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The Man Who Died on Stage at Carnegie Hall

“Barere is an Anton Rubinstein in one hand and a Liszt in the other” said the famous composer Alexander Glazunov. But if you mention Simon Barere (1896-1951) to most people today, their response is “Simon Who”? Read more >>

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Author Topic: I`ve a bone to pick with piano teachers  (Read 2189 times)
cardeno
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« on: August 17, 2017, 03:47:34 PM »

Yes I do!!!. I have never found a good one. Plenty of good ones to grab my hard earned money but I got very little in return.

As a child I had no choice and forgot what they were like but I took learning in earnest in middle age.
I found my first teacher in an little ad in my local paper. He was a retired male teacher whose hobby was wine making. First day we had a chat and he assessed me on the piano to find my grade, after 20 minutes he offered me a glass of wine filled up to the brim. He showed me his heated shed full of demijohns and fermenting buckets and he made fantastic wine with all types of fruits. So every lesson meant I couldn`t drive and had to go by bus to his. At least half the lessons (1 hour) went in drinking and talking about wine which I didn`t mind but caused me a lot of trouble at home because my ex (Thank you Lord for making her my EX) thought I was down the pub or having an affair as I came home half drunk. I even once forgot my music books in the bus because of the drinking.

To satisfy my ex I dropped him and found a lady ex school piano teacher. She treated me like if I was a kid, shouting when I made mistakes and several times slapping me in my arm. I thought that as a middle age man I should be treated a bit better and I dropped her after 8 months.

I then found a young guy who had left University short time before and was completely hopeless,  he sat next to me  while I was playing marking the school kids exercise books and when I asked him a question, as he was involved with that work, would reply "what?, what?, what are you saying?".
I got cheesed off with him because when he had to write a finger number in my books he used a biro instead of a pencil and used big numbers which smudged the notes. I had enough and I left him after 4 months.

Since then I decided NOT to learn with a teacher. I have NEVER learned anything from them, (although I enjoyed the wine) same as Beethoven learned nothing from Haydn.

WARNING TO TEACHERS: Please note that insults and threats of violence are not allowed in this forum, Thank you.
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 04:42:25 PM »

You are very lucky being unlucky. You seem to deal with crap that you don't appreciate a lot longer than necessary, I wouldn't stay with a teacher which annoyed me for 8 months!

Maybe you should write a list of requirements which you would like to see in a good teacher and hand that to prospective teachers you want to work with and see if they can satisfy your needs.

Here are some good measuring sticks I think are good to use to determine if you have a good teacher:

1) Look at the pieces you have been learning, do they all highlight something different or are they constantly repeating the same ideas? If they repeat the same ideas question whether these too easy for you. If they are and nothing is changing in your lessons, you have an inefficient study program.

2)If you take in music you would really like to learn and your teacher makes time in lesson and also increase the learning rate for you to learn it.

3) What is the method your teacher is using for you to learn your music? Are they helping you to memorize your music or merely making you do brute force repetitions, only focusing on fingering and dynamics? A good teacher will help you visualize your music, help you to memorize it, help you to understand it, they will talk in a lot of words describing pattern. If you find you are mindlessly repeating phrases and they scrutinize only a finger number, it's not enough. They shouldn't say only "Use 4th finger here", they should say"Use 4th finger because this controls this entire group of notes, or prepares you to do this or that etc" There is always a logical reasoning behind the fingering not just the numbers. This is the same for their advice adjusting technique.

4) They should focus on Technique, Memory work and Sight reading work. Too many teachers do not separate these. I don't like the idea of teaching all three with the same piece, if you find this is happening ensure that it is effective enough for you. I personally do not find for example teaching sight reading with pieces you are trying to master very effective.

5) Ensure that you teacher is stretching your ability. I do not like the idea of everything being controlled and perfect all the time. Some teachers will not let a student move on until something is done picture perfect. I like teachers who move on and let you mull over your problems yourself. Often you will solve them automatically after a period of time. So I find it a waste of time if a teacher works on a single idea over and over again until you master it, teachers should be confident to show a student path then be happy they will travel on that in their time. The student should also feel confident they can solve the problem themselves eventually.

6) Your lessons should be enjoyable, you should feel encouraged every time you are in the lesson. The teacher should excite you to do more work, the teacher should make studying piano exciting and wonderful. Any negativity, indifference, inability to deal with your failure/lack of practice etc is not fun to deal with. A good teacher knows how to discipline you giving your encouragement to work harder if you have been lazy.

