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Topic: What are your questions to your teacher that don't get a satisfying answer?  (Read 579 times)

Offline dinoimeri

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Hi all.

I was wondering from the standpoint of a student, what are the most common questions that you wish you could have a more satisfying answer to by your teacher?
Are these questions oriented towards piano technique, or perhaps interpretation challenges?

Best regards!

Online lelle

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I have had the experience that many teachers could not satisfactorily answer questions about technique, or help me when I had issues. I got some tips but nothing that helped me make the fundamental overhaul that was needed.

With interpretation I always know what I want to do, so I have never had questions about that. What I'm looking for from a teacher is mainly coaching on HOW to play so I can do what I want. Which, again, unfortunately most have not been able to satisfactorily provide.

Offline frodo3

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I have had the experience that many teachers could not satisfactorily answer questions about technique, or help me when I had issues. I got some tips but nothing that helped me make the fundamental overhaul that was needed.

I'm guessing that 99+% of piano students are in the same boat as you in this regard.  If you don't mind my asking: Were any teachers able to help you make the fundamental overhaul needed in your technique?

If no, do you think there exists a teacher that could help you?  If yes, I imagine that person would be hard to find since you already had many teachers.  Any luck with books or videos to answer technique questions?  Were you able to help yourself on some items of technique when the teachers/videos/books could not?

I'm guessing that most pianists that become successful performers learned most of what they needed technique wise at a pretty early age.  Also much or most of what they learned would have been on a subconscious level.  This is not to say that you can't learn at a later age - it's just a lot harder.

Online lelle

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I'm guessing that 99+% of piano students are in the same boat as you in this regard.  If you don't mind my asking: Were any teachers able to help you make the fundamental overhaul needed in your technique?


You're welcome to ask. No teacher was able to help me, but I also stopped seeking out teachers for advice some 4-5 years ago and have been working on my own since then.

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If no, do you think there exists a teacher that could help you? 

At least one - me. If I, with what I know today could have been the teacher of myself as I was 10 years ago when I desperately needed help, I think I could have cut down the time I spent working to get myself to the point I'm at now into 3 years rather than 10. A lot of the knowledge I have now I simply lacked, and some of it is fairly simple stuff that no-one pointed out to me or cared to explain in depth. That's also true for some of the stuff I knew about but did not know how to actually do or what to focus on/look for etc. You only see what you see, and don't see what you're not aware of, unless you get lucky and realize it at some point.

There are also a few teachers in my country that I have my eye on and would consider seeking out if I felt like investing significant time into working on my playing skills today. (I'm not performing any more but I still do some things in the music business, more on the "scholarly" side or what have you :d)

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If yes, I imagine that person would be hard to find since you already had many teachers.  Any luck with books or videos to answer technique questions?  Were you able to help yourself on some items of technique when the teachers/videos/books could not?

I did find some help from certain books pointing me in the right direction. The problem was that others confused the hell out of me and pointed me in the wrong direction too. So a lot of time was spent untangling what explanations I personally benefitted from heeding, and which ones I should ignore, regardless if they were "popular" ways of talking about technique or not. Ultimately I've had to get to know my own body and figure out how to work with it, but the foundation to that was laid by knowledge from a number of books. Some disciplines outside piano such as meditation, Qi-Gong, Alexander Technique etc have also helped.

That's not to say I have great technique or anything, but a lot of the issues I was struggling with have been solved or seem to make steady progress towards being solved. (I hate using the word "solved" though because you're never done IMO) I would have been quite happy to start my music degree 10 years ago with the technique I have now, despite its remaining flaws that I'm still working on :)



Offline frodo3

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You're welcome to ask. No teacher was able to help me, but I also stopped seeking out teachers for advice some 4-5 years ago and have been working on my own since then.

At least one - me. If I, with what I know today could have been the teacher of myself as I was 10 years ago when I desperately needed help, I think I could have cut down the time I spent working to get myself to the point I'm at now into 3 years rather than 10. A lot of the knowledge I have now I simply lacked, and some of it is fairly simple stuff that no-one pointed out to me or cared to explain in depth. That's also true for some of the stuff I knew about but did not know how to actually do or what to focus on/look for etc. You only see what you see, and don't see what you're not aware of, unless you get lucky and realize it at some point.

