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What does the "average student" look like? (Read 8089 times)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #50 on: April 11, 2016, 09:06:52 PM »
We may not be able to conclude with a high degree of precision, but I think there are some things we do know.  One of them is that the vast majority of adult beginners do not stay with it long, do not succeed. 
We do not "know" that, nor is it useful toward anything.  I am an adult student.  Because of the assumptions about adult students I was badly burnt first time round with the first instrument I tried to study.

Also, I don't remember anybody doing any statistics on me.  Did they do statistics on you?  So how accurate is even that much?

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #51 on: April 12, 2016, 03:56:18 AM »
We do not "know" that, nor is it useful toward anything.  I am an adult student.  Because of the assumptions about adult students I was badly burnt first time round with the first instrument I tried to study.

Also, I don't remember anybody doing any statistics on me.  Did they do statistics on you?  So how accurate is even that much?
Statistics do not have any impact on an individual, but they do have their value in assessing and developing systems. They are also useful in prediction and considering probabilities. To know that an outcome has a high probability is useful in trying to prevent it. Statistics are neutral when collected and interpreted correctly. The problems begin when statistics are used as explanations or high probabilities prevent us from developing and so become an self-fulfilling prophecy.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #52 on: April 12, 2016, 06:11:14 AM »
I answered the original question in some detail, based and what I have gathered over time.  It included things such as how adults are often taught, what may be missing in that, and the probable outcome of it.  If you want to see whether dolphins can travel 500 meters, statistically they probably can, as long as they do it in water.  Put the dolphins on dry land and statistics would show that dolphins cannot travel 500 meters and they die trying.  A thing has to be done with understanding - that is the person carrying it out should understand what he is dealing with - or you get something useless or even nonsensical.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #53 on: April 12, 2016, 11:59:41 AM »
We do not "know" that, nor is it useful toward anything.  I am an adult student.  Because of the assumptions about adult students I was badly burnt first time round with the first instrument I tried to study.


I think it's obvious you are an outlier, as am I.  I'm 63, I had a lesson Saturday, and I'm still making progress. 

You can go back through the last 10 years of posts on either pianoworld or pianostreet and hear the same thing from teachers consistently:  with rare exceptions, adult beginners do not succeed and most teachers are reluctant to work with them.  From students, especially the outliers like you and me, we hear the other side:  can't find a teacher, because so few are willing. 

I conclude there is sufficient evidence to accept my observation at least provisionally. 

My personal experience with adults supports that.  A number of friends have taken lessons when their kids started; all quit soon.  Our church started guitar lessons with about two dozen people; they lasted a couple months before all had dropped.  Our adult choir has singers of various ability but all had some background; the ones who join after they retire and finally have time do not succeed.  (unfortunately they don't quit either)

I think you are reasoning from your personal success that adult beginners doing well is more common than it really is.  Adult returners are a mixed bag.  Some do well provided there is sufficient reinforcement. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #54 on: April 12, 2016, 06:31:59 PM »
One can't draw conclusions from what one reads in forums.
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think you are reasoning from your personal success .....
Absolutely not!  I have looked into this deeply since Dec. 2007, especially in the first years, and it was not just by reading forums.  I talked privately to teachers, and talked privately to students.  I am a trained teacher myself.  Above all I looked at cause and effect, because it's the practical side which I find important.  How people approach it --- how teachers approach it --- may have a great bearing on those results that we do see in forums.  I have written about these several times, and there has been no response and no thought on any of it.

I do agree that I am probably an "outlier" as well.  However, I was almost a victim of the statistics as well the first time I tried to learn to play a new instrument with a teacher.  As it is, I have restarted that instrument now after not touching it for nearly a decade, and that had nothing to do with my attitude or character as a student.  There was hardly any technique on an instrument that is technically difficult, there were probably some types of shortcuts which hampered my ability to play, and I "advanced" over a lot of levels in a single year.  When I did my grade 1 exam at 5 months, I was told that the child ahead of me had taken 2 years to get there.  By that time I was already in the middle of grade two!  Reverse this: How will would the child have done after several years if he had gone at the same breakneck speed?  I heard him through the door: he sounded solid.  What am I doing now on that instrument?  The BASICS --- and I mean as fundamental as they come.  I am relearning everything, because my skills are shot through with problems.  These are the very things that I have written about. .... Now it is true that while I am very interested in skills and technique, and other students might want to get quick results, that this might make me an outlier.  But because the teaching I received was probably on the premises we so often see in the "adult student books", I also ended up with the difficulties which now have to be solved.  And this will affect any student of any age, because all students need to get foundations, and need enough time for the body to acquire those foundations.  Why does this seem like such a trivial concept, not worth considering?  In a teacher forum, no less.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #55 on: April 12, 2016, 06:43:28 PM »
But because the teaching I received was probably on the premises we so often see in the "adult student books", I also ended up with the difficulties which now have to be solved.  And this will affect any student of any age, because all students need to get foundations, and need enough time for the body to acquire those foundations.  

I am not at all sure that this is the real problem, either with you are with the average student; at this point it is a hypothesis that I see some issues with.  Sorry, short of time today, might get back to it later. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #56 on: April 12, 2016, 06:55:08 PM »
I am not at all sure that this is the real problem, either with you are with the average student; at this point it is a hypothesis that I see some issues with.  Sorry, short of time today, might get back to it later. 
Of course it's a real problem, and not an hypothetical one, when students are rushed through things at a superficial level, and when they are not given the tools.  Any hypothesis I've come up with comes after examining case stories, so to say, which evolved, with people I corresponded with privately.  And I know my own story intimately.  At this point I am not just restarting an instrument from scratch, this time knowing what's what, AND seeing results.  I have also been working with an excellent teacher in my piano and music studies so there are several years of feedback on that account.

What about the simple idea that you need  time for the body learn new skills, and if you rush it, those skills will not be acquired?  Is this an hypothesis to be refuted?