7) You should feel a sense of responsibility/pride for the work your teacher sets you.  If you are not excited to show the work you have done that your teacher sets you, this is no good. If you do not respect the pieces they have agreed to set you then you are somewhat disabled to fully understanding what they are trying to teach you. What they are trying to teach you might in fact be not what you are interested in.
       I have also had students come to me who cringe at the mention of Classical music. Then I find their hatred for this music has come because of countless hours spent on early exercises all sounding like C major scales! So I really find if the student is not enjoying the music they are learning and have no respect for it but only negative thoughts, then the teacher has given them the wrong music. There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning music that might be boring for you, but certainly it shouldn't contribute to a majority of the pieces you learn!
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hardy_practice
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 10:09:08 PM »

I'm not at all surprised, most teachers are crap.  Once you've gone through about a dozen you should hit gold.
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perfect_pitch
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 12:39:16 AM »

I'm not at all surprised, most teachers are crap.  Once you've gone through about a dozen you should hit gold.

Maybe, but it makes those teachers who are really hard-working and dedicated hard to find. Hopefully however, a good teacher can make it very clear from the first lesson...

1) What they would like you to do in terms of practice
2) Explain any exercises and why they are beneficial to you
3) Ensure that in the lesson, that you've played the song in the lesson a few times and should be comfortable continuing to practice it at home by yourself.

Cardeno - some teachers are crap, and they will take your money, but some will take your money and make sure you're getting your moneys worth.

Don't give up on them all. You may have had some really bad luck, but they're not all like that.
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ted
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 03:49:51 AM »

The two teachers I had when I was young were so good (for me, I haven't a clue how they operated with other pupils) that the odd ones I have had in succeeding years pall by comparison. The distinction  amounted to an overwhelming, almost tangible love of music and a desire to communicate the joy of it, especially its creative aspect, to pupils, regardless of their personal preferences and measurable abilities. I suppose they must have taught me all the usual things, technique and so on, but that isn't what I remember, looking back now at seventy. I just remember their unquenchable drive and enthusiasm with a pupil who must have been, at times, intolerably different and difficult. It wasn't just a job for them, perhaps that is a succinct way of putting it.
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cardeno
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 08:42:39 AM »

 author=lostinidlewonder link=topic=64120.msg680564#msg680564 date=1502988145]
You are very lucky being unlucky. You seem to deal with crap that you don't appreciate a lot longer than necessary, I wouldn't stay with a teacher which annoyed me for 8 months!

I must thank you "lostinidlewonder" for the bother and time you took to write this comprehensive essay which I find extremely useful and practical. I have printed it and I have it in front of me while I practice following some instructions you give like there is a purpose for a particular fingering to get ready for what it comes afterwards. I never thought or was taught that was so, so I`ve been altering the original fingering with no regard to that reasoning making things more difficult for myself!!!!.

At the moment I don`t have any intention of getting a teacher as I`m satisfy with my progress and there is no guarantee the teacher will be good. If I had a list of teachers with a grade next to them saying, "very good, good, bad, very bad" then I`ll go for it.

I`m now practicing "Remembrance" and "Spring Song" from the Album for the Young and as you say I don`t practice  them to perfection either. I do a bit at a time with several pieces every day for about 2-3 hours.

Thank you again to you and the other members who answered my post.
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virtuoso80
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 12:53:57 AM »

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. Just to comment, I have never once slapped any part of a student's body. It also amazes me how teachers think it's okay to do other things during the lesson, or waste the time. That is something I've experienced from some myself - I once had a teacher who talked forever and wasted so much time. I'm very conscious of this, and although with young students I'll sometimes go off on educational anecdotes, I'm always conscious, 'okay we have to get back to work now'.

I've worked with a ton of adult students. I'm very honest with them. I can show up at show them good technique and correct mistakes and talk about the pieces and teach theory, but the biggest enemy is time. Adults have jobs, kids, lives, and it takes true dedication to make the time necessary to practice. And if there's no practicing, you're wasting your money on me.

Going through a higher-end college system, I never had teachers who didn't know their stuff, but I did have some who brought me to near nervous breakdown. When I went back to college, initially it was similar - my confidence was destroyed and I was made to feel like I couldn't play a single note right. Then, I finally got someone good, and working with him my playing went to the next level.

What did he do? Well, he was surprisingly laid back. He would NEVER tell me an interpretation was 'wrong'. He would listen, and simply comment about what he found convincing, and what he didn't. For technique, I came in asking about fingering, and he showed me the real thing to think about was the movement of my arm, and how something I found undoable was actually possible with several different fingerings if my arm movement was right. He would say things like, "It's hard because you think it's hard," which sounds cheesy, but he was right - I was going into difficult passages tense, and thinking 'wow I really have to try here' when in fact I just had to loosen up more.

