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#1257549 - 08/27/09 10:49 PM How many people hate piano?
Morodiene Offline
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In other threads I've seen lately, there seems to be a lot of popularity with the idea that you want to make piano "fun" for kids, or they will end up hating piano. I'll comment on that in a bit. But first, my question is, actually how many people *do* end up hating piano? I've had parents come to me and say they had a nun who rapped their knuckles with a ruler when they played a wrong note, and they want me to teach their child piano. They love piano even under those circumstances!

I do not, for the record, advocate this way of teaching. However, if being taught in that way didn't make haters of piano out of them, then why would having expectations, rules/consequences, and demanding practice -- all of which are positive things that will help children in the long run -- cause someone to grow up hating piano? This notion is out there, and I really don't know if I've ever encountered anyone who hated piano. Perhaps as a child they did, but after the years went by, they realize that they didn't hate piano (or don't anymore). I'm sure there are people who hate piano, of course. But I'm just thinking how can we assume that something will cause a child to hate piano? Everyone is different and you have to know your child/student well enough to know when to push and when to back off. It's hard to say that pushing a child that needs to be pushed will have negative results.

Now for the whole "making piano fun" part, isn't piano fun to begin with? And when is it fun? When you can play it. And how can you get to the point where you can play it? You practice. When I have students who are having trouble getting good practice habits and we work on scheduling practice times, encouraging them and requiring that they at least sit at the piano each day, you would be amazed at the results (or maybe not ;)). They come in the next week and they have fun! They are excited and they know they played well, you can see it in their beaming faces. It doesn't matter what piece they're working on, either. We all know that some pieces grow on you, and sometimes it's just the difficulty of a piece that the student dislikes (and the work it means), not the piece itself. And conquering such a piece is a real victory. *That's* fun!
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#1257554 - 08/27/09 10:59 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
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I never hated it, but ultimately I did end up not feeling emotionally connected to it in any real way. (Unless I played Joel or Joplin.) I liked the music I did play well enough, but it was a technical exercise that I had to get right, and I suppose I took satisfaction in pleasing the adults around me and getting something right. I was (and still am, really) a rather overdriven overachiever. If I was told to do something, I had to to it better and faster than expected, and I was mostly able to do so.

But it was still a technical exercise, and piano mostly just a mechanical achievement where the actual music itself was just a by-product that told me if I'd done it "right."

I do understand that technical expertise is incredibly important and that a piano is a big, complex instrument that does take years to master. But it was never communicated to me that one could or should aspire to be anything but a paint-by-numbers artist at it.

So while I mildly regretted drifting away from it, I never really angsted over it that much. It was only when I started thinking about the music that I liked and that really affected me emotionally in technical terms that it occurred to me that I should have been thinking of the technical music in terms of emotional transport as well. Or that one could do both. Music that I participated in was never an experience of joy for me, only stress to "get it right." The only music I ever loved was the stuff I didn't create.

"Conquering" it meant nothing to me. I can't see vieweing music as an adversary that I have to beat up to win. :-/ Mastering a skill is nice, but why piano in that case? What makes it any different from boxing or poker at that point?


Edited by J Cortese (08/27/09 11:02 PM)
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#1257663 - 08/28/09 05:45 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
keyboardklutz Offline
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If you have the trust of student and parent it will be intrinsically, as you say, fun and exciting. There's always plenty of slippage though, especially where I teach.
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#1257777 - 08/28/09 10:29 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: J Cortese
I never hated it, but ultimately I did end up not feeling emotionally connected to it in any real way. (Unless I played Joel or Joplin.) I liked the music I did play well enough, but it was a technical exercise that I had to get right, and I suppose I took satisfaction in pleasing the adults around me and getting something right. I was (and still am, really) a rather overdriven overachiever. If I was told to do something, I had to to it better and faster than expected, and I was mostly able to do so.

But it was still a technical exercise, and piano mostly just a mechanical achievement where the actual music itself was just a by-product that told me if I'd done it "right."

I do understand that technical expertise is incredibly important and that a piano is a big, complex instrument that does take years to master. But it was never communicated to me that one could or should aspire to be anything but a paint-by-numbers artist at it.