Well, I'll wait to see what you have to say.  :)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #57 on: April 12, 2016, 08:04:55 PM »
Tim, I was going to go back and edit, and just say I'll wait to hear what you have to say.  I'm sort of passionate about this topic and tend to get carried away.  ::)

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #58 on: April 13, 2016, 03:33:50 AM »
 I have written about these several times, and there has been no response and no thought on any of it.
Just a friendly reminder...no response does not necessarily mean that there are no thoughts :)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #59 on: April 13, 2016, 12:00:01 PM »
Short of time this week, sorry, but I'll greatly oversimplify in the interests of brevity.

Here's what I think.

We both observe that adult beginners by and large don't succeed.  This is confirmed to some extent by the observations of teachers on forums, and the difficulty adult beginners have in finding a teacher at all.

You also observe that some adult beginners are badly taught - either fundamentals are skipped or the approach is just wrong or not optimal, or some other badness.  That has been the case for you personally.

Your conclusion is that adult beginners don't succeed because they are badly taught.

My conclusion is that adult beginners don't succeed because the task itself is near impossible.

Like I said, oversimplified, but I think that is the main difference between our views.   
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #60 on: April 13, 2016, 07:15:18 PM »
Just a friendly reminder...no response does not necessarily mean that there are no thoughts :)
Thank you, Outin. :)  This is very much appreciated and encouraging.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #61 on: April 13, 2016, 07:39:00 PM »
Tim, thanks for your response.  My thought later was that either you are disagreeing with what I have said and have understood it, or you are disagreeing with what you think I said and haven't understood it.  So that part comes first.  Now reading your response, I see the latter is the case.
Short of time this week, sorry, but I'll greatly oversimplify in the interests of brevity.

Here's what I think.

We both observe that adult beginners by and large don't succeed. 
No, that is not my observation.  I don't have an observation or conclusion to make, in fact.  Were I teaching music or piano, then I would be able to make observations about the students that come into my studio under my teaching.  I could also observe results of transfer students and previously taught students.  I do have that kind of information second hand through my interactions with teachers.  I have shared the conclusions a couple of times, and I think they are more useful than such generalizations.  I would love to see you take up any of the specifics in what I wrote.  You cannot "disagree" with me because you haven't done so yet.

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This is confirmed to some extent by the observations of teachers on forums  ...
There are also teachers on forums who say the opposite, and this tends to be ignored by anyone who wants to stick to the initial premise.  But I also don't base myself on things written in forums.  I go more deeply into it.  I have stated that before.

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.... and the difficulty adult beginners have in finding a teacher at all.
The difficulty in finding a teacher does not reflect how well someone might learn if he did find a teacher to work with.  In the past there were preconceptions about races and genders, and when those groups were not given the opportunity, that became "proof" of the preconception.  It is circular.

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Your conclusion is that adult beginners don't succeed because they are badly taught.

My conclusion is that adult beginners don't succeed because the task itself is near impossible.
I should make this clear:  I am trained in two professions, and one of them is teaching.  I am writing in a teacher forum.  As a music student I have a stake in that as well.  I expect anyone who is a teacher to have a professional attitude and approach things like a teacher.  A teacher does not make vague generalizations about "impossible" and write off entire groups through generalizations.  In teaching you ask "What do I need to teach?"  "How do I teach it?"  "What obstacles may there be and how do we overcome them?"  "Is there an approach that I am presently using which isn't working, and if so why - and what approach should be used instead - and why?"

You've given examples of guitar lessons and choirs.  What I would want to know about either is how was the teaching done in the guitar lessons, how was the learning done, and I would also ask specific questions about the choir.

In the Middle Ages they treated certain ailments with mercury and people got sick and died from that poisoning.  At that time period they would have told you that these ailments are "impossible" to cure because look at the statistics.  They might even have cited the symptoms of mercury poison as being symptoms of the ailment.

I'm interested in learning and teaching; in solving problems where they can be solved, and finding better ways when they can be found.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #62 on: April 13, 2016, 08:14:20 PM »
keypeg,
There is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence that adult beginners in general do not do very well.

I don't know if we can find hard data. 

I see that you do not agree with this, but surely you can see how widespread that consensus is?

I am not writing off the population of older adult beginners.  I am saying that the task is significantly more difficult for them, and only a small subset of them are going to ever play fluently. 

I used the example of guitar and choir because I have personal experience with each, but also because they are taught considerably differently in a couple of ways than piano.

This might relate to your contention that bad teaching accounts for some of the problems adults face. 

How many adults who did take piano lessons as children can still play fluently?  In my experience it's pretty small.  It's not zero, but it's low.  In my handbell choir most of the older ringers had piano lessons as children.  None of them can play Happy Birthday, with or without sheet music.  All of them can read notes, count rhythms, sing, apply basic music literacy to playing handbells.  They learned and retained something

What percentage of children who start piano lessons achieve any reasonable level of fluency?  It is not 100%.  I suspect it is lower than the profession would want to admit, and those who do take longer than on most instruments. 

I don't think that is necessarily because piano is more difficult than other instruments, though it probably is at the higher levels.  But at beginner levels, either child or adult, I suspect a large factor is that unlike all other instruments piano is not taught in "real time." 

Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #63 on: April 13, 2016, 08:45:18 PM »
Timothy, I have taken these anecdotal things from time to time, contacted the student, and explored the thing in depth with that student over weeks or months.  Anecdotes in forums are superficial and don't get to the meat of the matter.

I am interested in finding causes and solutions where they are to be had, because I am practical in this matter.  I am not discussing these things to pass my time.  I do know something about teaching, and have learned a fair bit about teaching music in the interim.  Simply saying that something is difficult is useless spending of time.

I also would not use the term "bad teaching", but rather appropriate teaching and effective teaching.  And this has to come together with effective learning strategies.  I would be interested in what you think about specific ideas I have brought forth.  Arguing whether or not something is hard, to me that is useless and doesn't go anywhere.

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ow many adults who did take piano lessons as children can still play fluently?
And how many of them were taught properly in the first place?  Go talk privately to one or two good teachers in regards to what they have encountered, and what they have to fix in returners.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #64 on: April 13, 2016, 08:46:30 PM »
This has caught my interest.
But at beginner levels, either child or adult, I suspect a large factor is that unlike all other instruments piano is not taught in "real time." 
Can you explain what you mean by being taught in "real time"?  I don't understand.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #65 on: April 14, 2016, 01:58:16 AM »
This has caught my interest.Can you explain what you mean by being taught in "real time"?  I don't understand.

