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Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice (Read 845 times)

Offline adeus89

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Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice
« on: September 06, 2019, 06:49:30 PM »
I am a self-taught pianist who mostly learned from Youtube and by ear. I just started to take lessons with a teacher.  I had a demo lesson with her where I sort of improvised for a bit and then played a couple of lines from Bach's prelude 1 in C major.

I am not a complete beginner. I know basic music theory, where all the keys are located, and can read both bass and treble clef (though, extremely slowly since most of my learning did not exercise that skill. I don't really have a whole lot of problem with hand independence, though I still struggle massively with finger independence of the forth and fifth finger on each hand.I don't know any of the scales or arpeggios, but know how to construct them in the different root positions.

I made it clear to her that my goal was to fill in all the gaps that I have from theory, technique, etc. I want to be a competent, well-rounded pianist rather than just being able to play a couple of songs relatively well.

My main concern is that she chose a piece that seems,  at the outset, to be pretty difficult for this being my first lesson. We're doing Sailor's Song by Stephen Heller. I struggle with chords using my weaker fingers (4/5) and this song starts out immediately exploiting that and is a way more musically complex than anything I'm used to.

I'm currently also learning b major and c flat major scales. For music theory, I've started with the fundamentals of piano theory series. To improve my ability to read music, I've been practicing very easy sight reading exercises.

I am wondering if the piece is just intimidating to me because it's so far out of my comfort zone (when self-learning, I tend to choose pieces I know I won't struggle with) and that's what has me concerned or if she has just been to ambitious in choosing a first piece?

Does anyone have any advice?

Offline dogperson

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Re: Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice
«Reply #1 on: September 06, 2019, 10:08:05 PM »
I would advise to do the best you can with following your teacherís practice instructions and let your teacher judge whether it is too difficult (or not). We have teachers because of the education and experience they have.  Relax and rely on your teacher without trying to second guess.

Offline ted

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Re: Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice
«Reply #2 on: September 07, 2019, 11:19:47 AM »
That's right, just trust your teacher, and ask her about your technical worries too. They sound like pretty normal difficulties for beginners and she will be able to save you a lot of time through knowing the quickest ways to fix them.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline sucom

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Re: Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice
«Reply #3 on: September 14, 2019, 09:13:40 PM »
It's quite difficult for a teacher to pick up a student who has taught himself because while the student may sound a particular standard with something he's really been practising well, the chances are there may be many, many gaps in his technique and in his understanding.  This means the teacher's job, in the very early stages of lessons, tends to be guesswork.  As soon as the teacher discovers you have some difficulty with certain aspects of your playing, the chances of taking a different path for you is very high.

The problem with self taught people is that they may have expectations in what they might be able to achieve, and the teacher will not wish to reduce optimism and inspiration in the student.  The teacher has to tread a very fine line juggling actual ability with expectation without putting off the student!  No-one wishes to feel as if they are going backwards but sometimes gaps have to be filled in, and correct techniques learnt.

I would trust your teacher at this point and give them a chance to help you. 

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Adult (Somewhat) beginner needs advice
«Reply #4 on: September 15, 2019, 04:59:54 AM »
I am always wary if a teacher gives a student something which is challenging them too much. The most efficient path is certainly to work predominatly with works which you can successfully complete without too much problems, building from this point you will learn a lot more without being stumped on tough situations you have little experience with. Building your experience will allow you to control what was once a difficult challenge much more easily.

Sure try challenging works, this can stretch your capabilities and fast track technical skills though it also comes with difficult pitfalls to avoid such as reduced time efficiency and an increased level of frustration when one progress plateaus. As a student it is ok to tell your teacher that you feel that a piece is too difficult and explain why you feel so. You can ask for exercises that the teacher might create for you to help deal with the problems, you can also ask to simplify the score to make the playing easier and then only once you have control of this add the rest of the notes. An experienced teacher should have many tricks they can share with you but make sure you tell them that you want specific help to accelerate the improvement.

"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."