So while I mildly regretted drifting away from it, I never really angsted over it that much. It was only when I started thinking about the music that I liked and that really affected me emotionally in technical terms that it occurred to me that I should have been thinking of the technical music in terms of emotional transport as well. Or that one could do both. Music that I participated in was never an experience of joy for me, only stress to "get it right." The only music I ever loved was the stuff I didn't create.
I don't know you personally, so I could be way off, but I know in my own personal development, I always had an emotional attachment to the piano. However, I never was a serious practicer. That was a maturing on my part that had to happen, and didn't happen until my mid-20s. Perhaps for you it was a maturing process as well to discover your musical tastes. Many of the young students I have do not yet have their own musical tastes, and it is a part of my job to help them discover that, and try and find music to accommodate that. Sometimes there are pieces they have to learn that they don't necessarily like at first, but as they work on it they find out that it really is a nice piece. So I do have to balance with giving them some of what they like with giving them some of what they need.

Quote:
"Conquering" it meant nothing to me. I can't see vieweing music as an adversary that I have to beat up to win. :-/ Mastering a skill is nice, but why piano in that case? What makes it any different from boxing or poker at that point?
I don't see musical study any different from many other hobbies that some may pursue. While I personally don't care for boxing, I do know that for some it is a great challenge and hobby, but that is beside the point.

The idea of conquering has to do with overcoming obstacles. Piano has many obstacles and part of the process of learning it also teaches us how to overcome obstacles, or conquering them. This takes perseverance, self-discipline, and problem-solving skills. These are not bad things, and piano itself is not something to be "conquered", and that is not what I said. It is the conquering of a particular problem or obstacle that I speak of. Music is not the adversary here, but it presents us with challenges.


Edited by Morodiene (08/28/09 10:30 AM)
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#1257810 - 08/28/09 10:52 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: keyboardklutz]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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"Fun" and "Exciting" are words for children. Adults have a broader, richer vocabulary.

As a 4th grade boy, singing in an all boys choir, fun and excitement wasn't the goal. The music reached out and grabbed you. You wanted to be there because of the music.

As I was reading the posts on this topic, the duet from Bizet's Pearl Fishers was playing on the radio (performed by two violinists and piano) and that reminded me of something.

What events in your life did music, on first hearing, pierce your soul and leave you emotionally drained?

For me, singing the opening chorus in the St Matthew Passion by JS Bach (the boys are "angels" about 2:45 into the clip) or the closing chorus of same.

Playing the Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch as a young violinist (not the soloist, obviously).

Way back in our youth, my sister and I were touring Paris, and decided to take in an opera. The only one playing was Pearl Fishers at the Comique. The poignancy of that duet, live, was something that rendered us speechless and emotionally drained for hours.

I don't know about fun and exciting, but a musical moments such as these was motivation sufficient for years of grueling study.

John
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#1257835 - 08/28/09 11:15 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
"Fun" and "Exciting" are words for children. Adults have a broader, richer vocabulary.

As a 4th grade boy, singing in an all boys choir, fun and excitement wasn't the goal. The music reached out and grabbed you. You wanted to be there because of the music.

As I was reading the posts on this topic, the duet from Bizet's Pearl Fishers was playing on the radio (performed by two violinists and piano) and that reminded me of something.

What events in your life did music, on first hearing, pierce your soul and leave you emotionally drained?

For me, singing the opening chorus in the St Matthew Passion by JS Bach (the boys are "angels" about 2:45 into the clip) or the closing chorus of same.

Playing the Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch as a young violinist (not the soloist, obviously).

Way back in our youth, my sister and I were touring Paris, and decided to take in an opera. The only one playing was Pearl Fishers at the Comique. The poignancy of that duet, live, was something that rendered us speechless and emotionally drained for hours.

I don't know about fun and exciting, but a musical moments such as these was motivation sufficient for years of grueling study.

John





How true! As a child, I remember being moved by listening to the Moonlight sonata (all 3 movements), Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (my sister and I would make up our own 'ballet' choreography) on our new CD player: someday I would write something like that.

I remember Debussy's Pour le Piano inspiring me when I went to France my senior year in high school with the jazz band and choir, and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition dangling that carrot in front of me: someday I would play stuff like that.

There were hours I would spend in my room listening to music (vocal) of the Renaissance and Early Baroque, especially choral works that just intrigued me with their ethereal quality and unique harmonies that were arrived at not by thinking harmonically, but melodically for each line, and just loving those sounds. Listening to Mozart Requiem, Brahms Deutsche Requiem, Carmina Burana, Berlioz Requiem (OK, I have a thing for requiems!), and other large works, and thinking :someday I'd sing those solos.

