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Topic: What do you think would be the best way to learn piano if you could start over?  (Read 3763 times)

Offline ranjit

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If you could start all over again, and get to plan your practice from scratch, what do you feel would be the most effective way to get better at the piano for you?

Just thought it would be a fun thing to think about and see the responses!

Offline dogperson

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The only thing I would change is not having a long gap where I did not play at all , but it was the right decision at the time.  I would not change that decision unless I changed everything else in my life.

As a child, I took lessons from a neighborhood teacheró and I regret I never learned her educational background. But IMHO, the lessons were excellent and included a second weekly lesson in ear training, theory and piano duets.  I practiced like a fiend; the only regret is that it was not as efficient as my adult practice.

Iím grateful for the teachers I have had as an adult.  Onward

Offline ted

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I cannot see how I could have been luckier with the music teachers of my childhood and youth. I was also fortunate to have parents for whom music was a part of daily life and who encouraged me. In adult life I was lucky to be able to earn a good living for my family in another field, allowing me to preserve complete independence of musical direction. Although I had to put in enormous effort myself with technique over the years as neither teacher thought it important, my second teacher did provide me with a Virgil Practice Clavier, probably the only reason I can still play anything I want to in my seventies. So even with that I was phenomenally lucky. Broadly speaking I wouldn't change a thing and the question is redundant.
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Offline ranjit

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I cannot see how I could have been luckier with the music teachers of my childhood and youth. I was also fortunate to have parents for whom music was a part of daily life and who encouraged me. In adult life I was lucky to be able to earn a good living for my family in another field, allowing me to preserve complete independence of musical direction. Although I had to put in enormous effort myself with technique over the years as neither teacher thought it important, my second teacher did provide me with a Virgil Practice Clavier, probably the only reason I can still play anything I want to in my seventies. So even with that I was phenomenally lucky. Broadly speaking I wouldn't change a thing and the question is redundant.
I envy you, Ted! ;D

Offline lostinidlewonder

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I wouldn't change my own personal journey because I have been blessed with a lot. With anything though we can look back and see what could have been better, it is not something I really think about since it cannot be changed.

A number of times throughout my music journey I feel that I have had to recreate or at least come to a different solution a problem without relying on old skills which cannot progress any further efficiently. This has required that I give up precious tools that I might be very happy with in place for something that might at first be less effective but which has much more room for current and future growth. So there is really no point where we can't start over and relearn skills, afterall we bring with it a vast amount of knowledge, it is not like we are starting afresh with absolutely nothing at all.


It would have been nice to have access to a lot of music like we do today with the internet. I think what I missed out on early on was the large amount of music that was out there. It is not really a problem these days for anyone with internet access. I remember paying around $25USD for Lecuona's Malaguena to be sent to me from overseas and it took almost 3 months.

I can imagine with a more optimized repetoire choice I could have developed faster but it would not really cause such a huge difference, maybe save a few years here or there out of the 35+. I wish I was much more interested in sight reading earlier on. I think with access to more works to study with early on I would have found sight reading a lot more interesting.

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Offline ranjit

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A number of times throughout my music journey I feel that I have had to recreate or at least come to a different solution a problem without relying on old skills which cannot progress any further efficiently. This has required that I give up precious tools that I might be very happy with in place for something that might at first be less effective but which has much more room for current and future growth. So there is really no point where we can't start over and relearn skills, afterall we bring with it a vast amount of knowledge, it is not like we are starting afresh with absolutely nothing at all.
This is interesting. In some way, we can not truly understand the value of better tools unless we have experience with worse ones, and all of that trial and error is stored in the subconscious. So it is not possible to directly start using very effective tools, although they exist, because there needs to be prior knowledge and experience of some sort to be able to understand what the tools mean in the first place, and to use them correctly.

This is also something which I'm just coming to realize. One of the most frustrating things about it is that it seems near impossible to consciously bring to attention what exactly the subconscious is doing in that mysterious space! It may well be impossible, and I don't think we currently have the answer. Neuro research simply says that some connection voodoo happens in the brain. I mean there are a lot of technicalities, but there are no real insights there. It probably relates to qualia, which I recall Ted also mentioned a few weeks ago on why it's so hard to transmit technique purely using books.

Offline getsiegs

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For me, it's not that I would learn piano a whole new way if I started over; it's more that I wish I could start over knowing what I know now. For the first 10 years of lessons it was mostly just another activity for me. I wasn't particularly dedicated, got by with minimal effort, had no appreciation for classical music, etc. When I found the music that spoke to me and started caring about the piano, I went from practicing 2-3 hours a week to 2-3 hours a day. I'd like to think that if I took to the piano at age 5 the way I did at age 16, I might have been some sort of prodigy and could've been so much further along technically (and musically). Obviously at this point, being sad about what could've been isn't going to get me anywhere and the most I can do is just try my best now and going forward, but it's interesting to think about what could've happened if things had gone differently.

Offline anacrusis

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For me, it would be more technical instruction earlier on. I had the interest and the love for the music, but lacked the tools and a path for developing them to be able to play the music I wanted to play with solid craftmanship. So instead I hacked my way through many things that were too difficult for me, without the tools I needed to improve.

Offline brogers70

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For me, it would be more technical instruction earlier on. I had the interest and the love for the music, but lacked the tools and a path for developing them to be able to play the music I wanted to play with solid craftmanship. So instead I hacked my way through many things that were too difficult for me, without the tools I needed to improve.

Ditto

Offline lostinidlewonder

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This is interesting. In some way, we can not truly understand the value of better tools unless we have experience with worse ones, and all of that trial and error is stored in the subconscious. So it is not possible to directly start using very effective tools, although they exist, because there needs to be prior knowledge and experience of some sort to be able to understand what the tools mean in the first place, and to use them correctly.
This is what I believe strongly based off the students I've taught over the years and my own personal journey. I often think about how babies develop the ability to move around in their space, it all improves over time in some form but it looks rough and the technique doesn't look like an adult. Just look at how a 2 year old runs around, if an adult ran around like that they would probably dislocate something.

I think with the piano our skills are forever changing to become more efficient. So a well developed pianist should not tell a developing pianist to stop crawling around and stand upright and walk like an adult. We all need need that early experience with basic movements and ideas and then we need to see how it becomes more efficient as you add more skills, abandon old ideas and develop synergy between old and new skills. I find any teacher who tries to simply copy paste ideas of mastery without allowing development to naturally occur in some form is not allowing the student to get to know their hands or mind in a natural manner which is deeply understood.

This is also something which I'm just coming to realize. One of the most frustrating things about it is that it seems near impossible to consciously bring to attention what exactly the subconscious is doing in that mysterious space! It may well be impossible, and I don't think we currently have the answer. Neuro research simply says that some connection voodoo happens in the brain. I mean there are a lot of technicalities, but there are no real insights there. It probably relates to qualia, which I recall Ted also mentioned a few weeks ago on why it's so hard to transmit technique purely using books.
This is probably a slight tangent from what you are considering but for example, I feel I know what goes on in my brain pretty well when it comes to studying the piano. When I want to master a work first I know exactly what the piece should sound like. From that picture of the sound I then sight read through the work multiple times and get to know the coordination logic to produce the notes, this is a very conscious effort with words and pattern recognitions which are observed in terms of fingering and note patterns but only for parts which evade my standard reading abilities.

When I am sight reading often I will take the work at a slower tempo so then an entire map of what the piece sounds in slow motion also becomes solidified. So I can now hear the piece both at tempo and slower hearing all the details which usually form a whole sound. The more I practice the less I have to consciously think, the words and pattern recognition start to move more into the background and what it feels like in my muscular memory starts to take over.

