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British Excellence in New Tansman Piano Music Release

Chandos has been attentive in promoting the orchestral works of Alexandre Tansman, who due to the vagaries of fashion has to a great extent been ignored. They now embark on the piano music and a deeply personal project for soloist Margaret Fingerhut. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Do any students ever like Microcosmos?  (Read 405 times)
virtuoso80
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« on: August 22, 2017, 03:45:31 AM »

As a teacher and musician, I love Bartok's Microcosmos. Every piece even from the beginning is a little miniature work of art. It has so much subtlety and layering to it you can talk about details forever. To teach someone about what playing piano is really about, I think it's just great.

Only problem is that I don't I've ever found a student that enjoyed it. Some, in fact, hate it with a fiery passion, and others will simply 'forget' to practice it until I give up and do something else with them. Young, old, doesn't matter, I've never gotten one student to stick to it. What has your experience been?
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eldergeek
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2017, 07:30:54 AM »

I am a student who came to the piano late in life (after retiring from full-time work) and loved learning via the  Mikrokosmos books. In fact, when hunting for a teacher, my first criteria was whether he/she was sympathetic to the idea of teaching me using The Bartok-Reshovsky manual and Mikrokosmos. Luckily I found one and am still with that teacher some years later.

I have to add that although he is a Bartok fan, he does find that almost all his younger students are either not fans, or positively dislike Mikrokosmos. Not totally sure why, but it does seem to be something that appeals more to older learners and especially older learners with an interest in music theory.

Maybe some others here can help out, but I have a feeling that the earlier pieces in the 6 books are not just aimed at elementary piano technique, but also at learning the basic ideas of music theory - such as simple counterpoint and canons.

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clouseau
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2017, 09:49:14 PM »

The reason many students aren't particularly attracted to this work is that it uses a quite different vocabulary than that which the student is accustomed to.
I believe it might be very interesting for little children who yet have no prejudices about music. However, if since they are born they have been listening to Mozart non-stop (because some parents think this will make them smart), it's hard to imagine that this music is going to make any sense at all.
Much of the music during that period (and art) was the response to the atrocities of mankind during the 1st World War. Old values were questioned, and artists tried to destroy the rotten fundaments on which that ill society was built on, and create something entirely new. Therefore, I am not sure a child can really understand this and convey the feeling of this music.
It is more suitable for late teens and adults imho, especially for the purpose of introducing them to contemporary music and practicing sight-reading.
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"What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune." - Rameau
stevensk
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 02:11:13 PM »

I hated Microcosmos when I was a teenage student. Today, many years after, I have a kind of phobia against Bartok
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hansibansi
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 09:03:31 AM »

I had to learn with Microcosmos when i was a teenager and did like it.
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huaidongxi
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2017, 10:15:01 AM »

when I started out with my former teacher, asked her if she used Mikrokosmos with her students (she promotes herself as a teacher for adult beginners and re-starters), she said rarely, but liked his stuff well enough, and humored me by picking a couple of out (book three but not difficult ones).  I got them to an o.k. level but not super polished, or quite at the stated tempi (which are often pretty rapid-fire), and said rather than keep beating short pieces to death, how about trying a couple of different selections, they're progressively sequenced after all. she lost interest in working with them, without stating why, implying that I was letting her down by not perfecting what she'd started me on.

she essentially fired me a month later. (my practice goes 70-90 min. every night, if that matters).  can only hope the next teacher, when I'm ready to renew the psychological ordeal of it, has as much interest in Bartok as I do.  pardon me for violating the protocol by posting, lacking the qualification of an 'advanced level' student or amateur.
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keypeg
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 02:29:48 PM »

... she lost interest in working with them, without stating why, implying that I was letting her down by not perfecting what she'd started me on.

she essentially fired me a month later. ......
So much for being a teacher of adult (re)beginners.

I've written before, to the advice of finding a teacher "specializing" in teaching adults, that this is where I am especially cautious, and would want to know how such a person defines "teaching adults" and sees adult learners.
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huaidongxi
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2017, 06:39:34 PM »

found this teacher to be variable in how engaged she was in the process, showing signs of burn out.  my passion for piano music is such that I try to sight read tougher material than my level ; she said teaching students material beyond them wasn't constructive, and I explained that wasn't my expectation at all, just had limited ambition for simple pieces. she'd only assign major scales one or two keys per week, when I'd demonstrated familiarity with all the fingerings and key signatures, executing the ones she'd rationed to her satisfaction.  my practice time was longer before studying with her and has gone back up after getting fired by her, so all's well.
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