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#1279758 - 10/03/09 03:22 AM I know how mistakes happen!
keyboardklutz Offline
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...well some anyway. When learning a passage you make a mistake once or twice (could it be innocent?), then correct it. The non-conscious though, still 'thinks' there is a mistake and when you return to the passage there is this lonely thought wandering about in a desert of perfect (but maybe not confident) rendering. It chooses something that's correct as the error and changes it! (do thoughts not want to die?). Many don't spot this because they can't accept there is thinking going on without a thinker (consciousness) - that was Descartes' error too.

edit: I forgot to post that I'm referring to those errors that often occur just after or just before a recently corrected error.


Edited by keyboardklutz (10/03/09 04:04 AM)
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#1279761 - 10/03/09 03:26 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Sal_ Offline
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Loc: Lacey, WA
"It chooses something that's correct as the error and changes it! "

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this. Could you elaborate?

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#1279764 - 10/03/09 03:33 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Sal_]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You don't understand because you are unaware that 'thinking' (making choices) is going on below the level of consciousness.
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#1279769 - 10/03/09 03:47 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Sal_ Offline
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No... I don't understand because:

It--my brain--chooses something--the note played--that's correct as the error--???--and changes it--changes the note? what my brain thinks is supposed to be played?

I understand and agree that there's thought below what I consciously think. I simply do not follow that sentence as written.

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#1279770 - 10/03/09 03:52 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Sal_]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes. I was unclear, I forgot to post that I'm referring to those errors that often occur just after or just before a corrected error. The non-conscious knows that a 'correction' is needed around there somewhere and will 'correct' something that is not in need of correction thereby creating another error. Even if it doesn't do that tension is created in the mind as the 'thought' searches for its error.
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#1279778 - 10/03/09 04:28 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
theJourney Offline
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1. You can never "un learn" anything.
2. Your mind does not understand "not", if you hold something in your (unconscious) mind expressed as a negation "Stop smoking", "Don't miss that accidental", etc. your mind will help you smoke and miss the accidental.
3. The detailed decision making that takes place micro-second by micro-second that is need to play the piano fluently means that almost all of the act of piano playing takes place in the unconscious.

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#1279786 - 10/03/09 04:44 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: theJourney]
Chris H. Offline
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I like those explanations TJ.

When I watch some of my students perform it seems to be their conscious mind that screws things up. I can almost hear them thinking.....

DON'T SCREW IT UP!!!!!!!!

Then they screw it up.
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#1279789 - 10/03/09 04:53 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes, the non-conscious is mostly blameless. The conscious is guilty of putting wrong ideas in its head.
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#1279802 - 10/03/09 05:56 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
...well some anyway. When learning a passage you make a mistake once or twice (could it be innocent?), then correct it. The non-conscious though, still 'thinks' there is a mistake and when you return to the passage there is this lonely thought wandering about in a desert of perfect (but maybe not confident) rendering. It chooses something that's correct as the error and changes it! (do thoughts not want to die?). Many don't spot this because they can't accept there is thinking going on without a thinker (consciousness) - that was Descartes' error too.

edit: I forgot to post that I'm referring to those errors that often occur just after or just before a recently corrected error.


What a load of absolute balls! You're still going on about this ludicrous schizophrenic idea of a secondary personality? If that's happening, it's a sign that the pianist simply isn't thinking enough. What kind of person thinks to themself "I have to do one these notes different around here somewhere" and hence randomly changes a note without thinking what it should be. Nonsense. This just shows an absence of thought. Stop thinking and things go wrong- unless you have programmed your brain by repeating the passage accurately on enough occasions.

If that's happening, the solution is simple. Look at the score, read the notes properly and go slowly enough to sense where the fingers are before you move them. That is the only way to correct mistakes. Not to wonder whether you sub-conscious is saying- don't forget to play a random note a bit different this time. Forget this claptrap about the non-conscious. You're simply talking about the problems that ensue when you GUESS which notes to play, before you've been patient enough to take the time to learn how to play them. If you want to learn to play notes accurately, you need to practise with consistency and intent. If that is not there, wrong notes will come left, right and centre. That's what you're really describing here (albeit in a staggeringly vague and roundabout fashion).


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 06:08 AM)
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#1279806 - 10/03/09 06:25 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Of all the threads in all the forums in all the world, he posts in mine (but to the tune of Carmina Burana). Whatever it is you have ta say mate, I don't wanna know.
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#1279810 - 10/03/09 06:54 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
sotto voce Offline
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I found some nice graphics to convey that in the Chopin Tension thread. Of course, he had to have the last word—words and words and words, probably—but I'm no longer even tempted to toggle.

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

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#1279813 - 10/03/09 07:12 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: sotto voce]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: sotto voce
I found some nice graphics to convey that in the Chopin Tension thread. Of course, he had to have the last word—words and words and words, probably—but I'm no longer even tempted to toggle.

Steven


Sure. You folks go ahead and attack the man. Never mind the argument.
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#1279834 - 10/03/09 09:05 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


What a load of absolute balls! You're still going on about this ludicrous schizophrenic idea of a secondary personality? If that's happening, it's a sign that the pianist simply isn't thinking enough. What kind of person thinks to themself "I have to do one these notes different around here somewhere" and hence randomly changes a note without thinking what it should be. Nonsense. This just shows an absence of thought. Stop thinking and things go wrong- unless you have programmed your brain by repeating the passage accurately on enough occasions.

If that's happening, the solution is simple. Look at the score, read the notes properly and go slowly enough to sense where the fingers are before you move them. That is the only way to correct mistakes. Not to wonder whether you sub-conscious is saying- don't forget to play a random note a bit different this time. Forget this claptrap about the non-conscious. You're simply talking about the problems that ensue when you GUESS which notes to play, before you've been patient enough to take the time to learn how to play them. If you want to learn to play notes accurately, you need to practise with consistency and intent. If that is not there, wrong notes will come left, right and centre. That's what you're really describing here (albeit in a staggeringly vague and roundabout fashion).


Nyire, I have to say I agree with the content of what you say, but not the delivery. Perhaps people would actually bother listening to what you had to say if you bothered to be more respectful.

However, psychologically, a student can have a fear of a passage when the problem has not been worked out thoroughly as you describe, with the addition of reworking the passage back into the piece at tempo so that it is seamless. It is that unreasonable fear that must be overcome or as Chris says, they tell themselves "Don't screw up" and of course they screw up. Why? Because they don't fully understand what they need to do in order to not screw up. When they know, they need to tell themselves to do those things, and also they need a Plan B if that doesn't work out so that the flow of music is maintained.


Edited by Morodiene (10/03/09 09:07 AM)
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#1279840 - 10/03/09 09:12 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I'd be interested in the 'content' of your opinion Morodiene but as I don't see N's posts, I don't know what it is.
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#1279845 - 10/03/09 09:23 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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Essentially stopping to take the time to find out what the problem is. Usually the student is guessing and guessing wrong, but they really don't know what it should be...they simply gloss over it each time they play the piece and hope it will get better somehow. So figuring out what the problem is and finding a solution, usually slow practice and other techniques. This requires patience.
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#1279849 - 10/03/09 09:32 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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What I am saying is, after the problem is corrected, the student is still left with the feeling there is a problem (though for the non-conscious it is knowledge) and therefore they make another mistake to pacify this feeling. i.e. feeling there is a mistake creates a mistake. Also as tJ says, your mind doesn't understand 'not'.
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#1279853 - 10/03/09 09:34 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
Chris H. Offline
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kbk, this may or may not matter but are you talking about mistakes which occur in the process of learning a piece or mistakes in performance?

