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#1263422 - 09/06/09 11:43 AM Are you a desperado?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Were you so desperate to play well that you unlearned all the poor teaching you received initially - even though it took years?
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#1263427 - 09/06/09 11:53 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
My early teachers I had weren't poor teachers, but insufficient teachers. In some cases, I was moved ahead before I actually mastered a concept and could execute it properly. Perhaps that's a necessary problem of impatient youth.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1263428 - 09/06/09 11:53 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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As a pianist I was blessed with a great teacher who was patient, kind, and really helped my technique, so I didn't have "unlearning" to do. But as a singer, 7 out of the 8 teachers I had were bad, many of them contradicting one another, trading off one bad idea for the next.

My last teacher was the one who really hit the nail on the head, and so when he taught me, it was like a huge light bulb went off, "Oh, *that* actually felt right!" My body knew what it should have been doing but it got confused by all the terrible suggestions from people who should have known better, and so when I finally was going in the right direction, it felt easier. I never went back to the old ways out of habit, because they never felt right to begin with. When you find something that is easier and more efficient and not painful, why would you ever go back?

But then, one may wonder why I stuck with it after 7 teachers and failures each time after "reworking" my voice yet again. There were definitely many times I tried giving up, but after trying that a few times I realized that I had to sing no matter how bad it was. I wanted it badly enough.

So, yes, I think the key to overcoming poor teaching is the desire to want it badly enough that you simply keep trying until you get it.
_________________________
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#1263432 - 09/06/09 11:57 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Morodiene]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Yes!!!

It dawned on me when I was at University that in order to progress further I needed to rework my whole technique. My first piano teacher (right through to grade 8) was actually a guitarist!
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1263435 - 09/06/09 11:59 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

So, yes, I think the key to overcoming poor teaching is the desire to want it badly enough that you simply keep trying until you get it.
Ah, a fellow
desperado! And when you find someone who has it on offer you just know, don't you ("Oh, *that* actually felt right!").
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#1263437 - 09/06/09 12:00 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Chris H.
My first piano teacher (right through to grade 8) was actually a guitarist!
And another!
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263439 - 09/06/09 12:04 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Perhaps that's a necessary problem of impatient youth.
Not. Why do I have this awful vision of you in knickerbockers, hair slicked down with macasa - right out of Tom Sawyer?
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#1263447 - 09/06/09 12:26 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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I am definitely a better pianist today, despite much less time for practice, than I was when I was at my high school best. I most certainly don't blame bad teaching. Like John, I would say that my first teacher was insufficient, but the raw material he was working with (me) was equally insufficient or more so. My second teacher was fabulous. Her skills could have taken me way beyond what I ultimately achieved. The problems were in me, not her. My limited horizon was shaped by ingrained habits I could not easily break in the short time I worked with her.

Some, or most, young players really never master how to practice for maximum benefit. They don't learn the tricks that help them identify why particular passages are giving them difficulty, so they muscle through things and make bad habits permanent. They do this in piece after piece, until that style becomes practice to them. If there was a failing, it might be that teaching how to practice wasn't very systematic once I got into advanced literature.

A related problem may be that many, or most, students never really master the technique of relaxed playing. Controlling the body just seems downright difficult to lots of teens. Being told what to do just doesn't seem to translate smoothly into actually doing it. I wonder if teens just don't experiment around a lot so that trial and error eventually shows them what the teacher was getting at.

Both of these things only came to me as an adult working on my own. Adult insights, in my case, were simply deeper than what I was capable of putting out as a teen.
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#1263454 - 09/06/09 12:38 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Piano*Dad]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Being told what to do just doesn't seem to translate smoothly into actually doing it.
And there's the rub - it's what not to do!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263458 - 09/06/09 12:44 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7384
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Perhaps that's a necessary problem of impatient youth.
Not. Why do I have this awful vision of you in knickerbockers, hair slicked down with macasa - right out of Tom Sawyer?


I know wht knickerbockers are - though I've never had any, but I don't know what macasa is, and apparently, no one has bothered to post a definition or picture or description on the web. Please define.