This is a complex subject and I won't do it justice in a short post.

Briefly though, most other instruments play most of the time with either an internal or external pulse.  Band students are playing with an ensemble from the first day and are forced to stay connected to time.  Private students nearly always play duets with the teacher and are forced to adjust.  Amateur guitar players spend the majority of their time playing along with recordings or with an actual band.  In the past most of the jazz greats learned their craft playing along with recordings at full tempo.  This connection with time creates an organizing structure that enhances physical coordination, but also increases stress at peak intervals creating the error matrix that is the raw material for both creativity and technique improvement. 

Piano in contrast accepts "play it slow to learn it," which I don't totally disagree with, but it is not accompanied by "but in strict rhythm."  Pianists shun the metronome at a rate that makes other instrumentalists aghast.  Piano students particularly in the beginner stages (which, lets be frank, most never make it out of) never get the chance to play with another person.

Some time ago at a talent show we heard a 16 year old high school girl play Rhapsody in Blue at breakneck speed.  We'd just lost the organist/piano player for one of the services I assisted with and I asked her to play in church.  She glanced at the hymns and said no problem, I can sightread that stuff.  Hee, hee.  Well, hymns are harder than they look, but I brought her over to the church and had her practice.  She crashed and burned mostly because she couldn't adjust her time.  I ended up playing the service (simplifying all the hymns to guitar chords) despite being in my first month or two of lessons.  And was the church pianist for a couple of years after that. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #66 on: April 14, 2016, 02:41:04 AM »
That is quite interesting, Tim.  I wonder though whether that is a matter of instrument or genre.  The instrument I studied first was classical violin.  Yes, I did play together with my teacher at times, especially in the beginning but it was mostly for intonation - being in tune.  I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that he adjusted for any weakness in rhythm.  Any pulse or rhythm that I've acquired has been gotten as a piano student afterward.  I had a poor sense of pulse when I started because I had always played any instrument on my own.

By coincidence, yesterday I registered in Artistworks with a fiddle teacher.  I hoped that I could get out of some of the physical and mental stiffness and "loosen up", and that this might actually help me in classical playing.  Fiddle is very rhythmic, and it's played in group settings. But there isn't some conductor up front spoon feeding you your timing.

Are we looking at instrument or are we looking at genre for this aspect, I wonder?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #67 on: April 14, 2016, 12:05:40 PM »
Any pulse or rhythm that I've acquired has been gotten as a piano student afterward.  I had a poor sense of pulse when I started because I had always played any instrument on my own.



It is not uncommon to find pianists with a poor sense of pulse.  If you recall some threads on various forums, it is also not uncommon for them to find it impossible to play with a metronome, and be told not to worry about it! 

I don't think it is instrument or genre, but that some instruments are practiced mostly alone and others mostly with ensembles or recordings. 

Organists are the worst, in my experience.  Very few church organists would be tolerated in any of the ensembles I play regularly in, and I'm not currently playing in high level ones. 

But my point was not that current teaching produces pianists without pulse, but that pianists without pulse are less likely to acquire skill. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #68 on: April 15, 2016, 06:38:37 AM »
I wasn't sure how to reply.  For example, I don't know about the idea about instruments being practised alone or in groups.  I don't know what the story is for flute, cello, piccolo, recorder etc. though I do know about violin and viola - they were not practised in groups - they were practised at home.  In regards to practising with recordings: Suzuki, I think does that, but this is related to a methodology, not an instrument, and I don't know if it gives mastery of rhythm.  You're giving a lot of statements, but I don't know where they come from.  When you write of "current teaching" - are you up on how piano is taught, and is there, in fact, a "current teaching" (given that teachers teach how they see fit, and there must be many ways)?  Nothing hangs together.

I gave you an example of fiddle versus classical violin, and you had nothing to say about it - this one being about genre.

I'm also losing the thread about how this relates to how people learn or succeed or don't succeed.

You quoted me saying that my sense of pulse and rhythm improved through my piano lessons (I would say, through good teaching), and then posted - and I don't get that post in conjunction with that either.

You also write about forums again.  A forum does not determine what actually happens in life.

In short, I'm lost at this point.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #69 on: April 15, 2016, 11:59:27 AM »
I'm also losing the thread about how this relates to how people learn or succeed or don't succeed.

In short, I'm lost at this point.

Not totally lost, I don't think, just confused.  Perhaps I could explain better, but as I've said this is a busy week.  And remember, you tend to be a bit rigid about thread topics and in particular people responding to your posts the way you want.  That isn't going to work here, as our styles are very different, and we have a fundamental disagreement.

I think most adult beginners fail.  You don't agree.  That puts us at somewhat of an impasse.  I'm not sure you even agree learning is harder for adults. 

Our focus on music is different.  Mine is performance, with ensembles (in that order.)  I am a craftsman not an artist.  I've rarely worked on an instrument I was not actively playing in an ensemble, with the exception of piano, and there I was playing for church services.  The practice was a way to get to the purpose, not an end in itself.  Yeah, I know, at this point you don't think I'm on topic, and you get frustrated.  But it means my experiences playing in public are much different. 

I think one of the reasons adult beginners fail is that piano music tends to be disconnected from time to a degree not found in many other instruments.  This is related to the lack of ensemble opportunity but not limited to it.  You've spoke at length about teachers failing to impart basic mechanics fundamentals with adults because of preconceived notions about their goals.  But you only have one data point here (yourself) and I don't think that this is as universal as you believe.  It probably is a problem to some extent. 

I think if piano were taught more connected to time, and maybe (see I don't totally agree with you here) if fundamentals were taught more completely, then the percentage of adult beginners who succeed would be higher.  It might even double.  It might go from 5% to 10%.  (I'm being generous - -probably it would go from 2% to 4%.  Learning an instrument well IS HARD.) 
Tim

Online brogers70

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #70 on: April 15, 2016, 02:30:11 PM »
Most adult beginners fail, if the metric of success is reaching a moderately advanced level of technical proficiency and musicality. But isn't that true of most beginners, period? Most people I know who took piano lessons when they were kids gave up after a few months or years without having made all that much progress. I don't discount the possibility that there are age-related limitations in learning some skills, but I also think those limitations are often enough over-estimated.

