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Topic: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you  (Read 3244 times)

Offline d_b_christopher

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Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
on: January 03, 2018, 11:31:47 AM
Hello, Chaps and Chap-ettes,

Happy new year!

I want to share some advice with the newcomers who will be starting their journey into music making this new year.  I wrote an article outlining what I have learned over my time teaching.

I hope you, the newbies, find it useful, good luck

... and please for all that is musical, count your rests measures!

Click the link, would appreciate if you could share it with anyone who might find it useful.

https://dacapoacademy.co.uk/articles/hello/
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 03:28:39 AM
What I thought very apt is that "listen to your teacher" was followed by "listen to yourself".  Ironically the subsequent one, "It's not a race" can go back to the other two, because there are teachers out there who think that they should rush through things shallowly with older students and some of those older students become uneasy but don't dare say anything (or listen to themselves)  - yes, it can and does happen.  Not everyone teaches well.

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 09:25:35 AM
What I thought very apt is that "listen to your teacher" was followed by "listen to yourself".  Ironically the subsequent one, "It's not a race" can go back to the other two, because there are teachers out there who think that they should rush through things shallowly with older students and some of those older students become uneasy but don't dare say anything (or listen to themselves)  - yes, it can and does happen.  Not everyone teaches well.

Thank you for taking the time to read it. I am glad you can see where I am coming from.  One of hardest parts is listening.
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Offline tinyhands

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 02:58:14 PM
I read your post and smiled as it is so very true, a lot was how I felt when I returned as a near 40 year old after a 20 odd year break. As an adult successful in life and career it was quite frustrating for me to go back to basics. ( I had played for years as a child so returned at an intermediate level but not amazing by any standards) For the first year back at lessons I was frustrated and a little embarrassed at times, progress felt slow, I frequently compared myself to other experienced pianists on Youtube..even hearing my teacher play demoralised me as she was so good and I felt so...well basic. I felt exposed, and the lessons felt very intimate something which I had not experienced for years.  I can only explain this to be when you are successful in life or your career you can coast along, you are confident, you are in your comfort zone, but here I felt out of my depth, I felt like a fraud...However I stuck with lessons, I have a brilliant teacher and she has taught me many things which have helped me hugely. This includes

1- she has taught me how to practice..efficiently..
2- if I say I can’t do something she says ‘ I can’t do it YET’...
3- she tells me ‘anyone can play 2 notes’ as the trick is to take a small section at a time and build on it.
4 - it’s not a race..music is a lifelong learning experience.

Therefore in the last year I have found that I really enjoy Piano so much, I play for me and no one else. I play for the mental challenges it gives me as well as creating beautiful music. I now see Bach as puzzles and problem solving and I love breaking it down and learning to be a better pianist and seeing so much more in the music than I ever did 20 years ago. I feel a huge sense of pride when I tackle a piece that I thought was too hard a few months previously.

One thing my teacher said the other day that really resonated with me, was that she doesn’t just want me simply to copy how she plays, .she wants me to ‘find my own style, my own voice at the piano’  Now I see what she means, it’s about learning to be a musician.

I’m now nearly 42 and feel my piano journey has just begun ( even although I can play to an intermediate standard) and look forward to what lies ahead.  ;D

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #4 on: January 06, 2018, 08:52:20 PM
I read your post and smiled as it is so very true, a lot was how I felt when I returned as a near 40 year old after a 20 odd year break. As an adult successful in life and career it was quite frustrating for me to go back to basics. ( I had played for years as a child so returned at an intermediate level but not amazing by any standards) For the first year back at lessons I was frustrated and a little embarrassed at times, progress felt slow, I frequently compared myself to other experienced pianists on Youtube..even hearing my teacher play demoralised me as she was so good and I felt so...well basic. I felt exposed, and the lessons felt very intimate something which I had not experienced for years.  I can only explain this to be when you are successful in life or your career you can coast along, you are confident, you are in your comfort zone, but here I felt out of my depth, I felt like a fraud...However I stuck with lessons, I have a brilliant teacher and she has taught me many things which have helped me hugely. This includes

1- she has taught me how to practice..efficiently..
2- if I say I can’t do something she says ‘ I can’t do it YET’...
3- she tells me ‘anyone can play 2 notes’ as the trick is to take a small section at a time and build on it.
4 - it’s not a race..music is a lifelong learning experience.

Therefore in the last year I have found that I really enjoy Piano so much, I play for me and no one else. I play for the mental challenges it gives me as well as creating beautiful music. I now see Bach as puzzles and problem solving and I love breaking it down and learning to be a better pianist and seeing so much more in the music than I ever did 20 years ago. I feel a huge sense of pride when I tackle a piece that I thought was too hard a few months previously.

One thing my teacher said the other day that really resonated with me, was that she doesn’t just want me simply to copy how she plays, .she wants me to ‘find my own style, my own voice at the piano’  Now I see what she means, it’s about learning to be a musician.

I’m now nearly 42 and feel my piano journey has just begun ( even although I can play to an intermediate standard) and look forward to what lies ahead.  ;D


I am so glad my article resonated with you.  I am sure your story will resonate with many other adult learners who perhaps are starting their journey; please keep at it.

The hardest part is not to compare yourself, or for that matter trying not to use negative speech.

Can't, could, should, and would; these words are simply banned in my lessons.  I do not use them and forbid my students to, instead, I ask them to make the statement with the reverse.

Can, shall, will.

Thank you for reading.
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Offline bronnestam

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 02:13:35 PM
Thank you for your article. It was all very true, however I want to give some irrelevant comments.

"Don't skip the basics" - well, this is both so very true but also not just safe advice. I worked diligently with the basics when I was a child/teen, with the result that it sometimes was all I did before I got interrupted (or tired) and this helped to kill my inspiration.
I stopped playing the piano when I graduated from senior high, as I lost the possibility to practice, and then it took over 25 years before I started for real again. I will be 52 this year and nowadays I am a very happy amateur player who feel I am constantly developing and enhancing my skills. (I have also found a very good teacher.) But I needed a whole lot of thinking before I could figure out a method which suited ME. As you say, you must listen to yourself. I am old enough to do that now, and what I realized was that my time is very limited. I used to skip practice when I was young because I got bored. Today I love to practice, but quite often I must de-prioritize it because I have other duties in life. So it does not happen very often that I can sit down and be sure I have +2 hours or even one hour or even half an hour for practice. It would be a disaster if I wasted my first precious moments on scales and exercises - again, been there, done that - so I jump directly on the most urgent projects, the difficulties. If I get only 10 fruitful minutes working out the fingering in some tricky bars, I have won tremendously.

But after a while with such focused work I need something less mind-demanding and THEN the scales are great. So I don't advocate these warm-up things at all. You can do both your physical and mental warm-ups on your way to the piano! In other words, you have to work out a routine that works for you, even if some people would say it is in the "wrong order". I am sure some students can do their Hanon and key shifts and yada yada for an hour before they start with their real assignments, but adult amateurs often do not have that luxury. Or they get stuck in their Hanon and get nowhere. Chopin etudes are also great warm-ups ... if you don't have the ambition to play them in full tempo and from beginning to end, at least.