The reasons for these mistakes are probably different.

Psycology isn't my thing but it strikes me that the slow and careful practice Morodiene mentioned (and that is so often neglected) is kind of like programming the sub-conscious. If you program it carefully enough then it should hold together in performance no matter what is going on in your conscious mind. What do you think?
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#1279857 - 10/03/09 09:37 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Agreed. I'm talking about practice mistakes when learning. Ideally we learn everything 100% correct. Stuff does creep in though and I'm giving one rationale for some of them. I suppose you need to have had the 'fixed a mistake only to have it move a beat or two away' experience.
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#1279861 - 10/03/09 09:42 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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I'm not typically a rude person, but when I see someone is so habitually rude towards various others as kbk, I'm not going to bother with pleasantries when he types such a load of utter tosh. I see the point made by another poster about panicking entirely. I'm not directing any rudeness in that direction. However, even in such a case, you need to find a way to relax AND think. You can only rely on habit if the habit is adequately formed. If mild pressure is enough to make it go wrong, it's clear that the habit is not yet fully formed.

The only assured way to get to that stage is through the conscious thought-processes. It's just a matter of going slowly enough that you don't have to choose between between one thing or the other, in order to set the right habits. The benefits of merely relaxing a little more are going to remain very much short-term ones, unless a student learns how to go slowly enough to both think and play at a pace they can handle with ease. If you don't know what you're actually trying to do, it simply won't ever be possible to find consistency.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 09:47 AM)
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#1279864 - 10/03/09 09:48 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
Why? Because they don't fully understand what they need to do in order to not screw up. When they know, they need to tell themselves to do those things, and also they need a Plan B if that doesn't work out so that the flow of music is maintained.

I was given some wisdom along those lines a few years ago. I have often seen, in fora, the word "mistake" used: point out a student's mistake, catch a mistake, prevent mistake, tendency to stop when they make a mistake.

The first of the two things was to never think of a mistake or avoiding it, because that in itself sets it up. Instead, aim for the right thing, visualize it, plant that into your mind and focus on this right thing.

The second, which was a shocker for me, goes to what you are saying Morodiene: that we may take for granted that we know something, but we don't. So you're practicing something, fixing it, but you're not aware that you're trying to do something that you don't know. Like, "Gracious, I don't actually know what that rhythm is or how to produce it." Or "I haven't a clue how to make my fingers move smoothly/place them (etc.) and that is why I'm struggling." Then when you do know this missing thing, you're aiming toward the right thing instead of aiming not to make a mistake.

This was a powerful thing for me as a student so I hope nobody minds me sharing it.

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#1279870 - 10/03/09 09:55 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
What I am saying is, after the problem is corrected, the student is still left with the feeling there is a problem (though for the non-conscious it is knowledge)


kbk,

Your theory may very well apply to some mistakes. I suspect you're missing a larger problem.

You seem to have assumed a priori that there is a reason for a mistake, and you are searching for the subconscious or unconscious mechanism. It may be a devious freudian reason, or a simple misassignment as you're suggesting here.

I think many errors have no cause. They are simple noise in the system, completely random.

This is of course good for other reasons, but frustrating during learning.
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#1279872 - 10/03/09 09:59 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Tim, that's why I suggested the original mistake could be 'innocent' (though being part Freudian I wouldn't put money on it). Also why I said '...well some anyway.'

I love 'Noise in the system' it's nearly elegant enough to unFreud me!
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#1279876 - 10/03/09 10:05 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring

The second, which was a shocker for me, goes to what you are saying Morodiene: that we may take for granted that we know something, but we don't.
I believe it was Socrates who said he knew nothing.
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#1279904 - 10/03/09 11:15 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
abcdefg Offline
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Well, I am learning a piece right now that has about 3 measures that I play right sometimes but not always. First off I know it is partly my approach. The lh is playng octaves, not the easiest thing for me to do. So I have approached this spot with anxiety. After reading Nirye.... post I am going to go back and really try to learn these measures. I am a pretty good sight-reader and I realized that I have not gone through this section and I have not consciously looked at the intervals and notes. I am practicing at a slow tempo, gradually increasing the tempo and hoping that when I get up to tempo I will still be able to play correctly. Now I have a different way to practice and hopefully feel more confident and lose the anxiety for this spot in the music.

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#1279907 - 10/03/09 11:24 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: abcdefg]
Barb860 Offline
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Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: abcdefg
Well, I am learning a piece right now that has about 3 measures that I play right sometimes but not always. First off I know it is partly my approach. The lh is playng octaves, not the easiest thing for me to do. So I have approached this spot with anxiety. After reading Nirye.... post I am going to go back and really try to learn these measures. I am a pretty good sight-reader and I realized that I have not gone through this section and I have not consciously looked at the intervals and notes. I am practicing at a slow tempo, gradually increasing the tempo and hoping that when I get up to tempo I will still be able to play correctly. Now I have a different way to practice and hopefully feel more confident and lose the anxiety for this spot in the music.

Yes, I can relate to this post. I believe it's the anxiety that causes tension, which in turn leads to practicing our mistakes.
So we have to lose the anxiety by practicing in the zone, in complete relaxation, in those passages where mistakes have occurred previously.
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#1279932 - 10/03/09 12:01 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Barb860]
Joe H. Offline
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Though I hate applying scientific principles to music, I believe this subject would be served well by it.

There are two main sections of the brain that handle the process of learning a piece and developing it to the point of perfection (or something close to it). The 'thinking' section (neo-cortex), and the 'instinctual' section (lymbyc). The 'thinking' section is in charge of all conscious thoughts and efforts, which we use to process anything new to our minds, like the first time you had to tie your shoes, or brush your teeth, or ride a bike, or learn a new piece.

As we do something over and over again the brain shifts these tasks over to the lymbyc brain, which is a purely instinctual, unconscious part of the brain. This is where our body language, reflexes, emotions and instincts reside, things that we just do without thinking, like brushing your teeth, riding a bike, etc. This explains why if you play a new piece enough times, you begin playing it without thinking. Some people call this muscle memory. If you learn a piece with mistakes included, the lymbyc brain thinks these 'mistakes' are correct. So the only way to fix them is to re-employ the neo-cortex for these sections. You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.

Interesting side note: this also explains why you have to truly 'know' a piece before you can inject true emotion into it, because the process has to be controlled by the lymbyc side, due to the fact that emotion comes from the lymbyc side.

In short, think when you need to learn and fix, don't think when it's time to truly play.

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#1279942 - 10/03/09 12:10 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.

What's "wah-lah"?

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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#1279943 - 10/03/09 12:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
What's "wah-lah"?

Voilà

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#1279944 - 10/03/09 12:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: sotto voce]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
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Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: Joe H.
You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.

What's "wah-lah"?

Steven


Lake Wobagon-ese for voilà.