My head hurts trying to think about how to eliminate all the potential selection biases in an observational study aimed at comparing failure rates in children and adults, and there's no National Institute of Piano Health to fund a big double blind interventional study.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #71 on: April 15, 2016, 03:21:31 PM »
Most adult beginners fail, if the metric of success is reaching a moderately advanced level of technical proficiency and musicality. But isn't that true of most beginners, period?

I think so, but that's a well kept secret, isn't it?

It's obvious though that some children succeed!  Or we wouldn't have any adult piano players.  Or teachers.  But it's not so obvious that very many adults at all succeed.  Most teachers that don't specialize in adults can't name any; most teachers that do teach adults have maybe one.  That's judging from teachers on the two big forums, which keypeg will object to as a data source.  But I like it, because I'm generally impressed with the teachers who post regularly. 

I think your success metric may be too high a bar, assuming you mean the ability to play moderately advanced repertoire fluently.  I would accept the ability to play intermediate repertoire fluently as success. 
Tim

Offline kevin69

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #72 on: April 16, 2016, 07:21:42 AM »
I'm an adult beginner, and was self-taught for two years before i found a teacher
willing to teach an adult beginner, and willing to teach in the evenings rather than
straight after school (ie at 7pm not 4-6pm, which is impractical for my work).

I've been with my teacher now for 18 months and during that time the majority of
my lessons have concentrated on playing in time accurately. This has meant playing
regularly with a metronome, working on scales with a metronome, and often playing
right handed whilst my teacher plays the left hand so that i can practice both playing
in the correct time and hearing the difference between myself playing in good time,
and my usual rather unsteady pulse. My teacher frequently pulls me up for trying to
play too fast, and not playing steadily as a result.

So i agree with much of timothy42b's diagnosis of why many adults never get to play well,
but some teachers agree with him about the importance of developing a pulse and do
make that the center of their teaching style.

My experience of other adults who have taken up a musical instrument is that none
lasted more than 6 months.

kevin

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #73 on: April 16, 2016, 10:55:09 AM »
I do find it a bit odd that some teachers can tolerate playing with incorrect pulse from adults. Mine wouldn't. I would think it's unbearable to keep listening to the student rhythmically butchering a piece for weeks or even months.

But then again my friend has taken lessons longer than me and just says "I play with my own rhythm!" and laughs. And her teacher lets her...

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #74 on: April 17, 2016, 06:49:32 AM »
And remember, you tend to be a bit rigid about thread topics and in particular people responding to your posts the way you want.  
Tim, the only thing that I would like is that when you respond to something I write, that you actually respond to what I write.  A few posts ago you wrote that you didn't agree with me, and what followed had nothing to do with what I had written.  So how can I know which part you disagree with, or whether you considered (or read) what I wrote?  When you wrote about rhythm, I thought about it and wrote those thoughts.  You gave some new ideas to think about.  

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I think most adult beginners fail.  You don't agree.  
There is no way for either of us to know how adult beginners do.  But my focus is also on how learning and teaching might be done, and if there are failures, whether there are causes which can be addressed to create different outcomes.  I don't know whether you have interest in this part.  Maybe you do.
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I'm not sure you even agree learning is harder for adults.  
I don't know whether it is harder or easier.  I suspect that either might be true.  Again, my focus is on how that learning and teaching is done.  
Quote
Our focus on music is different.  Mine is performance, with ensembles (in that order.)  I am a craftsman not an artist.  I've rarely worked on an instrument I was not actively playing in an ensemble, with the exception of piano, and there I was playing for church services.  The practice was a way to get to the purpose, not an end in itself.
Yes, I understand that you perform and enjoy performing.  In another discussion you could not relate to the idea that some people like to play music just for themselves.  But that is also a different kettle of fish.  We're discussing here about people learning, and the teaching of it.  If I came to you as a teacher, and all you could tell me is "At your age you won't learn well." and if you don't have an idea of how I should learn, or how you might teach me because of my age ---- what can I do with that?
But then, in terms of other instruments - I do not see any great sense of rhythm among classical violin students.  I do, however, think I'm seeing rhythm among adult fiddle students.  You dismissed that idea, saying that genre plays no role.  Yet the fiddle experience would seem to go with what you have been saying about rhythm being acquired by playing in groups.  Classical violin students practice alone - it's the same scenario as classical piano.  I've been in both worlds.
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 But it means my experiences playing in public are much different.  
Yes, they are.  But are we discussing playing in public?  Actually I like performing.  The trouble is that I discovered it too late in life, and I don't have the experience.  If I try to play among a group of people who know what they are doing, I'd hold them back, and appear the fool.  I couldn't get the skills because of the teaching issue.  I joined a choir to get performance experience that way and that didn't work out too well for other reasons.
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I think one of the reasons adult beginners fail is that piano music tends to be disconnected from time to a degree not found in many other instruments.  This is related to the lack of ensemble opportunity but not limited to it.  
In regards to failing, is it only piano music?  Or is there a problem across the board with other instruments?  Your idea about time still interests me and it would be interesting to see what the teachers here have to say about time.
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You've spoke at length about teachers failing to impart basic mechanics fundamentals with adults because of preconceived notions about their goals. But you only have one data point here (yourself) and I don't think that this is as universal as you believe.  
What I have highlighted frustrates me, because I have written repeatedly that my conclusions come from a number of people I have talked to, and others who have written in various public places.  I would never make a general statement based on personal experience.
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I think if piano were taught more connected to time, and maybe (see I don't totally agree with you here) if fundamentals were taught more completely, then the percentage of adult beginners who succeed would be higher.  It might even double.  It might go from 5% to 10%.  (I'm being generous - -probably it would go from 2% to 4%.  Learning an instrument well IS HARD.)  
I might agree with that. :)

A question: I believe your first instrument was brass.  Didn't somebody teach you how to play it?  There would be embouchure, breathing, picturing the pitch you need to produce - as I'm imagining it (I don't play brass).  If you did learn from someone - what if that were left out?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #75 on: April 18, 2016, 12:20:41 PM »

A question: I believe your first instrument was brass.  Didn't somebody teach you how to play it?  There would be embouchure, breathing, picturing the pitch you need to produce - as I'm imagining it (I don't play brass).  If you did learn from someone - what if that were left out?