I also agree with tinyhands that practicing and learning today feels more like solving a puzzle. Or, as I often tell people, like playing a computer game. (Which I personally hate, but I know many love it.) The problem solving is FUN. Most people don't want to practice, they don't want to learn, they just want to ... master.  I have encountered many who say "oh, what a nice song you play! Please, show me how to do it!" and then they expect to do what I do after some minutes of instruction. Because "it is just this little song". They have no interest in learning what you call the basics, including right posture and reading music. When they realize that it won't be that easy, they give up, shrug and say that they don't seem to have talent for this.

So many people think learning a single piano piece is a like learning a few cool phrases in Chinese. No matter if you cannot say or understand anything else in Chinese, at least you can utter just these phrases decently well. We all know it does not work like that with piano playing, at least if you go beyond the "Heart and Soul" phase.

So my point is that a piano teacher should encourage his students to see practice like a fun puzzle or game. It is not the necessary evil thing you try to minimize on your way to become a living CD. Why not just listen to recordings if you just want to hear the finished result? Or learn some card tricks if you want to be the star on the next party ... No, practice as such is fun and interesting, when you sit there alone and struggle with just a few notes. New challenges, new micro victories, new perspectives on this particular piece, a great way to train your concentration and patience - like meditation.  

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #6 on: January 08, 2018, 08:15:16 PM
Thank you for your article. It was all very true, however I want to give some irrelevant comments.

"Don't skip the basics" - well, this is both so very true but also not just safe advice. I worked diligently with the basics when I was a child/teen, with the result that it sometimes was all I did before I got interrupted (or tired) and this helped to kill my inspiration.
I stopped playing the piano when I graduated from senior high, as I lost the possibility to practice, and then it took over 25 years before I started for real again. I will be 52 this year and nowadays I am a very happy amateur player who feel I am constantly developing and enhancing my skills. (I have also found a very good teacher.) But I needed a whole lot of thinking before I could figure out a method which suited ME. As you say, you must listen to yourself. I am old enough to do that now, and what I realized was that my time is very limited. I used to skip practice when I was young because I got bored. Today I love to practice, but quite often I must de-prioritize it because I have other duties in life. So it does not happen very often that I can sit down and be sure I have +2 hours or even one hour or even half an hour for practice. It would be a disaster if I wasted my first precious moments on scales and exercises - again, been there, done that - so I jump directly on the most urgent projects, the difficulties. If I get only 10 fruitful minutes working out the fingering in some tricky bars, I have won tremendously.

But after a while with such focused work I need something less mind-demanding and THEN the scales are great. So I don't advocate these warm-up things at all. You can do both your physical and mental warm-ups on your way to the piano! In other words, you have to work out a routine that works for you, even if some people would say it is in the "wrong order". I am sure some students can do their Hanon and key shifts and yada yada for an hour before they start with their real assignments, but adult amateurs often do not have that luxury. Or they get stuck in their Hanon and get nowhere. Chopin etudes are also great warm-ups ... if you don't have the ambition to play them in full tempo and from beginning to end, at least.

I also agree with tinyhands that practicing and learning today feels more like solving a puzzle. Or, as I often tell people, like playing a computer game. (Which I personally hate, but I know many love it.) The problem solving is FUN. Most people don't want to practice, they don't want to learn, they just want to ... master.  I have encountered many who say "oh, what a nice song you play! Please, show me how to do it!" and then they expect to do what I do after some minutes of instruction. Because "it is just this little song". They have no interest in learning what you call the basics, including right posture and reading music. When they realize that it won't be that easy, they give up, shrug and say that they don't seem to have talent for this.

So many people think learning a single piano piece is a like learning a few cool phrases in Chinese. No matter if you cannot say or understand anything else in Chinese, at least you can utter just these phrases decently well. We all know it does not work like that with piano playing, at least if you go beyond the "Heart and Soul" phase.

So my point is that a piano teacher should encourage his students to see practice like a fun puzzle or game. It is not the necessary evil thing you try to minimize on your way to become a living CD. Why not just listen to recordings if you just want to hear the finished result? Or learn some card tricks if you want to be the star on the next party ... No, practice as such is fun and interesting, when you sit there alone and struggle with just a few notes. New challenges, new micro victories, new perspectives on this particular piece, a great way to train your concentration and patience - like meditation.  

Your comments are far from irrelevant; thank you for sharing.

I love your rich history and musical story.  I have taught many adults who could benefit from your outlook; at least a little.

Define basics; scales and exercises are not basic.  They may sound basic to the listener, but performing a scale evenly, in time, is far from a basic technique for an absolute beginner.  However, counting and rhythm are very basic; before we can perform a single note, we need to understand pulse and metre.

A good craftsman studies their tools and materials before they begin work; a jack, will buy the wrong tools, the wrong materials and then blame the shop where he bought them.

Practice does not need to be regimented, but it does need to be purposeful; sitting and playing arbitrarily is just that, play.

Your final point resonates with me, but we will have to agree to disagree; learning is not fun, and that is a big problem with education today -- i.e. everything should be fun.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 10:26:14 PM
A first thing to tackle is that the idea of "basics" is oft misunderstood, and things are taught under the guise of basics that are just .... not sure what they are.   Take a simple thing like intervals, note duration, or what reading piano music actually consists of.  These are deep and fascinating things, and can be learned very hands-on and exploratory through an astute teacher who actually understands his material.  But what seems to be given as "basics" to young students often seems to be a lackluster affair as one finds in method books, that the teacher has to "go through" before they can get to the "interesting stuff".  The actual material, the pieces, are boringly chosen, and boringly approached.  Thus you get people who got a traditional education in childhood, and were bored to tears, and think that is what it's about.  Sadly, some (many?) of these former students become teachers and repeat the process.

I did not have lessons until late in adulthood.  Piano came second.  It appears that the teacher I worked with understood the things that Bronnestam wrote, and seems to have applied these ideas ..... to my loss!  We went very rapidly through grade levels, I "did basics" in the sense of playing the scales, broken chords, etudes, and the few pieces in the syllabus of each grade level, aiming for some basic decent sounds.  I felt increasingly something was missing, and I also crashed around my 2nd year because it could not be sustained.  Eventually I found out what was missing; why it wasn't there; what I had been "spared" to "keep it interesting" ---- they were the very things that fascinated me, that I could sink my teeth into.  That teacher gladly switched gears once I defined how and what I wanted to learn, but by that time several years had been lost, and my foundations resembled Swiss cheese.  Every time I went after a foundation, my playing improved all the way up the ladder for any piece, and had a sudden surge in ease.

Subsequently I started piano, and I told my piano teacher up front that I was after skills, foundations, how to practice and the rest.