If anything goes wrong I correct it first by muscular and sound memory and here knowing the slow motion sound of the piece really helps because you can easily pinpoint where you are. However if the correction is not instant with the muscular memory or sound memory I will not waste time with it and rather I will start again and reenforce the attempt with the correction controlled by conscious pattern observation, it now steps back out of the background to solidify the movements required. This dancing about of the conscious and muscular memory can occur many times, eventually the muscular memory takes over and then it can connect with to the ideal sound in my head without any interruption, the process is then complete. The tempo cannot be raised until the muscular memory has effectively taken over and there is little thinking required.

How you go about making your thoughts as efficient as possible so that when you are tackling something you can solve it as fast as possible, this all is constantly developing and changing. The overall process one goes through to master a piece should be considered as "practice method". Practice method is always recreating itself as you learn more and more. It should start quite rough and as you get to know simple tools you then can improve from there and know what is better because of the comparisons you can start making. Of course it is not that simple, there will be tools that you learn that you just cannot giveup, everyone has had those.
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Offline ranjit

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Thank you for your description of how you learn the piano! It gives me quite a bit to think about.

It will certainly take a while for my sight reading to catch up to the point where I could utilize it effectively while learning a piece in the way you mention, but I think I will get there eventually. I've also found that I'm nowadays often able to catch wrong notes by intuition, which I find to be an exciting development. That is, if I misread something in Bach or Chopin, I hear it and sense something is wrong, and then can often figure out what would be the correct note even without checking the score.

Offline keypeg

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I probably couldn't, going back in time, because I was a kid and stuck with what was there for me. That was a Hohner electric organ with "child-size" keys.  So I learned to press a key down and hold it down for the duration of the sound, with shallow depth and little resistance - for sure this affected my piano technique.  Saw nobody play, ever. Did not know there was such a thing as technique, or efficient ways of using the body, and no model to make it happen even subconsciously like children pick up.  The piano music, once I got a piano, was all in the keys of C, G, F, D, Bb and relative minors - diatonic. Which also affected things.

There's a lot here that I'd want to have been different.

But I also had nobody to teach me that music was scary, that there were mistakes and mistakes were  a bad thing to be scared of.  I experimented, digressed from a piece to explore harmonies, melodies, intervals, patterns - invented my own music.  There were advantages to this. Some of the music stayed in memory, and decades later as an adult I discovered that 95% of the time I had correct notes - so not bad.

Online lelle

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I probably couldn't, going back in time, because I was a kid and stuck with what was there for me. That was a Hohner electric organ with "child-size" keys.  So I learned to press a key down and hold it down for the duration of the sound, with shallow depth and little resistance - for sure this affected my piano technique. 

I also started out on a keyboard (a yamaha digital piano) with plastic keys with no resistance, I'm pretty sure this affected my tehnique as well. I remember it as encouraging me to be rather forceful to compensate for the lack of resistance and feedback from the keys to help me feel more secure.

Offline ranjit

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But I also had nobody to teach me that music was scary, that there were mistakes and mistakes were  a bad thing to be scared of.  I experimented, digressed from a piece to explore harmonies, melodies, intervals, patterns - invented my own music.  There were advantages to this. Some of the music stayed in memory, and decades later as an adult I discovered that 95% of the time I had correct notes - so not bad.
Do you mean that you can identify the right key on a piano correctly 95% of the time? That's cool. Perfect pitch is something I wish I had -- I can now pick up things by ear very fast, and I have a decent musical memory. If I had perfect pitch, I could instantly transcribe things from memory. I can do it right now as well to an extent, but it won't be in the right key half the time, so I have to look up a recording to check it.

Offline keypeg

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Do you mean that you can identify the right key on a piano correctly 95% of the time? That's cool. Perfect pitch is something I wish I had -- I can now pick up things by ear very fast, and I have a decent musical memory. If I had perfect pitch, I could instantly transcribe things from memory. I can do it right now as well to an extent, but it won't be in the right key half the time, so I have to look up a recording to check it.
I do not have perfect pitch.  Here's what I had as a kid.  We'd been given movable Do solfege, and I learned that "the note above the last sharp is Do".  So then I just sang what I saw on the page, I guess intervallically like the school exercises, and then played those same sounds.  All the music was diatonic. The chords were usually broken chords, Alberti bass, so more of the same.  If I sang it correctly, I played it correctly, and if I played it correctly, I remembered it correctly.  I was in a kind of "music ghetto" so it all "worked".

Until I was in my 50's, I thought everybody read music by hearing in their head the melodies they saw on the page.  It was a big surprise to discover that people see a note on the page, and it tells them to press a location on an instrument (piano or violin).  One day back then I brought a book of folksongs to my violin teacher, showing him, "I really love this piece."  I was surprised when he took it to the piano and played it, to find out how it sounded.  I thought he'd hear it off the page like I did.  I thought everybody did.

As a caution: this was for diatonic music. And I heard in relative pitch.  So I could at times end up playing a piece that was in one key, in the wrong key, and only find out when I was hunting for too many black keys, or when on another instrument I ran out of notes - like the recorder.  So I'd try a "different Do" (key) until it was in the right range.

I don't recommend that world.

Offline ranjit

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Until I was in my 50's, I thought everybody read music by hearing in their head the melodies they saw on the page.  It was a big surprise to discover that people see a note on the page, and it tells them to press a location on an instrument (piano or violin).  One day back then I brought a book of folksongs to my violin teacher, showing him, "I really love this piece."  I was surprised when he took it to the piano and played it, to find out how it sounded.  I thought he'd hear it off the page like I did.  I thought everybody did.
That's a suave ability to have. I can usually only imagine about a measure in my head (while sight reading, the measure ahead). I've relied a lot on my musical memory. So what tends to happen with me is that given a piece of music I've heard a few times, I can often read the sheets and imagine how it sounds. But it's hard for me to do, especially if I've never heard it before. I should practice some sight-singing!

I don't recommend that world.
Why not? It's a nice enough skill to have, and I'm sure it helps with memory and a bunch of other things.

Offline j_tour

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I should practice some sight-singing!
Why not? It's a nice enough skill to have, and I'm sure it helps with memory and a bunch of other things.

Yeah, that's the best thing I learned through practice and experience, sight-singing.  I don't know if in my case it would have made a difference to start learning intervals and singing on cue at a younger age. 

I hesitated to comment in this thread, because on reflection, it's not a matter of technique or discipline, but I was a pretty fierce alto (Eb) saxophone player at the same time as learning basic piano literally over the shoulder of an uncle who lived with us at the time. 

Just coincidence, really:  I would be a much better technician if I knew then what I know now, but it's not certain to me that I wouldn't have lost some other experiences as a musician or person.  Couldn't really say which is better.

And, yet, while I was transposing all this stuff from concert-key sheet music for performance, I didn't even know Charlie Parker existed.  Nor, on piano, I didn't know anything but Eubie Blake and Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin, Charles Lamb.  It took until I was in my teens to discover beyond, but by that time <cue Civil War theme music> I realized, dear Martha, that my time spent on the piano had not been for naught. </end cue>.

Yeah, about age eleven or twelve or so I got hooked up with a college professor who had unbelievable patience.  Actually, two of them:  Don W. was more a theory, ear-training guy, although he was a competent pianist who was obsessed with what was at that time state-of-the-art computer programs for learning intervals and singing them, as well as writing by hand counterpoint exercises and all that.  And Denise was a fully-fledged adjunct professor at a very well known local college:  even though she didn't drill me on scales and abstract exercises as I progressed to probably grade n or so by age fourteen or fifteen, enough to perform on stage for the graded examinations, she did make sure there's no question of proper fingering of scales and arpeggios.  And then, from there, high school in the US, playing guitar and learning blues and rock and roll piano off records. 

