who is not going to be, it doesn't read as a sincere enquiry but a sarcastic one that evokes outrage at the behaviour.

On the other points, it's not about whether an explanation was given-unless we are deciding that parents must relinquish all rights to an opinion. We'd need to know what the explanation was and whether it actually cuts it or not, before anyone judges their right to retain their view.

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #43 on: April 19, 2014, 05:01:08 AM »
We'd need to know what the explanation was and whether it actually cuts it or not, before anyone judges their right to retain their view.
Exactly. That is why I asked questions.  There is no view to have.  I thought we were trying to help someone solve a problem by seeing what to do next.  That's starts with questions because there is not enough information at present.  I'd like to wait for the OP to come back on this.

Offline bmajazz

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #44 on: September 03, 2014, 04:54:45 AM »
I spend a lot of time making my students practice over the pauses.  Practice the transition from one phrase to the next.  Practice the jump.  Practice several beats before the hands jumping, and several beats after, to a point that makes sense musically.

Practice from one 4 bar phrase to the next, i.e. practice bars 4-5 without stopping, especially if it is on a system break or (worse) a page break.  Most kids are fairly visual, and they stop at the end of the line.  If it's at the end of a phrase, it's even worse.  So, practice phrase transitions.

To me, it's a simple problem to correct.  You just have to make the kid understand that the normal way we practice, i.e. by phrases, does not help fix the transitions.  I have yet to find a kid over 9 or 10 who doesn't get that, and the younger ones can be taught this simply by doing.  With the older ones I discuss the satisfaction that comes from playing through without hesitations, and that often convinces them of my logic.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6075
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #45 on: September 03, 2014, 05:42:34 AM »
Good sense there bmajazz.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline jpahmad

  • PS Gold Member
  • Jr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 59
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #46 on: September 03, 2014, 04:49:02 PM »
So how did things turn out with that student?  Were you able to "close the gaps."  I'm sorry I haven't read the entire thread.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6075
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #47 on: September 03, 2014, 06:11:33 PM »
The student is now doing AMEB examinations so studying only 5 pieces at a time. He still prefers to learn the pieces entirely even if there are pauses, then go back and deal with them. His parents were satisfied if all the pauses were clearly written out with method to drill it so that they could check list it off every week which ones needed to be solved. They realize that the majority of the work is not about the pauses but other things since now he can play all his pieces without pause but still is not ready for exam (his parents expect honors or high distinction grade only).

I found listing every single pause with exact method to drill it a little tedious and slowed down the lesson a little. Many of the pauses are solved in time without too much conscious focus but of course the ones which could not be solved easily benefited from a prescribed drill method. To have parents who want to know exactly how their child learns is helpful because I did notice when I wrote everything down that they become more informed and could exert more useful advice on the pausing during the week while their child practiced which helped reinforce what I was teaching. I don't often come across parents so interested in their childs learning so this is a good experience in the end.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline jpahmad

  • PS Gold Member
  • Jr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 59
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #48 on: September 04, 2014, 12:22:34 AM »
wow, I pretty much write in pauses for all my students right off the bat.  It never really occurred to me that I didn't necessarily have to do that.  It works though, because I can easily take them out when the time is right.  I even move the pauses of "brain breaks" as I call them around to different places as I see fit.  It works.  They eventually understand that you practice with the breaks, and then you take them out.  No big deal.  I haven't had any problem with getting them to eventually play through, maintaining tempo and meter.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Parent demands no timing errors while practicing.
«Reply #49 on: September 04, 2014, 12:30:29 AM »
wow, I pretty much write in pauses for all my students right off the bat.  It never really occurred to me that I didn't necessarily have to do that.  It works though, because I can easily take them out when the time is right.  I even move the pauses of "brain breaks" as I call them around to different places as I see fit.  It works.  They eventually understand that you practice with the breaks, and then you take them out.  No big deal.  I haven't had any problem with getting them to eventually play through, maintaining tempo and meter.

The easiest principle for doing it well is to say that they must not accept pauses between short notes and long notes (especially not between bars). It's very easy to fix extra-long long notes. When you pause deliberately in such moments, it allows thinking about where short notes need to head to without breaking an important flow. However, if you don't connect short notes to a longer note (as their destination) you get the kind of pauses that really do cause long term problems. Obviously these are the hardest places to avoid pauses in- but there's no reason not to stop and figure them out at once.

Ideally the student needs to learn to conceive groups of short notes as having a destination that is part of the same conception as the short notes and pace things so they never run out notes before getting there. For example, four semiquavers and a longer note need to be conceived as four semiquavers plus a destination note. If you don't feel ready to get to that destination, you need to notice that in advance- rather than start them and get stuck before the destination. Another alternative can be a little stretching. A group of four equally stretched semiquavers plus a connected destination is infinitely more useful to the learning process than four semiquavers in time followed by a pause before the destination.