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#1279953 - 10/03/09 12:45 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.
A little simplistic. The limbic brain is not like a whiteboard, you can't just wipe stuff off and replace it with other stuff. Love the wah-lah though.
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#1279956 - 10/03/09 12:48 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Agreed. I'm talking about practice mistakes when learning. Ideally we learn everything 100% correct. Stuff does creep in though and I'm giving one rationale for some of them. I suppose you need to have had the 'fixed a mistake only to have it move a beat or two away' experience.


Ignoring the argument...

I had exactly this problem in the Bach D minor concerto. I fixed the error with hundreds of repetitions but then it moved forward a measure. I think the problem may be due to anticipation of the troubling passage and than relief that we got through it causing a loss of focus.
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#1279959 - 10/03/09 12:51 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Barb860]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Barb860

Yes, I can relate to this post. I believe it's the anxiety that causes tension, which in turn leads to practicing our mistakes.
So we have to lose the anxiety by practicing in the zone, in complete relaxation, in those passages where mistakes have occurred previously.
Yes, but the point is it's the non-conscious looking for a mistake that's no longer there that causes it anxiety - correcting any old thing assuages that.
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#1279961 - 10/03/09 12:55 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: gooddog


Ignoring the argument...

I had exactly this problem in the Bach D minor concerto. I fixed the error with hundreds of repetitions but then it moved forward a measure. I think the problem may be due to anticipation of the troubling passage and than relief that we got through it causing a loss of focus.
Close, but wrong (I don't think the non-conscious loses focus). Exactly what I am explaining - you had programmed your non-conscious to fix a mistake, so it fixed a mistake (even though there wasn't one any more).
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#1279966 - 10/03/09 01:03 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

The only assured way to get to that stage is through the conscious thought-processes. It's just a matter of going slowly enough that you don't have to choose between between one thing or the other, in order to set the right habits.

Along those lines, a useful piece of advice I found in a book: "Hesitate rather than err." In learning a piece be sure to play so slowly that your brain is always directing your fingers to the right notes. If ever there is doubt, hesitate, figure out the right note and then play it. Any time you play a wrong note you are imprinting your inner computer with that error.
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#1279969 - 10/03/09 01:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Prof that's great, but nothing to do with this thread. It's about how mistakes happen not how to prevent them.
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#1279982 - 10/03/09 01:35 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Minniemay Offline
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Mistakes occur because we send either incorrect or incomplete messages from the eye to the brain to the hand.

Correcting mistakes requires giving our brains the correct, complete information and then rehearsing the correct thought/action.
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#1279983 - 10/03/09 01:40 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Minniemay]
keyboardklutz Offline
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But who is that we?
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#1279987 - 10/03/09 01:49 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
theJourney Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Close, but wrong (I don't think the non-conscious loses focus).


That might just be your problem, kbk: You are thinking / not thinking and letting the mini-you bandwidth of your conscious mind confabulate to its heart's, er, to it's mind's content rather than listening to your heart, your tummy, your intuition, the wisdom of your un/sub/nonconscious you...

To much thinking and too little experiencing?

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#1279990 - 10/03/09 01:52 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: theJourney]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You mean maybe I don't get out enough?
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#1279998 - 10/03/09 01:59 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
Though I hate applying scientific principles to music, I believe this subject would be served well by it.

There are two main sections of the brain that handle the process of learning a piece and developing it to the point of perfection (or something close to it). The 'thinking' section (neo-cortex), and the 'instinctual' section (lymbyc). The 'thinking' section is in charge of all conscious thoughts and efforts, which we use to process anything new to our minds, like the first time you had to tie your shoes, or brush your teeth, or ride a bike, or learn a new piece.

As we do something over and over again the brain shifts these tasks over to the lymbyc brain, which is a purely instinctual, unconscious part of the brain. This is where our body language, reflexes, emotions and instincts reside, things that we just do without thinking, like brushing your teeth, riding a bike, etc. This explains why if you play a new piece enough times, you begin playing it without thinking. Some people call this muscle memory. If you learn a piece with mistakes included, the lymbyc brain thinks these 'mistakes' are correct. So the only way to fix them is to re-employ the neo-cortex for these sections. You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.

Interesting side note: this also explains why you have to truly 'know' a piece before you can inject true emotion into it, because the process has to be controlled by the lymbyc side, due to the fact that emotion comes from the lymbyc side.

In short, think when you need to learn and fix, don't think when it's time to truly play.


This sounds like discussion of "self 1 and self 2" in Barry Green's "Inner Game of Music", the right and left brain thing?
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#1279999 - 10/03/09 02:01 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
theJourney Offline
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Not you, your non-conscious. Set it free!

"Accidents are no accidents. Like everything else in our lives, we create them. Accidents are expressions of anger. They indicate built-up frustrations resulting from not feeling the freedom to speak up for one's self."
Louise Hay

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#1280001 - 10/03/09 02:02 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: gooddog]
Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Agreed. I'm talking about practice mistakes when learning. Ideally we learn everything 100% correct. Stuff does creep in though and I'm giving one rationale for some of them. I suppose you need to have had the 'fixed a mistake only to have it move a beat or two away' experience.


Ignoring the argument...

I had exactly this problem in the Bach D minor concerto. I fixed the error with hundreds of repetitions but then it moved forward a measure. I think the problem may be due to anticipation of the troubling passage and than relief that we got through it causing a loss of focus.


Exactly what I was trying to say earlier, thank you Deborah for saying it much better. It's the anticipation of the troubling passage that causes anxiety, followed by "relief" that we got through the passage which in turn causes lack of focus. This is it, IMO. Practice in the zone to eliminate the anticipation and anxiety in the first place.
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#1280002 - 10/03/09 02:04 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: theJourney]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: theJourney
Not you, your non-conscious. Set it free!

"Accidents are no accidents. Like everything else in our lives, we create them. Accidents are expressions of anger. They indicate built-up frustrations resulting from not feeling the freedom to speak up for one's self."
Louise Hay

I hear Louise Hay just wrote a new book. The title? "Heal Your Piano!"
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#1280003 - 10/03/09 02:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Barb860]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Barb860
Practice in the zone to eliminate the anticipation and anxiety in the first place.
This thread is not about how to eliminate mistakes!
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#1280005 - 10/03/09 02:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Barb860

Yes, I can relate to this post. I believe it's the anxiety that causes tension, which in turn leads to practicing our mistakes.
So we have to lose the anxiety by practicing in the zone, in complete relaxation, in those passages where mistakes have occurred previously.
Yes, but the point is it's the non-conscious looking for a mistake that's no longer there that causes it anxiety - correcting any old thing assuages that.


How do you know it's the "non-conscious" looking for a mistake?
I thought the non-conscious doesn't look for anything.


Edited by Barb860 (10/03/09 02:07 PM)
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#1280009 - 10/03/09 02:07 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Barb860]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Barb860

I thought the non-consious doesn't look for anything.
I had assumed that's what you thought.
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#1280010 - 10/03/09 02:08 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Prof that's great, but nothing to do with this thread. It's about how mistakes happen not how to prevent them.
Ooops, sorry, my mistake.
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#1280011 - 10/03/09 02:08 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Barb860

I thought the non-consious doesn't look for anything.
I had assumed that of you.