But, Denise did insist on from the beginning correct technique, and once I'd achieved that, she was more of an expert consultant or advisor.  I think she could have insisted a bit on achieving more complete technique, but she seemed happy when I brought in real repertoire, and gave very sound advice. 

Hard to say:  if things had been different, and if I'd had a more structured program from the beginning, I'd likely be a better mechanic today, but it's just one of those things. 

I'd put myself, if I were back then overseeing my younger self, on a stricter diet of accomplishment, but that was a long time ago.

So, that's how I ended up:  I don't even pretend to be able to teach kids, but I can easily show people how to play some stuff, just like how people showed me by looking over the shoulder as a kid.  And, the benfit is that I can do it with correct technique and not just like a lot of ear players, "yeah, just slide 4-4 off the Ab, it's good enough."  Although often that's exactly what's needed.

The other good thing after coming up on a variety of pianos is that I learned to deal with horrible pianos.  In practice rooms as an undergraduate, on stage as a teenager, and so forth. 

I'm very glad I grew up around real pianos, but it was a revelation to play my own instrument, after so many years hanging out at Sam Ash and playing the floor models. 

No, I was probably 22 or 23 when I was able to buy my own stage piano, a proper stand, and a nice PA speaker etc. 

I've never looked back:  as a teenager who played on crappy pianos at home, except for Denise's Hamburg Steinway and various stage pianos, that was freedom.

I'll add I'm still glad to own my own rig, plus the Rhodes, the Wurlitzer, and the Hammond-Suzuki.  I'm happy to own my own rig that can be setup on stage, with my own gear, because I've played way too many bad pianos.  At least my own gear is always in tune (well...sort of).
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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I've relied a lot on my musical memory. So what tends to happen with me is that given a piece of music I've heard a few times, I can often read the sheets and imagine how it sounds. But it's hard for me to do, especially if I've never heard it before. I should practice some sight-singing!
I don't find sight singing really helps piano playing after teaching some professional singers. We afterall can sight sing with our fingers instead of our voice. I think being able to feel rhythm by sight is much more important, the actual tones can be solved with reading skills controlled by the fingers. If you really know a piece well you already have the map of the entire piece in your head. If you are reading it for the first time any amount of sight singing really won't make the sight reading any easier.

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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW: "I think being able to feel rhythm by sight is much more important,.."
Totally agree.  Sight singing is particularly useful for just looking at a score and hearing how it goes, in one's head.
If one does possess perfect pitch, (which I was lucky to find at age 7), then one knows
that you're hearing it in the actual key.  This is also a useful technique when composing away from the piano.
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Offline ranjit

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I don't find sight singing really helps piano playing after teaching some professional singers. We afterall can sight sing with our fingers instead of our voice.
I think it would help me with being able to hear patterns on the sheet music that otherwise I would just see. Often you have a melody line, and the same thing repeated down a third, etc. If one could hear the section in "fast forward" I think that would be very useful, because then you have a combined theory+auditory cue.

I definitely agree with you on the rhythm part.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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I think it would help me with being able to hear patterns on the sheet music that otherwise I would just see. Often you have a melody line, and the same thing repeated down a third, etc. If one could hear the section in "fast forward" I think that would be very useful, because then you have a combined theory+auditory cue.

I definitely agree with you on the rhythm part.
To me it just seems like an extra thought process to sight sing while sight reading a piece. We should ultimately have to be able to produce it with our fingers, personally I never use sight singing for my reading efforts it is just not fast enough. For singers it is an essential skill of course because you have to produce the sound with your voice, but I have not found any benefit it has had for singers I've taught piano sight reading to. Yes they can tell if they have struck a wrong note but we should understand that we struck a wrong note because of the overall phrase of the music we are playing, if we are considering isolated instances it is not efficient enough.

When I look at a score of piece I have never seen before or have no idea what it sounds like I can sort of hear what it sounds but it is much more of a rhythmical association rather than all the notes being heard in my head. I can feel what the piece would be like in my hands before playing it. I can feel the segmentations of the timing and connect with the piece in that manner pretty much instantly by sight (of course if it is alien writing that is not going to happen so readily although a more estimated coordination solution can be felt). I think this is an essential skill rather than actually singing each note.

I might also add that when I see some piano music I can also see in my minds eye what the body would look like playing that. I have taught some students to estimate what they read even if the notes are not the correct tone, it is a part of "speed" sight reading training.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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LIIW: "I think being able to feel rhythm by sight is much more important,.."
Totally agree.  Sight singing is particularly useful for just looking at a score and hearing how it goes, in one's head.
If one does possess perfect pitch, (which I was lucky to find at age 7), then one knows
that you're hearing it in the actual key.  This is also a useful technique when composing away from the piano.
I mean we have recordings to listen to these days but also strong sight reading skills associated with piano playing simply trumps sight singing for pianists imho.
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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW: "but also strong sight reading skills associated with piano playing simply trumps sight singing for pianists imho."
Totally agree.  But I don't see them as mutually exclusive. The sight singing (internal hearing) points to a general musicianship, and can be helpful when managing an ensemble of players...  But yes, the ability to sight read well is probably one of the absolute best skills..  (go through a lot of music in a short time...)
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Offline ranjit

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Are you referring to the "singing" part of sight singing? I think if you can imagine the note in your head that would be enough (but then you would probably be able to sing as well). What about being able to "sight sing" (either out loud or in your head) a measure before you read it (a kind of 'musical buffer' if you will)?

Are you implicitly sight-singing while reading? Do you imagine a couple of seconds of music in your head before actually playing the notes?

Offline j_tour

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Are you referring to the "singing" part of sight singing? I think if you can imagine the note in your head that would be enough (but then you would probably be able to sing as well). What about being able to "sight sing" (either out loud or in your head) a measure before you read it (a kind of 'musical buffer' if you will)?

Are you implicitly sight-singing while reading? Do you imagine a couple of seconds of music in your head before actually playing the notes?

Not LIIW, but that's a way I hadn't thought of it before.  Yes, I suppose anybody can train themselves to sight-sing, but it's more important how (for me, and several others, it seems) one is to conceive an entire environment.

Why does one play "air guitar" and not, for example, "air organ" for example?

It's a possible edge case that can be explained by interpreting the experimental results of one of the early pioneers in ergonomics, namely, JJ Gibson:  to sum up, one must imagine an environment which exists according to the ecological niche of the human.  And not just that, the human who is, at any moment, performing at the piano keyboard, or flying a jet plane, and so forth.

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Offline themeandvariation

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ranjit: "What about being able to "sight sing" (either out loud or in your head) a measure before you read it (a kind of 'musical buffer' if you will)?"
No need for a buffer.  It is similar to watching a score as it is played (like on a recording).   You hear it as it goes, no need to jump ahead to prepare - (as one is inclined to do while sight-reading). 
The voice is only used as a vehicle to open up the inner ear. Music is more than just a melody playing, of course.  And one can't physically sing everything that is going on, (concurrent melodies, bass line, background figuration) but the inner ear can.
From another standpoint, I always mention to my students to play the piece as if they are singing it from the inside. It can be a good subtle compass for dynamics/rubato etc...
ps.  Not to belabor the point, but Bach fugues are a great place to utilize this idea.
When learning a fugue, it can be very helpful to sing each voice all the way through.
This needn't be done until all of the technical challenges have become natural. But then, after that, singing each line can bring a greater awareness of the individuality of each voice, and can thus layer the volume/shading appropriately when playing.

