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#1273635 - 09/23/09 05:20 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Toman]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
All jeans are formed by individual experience. smile

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1273638 - 09/23/09 05:25 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Toman]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2445
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Toman
All genes are formed by individual experience.



Internet forums are great, for being able to pull theories like that out of a hat.

Or is it a typing error, corrected by sotto voce?


Edited by landorrano (09/23/09 05:25 PM)

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#1273651 - 09/23/09 05:58 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: landorrano]
Toman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/09
Posts: 164
You two, right into the trap!

How is it possible for a gene to form outside of personal experience?

The personal experience of our ancestors, that is. grin

Okay, let's get back to pianos now.


Edited by Toman (09/23/09 06:16 PM)

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#1273666 - 09/23/09 06:21 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Toman]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Flags of our Fathers ... jeans of our forefathers. smile

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1273669 - 09/23/09 06:25 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: sotto voce]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4669
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Epigenetics doesn't refer to the presence or absence of jeans (oops, I mean genes). It refers to whether or not those genes are expressed. There appear to be environmental, social and emotional factors that affect it.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1273690 - 09/23/09 07:32 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: gooddog]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
my interest in the absence of jeans is totally dependent on the individual from whom the jeans are absent...
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1273822 - 09/23/09 11:06 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3013
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring


Secondly, Tim, could you not keep stating as though it were a fact, that people cannot learn as well when they get older.


So, it is your position that old and young learn languages equally well?

This seems a strange position to me, but I'm willing to listen to you defend it.

Note that I have never claimed that older people cannot learn a language, only that it is far more difficult. Usually orders of magnitude more difficult.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1273902 - 09/24/09 03:26 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: TimR
Any church choir has at least one member who joined after retirement when he/she finally had time, and who stays forever singing the wrong notes loudly, making no improvement year after year. Sigh.


I believe you. But I know of children in school choirs in the same situation.

To be honest, I'd be a bit surprised if what drew a retired person to sing in a church choir, having no prior musical experience, was a burning passion to make music. I'd be a bit surprised if a person who really wanted to sing, was really unable to do so until retirement -- not in the affluent West, anyway. I mean, even in the England of the Industrial Revolution, working folks managed to find time to sing together.

It's more likely, surely, that such a person has found herself or himself with to much time and not enough to do, and then a friend says ``Why don't you come and sing in the church choir with me? It's get you out of the house and we have a cup of tea and a bun afterwards''. Or whatever.

I would suggest that, on the whole, learning to play piano is not a social thing, and people who make the attempt probably are doing so for very different reasons for the retired lady or gentleman who joins the church choir.

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#1273937 - 09/24/09 06:33 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: kevinb]
TimR Offline
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Posts: 3013
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: kevinb

I would suggest that, on the whole, learning to play piano is not a social thing, and people who make the attempt probably are doing so for very different reasons for the retired lady or gentleman who joins the church choir.


The church choir example is extreme and is intended to convey some humor as well.

We do see adult entrants who do okay. By okay I mean sing on pitch without obvious errors. I don't mean develop the ability to read music and carry a vocal line independently, I haven't seen that happen. But they are able to listen to a strong singer and follow well, which is an interesting skill in itself. That one is something I struggle with myself.

We've had this discussion before. One thing conspicuously absent is anyone giving examples of adult successes, this seems to be rare. Of course a lot of kids take piano lessons without developing much skill either. So I dunno. I started after 50. I haven't developed a high degree of skill but I'm still making progress and have yet to come near my potential. But I've played brass instruments and sung in choirs since age 12.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1273947 - 09/24/09 07:29 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: TimR

We've had this discussion before. One thing conspicuously absent is anyone giving examples of adult successes, this seems to be rare. Of course a lot of kids take piano lessons without developing much skill either. So I dunno.


I dunno either. I take your point about absence of evidence, but that isn't -- pardon the cliche -- evidence of absence. There really can't be many 50-year-old musical virgins (so to speak) who are actually enthusiastic about learning -- not enough to draw statistically valid conclusions from, I suspect.