It bothers me each time someone tells teachers that adult students don't want basics, don't want these "boring" things, because it is that very thing that formed an invisible wall between me and what I wanted to learn.  You smell the delicious cooking on the other side of the wall, but you can find no door, and there is only a suggestion of a room that is not the one you are in.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 10:48:32 PM
So it does not happen very often that I can sit down and be sure I have +2 hours or even one hour or even half an hour for practice. It would be a disaster if I wasted my first precious moments on scales and exercises - again, been there, done that -
This points to the idea that you were not really given the basics of basics; the scales and exercises are the things that are presented as basics, but they aren't.  There are elements within a scale, within an exercise, and those elements may also be within a piece you are working on. If you (your teacher) focus on the elements rather than the "things" then you are not spending 2 hours.  You spend considerably less time, and gain considerably more.  This was a big epiphany for me when I understood this, and was fortunate enough to find a teacher who was on that page.
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so I jump directly on the most urgent projects, the difficulties. If I get only 10 fruitful minutes working out the fingering in some tricky bars, I have won tremendously.
I totally agree with this.  It is how I work.  When I have more time I may have 10 fruitful minutes, another 10, and another 10.  There isn't actually a dichotomy between this and "basics" or even those scales.
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But after a while with such focused work I need something less mind-demanding and THEN the scales are great.
If those scales are "less mind-demanding" and not as focused, then they are also not a practice of basics that would give foundations.
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So I don't advocate these warm-up things at all.
I think I agree with you on that.  Tbh, I understand the concept of "warm-ups" less and less.  I am also thinking back to those first lessons I wrote about in the other post.  We started with scales.  I never knew why.  I also did not draw out of them, or learn from them, what I could have.  I guess they were "warm up things".  I wouldn't do that now.  (Agree with you).
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I am sure some students can do their Hanon and key shifts and yada yada for an hour before they start with their real assignments, but adult amateurs often do not have that luxury.
NO student should be working that way.  It is a waste of time for anyone.  I'm starting to get this "warm-up" idea, and am with you in disagreeing with them.
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Or they get stuck in their Hanon and get nowhere. Chopin etudes are also great warm-ups ... if you don't have the ambition to play them in full tempo and from beginning to end, at least.
If you are getting nowhere with anything, then the practising is wrong, the goals are wrong.  Additionally, no piece, no etude, no scales, teach.  Hanon doesn't teach.  Inventions don't teach.  It is what you do, and what you work toward, how you work (often guided by a decent teacher) which teaches.  I've seen lazy teachers who seem to have a magical thinking that pieces in a given order teach.

Btw, I'm working on a Chopin etude, geared to my level and needs, under my teacher's guidance.  It is not a "warm-up".  It is not mindless.  It is with purpose.  I have some before - after - and later videos, since my teacher is on-line - and what you see within a short time is a major change in physical motion, technique, because of what got worked through mindFULLY.
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The problem solving is FUN.
Yes and no.  We need tools.  I self-taught for close to 50 years, so I know how to "figure things out" using what I know.  You hit a wall.  You do things in clumsy ways and build on that clumsiness.  You go in circles.  In fact, the tools and skills are fun ... for me!
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Most people don't want to practice, they don't want to learn, they just want to ... master.
And that perception keeps many of us outside the special room, feeling "there is something missing", and never being able to get there, because the teacher is very careful to keep it "fun", to stay with end goals, to keep us away from the things we'd like to learn.  Originally I thought it was only myself, but since then I have found others.  When we talk privately and they sort this out, they can often go to their teachers, and major changes are made.
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They have no interest in learning what you call the basics, including right posture and reading music.
Yes, but quite a few of us DO.  I am very cautious about "teachers who specialize in teaching adults" because often they specialize in these shallow types of goals.  I would seek out a teacher who gives kids real skills (not the traditional variety I outlined) and ask to get the same.
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So my point is that a piano teacher should encourage his students to see practice like a fun puzzle or game.
..... and watch students like myself walk away to find another teacher. Unless the tools are given.

It occurs to me that we don't actually know how the OP teaches, and it may well be that discovery, exploration, problem solving and such are part and parcel of what he does.  In fact, I sort of suspect it.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 04:53:55 AM
 We need tools.  I self-taught for close to 50 years, so I know how to "figure things out" using what I know.  You hit a wall.  You do things in clumsy ways and build on that clumsiness.  
...
 I would seek out a teacher who gives kids real skills (not the traditional variety I outlined) and ask to get the same...... and watch students like myself walk away to find another teacher. Unless the tools are given.

Just like bronnestam I also find problem solving both fun and rewarding. And I agree, we definitely need tools. The thing where I differ maybe from an average person is that a tool given is less likely to become fixed in my toolbox than a tool developed by myself (often with the guidance of my teacher). You may mean the same thing or not. Ever since I can remember I was more creative than diligent and I use that to my advantage. I seldom find myself empty of ideas how to proceed, rather I need to weed out those that do not work and that is something where my teacher is priceless. This applies to the basics as well as anything else. What I do not want is my teacher telling or showing me what to do before I have figured out where the real problem parts are for ME and what especially are the difficulties for me.

Of course one sometimes hits a wall but I see that as an opportunity more than an obstacle...and I do not want a teacher who tries too hard to prevent this since  it would diminish the joy of breaking the wall...or go round it...I just want a little lift when needed :)

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 06:37:20 AM
I have been creative and innovative my whole life.  I was almost 50 years old by the time I had my first ever lessons.  By that time I had self-taught several instruments.  When I was 18, my piano was left behind when my parents moved, and they bought me a classical guitar.  Within less than a week I was playing the full version of Fuer Elise on that guitar.  There was a thick book written or advised by Segovia, ending in contrapuntal music, which I played, self-taught.  So I do know a few things about solving things on my own.

When I restarted piano after 35 years, while my teacher was finding out where I was at, he gave me the Chopin Em Prelude.  Immediately, my LH chords were clunky, harsh, and uneven.  I tried various things and could not fix it.  I asked my teacher for help, and he had me move my hands in a way I would not have thought of, and relax my fingers in a way I would not have thought of. I used to have two contrasting before/after recordings which were only a few hours apart.  The difference is huge.

I was told of ways to approach the pedal that I would not have thought of. I learned ways of approaching practising that I had not thought of, and would not have thought of.  I had exhausted my own self-invented strategies long ago.  It puts me into a ghetto. If I wanted to struggle and figure things out on my own, why on earth would I go with a teacher?  I had half a century of that already!  Sorry, but I want the tools.  Even with a few tools, you can start becoming creative with those tools.  They fire your imagination.  If a teacher were to simply give me "challenges" with no tools, I can do that by myself.  To me that is disappointing.

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 09:39:56 AM
...

It occurs to me that we don't actually know how the OP teaches, and it may well be that discovery, exploration, problem-solving and such are part and parcel of what he does.  In fact, I sort of suspect it.

There is no 'correct' way to teach because our students are all so vastly different.  However, the more of them you teach over your tenure -- now I am in triple digits -- you begin to see patterns and archetypes.  What starts to happen is a diagnosis of sorts, whereby you can see and hear a problem, and prescribe the remedy.

This could be adjusting a hand position, all the way back simply saying the notes out loud.  In other circumstances, a person might suffer from the irreparable psychological conditioning of negative thought patterns, in which case, as a teacher, we have to just try to get through a lesson without the use of negative words; start extremely slowly and small.

My teaching methods arrive after extensive training and reflection, complemented by the actual teaching of students.

Full disclosure:

I begin each lesson with a warm-up routine and scales.  In a lesson, we cover the material that students may not have time for at home.  The repeated exposure to the material in the lesson, with 'downtime' over the week, means connections are formed and remembered.  I have students who simply do not practice at home but know all of the major scales.

I insist we rehears sight-reading and playing by ear in each lesson.  There is so much more to these activities; to an uninitiated, they seem like a super skill that only advanced players can carry out.  This is wrong on so many levels.  If we understand the building blocks of music, we understand the music better.

I prescribe a syllabus of pieces to work through and as my student, you must work on it, either in lessons or at home. Obviously, more progress will be made if the practice is carried out at home.  Unfortunately, there are some students who are not interested in anything I have to say as a teacher, and so simply refuse to carry out my instructions; we part ways swiftly.

