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Topic: defining student progress  (Read 371 times)

Offline juanpianista

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defining student progress
on: June 20, 2023, 06:51:18 AM
hi, so its my first time here though I have read this forum in the past a lot. I am a professional (though more jazz based) and I feel that my classical level is what some would call grade 7 maybe? or more since i can manage to not butcher Debussy - Arabesque No.1 and have had fun with the ever popular fantaise impromptu and Chopin op 25. no. 12. (though performing that last one in public strictly close or at 140 bpm is just a bit terrifying for me at the moment) but I can sneak some runs from it here and there successfully elsewhere on similar tempos. I am also currently snailing through George Gershwin / Earl Wild: Etude n4 "Embraceable you" which I feel is just right for a challenge, right at the edge of clean playing with some struggle (I have been at it for a month on page 4 or so and I know it takes significant time).
Anyway, I digress, sorry. I have a student (youngest I have had in a while, thanks to the pandemic) who appears to be kind of all over the place with the goals and I guess I can understand that as he is just finishing high school and is on the verge of deciding if it is music or some other career that he'll be pursuing for life, or both. Anyway, he came with the first page of moonlight's sonata almost memorized, wanting to play some Einaudi, and his dream is playing la campanella by lizst in a year (talk about ambition).
Being said all of this he has been playing for a couple months, has theoretical gaps, needs to sightread more, needs more familiarity with the instrument (though he can now locate notes much quicker after a lesson) needs a more solid technique and sound production, and so on.
So, I was thinking of some pieces to get him into a lot of what he would (probably) need for la campanella while discouraging or, erhm, steering him from such a goal for the time being (I am sure there are many other pieces and not as grueling just as satisfying). I was thinking of assigning some easier pieces I can play confidently myself, (Chopin op 70 no 2, bach invention 13, debussy reverie, Mozart's Kv 545 III ETC) but if any of you perhaps got something that is not the pinnacle of piano playing that transcends execution like that Liszt etude and can satisfy a beginner in terms of sound or playing I would be grateful for any suggestions you may bring.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: defining student progress
Reply #1 on: June 21, 2023, 12:31:29 PM
If he has played for a couple of months it is definitely too early to attempt la campanella within a year. It's just not going to go well with a 99.9% certainty.

I don't know what he plays apart from the moonlight sonata 1st movement, but if he has only played a couple of months, the things you are suggesting might even be a bit too difficult. It's good to build foundational skills with pieces that can be "mastered" in a reasonable sense of the word in 2-3 weeks max. That enables you to play a much vaster quantity of material, which will do way more for building your skill and comfort with the instrument than hacking away at one too difficult piece for months. Of course, you can have one "too difficult" piece to work on as motivation/reward, but if you only do that you're likely to encounter all kinds of problems.

Offline juanpianista

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Re: defining student progress
Reply #2 on: June 23, 2023, 03:33:49 PM
I totally agree. He pretends that if we start studying la campanella now, within a year he will have it... that is just harmful and really, not suitable. Even after I started say, fantaise impromptu, it took MONTHS to get it kind of close to a passable performance and this was putting HOURS into the thing.
Besides learning the moonlight sonata, he has kinda gone through some anime related stuff like this:


he also had played bach's first prelude from the wtc 1 (the most famous of them all I would say) but said he found it boring.
Other than that I don't believe there is much else he is playing right now.
So, what I did last lesson was to introduce him to sight reading. Getting him familiar with g clef, all spaces, lines and awkward jumps. We also had fun reading rhythm and he has this nice hard working attitude, not fearing things that could be potentially difficult.

if what I suggest for the easier pieces I play myself is indeed too taxing (and I do think it could be, yes) I was thinking putting stuff below his grade level (moonlight I think is considered 6) so putting something like grade 4 such as tchaikovski Chant de l'Alouette, Op. 39 No. 22 could work. Then progressing to something like the bach's gigue from the first partita en Bb.

Offline lelle

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Re: defining student progress
Reply #3 on: June 23, 2023, 11:31:53 PM
Building on anacrusis comment, I think anything you can find that

1) is satisfying to your student's ears and
2) can be taught and played decently by him in a couple of weeks

Is good to focus on. I think it will show him the value of studying something you can learn and master in a month rather than a year. The satisfaction of actually being able to play something well is not to be underestimated!
 

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