Not only was I able to play things I couldn't before, but if I had continued to use my old technique, I would have destroyed my hands years ago. The minimal-effort approach that he taught allows you to keep playing well into older age. In fact his teacher was around 80 years old, and still able to play just about anything. I often let my students listen to Art Tatum playing, imagining what his hands might be doing, and then show them video of what he actually does - almost nothing.

So, that's what a good teacher can bring to the table. I'm sorry you've had the experiences you've had.
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vaniii
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 07:48:11 AM »

I am so sorry.

I wholeheartedly believe that some people should not teach for mainly three reasons:

1) They do not like music and simple do it to avoid stacking shelves in a supermarket. They have no other skill -- usually they are quite bad musicians.

2) They lack the proper training to impart knowledge; or more worryingly they lack the knowledge to impart.

3) They hate you. Strange as it sounds, some teachers actually enjoy making you feel inferior to them. I pride myself on teaching by empowering my students. Then again I have nothing to prove; I give recitals and have been learning my instrument all my life. A teacher who lacks confidence needs to belittle and condescend.

I am sorry you have had to go through this. It will get easier for you once you find the right teacher.
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cardeno
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 02:24:47 PM »

,


For technique, I came in asking about fingering, and he showed me the real thing to think about was the movement of my arm, and how something I found undoable was actually possible with several different fingerings if my arm movement was right.  my old technique, I would have destroyed my hands years ago. The minimal-effort approach that he taught allows you to keep playing well into older age. .

Thank you for your posting" virtuoso".
I think your teacher might have used the teachings of Tobias Matthay in his book "The visible and invisible in piano technique". I have a copy myself and he talks a lot about physiological details, forearm rotation and weight, upper arm forward-dig the poised and the relative arm, the rotative forearm, etc. which eases out the effort needed to play .

It is an excellent book for advanced students.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 02:35:08 PM »

It is possible to simply be unlucky.  And we'll have to observe that finding a good fit in a teacher for adults is not easy.

The other side of it is that if luck continues to be consistent, it becomes less likely it is luck.

The common factor is you, and you need to take a candid look at what you are bringing to the interaction. 
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Tim
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 03:31:47 PM »

Thank you for your posting" virtuoso".
I think your teacher might have used the teachings of Tobias Matthay in his book "The visible and invisible in piano technique". I have a copy myself and he talks a lot about physiological details, forearm rotation and weight, upper arm forward-dig the poised and the relative arm, the rotative forearm, etc. which eases out the effort needed to play .

It is an excellent book for advanced students.
I had a worn hard copy of Matthay mailed to me from Europe by a colleague who had originally gotten a music degree.  If you are looking at the physical details alone, then you are missing a very important point.  He talks of how these things are internal - a musician may look perfect in his movement and yet play ineffectively, or look clumsy and yet plays with control and musicality (in the sound) because there is something well balanced happening inside, where the eye cannot see.
I have not been able to use the book directly, so it sits on my shelf in grateful memento of the kind gesture of sending it to me.
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keypeg
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 06:00:15 PM »

The common factor is you, and you need to take a candid look at what you are bringing to the interaction. 
I would say that what Cardeno is probably bringing to the interaction is:
- not knowing how to define criteria for finding the right teacher, and how to set about finding this mythical beast
- not knowing how to define what needs to be learned, what the goals are (which in theory should be the teacher's job, but in the adult learner - previously taught learner especially) cannot be taken for granted.
- the fact of being a previously (mis)taught adult, and the results and resulting interactions thereof.

In other words, Cardeno is probably not doing anything wrong, or "causing" these things to happen.

Still too many teachers, when confronted with an adult learner, will assume that student is not serious, wants to have fun, etc., and "teach" accordingly.  At the same time, serious good teachers may not want to teach adults because of that same reputation - so what are you left with locally?

If you come in having been self-taught, or previously taught, but poorly, then the teacher will assume that you have underlying skills and knowledge that you don't have.  You may be seen as "playing grade 5 pieces" and so you are started "at grade 5".  If there are missing skills or knowledge, or these were mistaught (wrong) that's a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, if you have not been taught properly, you won't know what proper teaching is, so you cannot define your goals, or know what to look for.  You absolutely need to get a handle on this part; what kinds of skills you are probably missing, stating to a prospective teacher that this is what you are after, listening carefully to how they present what they do etc.

A good teacher is a treasure, and like treasures, hard to find.  Some of us got lucky.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 07:20:10 PM »



In other words, Cardeno is probably not doing anything wrong, or "causing" these things to happen.

.

There may be an interaction with his assertiveness, or his perceptions, or his communication, or something else.

Teacher 1 was abusing alcohol so he did too.  He stayed months until someone intervened.  I find it difficult to believe you can learn anything in a lesson while drunk.  (Of course if you intend to perform drunk you need to practice drunk.  But that wasn't the case here.)

