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Student asks for Level 8 music (Read 1459 times)

Offline kk032663

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Student asks for Level 8 music
« on: May 31, 2018, 06:25:57 PM »
I have a student with good sight reading skills.  They want to play pieces that are listed as level 8+ Beethoven's Sonata Opus 27 No 2....   Mozart Sonata k-309..... Rachmaninoff Prelude Po 23 #5 .....Chopin 25 #11......I have mixed feelings.  While they are pieces that hold their interest since they obviously have heard them (or of them...not sure which), that gives them an incentive to work hard.  However, I am not sure about the practicality of working at a level that is so much higher than doing more quality work at a lower level.  For instance, what about working on her arm/wrist technique and memorizing repertoire.  Not to mention, I have not had any success convincing this student to play in a recital.  Shouldn't my goal include mastering a piece and being able to perform it in front of an audience?  How do I convince my student to work on other pieces that (while not well known) will allow me the opportunity to actually teach her something? Or, do I just try to teach the level 8 piece and break it down to workable segments? I see a lot of arpeggios
How would you proceed?

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Student asks for Level 8 music
«Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 04:20:15 AM »
I have come across this situation a number of times over the years of my own teaching. If the student is very keen and insists I will simply give them all the workload they need to go through to complete the weekly tasks. This almost always is an overwhelming amount which I normally avoid but if the student is keen to jump into the "deep end" I will not stop them, but I will also not take it tediously slow.

If they cannot manage studying these difficult pieces at a somewhat efficient rate then they should work with smaller more manageable pieces. The problem I find is that some of these students dedicate a majority of their practice time to these big inefficient projects that will take them some unknown long period of time to complete (if at all) and neglect studying pieces efficiently even if they are set for them to do by the teacher. Understanding the benefits of studying pieces efficiently vs inefficiently should be demonstrated by the students results and it is the teachers responsibility to set this up. Occasionally you will find some students don't care about efficiency and just want to do what they want to do, these students usually don't last long due to frustration more often than not.

Those who absolutely cannot manage advanced pieces from the get go generally need to understand more about the difficulty levels and would benefit being guided to focus their attention on pieces they can deal with much more efficiently. I've played through progressive grade levels for these students and it has opened their eyes to how easy things begin and how difficult it can get. I've taken the difficult pieces they wanted to learn and shown them what kind of technique is required and what levels you might find that at. This often awakens them to humble themselves and start at a more manageable point.

Those who manage working with difficult pieces really are a surprise for the teacher and also a wake up call that you have perhaps under estimated your students capabilities. I have had transfer students who have several years of study under their belt but play at a low grade level, when I give them something many grades higher to test their abilities some have devoured the work as if it is nothing at all. It makes me wonder how many teachers underestimate their students.



One question I would explore with students is:

Should they work with

A few difficult pieces each year
or
A large amount of easier pieces year
or
A mixture of the two


In the long term I feel that learning large amounts of easier pieces every year blows the few difficult pieces a year totally out of the water. I have students I have taught for some 20 years and this is a very obvious situation. Now they play a large amount of easier pieces each year but these pieces they do would have been very difficult years ago, the bar rises as to what actually feels easy.
Working with a mixture of the two is a great combination but it comes with the added problem that the student will neglect their easier pieces and drain all their energy into the more difficult project however if the student is disciplined then this is totally fine and a great habit to maintain for the lifetime of their playing.
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Offline cfluke

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Re: Student asks for Level 8 music
«Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 06:50:09 AM »
How slowly would a student have to learn a piece for you to feel that they had selected something too difficult for their current abilities?

I am trying not to bite off too much more than I can chew. There are definitely pieces I canít sightread that nonetheless find rewarding to work on. Also, does it matter if itís a 15 minute piece or a 5 minute piece?

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Student asks for Level 8 music
«Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 08:34:32 AM »
A piece can be considered too difficult in terms of technique or musicality but I think much more importantly it should be considered in terms of its efficiency to learn. A difficult piece often has ideas which you have little or no experience with and this generally increases the time required to master sections to some extent. This extent can be huge, or it can be small. We can experience new ideas and solve them very fast, these kind of situations highlight a benefit towards the efficiency but if you are hit with a wall of confusion and super slow progress, perhaps this is a clear sign that the piece is not worth you investing the majority of your time with.

Not always will a difficult piece be considered difficult for every single bar, we have to measure how much of it actually will hinder our progress towards completion. It is then good to get an overall view of the entire piece and note what parts can be efficiently learned and what will require more focused attention and time invested, we can then measure somewhat a timeframe.

There is nothing wrong with learning pieces that take a long time to learn or what you feel really extend your capabilities. It however should not be the main focus of ones study regieme and it would be wise to study more with pieces that challenge you a little but which you can more readily accomplish.
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Offline brogers70

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Re: Student asks for Level 8 music
«Reply #4 on: June 10, 2018, 09:24:22 PM »
As a student, I think one of the most important things is to feel completely relaxed and at ease at the keyboard. When I started I was very ambitious about what I wanted to play, and always wanted to be working on pieces way above my level; eventually I could hit all of the notes at least once in a while, but I could never play them for anyone else, because I was never comfortable.  Then I spent a year playing nothing but damn easy pieces (Music for Millions Easy Classics, that sort of thing), and after a year of that I felt so comfortable and at ease that playing for others is not hard at all (just had my first paid gig subbing for a church organist), and now I'm able to play more difficult things with a lot less stress and better relaxation. It's definitely worth it to be patient and put off learning the higher level things until lower level pieces feel very easy.