For me, it was all in the listening (both live performances and recordings) that would inspire me and catch hold of my heart. I can remember when I would listen to each of these, reminding me of a certain part of my life or a certain memory. Music has always been a part of me, and I have the honor and pleasure of sharing that with others through my teaching and performing. What could be more fun than that, I wonder? smile


Edited by Morodiene (08/28/09 11:15 AM)
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#1257885 - 08/28/09 12:33 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
The idea of conquering has to do with overcoming obstacles. Piano has many obstacles and part of the process of learning it also teaches us how to overcome obstacles, or conquering them. This takes perseverance, self-discipline, and problem-solving skills. These are not bad things, and piano itself is not something to be "conquered", and that is not what I said. It is the conquering of a particular problem or obstacle that I speak of. Music is not the adversary here, but it presents us with challenges.


It should present us with a great deal more. And that "great deal more" should be the whole point, not "challenge" for the mere sake of doing something hard. We should not be trying to do something hard, we should be trying to do something beautiful, and if that means hard work, fine -- but the hard work is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Otherwise there is no difference between practicing piano and moving a rockpile.
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#1257889 - 08/28/09 12:39 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
bluespianofan Offline
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Registered: 07/06/09
Posts: 102
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
[quote=Morodiene]

then why would having expectations, rules/consequences, and demanding practice -- all of which are positive things that will help children in the long run -- cause someone to grow up hating piano?

practice quote]
And the flip side: How many people who were allowed to quit complain that their parents didn't make them stick to it!
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#1257891 - 08/28/09 12:40 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
where's gyro?
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#1257893 - 08/28/09 12:41 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
Sal_ Offline
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Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
can't stand Mozart....

A lot of other classical music just doesn't do it for me, either.

http://www.youtube.com/user/thumphrey05
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=scott+lavender+iron+maiden&search_type=&aq=f

There's my inspiration for piano. (Aside from that, I love Dvorak, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, some Beethoven...)

Why I stick with the piano over other instruments is it can make all the voices at once.

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#1257912 - 08/28/09 01:06 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Sal_]
trillingadventurer Offline
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Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Interesting topic! And I think about this frequently. I have a friend (a recent house guest of ours) who was "forced" to take lessons for many years. She confessed to me how much she hated it, etc. etc. I felt very smug (because I make piano "fun" and feel like one should never be "forced" to take lessons...)and confidant in my approach. A little later in the day I heard her working through Valse d'Amelie by Yann Tierson. She loves the music and was working through it quite well. For the first time I wondered if these "forced" lessons were worth it. I don't think she would have gotten to the joy of figuring this piece out without the discipline pushed upon her. It rattled me and ultimately is making me look at my approach. I have been very soft on my students for years. (But I am also quite hard on myself as a teacher and musician so "soft" might not be as soft as I think...)

I also have another friend who was forced for many years to take lessons and also became quite advanced. She confessed to me that she never plays and never enjoyed playing the piano. And yet they own a piano and she still has her old sheet music.

It's all so strange!
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#1257945 - 08/28/09 02:06 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: trillingadventurer]
J Cortese Offline
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Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
Interesting topic! And I think about this frequently. I have a friend (a recent house guest of ours) who was "forced" to take lessons for many years. She confessed to me how much she hated it, etc. etc. I felt very smug (because I make piano "fun" and feel like one should never be "forced" to take lessons...)and confidant in my approach. A little later in the day I heard her working through Valse d'Amelie by Yann Tierson. She loves the music and was working through it quite well. For the first time I wondered if these "forced" lessons were worth it.


Are your best students good at what they do? If so, then your approach is probably just fine.

If your friend is good despite what she was subjected to, that's not an argument in favor of subjecting others to it. I know people who grew into kind and loving adults despite being abused or worse as children as well; that's not an argument in favor of abuse.

If forcing kids to do something and making them hate it turns off 90% of them -- and some bare few grow up to love it despite that -- that's not an argument in favor of forcing. It means that some people are so turned on to something that they will love it despite having every excuse not to.

Forcing for the sake of forcing is worthless, and we shouldn't be using the fact that some people manage to bloom in a desert as an excuse to plant every student in a desert. Not unless your desired goal is to wind up with as few adult pianists as possible.

Pushing is sometimes necessary, but never for its own sake. I wish terribly that it had been made clearer to me that there WAS a higher purpose to learning how to push those buttons and levers, or else I might not have wasted the past fifteen pianoless years being in complete love with music and feeling no desire to make any of it myself, because making it meant nothing but feeling massively stressed out to get it "right," and performing it meant nothing more than sitting in front of several hundred people who were all waiting for me to make a mistake.