Typically in the US band instruments are taught in a group setting.  A few students who are more interested or more talented might be encouraged to take private lessons but I wouldn't say that is the norm.  Therefore the kind of technical instruction you are picturing is less evident than you would think.  School band directors have to be generalists and know a little about every instrument, but not necessarily the fine points. 

Private lessons go into a little more detail but with many teachers the focus will be on expression, musicality, solo preparation, etc., with an avoidance of really discussing mechanics.  It is goal focused and not process focused.  I personally sought out a teacher who knows and teaches the mechanics at a detail level but that is fairly rare. 

Prior to that, the best lessons I had were simply playing next to someone really good, and trying to absorb all I could about how he/she was doing it.  Every gig is an audition, but also every gig is a lesson, if you're paying attention. 
Tim

Offline yewtree

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #76 on: April 18, 2016, 01:26:10 PM »
I think it's obvious you are an outlier, as am I.  I'm 63, I had a lesson Saturday, and I'm still making progress. 

You can go back through the last 10 years of posts on either pianoworld or pianostreet and hear the same thing from teachers consistently:  with rare exceptions, adult beginners do not succeed and most teachers are reluctant to work with them.  From students, especially the outliers like you and me, we hear the other side:  can't find a teacher, because so few are willing. 

I conclude there is sufficient evidence to accept my observation at least provisionally. 

My personal experience with adults supports that.  A number of friends have taken lessons when their kids started; all quit soon.  Our church started guitar lessons with about two dozen people; they lasted a couple months before all had dropped.  Our adult choir has singers of various ability but all had some background; the ones who join after they retire and finally have time do not succeed.  (unfortunately they don't quit either)

I think you are reasoning from your personal success that adult beginners doing well is more common than it really is.  Adult returners are a mixed bag.  Some do well provided there is sufficient reinforcement. 


As far as negative comments about adult beginners in their 60's , I can say for myself that I started from scratch, have stuck at piano lessons for 3 years and passed grade 1. and continuing to work on grade 2.  I never tire of it, even though I may be slower than someone half my age.    I think it is all to do with attitude, determination and commitment to actually practice and study.   I have the time, so I love the challenge.    I'm not at my age aiming to go all professional, I've missed the boat on that one. But it is such an enjoyable pastime if someone in their retirement can achieve such a goal as to play with proficiency.  It's not essential to take exams at my age , but hell,   Enjoy the moment and the fun, life ain't over yet!       
         

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #77 on: April 18, 2016, 03:52:31 PM »

As far as negative comments about adult beginners in their 60's , I can say for myself that I started from scratch, have stuck at piano lessons for 3 years and passed grade 1. and continuing to work on grade 2.   
         

Good.  We'll put you in the success column.  Have you met many others like you?

We're working with two different categories of success, but that's okay, no need to be rigid here.

We have the category of an adult beginner who sticks with it more than 6 - 12 months, who makes some progress even if very slow, but who is deriving some satisfaction from it; it becomes a rewarding private hobby.

We have another category of an adult beginner who develops some appreciable level of skill, not at the level of advanced repertoire but can play intermediate stuff fluently and can function in low pressure settings (Happy Birthday at a party, teach a hymn to an elementary age Sunday School class, maybe cover a simple church service but without fancy preludes, etc). 

Even level I is rare, but they exist, at least on the forum.  Level II?  I dunno, never met one in real life.  I've played as a church pianist doing dumbed down arrangements for the most part, I might be the closest I've heard of, but I'm not up to fluent intermediate.  My teacher at the time said I was the only student she had who'd got that far (she taught mostly kids though.) 
Tim

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #78 on: April 18, 2016, 04:55:32 PM »
I know a couple of late beginners (58,61) that certainly have the skills to play intermediate stuff, but none of them took exams. I think the exam requirements can be quite off putting to someone who gives no value to a piece of paper... But to have the skill to play grade 2 music decently? That shouldn't be too difficult with regular lessons for a year or two.

I sometimes wonder if trying to keep a mature adult with musical interests on slow paced boring method books for a year or more is the way to failure for most. I thought that was the way to go, but was pleasantly surprised to see that teaching piano has changed since my childhood :)

Offline mjames

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #79 on: April 18, 2016, 05:04:27 PM »
I sometimes wonder if trying to keep a mature adult with musical interests on slow paced boring method books for a year or more is the way to failure for most.

tbh if that happened to me I would have quit

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #80 on: April 18, 2016, 05:17:51 PM »
I know a couple of late beginners (58,61) that certainly have the skills to play intermediate stuff, but none of them took exams.

Exams seem kind of artificial, but I guess it might be motivational if you are a private student with no performance outlet and you need some milestones. 

To me there was no motivation like the terror of knowing that every Sunday morning at 10:30.01 I had to start the opening hymn, ready or not.  And, had to play it at a steady and singable speed - which meant a huge percentage of my practice time was with a metronome. 
Tim

Offline mjames

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #81 on: April 18, 2016, 05:21:48 PM »
best motivation for me are recitals. my club hosts several recitals per semester and I kinda like use that as a motivation to learn pieces to standard. performing is fun!

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #82 on: April 18, 2016, 05:36:01 PM »
Exams seem kind of artificial, but I guess it might be motivational if you are a private student with no performance outlet and you need some milestones. 

For me personally the pieces were always the milestones.

None of the older folks I know who want to learn to play an instrument seem to find exams motivational...rather an unwanted flashback from their school days:)

My teacher offers group lessons where students can play to each other and also recitals every term. I think most "better" private teachers around here do. Also in this age one can easily share recordings in the net. So in addition to performing to friends and family, there are many ways to increase motivation.

But studying the piano is just demanding... so to avoid quitting one must have some ways to deal with that realization when it hits. I am not sure most adults get much help with that and that may be one reason for the low success rate.