There are also a few teachers in my country that I have my eye on and would consider seeking out if I felt like investing significant time into working on my playing skills today. (I'm not performing any more but I still do some things in the music business, more on the "scholarly" side or what have you :d)

I did find some help from certain books pointing me in the right direction. The problem was that others confused the hell out of me and pointed me in the wrong direction too. So a lot of time was spent untangling what explanations I personally benefitted from heeding, and which ones I should ignore, regardless if they were "popular" ways of talking about technique or not. Ultimately I've had to get to know my own body and figure out how to work with it, but the foundation to that was laid by knowledge from a number of books. Some disciplines outside piano such as meditation, Qi-Gong, Alexander Technique etc have also helped.

That's not to say I have great technique or anything, but a lot of the issues I was struggling with have been solved or seem to make steady progress towards being solved. (I hate using the word "solved" though because you're never done IMO) I would have been quite happy to start my music degree 10 years ago with the technique I have now, despite its remaining flaws that I'm still working on :)

Thanks! You have a good method and attitude for learning.  Just a few rambling thoughts that are probably not very insightful:

I think the problem is: Much of learning is done subconsciously for playing an instrument, especially at an early age.  This makes it impossible to explain exactly how to learn a technique.  You see an 8-year-old playing at a very advanced level.  He/she did not get there by listening to massive lectures by their teachers or reading massive texts.  The 8-year-old also lacks the ability to explain exactly how they learned all that they did.  They don't know themselves how they learned everything.  Most of the learning was done subconsciously.

Can you imagine a beginner clarinetist being told exactly how to form their embouchure for clarinet so all a person has to do is read this explanation and suddenly be able to make a perfect tone?  Authors give tips on this, but it is up to the learner to make the big leaps here by themselves using their ear for guidance. So there are similar items in the techniques for piano playing.

Also, piano technique books are not written with the rigor, precision and concision of a math text making it hard to understand exactly what the author means. 

EDIT: Learning done subconsciously?   Learning done in a way that is influenced by the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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As a teacher, I have always taken a side-on approach to teaching technique. Rather than simply repeating established ideas of mastery, I aim to guide my students in a more accurate personal direction. In my opinion, it is important for a student to play the piano "with their own two hands", rather than blindly following prescribed movements.

To help develop technique, I provide my students with appropriate repertoire and explain the reasoning behind particular fingering choices. While I offer corrections and guidance, I try to avoid overly prescriptive teaching methods and instead encourage students to develop their own understanding and realization of improvements.

I also believe it is important to address technique within a musical context, such as through specific pieces, exercises, or technical patterns. When students ask questions about technique, I try to ensure that they are connected to a specific musical problem rather than being abstract.

As a teacher, I have been fortunate to have had mostly good mentors. However, I do wish that I had received more instruction in sight reading, as this was an area where I struggled and had to teach myself. It is important for teachers to recognize that even if a student is able to learn pieces quickly and express themselves well, there may be other areas that require attention and improvement
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Offline frodo3

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I did find some help from certain books pointing me in the right direction. The problem was that others confused the hell out of me and pointed me in the wrong direction too. So a lot of time was spent untangling what explanations I personally benefitted from heeding, and which ones I should ignore, regardless if they were "popular" ways of talking about technique or not.

Don't misunderstand my prior post.  There are good books out there that can help correct faulty technique that may have developed for various reasons -- For those that did not magically develop a great technique from the start like you see with some very young players.  Ideally, you would have not spent time working on ideas that pointed you in the wrong direction.  But who is to say that these ideas weren't helpful to others.  There is also the possibility that some of those ideas weren't helpful to anyone.  .

Ultimately I've had to get to know my own body and figure out how to work with it, but the foundation to that was laid by knowledge from a number of books.

I'm glad to hear of your success from studying from books.  Your hard work and determination appear to have paid off.   Do you mind sharing the books that you found most helpful and the ones that were a complete waste of time?

Offline dinoimeri

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Hello all.

Thank you for your replies, those are some interesting insights.
I often notice that students often tend to ask me advice concerning challenges with their technique, rather than with other aspects such as interpretation for which in many cases they already have very strong views. But, I was wondering whether or not this was my subjective observation, or something that generally happens to other people as well.

Throughout the years, I have found some very simple solutions to technical problems. It was a slow and difficult process that I had to go through myself. I couldn't get many straightforward answers from my teachers, but then I thought maybe it's a good thing to find a way to build my own approach to technique in particular, and piano playing in general.

I also tend to receive many questions on the real-life challenges that a concert pianist may face such as learning and different programs at the same time, or problems with acoustics etc.

Happy New Year to all! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Dino
 

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