I'm springboarding here off of your comment a bit, I know. But I'm just feeling this rather acutely at the moment. Yes, students must be pushed to work sometimes instead of expecting things to come easily. Pianos are tough things to drive and take years to get good at -- but it shouldn't be simply moving a rockpile. A teacher has the responsibility to get many things across to their students, one of which is that it takes work to get good at anything worth doing, and one of which is that the ultimate aim is to make something beautiful and enjoy having created it. That may take hard work, but it's not just forcing for the sake of forcing. Neither teacher nor student should ever lose sight of the ultimate goal -- the music.

I mean yes, it takes years to truly master a piano technically. But Billy Joel and Gregg Rolie (both classically trained) were off and running, writing things and performing as teenagers. Clearly, it doesn't take quite the absolute level of angelic perfection to kick ass as a pianist that we might think. Rolie has flat-out said that his brother was a much better technical pianist than he was. Kids can be and should be encouraged to remember to enjoy the music itself.

Again, sorry for springboarding off your comment ...


Edited by J Cortese (08/28/09 02:09 PM)
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#1257954 - 08/28/09 02:16 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
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Othello posted a fabulous link in the "learning intervals" thread in the non-classical board:

http://www.laco.org/blog/344/

It's a fantastic read -- and it's scary to think of how a brilliant, brilliant classical pianist and improv specialist came to "hate" piano herself thanks to a teacher who probably also likes to think of herself as a demanding taskmaster.

She got back to it ... but suppose she had had several kids in her first unhappy marriage and not been able to get back to it? She may also have been the sort of person who is extremely ambivalent about piano and can't bear to throw out her old sheet music, too -- instead of the magnificently gifted hall-filler she is.

And if she'd left for good, that teacher would simply have pointed to her next best student as proof that her approach was the best, too.

I remember my old teacher with fondness, but I still wish that she had made it clearer to me that the music was the point, and not just overcoming obstacles. Screw "overcoming obstacles" as the end goal. Life itself has taught me how to do that better than piano ever could.

Rhetorical-we need to teach students to bust their backsides, but for a reason.
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#1257962 - 08/28/09 02:28 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: trillingadventurer]
tangleweeds Offline

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Registered: 12/21/08
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I hated the very sound of a piano for years after my childhood piano lessons. I believe my teacher was trying to teach strict sight reading and counting, but what my child-mind learned was that playing piano was an exercise in precision typing whilst counting aloud, and any deviation from this into expression of enjoyment of the music somehow ruined it and made you a bad person too.


Edited by tangleweeds (08/28/09 02:29 PM)
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#1257975 - 08/28/09 02:51 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: tangleweeds]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I have always loved piano. Lessons for me were a necessary evil to pursue my love. It is hard to teach something that comes naturally, that I've never had to learn. So "teaching" someone to love piano who doesn't naturally is a challenge. But what I was able to take away from my own experience was that it was the teacher-student relationship that made lessons a chore for me. Therefore, I try to be "likeable" - treat my students as real people and not duties or paychecks or 30-minute slots.

It that means I'm trying to be "fun", so be it.
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#1258004 - 08/28/09 03:23 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7349
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Othello posted a fabulous link in the "learning intervals" thread in the non-classical board:

http://www.laco.org/blog/344/

It's a fantastic read -- and it's scary to think of how a brilliant, brilliant classical pianist and improv specialist came to "hate" piano herself thanks to a teacher who probably also likes to think of herself as a demanding taskmaster.


The biggest problem with generalities is that when you start delving into the details, you discover the truth isn't exactly as it's posited.

Yes, all the named composers were great improvisers, but they all had rigorous lessons as children. Mozart was studying piano and violin - 6 hrs a day as a four year old.

So you might ask the question, were they great improvisers because they were well trained pianists with highly creative imaginations?

We build on a foundation of knowledge. If you know the chords, scales, arpeggios, etc., it's easier to improvise than if you don't.

I would suggest an alternative hypothesis for consideration: improvising lost out when rigorous training from childhood was no longer possible.

In re that teacher - it frightens me how many students end up with mediocrities. But it happens in our classrooms, it happens in music studios, it happens in life.
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#1258063 - 08/28/09 04:36 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
The idea of conquering has to do with overcoming obstacles. Piano has many obstacles and part of the process of learning it also teaches us how to overcome obstacles, or conquering them. This takes perseverance, self-discipline, and problem-solving skills. These are not bad things, and piano itself is not something to be "conquered", and that is not what I said. It is the conquering of a particular problem or obstacle that I speak of. Music is not the adversary here, but it presents us with challenges.