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#1274016 - 09/24/09 09:40 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
So, it is your position that old and young learn languages equally well?

... but I'm willing to listen to you defend it.

Tim, I'll qualify that, and also try to answer your question. I'll try to go from the theoretical to the practical. I'll have to develop this so please bear with me. I'll probably end up with the usual gobbledygook - wordy and incomprehensible blush but I'll give it a shot.

We have this statement floating around: The language folk tell each other that you can't learn a language well past a certain age and they justify it by citing the "known fact" about music. The music folk do the same thing, only they cite language. It loops. From this we have built a kind of model of the human mind resembling wax which is malleable but hardens into a final shape that cannot change. We get stuck there. Things tend to have more sides to them. What if there is more than hot wax, which might limit what we try to do? What else is there?

After a certain age we do things differently: we have a different "approach" than children. Actions are choices that can be redirected, while hardened wax is beyond our control. Some of this doing: analyzing more than direct interaction - this can complicate and interfere; conceptualizing and wrapping what we encounter in the framework of the concept we have formed; relating the new thing to what we already know and "translating" it (are you still perceiving things as they are). People do not learn in a vacuum - there is how and where they learn, and what it is they are doing in that learning - how they direct themselves, and the fact that they are directing themselves (possibly interfering).

Supposing that adults have common tendencies, and these tendencies block aspects of language/music learning. If we change these approaches we might also change the outcome.

I've used this and what I know about languages including having experienced languages, both to learn a seventh language and to teach some students who wanted fluency. The approach included circumventing what we do as adults. This is already too long and I don't want to get into the technicalities. The bottom line is that by actively doing something different, we also did not have those usual results.

Personally I don't know whether a statement about how well old and young *can* learn languages is true or not. I guess that the tone of finality of it bothers me: the conclusion that it's some permanent condition. I am not convinced that it is, because certain changeable habits can change those results.

I hate writing these long things and this one has probably come out as nonsense.

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#1274032 - 09/24/09 10:04 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
sotto voce Offline
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Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
If we do things differently as adults, I think that's significantly influenced by culture (whether or not our "hot wax" has hardened): there's a universal societal expectation that adults behave and perform differently from children.

A human who grew up in complete isolation from other humans—feral, if you will, and a blank slate in terms of learning experience—would be as childlike and unaffected by human culture (and unencumbered by the baggage of conceptualizing and analyzing) as anyone could possibly be. Such humans, to the extent there have been cases to examine, do not acquire verbal communication skills as adults in any degree that approaches normalcy. It tends to confirm the "window of opportunity" for childhood language acquisition that is so widely accepted.

keystring, it's interesting that you've found differing results by "actively doing something different." However, the study of foreign language acquisition by adults has a long history, and it's difficult for me to imagine any approach that hasn't been thought of, tried out and the results examined. If you have indeed arrived independently at something exceptional, both in the means and in the outcome, its import to the field of language pedagogy would be inestimable.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1274068 - 09/24/09 11:06 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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Thanks, Steven. I think, in fact, that it might be significant. But I am only one individual and not in a position to do more than pursue my own learning and teach a person here and there. It is quite possible (likely?) that teachers in both language and music use approaches that cannot be easily explained, don't fit any established theories, and get lost with the teacher. I suppose such things would have to be in something like thesis form because of the interlinking of ideas - who has the time to do so, or even knows how?

Is it helpful at all to consider that some adult behaviours might get in the way of learning music and languages, and if we can alter these by choice, we might have greater success? It's not easy to change a behaviour; for example to realize that you are filtering out when you think you are listening, and then learning to listen. But it does not carry the same impossibility as believing that we have been frozen into a permanent form by a certain age.

At the end of the day, I don't know. I've been able to achieve some things and helped a few people. I don't know if that means anything.

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#1274073 - 09/24/09 11:11 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
there's a universal societal expectation that adults behave and perform differently from children.


