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Topic: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?  (Read 3866 times)

Offline mishamalchik

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My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
on: April 26, 2017, 06:59:31 PM
Hello,
          So I hurt my arm (ouch) and now my right arm is out of commission for the next couple weeks. I've been exploring various repertoire for the left hand alone but my teacher has expressed some doubts about my being able to play the Scriabin Prelude op 9 (this happened during my first injury as well, though at that time it made more sense for him to think it was too hard as my crowning achievement at that point had been Beethoven Sonata op 49 no 2). I'm very confused by this reluctance. Am I missing something about the Prelude? The nocturne is much more challenging, but I would still put it about on par with other pieces I'm working on and have completed with my teacher.

     To contextualize this, I've played several Scriabin Preludes for two hands, including op 11 no 14. I've played Chopin Etudes opus 10 no 1, opus 25 no 7 and I was planning to move forward with opus 27 no 10, which he recommended to me! I'm a bit mystified by his reluctance on the Scriabin prelude for the left hand, as by comparison, it's pretty mild.  The voicing can be sort of tough, but it's very similar to the voicing required for opus 25 no 7 and not anywhere near as challenging technically.

Am I just being an arrogant student? I've played through the piece and while it's still in early stages, I don't foresee it taking more than 2 weeks to play from memory, and I'm generally a slow learner!

His counteroffer is the Bach-Brahms Chaccone, which I don't know that I would call easier than the prelude.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 07:41:03 PM
Hello,
          So I hurt my arm (ouch) and now my right arm is out of commission for the next couple weeks. I've been exploring various repertoire for the left hand alone but my teacher has expressed some doubts about my being able to play the Scriabin Prelude op 9 (this happened during my first injury as well, though at that time it made more sense for him to think it was too hard as my crowning achievement at that point had been Beethoven Sonata op 49 no 2). I'm very confused by this reluctance. Am I missing something about the Prelude? The nocturne is much more challenging, but I would still put it about on par with other pieces I'm working on and have completed with my teacher.

     To contextualize this, I've played several Scriabin Preludes for two hands, including op 11 no 14. I've played Chopin Etudes opus 10 no 1, opus 25 no 7 and I was planning to move forward with opus 27 no 10, which he recommended to me! I'm a bit mystified by his reluctance on the Scriabin prelude for the left hand, as by comparison, it's pretty mild.  The voicing can be sort of tough, but it's very similar to the voicing required for opus 25 no 7 and not anywhere near as challenging technically.

Am I just being an arrogant student? I've played through the piece and while it's still in early stages, I don't foresee it taking more than 2 weeks to play from memory, and I'm generally a slow learner!

His counteroffer is the Bach-Brahms Chaccone, which I don't know that I would call easier than the prelude.

I think all of us would like to help-  but it is not  clear what action you plan to take based on our opinions of which is more  difficult. If the 'vote' is for Scriabin being playable,  do you intend to go back to your teacher and suggest you do not trust his judgement or learn it anyway wihout your teacher's approval?    Generally, not a good move.

I would suggest you present the same reasoning you provided here to your teacher and see if you can have a 'trial run'  on the Scriabin.   Why don't you ask 'what technical difficulties do you see that I am missing?'   

In fact, a post of yours from February is along a similar theme 'trust your teacher' in which your position was that your teacher needs to be trusted.  In this situation,  present your case to him.   If he still does not agree, you need to let the Scriabin go (for now)

IMHO.

Offline mishamalchik

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Re: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 11:47:31 PM
As far as I know, there's some flexibility on his reluctance, and I think this week or sort of meant to be a "trial run". After all, he did give me a copy of the piece but I still feel he's pretty strongly leading me to literally any other piece for the left hand and he mentioned about 10 times in lesson how difficult and challenging this piece is.

At the end of the day I will do what he asks me to do, but what I find troubling is that I was confident that I could handle that piece when I selected it. Given that I'll be without a teacher over the summer, I sort of hoped I would be able to select repertoire for myself that I could play well, especially at this point in my studies. So now I'm second guessing what I thought I knew about my own playing. How do I make better selections for myself? I want to grow over the summer but I don't want to take on pieces that I'm going to play poorly.

 I was also wondering if there's something I missed about the piece? For example, how many people assume Bach's prelude from WTC is "easy" yet getting those 16th notes perfectly even and well voiced actually requires solid technique. It worries me that there might be technical challenges that I'm oblivious to, and I suppose this question is best answered by just asking him why.

Offline brogers70

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Re: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 11:59:00 PM
The Brahms transcription of the Chaconne is a fantastic piece for the left hand. If you're longing for Scriabin, then that's not much consolation, but the Chaconne is great.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
Reply #4 on: April 27, 2017, 01:58:20 AM
This may or not be bad advice.

If he says its too hard for you WHO CARES!!!

If you wanna learn it learn it.  That should be more motivation for you to learn it.  Prove him wrong.

I don't think a teacher should ever say ANY piece is too hard for the student. 
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline mishamalchik

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Re: My teacher thinks a piece is too hard for me?
Reply #5 on: April 27, 2017, 02:22:37 AM
I have mixed feelings on the above. On the one hand, I'm certain my teacher would have discouraged me or flat out denied me if I had asked him before working on Chopin etude opus 10 no 1. I finished the piece at a slow tempo in four weeks and brought the piece to him after I had only played piano for about 4 months. It was a game changer in our lessons. We went from working on "baby" pieces to staples of piano repertoire. He began to take me more seriously as a student because he became aware of the almost absurd amount of time I put into it. However, I approached opus 10 no 1 from a position of ignorance, not because I intentionally wanted to prove something. He told me to work on etudes over the winter break, so I did just that!  Somewhere on here is a very detailed analysis of my study of the Chopin Etude as well as a recording.

Having said all of that, I can think of many occasions where my teacher's guidance away from certain pieces has actually helped me grow. He generally does this in a very specific way, because he knows that if he presents it as a challenge than my tendency is to "Prove" something. I'm a poor Latino kid from foster care in an Ivy league college;  I always feel like I have to prove something! Most recently we discussed Chopin's Ballades and he told me in a very eloquent way that I would get the most out of the Ballades if I learned some nocturnes, etudes, and waltzes first. He was absolutely right! I can see already how these other pieces have filled in the gaps that I would have if I tried to jump right in.

Ultimately, op 10 no 1 was a game changer that I pursued largely on my own, but I pursued it in accordance with my teacher's advice, not in spite of it. I think attitude is critical and you have to temper your ambition with the good sense and experience of your teacher. This depends too on your goals. If you intend to play piece X, and that is your aspiration with piano, then by all means, skip to those pieces that interest you. But I am considering taking on a career in music after only 8 or so months of lessons. If I'm going to catch up to everyone else, I have to build skills and get the absolute most out of every piece I play. I, for the most part, trust my teacher to guide me through that.
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