It should present us with a great deal more. And that "great deal more" should be the whole point, not "challenge" for the mere sake of doing something hard. We should not be trying to do something hard, we should be trying to do something beautiful, and if that means hard work, fine -- but the hard work is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Otherwise there is no difference between practicing piano and moving a rockpile.

When did I say that is *all* music has to offer? You are making assumptions that aren't there, nor are they fair. Did you read my next post about what inspired me in music? I seek to find these moments for my students all the time. Encouraging them to find their own voice in expression is paramount. However, there are the challenges to overcome. No one studies music because it's hard and a challenge. They do it for the love of music. In fact, if they don't love it, then they won't get very far with it. You have to want it badly enough.

So to summarize, the love of music is what drives, but perseverance is what succeeds and obtains that ultimate goal of being able to play something you love.
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#1258074 - 08/28/09 04:47 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7349
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
So to summarize, the love of music is what drives, but perseverance is what succeeds and obtains that ultimate goal of being able to play something you love.


Bingo!
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#1258252 - 08/28/09 09:52 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Susan K. Offline
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Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 192
Loc: Central California
I fall into J. Cortese's group with tangleweeds. Piano lessons were an exercise in moving rocks. Took 'em for 8 years and learned to play, but it was because I feared telling my mother I hated it more than practicing. Plus I knew that they were making a sacrifice to pay for lessons (guilt). Am I glad now? Yes, because 26 years later, I'm learning how to make MUSIC as opposed to play notes in a particular rhythm. But my shame at hating piano ran so deep was that I was married 10 years before I played for my husband, who didn't know I could play. And for the first few months, I only practiced when he wasn't home.

Now, I learned to type when I was 11, but I loved it because I could write stories. By the time I was 13, I had written my first "book." My parents were AVID readers and always found money to buy me books and time to take me to the library. My father loved WORDS. He used to lug home reams of outdated forms to supply me with paper to write my books. No surprise that I went on to publish five romance novels. HOWEVER, my parents never took me to see a concert, never played classical music on the radio, never bought me records, except a single album of Aldo Ciccolini playing Debussy that I wore out the grooves listening to it. Funny, I hate piano, but I loved Debussy and the only reason I started piano again was to play Debussy, not to play music. Now, I'm hearing music all over this forum. I'm addicted to YouTube. Maybe if there had been YouTube, I would have loved music back then.

Susan

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#1258277 - 08/28/09 10:42 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Susan K.]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Hmm, this is interesting. Neither of my parents played instruments, though both wished they did -- thus a piano arrived, and I was signed up for lessons at a music studio. Music teachers were the only people I ever saw up close, making music in person. Music was done by famous people like Elton John who lived inside the TV or stayed far away away from people like me, up there on stage. I didn't have an idea of what it might be like to play music, since I never really got to see someone doing it in person.

I liked music and willing to learn piano, but what I was taught either disembodied theory (which I liked, being a math geek) or these complicated counting and pushing buttons tricks that were somehow supposed to make music come out. I concluded that I wasn't very good at the counting & pushing buttons thing, since it never really sounded like music when I did it. And then I was fired from lessons ("for lack of aptitude or application").

I think now, looking back, that I must have been confusing student for my teacher. I grasped the theory very quickly, but needed pretty a remedial introduction to what making music is all about (an encouraging environment to dance around and bang things rhythmically???). The strict precision-counting approach really missed the boat with me -- I needed something more basic, and, well, fun. I had no idea that making music should be fun! Literally every time I tried having fun with my music in lessons, I was sharply scolded for not counting and reading properly. So I concluded that somehow the magic of making real music come out must somehow depend on being as dead and automaton-like as possible when doing it. Really, I thought that!!!

What saved me musically, I think, is that in college I got very into dancing, and became good enough that experimental art music-y bands would put me on the guest list at clubs because I would get out on the floor and wing it until other people finally dared to venture the polyrhytmms. When I connect with the music I play on the piano, I feel like I'm doing something akin to dancing with my hands.
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#1258290 - 08/28/09 11:07 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: tangleweeds]
Susan K. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/03/09
Posts: 192
Loc: Central California
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
I concluded that I wasn't very good at the counting & pushing buttons thing, since it never really sounded like music when I did it...So I concluded that somehow the magic of making real music come out must somehow depend on being as dead and automaton-like as possible when doing it. Really, I thought that!!!