Easiest way to start is to pick a voice. Play that voice on the piano as a reference while singing (in an octave register appropriate to your singing range).  Then try it again, but without the piano reference tone.  Then do the same with the other voices..
Then try playing one voice while sing another..
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Are you referring to the "singing" part of sight singing? I think if you can imagine the note in your head that would be enough (but then you would probably be able to sing as well).
Yes I mean doing either, of course not everyone can sing but you can imagine the tone that is being sung if you are practicing sight singing. I haven't met anyone who can experience the complete sound of the music exactly as written no matter what score they are looking totally within their mind. I can feel the coordination and what the hands would be doing if I am looking at a score, it is not 100% correct but pretty close, this is attributed to sight reading skills but I cannot claim to hear every single note being produced without actually playing it myself. As soon as I play it my listening experience can bind what I am hearing in the music and the feeling in the hands reveal general procedure I have gone through before these combine together to produce the sound. I feel that merely keeping this all mental disconnects from how we are actually to physically produce it. So the physical production AND the sound observation need to be bound tightly together.

What about being able to "sight sing" (either out loud or in your head) a measure before you read it (a kind of 'musical buffer' if you will)?
I guess you could go through that as an excerise but to me it seems like it cannot keep up with normal sight reading skills. When I am reading a work the sound is produced by the fingers rather than my head imagining the note before hand, the head and fingers are working as one creating the sound, there is not a disconnection or latency between the two they are working together. If you then start to sight sing you are separating the two which I feel is not a necessary step for practical piano sight reading skills.

Are you implicitly sight-singing while reading? Do you imagine a couple of seconds of music in your head before actually playing the notes?
I don't sight sing while sight reading on the piano in the way that the sound is first understood within my mind rather than it being from the hands and recognised by the mind together. There lies a seemingly a subtle difference but actually it is actually rather large. When I am reading something I've never seen before I can be pleasantly surprised by the sound and my mind is accepting what it is hearing, I have no idea exactly what it sounded like before I started but while I am playing it is being revealed immediately. So pianists create a type of sight singing with their fingers and mind together rather than it being solely in the mind. I can't see how isolating it into just the mind is useful because we MUST connect it to the fingers which create the sound.
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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW: "I haven't met anyone who can experience the complete sound of the music exactly as written no matter what score they are looking totally within their mind."
Composers and conductors - many  can - but always, 'exactly'?  Well, getting a lot of it for sure.

LIIW: "I can't see how isolating it into just the mind is useful because we MUST connect it to the fingers which create the sound."
Like I said, these abilities are not mutually exclusive.. But it is already obvious that one connects with the fingers, the other idea is not obvious, and some do have trouble trying to understand this, and why it might be a good thing.
No biggie. 
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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LIIW: "I haven't met anyone who can experience the complete sound of the music exactly as written no matter what score they are looking totally within their mind."
Composers and conductors - many  can - but always, 'exactly'?  Well, getting a lot of it for sure.
I would be severely impressed if there was any composer or conductor who could sight sing in their mind exactly a piece they have never seen, especially if it was a complicated work (some easy piece is of course possible). I just don't think they can capture every single sound at once, it just doesn't seem feasible. It was said Liszt could sight read from an orchestra score which means it is possible to see all the layers at once and produce some soultion but did he really do that with zero preparation and could he simply do it all in his head? Maybe, but we are talking about Liszt here would a normal person have any access to such transcendental capabilities?

LIIW: "I can't see how isolating it into just the mind is useful because we MUST connect it to the fingers which create the sound."
Like I said, these abilities are not mutually exclusive.. But it is already obvious that one connects with the fingers, the other idea is not obvious, and some do have trouble trying to understand this, and why it might be a good thing.
No biggie.
Sight singing and sight reading are mututally exclusive in the sense that singing disconnects from the keyboard and reading does not. Sight reading will connect your fingers to the keyboard AND the sound together however it is the production of the correct note with the fingers which produces the sound rather than you observing the note beforehand, anticipating the sound in your head, then repeating that with the finger, it happens simultaneously not in a jaggered manner. In fact you anticipate the sound that will come because of the context of all the notes you are successfuly playing. With strong sight reading skills you can anticipate what notes will come but you don't even need the notes to tell you that there is no sight singing in that respect but an understanding of musical language.

If you try to sight read something with a silent keyboard it is much more difficult because you cannot anticipate what sounds come next. So if I look at a score without the piano although I can feel the writing in my hands I actually need to do it on the piano and hear it so that I don't have to read all the information and the sound I am hearing allows me to ignore much other detail. This is an essential difference between sight singing and reading, sight singing requires that you actively observe all the information and individually create each part in your head, but sight reading allows you to make your thoughts a lot more efficient since your fingers take over the need to be aware of every single note and your anticipation of sound based on the language of music you are playing encourages you do fill in the gaps correctly without attaching a lot of thought to it. When you hear music in your head also you don't usually sustain chordal sounds as much as you would if you hear it in reality. Just try to hear a large chord in your head and hear all the notes for a long time, your mind will not allow you to as you unavoidably start looking at invidivual notes in your head and the wholeness periodically collapses.
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Offline j_tour

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I would be severely impressed if there was any composer or conductor who could sight sing in their mind exactly a piece they have never seen, especially if it was a complicated work (some easy piece is of course possible). I just don't think they can capture every single sound at once, it just doesn't seem feasible.

Yes, I understand you, I think, but to me sight-singing is another level of abstraction one can place upon the score.  It happens to be an abstraction that relies upon one subtrate of the human body, but it is abstracted from the movement of the hands and torso used upon the keyboard.

It's certainly true that sight-singing, in the sense of manifesting a connection between the ear and the instrument, has not much relationship to the keyboard as an instrument.

Indeed, I "hear" the sounds when reading scores in terms of actually playing at the keyboard.  Without effort:  about the same as anybody who can read music off the page, I suppose.  But I find the added effort of singing various voices (no, I have some self-control, so you know) is about the same as pencilling in fingerings or making some visual cues about the rhythms of a piece.

I would call sight-singing "piano adjacent," in that it's worth the effort, but it's not specific to the keyboard.  It's specific to being a good musician, but not necessary to being a good pianist.

It's probably one of the reasons some people can pick up a random instrument and, within a few minutes, play something resembling music. 

So, some people have the greatest pitch of all, but as a compromise, I don't think time spent working on musicianship is at all wasted. 
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Offline themeandvariation

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Yes, J-Tour.
"I would call sight-singing "piano adjacent," in that it's worth the effort, but it's not specific to the keyboard.  It's specific to being a good musician, but not necessary to being a good pianist"
That is what I meant to say - meaning that they serve different purposes. (sometimes overlapping it must be admitted).
" I "hear" the sounds when reading scores in terms of actually playing at the keyboard. "
Yes.

LIIW - And I am a bit surprised - knowing that you have been doing this for decades -
that you have not noticed a connection this way - as J-Tour mentions: "" I "hear" the sounds when reading scores in terms of actually playing at the keyboard. "

Yes you say, 'I just don't think they can capture every single sound at once,"...
I already responded to this saying, "Composers and conductors - many  can - but always, 'exactly'?  Well, getting a lot of it for sure."
I understand that your sole focus here is on the playing/reading aspect - and the technical aspect of playing new material.  I get that, being one who sight-reads (playing)
a lot..
Thanks for your thoughtful reply.   
ps... Beethoven is not the only one who could hear scores in his head.. (But was forced to solely rely on that.. )  This is a testament that this ability is possible. But it is not what inspired the music which flowed - (that was his genius, of course). It was the technique of transcribing what he heard in his head that made the music realizable on paper.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Yes, I understand you, I think, but to me sight-singing is another level of abstraction one can place upon the score.
I agree in terms of segmented observation but in terms of actually capturing everything at once or an entire work it is just quite a super human feat.

