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How many errors are heard by listeners? (Read 1270 times)

Offline dogperson

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How many errors are heard by listeners?
« on: August 30, 2020, 09:46:25 AM »
The Bullet Proof Musician has an interesting experiment to answer ‘ Are our mistakes obvious to a listener’

https://bulletproofmusician.com/how-many-of-our-mistakes-do-audiences-and-other-musicians-actually-hear/

Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 12:54:59 PM »
Nice article! Enjoyed reading it.

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020, 01:19:23 PM »
Yes, good article.

I would make a distinction on type of errors.

An audience, particularly a nonprofessional musician audience, is unlikely to be bothered much by wrong notes.  Even badly dissonant ones might be intended, after all, and they don't know what you're supposed to play unless it's a very common piece. 

However, that's for wrong notes.  Stumbles and stutters in timing are instantly annoying to the most unsophisticated listeners. 
Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #3 on: August 30, 2020, 02:23:23 PM »
Yes, good article.

I would make a distinction on type of errors.

An audience, particularly a nonprofessional musician audience, is unlikely to be bothered much by wrong notes.  Even badly dissonant ones might be intended, after all, and they don't know what you're supposed to play unless it's a very common piece. 

However, that's for wrong notes.  Stumbles and stutters in timing are instantly annoying to the most unsophisticated listeners.


Of course, there can’t be any stuttering when performing.  They way to prevent that is to consciously practice ‘performing’ where you play through without correcting errors or allowing yourself to slow down. 

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #4 on: August 31, 2020, 12:59:23 PM »


Of course, there can’t be any stuttering when performing.  They way to prevent that is to consciously practice ‘performing’ where you play through without correcting errors or allowing yourself to slow down.

Yeah but.

The reverse is true of the performer.  The audience hears timing errors but not wrong notes.  We hear every wrong note we play, but while listening in real time it is almost impossible to hear rhythmic errors.  The only way to do that is record ourselves. 

The way beginners practice does not teach fluency. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #5 on: September 01, 2020, 11:22:02 AM »
The way beginners practice does not teach fluency.
Doesn't that depend on what way beginners practise?  What kind of way do you have in mind?

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #6 on: September 01, 2020, 12:09:00 PM »
Doesn't that depend on what way beginners practise?  What kind of way do you have in mind?

I'm sure there are some that practice differently, but everyone I've heard plays at their own speed in the early stages, rather than at tempo.  I'm not talking performance tempo, although that is a possible practice taught in some traditions, but any tempo.  They find the note or chord, find the next one and play it, and sometime later try to do it at some kind of speed, but generally with the same halting nature just obscured a bit by the speed.  They resist the metronome unless forced.  They may never play in an ensemble. 

Contrast that to the way most guitar players learn:  playing along with recordings and with friends from the beginning.  Of course few guitar beginners become virtuosos, just like few piano players do.  But all of them become capable of playing popular songs in public, and that's rare for a piano student. 
Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 01:21:40 PM »
I'm sure there are some that practice differently, but everyone I've heard plays at their own speed in the early stages, rather than at tempo.  I'm not talking performance tempo, although that is a possible practice taught in some traditions, but any tempo.  They find the note or chord, find the next one and play it, and sometime later try to do it at some kind of speed, but generally with the same halting nature just obscured a bit by the speed.  They resist the metronome unless forced.  They may never play in an ensemble. 

Contrast that to the way most guitar players learn:  playing along with recordings and with friends from the beginning.  Of course few guitar beginners become virtuosos, just like few piano players do.  But all of them become capable of playing popular songs in public, and that's rare for a piano student.


Even relatively beginning piano students play for friends and family, which is a form of performance. No matter how they practice initially to learn the notes and rhythm, they need to learn to ‘practice performing’ by playing through without stopping.

Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #8 on: September 01, 2020, 01:37:20 PM »
Contrast that to the way most guitar players learn:  playing along with recordings and with friends from the beginning.  Of course few guitar beginners become virtuosos, just like few piano players do.  But all of them become capable of playing popular songs in public, and that's rare for a piano student.
You know, I think you have a point there. I learned the piano like many guitarists do guitar, playing songs by ear and occasionally glancing at chords or notes if I couldn't figure them out. I haven't had any problem performing in non-professional settings, for groups of friends or strangers. I can knock out a few tunes and improvise my way out of blunders. As long as the feel is not lost, no one (laymen at least) really cares. I'll sometimes throw in a classical phrase here or there if I feel like it.