When I connect with the music I play on the piano, I feel like I'm doing something akin to dancing with my hands.

tangleweeds, I so understand. But I figured out that I was not automaton enough because even being dead and automaton, I couldn't produce the desired sound. Now, I am so automaton-like that my teacher tells me that it's okay to move with the music, and actually puts her hands on my shoulders to guide me when I play arpeggios. She's just completed her second year with Orff Schulwerk and she's having me clap to FEEL rhythm rather than just try to analyze it, encouraging me to sing the melody. What works with children works for adults! I never dance because I'm self conscious of being out of rhythm, I never sing because I'm self conscious of not being able to carry a tune but now I am. Thank you! I feel like your story gave me "permission" to dance out of rhythm and to sing out of tune!

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#1258292 - 08/28/09 11:11 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Morodiene]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
It should present us with a great deal more. And that "great deal more" should be the whole point, not "challenge" for the mere sake of doing something hard. We should not be trying to do something hard, we should be trying to do something beautiful, and if that means hard work, fine -- but the hard work is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Otherwise there is no difference between practicing piano and moving a rockpile.

When did I say that is *all* music has to offer? You are making assumptions that aren't there, nor are they fair. Did you read my next post about what inspired me in music? I seek to find these moments for my students all the time.


You aren't the only piano teacher in the world, and yes I do see people stating first that mastering the piano is a Challenge to be Overcome, Teaches Life Lessons, and Makes You a Better Person well before they ever get to the part where they start talking about the love of the music, playing around, and improvising. All the time.

Quote:
Encouraging them to find their own voice in expression is paramount. However, there are the challenges to overcome. No one studies music because it's hard and a challenge. They do it for the love of music. In fact, if they don't love it, then they won't get very far with it. You have to want it badly enough.

So to summarize, the love of music is what drives, but perseverance is what succeeds and obtains that ultimate goal of being able to play something you love.


I agree with your last comment, but you are kidding yourself if you think a child cannot be manipulated into continuing WELL into adulthood with something they hate desperately. Humans do that all the time. "If you don't love it, you won't get very far with it" just isn't always the case.

There are many things, as Susan said, that can drive an achieving child forward -- wanting to be better than a parent or sibling, wanting to prove something to someone, needing to be the best and impress the adults around them, needing an escape from divorce or death, fear of giving up, guilt ... ALL of these things can poison even a gifted person's relationship with music, and Piano Will Teach You How To Overcome Obstacles is just not the message to send in the face of them, not even the secondary message. It makes no sense to say that my studying piano taught me how to overcome obstacles or any of that rot. Losing my father young, learning of my disabilities, moving across country, coping with unrelated difficulties in my chosen field of study -- these are my life's challenges.

Piano is the ONLY expressive art that I've ever encountered this monastic Conquer the Challenge attitude. Painting, fabric arts, writing -- nowhere are these attitudes extant there even a little bit. (The only place I've ever run into this sort of attitude is the hard sciences.) If you manage to communicate this all-encompassing love of the music itself, playing, creating, sharing, and loving it, that's wonderful. But there are a lot of people who have not had that experience, which indicates that there are an awful lot of recovering rockpile-movers out there; there is a problem with how we teach piano in this world.
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#1258343 - 08/29/09 02:45 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
Meredith A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/04
Posts: 120
Loc: San Diego, CA
My brother changed his six year-old daughter's piano teacher recently because he noticed my niece had to be told to practice instead of sitting down on her own to practice. The lessons were a little too demanding and they were not at all fun. Now with the new teacher she will play/practice without being asked.

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#1258387 - 08/29/09 07:24 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Meredith A]
HomeInMyShoes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 495
Interesting questions Morodiene. I didn't like lessons as a child to start. I really didn't. I would rarely practice. I remember many lessons with my teacher sternly accusing me of not practicing and this being a waste of time. I have to thank him for sticking with me. While my parents sort of forced lessons for the first seven years they gave me the choice later on and for some reason I stuck with it and started practicing and they almost couldn't get me away from the piano after that. Without pushing me to start I don't think I'd play today and I didn't end up hating the piano even though I hated it to start.

Is there a learn to love option because somewhere along the way that's what happened to me.