KBK, excuse me, can you please elaborate? Sorry, but your post has a bit of an attitude.
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#1280017 - 10/03/09 02:15 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
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I know how mistakes happen!

We don't train to detailed thinking in our formative basic skills and basic notation.

If we just look, we just see. If we think and say as we play we are using "glue" to "cement" our decisions into physical reacations. We need to combine mind with body impulses and gestures.

1) Music from the page translates to
2) Keyboard locations to be played with
3) Efficient fingering, (impulse)
4) Producing effective sounds
5) Accurately
6) As well as being measured for durations placed within a metered system of beats.

This is a huge ball of wax! Each step of the way requires a thought. Over time, this "calculation" becomes instantaneous from the subconscious which has been trained to respond in swift reaction to what is seen on the paper.

Reading music requires a new "calculation" each time we move the eye forward on the page to the next beat. The "calculation" has a systematic process to it.

What causes a mistake?
1) Being uncertain about what is being seen. Playing anyway.

2) Digital confusion - the impulses go awry. The circuitry has not been put into place by slow, deliberate thought and action.

3) No sense of a steady beat, no sense of where the "play" is placed in time, no sense of it's duration. Starts and stops in motion.

4) Not using the "system" of thinking but mixing up the order, or ignoring the order, or not even doing the order or being aware of it. The incompleteness of this system of "decoding" will lead to random abstract poking at the piano in attempts to place the hand. It always falls apart if the student does not have the ability to move the hand to a "target" on the keyboard. Not understanding "registers" of the keyboard/music staff will get you every time.

So I think that mistakes are totally preventable with a strong beginning year(s) functional study of the keyboard, the music staff, and the human being's involvement with how he/she must think and behave at the instrument if they are to develope excellent musicianship skills.

We do not teach to musicianship skills for the most part because
students goals include enjoyment and satisfaction of what they are hearing in their playing. This is an area of "ego satisfaction". The area of "acquired skills" and :self-discipline" is a hard sell these days with our students.

Add to that the busyness of people's lives and you have little to no practice. Not that the practice being done was the right kind or enough. Students want to be able to play through a few times and have this really tremendous result immediately with no mistakes.

However, it requires diligence, persistance, awareness, correction and great attitude to arrive at being a confident, accurate and independent musician.

We are all caught up in the problem area of piano training as we knew it not being a popular thing to be doing in these days of instant results and gratification.

Maybe if we could focus back to the days prior to all our improvements when man walked the earth one step at a time and work was accomplished one brick at a time, planting one seed in one row of corn at a time, we would see that the "drudgery" and "repetitiousness" and "boredom" paid off well for our ancestors until today when we have machinery doing just about everything for us and technology giving us instant results.

That is not how it goes with learning a skill set.

Instant is temporary and over in a flash - a spark that burned itself out. It was hard to maintain sparking. At some point the flint was weakened and responsed only some of the time, at some point it became unstrikable. The spark was lost.

Think about muscle building with a building up that is kept and maintained through constant use, starting with a small task and incorporating other small tasks, moving to medium tasks, to difficult tasks requiring hours of stamina.

The brain and the body of a pianist are developed more like the muscle model. It has long term involvement and long term results.

The mistake making applies as much to our contemporary approach to music teaching as it does to our lack of understanding about how the brain and muscle memory would enhance our abilities at the piano to do everything that music requires of us.

Thus, little to no mistakes, but instead huge competency of the operating of a musical mind on the music page and the beauty of the music being placed from the hands and mind of the pianist onto the keyboard. Ownership!

Having the perspective of a musician can only be accomplished when one has become a musician in every sense of the word.

Betty Patnude

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#1280018 - 10/03/09 02:15 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Barb860]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Barb, most people, like Descartes, don't credit the non-conscious with the ability to make choices.
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#1280019 - 10/03/09 02:19 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Barb, most people, like Descartes, don't credit the non-conscious with decision making ability.


Thank you for your clarification.
I took offense to what you said earlier. We can easily misinterpret the context of what folks are saying.
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#1280023 - 10/03/09 02:25 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
tangleweeds Offline

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I also experience the problem where relief at getting past the usual trouble spot disrupts my concentration, so I make another mistake just past the "standard mistake".

I think that the bigger problem is that mistake prone sections generate a habitual disruption of the smooth flow of my attention from brain to fingers in that particular point in the piece.

Because I have learned that I tend to glitch in certain places, I develop the habit of tensing up as I approach that area, and get high-strung and perhaps a bit panicky. What's happening that section becomes a habitual trigger of dysfunctional biochemistry in my brain.

My layman's understanding is that adrenaline and stress hormones actually cause clumsiness in fine-motor coordination, as they are meant to prime the body for gross muscular action in fight-or-flight responses.

I can, by force of will, practice hard and prevent the primary mistake that I expect. But because my physical stress breeds clumsiness, I'm still more likely to glitch something else in the stressful section.

I've found that using consciously learned and applied meditation-style relaxation responses in such sections helps a lot, used alongside the usual analysis of what goes wrong, and subsequent practice to "splint the fracture". OTOH, using repeated practice all by itself just tends to shift the location of the mistake around by a few notes.

Because of this learned tension response, I have always hated it when my teacher writes some sort of big circle or other stress-inducing markings on my sheet music at my trouble spots. I much prefer to mark these spots discreetly in pencil, and so that I can erase the markings when I've smoothed out the problem in this spot. I feel like having a permanent mark on the score makes it into more of a permanent problem.

It's not as though I make a mistake in that spot because I'm *forgetting* to pay attention there, and I need a big mark to wake me up. I think the problem is that I make mistakes because I've learned to tense up and panic at these spots, and having an alarming scrawl on the page to mark it just makes things worse.
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#1280024 - 10/03/09 02:25 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Betty, you need to check the causes of your causes. In my case, I think, the cause is an idea that won't die.
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#1280028 - 10/03/09 02:38 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Barb860

Yes, I can relate to this post. I believe it's the anxiety that causes tension, which in turn leads to practicing our mistakes.
So we have to lose the anxiety by practicing in the zone, in complete relaxation, in those passages where mistakes have occurred previously.
Yes, but the point is it's the non-conscious looking for a mistake that's no longer there that causes it anxiety - correcting any old thing assuages that.


Yes, but the point is that this is a completely made up theory based on no evidence. Plus it has no practical implications that you have raised. Why on earth should the subconscious tell you to play a random note differently? All this shows is that the passage was not as securely set as you thought. Spend more time thinking and being sure to play it correctly and the problem will be solved. Confidence comes have prepared something properly. If faint anxiety about a former wrong note is enough to throw the rest, it wasn't as properly set as you thought.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 02:49 PM)
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#1280030 - 10/03/09 02:41 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Practice in the zone to eliminate the anticipation and anxiety in the first place.
This thread is not about how to eliminate mistakes!


So you have even BANNED any posters from making any practical applications? So exactly WHAT IS the purpose of this thread? To come up with speculative pieces of nonsense?
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#1280032 - 10/03/09 02:52 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Will some of you take your lousy confrontations to private message please and avoid contaminating a perfectly valid topic.