It happens to be an abstraction that relies upon one subtrate of the human body, but it is abstracted from the movement of the hands and torso used upon the keyboard.
Sight singing however does not connect to the hands and torso movements rather it is understanding the sound of the note without having to produce it on an instrument. For singers it is an essential skill but they are singing one note at at time. For pianists it just is not enough and thus sight reading skills are what we use. We need to use our fingers to produce the note and our ear to accept or decline its choices.

It's certainly true that sight-singing, in the sense of manifesting a connection between the ear and the instrument, has not much relationship to the keyboard as an instrument.
It doesn't have any relationship with the actual notes you choose at the keyboard unless you are doing very easy music and can actually see exactly which piano notes are being depressed and the fingers that are being used. For instance it doesn't help to look at a choral piece and hear all the notes before you actually play it, it is just unnecessary and you go ahead and use your chord reading skills producing the sound with your fingers. I did hint on a connection that as you are succesfully sight reading you can also anticipate the sounds that will come or are being produced. This is more elabroate than mere sight singing which requires information to come to a conclusion.

Indeed, I "hear" the sounds when reading scores in terms of actually playing at the keyboard.  Without effort:  about the same as anybody who can read music off the page, I suppose.  But I find the added effort of singing various voices (no, I have some self-control, so you know) is about the same as pencilling in fingerings or making some visual cues about the rhythms of a piece.
So you mean if you have any score infront of you even one that you have never seen before and it is very complicated you can hear the music as clearly as a recording? To me this is a super human feat.

I would call sight-singing "piano adjacent," in that it's worth the effort, but it's not specific to the keyboard.  It's specific to being a good musician, but not necessary to being a good pianist.
Personally I wouldn't say that it is a trait of all good musicians because it is predominantly a singers skill.


LIIW - And I am a bit surprised - knowing that you have been doing this for decades -
that you have not noticed a connection this way - as J-Tour mentions: "" I "hear" the sounds when reading scores in terms of actually playing at the keyboard. "

Yes you say, 'I just don't think they can capture every single sound at once,"...
I already responded to this saying, "Composers and conductors - many  can - but always, 'exactly'?  Well, getting a lot of it for sure."
I understand that your sole focus here is on the playing/reading aspect - and the technical aspect of playing new material.  I get that, being one who sight-reads (playing)
a lot..
I have never met anyone who can sight sing a dense unknown score in their head and know exactly what it sounds like as clearly as a recording. Perhaps that's the clearest way I can put it, sight singing is not really used that way. They may get some picture of it but it is not going to be as clear as if someone sight read it with the piano. I am talking about reproducing it exactly as written as you do when you sight read. Sight singing multiple voices at once is just super challenging to do and then to have a coherent overall perspective of the music at tempo? Sure you can sight sing certain parts I am not arguing that but it has no benefit in our practical piano studies. You want to produce the notes with your fingers immediately, no amount of sight singing which isolates study away from the piano is going to make that process any quicker or easier. In fact I would say it is an indisputable truth that sight reading skills is much more efficient than sight singing when it comes to the piano and thus any attempt at sight singing to learn piano music is simply distracting from the appropriate sight reading skills you should be applying to your piano studies.

I did mention that actually feeling in your fingers, what has to be done to produce the notes you are reading is an actual piano skill. Perhaps that is sight feeling? I don't know what you would call it. When I read a score of something I've never seen before or tried to play the notes tell my hands what to do without me even being at the piano. Of course this process is not as accurate as if I have an actual piano infront of me producing the sounds, but I have described this in my previous response.


Quote from: themeandvariation link=topic=67476.msg706521#msg706521
Beethoven is not the only one who could hear scores in his head.. (But was forced to solely rely on that.. )  This is a testament that this ability is possible. But it is not what inspired the music which flowed - (that was his genius, of course). It was the technique of transcribing what he heard in his head that made the music realizable on paper.
You are talking about like a God of music though. Also Beethoven was a highly trained and talented musician while he had his hearing. Mozart also suggested that he could hear an entire piece in his head before he composed it. But these are their own compositions and something that comes from within them from their experience. I am sure if you gave Beethoven some score of music he never heard before he would struggle to understand what he was listening to. The score was not the necessary for the music that was already within him, it was merely necessary for others to understand it. This is very different from sight skills.
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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW, of course one could just go to the piano and play exactly the notes, and then know for sure exactly how they sound.  And yes, the sight reading ability in no way needs any help from sight singing.  And 'why?' , (If I understand you correctly) "would I want to hear it internally when I could just play it, and hear the exact notes" ?
Yes, of course. I am just talking about another skill - which is fun to try out if you haven't. Maybe look at some sonatas you've never played, starting w something diatonically conservative, like one of the 500 Scarlatti sonatas, maybe an obscure  Hadyn  sonata, or Czerny,  and see how it goes. You might strike the key of the key signature to get to acclimatize  your ear, and then sing the scale.  Then, away from the piano, see what you can hear. 
 You say: "Personally I wouldn't say that it is a trait of all good musicians because it is predominantly a singers skill. "
This is where I would disagree. It is not for singers only.  As I said earlier, sight singing is the gateway to hearing from the inside.  (I do think it can kindle perfect pitch - which a few of my students find themselves able to do. One of them is a 7 year old. Not that PP is much of a big deal, but it can help in composing and conducting ensembles ). 

LIIW ; (referring to Beethoven) "You are talking about like a God of music though."
I said he was a genius.  But the technique he employed to paper - can be cultivated.

LIIW:"Also Beethoven was a highly trained and talented musician while he had his hearing."  Yes, how else would this ability ever have happened. It couldn't have. I don't get the point.

LIIW: "I am sure if you gave Beethoven some score of music he never heard before he would struggle to understand what he was listening to."  Hmm, that is quite a brave assumption. Surely he could hear/understand his contemporaries, as most of them were playing in less harmonically complex context..  I would certainly think so.

LIIW: "The score was not the necessary for the music that was already within him, it was merely necessary for others to understand it. "
Yes, and we would MERELY not have that music had he not written it down. Not a simple task.

It is not a 'super human feat' to do this.  But one doesn't immediately start out with complex music... One works up to it, familiarizing with patterns and the sounds of various chords,  and gradually hearing beyond the triad, to 4, 5, 6 note chords,
(Like a 13th chord with a raised 11 -  has a certain sound to it).

If you have a mind for it, try that inner listening experiment I mentioned, even for just 5 minutes.



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Offline lostinidlewonder

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LIIW, of course one could just go to the piano and play exactly the notes, and then know for sure exactly how they sound.  And yes, the sight reading ability in no way needs any help from sight singing.  And 'why?' , (If I understand you correctly) "would I want to hear it internally when I could just play it, and hear the exact notes" ?
It is not just "why don't I imagine it in my head", it's that one cannot do so. You cannot look at sheet music and hear a recording in your head playing what you are reading. It just doesn't work that way. The reason why trained pianist will not use sight singing is other than it is mostly used for single lines strings of notes, we use our sight reading skills to produce a better result. There is no point in trying to train yourself to hear the entire music just by reading a score, I also don't think it is possible.