Must we give in to that? How eccentric are we willing to become?

Actually I had flashback this morning that in my first year of lessons I explored the instrument playfully, trying to see what it could do not much differently than a little kid who rattles, shakes, tastes (ok, I didn't do that wink ) with abandon. Later I decided that I had to be a "serious student" and became properly analytical and correct - that is the period when I did less well "despite" my hard work (took a while for the penny to drop that it was because of it).

That's not all of it, just a wild random thought.

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#1274102 - 09/24/09 11:50 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3013
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
So, it is your position that old and young learn languages equally well?

... but I'm willing to listen to you defend it.

Tim, I'll qualify that, and also try to answer your question.
We have this statement floating around: The language folk tell each other that you can't learn a language well past a certain age and they justify it by citing the "known fact" about music.


But that is not my position, either with regard to language or music.

I think there are two separate elements here.

One is that there are some developmental steps in learning either language or music that, if missed, can never be fully recovered. However, these steps are not a complete block to learning either (well, they probably are for language. If you've learned no language at all past this stage, you're probably sunk. But we all learned at least our first language young.) This developmental step is an either-or proposition, but the handicap is not complete and may in fact be minor. This step is probably around age 8, and most of us miss that for both music and foreign (but not native) languages.

The second element is age. This is not either-or, it is continuous and progressive. After mid teens, acquisition of either skill continuously and slowly deteriorates. It is somewhat compensated for by improved strategies, increased persistence and dedication, better understanding, etc. Adults learn more slowly than children, older adults learn more slowly than younger adults. It's just the nature of the aging process. It happens faster to some of us than others but is inevitable.

I think accepting this instead of denying it would encourage adults to persevere. I've seen so many other parents try to keep up with their children at piano lessons, fall behind, and give up as something they just can't do. If instead they'd been told they could do it, but to expect much slower progress, some of them would have continued.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1274116 - 09/24/09 12:05 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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TimR, you are writing things as facts which can be discouraging to those setting out to learn, and the self-image can be harmful. That concerns me. It does not affect me personally.

KS

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#1274119 - 09/24/09 12:10 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17701
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
[stops, groans, and can't help wading back into this thread...]

My class will be reading this article in a couple of weeks: Trainor, L. J. (2005). Are there critical periods for musical development? Developmental Psychobiology, 46, 262-278. It's an excellent article, with lots of discussion of relevant issues (including an extended foray into the literature on absolute pitch, another controversial topic here wink ).

Here's Trainor's bottom line message, taken from the concluding paragraph of the article: "What can we conclude about critical periods for musical expertise? Deprivation studies certainly have indicated that it is necessary to experience spectrally and temporally patterned rich sound to wire brain circuits for pitch processing. And enrichment studies have also indicated that early intensive musical experience has an effect on brain development. However, the adult brain also retains some plasticity, and it appears to be at least possible, if uncommon, to acquire musical expertise later in life. Therefore, critical periods for higher levels of musical expertise are probably quite fluid, and it is clear that there are multiple pathways to achieving musical expertise."

This conclusion is based on the consideration of a lot of neuropsychological research, including some animal studies, the details of which I don't have time to get into here, but I recommend this article to interested others. Basically, and also paraphrasing from the article's abstract, the evidence supports critical periods for "basic" aspects of musical pitch acquisition (e.g., tonotopic map formation and absolute pitch perception) but less so for more complex aspects of music comprehension and production (scale structure, harmony, musical interpretation, and composition).

_________________________
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My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1274140 - 09/24/09 12:38 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Monica K.]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
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It is harder to learn how to speak new langugage perfectly than learning to play piano perfectly.

One's personality has something to do with the learning process of a new langugage. A shy person will feel very uncomfortable to emulate a native speaker speech patterns. Changing intonations requires self determination and also the ability to surpress timidness. An outgoing person will be able to speak much better than a shy person. Asian males or other males who came after the formation of their personality will have problem to change their style of speaking. Non native speaker females, on the other hand, are more willing to change their speach patterns. Male is more bound to the norms where they grew up. When you observe non native speakers around you, you will notice that non native speaker males speak much worse than female non native speakers.