It is serving no purpose for the common good of others posting here nor to the topic under discussion and becomes a hindrance to intelligent discourse as one has to wade through the jibberish.

If you want respect, post with clearly stated comments that don't involve sarcasm and one-upmanship and your egos.

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#1280040 - 10/03/09 03:06 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Betty Patnude]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Sorry Betty but this guy isn't going to rest till this forum is as nasty and uncivil as many of the others on the web.
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#1280047 - 10/03/09 03:24 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: tangleweeds]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
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Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
I also experience the problem where relief at getting past the usual trouble spot disrupts my concentration, so I make another mistake just past the "standard mistake".

I think that the bigger problem is that mistake prone sections generate a habitual disruption of the smooth flow of my attention from brain to fingers in that particular point in the piece.

Because I have learned that I tend to glitch in certain places, I develop the habit of tensing up as I approach that area, and get high-strung and perhaps a bit panicky. What's happening that section becomes a habitual trigger of dysfunctional biochemistry in my brain.

My layman's understanding is that adrenaline and stress hormones actually cause clumsiness in fine-motor coordination, as they are meant to prime the body for gross muscular action in fight-or-flight responses.

I can, by force of will, practice hard and prevent the primary mistake that I expect. But because my physical stress breeds clumsiness, I'm still more likely to glitch something else in the stressful section.

I've found that using consciously learned and applied meditation-style relaxation responses in such sections helps a lot, used alongside the usual analysis of what goes wrong, and subsequent practice to "splint the fracture". OTOH, using repeated practice all by itself just tends to shift the location of the mistake around by a few notes.

Because of this learned tension response, I have always hated it when my teacher writes some sort of big circle or other stress-inducing markings on my sheet music at my trouble spots. I much prefer to mark these spots discreetly in pencil, and so that I can erase the markings when I've smoothed out the problem in this spot. I feel like having a permanent mark on the score makes it into more of a permanent problem.

It's not as though I make a mistake in that spot because I'm *forgetting* to pay attention there, and I need a big mark to wake me up. I think the problem is that I make mistakes because I've learned to tense up and panic at these spots, and having an alarming scrawl on the page to mark it just makes things worse.



Some very good observations and insights here.

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#1280053 - 10/03/09 03:36 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Sorry Betty but this guy isn't going to rest till this forum is as nasty and uncivil as many of the others on the web.


Actually, any sarcastic tone on my part was intended in response to the characteristically rude way in which you have been responding to a host of other posters who attempted to offer something of value to the discussion (only for you to insist that 'your' thread is not permitted to turn into one that has any practical connotations). I would vastly prefer a civil tone, rather than one in which you so rudely talk down and attempt to downplay the comments from a variety of different posters who had something to contribute. Many posters have come out with very good insights here, only to be faced with your characteristic tendency to dismiss their greater level of understanding as though they had actually come out with something of no significance whatsoever- before you then go on to speak in vague rhetorical irrelevances that you seem to think are more important. It's very hard to remain 'civil' when seeing your persistent rudeness to virtually every other poster.

eg.

"A little simplistic. The limbic brain is not like a whiteboard, you can't just wipe stuff off and replace it with other stuff. Love the wah-lah though."

He didn't even say that you can 'wipe stuff off'. He simply said that you need to make a new program. I find it most amusing that you seem to feel a continual need to portray yourself as a greater authority, when you clearly don't possess so much as a fraction of that poster's knowledge upon the subject. Who do you think you are, to constantly attempt to correct people on matters that you don't even have any great knowledge upon? Why don't you stop to listen to such insightful advice, instead of trying to portray youself as master of 'your' thread?

How about:

"Close, but wrong (I don't think the non-conscious loses focus). Exactly what I am explaining - you had programmed your non-conscious to fix a mistake, so it fixed a mistake (even though there wasn't one any more)."

I think that speaks for itself, without even going into the fundamental misunderstanding of how the 'programming' works. I'd like to see the evidence that the non-conscious will make a random adjustment to a random note, thinking that will 'correct' something. Pure conjecture. Yet you sincerely seek to 'correct' somebody, based on such guff?

I'm not in the habit of being rude to people for the sake of it. However, when I see others who are, neither am I in the habit of holding back from responding.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 04:01 PM)
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#1280055 - 10/03/09 03:41 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Joe H. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/13/09
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Joe H.
You have to isolate the mistakes, and practice them repeatedly with conscious and deliberate attention until the correct rendition gets transfered back to the lymbyc side, and wah-lah, fixed.
A little simplistic. The limbic brain is not like a whiteboard, you can't just wipe stuff off and replace it with other stuff. Love the wah-lah though.


It IS that simple. Changing a habitual mistake, is the same as changing any habit. It may not be easy, but it is simple. Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do. It requires conscious effort not reach for a cigarette after you eat, or not light one up when you have a drink. You have to keep doing that until the habit disappears, i.e. your limbic brain doesn't reach for cigarette. It may appear complicated because people try all sorts of methods like nicotine gum, hypnotism, etc. But in the end it's the reprogramming of your limbic system that ultimately kills a habit.

You could try all sorts of practice methods to erase a mistake but in the end it's just a matter of simply re-programming the limbic through concentrated isolation and repetition.

Barb, I'm unaware of Barry Green's "Inner Game of Music" but it sounds like it is the same idea.

By the way KeyboardKlutz, Nyir is a little emotional, but you do come off as pompous and smug in your posts. I can't blame him for getting aggravated. You seem intelligent, but maybe a little effort in tact would serve you well? Just a suggestion. eek Also, if this post isn't about eliminating mistakes, what is it about?

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#1280063 - 10/03/09 03:56 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
Also, if this post isn't about eliminating mistakes, what is it about?
It's about how they happen, but as you ask - a mistake can't be undone, unlearned, or changed. You can only work around it. And thanks, but no thanks, for the web etiquette advice.
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#1280068 - 10/03/09 04:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
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Need I say any more (about this rude, pseudo-intellectual charlatan)?


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 04:07 PM)
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#1280075 - 10/03/09 04:21 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Need I say any more (about this rude, pseudo-intellectual charlatan)?

Please don't.
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#1280076 - 10/03/09 04:24 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: eweiss]
keyboardklutz Offline
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+1
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#1280077 - 10/03/09 04:27 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
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Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Joe H.
[
By the way KeyboardKlutz you do come off as pompous and smug in your posts.



This is unconscious flattery to Keyboardklutz' conscious unconscious.

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#1280078 - 10/03/09 04:34 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
jotur Offline
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kbk -

I, too, would like to know if you have found experimental research that this is indeed the way what you call the non-conscious works - that once a mistake is made it keeps trying to correct "a" mistake even after the original mistake has been fixed, and that this is a different phenomenon than others here have described in terms of residual anxiousness or other concern. I've read articles reporting research that shows we often do things before we are consciously aware of intending to do so - moving our fingers to a button in response to a picture on a screen, etc. I also just read an article that talked about the way our brains sometime interpret images in our peripheral vision as something "dangerous" before we can consciously understand what the object actually is. So I think most of us understand that there are things we do with what you call the non-conscious. But I haven't seen anything that indicates it works as you are positing here about mistakes. Is this a hypothesis of yours, interesting as it may be, or is there research that supports it?