Yes, of course. I am just talking about another skill - which is fun to try out if you haven't. Maybe look at some sonatas you've never played, starting w something diatonically conservative, like one of the 500 Scarlatti sonatas, maybe an obscure  Hadyn  sonata, or Czerny,  and see how it goes. You might strike the key of the key signature to get to acclimatize  your ear, and then sing the scale.  Then, away from the piano, see what you can hear. 
A fun skill? You mean just go ahead and try to listen to music without using the piano and just the sheets? It is just not going to be the same as listening to a recording with the sheets or playing the piece itself on the piano with sight reading skills. Again without repeating myself I don't see the point in doing such things if I am interested in piano skills.

You say: "Personally I wouldn't say that it is a trait of all good musicians because it is predominantly a singers skill. "
This is where I would disagree. It is not for singers only.  As I said earlier, sight singing is the gateway to hearing from the inside.  (I do think it can kindle perfect pitch - which a few of my students find themselves able to do. One of them is a 7 year old. Not that PP is much of a big deal, but it can help in composing and conducting ensembles ). 
Sight singing is a very important skill for professional singers there are many books devoted to it. You would be less of a musician as a singer if you could not sight sing. But for pianists it is not necessary and it is taking the importance of sight singing far to far by considering that any pianist who doesn't use sight singing is any less of a musician.


LIIW ; (referring to Beethoven) "You are talking about like a God of music though."
I said he was a genius.  But the technique he employed to paper - can be cultivated.
But he is hearing music from within and translating it to the page, sight singing reads what is already on the page and produces it in the mind (and it is predominantly used with singers dealing with one note at a time). So even though Beethoven wrote music whie he was deaf he still heard it in his mind eye THEN translated it to page. It is not reading a page and translating it to the head that is not the same direction of thought.

LIIW:"Also Beethoven was a highly trained and talented musician while he had his hearing."  Yes, how else would this ability ever have happened. It couldn't have. I don't get the point.
It means he knew how to write down his ideas in his head clearly before he went deaf. There are also stories of him struggling to hear music and cutting of piano legs so he could feel the vibrations. So even he yearned for some feedback from sound. You used Beethoven as an example for sight singing but I didn't think it was that relevant.

LIIW: "I am sure if you gave Beethoven some score of music he never heard before he would struggle to understand what he was listening to."  Hmm, that is quite a brave assumption. Surely he could hear/understand his contemporaries, as most of them were playing in less harmonically complex context..  I would certainly think so.
He certainly might be able to hear it in fragmentation or estimation but it never would approach an actual performance or recording of the music. I brought it up because I don't think that it is possible to hear music like a record in your head just by reading the score, if it is a single note yes of course, but actual concert standard piano music that you have never heard before? Imaginary skill imho.

LIIW: "The score was not the necessary for the music that was already within him, it was merely necessary for others to understand it. "
Yes, and we would MERELY not have that music had he not written it down. Not a simple task.
Of course it would be difficult but Beethoven had a lot of training and knew what notes on the page could sound like. So he wrote what he did because he could hear it clearly in his mind. The translation of that to the page thus is not so incredible. But to look at a page and hear all the notes of an unknown work as clearly as you would a recording or live performance, this is just fantastic thinking imho.

It is not a 'super human feat' to do this.  But one doesn't immediately start out with complex music... One works up to it, familiarizing with patterns and the sounds of various chords,  and gradually hearing beyond the triad, to 4, 5, 6 note chords,
(Like a 13th chord with a raised 11 -  has a certain sound to it).
Are you admitting that you can look at any unknown sheet music to you and hear all the music as clearly as a recording? To me this is super human.

If you have a mind for it, try that inner listening experiment I mentioned, even for just 5 minutes.
I don't quite understand the use of it, it has no real relevance to piano studies. I can feel the music in my hands just by reading the sheets which encourages me to do that on a piano and thus hear what it is on about, that is how a pianist is trained. We don't need to hear the music in our head before playing it. In fact I don't know any instrumentalist who needs to do that and we use our instrument to read not isolate it.
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Offline keypeg

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The sight singing that Ranjit describes is exactly what I had - for decades.  It was in relative pitch though if someone gave me the tonic before starting, it would be in the right key.  If the melody shifted up a fifth, as music often does, I heard that shift to the Dominant.  Alberti bass I might co-hear: countermelodies - anything melodic. My ear was polyphonic - like the old monks.  A Bach Invention or Sinfonia - I heard the voices intermingle while looking at the score.  The notes were not notes: they were group patterns that formed a sound picture.  This was not intellectual and did not require an extra step.  It was like reaching for your coffee, your fingers tingling in anticipation of the heat.

Because of how I developed in isolation, this also coupled with the hands.  I heard the music that I looked at, and reached for the sound.

Was this a good thing to have? Had it been, I would have kept it.  I'm overcoming what my teacher has dubbed "keyboard blindness".  I was practically unaware of the 2+3 black key configuration.  Looking at the keys or my hands actually disoriented me at one time.  And I'd be whizzing along, playing some new piece of music, "hearing" what I saw, going to where the sound was --- suddenly I've got a chromatic descent, and I don't know if the next note will be a black or white key because I don't know "where on the piano" I am, or what that note actually is. There was no keyboard awareness: hand awareness.  These kinds of automatisms can stop you cold at the worst times.  WITH the keyboard etc. awareness, it might be a cool tool.

The other thing is: my sense of chords remained rudimentary  That included what I was able to hear.   All the music that I was given to play as a self-taught child (and there were only a few old books) was 90% Alberti bass type; or had the rudimentary kinds of diatonic chords that quickly become automatic and "relative".  (G7, Eb7, F#7 are all "the same thing" i.e. V7 of something - which messes up your black and white keys).

Hope this makes some sense. I'm from another planet musically.

Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW, you won't even try a 5 minute experiment to see about it?  It took you more time to write your response.
You say, "So even though Beethoven wrote music whie he was deaf he still heard it in his mind eye THEN translated it to page. It is not reading a page and translating it to the head that is not the same direction of thought. "
Why would you think this is do? It is pretty much the same procedure whether one writes it , or whether they are reading someone else's composition.
A loose analogy would be writing the ideas/words you are thinking on to a page. Or when reading a book, one doesn't need to read aloud to hear the sound of the words as if one were speaking them. 
Yes, I can do this. (Why else would I bother saying this perspective ?) Im not saying I could do this with a Ligeti etude, and would have a slower recognition process w hearing the tones.  But I don't imagine you would have an easy time sight-reading Ligeti , or much of the 20th century new palette of sound organization. I figure most stuff written
to the end of the 1800s for piano is not so difficult to hear from the page.
With small ensemble, with transposing clefs, like a string quartet is harder to do.
I can't do it with orchestral scores, but that is a visual problem for me with not physically being able to see  20 clefs at once.  I sense this visual complexity  is one reason composers would write a piano transcription first before writing it as an orchestral work.  Like Stravinsky did with his first 3 ballet scores.
If you don't try the experiment, I just must assume that you are not curious enough about this idea. That is fine.
One last idea about this. Here's an experiment that would take less than a minute. Think of the Pathetique Sonata opening chord. Imagine yourself playing that C minor chord.  Imagine your fingers on the notes.  It should kindle a sound
in your head.  Then try to sing the middle C at the top of the chord.  Then go to the piano and see if you were indeed hearing middle C. I'd say that there is a strong chance
that you would hear it correctly.  If you can, then, that starts to point in the direction I am talking about.
I suppose Ive said all I care to say about this.  Thanks for the chat!
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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LIIW, you won't even try a 5 minute experiment to see about it?  It took you more time to write your response.
Nope, I don't see the relevance it has towards learning the piano. I find my responses are more valuable than trying exercises which are missing the point of discussion.