Teacher 2 was abusive.  He stayed 8 months.  Most of would have left after one lesson, or assertively set some limits on behavior.

Teacher 3 was clueless and unable to teach.  He stayed 4 months. 

He may not have had a part in finding 3 consecutive poor teachers but he had a part in staying. 
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Tim
cardeno
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 09:45:36 PM »


I have not been able to use the book directly, so it sits on my shelf in grateful memento of the kind gesture of sending it to me.

I read quite a bit of it and it is ok to learn the theory of the movements but very difficult to put them into practice
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cardeno
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 09:52:46 PM »



If you come in having been self-taught, or previously taught, but poorly, then the teacher will assume that you have underlying skills and knowledge that you don't have.  You may be seen as "playing grade 5 pieces" and so you are started "at grade 5".  If there are missing skills or knowledge, or these were mistaught (wrong) that's a recipe for disaster.


you are right, that`s what happened.
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cardeno
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2017, 09:59:57 PM »

There may be an interaction with his assertiveness, or his perceptions, or his communication, or something else.

Teacher 1 was abusing alcohol so he did too.  He stayed months until someone intervened.  I find it difficult to believe you can learn anything in a lesson while drunk.  (Of course if you intend to perform drunk you need to practice drunk.  But that wasn't the case here.)

Teacher 2 was abusive.  He stayed 8 months.  Most of would have left after one lesson, or assertively set some limits on behavior.

Teacher 3 was clueless and unable to teach.  He stayed 4 months. 

He may not have had a part in finding 3 consecutive poor teachers but he had a part in staying. 

I agree, but I wasn`t drunk during my lessons, I had a glass of wine at the beginning then most of the lesson and then 2 or 3 more glasses, but you have to understand it was free, very difficult to refuse. As far as staying for so long with them was because I thought that`s how teachers behaved and I left when I realized I was wasting my money and I could learn by myself better than with the teacher.
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keypeg
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2017, 10:07:25 PM »

Timothy, I see what you are saying, but you are also describing a variation of my own experiences.  One difference is: replace the word "months" with "years" in some cases.  There is a relationship between what I wrote and what you are pointing out.  You yourself perform and play in groups - this already changes how you relate to teachers.  You also conduct your handbell group and your choir - this is also a factor.    Those of us who begin lessons as adults:
We come in not knowing what to expect.  If things go wrong, we think it is our own fault.  If things feel wrong, we are perplexed.    There is also the role of teachers and students: we are inculcated with an almost mystical respect for teachers.  Added to this, "the musician" is a mystical, superior creature (which is why the roles you play in music yourself are important - you will not look at a music teacher this way, and you're more likely to look with a critical eye).  Since it's all mystical, we also figure that "some day in the future" it will get better.
The SOLUTION to this to a great part involves what I wrote: understanding what is involved, what to expect, what you need to learn.  This also demystifies the musician-teacher.  It gets you out of the fog.  I found this knowledge to be empowering.  What was even more empowering was to manage to get a good teacher.  But it took me several false starts to get there.  You would be surprised at some of the idiotic things that I stuck with, even though my instinct was screaming "this feels wrong" (at which point you feel like a "bad student" and "disrespectful" until you know better).
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keypeg
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2017, 10:15:04 PM »

What I'm saying is that when you have knowledge, it also dispells doubt and confusion, and when you have certainty this in itself creates a more assertive position.
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virtuoso80
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2017, 03:35:01 AM »

Thank you for your posting" virtuoso".
I think your teacher might have used the teachings of Tobias Matthay in his book "The visible and invisible in piano technique". I have a copy myself and he talks a lot about physiological details, forearm rotation and weight, upper arm forward-dig the poised and the relative arm, the rotative forearm, etc. which eases out the effort needed to play .

It is an excellent book for advanced students.

I don't know about that, but he was a big advocate of Alexander technique, which is not directly about piano but about posture and body awareness. Not only do I play looser generally, but my right shoulder has a tendency to get tight, for example, and instead of going 'wow I suck today and I don't know why', I know exactly why, and it has nothing to do with hands or fingers, but the muscles way up the chain they connect to. This is why I consistently play better after a visit to the gym.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2017, 12:07:23 PM »

Those of us who begin lessons as adults:
We come in not knowing what to expect.  If things go wrong, we think it is our own fault.

Very insightful. 

I grew up with two musician parents, and there's probably never been a time in my 60+ years that daily practice of something was not an expectation.  You've added some understanding here, thanks.
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Tim
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« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2017, 05:36:27 PM »

Very insightful. 