Cathy
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#1280083 - 10/03/09 04:46 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Joe H. Offline
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So mistakes are permanently engraved onto the brain, never to be erased or changed? That just doesn't seem to click with reality. I've imprinted mistakes into my subconscious before, but have always been able to change those mistakes or habits, never to be seen again. And I'm sure plenty of you, including KeyboardKlutz, have experienced this as well. Wouldn't that imply that the mistakes were erased or changed?

As far as how they occur there is an unending source of causes: misunderstanding the piece, mis-reading a note or rhythm, anxiety, nervousness, stage-fright, distraction, etc. I think you can prevent these by being patient and focused while learning and practicing a piece. Never have expectations before you sit down to play. Just accept your ability at that moment, begin within in it, and then build upon it. You will inevitably make a mistake no matter what, because you are human. When you do, correct it then and there before it gets imprinted onto your sub-conscious/limbic brain.

Web etiquette advice politely withdrawn. Voila! (I spelled it right!!!)

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#1280084 - 10/03/09 04:47 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jotur]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Cathy, as far as I know there is no research on the piano and the non-conscious. There is plenty on stuff on embodiment and consciousness. All of it involves theories of body image vs body schema or conscious vs non-conscious. The problem is there is no standard terminology as the 'science' of the non-conscious is fairly recent. You can call my OP an hypothesis if you like, but I experience it.
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#1280085 - 10/03/09 04:49 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
So mistakes are permanently engraved onto the brain, never to be erased or changed?
Maybe. My guess would be they are quarantined and perhaps, given time, fade away.
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#1280089 - 10/03/09 04:54 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Joe H. Offline
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Yeah, it certainly isn't a cut and dry process. Old mistakes do occasionally rear their heads, and as they say "old habits die hard". "Quarantined" feels right to me.

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#1280090 - 10/03/09 04:56 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I'd forgot "old habits die hard". Good one!
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#1280097 - 10/03/09 05:10 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The problem is there is no standard terminology as the 'science' of the non-conscious is fairly recent. You can call my OP an hypothesis if you like, but I experience it.


Not strictly true. You believe that you experience it, based on a guess. Or are you now proclaiming yourself to have access to what you refer to as the 'non-conscious' mind, permitting you to consciously assess what is going on in there before reporting back to us? Call me a cynic, but I can't help but sniff something of a contradiction. By definition, the non-conscious is that which we are NOT conscious of. But you have transcended such limitations and bridged the divide- allowing you to claim to be fully cogniscent of your unconscious processes?

Regardless, this is hardly enough to warrant a dismissive 'wrong' in response to a poster who holds the more accepted belief that anxiety about certain areas is the issue, or to state your wholly unsupported piece of guesswork as if it were fact (even if this is 'your' thread)...


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 06:07 PM)
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#1280108 - 10/03/09 05:38 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
jotur Offline
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Oh dear, I had another post disappear into the ether. I'll try to reconstruct it:

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Cathy, as far as I know there is no research on the piano and the non-conscious. There is plenty on stuff on embodiment and consciousness. All of it involves theories of body image vs body schema or conscious vs non-conscious. The problem is there is no standard terminology as the 'science' of the non-conscious is fairly recent. You can call my OP an hypothesis if you like, but I experience it.


I don't think the research would have to be piano-brain specific. Your hypothesis is about the way the non-conscious processes mistakes, which seems to me to be a broader issue than just piano.

I don't doubt that you experience the mistakes "moving" to a different place. But without experimental research, to me your description of what is the ultimate cause of that is not more or less valid than other people's descriptions of their experiences and what seems to them to be the cause - and the fix. Again, I think most of the posters here are aware that there are "non-conscious" actions, and they describe their experience with mistakes, and correcting those mistakes, in varying degress of addressing conscious and non-conscious actions. So while I think yours is an interesting hypothesis, I don't see it as being anything more than that smile

JMO of course. YMMV laugh

Cathy
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#1280113 - 10/03/09 05:49 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
Voila! (I spelled it right!!!)


That's voilà.

Voila is a form of the verb voiler, which means to veil.

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#1280117 - 10/03/09 05:53 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Horowitzian Offline
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WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!
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#1280128 - 10/03/09 06:10 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.


I think you can prevent these by being patient and focused while learning and practicing a piece. Never have expectations before you sit down to play. Just accept your ability at that moment, begin within in it, and then build upon it.


I disagree. One necessarily has expectations, and one has to have an understanding of the piece before being able to learn it. A piece of music is not an assemblage of notes.

As for mistakes or errors, I think that they flow from an insufficient understanding of the piece, of the instrument; you are trying to speak a language that you don't master sufficiently. It is exactly that you see an assemblage of notes, and not the music. You can't see the forest for the trees.

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#1280132 - 10/03/09 06:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Horowitzian]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!


If you take all of times that Horowitzian posts this awesome comment you put him back to the 2000 post club.

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#1280133 - 10/03/09 06:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Horowitzian]
bluekeys Offline
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I know nothing about teaching piano and little about psychology, but I know a great deal about making mistakes. In fact, I'm one of the world's foremost experts at making mistakes.

Thus I'll forgo my usual reluctance to post on the teacher's forum to make two points:

1. To say mistakes are caused by the "non conscious" mind, is roughly equal to saying they're caused by green cylindrical creatures from the planet Tralfamadore. There's no way to prove it one way or the other so it's just idle speculation.

2. To suggest that anything regarding avoiding or preventing mistakes is off-topic makes the whole discussion about as pertenent as a game of tic tac toe.

[edited for brevity]


Edited by bluekeys (10/03/09 07:56 PM)

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#1280134 - 10/03/09 06:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Joe H.


I think you can prevent these by being patient and focused while learning and practicing a piece. Never have expectations before you sit down to play. Just accept your ability at that moment, begin within in it, and then build upon it.


I disagree. One necessarily has expectations, and one has to have an understanding of the piece before being able to learn it. A piece of music is not an assemblage of notes.

As for mistakes or errors, I think that they flow from an insufficient understanding of the piece, of the instrument; you are trying to speak a language that you don't master sufficiently. It is exactly that you see an assemblage of notes, and not the music. You can't see the forest for the trees.


There's a vital difference though. A forest is a bunch of trees placed anywhere. You can afford to look at the whole without caring about any individual component. A performance of a piece requires the notes to be inter-related in a particularly specific layout. In other words, you need a 'forest' where every 'tree' is in exactly the right place. The only way to create such a specifically laid out 'forest', is to concern yourself with the placement of every individual 'tree'. Only having done so, can you begin to step back.

It's all very well to learn something and go on to stop concentrating on fine details so actively. If you never learned something in the first place however, the difference is collossal. It's looking too much at the 'forest' too soon, that leads to people tripping up. Start walking around without lookning up to observe the individual 'trees' (before you've got to know things terribly well) and you might just end up tripping over a 'tree' that wasn't where you expected it to be.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 06:29 PM)
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#1280142 - 10/03/09 06:32 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


A forest is a bunch of trees placed anywhere.


That seems to be the case when you don't know anything about forests.


Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

The only way to create such a specifically laid out 'forest', is to concern yourself with the placement of every individual 'tree'. Only having done so, can you begin to step back.