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#1258403 - 08/29/09 08:39 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: HomeInMyShoes]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
What an excellent thread!! There's so much to talk about here..

I'm another of those who started lessons fairly early.. (5 y.o.) I didn't love the piano, really, it was just something I did. My Mom took me for lessons after I plunked around on a toy piano for awhile in my toddler years. By age 16, I'd gotten to the mid intermediate level.. playing Chopin waltzes, mazurkas and Beethoven sonatas. I played well, but lacked... passion for the music, I'd say. I went to a local conservatory and did what was expected of me. But by age 16, I'd developed a love of popular music, and wanted to play that because it felt good to me.

Learning piano was never "fun".. I did like having the skills to play pretty much what I wanted to. But after 16, when my parents wouldn't pay for jazz lessons, I gave it up and didn't look back. Count me among those who wished someone had encouraged me to continue, now that my older hands are trying to learn "Clair de Lune", or beautiful jazz runs.


In my teaching practice now, I am stongly encouraged by my boss to use "Music Mind Games", which are fun for me and the students, but I bristle a bit at having to "entertain" the kids who take lessons with me. It's been a long time since I was a 5 year old beginner, but I do not remember being entertained during my lessons. Call me a goody two shoes, but I did what was expected to me. Why is it so hard for parents to teach their kids that focusing, concentration, practice and discipline are good things to learn early in life?

Another question though, is how do we, as teachers encourage our students to stick with it, so that they don't have the regrets that I and so many others do... for quitting too soon?? How do you address that?

When admitting new students to your studios.. do you tell the parents and kids that it takes a few years of study before they start playing "good" music? That they must have all the fundamentals down first? I bet if we did, we'd not get as many students. So.. in the spirit of "marketing piano lessons", how do we "hook" the students??


BevP

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#1258480 - 08/29/09 11:36 AM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: J Cortese]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: J Cortese

You aren't the only piano teacher in the world, and yes I do see people stating first that mastering the piano is a Challenge to be Overcome, Teaches Life Lessons, and Makes You a Better Person well before they ever get to the part where they start talking about the love of the music, playing around, and improvising. All the time.

It seems to me that you have had horrible experiences, which is unfortunate, but it also seems to me that you are using this thread and in general the site to lash out at people. Your "all the time" statement makes it seem as though it is more common for people to suffer through years of painful, boring, mind-killing piano lessons than to find any joy in playing. You DO learn a lot of lessons by mastering something as difficult as the piano. For instance, most children are given the responsibility, for the first time, of working through the week—mostly on their own—to get something ready for the next week. The kind of cramming, grade-passing, score-achieving goals that so often work in school just don't work for piano. Kids DO learn a lot about how to study, how to use time effectively, how to set smaller goals and achieve them, how to build a skill over a long time.

Now, having said that, I am not personally in favor of making people do anything for the "because it is good for you and you will thank me later in life" reasoning that I so often heard myself. To this day I don't feel like thanking any adult who rammed something down my throat that I didn't want to learn, that I had no interest in. However, there are cases in which I started out with little interest, had to do something because it was required, and developed a love for it within the first couple years. I have also started to learn something, passionately interested in it and excited about the future, only to end up disliking or even hating it. People do change how they feel about things.
Quote:

I agree with your last comment, but you are kidding yourself if you think a child cannot be manipulated into continuing WELL into adulthood with something they hate desperately.

I'm finding out that your statement is true by reading comments of other people. Frankly, it astounds me. Apparently a lot of people are much more interested in what other people think they "should do" than I am. The last time I did anything I disliked or hated was in high school and college, and that was for the simple matter that certain courses were required. I could not find any way to skip them without rocking the boat so seriously that I would not have graduated, first from high school, later from college. But I swore the whole time. I absolutely LOATHED most of my college basic studies courses and in fact did not finish up with a particularly impressive grade point average because of resisting those courses. I actually got in a verbal fight with an English professor who taught a required course full of books that I simply detested. It was one of those "appreciation" courses, full of dark, depressing and boring books that I could not force myself to read. I wrote my midterm exam about how much I hated his course, and why.

He was so disconnected from reality that he didn't understand why anyone would not love his course. I told him that I'd kill to get him in MY music appreciation course, where I'd ram Wagner, Mahler, Hindemith, Weber and Cage down his throat with the same mentality: "It's good for you. Listen to it."
Quote:

Humans do that all the time. "If you don't love it, you won't get very far with it" just isn't always the case.

No, but I think that those who do love "it", on average, will get much further than those who don't.