One more thing I've observed is that while performing, I tend to never mess with the tempo unless it's for some musical reason. It just changes the mood of a song too much, and that's what matters when playing in public.

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #9 on: September 01, 2020, 02:49:07 PM »


No matter how they practice initially to learn the notes and rhythm, they need to learn to ‘practice performing’ by playing through without stopping.

Um, my point is a little different.  (of course it may be wrong.)  I think "how they practice initially" has a huge negative impact on their ability ever to learn to play through smoothly without hesitations and stutters.  And I think the fact that for piano students this doesn't get any correction by being forced to play with others regularly means those bad habits are reinforced continually. 

It's possible to learn a technical phrase disconnected from time, moving from note to note whenever ready.  Then move on to the next phase, doing it at a very very slow tempo.  Then gradually speed up.  Or, as some countries traditionally do it, you start at full speed.  But you only worry about getting one note per phrase.  Then one note per bar.  Two notes per bar.  Until you're playing at full speed. 
Tim

Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #10 on: September 01, 2020, 04:46:02 PM »
Do you think it stems from an over-reliance on sheet music in the initial stages?

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #11 on: September 01, 2020, 06:44:00 PM »
Do you think it stems from an over-reliance on sheet music in the initial stages?

That's a very good question, and one I hadn't considered.  There may be something to it.

The counterargument might be that beginners in band or orchestra start on sheet music too, and many are totally dependent on it forever.  So, I don't know.

I have a few thoughts.

One is that piano students if they practice at all practice alone and never are forced to contend with their peers.  A beginner band in middle school sounds horrible, out of tune and wrong notes, but they're playing together from day one.  They don't practice either in the early stages 

Another is that piano lessons are traditionally taught that way ignoring the stumbles, mostly because, well, tradition.  But also maybe because fluency is not the priority for teachers, and they know 99% are just not going to get it anyway, so they fight the battles they can win.  And maybe if you're a teacher and you hear stumbling rhythm 40 hours a week you don't notice it either. 

And then there are those who think metronomes produce robotic playing and avoid them like the plague, for themselves and their students.  The horrors!

It could also be that in our haste to get to harder music we are always playing pieces we can't do fluently, so we just accept it. 

I would think of all the instruments, piano is the one the lowest percentage of students ever succeed in playing minimally let alone well.  Of course it's also the instrument the most students are forced into unwillingly, so that might have something to do with it. 

I do not allow my handbell students to play notes late, ever.  If we have to do it at quarter speed we still learn it in strict tempo.  I accept bad tone but not bad time.
Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #12 on: September 01, 2020, 08:45:30 PM »
Um, my point is a little different.  (of course it may be wrong.)  I think "how they practice initially" has a huge negative impact on their ability ever to learn to play through smoothly without hesitations and stutters.  And I think the fact that for piano students this doesn't get any correction by being forced to play with others regularly means those bad habits are reinforced continually. 

It's possible to learn a technical phrase disconnected from time, moving from note to note whenever ready.  Then move on to the next phase, doing it at a very very slow tempo.  Then gradually speed up.  Or, as some countries traditionally do it, you start at full speed.  But you only worry about getting one note per phrase.  Then one note per bar.  Two notes per bar.  Until you're playing at full speed.


I don’t find your premise that beginners do not learn to play through without stopping. Regardless of how they learn the notes and rhythm, they can and do learn to play through without stopping. Evidence?  The thousands of piano recitals, and exam participants.

Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #13 on: September 01, 2020, 08:47:37 PM »


I don’t find your premise that beginners do not learn to play through without stopping. Regardless of how they learn the notes and rhythm, they can and do learn to play through without stopping. Evidence?  The thousands of piano recitals, and exam participants.

Exam participants?  I don't know, I've never listened.  But recitals:  Complete stops and restarts are common; playthroughs with frequent stumbles and stutters are the norm.  And that's for the 2% of people that get that far. 
Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #14 on: September 02, 2020, 12:18:43 AM »
Exam participants?  I don't know, I've never listened.  But recitals:  Complete stops and restarts are common; playthroughs with frequent stumbles and stutters are the norm.  And that's for the 2% of people that get that far.