You say, "So even though Beethoven wrote music whie he was deaf he still heard it in his mind eye THEN translated it to page. It is not reading a page and translating it to the head that is not the same direction of thought. "
Why would you think this is do? It is pretty much the same procedure whether one writes it , or whether they are reading someone else's composition.
I like to deal with SPECIFICS not "probably" or "sort of" or "pretty much" the same. It is not the same if you are composing within your mindseye and putting it to paper compared to reading what is on paper and hearing the sound in your head. If you think it is the same then that is up to you, it is glaring obvious to me that is not.

A loose analogy would be writing the ideas/words you are thinking on to a page. Or when reading a book, one doesn't need to read aloud to hear the sound of the words as if one were speaking them. 
We talk to people with words that is how we communicate and it is not multilayered speech it is a single line, we don't talk in tones and rhythms. If you think you can sight sing any unknown score of music and hear it in your head as clearly as a recording, I think you are living in a fantasy world.

Yes, I can do this. (Why else would I bother saying this perspective ?) Im not saying I could do this with a Ligeti etude, and would have a slower recognition process w hearing the tones.  But I don't imagine you would have an easy time sight-reading Ligeti , or much of the 20th century new palette of sound organization. I figure most stuff written
to the end of the 1800s for piano is not so difficult to hear from the page.
So you can read any score of music and hear it AS CLEARLY AS A RECORDING?? I guess we have to believe you but I think it is just fantasy. And yes I can sight read Ligeti why not? Why would your magical sight reading recording hearing be more advanced than actual trained sight reading over decades?

If you don't try the experiment, I just must assume that you are not curious enough about this idea. That is fine.
I wont try it because I don't see its point.

One last idea about this. Here's an experiment that would take less than a minute. Think of the Pathetique Sonata opening chord. Imagine yourself playing that C minor chord.  Imagine your fingers on the notes.  It should kindle a sound
in your head.  Then try to sing the middle C at the top of the chord.  Then go to the piano and see if you were indeed hearing middle C. I'd say that there is a strong chance
that you would hear it correctly.  If you can, then, that starts to point in the direction I am talking about.
Dude! You are missing the point. I have asked you if you take a peice you have never heard before CAN YOU READ SHEET MUSIC AND HEAR A RECORDING IN YOUR HEAD PLAYING THAT MUSIC EXACTLY and Ill repeat OF A PIECE YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD? You cannot do such things. I honestly feel that your attempts at trying to imagine an exercise with known pieces is just imaginary and it is fantastic thinking to believe it then transfers to unheard of pieces. I can hear THOUSANDS of pieces in my head without the sheet music every single note every single detail. But I have heard the pieces before, I can read the sheet music of pieces I know and EXACTLY HEAR LIKE A RECORDING what I am reading. BUT I HAVE HEARD THE PIECE BEFORE it is not and unknown piece. Are you are assuming that you can take AN UNKNOWN PIECE OF MUSIC and you can hear it like a recording in your head? You then start to make some boundaries as to what is too difficult for you eg "Ligeti???" but I think this is discussion has become a joke now.
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Offline themeandvariation

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I choose that familiar chord to so you can see that you do hear inside.

You obviously haven't done this at all, looking at a score and hearing it - so you don't even have any experience of what you are rejecting out of hand.
Your notion that this ability is a fantasy - shows not only ignorance to the subject, but also betrays a closed mind (and ear I might add), as you won't   
even look at an unfamiliar sonata as I mentioned.  



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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Again you are using KNOWN material and listening to the score, that is not difficult one bit. I am considering pieces you have NEVER heard before that is afterall what SIGHT SINGING is. I don't believe people can read a score they have never seen before of a piece they have never heard before and hear a recording in their head which represents 100% the music as clearly as if someone was playing it with mastery or using strong sight reading skills to successfully contain it. 
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Offline themeandvariation

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Inner Listening to the score , with a piece you have never heard.  Are you Fkg dense?
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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No need to get triggered, I am not dense I am just calling you up on a made up skill. No one can read a score of something totally unknown and hear exactly what it sounds like as clearly as a recording.
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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW:  I am just calling you up on a made up skill. No one can read a score of something totally unknown and hear exactly what it sounds like as clearly as a recording."
How do you know this if you have never tried it.  Ive been a composer - and pianist (with sharp sight reading skills) for decades, and have written many pieces away from the piano, and knowing how it would sound. (I do have PP though).
You are entrenched that this is an impossibility. 
Im sure you'll be fine, no need to experience another type of connection to the written page.  Of course, this is what you have been telling me with practically every response.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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I haven't tried it?? I have been playing piano for some 37 years now, I have been training sight reading in a serious manner for some 20+ years. I can feel in my hands exactly what a piece would feel like even if I have never seen the piece before. But you are taking this very far saying you can then hear an unknown piece just by reading the score and hear it as clearly as a recording of someone performing the work, this is a fantasy imho.

I am talking about UNKNOWN pieces, something you have never heard before in your life. You are talking about composing which is music you already hear from within you, there is already that listening given to you.
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Offline themeandvariation

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"But you are taking to very far saying you can then hear an unknown piece just by reading the score and hear it as clearly as a recording of someone performing the work,"
Yes, because notes (there are only 12) are the same sound (to the inner ear) whether I write it , or someone else does.  Is that hard to understand?
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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"But you are taking to very far saying you can then hear an unknown piece just by reading the score and hear it as clearly as a recording of someone performing the work,"
Yes, because notes (there are only 12) are the same sound (to the inner ear) whether I write it , or someone else does.
Well you can have whatever skill you want to imagine up who cares about that? Why don't you prove how it would connected to piano playing? You already said that sight singing really has no real relevance to piano skills. This is afterall a piano board and this thread is about how you would change your piano learning if you can start over again. I have trained with the piano to a very high level and will not admit that I can look at an unknown score and hear a recording in my head what the music sounds like. I can do that simply by sight reading a piece and allowing my fingers to create the sound and my ear to accept or decline it. But give me a piece I have heard before and then I know exactly what every note sounds like and how it all works together even the most complicated orchestral scores no problems. This is because sound memory is a very strong part of our mind. You are assuming that there is a conscious observation of music scores which then translate to a totally uninterrupted sound visualizion of the many notes you are reading. Perfect pitch has its use but would anyone with perfect pitch admit they can read hundreds of notes a minute OF AN UNKNOWN PIECE and hear every single detail in a coherent manner which is akin to a recording of someone performing the piece?
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Offline themeandvariation