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #83 on: April 18, 2016, 05:37:39 PM »
my club hosts several recitals per semester

You have a club? What kind of a club is that?

Offline mjames

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #84 on: April 18, 2016, 05:50:42 PM »
You have a club? What kind of a club is that?

college/school club

It's literally just "Piano club"

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #85 on: April 18, 2016, 06:00:10 PM »
college/school club

It's literally just "Piano club"

Oh, forgot that you go to school...I guess you're not quite 60 yet ;)

Forgive my curiosity, but is it just run by you students together or something more official?

I guess I kind of have a club too :)
Started as a small theory study group (of 3) but we have expanded it to take turns to host a "piano evening". Just play whatever we have been learning to each other. 

Offline mjames

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #86 on: April 18, 2016, 06:14:14 PM »
Oh, forgot that you go to school...I guess you're not quite 60 yet ;)

Forgive my curiosity, but is it just run by you students together or something more official?

ya but i'm still considered an adult student xD

yeah its run by students but dont underestimate them! for example a fellow member and a good friend of mine played scriabin's 5th sonata and a ravel miroirs piece during our last recital!!! and we usually get like 30-40 people (excluding the club members) in the audience, so its not that empty lol.


Offline yewtree

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #87 on: April 18, 2016, 06:18:57 PM »
Exams seem kind of artificial, but I guess it might be motivational if you are a private student with no performance outlet and you need some milestones.  

To me there was no motivation like the terror of knowing that every Sunday morning at 10:30.01 I had to start the opening hymn, ready or not.  And, had to play it at a steady and singable speed - which meant a huge percentage of my practice time was with a metronome.  


I know what you mean Timothy about exams being kind of artificial, but I feel If I'm not challenged or push myself,  I won't learn. I do think though being in my 60's I still have the ability to pick things up quickly and have a good memory.     My fingers are still nimble , I can reach an octave with no bother etc.   
 
I realize most students here are a lot younger, so perhaps I oughtn't to be on the forum, though reading through some posts can be helpful.
How long have you been taking lessons Timothy?

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #88 on: April 18, 2016, 06:22:39 PM »
ya but i'm still considered an adult student xD

yeah its run by students but dont underestimate them! for example a fellow member and a good friend of mine played scriabin's 5th sonata and a ravel miroirs piece during our last recital!!! and we usually get like 30-40 people (excluding the club members) in the audience, so its not that empty lol.

I would never underestimate full time piano students :)
I guess the school offers the facility then? Or do you collect money from the audience?

Offline mjames

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #89 on: April 18, 2016, 06:26:20 PM »
I would never underestimate full time piano students :)
I guess the school offers the facility then? Or do you collect money from the audience?

not a music school, and there are only like 8-10 piano majors in the entire school. most of us are "hobbyists." Some just started out, some started out a few years back, and some have been playing since they were 3 (scriabin dude). we have like two people who are minoring in performance and thats it. the rest of us are actually studying something else (I'm doing physics for example).

and um, yeah. We use the school's facilities(piano, auditorium etc), and so naturally the show is free. :)

Offline outin

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #90 on: April 18, 2016, 06:36:45 PM »
not a music school, and there are only like 8-10 piano majors in the entire school. most of us are "hobbyists." Some just started out, some started out a few years back, and some have been playing since they were 3 (scriabin dude). we have like two people who are minoring in performance and thats it. the rest of us are actually studying something else (I'm doing physics for example).

and um, yeah. We use the school's facilities(piano, auditorium etc), and so naturally the show is free. :)

Sounds great! Since piano players don't really have the opportunity to play in orchestras, something like that at least gets them out of their practice rooms every now and then :)

Offline eldergeek

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #91 on: April 18, 2016, 07:40:48 PM »
Might be time I waded in with my experiences, with the caveat that a single data point is not much use for making generalisations.

I am an elderly beginner as far as the piano is concerned, although I played classical guitar on and off for about 4 decades, so I have a reasonable amount of music theory behind me (basic harmony and 2-part counterpoint, for example).

18 months or so ago (at age 61) I bought a Korg SP 170 S and managed to find an excellent teacher - a guy who is a chief examiner for one of the major exam boards, and who was prepared to teach me using materials I specifically wanted to play. Started with the Bartok-Reshovsky piano method, followed by some Mikrokosmos and then a few pieces from the Anna Magdalena Book, and now moved on to some of the earlier pieces from Schumann's Album for the Young.

I have not taken any exams (can't really see the point in my case) and after 18 months, my teacher reckons that on a good day (with a following wind, and a bit of luck) I could get through grade 3, but am currently struggling with grade 4 pieces. I seem to have hit a bit of a "wall" at this point, but am reasonably confident that it will fall eventually, as something similar happened when I first struggled with Schumann's Merry Peasant. After some weeks of seeming to get nowhere, it suddenly started to fall into place - hope the same happens with his Hunting Song which I currently find impossible.

I believe my teacher mainly teaches younger kids, but has a few "elderly gents" - I will keep an eye out for any that succeed (or fail!)

Offline jimroof

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #92 on: April 20, 2016, 05:57:35 PM »
I cannot tell you how far the average student will progress because that is a matter of TIME.  What I can telly you is this...

1. The average child student will practice 2-3 days per week for 15-20 minutes each day.  They will do enough to get to the next 2-3 little beginner pieces every 2 weeks.  After a few years they will find some other interest and move on.  I know this from my teaching of children many years ago.  I would probably TEMPER this with today's kids however and saw that they will, on average, practice LESS than what I stated. 

2. The average adult will start out with resolve because most adults who start the piano have actually thought it through and they are not doing so out of any desire other than their own.  If they never played piano as a child, they will not last a year.  They will succumb to the utter frustration of not having had their wiring altered at a young age to play the piano.  There is no substitute for the brain plasticity that is inherent in the young person's neural makeup.  It is almost impossible for an adult to ever achieve anything that you and I might consider 'easy second nature' in the act of playing piano.  I base this upon the adult students that I have had in the past.  Their expectations are usually severely insulted when 5 and 7 year old kids do, almost instinctively, what they cannot do with hours of practice.

Finally, the average student... is not longer a student of piano.  They did not love it enough to overcome the lack of will associated with youth or the lack of ability associated with adulthood.