Playing piano, however, for adult does not really requires physical emulation, everything takes place inside their mind. They can just still sit, only their fingers that need to play. They do not need to do all the movement that will make them uncomfortable, therefore, I think playing piano to perfection is a more achievable than learning how to speak a new language perfectly.

I think the main problem with adult is that they want too much things in their mind, and worry too much things too. Children will take one step at a time, they do not really care whether they achieve the goal or not so that they do not have too much preassure.

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#1274165 - 09/24/09 01:03 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Monica K.]
keystring Online   content
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Monica, thank you for that quote. smile

KS

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#1274190 - 09/24/09 01:30 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
It should be a crime against culture to allow school systems to exist without an integrated, foundational music education. The more that the "free" market takes over our lives, the poorer we all become. Kids can now buy Coca-Cola at the school cafetaria or study hall, but music education is eliminated as superfluous.

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#1274221 - 09/24/09 01:59 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: pianoloverus]
madrigal Offline
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Registered: 02/08/09
Posts: 30
Loc: Canada
I am an adult starter too. I used to play violin as a child. Started piano lessons when I was 24. Now I am 39. I plan to play at parties or as an accompanist or whereever I could play. I practise 4 days a week for 5 hours.

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#1274226 - 09/24/09 02:02 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
I've often wondered if how much of the difference in adult language acquisition has to do with the fact that, as far as I know, no one spends a few years talking to an adult learner without expecting a verbal response, the way we do kids...no one talks to adults the way they do babies and toddlers. I'm not talking about baby talk. I'm talking about single words and simplified sentence structure. If an adult spent a couple of *years* in full-immersion language learning, doing nothing else, the way kids do, being talked to the way we talk to toddlers, being corrected the way we correct toddlers, how well would they learn?

The same with music. I think it was the musical fossils webpage or another webpage like it, where a teacher, who was currently visiting a piano pedagogy conference and listening to others' students play, commented that if one of their own adult students was 7 years old instead of 40 (or whatever), their skills and amount of progress would impress the other teachers and they would get a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Since it was an adult, however, no one would be impressed.

I think smaller stages of accomplishment get significantly more praise in children than they do in adults. For things like music and language acquisition, I think that's a big part of the picture.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1274231 - 09/24/09 02:07 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: madrigal]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: madrigal
I am an adult starter too. I used to play violin as a child. Started piano lessons when I was 24. Now I am 39. I plan to play at parties or as an accompanist or whereever I could play. I practise 4 days a week for 5 hours.


Wow! I find it hard to make an hour a day -- and that probably comes at some cost to family life in general smirk
Still I should be grateful -- I imagine a lot of people with small children can't even find that much time.

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#1274246 - 09/24/09 02:19 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: ProdigalPianist]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
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Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
I've often wondered if how much of the difference in adult language acquisition has to do with the fact that, as far as I know, no one spends a few years talking to an adult learner without expecting a verbal response, the way we do kids...no one talks to adults the way they do babies and toddlers. I'm not talking about baby talk. I'm talking about single words and simplified sentence structure. If an adult spent a couple of *years* in full-immersion language learning, doing nothing else, the way kids do, being talked to the way we talk to toddlers, being corrected the way we correct toddlers, how well would they learn?

The same with music. I think it was the musical fossils webpage or another webpage like it, where a teacher, who was currently visiting a piano pedagogy conference and listening to others' students play, commented that if one of their own adult students was 7 years old instead of 40 (or whatever), their skills and amount of progress would impress the other teachers and they would get a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Since it was an adult, however, no one would be impressed.

I think smaller stages of accomplishment get significantly more praise in children than they do in adults. For things like music and language acquisition, I think that's a big part of the picture.