I grew up with two musician parents, and there's probably never been a time in my 60+ years that daily practice of something was not an expectation.  You've added some understanding here, thanks.
You also gave food for thought. Smiley  To some degree it is also chicken and egg.  My story is different from the OP and maybe not as extreme.  What is the same is puzzlement, doubt, and there was a huge sense of guilt for having any kind of doubt.  At present I find it weird, but it was there.  At times also a teacher welcomes being told what you would like to do, and has been holding back due to his experience with students - if you have an idea of "respect" which is based on the wrong thing, the whole thing can go haywire.
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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2017, 07:35:37 PM »

You didn't state your level at the moment. You should practice what you know best and go audition at a school of music or a college or university. Those choices have the best chance of having a good teacher. But keep in mind, you need to stick to the method they teach in order to have the best results. Good luck at your endeavors!
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« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2017, 07:53:43 PM »

As you are a Chopin lover you`ll be able to judge my level by what I play, quite a few Mazurkas, and a few of my favourite Nocturnes. But if you heard me playing them you`ll never listen to Chopin again............I`m, trying Doppio movimento of Op 48 N 1, one of my favourite of Chopin due to the expression of anguish one can draw from it but it is a demon to play.

Forget about colleges and Universities I only play for myself, have no interest at all in playing for others.....
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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2017, 05:09:19 AM »

Forget about colleges and Universities I only play for myself, have no interest at all in playing for others.....
That rehetoric dooms many to poor playing.

You are always playing for someone else, even if that someone is yourself.

The moment you touch an instrument, the sound is externalised from your mind's eye ear , meaning that YOU are not the recipient, but, anyone who is listening is.

If you change this thought process your Chopin will sound better in an instant if only because you actually hear yourself playing.
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« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2017, 10:01:29 AM »

Forget about colleges and Universities I only play for myself, have no interest at all in playing for others.....
I think colleges and universities are a big waste of money if you are not wanting to take music as a profession. Personally I didn't learn much from them myself and a great deal more elsewhere but they were happy to take much money. Music should be shared and played for others though too, it is first and foremost for ourselves yes since we are with it alone most of the times but do share music with others too, promote the art, keep it alive.
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« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2017, 11:50:11 AM »

That rehetoric dooms many to poor playing.

You are always playing for someone else, even if that someone is yourself.

I agree with you and "lostinidlewonder" how the standards are raised by playing for others, but most people I know they are not interested in the music I play. I`ll illustrate:

3 years ago I dated a middle age lady and the first time she came to my house and saw the piano asked the obvious question, "do you play?". I told her it was my hobby and she enthusiastically asked me to play something. I expected that and I had prepared some romantic pieces beforehand, Liszt`s famous "reverie of love", the easy version by Arthur Kingsley I think,  and Mendelsson`s "Spring Song" to get her in the mood...........

When I got to "Con passione" of the reverie, the part with the treble octaves, she stopped me by putting her hands on mine, saying: "I don`t mean playing that fuddy duddy stuff, I mean proper playing like Chass and Dave, or Mick Jagger." No need to say the relationship didn`t last long, besides she was a bingo maniac and made me pay for the cards. I don`t know where you find those people who listen to proper music, I suppose you move in professional music circles, I don`t.
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« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2017, 12:56:36 PM »

I disagree with the college/university advice for a different reason.  The regular music students who study at university already have a thorough grounding in music through their first studies.  It's like the English professor, who should take for granted that his students know how to read words and how to form their letters so that he can teach the interpretation of literature.  In fact, giving students foundational skills is a specialized teaching ability.  It means being able to break down those skills to know their nature in order to impart them, and how to build skills that are not yet there.  When the student has been in part improperly taught, with random elements missing, and maybe some mislearned etc., then you're looking at a kind of remediation / re-teaching, (re)building.  That is not in general what university / college professors do or know how to do.

The same person asked about levels and there was an answer about which pieces were being played.  This is also a false indicator.  For example, I was playing sonatinas when I was 9 years old and self-taught and they also sounded plausible, if amateurish.  I had been given a relative's books which happened to be at that grade level.  I also did not know note names, and I stayed that way for over 30 years.  I was missing very fundamental things despite other things I could do.  Those things on the bottom that were missing tended to trip me up in more advanced music, and they also slowed me down for new simpler music.  When I got a piano again after decades, I also knew these things finally.  I am working with a teacher who addresses missing foundations while also working with my strengths.  The music we work on is on various "levels".  Fixing up these things is tricky business and takes a special teacher who is not that easily found.  A lot of it is also your own work, with your own observations - a kind of back and forth with your teacher, just because a mixed background is that complicated.
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« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2017, 12:57:48 PM »

I expected that and I had prepared some romantic pieces beforehand, Liszt`s famous "reverie of love", the easy version by Arthur Kingsley I think,  and Mendelsson`s "Spring Song" to get her in the mood...........