I am not in agreement with you, Nyiregyhazi.

If you don't know that the piece before you is, say, a minuet, you will never understand the notes that make it up. The more you know concerning minuets, the better you are able to see or to hear what is going on, and to sit down and play it well.

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#1280161 - 10/03/09 07:08 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


A forest is a bunch of trees placed anywhere.


That seems to be the case when you don't know anything about forests.


Really? They have to be within a certain vicinity perhaps, but a forest need to not replicate a specific pre-existing pattern. If you want to learn a piece, you have to put the notes in the right places. It's not about recreating any old forest but a specific forest. That's the product of individual trees. It simply cannot be created without attention to detail.




Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

The only way to create such a specifically laid out 'forest', is to concern yourself with the placement of every individual 'tree'. Only having done so, can you begin to step back.


Originally Posted By: landorrano
I am not in agreement with you, Nyiregyhazi.


If you don't know that the piece before you is, say, a minuet, you will never understand the notes that make it up. The more you know concerning minuets, the better you are able to see or to hear what is going on, and to sit down and play it well.


Sure. And if you do not know where any of the trees are you will not be able to play it. So both are equally important. Who says that looking at details means you're not going to be able to simultaneously realise what a minuet entails? Sorry, but we're not talking about a mutually exclusive situation. We're talking about a balance between the two elements.

However, it's notable that few pianists improve their accuracy by thinking more about the whole. Sorry, but nobody ever fixed or prevented an unexpected finger slip by consideration of large scale sonata form. Such things are fixed by isolating the details of how far you have to travel between a small series of notes. There is no end to the number of inaccurate, sloppy pianists who went on to improve their accuracy by starting to pay attention more to the individual components, instead of skimming across them with the bigger picture in mind (myself included). Far more inaccuracy is caused by simply not knowing the details, than by excessive concentration on them. When details are learned, you can forget them without losing them. When they have not been learned, you cannot afford to forget them or the whole suffers as greatly as anything from the inevitable technical failings. Any whole is a product of a series of individual details. No details, no whole. The only sensible way to work (for all but geniuses) is to concentrate on details, with their role as part of the whole in mind. It's a constant unity of conception. However, if we're talking about the way to achieve accuracy, the balance always needs to be geared slightly more towards the detail.

When a student persistently misses a particular interval within a piece that is otherwise secure, do you think that it's their grasp of the whole piece that is flawed? Or is it simply that they have never stopped to figure out how to connect the two notes and fingers that are causing the problem? In my own experience, such problems can frequently be fixed exceedingly efficiently by literally just repeating the single interval that is failing to connect. Accuracy comes above all from such details. The only time thinking about the whole prevents slips is when you have repetitive passages that lead off in different directions. However, even in those, it is extremely useful to isolate the exact moment where the music changes course. Detail always matters.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 07:28 PM)
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#1280169 - 10/03/09 07:25 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
landorrano Offline
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Your's is a very pragmatic view, Nyiregyhazy. Your focus is on piano as execution.

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#1280172 - 10/03/09 07:30 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Horowitzian Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!


If you take all of times that Horowitzian posts this awesome comment you put him back to the 2000 post club.


grin

What else is one supposed to say after reading such a craptastic thread? The truth hurts, don't it?
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#1280173 - 10/03/09 07:30 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Your's is a very pragmatic view, Nyiregyhazy. Your focus is on piano as execution.


You are totally mistaken. My focus on preparation is about execution. The very reason this is the case is because I wasted years thinking solely about the general impression I wished to create, without making terribly much improvement. I did scarcely anything that could be counted as 'practise' because I was only concerned with aiming for the bigger picture within that particular run-through (however sloppy it might be in the details), rather than with stopping to isolate the components that would fit together. I still think exactly the same way, in terms of how I intend to play. It's simply that I realised that the best whole is possible, when you have taken the time to prepare yourself first. That involves a wealth of different procedures.

When I'm actually performing, 'execution' could scarcely be further from my mind. Indeed, the better I have prepared the details, the easier it is to have a chance of forgetting about technical procedures and concentrate on the bigger picture (without disaster ensuing).

When somebody simply has little idea as to what they are doing, the more relaxed they are, the better they will perform. However, to follow up by suggesting that it's generally best not to worry about trying to understand what you're actually doing, because that will help you relax more, is going to result in a rapid brick wall. Sustainable progress only comes by understanding what you are doing more, not by aiming to stop thinking about that which you have yet to grasp. Those who feel 'pressured' when worrying about getting details right ultimately need to devote MORE practise to thinking actively (and above all going slowly enough to fulfill what they are capable of), if they ever want to break through the wall and start making real progress. Turning their brains off (or thinking about the whole rather than the details that they have not taken the time to understand or master) is futile. Detail really is everything, in the formative stages.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 07:54 PM)
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#1280181 - 10/03/09 07:49 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Detail always matters.

+1
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#1280206 - 10/03/09 08:34 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: bluekeys]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: bluekeys

1. To say mistakes are caused by the "non conscious" mind, is roughly equal to saying they're caused by green cylindrical creatures from the planet Tralfamadore. There's no way to prove it one way or the other so it's just idle speculation.



Or we haven't yet defined the topic sufficiently operationally to be useful.

To dismiss it entirely I think overlooks a significant movement in performance history, including a major controversy.

That movement is based on the idea that much artistic expression is natural if it is not blocked, and the blockages are due to personality factors. Hence the key to performance mastery was some form of personal growth towards psychological healthiness. At one time anybody having technical difficulties was considered to be in need of psychoanalysis before he would make progress.

This theory is no longer in vogue, as far as I know, but the Inner Game of Tennis intuitive approaches may have grown out of it.

Within the theory I think belongs the controversy about whether art involves the freedom to express the inner individual, or the ability to convey the concept. As a simple example, suppose you are an actor required to portray a serial killer. That's easy if you are in fact an as yet undetected serial killer! however that happy state of affairs would be unlikely. Does the actor reach inside himself for the serial killer that lurks within? Or is he so professional an artist that he can portray an evil he does not himself feel? And, of course, if he can't do either it is because of one of those blockages curable by Freudian approaches.

Now that I've veered somewhat from mistakes, back to them.

The comment about a hesitation being better than a mistake horrified me. Sorry, I meant no offense, but to me a hesitation is far, far worse than a clumsily fingered wrong note. The hesitation allows the anxiety level to drop, but that's counterproductive when learning. The anxiety level shoots up as the time for the note approaches, generating more noise in the machine - which also generates the raw material for both creativity and technical improvement. And, significantly, produces the reward for correct play. The reduction of anxiety is enormously reinforcing, the technical term is negative reinforcement. Slow play reduces anxiety to unuseful levels. That's one of the reasons it is so comfortable and intuitive. We don't want anxiety so high it paralyzes us, but we need some to generate the noise.

I would point out also we've done no discussion of Skinner, et al, and the various stimulus chaining and reinforcement schedule approaches. Frankly I think they are more applicable to mistakes than psychoanalytic theorizing. Sorry kbk, I think that's the track you were on, but I think you've been led astray by assigning consciousness and motivation to a simple set of stimulus-response relationships. I think they are simple, just not visible.


