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Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students? (Read 2739 times)

Offline virtuoso80

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The way I learned to play, or at least the instruction I received that stuck with me far beyond anything else, involved a notion that piano technique is all about arm movement, impulses from the 'bigger muscles' like the shoulder, and relaxed, efficient movement in general. The instructor in question who I learned this approach from was the kind of player whose hands often looked like they were barely moving when he played sometimes.

As I practice my Rachmaninoff or Liszt or play through a piece like Chopin's Heroic Polonaise, this technique feels like all I would ever need. When I'm in a land more finger-y, like Mozart or Czerny, it feels less at home. Although much still applies, it's not the kind of thing I focus on anyway.

At times, I've gotten students, usually someone taught by a serious teacher before me, likely Asian, who will come to me with a very different approach. They're doing LOTS of finger-y music, and the technique they use tends to match. A good example would be the intensely deliberate turns and finger crossovers they do. 3 or 4 times I've lost students like this when I approach them with my different, and less finger strict approach, and they don't react well and usually wind up going for someone else.

At the same time what I do works for me, I always wonder what technical aspects I might have missed along the way. Is there something I'm missing that I should be teaching my students?


Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 03:30:08 PM »
(writing as an adult student)   I've gone at these topics with my teacher on and off over the years.  My history is that when I was a child I was given a little keyboard organ (1960's), then a piano and and handed down sonatinas (Clementi, Mozart etc.) plus one Czerny, and no instructions, and nobody to watch play.  I lost the piano at age 19 when my parents moved house, and got one again 35 years later.  My "technique" was the worst version of what you'd get from this repertoire.  It was interesting to learn that my grandmother, whose books they were, had been taught to keep her arms still, balance a penny on her hand moving only her fingers - and this was how I played without such instructions.  Otherwise it may not have been the same as someone who is actually taught properly.

The connection to what you wrote is that my teacher and I determined that the repertoire I used also formed the resulting technique - it was "fingery".  The rest of the results were simply due to an untaught child with a good ear ending up with rigid hands and hammering fingers.  The remediation from that can be described as a gradual "unlocking" - starting to expand into space and 3D direction.  If your music is mostly diatonic on mostly white keys, center of piano,  mostly a maximum span of of P5, your hand tends to have a single, curved shape; you're not moving in and out of the keys much; balance in your body rarely plays a role. So .....

To balance all this out for me, we worked on the side which you say you were taught - the movements beyond the fingers.  The repertoire chosen for this went all over the piano, had different hand spans, plenty of black keys, in and out of black keys, learning good use of pedal and applying that early.  The repertoire (part of your post) went in the direction of Chopin etc.  For a while I made my fingers almost passive, being transported by motions in the hands and arms.  We used Op. 10 No. 1 - part of it and done slowly - to start making the hands and arms alive. ..... Some years later when I first went to a small sonatina, instantly the old rigidity kicked in from habit.  I had to get the large movements and small movements to learn to talk to each other, if this makes sense.

Movement

There seem to be two camps.  I think this is false.  I think there is a continuum.  There is individual movement in the fingers, and there is an impulse from further up since the fingers themselves get moved by tendons in the forearm (for most finger movements). If I move my fingers and keep my arms etc. rigid, it creates strain, so there should be a kind of counter-feathering with nothing being locked.  You might feel it initiating from anywhere along the fingertip - arm - shoulder- body continuum, with it changing depending on what you are playing at the moment.  There is also a chicken-egg scenario, it seems.  Do non-tense fingers promote relaxed shoulders?  Does "shaking the fingers into the keys" via somewhere in the back or shoulders promote nimble fingers?  My own growth has been along these kinds of explorations.

There seem to be some tentative connections between my journey as a student - for both movement and repertoire - and your post, and that is why I've written this.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #2 on: June 29, 2018, 04:52:02 PM »
So was this a serious question wanting responses?

Offline dogperson

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #3 on: June 29, 2018, 06:00:31 PM »
So was this a serious question wanting responses?

Keypeg, the OP would probably like to hear from other teachers about their experience with students from other teachers or their experience with teachers in conservatory who may have taught using a different methodology.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #4 on: June 29, 2018, 11:08:47 PM »

Keypeg, the OP would probably like to hear from other teachers .....
Which so far hasn't happened.  I'm studying with a teacher and that includes about teaching piano, and we have discussed these very things.  It's very close to what the OP asked about.  I went anecdotal because in my teacher training years ago & later experience, that was advised.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 09:49:31 AM »
This doesnít make much sense, for instance if you can understand and play/teach Liszt but not Czerny. There are runs and intricate patterns in Liszt that require specific fingering akin to Czerny, they are not mutually exclusive.