Veering wildly down the rabbit hole,

She was middle aged?  Is that close to your age?  

Anyway, your strategy was misguided.  What you played was totally focused on you.  Ignoring a date is not the way to their heart or body or whatever you had in mind.  They want you paying attention to the most important person in the room, and that's not you.  What you should have done is rattled off something very short, and very impressive - 16 bars of Alla Turco, or Nachtmusik, or maybe Rimsky-Korsakov's greatest hit (Flight of Bumblebee), even Heart and Soul would work,  then invited her to sit on the bench with you, and quietly play some soft chord progressions in the background while you talk about her.  

Er, if you use a piano stool instead of a bench, well, might want to rethink this one.
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« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2017, 12:59:42 PM »

Music should be shared and played for others though too,

This is one of my less than common points of total agreement with LIW. 
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« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2017, 01:24:33 PM »

(quoting) Music should be shared and played for others though too,
This is one of my less than common points of total agreement with LIW. 
It "should" be?  So where does that leave the person who loves playing music, learning music and things of music, exploring music, for him/herself, and who has no inclination to include others?  What if that person dislikes the sharing activity?  If he "should" share then there are these options:
- Continue doing what he enjoys, but the activity is now accompanied by a feeling of guilt, because he's not doing what he "should"; or a feeling that there is something wrong with him for not wanting to do this "should"
- Start sharing his music, even though he hates sharing music, in order to do what he "should".  Others may now be satisfied that he is doing as he ought.  But his enjoyment is gone.  Much of the time that he sits at the piano, he will have the prospect ahead of him that he is preparing for the next obligatory engagement.  How much of the enjoyment will vanish due to this?
- Or --- given that playing piano is accompanied by the obligation that one "should" play in front of others --- quit piano.  Then there is no "should" left.

Why on earth "should" one?  Some people like to go a pretty spot to watch the sunrise and start their day that way, and they feel like doing this totally alone.  Who are we to say that they ought to bring somebody along?  Music can be a private activity - in fact, practising is very private - it can be public, and it can be both.  There is no "should" here.  I disagree!

There is a difference if you want to make sure a student has the opportunity and experience of playing for others, so that they can make a CHOICE by having had that experience.  That is not the same thing as a "should", however.  I know people who did perform publicly and decided that it's not their cup of tea.
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« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2017, 01:30:20 PM »

Music is expression.

If not for someone else, for whom?

Expressing for oneself is like a child having a self indulgent tantrum; lots of sound, lots of emotion; little meaning, and for nothing but an ego.

We are digressing.
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« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2017, 03:03:55 PM »

Expressing for oneself is like a child having a self indulgent tantrum; lots of sound, lots of emotion; little meaning, and for nothing but an ego
Let's make sure of what we're talking about.  I had to take a walk after reading this, to think.  The impression is very unlike you, and what came across was hurtful.  I'm sure we're talking about different things.

I think you are thinking of emoting.  That can also be done by a self-indulgent student taking lessons (or a student with a "teacher" who says to "feel" everything and gives no real guidance).  Now let's define what it means to work on music privately, and play it privately (that is what I was talking about in the post you responded to).  This can involve serious and careful study and practice, with an effort to play as well as possible, to understand the works very well and so on.  I will say that studying with a teacher can also be a private affair.  When I play in front of my teacher, we are both working on my goal (also his goal) of improving and learning - I am not performing for him.

There was a time years ago when I lived in isolation and had not chance even for a teacher.  I developed and explored music as much as I could on my own, and was serious about it.  I also enjoyed the process, including playing that music, discovering things in the music, and enjoying this.  When I read what you wrote, it seemed that you were dismissing years of pretty serious work, calling it "temper tantrum".

Am I right that what you are talking about is emoting --- not doing music by oneself?  It may be that you think the only thing that will motivate a person to play well and truly work on music, is if they know they will be heard by others (maybe judged).  That is not the only way to be motivated.  It is not the case with me.

Tantrums, btw, are ways that a helpless dependent being (or one who feels himself helpless and dependent) tries to force a person who has control to do what he/she wants.  Tantrums can also happen when a person, especially a child, is overwhelmed with negative feelings, frustrations, without having the means to deal with them.  It was especially disturbing to see doing music privately equated with such a thing.  I am sure you didn't mean it as it came across.
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« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2017, 03:27:42 PM »

Music is expression.