I have had probably 60-70 piano students while I was teaching for about 4 years.  ONE of those went on to become a professional pianist - Kevin Bales, a very strong jazz player in Atlanta.  The rest went on to do what the average student does - something else.
Chopin Ballades
Chopin Scherzos 2 and 3
Mephisto Waltz 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto 3
Schumann Concerto Am
Ginastera Piano Sonata
L'isle Joyeuse
Feux d'Artifice
Prokofiev Sonata Dm

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #93 on: April 20, 2016, 08:09:51 PM »
Jimroof, I have tried quite a few times to address HOW and TOWARD WHAT an adult student is taught and learns to practice.  It is in this thread.  I do not want to ask you what your own approaches have been, because that will put you on the spot in public and that would not be fair.  But these are things that are very much on my mind.  I do not totally by the "wiring" theory - or rather, there are specific things in teaching / learning that I have looked at.

The first obstacle I see is around complete packages, complete concepts, finished pictures, abstractness of the wrong kind.  Many adults start this way on the wrong track, but teachers also seem to play a role in it.  The "complete picture / package" is the piece of music that "should sound like this" from the beginning, or even the passage that should be.  Abstractness is the ability of people as of adolescence to form abstract (complex) concepts rather than being concrete, physical, and in the moment.  I believe that learning music must begin with very concrete, real, and simple actions - a small child will do so because he has no choice, he's a small child.  It takes time for coordination to form - it just takes time.  So what happens when a teacher rushes through or bypasses these kinds of steps because he knows many adults don't see the sense of going through them --- or because he naturally talks in an abstract conceptual way because that is how you normally talk to fellow adults?  What happens if the ability to understand complicated things gets addressed, to the detriment of the simple and concrete?
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Their expectations are usually severely insulted when 5 and 7 year old kids do, almost instinctively, what they cannot do with hours of practice.
That is the first thing that I read about when I first joined forums over a decade ago.  By that time I had been taking lessons on my first lesson-instrument for several years.  And my first experience in that regard involved taking a grade 1 exam, and there was a seven year old ahead of me.  My teacher said "You must keep in mind that he took 2 years to get to what you have reached in 5 months."  So how does this figure with the "slower than the young child"?  In fact, by that time I was already doing grade 2 material.

I  advanced four times as fast as this little boy grade-wise, because I already had a lot of music in general "in me", I had self-taught other instruments, and so had my way of getting at things.  The detriment of this is that I did not slog for months on end on motions and trained reflexes belonging to the instrument, and which take time.  The whole thing unravelled later on because I did not have those kinds of foundations, because I was not taught as the child was in that respect.  I am now restarting the instrument after a decade's absence, going extremely slowly, because not only do I need to learn these simple things and "get them in my bones", but I also have to RElearn and UNdo what got established in that mad race. 

For your general idea about "average students", it probably sounds right.  There is a lot of steady time and dedication needed, and not that many are willing to go through that in the long haul.

Offline jimroof

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #94 on: April 20, 2016, 09:24:32 PM »
Jimroof, I have tried quite a few times to address HOW and TOWARD WHAT an adult student is taught and learns to practice.  It is in this thread.  I do not want to ask you what your own approaches have been, because that will put you on the spot in public and that would not be fair.  But these are things that are very much on my mind.  I do not totally by the "wiring" theory - or rather, there are specific things in teaching / learning that I have looked at.....

I think my view can probably be best summed up with this idea...

Find 100 people over 40 who can play a Chopin Ballade or Scherzo and ask for a show of hands for how many started the piano for the first time after 20...

My strong gut feeling is that you will not see any hands raised.  I may be wrong and there may be someone HERE that started as an adult who can play an advance opus in a proficient manner.  I personally have never met such a person.  I have met many who can play these pieces however and, to date, they all started young.

You may not buy the brain plasticity idea, but is there really any doubt that the young brain is forming neural pathways at a speed that exceeds that of an adult?  Or, perhaps the PROBLEM with the vast majority of adults is NOT that they cannot be wired - but that they cannot be UN-wired.  I had two students that come to mind, both adults.  Neither of them could play a note with their middle finger without some other finger also playing a key.  I kid you not.  There was nothing I could do in 3 lessons to get just ONE note to sound from these people's right hands.  Their hands were apparently neurologically 'wired' as a single unit or there was some abnormality that was turning the hand into a fist as opposed to individual fingers.

As for the first progress for an adult student... you are right.  Adults can intellectually grasp the concept of note reading and theory much more quickly than a very young mind.  The problem is the physical task of playing.  All of my adult beginners reached a plateau around the same level at which the pieces started to require hand independence and/or fairly rapid playing.  They could REACH that plateau BEFORE children, but while the child could easily progress beyond that point (at a slower pace), the adult never seemed to be able to progress much further.

This is from my personal experience as a teacher in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  It is not scientific or conclusive, but I have seen it with my own eyes.

Now, for any who read this...  out of genuinely wanting to understand this - have any of you started as an adult (call it starting the piano for the very first time at 18 or older) and ended up being able to play a major work of Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy - you know - something that would be a good piece for an entrance audition to a good music school? 

If anyone has done this, I think it would serve this thread well if you could speak up with your experience.  And, no, I have not read every post in this thread... so maybe someone already has.  Could you do so again?
Chopin Ballades
Chopin Scherzos 2 and 3
Mephisto Waltz 1
Beethoven Piano Concerto 3
Schumann Concerto Am
Ginastera Piano Sonata
L'isle Joyeuse
Feux d'Artifice
Prokofiev Sonata Dm

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #95 on: April 20, 2016, 10:55:20 PM »
Jimroof, you are giving the results, but I am asking for an exploration of approaches for results.  I am talking about teaching combined with learning - the two are inseparable.   The teacher teaches, and must choose what to teach, in what manner, for what purpose, and the student must know how to work in the lesson with what is being taught, and the teacher must know how to reach the student for that task.  That's in the studio.  Then at home for the other 6/7 days the student must work with these things meaning the student must know how to work on them, in what kind of attitude, what approach from minute to minute and day to day, toward what, truly.  This is what gives those results, and this is where I think things can be looked at.