There is nothing stopping you from discovery; I encourage it.  When I started lessons, I was an independent learner, playing by ear frequently and discovering music at my pace.  However, a student must not expect their teacher to give in to 'wants', that is self-indulgent.  What is 'needed' is the teacher's primary concern; that's why you are paying them after all.

Needs first wants after.

P.S Enjoying reading your responses.
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Offline bronnestam

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 09:59:46 AM
This is a very interesting discussion we have here ...  :)

I was self-taught in reading music and play the recorder. When I was 6 years old, my older sister got lessons at school. She and her friend used to practice in our home, and I was standing by, bursting with envy because I wanted to play as well. Whenever I got the chance I borrowed her little recorder and played myself. I got my own recorder as a Christmas gift that year. The beginner's books they used were easy to follow so I learned to read music rather quickly. No, I was not exactly a progidy, I had to struggle a lot with the technique and the older girls laughed a bit at me and my clumsy attempts,  but I learned. Later on I played treble recorder with the ensemble at the music school and we made many, many performances, also at the local radio station.

But we did not have a piano. I wanted to play the piano so badly. The recorder is a delightful little instrument, especially since I got my wonderful treble companion in pear wood, which I still keep here in my home. But it is very restricted. The piano ... to me it was, and is, the king of all instruments. You can play anything on it. You can be a complete orchestra on your own. It is beautiful and impressing, it has all the tones you can ask for, and you can play four hands and even more on it, you can sing along while you play ... everything.
So I got piano lessons, finally, thanks to my teacher in the recorder ensemble who thought I had some talent and "put a word" for me. Otherwise the waiting list for piano lessons was incredibly long.
When I got that first piano lessons, with just a few hours notice, I still did not own a piano ... I went there, full of anticipation, and my teacher showed me how to sit and how to use my fingers, and I got the Hanon exercise No. 1 as first assignment. I had no idea it was Hanon, in fact I learned last year (!) the name of what I played back in 1976. But then I got a piano and we bought the beginner's books for me, and I flew through them like nothing because I was such an eager student and I already knew the basics, yes!

Now, this is not a story of me sky-rocketing to the stars, sorry. My first enthusiasm faded away and I became the average student who never wanted to practice and so on. But decades later, when I was ready to analyze what happened, it occurred to me that: "it did not have to be like this". I clearly saw the anomaly in me, on one hand, being so in love with playing the piano, and on the other hand, being so bored by practicing and learning.

So on my own, I developed a method to keep my motivation up instead of killing it, and it worked. I call it the dog method as I learned it from my dog ... You see, dogs don't learn and they don't work unless they feel motivated. We call it "having fun" but from the comments above here I got reminded that this expression has been misinterpreted during the last years. There is a common belief that kids today are just expecting to be entertained at school, so they don't learn to struggle and therefore they don't learn at all. Well, "having fun" IS NOT EQUAL to "being entertained".

Like many others, I sometimes go to the gym. I wonder how many gym visitors that feel entertained at the gym, or think that the exercises as such are "fun". Yet, most of us enjoy being there. We enjoy to get sweaty, feel some pain, feel exhausted ... huh? Can sit-ups be fun, ever? No, and yes. People who regularly go to the gym often do it because they feel good about it. They love the results they see over time. They even love the feeling of having had a tough workout, despite that is it quite uncomfortable while they do it. And the process with piano practice is about the same. I also sigh and swear at the piano sometimes. I also struggle and want to bang my forehead to the keys when things just don't seem to work. But nothing beats the satisfaction when I feel that I have conquered yet another "impossible" obstacle. Besides the problem solving is, like I have already written, good for my concentration. I get calm and forget about other annoying things in my life for a while. I allow myself to forget the rest of the world.

Fun? Oh yes. But just like my dog I need to be motivated. I need to be aware of WHY I endure some moments of frustration and pain. So "boring" IS NOT EQUAL to "painful" either.

In that aspect, yes, kids today also need to have fun when they learn, or else they will not learn at all. My dogs never learn unless they see the point (which at first can be a treat, but later on it gets more advanced). And they get tired very quickly, they need to take many breaks. They need to make progress. That is, you have to construct goals that are easy to achieve, in other words, lots of micro goals. But if I respect this mechanism, they are the most excellent, enthusiastic students in the world.


It is sad that we have this belief about fun=easy entertainment today. I know why this idea of having fun came from - it was a reaction to the idea that all you need is a lot of self-discipline, and that you win nothing unless you torture yourself. No, you don't. Self-discipline is an illusion. You cannot work against your own instincts in long terms. If your instincts tell you that this is pointless, you will escape from it in one way or the other.
But you need to learn that the best rewards may not be instant, that hard work can be very satisfying.  Having said that, I still emphasize that you need to have fun, or else you will get tired of the whole thing and give up. And I don't think being lazy is fun at all.

 

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 10:25:31 AM
Another comment about teachers vs self teaching. I definitely support the idea of having teachers. I had this piano teacher when I was a child. Since 2013, when I got on track again, I have had 11 more ... Two of them on a regular basis, the others for just 2-3 lessons each.

Some of them were successful concert pianists, some of them "just teachers", but they were all well educated. Some have been very old, some quite young. Some I did not get along with on a personal level, some I really liked. But you know what? I have never had a teacher that has not taught me important things. They all have their own style but I find the diversity intriguing. Even if I don't agree with them at the moment, I always try to test their advice.

The best advice I ever have got was from my friend Per, the best pianist I know whatsoever. I told him about a problem I had with the sound and feeling. "So", he said, "what are you going to do about it?" Instead of telling me what to do, he forced me to identify the difficulty in detail, and then work out a solution. THEN he gave me some advice on how to achieve the sound I wanted. But the important thing was not that particular spot (in Pathétique III if anyone is interested to know), but the method as such: "what are you going to do about it?"

My latest regular teacher is terrific, by the way. She is educated in another kind of "school" than I have got used to, so her technical approach is somehow different. I find this so interesting and I feel rich when I can add these new learnings to my older knowledge. She is also terribly good at music theory, and I really need that part by now.


What I want to shout out to the piano student world is this: find a teacher! Then find MANY teachers! Take single lessons, but gather knowledge from many sources. It is fun ... and very enlightening.

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #14 on: January 09, 2018, 10:39:47 AM
This is a very interesting discussion we have here ...  :)

[entire post]
 

The obstacle is the way; like the butterfly escaping the chrysalis, without it, we do not have the strength to navigate the world.

Thank you for this extremely interesting read and for elaborating, we are in agreement.

Let me add that fun exists from the perspective of the perceiver; I will explain.  'Fun' is different for each person, so I tend to disregard it as subjection.  Most people look for inherent 'fun' which unfortunately is not the case with music lessons.  To become proficient requires thought, repetition and dedication which are all things that are not inherently 'fun'; in fact, they are usually deemed as the opposite.

Today, we live in a world of instant gratification; music is not from today.  Music is old and deserving of our time and patience.  Today we like, things to be quick and easy; piano existed in a time when everything took a long time to do and was hard; again to thing that we deem as the opposite of fun.

Don't misunderstand me, bronnestam, I agree with you, however 'fun' is a contentious word in education.

[...]
What I want to shout out to the piano student world is this: find a teacher! Then find MANY teachers! Take single lessons, but gather knowledge from many sources. It is fun ... and very enlightening.

This is sage advice.

