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Talking Pianos with Trifonov

Can “water practice” along with yoga and stretching enhance performance endurance and pianistic feeling? The luminous Sarah Willis, French horn player in Berliner Philharmoniker meets with Russian star pianist Daniil Trifonov in Hamburg while he is preparing for a recital. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Progress  (Read 1046 times)
green
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« on: May 14, 2014, 11:57:58 PM »

How do you view and explain the idea of progress to parents and students?

Generally, I explain it not as a steady incline, but as something which happens instantly, and in my experience it seems to always happen like this.

I see students as always being in a 'plateau' of some kind, an area in which they are picking up various skills, which through consistent practice will just suddenly gel together. It's the moment where 'technique' vanishes, falls away, and we 'get' it. We all of a sudden can play something perfectly which just the day before was a mess.

The reason I bring this up, is because it is probably the most common issue or question I get from parents. Every week parents want to know how so and so is doing, 'how did it go today'.
It is the area which parents have the highest expectations. And when there are expectations, there are associated beliefs. And often lifelong ingrained beliefs about how their child 'should' be 'progressing'.

So the idea is to address the beliefs and start by defining the idea of 'progress', and how that operates on different levels, at different age groups, and at different skill levels.

Most of my students are beginners, the 6-8 year old range, and that I have found can be a particularly stressful age group, simply because progress can seem to be very slow or even non existent. Many parents have no idea whats going on, and can really fuel negative, limiting, beliefs about how their child is 'actually' doing. Which can turn back against you as the teacher, as it's 'your' fault, they are not making the progress that parents 'expect' which usually translates as playing effortless lovely melodies from Mozart when in fact they get lost playing C B and A in sequence.

So while we celebrate the breakthroughs, it is doubly important to see the plateaus as critically important stages the student passes through to achieve those 'moments of glory'.

I also see the plateaus as kind of 'trance' states from which we suddenly wake up and say 'ahaa'. They are small moments of realization, where a kind of seeing happens, and something in or about the music is grasped instantly.




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Bob
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2014, 12:23:20 AM »

Just like that.

Or compare it to height or boiling water.  It's better to look at it every six months if you really want to see what's going on.  ...a little sooner for boiling water.
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Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."
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