If not for someone else, for whom?
Is expression a matter of "for"?  Yes, music is expression.  It is expression "of".  For me music has always contained something which the composer put into it, like a present that you get to open and then start exploring what it's about.  I'm going back to being a child with no teacher, and those sonatinas being handed to me.  There was an emotional language put in by the composer; there were also phrases telling a story; there was a structure (sonata allegro form, as I learned later; rondo in there etc.) which was delightful and induced creativity.   My discoveries were limited by what I could find on my own, but they were already plenty.  I spent hours with this. I'm sure my "self" was also in what I played.  Was it "absent of expression" since I was along with the piano and the score?

Back then there was nobody else.  They had become farmers so you live isolated.  Once when I played an adult came in, turned on the television, and left - I turned off the TV.  Another time, however, American cottage owners heard me and offered to my parents that they would pay room, board, and tuition for a good conservatory to which they had connections.  My parents deemed it "not necessary".  I found this out some 40 - 50 years later.  There it seems I was actually heard.

Expression - to me --- is expression OF - not "for".  What do you think of that possibility?
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2017, 04:52:10 PM »


Expression - to me --- is expression OF - not "for".  What do you think of that possibility?

You are trying to pull meaning out of the music - the composer's intent maybe, or maybe just what you find in it.

There are techniques you use to do this.  You don't just play the notes, you play with some intention, and you add (or obey, depending on how it's written) expression in the form of dynamics, timing, rubato, voicing, etc. 

Isn't it implicit that the metric for whether you're doing it is whether a listener could hear it?  Even if there is no listener, and never will be, isn't an undetectable crescendo less than satisfactory? 
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2017, 05:29:15 PM »

You are trying to pull meaning out of the music - the composer's intent maybe, or maybe just what you find in it.

There are techniques you use to do this.  You don't just play the notes, you play with some intention, and you add (or obey, depending on how it's written) expression in the form of dynamics, timing, rubato, voicing, etc.  
I'm not sure why you are telling me this.  I mean, we aren't exactly strangers in the forum.  It is as if I   were a novice to music. (?)  The point had to do with expression --- the idea, as I understood it, that playing expressively is only possible of you are performing for somebody.  You are now talking about how expression (of the music -- I stressed the "of") is done.  This has nothing to do with whether it is being played for somebody else, or will be played in front of someone else.  I mean, I agree with you. That is what I do in my studies and my practice. But I don't get the point you are making if this is addressed to me.
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2017, 05:34:38 PM »

Even if there is no listener, and never will be, isn't an undetectable crescendo less than satisfactory?  
But what does that have to do with whether a person decides they do not want to play in front of others.   Wink

This actually brings us full circle to the OP.  You can come to lessons with a teacher who assumes you don't need or want to learn the technical parts, or you "already have them" because you were taught before or taught yourself before.  You get given more advanced material.  You may be told to "make it expressive like this - listen as I play it for you" but you do not know how to create that expression because you are missing the technique, the understanding, both, or you are blocked physically through some clumsy ways of using your body.  This brings us right back to square one - the issue of proper teaching, finding that teaching, and the rest.

But this has nothing to do with whether the person ever plays for anyone else, or wants to.
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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2017, 05:39:18 PM »

I'm not sure why you are telling me this.  I mean, we aren't exactly strangers in the forum.  It is as if I   were a novice to music. (?)  The point had to do with expression --- that playing expressively is only possible of you are performing for somebody. 

Yes, I'm talking past you, sorry.

I don't mean that playing expressively is only possible when playing for somebody else.

But the measurement of expressiveness includes a listener, even if there is unlikely to be one.  It seems to me that this is inherent in the definition. 

The technique required to do that is developable with or without an audience.  Well, other than a teacher, I guess. 
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2017, 05:49:45 PM »

I do not really want to share my music for the same reason I do not want company when I go out to the woods to experience nature. I enjoy and need a lot of solitude and piano music is something I can do without others. If I wanted to share I would probably play something else or sing in a choir (horror!).

But I am very glad that others feel differently and will share their music with me Smiley

I also do not feel any need to "express" with music, I just want to play well. Why? That's a good question....my nature I guess Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2017, 06:15:33 PM »

I think I've mentioned it before to you outin - an experience that isn't shared is a non-experience (i.e. experience is a social phenomenon) 
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« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2017, 06:37:51 PM »

I think I've mentioned it before to you outin - an experience that isn't shared is a non-experience (i.e. experience is a social phenomenon) 

That's what I call BS philosophy;)

Definition of experience
5:  the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality
(Merriam-Webster)

We can perceive perfectly well without sharing with others...But how we perceive relies on our past circumstances, social ones included.
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« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2017, 07:47:09 PM »

I think I've mentioned it before to you outin - an experience that isn't shared is a non-experience (i.e. experience is a social phenomenon) 

Guess you've never had a toothache. 
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« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2017, 09:36:59 AM »



She was middle aged?  Is that close to your age?  

  maybe Rimsky-Korsakov's greatest hit (Flight of Bumblebee), even Heart and Soul would work,  then invited her to sit on the bench with you, and quietly play some soft chord progressions in the background while you talk about her.  