Any teacher worth their fee will not be afraid to let you go.  An interaction might last a few weeks, or it might last decades, however, when it is time to move on, an experienced teacher will not be afraid to let you know, or let you go.
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Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #15 on: January 09, 2018, 05:59:05 PM
I have been creative and innovative my whole life.  I was almost 50 years old by the time I had my first ever lessons.  By that time I had self-taught several instruments.  When I was 18, my piano was left behind when my parents moved, and they bought me a classical guitar.  Within less than a week I was playing the full version of Fuer Elise on that guitar.  There was a thick book written or advised by Segovia, ending in contrapuntal music, which I played, self-taught.  So I do know a few things about solving things on my own.

When I restarted piano after 35 years, while my teacher was finding out where I was at, he gave me the Chopin Em Prelude.  Immediately, my LH chords were clunky, harsh, and uneven.  I tried various things and could not fix it.  I asked my teacher for help, and he had me move my hands in a way I would not have thought of, and relax my fingers in a way I would not have thought of. I used to have two contrasting before/after recordings which were only a few hours apart.  The difference is huge.

I was told of ways to approach the pedal that I would not have thought of. I learned ways of approaching practising that I had not thought of, and would not have thought of.  I had exhausted my own self-invented strategies long ago.  It puts me into a ghetto. If I wanted to struggle and figure things out on my own, why on earth would I go with a teacher?  I had half a century of that already!  Sorry, but I want the tools.  Even with a few tools, you can start becoming creative with those tools.  They fire your imagination.  If a teacher were to simply give me "challenges" with no tools, I can do that by myself.  To me that is disappointing.

We obviously feel different then :)

I go to my teacher for feedback and for tips how to create the tools that I need. It only took me 3 months of self learning to figure out that I need a teacher and I take full advantage of her skill and knowledge even if work out many the solutions myself.

But I also studied a lot of literature as well, so I already knew where I needed help and where not.

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #16 on: January 09, 2018, 07:19:38 PM
We obviously feel different then :)

I go to my teacher for feedback and for tips how to create the tools that I need. It only took me 3 months of self learning to figure out that I need a teacher and I take full advantage of her skill and knowledge even if work out many the solutions myself.

But I also studied a lot of literature as well, so I already knew where I needed help and where not.

A perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Not every student shows your level of studious diligence; what you deem as normal preparation, some deem as extra and unnecessary work.

Other's could learn a lot from you, could you explain further why you decided to read the literature before starting lessons?
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Offline cfluke

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #17 on: January 09, 2018, 08:00:26 PM
A perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Not every student shows your level of studious diligence; what you deem as normal preparation, some deem as extra and unnecessary work.

Other's could learn a lot from you, could you explain further why you decided to read the literature before starting lessons?

Not to speak for outin, but can we please acknowledge that lessons are very expensive? Having lurked on this forum for a while, it seems that many people are pretty quick to say "Get a teacher" without acknowledging that it's an expensive undertaking.

Hour-long, bi-weekly lessons with a good teacher around here would average $200/month. That's a lot of money! For me and likely others, it makes sense to use teachers strategically, but only occasionally.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #18 on: January 09, 2018, 08:59:11 PM
I have deleted most of my response to Christopher, because as more responses came in, and I reread everything I saw that what either person had written could be understood various ways, and also not necessarily how I understood them.  Updated responses to responses to follow. :)

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #19 on: January 09, 2018, 09:10:32 PM
A perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Not every student shows your level of studious diligence; what you deem as normal preparation, some deem as extra and unnecessary work.

Other's could learn a lot from you, could you explain further why you decided to read the literature before starting lessons?

First of all, I spoke nothing of other students, only myself.
Secondly I did not decide to do it, it was all from my natural curiosity to know as much as possible. And I did not read literature just before starting lessons I have kept doing it ever since. Reading and doing theoretical study just happens to be one of my favorite ways to kill time. It won't make me a good pianist but it certainly helps to weed out all sorts of sillyness that one comes by...
And thirdly, no use trying to provoke me, it won't work :)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #20 on: January 09, 2018, 09:14:09 PM
Not to speak for outin, but can we please acknowledge that lessons are very expensive? Having lurked on this forum for a while, it seems that many people are pretty quick to say "Get a teacher" without acknowledging that it's an expensive undertaking.

Hour-long, bi-weekly lessons with a good teacher around here would average $200/month. That's a lot of money! For me and likely others, it makes sense to use teachers strategically, but only occasionally.

This is true.

But, some things cost what they cost.   If you can't afford it, you also can't expect to perform at the levels you want.  We're not entitled to cheap instruction, nor are we entitled to play well without it.  (There is always that one Mozart, of course;  then there are the rest of us.) 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #21 on: January 09, 2018, 09:22:15 PM
First of all, I spoke nothing of other students, only myself.
Your post was difficult to understand then.  You quoted my post, said "We obviously feel different then." and then continued with the rest.  It would seem be to supporting what you "feel different" about.  That was quite murky actually.  So you studied literature before starting lessons -- I did too --- nothing too different - and it also doesn't say anything about the experience that I cited as an example.  None of the literature that I studied could have helped me with the problem.  I saw that the more I tried to fix it, the worse things got.  There were tools I did not have.  My teacher supplied those tools, and by observing me, he knew which tools to give.  What, in fact, do you feel different about?  Getting tools?  Something else?
I deliberately gave a concrete example. If countering what I was saying, a similar concrete example would be helpful, because then we don't slip into abstracts that can be easily misunderstood.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #22 on: January 09, 2018, 09:22:42 PM
You have quoted Outou's response to me.  Looking up Dunning Kruger I get this definition:

"In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is."

Which one of us is deemed to have this cognitive bias?  

To start with,  I also read a fair amount of information before starting lessons: that is common for many adult students.  However, I know enough to know that intellectual knowledge from books and such cannot always solve technical physical problems.  I gave a concrete example: the Em prelude, the left hand chords not being controllable, and my teacher helping me with this when I first restarted piano with my teacher.  To this Outou says "I don't agree."  and talks of having done reading before starting lessons.

Where did I say I don't agree? I said we are different. Referring to the importance of being given the tools versus more like helping in finding them. I got what you say and why, maybe you could just accept that I do not feel the same way and want slightly different things from my teacher? I assume that we both get results?

I thought it was quite obvious what d_b_christopher was aiming at...

No, I do not think a book can often solve a technical problems. But reading a large part of what's available about piano pedagogy helps to know what to focus on in the different stages of learning and what to avoid. If I had not studied I would not have understood that I needed a teacher when my wrist started feeling "funny" on a piece. Or that it was a too difficult piece. My other favorite subject of study is musicology, so I knew a lot about different eras and performance traditions of the music.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #23 on: January 09, 2018, 09:32:19 PM
If you want an example:
I have always done my own fingerings, ever since I started lessons. I never expected my teacher to do it for me. She gave me tips to overcome my small hands and sometimes gave me a few suggestions to pick from when I was lazy to do it all myself. Yet I did not use "wrong" fingerings, I had studied the principles of fingering (and the reasons for them) and applied those AND my growing experience to work out what are the best options for my hands. Often it is not what the editors have written. And through that work I have gotten pretty good at finding good fingerings that work for my hands. I think I learned faster and better this way than if I had just been told what to use by the teacher.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #24 on: January 09, 2018, 09:56:25 PM
I will also submit that it is possible for a student encountering a problem to problem-solve themselves into bad circles, also to misapply what they discover in literature because the knowledge to discern and judge is not yet there.  Have you never encountered this?  I stopped when it was smart to stop; asked my teacher for help.  He saw what I did not see, and in 5 minutes the whole thing was solved.  What was wrong with that?  Should I have been more "studious" --- looked up more information --- kept trying while things got worse?
Yes, of course I have encountered things that are controversial, things that I don't understand and things that were not helpful. That is why I have a teacher. But I learn best when I have an actual problem that I take to my teacher and she helps me solve that, so I see no problem with that. I would never blindly follow something I read (or hear).