As for your nightmares, perhaps it's something you ate! laugh
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1263460 - 09/06/09 12:50 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Sorry, it's my spelling:


You can't have forgotten antimacassars:
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263474 - 09/06/09 01:05 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Yeah, I remember antimacassars on chairs... long after no one would have been caught dead oiling their hair. Some traditions die hard.
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#1263475 - 09/06/09 01:06 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Being told what to do just doesn't seem to translate smoothly into actually doing it.
And there's the rub - it's what not to do!


Hey, is this a serious comment .... or a post padding! grin
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#1263479 - 09/06/09 01:15 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Piano*Dad]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hey, is this a serious comment .... or a post padding! grin
Huh!? Learning the piano is mostly a case of learning what not to do.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263526 - 09/06/09 02:52 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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No, no, all I was pointing out was that you were emphasizing the flip side of what I had already said. Whether a teacher tells you what TO do or what NOT to do, if you can't really feel what s(he) means, the instruction does you little good. It's hard to know what 'right' feels like if you haven't experienced it.
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#1263536 - 09/06/09 03:13 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Piano*Dad]
keyboardklutz Offline
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That's why you need to start correctly from day 1. That way it feels as you already do feel (more or less). Instrumental pedagogy is kinda about making something that feels pretty awkward feel natural without subsuming unwanted tension. i.e. accommodating tension not hiding it.
_________________________
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#1263547 - 09/06/09 03:35 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
cruiser Offline
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Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
kbk, I apologise if your op question was intended solely for your fellow teachers, but I just had to jump in here..

Where does a 58 year old - desperate to make the most of his precious time - find that right teacher in Hamburg, Germany? I've 'tried' several and none of them - NONE OF THEM! - have 'it'! Moving to live next door to kbk, John Brook, Morodiene, Betty Patnude, Chris H. etc. is, unfortunately, not an option frown

Frustrated? ...you bet! I feel like 'Brendel' - my avatar dog - going round in circles and getting knowhere fast!

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#1263557 - 09/06/09 03:55 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: cruiser]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You can try: http://epta-europe.org/mapa/members8.html
It seems EPTA-Germany's web isn't working but give them a ring. It's no guarantee of a good teacher but you might get a list.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263566 - 09/06/09 04:12 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
cruiser Offline
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Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Thanks for the link, kbk.

I seem to have been going on about this since joining the PW forums in Feb 2007 but believe me, the teachers I've tried so far have all been disappointing - no structured learning strategy designed to match my needs, no mention of how best to practice, no tailored technique exercises. As you yourself mentioned, I'll know when - if! - I find the right teacher!

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#1263605 - 09/06/09 05:48 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Piano*Dad]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Some, or most, young players really never master how to practice for maximum benefit. They don't learn the tricks that help them identify why particular passages are giving them difficulty, so they muscle through things and make bad habits permanent. They do this in piece after piece, until that style becomes practice to them. If there was a failing, it might be that teaching how to practice wasn't very systematic once I got into advanced literature.

Like Cruiser, I am not a teacher, but felt the need to comment. This is exactly the problem I'm only now realizing I have. I'm 22, finishing university, and haven't taken a piano lesson in 2 years (having started lessons at the age of 7). Only now, reading literature on the subject and looking back, do I realize that I never knew how to practice properly. After my parents stopped monitoring my practice, I got by on a combination of sight reading, 1-2 hours of "muscling through" a week, and what I suppose is love of piano, since I did stick with it even through the rebellious adolescent years. I'm planning to resume regular daily practice (for the first time since I became a teenager!) now, and since the picture of a "practice session" no longer involves mindless drilling 'till I get it right, I can't be more excited to start again. I only wish my teacher had identified the problem back in highschool when I had much more time, and taught me how to practice. I would certainly be a better pianist for it now.

I had an excellent technical foundation from my early teachers, and they did a lot to impart to me their love of music. Proper "practicing technique", however, is equally important, especially at the higher levels where hard work is required, and it's so easy to become discouraged if it's not paying off. I'm very glad that the teachers on this forum are giving this aspect of piano instruction the attention it deserves. Your students are lucky to have teachers like you smile

On topic, I suppose the title applies to me, even though I don't consider myself to have had bad teaching. It's unlikely that I'll be able to take lessons again for some years, but after my 2-year break I realize I don't want to leave piano. It's one of my greatest joys, and if keeping it means learning to practice all over again by myself, I'm happy to do it.