Give some exact musical examples that you think you canít teach and Iím sure we can find examples in the other composers you are comfortable with too.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #6 on: July 02, 2018, 02:33:22 PM »
This doesnít make much sense, for instance if you can understand and play/teach Liszt but not Czerny. There are runs and intricate patterns in Liszt that require specific fingering akin to Czerny, they are not mutually exclusive.

Give some exact musical examples that you think you canít teach and Iím sure we can find examples in the other composers you are comfortable with too.
I don't think the OP is asking about pieces as much as technique.  I felt I had understood the gist of it because I had run into a related phenomenon from a different angle.  The main point I see has two portions:

Technique: The OP was taught a technique which is mainly arm movement based - he was given repertoire that mainly used this kind of movement.  Now he is running into students who were taught technique that was  based mostly on finger movement - and they were given repertoire that mainly used that kind of movement.  He is seeing respective difficulties, and is also wondering whether what he was taught might have been missing some things technique-wise.  The technique and the types of pieces are intertwined here.

Unfortunately the OP asked a question and has not been back since to confirm or dismiss anything so far.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #7 on: July 02, 2018, 03:36:02 PM »
*sigh* you need technique to play the pieces, I understood him perfectly fine. The technique you find in Czerny is not mutually exclusive from Liszt. Where anywhere in my response did I define a difference between pieces and technique? Why don't you consider what I wrote instead of trying to argue semantics and on issues irrelevant to my response?
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #8 on: July 02, 2018, 04:36:16 PM »
I'll wait for the OP to clarify what he intends.  After all, if someone asks a question, then one would expect some involvement afterward.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 11:00:25 PM »
At times, I've gotten students, usually someone taught by a serious teacher before me, likely Asian, who will come to me with a very different approach. They're doing LOTS of finger-y music, and the technique they use tends to match. A good example would be the intensely deliberate turns and finger crossovers they do. 3 or 4 times I've lost students like this when I approach them with my different, and less finger strict approach, and they don't react well and usually wind up going for someone else.
t for the OP to clarify what he intends.  After all, if someone asks a question, then one would expect some involvement afterward.
Keypeg, at times your are much to kind.  Accordingly, this OP has stated in his own language:

"At times, I've gotten students, usually someone taught by a serious teacher before me, likely Asian, who will come to me with a very different approach. They're doing LOTS of finger-y music, and the technique they use tends to match. A good example would be the intensely deliberate turns and finger crossovers they do. 3 or 4 times I've lost students like this when I approach them with my different, and less finger strict approach, and they don't react well and usually wind up going for someone else."

As alluded to before, this is not a valid/serious inquiry by a supposed real teacher.  This is sad because many students have this problem, which has been bastardized by this 'supposed' Real Post.


Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #10 on: July 04, 2018, 02:25:47 AM »
As alluded to before, this is not a valid/serious inquiry by a supposed real teacher.  This is sad because many students have this problem, which has been bastardized by this 'supposed' Real Post.
(Louis, can you fix your quote.  It looks like I said what the OP said in your quote.)

I have no doubt that this is a real post.  Why shouldn't it be?  In regard to "real teacher", we have to define teacher.  If a teacher is somebody who teaches, then there are many people who teach, with all kinds of backgrounds.  A lot of people get taught only part of the story, unknowingly, and then pass on what they have learned.  I have respect for anyone who then questions this, and seeks to learn further rather than being complacent.   That is in fact a professional attitude, imho.

Unfortunately there also has been no response from the OP.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #11 on: July 05, 2018, 03:30:24 PM »
Unfortunately there also has been no response from the OP.
I wouldn't be overly concerned if people don't respond, some don't want to respond, some take many months to respond if at all, some read it and intend to respond but forget to. The world is not a perfect place. Pianostreet also has become a lot more inactive compared to its past.
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Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #12 on: October 01, 2018, 04:47:09 AM »
The way I learned to play, or at least the instruction I received that stuck with me far beyond anything else, involved a notion that piano technique is all about arm movement, impulses from the 'bigger muscles' like the shoulder, and relaxed, efficient movement in general. The instructor in question who I learned this approach from was the kind of player whose hands often looked like they were barely moving when he played sometimes.

As I practice my Rachmaninoff or Liszt or play through a piece like Chopin's Heroic Polonaise, this technique feels like all I would ever need. When I'm in a land more finger-y, like Mozart or Czerny, it feels less at home. Although much still applies, it's not the kind of thing I focus on anyway.

At times, I've gotten students, usually someone taught by a serious teacher before me, likely Asian, who will come to me with a very different approach. They're doing LOTS of finger-y music, and the technique they use tends to match. A good example would be the intensely deliberate turns and finger crossovers they do. 3 or 4 times I've lost students like this when I approach them with my different, and less finger strict approach, and they don't react well and usually wind up going for someone else.