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #25 on: January 09, 2018, 10:31:04 PM
Where did I say I don't agree? I said we are different.
I corrected that shortly after, upon rereading your post, and used the word "different".  I've deleted my whole rant and replaced it with something shorter because I suspected that there were a number of things I had not understood as they were intended first time round.
Quote
Referring to the importance of being given the tools versus more like helping in finding them. I got what you say and why, maybe you could just accept that I do not feel the same way and want slightly different things from my teacher? I assume that we both get results?
Here is the actual problem.  Many times on the Internet we assume we know what a person intended to say, and respond to that.  I am not convinced that you actually know what I was trying to say, and thus the question is open about our respective feelings about things and the difference or similarity of these things.  This factor the the Net leads to possible confusion and misunderstandings and may have done so here.
Quote
I thought it was quite obvious what d_b_christopher was aiming at...
I don't do "oblique" well.  The Dunning Kruger comment followed by diligence at doing more work by doing research prior to lessons, while quoting your response to me, gave the impression that not doing such research was less diligent, more ignorant, and in any case, I chock full of book larnin' in terms of music (and other things).  More misunderstanding on my part here.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #26 on: January 09, 2018, 10:32:17 PM
But I learn best when I have an actual problem that I take to my teacher and she helps me solve that, so I see no problem with that. I would never blindly follow something I read (or hear).
Then I don't understand you "feeling differently", when my example with the Em Prelude involved precisely that.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #27 on: January 09, 2018, 10:37:01 PM
If you want an example:
Yes examples are good - almost crucial.
Quote
I have always done my own fingerings, ever since I started lessons. I never expected my teacher to do it for me. She gave me tips to overcome my small hands and sometimes gave me a few suggestions to pick from when I was lazy to do it all myself.
That sounds very much like what happens in my lessons, and my attitude.  I'm wondering whether you were picturing the "tools" I wrote about as dictated step by step things like fingering for example.  No, it's about principles which you apply, concepts.  I was in a situation where I went in circles and unable to solve things because I had not tools and got no tools.  What your teacher is giving you are tools, and that is what I was on about.
Quote
I think I learned faster and better this way than if I had just been told what to use by the teacher.
I agree.  I had not even imagined that kind of teaching, where you're told what to use.  At the same time, when you are told what to use, I also don't see that as being given tools.  It's more like remaining a brainless marionette,  ;) perpetually dependent on the teacher.

Offline d_b_christopher

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #28 on: January 09, 2018, 10:37:43 PM
@keypeg

Dunning-Kruger effect is a vast model for understanding for perspectives.  I meant no offence by mentioning it and can see how you might have taken some; particularly in the imprecise and vague post.

I was not referring to you, however, by praising outin, there was a defacto shunning or scorning of your efforts by doing so.  I was specifically referring to outin, who stated (to paraphrase), that “they simply read the literature before commencing lessons”

Whatever prompted them to do this is most interesting, and so I enquired.  My apologies for the offence keypeg.

[...]
Hour-long, bi-weekly lessons with a good teacher around here would average $200/month. That's a lot of money! For me and likely others, it makes sense to use teachers strategically, but only occasionally.

Quite right, that is a large sum of money for the average person.  The wonders of the modern world mean you can do a lot of self-learning. Certainly not to be scoffed at.

But, some things cost what they cost.   If you can't afford it, you also can't expect to perform at the levels you want.  We're not entitled to cheap instruction, nor are we entitled to play well without it.  (There is always that one Mozart, of course;  then there are the rest of us.) 

My union would agree, but there are alternatives that are affordable.  I would certainly offer online lessons if I had time or energy after a full day of students and personal practice.
Stoicism is a musicians friend, quite literally.

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Offline bronnestam

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #29 on: January 09, 2018, 11:26:00 PM
About the costs: I have gone to piano summer schools 4 times during the last years. It has been wonderful and invaluable experiences. (And now you know how I could have had so many teachers in such a short time.) They are not for free, but compared to a week's stay at a holiday resort, they are in fact not expensive at all, especially not when you see what you get for your money.

OK, so the accomodation may not exactly be 5 star, but you get the basics, you get decent meals cooked for you, and you get piano lessons, almost endless opportunities to practice, you get several recitals every day by fantastic pianists, you can visit other students' lessons for free as an observer, you get lectures, workshops ... in other words, if you love piano playing, this is the best holiday trip you can ever ask for. Much, much more fun than sitting by the pool for a week, sipping drinks. (OK, so I admit that can be nice too.) Even though you may not see neither sun nor moon during your stay. When I have been there, I have done nothing but playing the piano, talking about the piano, listening at the piano, and I have luuuuved every minute of it. Great vacation, yes. And everyone around me are piano nerds like me ...

So. If you can afford a week's vacation trip to some fancy resort, you can also consider doing something different at the same cost. It is a choice.

 But maybe you cannot afford that either. Then maybe you can afford single lessons. That is far better than no lessons at all. A good lesson will stay with you for years, you will recall your learnings over and over again. Right now I go to a lesson twice a month but sometimes that is too much, as I don't have much time. I have been forced to contact my teacher more than once and say "sorry, we must postphone this lesson because I have not had enough time to practice."
 

Still I am not about to claim "ANYONE can afford piano lessons" because I know this may not be the case. But to many, there will be opportunities, including online teaching which has already been mentioned.

Offline ryoutak

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #30 on: January 10, 2018, 01:27:58 AM
About the costs: I have gone to piano summer schools 4 times during the last years. It has been wonderful and invaluable experiences. (And now you know how I could have had so many teachers in such a short time.) They are not for free, but compared to a week's stay at a holiday resort, they are in fact not expensive at all, especially not when you see what you get for your money.

OK, so the accomodation may not exactly be 5 star, but you get the basics, you get decent meals cooked for you, and you get piano lessons, almost endless opportunities to practice, you get several recitals every day by fantastic pianists, you can visit other students' lessons for free as an observer, you get lectures, workshops ... in other words, if you love piano playing, this is the best holiday trip you can ever ask for. Much, much more fun than sitting by the pool for a week, sipping drinks. (OK, so I admit that can be nice too.) Even though you may not see neither sun nor moon during your stay. When I have been there, I have done nothing but playing the piano, talking about the piano, listening at the piano, and I have luuuuved every minute of it. Great vacation, yes. And everyone around me are piano nerds like me ...

So. If you can afford a week's vacation trip to some fancy resort, you can also consider doing something different at the same cost. It is a choice.

 But maybe you cannot afford that either. Then maybe you can afford single lessons. That is far better than no lessons at all. A good lesson will stay with you for years, you will recall your learnings over and over again. Right now I go to a lesson twice a month but sometimes that is too much, as I don't have much time. I have been forced to contact my teacher more than once and say "sorry, we must postphone this lesson because I have not had enough time to practice."
 

Still I am not about to claim "ANYONE can afford piano lessons" because I know this may not be the case. But to many, there will be opportunities, including online teaching which has already been mentioned.