Edited by Gary D. (08/29/09 11:37 AM)
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#1258510 - 08/29/09 12:37 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Hatred is a decision to actively distance yourself from and/or create barriers between yourself and something or someone else. Hatred is almost never constructive for human beings. Children should be taught this from a young age.

I dislike shaving, but I do not hate it. To hate shaving would have no function for me other than to decrease my happiness. I already spend enough of my life shaving. Why would I want to spend even more time being miserable about it?

I don't doubt that many students dislike many aspects of learning to play the piano.

How much more rewarding it would be for all concerned to understand these specific and concrete dislikes and to deal with them appropriately rather than to take a mindless, emotional decision to "hate". After dealing with the dislikes an informed decision can be taken to stop lessons, pause lessons, change lessons, enrich lessons, change tempo, etc. etc.

Minors depend on their parents to take important decisions for them until they have reached the age and stage of development to be able to make appropriate decisions for themselves. Taking decisions for children without taking into account their perceptions and addressing their feedback would seem to be unwise. After all, the only way learning takes place efficiently and effectively is when there is internal motivation. Tapping into and helping to form that internal motivation is the most important thing a parent or teacher can do.

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#1258517 - 08/29/09 12:54 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: theJourney]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Hatred is a decision to actively distance yourself from and/or create barriers between yourself and something or someone else.

Most of the rest of your post I agree with. This I most definitely do not.

As an adult, or as a very wise younger person, you may make decisions about how you want to go about changing hate. But I don't think hatred starts as a decision of any kind. I think it is a visceral response.

I had a cruel chemistry teacher in high school. I hated her. Perhaps even then I realized that hating her was pointless, that it would not do me any good. Certainly figuring out a way to distance myself from that feeling would have helped, but I do not agree that I chose to create barriers. I was in the presence of a very nasty adult, and I did not know how to deal with that.

If a kid is getting beaten up daily by a bully, I think it's quite a natural response for that child to hate the bully.

And if a child is made to take lessons and practice daily, I don't think that hating the piano is something he/she can control if the whole experience is really unpleasant.
Quote:

Hatred is almost never constructive for human beings. Children should be taught this from a young age.

In theory I agree with you, but if we were successful in teaching most children this lesson, it would be a very different world. For most people it takes a lifetime to even scratch the surface of mastering such a difficult lesson. smile
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#1258532 - 08/29/09 01:27 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Gary D.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
OK. I agree that there are visceral emotional reactions going on with both children and adults that are labeled as hate. However, to hold on to and extend and dwell on these is usually also a decision, whether or not it is a rational decision.

You mention a stimulus eliciting an unthinking, emotional response. Acting on impulse thus.
I believe that even children can be taught impulse control and to build more time to decide to act between stimulus and response.
I believe that this is particularly important where these impulses can be dangerous to the child and their environment.

Were you able to discuss your feelings towards the chemistry teacher with an older sibling, your parents or another adult?
Was it possible that you were jumping to conclusions that she was cruel and that she might simply have been exhibiting behavior that was ambiguous but which you interpreted as being cruel behavior (and that she also had other behaviors that were not cruel)? Rather than distance yourself from the feeling, why not try to understand where the feeling is coming from? If you did not know how to deal with it yourself, what barriers existed to prevent you from asking for help from others?

I agree with you that if a child is forced to take lessons and practice daily and the whole experience is really unpleasant that a child will (decide to) hate piano. That is also the point I am making: we need to dig deeper to understand what specifically is being experienced as unpleasant and see if there is anything that can be changed so that it not only is pleasant but desirable -- or to realize that not every child must do this activity and stop it.


Edited by theJourney (08/29/09 01:28 PM)

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#1258546 - 08/29/09 02:01 PM Re: How many people hate piano? [Re: Sal_]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Sal_
Why I stick with the piano over other instruments is it can make all the voices at once.


Yes, some of my best playing was in creating "orchestra voices" in the music, a clarinet, a flute, violins, drums and supplying what felt like and sounded like the recognizable "timbres" of those instruments. The piano arrangements of symphonies and ballets are some of the pieces that allow this. Imagination creates the possibility and then it's just working with keyboard sound and the touch required to "imitate" the instrument voices. This is of course, going on as in melody, while the other fingers are playing piano accompaniment to the "solo" instrument.

The piano is definitely capable of orchestra sounds if the pianist has the capacity to be the human instument capable of producing those sounds through touch and technique.

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