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#1263624 - 09/06/09 06:19 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: cruiser]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
You know, Cruiser, that I'm looking back at what I had to work with in myself in 1971 when I started to teach piano lessons for Sherman Clay in Topanga area of California. I played well despite 12 years of having no piano in my home from age 15 to 27. I had 5 kids at home that required a major part of my 24 hours a day and I had spent a lot of time, energy and effort in raising and educating them through their early years before entry into school. Coming up with projects and lessons and early education things to do were easy for me and I considered it as a careet at one point - I basically had my own nursery school - home grown.

I wondered how the first 10 lessons for 10 students would go, as I had not actually taught anyone piano before. Making music and singing, drumming, dancing, acting, charades, art, reading with kids, yes. Applied piano? No.

I think I came at teaching through my experiences when I was a learner, age 9 to 15 - I knew what I didn't want to do - I wanted to do better than my teachers had done with me. They were inspiring in their own musicianship and I heard and watched them often with their professional endeavors. One was a bandmaster and choral music director at a service academy, and one was my high school orchestra and choral director - both were fine and long term musicians. Both played piano but were not piano teachers per se. I had a previous piano teacher who had me for two years as she was my 3rd grade teacher at school. She was not a "real" piano teacher either. She did it with only a few students as a group and then we shared the music time hearing each other play. I was newest, youngest and weakest in the group - with 2 older kids that had studied with her for several years. I always felt at a disadvantage at piano lessons. My first 2 years were barely significant to me, but it was when I transferred to 3 years with the military teacher and then in high school the next teacher that I made incredible accomplishments in sight reading and interpretation and repertoire. One of the things both teachers had me doing, boy, was I scared in the beginning, was accompanying for their choirs! The orchestra teacher gave me a viola to play as the other piano accompanist also played viola, and one of us would play piano and the other viola - sometimes both being the viola section.

One of the 'hairy' things I remember was giving a recital by myself at age 11 and at the last minute before going to the piano, the teacher said, "I'm going to ask Betty to introduce the pieces and the composers before she plays." OMG! I didn't know how to pronounce some of the pieces I played, nor the composer names, it had never been mentioned before. So I just shut up and kept playing without saying a word. He stood and introduced them after the first several went by.

It's stories like this about what wasn't part of the lesson that made me aware that even with very adequate learning situation, teacher's don't always cover what you need to know.

I decided that if I were going to teach piano, I would be the kind of teacher I needed to have...and much of that has come from study, reading pedagogy, joining a professional group, taking lessons from very well prepared teachers, working very hard myself...but most of all, I think the nurturing and relationship part of the teaching has been a factor that I insist upon...we just have to connect and communicate together...or I don't think it works in the same way to really be of influence on another musician and guide his development.

That to me is what is missing when we give up being an influence or guide to allow students to master mind the pieces that we will teach the concepts from. I think it's important that he chooses some materials, but the system and logic of music learning works so much better when there is a guidance to what comes next, and knowing the how, when and why of choosing the next piece is NOT a given among most teachers. They turn pages to turn pages without the emphasis being on what works best for the next step.

Scala is a ladder - we should be accountable for our students climbing the ladder making progress on their way to success - which is to me musicianship and independence - the reason for teaching - the reason for being a piano student.

The joy of it is really in the accumulation of worth while experiences, I think.

Cruiser, you would be most welcome here. I would love for you to find that teacher who makes a big difference to you. Do you know what is missing? Find a teacher who has studied pedagogy and you will begin to find the type of learning you crave.

Best!

Betty

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#1263630 - 09/06/09 06:35 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: Betty Patnude]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
KBK, are you talking about classical pedagogy? Isn't any book or teacher going to help you with this? After all, how many ways are there to play it "correctly?"
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#1263821 - 09/07/09 03:00 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: eweiss]
keyboardklutz Offline
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By 'it', eweiss, I mean the piano and though some disagree there is a correct way to play it - with the greatest ease possible.
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#1263849 - 09/07/09 04:52 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: cruiser]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: cruiser

Where does a 58 year old - desperate to make the most of his precious time - find that right teacher in Hamburg, Germany? I've 'tried' several and none of them - NONE OF THEM! - have 'it'!