Many moons ago I used to teach English as a second language in Central America at a place that took exactly this philosophy. We attained amazing results with adults -- even with people of limited literacy.

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#1274266 - 09/24/09 02:55 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: theJourney]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
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Originally Posted By: theJourney

Many moons ago I used to teach English as a second language in Central America at a place that took exactly this philosophy. We attained amazing results with adults -- even with people of limited literacy.


What do you mean by amazing result? Could they speak without Spanish accent? I have no doubt that they can learn the grammar. The grammar can be learned quickly, but the pronunciation that is very difficult to improve. I have been in the States for 18 years, I have to put a lot of effort to pronounce ANY word so that my accent will not come out too much. It is the same like playing Schumann's Traumerei...It is not that difficult to just play, but play beautifully is different matter.

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#1274274 - 09/24/09 03:01 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: Monica K.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Therefore, critical periods for higher levels of musical expertise are probably quite fluid, and it is clear that there are multiple pathways to achieving musical expertise.
No doubt it's more to do with dedrites- 'About 80 percent of dendrites form after birth, and a large percentage of them form during the first three years of life.'
_________________________
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1274276 - 09/24/09 03:03 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: RonaldSteinway]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
It is the same like playing Schumann's Traumerei...It is not that difficult to just play, but play beautifully is different matter.
I've seen plenty of kids in my school start with an accent at age 11, they never lose it.
_________________________
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1274289 - 09/24/09 03:20 PM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Tim, I didn't really go into what you actually wrote the first time.
Quote:
This developmental step is an either-or proposition, but the handicap is not complete and may in fact be minor. This step is probably around age 8, and most of us miss that for both music and foreign (but not native) languages.

I question this. That's what I refer to as the "hot wax" idea. I work in languages including occasionally teaching it one-on-one and am learning a new language at a relatively late age - more successfully with less effort than as a young adult. I don't know if you could follow my convoluted treatise.

Quote:
After mid teens, acquisition of either skill continuously and slowly deteriorates.

I question this as well. I am also not convinced that we can know such things. People devise tests, print out results of such tests, and interpret them. That does not make the interpretation true or absolute.

Quote:
I've seen so many other parents try to keep up with their children at piano lessons, fall behind, and give up as something they just can't do.

Before I put my foot in my mouth, are you the observing teacher? Can you explain more? In what kind of a scenario would a parent and child be taking the same lesson? Is this like Suzuki, where the child is being taught and the parent participates in order to help? Or something different?


Edited by keystring (09/24/09 03:22 PM)
Edit Reason: changed "that does not make..."

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#1274680 - 09/25/09 04:04 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: keystring]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7460
Originally Posted By: keystring
I work in languages including occasionally teaching it one-on-one and am learning a new language at a relatively late age - more successfully with less effort than as a young adult.


Just to add another element to this already thick stew - is there not evidence that acquiring new languages is quite different and easier for an adult who already has a few, than for a person who is trying to learn their first (outside of native) new language?

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#1277900 - 09/30/09 11:45 AM Re: Realistic Goals as adults/late starter [Re: pianovirus]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4398
Loc: San Jose, CA
"Aha! You just gave me an idea for a new version of Damn Yankees especially for PW members!"

We should be so lucky. Whatever happened to those great show-stoppers like, "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets"--- numbers that put the "tang" back in tango.

I think one reason piano used to be so much more popular is because people used to dance to it. It was fun, it was sexy, it was not the marathon of isolation-endurance that it has become.
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Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
HELP! Is this strain because of my technique?
by T.M.E.
04/23/14 11:26 PM
Is it my technique that's causing this?
by T.M.E.
04/23/14 10:49 PM
Best brand of upright piano 48" or larger?
by WG40
04/23/14 10:22 PM
Kawai MP11 vs. Kawai VPC-1 Action / Key Length
by jp2011
04/23/14 10:00 PM
Canadian pricing for Kawai MP11?
by GWILLY
04/23/14 09:52 PM
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