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Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #15 on: September 02, 2020, 06:37:28 AM »
Exam participants?  I don't know, I've never listened.  But recitals:  Complete stops and restarts are common; playthroughs with frequent stumbles and stutters are the norm.  And that's for the 2% of people that get that far.
Honestly, this might just have to do with the complexity of the musical material. In most other instruments, you are kind of "singing" so people can rely more on how the tune goes. On the piano, you need to keep track of multiple lines at the same time, which isn't as natural imo. So you need to delegate more stuff to muscle memory. Suppose you're playing a Bach invention. Then while playing, you can only focus completely on one of the voices at any given point in time. The other voices just have to keep doing their thing even if you're not playing complete attention to them.

Is the same thing common in violin recitals?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #16 on: September 03, 2020, 05:57:46 PM »
In the article it said they are detecting either a wrong note, left out note or added note. Notes which are left out or added can be difficult to detect as they may not interfer with the sound but change its texture in a subtle way that might not really distract those who haven't taught the piece a million times or have play it many times over years.

Suppose you're playing a Bach invention. Then while playing, you can only focus completely on one of the voices at any given point in time. The other voices just have to keep doing their thing even if you're not playing complete attention to them.

It depends what you mean by "paying complete attention". Appreciating polyphony however doesn't require that you consciously observe each voice individually with full focus but appreciate their interaction as a whole thus be able to actually listen to each voice "separately but together" since if any detract from the polyphony it will become obvious to the keen ear and you can thus make adjustment.

The more efficient you make your observations at the piano the more you can control larger groups of notes without requiring to "babysit" the physical action every step of the way since you can draw from past experience you know thoroughly. Of course if the technique requires a lot of conscious thought then you are going to not be able to relax enough to listen to what you are playing. Once you understand the language of a particular composer you can anticipate the decisions that they make in their music as well.
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Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #17 on: September 04, 2020, 05:54:17 AM »
It depends what you mean by "paying complete attention". Appreciating polyphony however doesn't require that you consciously observe each voice individually with full focus but appreciate their interaction as a whole thus be able to actually listen to each voice "separately but together" since if any detract from the polyphony it will become obvious to the keen ear and you can thus make adjustment.
I think I understand what you mean by appreciating polyphony. However, while playing a polyphonic piece, you need to be playing all the parts at the same time. So, you can be following one of the melody lines completely, but you kind of anticipate the rest more than you actually completely listen to them. If you have two lines going on at the same time, for example -- you can listen to one, you can listen to the other, you can listen to how one harmonizes the other or vice versa, you can listen to one as it's being played but imagine the other slightly ahead of time so that you keep track of both, but I don't think you can consciously completely listen to both at the same time.

I mentioned it in the context of why playing the piano seems to be fundamentally harder in some ways than other instruments, and it's my hypothesis that this can be the cause of more memory slips. Melodies have a way of getting stuck in your head, and so with other instruments, that kind of memory can compensate for memory slips while performing to make the performer's life simpler. With piano, while a good auditory memory of the entire piece is achievable, it is much harder.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #18 on: September 04, 2020, 06:32:34 AM »
If you have two lines going on at the same time, for example -- you can listen to one, you can listen to the other, you can listen to how one harmonizes the other or vice versa, you can listen to one as it's being played but imagine the other slightly ahead of time so that you keep track of both, but I don't think you can consciously completely listen to both at the same time.
For example if I sight read a fugue I have no problems playing all the multiple voices at once so one could argue that I am actually consciously aware of everything that is happening. I am aware of everything but it is observed with efficiency backed by my experienced with playing that composer and the fingering patterns that you come across. Someone who tries to do this with little experience will feel overwhelmed by all the separate voices and find it certainly impossible to notice everything at once however this is not because it is impossible but rather that they haven't the skills to efficiently observe everything at once. It is like normal readers comparing themselves to speed readers (someone like Howard Berg) and proclaiming that it is just impossible to do so, well it certainly is impossible without the correct training and experience. Of course there are limitations to everyones potential so even with the best training and practice one may never get there.
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Online ranjit