At the same time what I do works for me, I always wonder what technical aspects I might have missed along the way. Is there something I'm missing that I should be teaching my students?



Is there an Asian technique to piano ? It seems there must be if they are all using finger-y techinque. LOL  .However, I'll take whatever does not cause tendenitis: which means taking it easy and cruising while practicing

Offline kalirren

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #13 on: October 10, 2018, 09:52:20 PM »
Having first studied with a Chinese teacher who studied at the Chinese Central Conservatory, I can say as her student that there totally is a orthodox Chinese technique. In retrospect, I found this technique rather finger-y, as you describe, but not to exclusion. And because I didn't study with her for more advanced repertoire, I don't know how the technique treats the wide-hand challenges of, say, the Chopin etudes.

The attached article describes the contribution of three important 20th century piano professors at the Chinese Central Conservatory to the development the Chinese piano technique orthodoxy. All the advice attributed to Zhou Guangren in this article was given to me by my first teacher, so I'm fairly confident that she was Zhou's student. Not being myself a piano teacher, I can give no pedagogical advice, but I hope the article is useful for the OP, especially as it relates to the expectations that students who first studied under Asian teachers may have of their subsequent teachers.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #14 on: October 12, 2018, 01:28:48 AM »
Interesting article kalirren thanks for sharing it.
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Offline virtuoso80

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #15 on: October 27, 2018, 11:19:05 AM »
Okay, so...if I were a betting man this would not have been the conversation I would have expected to come back to. As someone correctly guessed, I didn't initially get a ton of response, then forgot about this and only happened upon it again now, months later.

I'm not sure why you didn't think this was a serious question, and I'm also confused what wasn't clear about what I was asking. Perhaps my examples weren't perfect, but there were weird responses like this I don't get:

"As alluded to before, this is not a valid/serious inquiry by a supposed real teacher.  This is sad because many students have this problem, which has been bastardized by this 'supposed' Real Post."

Huh? Why would someone make a fake post about this? And if this is a problem many students have, it seems like it was a good thing to inquire about. What exactly is being 'bastardized' here? I feel like I should be insulted, but I'm too confused to be.

So, what are people needing clarification on?

Offline dogperson

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #16 on: October 27, 2018, 11:26:28 AM »
 Virtuoso
You are advised to ignore the thoughts of Louis Podesta.  If you look back through his previous posts, he is strong into a conspiracy theory that posters and posts are scams.  His views are not shared by the forum members here. Sorry you were one of the targets.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #17 on: October 29, 2018, 04:34:13 AM »
Okay, so...if I were a betting man this would not have been the conversation I would have expected to come back to. As someone correctly guessed, I didn't initially get a ton of response, then forgot about this and only happened upon it again now, months later.

I'm not sure why you didn't think this was a serious question, and I'm also confused what wasn't clear about what I was asking. Perhaps my examples weren't perfect, but there were weird responses like this I don't get:.........

You responded to the person who questioned your motives. But you did not respond to anyone who actually tried to address your question.  I did, somewhere near the beginning.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #18 on: October 29, 2018, 02:49:59 PM »
Ok, it's going exactly like the first time.  Throw out a problem or question, presumably for answers and ideas - which involves effort by anyone who takes you seriously - and then disappear.  Why ask a question if you can't be bothered responding?   It's a waste of everyone's time, and disrespectful. It would be nice if this pattern were broken and what has happened so far was just a lengthy anomaly.

Offline outin

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #19 on: November 01, 2018, 03:27:46 PM »
I find this obsession about responding odd... If I offer my opinions to someone I do it on my own free will and I do not think anyone is obliged to answer back. They are free to ignore my suggestions or take advantage of them as they wish. If they offer too little information to receive valid advice that too is their own problem...

Offline keypeg

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #20 on: November 02, 2018, 02:43:40 AM »
I find this obsession about responding odd
I also find obsessions odd.  If you have a friend who is obsessed about something, it might be good to talk to them about it.  I haven't found too many obsessed people in this forum, fortunately.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Is there something I'm missing stylistically with some students?
«Reply #21 on: November 02, 2018, 08:03:09 AM »
I also find obsessions odd.  If you have a friend who is obsessed about something, it might be good to talk to them about it.  I haven't found too many obsessed people in this forum, fortunately.


Itís a good thing that many posters here do not ask, sometimes repeatedly in one thread, why they havenít received a reply...or this forum would be full of these posts. Sometimes an OP will reply to none, sometimes to only one thought,

Outin is correct: none of us are entitled to a reply and I see no reason to point out the lack of a response