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"This is afterall a piano board and this thread is about how you would change your piano learning if you can start over again"
I responded to the mention of sight singing.  And I posed it's relevance to inner hearing.
That's it. 
As far as hundreds of notes, one sees them as groups, patterns, for example a LH figuration of a Cminor 6 arpeggio with a major 7 rolling up at lightning speed, and rolling down another fangled chord,  one doesn't just look at one note at a time, the same way you don't when sight reading. One looks at the compositional patterns - which are used again and again - .  and the ear registers it. 
This is not to replace sight reading.  It is another skill.  A skill which you have no interest in.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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"This is afterall a piano board and this thread is about how you would change your piano learning if you can start over again"
I responded to the mention of sight singing.  And I posed it's relevance to inner hearing.
That's it. 
As far as hundreds of notes, one sees them as groups, patterns, for example a LH figuration of a Cminor 6 arpeggio with a major 7 rolling up at lightning speed, and rolling down smoother fangled chords, one doesn't just look at one note at a time, the same way you don't when sight reading. One looks at the compositional patterns - which are used again and again - .  and the ear registers it. 
This is not to replace sight reading.  It is another skill.  A skill which you have no interest in.
Sight singing for singers deals with one note at a time and is a critical skill for singers. You are pushing the boundaries of what sight singing is meant to be used for to then include reading thousands of notes and multiple voices and harmonies in a score and being able to hear it as AS CLEARLY AS A RECORDING from start to finish. So you are saying you can take any unknown score and then just read through it and hear it just like a recording in your head without any problems at all. First of all this assumes that there is an uninterrupted flow of information into your mind and your conscious observations are so efficient that you can process the information extremely fast and very direct into your inner eye sound memory production. You however suggest there are limitations and you would find Ligeti tough to hear, thus the efficiency of thought is not enough since with sight reading skills you can solve alien writing with many different tools. If you are merely left with the sound in your head and your conscious observation of the score this is much less efficient than having a physical action to produce the sounds for you, thus the connection between sight singing and reading are quite different because of that.

If I try to hear the sound of a piece I am ONLY looking at I hear it more in terms of rhythm and feel it as coordination between the hands. I can feel the music in my hands but the EXACT overall sounds are not solved until I play it. I can put in scat sounds and estimate the tones of the notes I am reading but it still will not be exactly as the music is and certainly far away from what a professional recording of the piece would be like. I do this often when I am browsing many sheets online to see what would be good to teach, although I don't hear the music exactly as it is written just by looking at what the notes look like will with a high propensity be the right indicator to me, but I cannot admit I hear these scores like a recording in my head I do however have a sense of what it might sound like.

When you are sight reading efficiently you are not looking at all the information because you can fill in the details with the fingers (what it feels like, and muscular memory from previous playing) and your ear will analyze if it is appropriate or not. Your fingers will produce sounds which the ear understands and then it can also infer what is to come next. Even subtle changes to a known system is not problematic if you are controlling it with your fingers, this however is very challenging if you simply put it to sight and a visualizing in your ear what it sounds like. The feeling in the hands however is much more efficient than what you hear in your head, for instance the feeling of many arpeggios are exactly the same no matter what key you play in, unlike if you make it completely a mental exercise each arpeggio must be attributed to a SPECIFIC idea.

With sight reading if it deals with very unusual sounds which is are not common to our experience then your fingers take over and your ear is an inquisitive sponge soaking up these new sounds and striving to control the sound and anticipate what is to come. But what if you are merely reading the score and trying to imagine the notes in your head, this is much more difficult. You must rely completely on the sound in your head based on what you are reading opposed to sight reading skills which uses the physical touch, looking at notes AND the ear to control what is being done. So you are suggesting one can segment the reading skill to remove the physical nature of the playing and merely have it all as a mental exercise and thus be able to hear exactly without issue what a piece sounds like just in your head. I have never come across anyone who admits that, even those with perfect pitch haven't said such things to me. I have an easy test to see if it is true but I would need the person to be infront of me it is impossible online unforuntately.
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Offline themeandvariation

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LIIW "I can feel the music in my hands ".  Yes, so can I .  (But I  am not telling you that you are imagining the feel in your hands - even though you can't Exactly prove it.)

LIIW "I can put in scat sounds and estimate the tones of the notes I am reading but it still will not be exactly as the music is ..."   Here the question I would have is to what degree
to do hear the music. which I would suppose depends on the piece.
  LIIW " I do this often when I am browsing many sheets online to see what would be good to teach, although I don't hear the music exactly ..."  (I browse online for students as well).
So then, you Do have a sense of what Im talking about, for sure.
I never used the word EXACTLY, and never said a professional recording - in perfection.
Would you say that you could sight read an unknown piece, a complex one, perfectly to recording standards on first try?
Of course there can be slips..
LIIW "but I cannot admit I hear these scores like a recording in my head I do however have a sense of what it might sound like."
Yes, ....
Have you had any ear training?  I remember a class in my teens, where the instructor played a recording (unknown to us previously) for 20 seconds, or so, and asked the budding composers in the class if they could write down - without use of a keyboard - what they heard.  There were a few of us (in a small class) that could.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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LIIW "I can feel the music in my hands ".  Yes, so can I .  (But I  am not telling you that you are imagining the feel in your hands - even though you can't Exactly prove it.)
Well one can prove it since there are logical steps, courses and procedures you can take to make noticeable improvements to reading skills which then will result in the ability to be able to feel in the hands what the notes are telling you. You don't need exclusive skills such as perfect pitch for sight reading skills, it is a trainable skill that has no prerequisites like that.  I have never heard of sight singing skills that are so powerful that they can simply look at any sheet of music and hear a recording in their head which produces exactly what it should sound like. You can get an estimation and some might be closer than others but it just will not reach the recording performance standard.

LIIW "I can put in scat sounds and estimate the tones of the notes I am reading but it still will not be exactly as the music is ..."   Here the question I would have is to what degree
to do hear the music. which I would suppose depends on the piece.
Whatever degree it is it certainly is not like a recording of a performance. What is more relevant to pianists is to be able to see sheet music and feel in their hands what would happen. You don't necessarily need to do this away from the piano and it is something I never practiced, it is just a resultant of good reading training, I have noticed that I can do it but I have never had to train it for that exact reason.

LIIW " I do this often when I am browsing many sheets online to see what would be good to teach, although I don't hear the music exactly ..."  (I browse online for students as well).
So then, you Do have a sense of what Im talking about, for sure.
I mean there is some correlation but it is certainly far away from merely looking at a score and thus being able to hear a recording in my head playing the music exactly as it would if someone performed it or if I sight read it with a piano.

I never used the word EXACTLY, and never said a professional recording - in perfection.
Would you say that you could sight read an unknown piece, a complex one, perfectly to recording standards on first try?
It felt that you were implying that you could for everything except difficult stuff like Ligeti or orchestral scores where there are many staves. This is where we might have misunderstood one another. I try to repeat myself many times to make what I am talking about very clear. Yes that is a part of what sight reading skills is, you can play a piece at mastery without any practice at all. Of course if it is alien music and has ideas you don't have much experience with or very fast movements which require memorization to totally get, you need to slow the tempo to allow control for your first few readings. This however doesn't work for sight singing, you do not have that degree of accuracy or processing speed that strong reading skills have and it is just logical why, because keeping everything mental in the head requires a lot more brain power.

Of course there can be slips..
LIIW "but I cannot admit I hear these scores like a recording in my head I do however have a sense of what it might sound like."
Yes, ....
Have you had any ear training?  I remember a class in my teens, where the instructor played a recording (unknown to us previously) for 20 seconds, or so, and asked the budding composers in the class if they could write down - without use of a keyboard - what they heard.  There were a few of us (in a small class) that could.
I mean this is different from sight singing, I am not arguing that such things is not possible. What I am specifically talking about is sight singing to such a high degree that you can look at any score and hear a recording in your head exactly what that sounds like. This is what I am specifically talking about because it is a resultant of strong sight reading skills and I cannot see how it connects to sight singing unless someone has super human abilities.
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Offline themeandvariation

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For anyone else reading this, who want further information about what Ive been referring to, you could search "Music- hearing a score on your head". 
You will find various techniques for developing such a skill.  It is a thing.  Not a super human feat, really.  Musical dictation, (as in the scene I described in the last post) 
sight singing, theory, sight reading skills, all play a part in doing this. 
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