I don't believe it, you're missing something.

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#1263850 - 09/07/09 04:55 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Instrumental pedagogy is kinda about making something that feels pretty awkward feel natural without subsuming unwanted tension.


Something that feels awkward? What do you mean?

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#1263869 - 09/07/09 06:02 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Something that feels awkward? What do you mean?
Like wrapping a violin 'round your chin.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1263902 - 09/07/09 08:34 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: landorrano]
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: cruiser

Where does a 58 year old - desperate to make the most of his precious time - find that right teacher in Hamburg, Germany? I've 'tried' several and none of them - NONE OF THEM! - have 'it'!


I don't believe it, you're missing something.


Yes, you're right, I am missing something, and when I find it I'll let you know.

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#1263946 - 09/07/09 10:50 AM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: cruiser]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10372
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: dRummie
Only now, reading literature on the subject and looking back, do I realize that I never knew how to practice properly. After my parents stopped monitoring my practice, I got by on a combination of sight reading, 1-2 hours of "muscling through" a week, and what I suppose is love of piano, since I did stick with it even through the rebellious adolescent years.


I think dRummie's experience is common enough. This is one of the reasons why I still occasionally monitor my son's practice and offer my advice (for what it's worth) about how he practices.

Here's a concrete example of a recent dad intervention in his practice. On the last page of Gershwin's First Prelude there is a rapid right hand passage that starts .... D-E-A♭-D-E-G-A♭(octave). He would make little slips repeatedly in the octaves at the end, and the middle notes (E and A♭) seemed to get swallowed up and indistinct sounding. He would repeat the pattern over and over hoping just to get the pattern in his head, but I could see that slight concentration lapses crept in as he shifted his attention to the left hand issues. The right hand simply needed to be on autopilot and that required some analysis of why repeating the notes over and over wasn't working for him. He was really having two problems, and two little 'tricks' solved them. The jump from A♭ to D (3rd finger to first) was the first problem ... that thumb sliding smoothly underneath and then landing a firm forte on the D. Repeated practice of the first four notes, with special attention on the jump, and bingo, problem solved. The second problem was landing the first octave smoothly. That required going from the third finger (on G) to an octave on A♭. Repeated practice of just that one move solved that problem. What I was able to do was help him break down his issues into tiny little parts. It was those parts that caused all the problems. Five minutes of practice and voila, problem solved.

Should his teacher have caught this? Well, maybe. And maybe she did. She sees him for one hour per week, and they have a lot on their plate. But I have the luxury of being able to work with him at will in the comfort of my home. And I can focus on helping him see how I broke apart his one little problem. Hopefully, that will help him think through technical issues more quickly in the future.

In order to help him refine his practice technique, I will gladly accept the darts from those who think I'm a micromanaging and overbearing ogre. There is something about those high school years, some combination of light rebellion plus other social and schooling demands, that can easily pull a young person into developing a series of bad habits. They're easy to fall in to, and if you're good the consequences aren't hugely noticeable to the student. This is true in part because the student cannot easily imagine what their trajectory might have been if they had learned how to work more efficiently.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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#1264057 - 09/07/09 01:35 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: keyboardklutz]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Something that feels awkward? What do you mean?
Like wrapping a violin 'round your chin.


If a musical instrument "feels pretty awkward" to you, you are going to transmit that mistrust to a student no matter what you say or try to demonstrate.

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#1264081 - 09/07/09 02:19 PM Re: Are you a desperado? [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
If a musical instrument "feels pretty awkward" to you, you are going to transmit that mistrust to a student no matter what you say or try to demonstrate.
That's a very important point (I feel a thread coming on). The sign you are a good player is when you sense something as awkward but have no awkwardness interacting with it. It's a kinda out'a body thing. Poor players subsume the awkwardness as unnecessary tension and it disappears from their radar. In other words, never lose those initial awkward feelings - keep the feelings not the tension.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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