Er, if you use a piano stool instead of a bench, well, might want to rethink this one.

Yes Timothy42 (42, for 42 tears old???, so young!!), no wonder you can give lessons in romance, I have to go to care homes to get my girls.....if they can walk.....). Yes I consider myself middle age take of leave, 10?...15?... years........

Had I used the "Flight of the Bumblebee" she might have buzzed off and I wouldn`t have got any honey................
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« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2017, 12:20:39 PM »

Yes Timothy42 (42, for 42 tears old???, so young!!),

I've been on this forum since 2004, with the same login, so it would seem logical it is not my age, which is a good 50% greater than that. 

In fact it comes from an instrument model.  A Bach 42B is the type trombone I play most often, though of course I have others depending on what music I'm playing.

keypeg made some good points about people who do NOT want to play for a listener.  However in your case you WERE playing for a lis----, er, no, you had a listener but you played for yourself and drove her away.  You could learn to adjust on the fly in cases like that. 
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« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2017, 12:43:24 PM »

This is one of my less than common points of total agreement with LIW.  
I guess I'll take that as a good thing, though you probably do already know that I never post hoping that people agree with me, I just express my opinion on piano issues which is after all my profession and also a great interest of mine Tongue Playing piano completely for yourself to me is like painting a beautiful picture or writing some lovely poetry only to burn it on the fire so no one ever sees it.

Some think they do not play well and are too embarrassed to play for others, that is pretty sad. I remember one students of mine who I found out took years to gain enough courage to even start lessons with a teacher because they were mortified by their ability! It is often a deep rooted issue, bad experiences in the past that hurts them and pushes them into isolation. Sadly however in isolation these people become their worst critics and are so harsh on themselves, their own voice in their heads beat them down to a pulp, they are thousands of times more severe on themselves than what any other normal person would feel when listening to them play. Building confidence in them is a tough road.
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« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2017, 05:07:41 PM »

Playing piano completely for yourself to me is like painting a beautiful picture or writing some lovely poetry only to burn it on the fire so no one ever sees it.

That's a little harsh.  I think playing for others is an enhancement but we have to consider the instrument.

Playing guitar or saxophone as a solitary activity is so rare as to be virtually unknown.

Piano is different.  It is the single most solitary instrument, and one of the few that encourage years of lessons and practice without needing to intend any practical application. 

Opportunities for ensemble work or public performance are more limited, especially in the beginner and intermediate levels.  I would think 99% of piano students will never join a group or perform, other than a recital, and I'm not sure that even counts. 

So if we say that solitary piano is not a worthy endeavor, then neither is piano teaching, and I suspect you don't want to go there! 
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« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2017, 06:13:39 PM »

Not playing with others leaves plenty underdeveloped.  I tell my students it's like getting 1-to1 coaching in football.  Would you leave it there and just practice in your back yard?
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« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2017, 06:49:42 PM »

Not playing with others leaves plenty underdeveloped. 

Not sure about that but I enjoy the interaction.

Back in the 70s I was in college.  (ND, class of 75) We had band rehearsal in a large room, but no access to the small soundproof practice rooms common today.

So in the evening the building was unlocked, and whoever wanted to practice would just sit facing the walls and attempt to ignore everybody else doing the same thing. 

I started buying my own books of duets, quartets, quintets, and talking the others into playing.  That was more fun than scales or band parts. 
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« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2017, 07:04:59 PM »

Hey, I think I would have been class of '75 had I not dropped out!  I take it no keyboards joined in your practice?
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« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2017, 09:00:09 PM »

@Keypeg, I simply love you and you analytical brain.

My words were in no way meant to be hurtful; but a generalist statement, question, allowing for inclusivity. When addressing someone specifically I will quote them or use '@'.

I try to remain as objective and broad reaching as I can do as not to exclude anyone.

Also, please remember many peruse these forums retroactively, to help them we must post in away that will impart knowledge to them years after the fact.
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« Reply #49 on: August 24, 2017, 09:10:51 PM »

I guess I'll take that as a good thing, though you probably do already know that I never post hoping that people agree with me, I just express my opinion on piano issues which is after all my profession and also a great interest of mine Tongue Playing piano completely for yourself to me is like painting a beautiful picture or writing some lovely poetry only to burn it on the fire so no one ever sees it.


Sometimes the act of creating is fulfilling and everyone should be allowed to enjoy their work anyway they want to. It is human to want to share and connect with others, but some of us are born less human;)
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