My first background is as a trained teacher, after which I expanded my teaching approaches in all kinds of alternative ways.  When it was my turn to be a student and things went awry, I started searching and researching partly as a student to help myself, and partly as a teacher.  When we teach professionally we also get trained in approaches, and that training can be good or bad.  What is out there for teaching adults?  What I have seen "out there" in recent years for piano is the work of Piano-Ologist and Jaak Sikk.  Both of them have their own way of getting at fundamental things at such a basic level one wouldn't imagine it.  Both of them have their own way of getting at the act of putting down a single finger (the thing you just mentioned).

But how does one, in fact, put down the middle finger?  If you try to lift the others out of the way there is tension.  The ring finger and little finger are tied together right beside it, and maybe putting down the middle finger is a matter of putting down the hand.  And what about the student who was taught to "pretend you are holding a ball" - to get that middle finger down in the middle of a "ball-holding" shape is well nigh impossible.  Even if you don't teach it, chances are somebody or some stupid book has gotten to your students before you did.

You have brought out some valid points - maybe even the key ones.  They are the kinds of things that I am chasing, and having success with it, thanks also to an understanding and aware teacher.  But what do we typically see out there?  Going super fast and skimming the surface for end results because "that's what adults want" in direct contradiction to the need to learn how to play a note with your middle finger.  I am no idealist.  But at best I think there are things that are not being done that could be done, and things being done that should not be done.  Does that make sense?
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  All of my adult beginners reached a plateau around the same level at which the pieces started to require hand independence and/or fairly rapid playing.  They could REACH that plateau BEFORE children, but while the child could easily progress beyond that point (at a slower pace), the adult never seemed to be able to progress much further.
This also makes perfect sense to me, and it goes both with what I found and what I experienced.

My experience was with violin lessons, a technically difficult instrument that I had never played before.  What I know definitely now and new to some degree at the end is that the roots of the problems I had at the advanced level were due to things I did not get at the basic level.  Movements were simplified and restricted, I guess to make it easier, and that no longer worked later.  I did not learn how to approach a piece of music in stages.  One thing in particular just came up now: I had struggled with a passage for weeks back then, my fingers always "freezing up".  In returning to the instrument, I had learned of a lighter touch and worked only on having it - I barely practised since most of my time is taken up by piano (and a think called work).  That passage fell into my hands, and to my surprise it was effortless - after 10 years of not playing, and this minimal work - because the cause of heavy pressing had been changed.  What if back then I had stayed a year on "boring" preliminary material, cultivating easy relaxed movement, another year on grade 1 in a single "position", rather than covering almost 5 grades in a single year?  Then maybe the technical difficulty in the advanced work would not have occurred, because the foundation would have been there.  But teachers don't dare do that, because they will lose the students who want to zip along fast.  Those of us who want to learn properly lose out, unless we speak up and let it be known.  Anyway, this goes with your pattern.  And there is no easy solution to it.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #96 on: April 21, 2016, 02:31:25 AM »
Now, for any who read this...  out of genuinely wanting to understand this - have any of you started as an adult (call it starting the piano for the very first time at 18 or older) and ended up being able to play a major work of Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy - you know - something that would be a good piece for an entrance audition to a good music school? 


I likewise have never heard of anyone doing it.

I cannot.  I started piano in my mid 50s because the church needed somebody.  I progressed to the point where I could play simple stuff fluently.  I think I am an outlier even in that, because this seems to be rare.  I guess the point is I was able to do some small things competently, based partly on a life long connection with music, but still got stymied with some of the physical connections.

I have played trombone since junior high (US, 7th grade) with some breaks for career, etc., and am still making some progress in my 60s.  Good recent instruction has moved me past some longstanding plateaus, but remember I had a background from age 12 or so.  Also, the early rapid gains are long gone, and the progress is incremental rather than revolutionary. 
Tim

Online brogers70

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #97 on: April 21, 2016, 06:22:19 PM »

Now, for any who read this...  out of genuinely wanting to understand this - have any of you started as an adult (call it starting the piano for the very first time at 18 or older) and ended up being able to play a major work of Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy - you know - something that would be a good piece for an entrance audition to a good music school? 

If anyone has done this, I think it would serve this thread well if you could speak up with your experience.  And, no, I have not read every post in this thread... so maybe someone already has.  Could you do so again?

Sure. I started playing piano at 40. I had played classical guitar and viola as a teenager and into my 30's, but I'd never tried to play the piano. Now I'm 57. I've played the following pieces in small recitals for groups of fellow students and friends fairly fluently; the first movement of Beethoven's Pastorale sonata, the first three movements of Janacek's "On an Overgrown Path," Haydn, Piano Sonata in B minor, Bach's Prelude in Eb major from Book 1, WTC (the prelude that's actually a double fugue), Brahms' Intermezzo in C# minor Opus 117, Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 #1 in Bb minor.

I'm not likely to be ripping out any of the Chopin Ballades any time soon, but there's certainly lots of great music that's within range. I have an excellent teacher who concentrates on efficient motion and production of a good sound and who has no hesitation about taking adult students seriously. (She has another adult, a woman who started around 60, who, after 2 years is playing Kuhnau sonatinas musically and quite comfortably). I do envy kids who started before they were even conscious beings and who just instinctively know where the keys are without looking and pick repertoire up more quickly than I can, and I know that there are just some pieces that will be forever beyond me, but I love it anyway.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #98 on: April 21, 2016, 10:10:37 PM »
The question of major works did not make that much sense to me when we are simply discussing learning to play an instrument.  A lot of students who begin as children at the "right age" do not go on to major works or play at a level eventually where they could audition at a conservatory or college.  Among other things, you'd have to look at the playing goals of any group of students.  As always there is the question about how they are taught, and how their learning activity pans out (how they practice).

Offline keypeg

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Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #99 on: April 21, 2016, 10:12:33 PM »
I have an excellent teacher who concentrates on efficient motion and production of a good sound and who has no hesitation about taking adult students seriously.
These are the things that should make a great difference.  For it to work, the teacher has to know what s/he is doing, and the student has to work with the teacher.  It is that "simple".