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #19 on: September 04, 2020, 06:52:17 AM »
By no means do I argue that it's impossible to keep track of everything at once. However, how I think it works is by some kind of rapid switching of attention. Imagine focusing your vision. You can't exactly focus your eyes on two things at the same time. However, you can focus on one thing while having a peripheral vision for another, and you can rapidly glance at multiple things to keep track of all of them. That's how I feel it works. It's definitely not impossible, but different and more difficult than other instruments for that reason. Which would explain why beginners struggle more.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #20 on: September 04, 2020, 07:41:41 AM »
By no means do I argue that it's impossible to keep track of everything at once. However, how I think it works is by some kind of rapid switching of attention. Imagine focusing your vision. You can't exactly focus your eyes on two things at the same time.
"Keeping track of everything" vs "you can't exactly focus your eyes on two things at the same time". I think any difference between the two needs to be defined a little clearer. If I can sight read a fugue I am required to be able to accurately play and see everything at the same time, however exactly how I do that is with more efficiency and techniques than someone who is starting out or who have not developed their reading skills enough. Sure you are not consciously thinking about each individual note IN ISOLATION, its value, the finger being used, that would overwhelm your thoughts, you learn to make observations more efficient. It is really just like how we learn to read words, we start sounding out letters at the start, then we can see entire words at a time, surely when you read words you are not thinking about each letter individually but able to see it as a whole. The very same kind of process occurs with reading music too albeit a much more difficult task since you need to translate what you read to an action in your hands not just your minds eye or tongue.


However, you can focus on one thing while having a peripheral vision for another, and you can rapidly glance at multiple things to keep track of all of them. That's how I feel it works. It's definitely not impossible, but different and more difficult than other instruments for that reason. Which would explain why beginners struggle more.
I am taking sight reading as an example to compare the idea with, of course one could use other things like perhaps how they memorize a piece without the score and what thoughts go on when you do that. But in terms of sight reading you really can't estimate what you need to do to such a degree that you are uncertain exactly what needs to be done. Estimations need to be controlled by the context of the notes you are reading and the type of music you are playing. It is hard to put it into words but when you are reading music at a high level you may see one system which predominantly controls what you are doing but it is at the same time cueing what the other hand needs to do or how it fits in. So although you may focus on one part a little more than another it is still bound to the other and you can connect your thoughts to the other through what you are focusing on. That is the "together but apart" type situation we are in.
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Online timothy42b

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #21 on: September 04, 2020, 12:30:24 PM »
I am aware of everything but it is observed with efficiency backed by my experienced with playing that composer and the fingering patterns that you come across. Someone who tries to do this with little experience will feel overwhelmed by all the separate voices and find it certainly impossible to notice everything at once

Yes.  This is the mistake people make with sightreading - they think it's all noticing everything at once, when in fact most of it is retrieving the previous experience with that composer (or at least that genre).  That's why you can't just get better by doing a lot of sightreading - you also have to do a lot of deeper learning with that composer and those fingering patterns so they are available for retrieval.  And getting really good at sightreading Bach has only limited transfer to Joplin, e.g.
Tim

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many errors are heard by listeners?
«Reply #22 on: September 05, 2020, 03:15:53 AM »
That's why you can't just get better by doing a lot of sightreading - you also have to do a lot of deeper learning with that composer and those fingering patterns so they are available for retrieval.
A large part of improving sight reading is doing a ton of reading, you will get better just by reading more and more every day. Of course is not just trying to read and play successfully (although that helps) but to progress into higher reading levels you do need to take time and work with analysis (how to visualize groups of notes or segments), understanding the art of fingering, observing common patterns and small changes from them, coordination, styles of music etc etc.
 
And getting really good at sightreading Bach has only limited transfer to Joplin, e.g.
Yes, although Bach is an unusual case I've found that studying how to read part writing really has a far reaching effect on all genres in terms of fingering, coordination and harmonic structure. However rhythmic reading will not be helped, I can clearly remember studying sightreading predominantly with Bach for a few years and then discovering Kasputin, on paper his music looks doable to read but the rhythmic devices required a experience in improvsationary Jazz and other styles in that genre and also some of the fingering is certainly never found in Bach. But I could carry over a lot of reading experience which helped me form tools to deal with other genres.
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