OMG. That sounds awesome! I would like to attend such this "Summer Course" that you've mentioned! Do you have any websites similar to this?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #31 on: January 10, 2018, 02:35:57 AM

Still I am not about to claim "ANYONE can afford piano lessons" because I know this may not be the case. But to many, there will be opportunities, including online teaching which has already been mentioned.

This isn't as easy on piano, but on brass instruments I've had a lot of lessons for free, or even was paid for them.  Playing a gig with good musicians IS a lesson if you pay attention, listen hard, and submerge your ego a bit. 
Tim

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #32 on: January 10, 2018, 04:19:59 AM
Yes examples are good - almost crucial.That sounds very much like what happens in my lessons, and my attitude.  I'm wondering whether you were picturing the "tools" I wrote about as dictated step by step things like fingering for example.  No, it's about principles which you apply, concepts.  I was in a situation where I went in circles and unable to solve things because I had not tools and got no tools.  What your teacher is giving you are tools, and that is what I was on about.I agree.  I had not even imagined that kind of teaching, where you're told what to use.  At the same time, when you are told what to use, I also don't see that as being given tools.  It's more like remaining a brainless marionette,  ;) perpetually dependent on the teacher.

As I said in my first post about you being given tools you may have meant the same thing or not. But it is very common for people to think that teaching is about feeding information, imitation and trying to avoid the student to make mistakes at all costs (because of the belief that they will be ingrained). This sort of teaching   never has worked with me, because of how my brain works. I also read complaints about students losing things as soon as they are left alone to practice for more than a week. Since this is very alien to me, I must conclude that I am somehow different. Which is nothing new, I knew there was something odd about me ever since I started school as a child...

I would describe of my lessons more like a co-op than my teacher giving me things. Often we put our heads together to figure out solutilns to my problems. Yes, sometimes she does offer direct advice but it is often not going very well because I find it very difficult to internalize or remember things given for me "ready made". Another example:
If she just shows me how to execute something physically without me having a clear vision why or what is the sound I want to achieve I just do not get it, no matter how much I try to follow her. I lack the ability to mirror other peoples movements in my own body. I need to go home and build that movement by experimenting myself. Yet her input in the process is invaluable in making me aware of what to avoid and what I am aiming for soundwise. And of course giving me objective feedback whether I have succeeded or not.

And I think the poster above misunderstood me also, thinking I was somehow advocating self teaching or demeaning the importance of teaching. Obviously I don't since I would be the first person to recommend lessons and have been going myself for more than 6 years. My point was that not every student is the same and may have different needs. And sometimes they are more aware of their own needs when they start. It's not always about wants versus needs. But clearly some people get defensive if their beliefs are questioned.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #33 on: January 10, 2018, 04:31:25 AM
Please remember we see the world through our own lens.


Maybe you should follow your own good advice ;)

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #34 on: January 10, 2018, 09:37:32 AM
But it is very common for people to think that teaching is about feeding information, imitation and trying to avoid the student to make mistakes at all costs (because of the belief that they will be ingrained).
This may be a common way for non-teachers and non-musicians to think.  Poor quality teachers may also see it that way.  But among good music teachers, I don't think that is a common thought. You have known me forum-wise for a while, so I assumed you'd have known I wouldn't ascribe to such shallow things

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This sort of teaching never has worked with me, because of how my brain works.
It doesn't work for anyone, because it's not real teaching.  Such things are for end results, the pretty piece of music and such.
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... trying to avoid the student to make mistakes at all costs (because of the belief that they will be ingrained).
Here I suspect you have mixed two different concepts.  Mistakes are welcome by good teachers, because they are inherent to learning.  Also, skills develop gradually.
The "ingrained" thing refers to something else.  If you start off playing an instrument say with tight shoulders, rigid arms, and heavy hammering, these physical reflexes may become part of you, and such things are difficult to extinguish.  My previous digital piano had a sluggish pedal that you had to pump up and down vast distances, and I am unlearning and relearning now.  This went not just into my feet but affected how I used my whole body.  This is not the same thing as making mistakes in wrong notes or such.
Quote
If she just shows me how to execute something physically without me having a clear vision why or what is the sound I want to achieve I just do not get it, no matter how much I try to follow her. I lack the ability to mirror other peoples movements in my own body. I need to go home and build that movement by experimenting myself. Yet her input in the process is invaluable in making me aware of what to avoid and what I am aiming for soundwise. And of course giving me objective feedback whether I have succeeded or not.
I can relate to that.  I cannot imitate, and I can't follow blindly.

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #35 on: January 10, 2018, 10:37:08 AM
OMG. That sounds awesome! I would like to attend such this "Summer Course" that you've mentioned! Do you have any websites similar to this?

Sure. This is the one I have frequented myself outside Sweden:
https://www.pianosummerschool.com/

Applications open today and I will enroll tonight. But there are other schools as well, with good reputation ... but I have been to this one three times already and I love it. Very nice atmosphere and a most exciting community of everything between relative beginners and super professionals - the only that counts is that you love the piano, then you will feel welcome!

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #36 on: January 10, 2018, 12:13:15 PM
This may be a common way for non-teachers and non-musicians to think.  Poor quality teachers may also see it that way.  But among good music teachers, I don't think that is a common thought. You have known me forum-wise for a while, so I assumed you'd have known I wouldn't ascribe to such shallow things
 It doesn't work for anyone, because it's not real teaching.  Such things are for end results, the pretty piece of music and such.Here I suspect you have mixed two different concepts.  Mistakes are welcome by good teachers, because they are inherent to learning.  Also, skills develop gradually.
I don't think I mixed anything.. maybe you are more optimistic about teachers...the teaching style I described is rather common. I base this on my discussions with both teachers and students. And my own experiences as well.

And don't forget it's not simply one or the other, it's about levels in between.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #37 on: January 10, 2018, 01:00:18 PM
I don't think I mixed anything.. maybe you are more optimistic about teachers...the teaching style I described is rather common. I base this on my discussions with both teachers and students.

It would not be unexpected if a teacher tended to use the same approach that worked for their own learning. 

Some of these might be very successful with the type of student that matches well.  Other students might very well end up frustrated and will leave, so over time teachers may select for a successful studio without ever realizing how they're doing it, or who they help and who they can't.

With sufficient experience master teachers may be better able to adjust to different types of student. 

Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #38 on: January 10, 2018, 11:25:28 PM
I don't think I mixed anything.. maybe you are more optimistic about teachers...the teaching style I described is rather common.
Outin, I looked between your quote "of" my post, and what I wrote originally.  You took sentences from different paragraphs on different topics and jumbled them together to form a new "paragraph". My interest is in communication, not debate.  If you are interested in communicating, as well as picking up new knowledge and insights, then please do read what was written with care.  I can't tell if you had.

So trying to set this aright.

I responded specifically to this idea from you:
... trying to avoid the student to make mistakes at all costs (because of the belief that they will be ingrained).
I responded to this SEPARATELY from all else, because I saw two concepts within that one section.  These concepts are important ones which I tried to transmit, and am trying again.

1. "the belief that (something) will be ingrained" --- let's discuss "what"

Among the good quality teachers that I have known and/or worked with, the worry about "ingrained" things involves things like foundations for technique.  I gave an exaggerated hypothetical example, and I think a personal one, to define what kinds of things I meant.  While such habits are being established, more frequent encounters are desirable because things can slip and continue slipping.

Continuing along the "ingrained" idea, which tends to be along the area of skills: "mistakes" aren't actually in there as such.  Most of the decent and effective teachers I've known tend to see skills as evolving and developmental.  They want to set up some first habits: always sitting at the best height and distance from the piano, which sets up a host of other things, keeping a reasonably relaxed and natural hand (not claws etc.) and they will correct the "mistake" of sitting a mile away from the piano or scrunched into it, shoulders hunched to the ears etc., and healthy habits will begin to be second nature.  Other technical things will evolve gradually.  The teachers I know encourage students to aim for "best sound with greatest comfort", and watch their students' technique evolve, tweaking when necessary.  The concept of "mistakes" doesn't fit much into this.

2. ".. trying to avoid the student to make mistakes at all costs..."

I think that here you are thinking of the teaching we've both seen, which aims to have the piece played "without mistake" --- correct notes, correct timing, "It should sound like this." "Make it sound exactly how I'm showing you."  You dislike this.  I dislike this.  I consider this shallow teaching.  I cannot see "ingrained" here.  If you play the Gavotte in G minor "incorrectly" or "with mistakes", you haven't ingrained anything.  You have just mislearned this piece of music.  Well the mistakes will be "ingrained" in that single piece if you play it in the future, but so what?   The teachers I consider good teachers (and yes, they're the minority), or ones who teach toward things I value, don't work this way.  It's a different world.

In fact, if the goal is incremental skills, that hypothetical Gavotte in Gm might be played without respecting something like correct timing - at a given level - while the aim is to get at the notes or some other skill.  It might be visited a second time, with another skill layer added, this time with timing, but maybe slow.  Mistakes may or may not be allowed, for the sake of learning.  It is a different mentality.
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My last line says "It is a different mentality".  I see two concepts, two mentalities.  The word "mistake" usually fits with one mentality, "ingrained" fits with the other mentality, and these were potentially crossed over.  Please do try to understand what I'm trying to bring across, because it's not easy to write it, and it took a long time to find these things. What I learned is not the alpha and omega, and there will be alternate views that I'm happy to look at.  My thinking is flexible and open minded.  But when I try to bring something across, I do hope that it does come across.  (I also hope to manage to understand what the other person is trying to say.)
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... maybe you are more optimistic about teachers...the teaching style I described is rather common.
Yes, there is a lot of weak and questionable stuff out there, and it may even be the majority.  But I was NOT DISCUSSING these generalities.  I was putting forth two essential concepts.  I've tried to do it again.  Are we a bit more on the same page?

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #39 on: January 11, 2018, 12:05:12 AM
It would not be unexpected if a teacher tended to use the same approach that worked for their own learning. 
Or make sure not to repeat the mistakes that their own ineffective teacher here or there made.
  ;)

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #40 on: January 11, 2018, 02:12:42 AM
Keypeg, I don't know why you had such a probkem with that one example I gave. Let me be more specific: It is not uncommon to think a student should not be allowed to work on a new piece without guidance first because if not given the correct fingering they might actually try to practice it with a bad one and that will be "ingrained". Which does not seem to happen with me. So yes, that example referred to pieces not basic posture etc. What you meant by "mixing concepts" still is unclear to me.

When I quote posts it's not necessarily to disagree but to avoid repeating everything to present the context of what I am talking about. I try to only quote the essential for brevity of posts. Maybe I should avoid that in the future.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #41 on: January 11, 2018, 02:21:06 AM
Keypeg, I don't know why you had such a problem with that one example I gave.
I had no problem with the example you gave, or in understanding what you were saying.

But ** I ** was also trying to pass on information, share ideas, write of concepts.  I had a problem with you apparently not being able to understand what I was saying --- or maybe not trying to understand it --- or maybe being only in "send mode".  Dialog to me is an exchange of ideas, garnering of new knowledge and new perspectives.  I try to receive others' perspectives and information, but would also like my own to be understood.  Too often these days people are indeed in send mode, skimming through what others say without hearing or really reading.  I don't actually see the point of that.

Offline outin

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #42 on: January 11, 2018, 02:29:54 AM
I had no problem with the example you gave, or in understanding what you were saying.

So the problem is only in me not understading you?  I give up...

We would need to define our concepts first because it seems that you refer as tools to what I would rather call essentials. Right posture, hand shape, understanding notation etc. When I think of tools I rather think of specific techniques to play pieces or analyze them. A tool is something you use to do a specific task. One needs skill to use that tool and the skill to pick up the best tool for each task. And this is where there are often more than one option to achieve a good result and both theoretical knowledge and experience are needed. How to gain those may vary as well. Some teachers are eager to micromanage this process and that was what I was talking about.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #43 on: January 11, 2018, 12:57:35 PM
Or make sure not to repeat the mistakes that their own ineffective teacher here or there made.
  ;)


I'm not following your logic.

Teachers who succeeded are at risk of thinking the style that worked for them will work for everybody.  That's the point I'm trying to make. 

Teachers who had ineffective teachers are not in that group.  They mostly did not succeed.  They aren't going to correct mistakes in teaching, as they probably aren't going to get to that point. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #44 on: January 11, 2018, 04:54:37 PM
I'm not following your logic.

Teachers who succeeded are at risk of thinking the style that worked for them will work for everybody.  That's the point I'm trying to make. 

Teachers who had ineffective teachers are not in that group.  They mostly did not succeed.  They aren't going to correct mistakes in teaching, as they probably aren't going to get to that point. 

This silly system never lets us quote properly.

You had written: t would not be unexpected if a teacher tended to use the same approach that worked for their own learning.
and my response was:
Or make sure not to repeat the mistakes that their own ineffective teacher here or there made.

I'm seeing now that "approach that worked for their own learning" can be understood two ways, because learning has two components: what the teacher does, and what the student does in practising.  Since you were talking abut teaching, I thought of what a teacher does.  So if the teacher's teacher had done something to cause problems, not to repeat that mistake.

One concrete example is a teacher who when growing up was recognized for her talent and love of music.  She had a teacher who sat far back "to get the big picture", would tell her to "relax more", and how the music should sound.  The student struggled with some passages, and no matter what she did, could not solve the problem.  Later she learned the importance of fingering, as well as some crucial elements of technique - for example, that loud forceful passages do not need strong forceful exertion.  We know that many a difficult seeming passage will become easier if the fingering is changed, and even if we don't have decent teachers, these days we will find out the importance of fingering.

This teacher made very certain to teach her students about fingering, about finding what is comfortable in their own hands, to set things up that the students would start experimenting with fingering in a guided way, because of her own bad experience with poor teaching in this respect.

This is what I meant.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Hello: newcomers, this one is for you
Reply #45 on: January 11, 2018, 06:53:23 PM

One concrete example is a teacher who when growing up was recognized for her talent and love of music.  She had a teacher who sat far back "to get the big picture", would tell her to "relax more", and how the music should sound.  The student struggled with some passages, and no matter what she did, could not solve the problem.  Later she learned

Ah, I see.  The bold font is mine. 

Yes, in that case it would work. 

In many cases they aren't fortunate enough to learn the missing parts, students just give up out of frustration.

The problem I was trying to address is a bit subtler and I don't know how common it is in piano, but it is very common on other instruments.  People excel at their own learning, very often because they are naturals, and had a teacher whose style accommodated that.  Then they teach their students the same way.  They have some outstanding students who are a good fit, and some who need a different approach but never get it. 

Tim
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