Edited by TimR (10/03/09 08:36 PM)
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#1280210 - 10/03/09 08:40 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Horowitzian]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
What else is one supposed to say after reading such a craptastic thread? The truth hurts, don't it?

Love the word "craptastic!" Will have to remember that one.
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#1280249 - 10/03/09 09:58 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
The comment about a hesitation being better than a mistake horrified me. Sorry, I meant no offense, but to me a hesitation is far, far worse than a clumsily fingered wrong note. The hesitation allows the anxiety level to drop, but that's counterproductive when learning. The anxiety level shoots up as the time for the note approaches, generating more noise in the machine - which also generates the raw material for both creativity and technical improvement.


And if you do not have time either to be certain of which note you are about to play next or to sense the finger that is going to be playing it? Precisely how does launching into a random note simply for the sake of not stopping help either creativity or technical improvement? I can't see any way in which that could possibly make sense. If a student is working at learning a piece, personally I always stress that it's better to take time and get it right- after which you can go back and get the rhythm, once you know how to get to the correct notes. I really don't see how guessing is going to help in any fashion- UNLESS you are specifically practising the skills of playing a piece through at sight, rather than intending to learn it. Those students who start by going quickly with various wrong notes are rarely those who go on to achieve the most consistent performances. Any teacher can bear witness to that.

As is so often said, it's easier if you've never played anything inccorrectly in the first place. That's why slow practise is vital. It seems to fit perfectly with everything that is known about how the brain is able to reproduce movements that have been repeated. The point about going slow is that you make it possible to repeat things accurately. Launch in rapidly (particularly if you prefer to guess rather than take time to check uncertainties) and there is no realistic way of getting to a point of consistency. Habits are acquired through consistent reproduction of movement patterns. Not through making different mistakes each time you run through something that is not familiar at speed, simply for the sake of keeping the anxiety levels up. Your theory about anxiety sounds interesting, but do you have any sources that would demonstrate why removing the anxiety levels by practising slowly might be detrimental? I've never encountered such a concept before and frankly I'm intensely skeptical. Why should anxiety be desirable during the process of learning the notes? Quite how would that help the procedure of programming a series of movements into the brain? It's anxiety that results in the ugly 'stabbing' movements that students so often employ- when they panic and seize at the next note, rather than find a comfortable way of reaching it.

From my own experience, the slower I practise and the less anxiety I feel when practising, the better I play when I play at speed. That comes after years of only practising quickly, without bothering to stop and learn the details first. I really don't see how you can honestly suggest that going slow is bad. Going too slow rarely introduces problems (provided the student remebers to plan ahead in groups of notes, rather than merely think about one note at a time). Conversely, going faster than you are ready for ALWAYS introduces problems. It's clear which is more dangerous. Anything that isn't slow enough for the student to get things right (when starting off) is too fast. There are alternate ways that involve working on small units at quicker speeds that can also be useful, but the basic principle is simple- anything that involves guessing or imprecision is counterproductive to learning. It's not exactly hard to see why.




Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 10:32 PM)
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#1280258 - 10/03/09 10:44 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


My focus on preparation is about execution. The very reason this is the case is because I wasted years thinking solely about the general impression I wished to create, without making terribly much improvement. I did scarcely anything that could be counted as 'practise' because I was only concerned with aiming for the bigger picture within that particular run-through (however sloppy it might be in the details), rather than with stopping to isolate the components that would fit together.

<snip>

Detail really is everything, in the formative stages.


You have described two very different approaches to learning music, athletics, etc. These are the two standard approaches - the intuitive vs the analytical, the goal oriented vs the process oriented, the dissociator vs the hyperassociator, many ways to describe this.

You started with the wrong one - for you. And you eventually figured out the right one - for you. I hope you have not leapt to the conclusion that this is therefore the right one for everybody.

I strongly believe the learning approach to be neurologically hardwired, not within our control. We can use one or the other, but not choose. And I think that accounts for much of the frustration when a student fails to make progress using the approach that worked so very very well for his teacher.
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#1280264 - 10/03/09 11:02 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


My focus on preparation is about execution. The very reason this is the case is because I wasted years thinking solely about the general impression I wished to create, without making terribly much improvement. I did scarcely anything that could be counted as 'practise' because I was only concerned with aiming for the bigger picture within that particular run-through (however sloppy it might be in the details), rather than with stopping to isolate the components that would fit together.

<snip>

Detail really is everything, in the formative stages.


You have described two very different approaches to learning music, athletics, etc. These are the two standard approaches - the intuitive vs the analytical, the goal oriented vs the process oriented, the dissociator vs the hyperassociator, many ways to describe this.

You started with the wrong one - for you. And you eventually figured out the right one - for you. I hope you have not leapt to the conclusion that this is therefore the right one for everybody.

I strongly believe the learning approach to be neurologically hardwired, not within our control. We can use one or the other, but not choose. And I think that accounts for much of the frustration when a student fails to make progress using the approach that worked so very very well for his teacher.


The issue is why your idea for alternative might work and particularly how? I don't believe for a moment that it would work for anyone but a true genius. You ignored my questions about the 'anxiety' claims. What is your basis for those? And why is it better go completely wrong for the sake of not stopping? I'm really struggling to see your point.

Also, yes we can choose. I 'chose' to start making an effort to go slowly and accurately. I improved immeasuarbly as a result, compared to when I used to just spend all day sightreading pieces that I had never worked on the details for. You have to consider the reasons why such an approach offers benefits, before you start to consider whether alternatives might offer equal benefits. Generally they don't and for good reason. Going fast early on is dangerous because it increases both the likelihood of physical errors and mental errors. It's not just some old wives tale that it's better to practise slow. There's a wealth of evidence for it. Slow practise can't offer absolutely everything (I'm also extremely keen on practising small overlapping units at speed), but unless you have the talent of a Volodos, it's simply lunacy to expect to make optimal progress without it.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 11:06 PM)
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#1280265 - 10/03/09 11:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Your theory about anxiety sounds interesting, but do you have any sources that would demonstrate why removing the anxiety levels by practising slowly might be detrimental? I've never encountered such a concept before and frankly I'm intensely skeptical.


Specifically, no, I don't have references to music. Neither did I pull it out of thin air. Originally it came from classes in learning theory taken during an MS for Clinical Psychology - later I reversed direction and became a mechanical engineer. It also comes from discussions with jazz improviser about how they come up with novel riffs or licks.

Skepticism is good. From past discussions I suspect you sometimes overdo it and miss the possibility.



Quote:
Why should anxiety be desirable during the process of learning the notes? Quite how would that help the procedure of programming a series of movements into the brain? It's anxiety that results in the ugly 'stabbing' movements that students so often employ- when they panic and seize at the next note, rather than find a comfortable way of reaching it.


Hesitation is not just ugly to me, it is painful. This is a form of synthesthesia that makes it difficult for me to listen to or play with a group with rhythm problems. Intonation problems offend me, but they don't hurt physically. So I admit I am somewhat hypersensitive on this point. But hesitating rather than playing a wrong note teaches hesitation, WHICH IS A WRONG NOTE!. There is no more consistent bad habit in the beginner. Even the lay audience understands this. I have played for many church services, and my stumbles on the keys went largely unnoticed provided I kept the beat smoothly. In the advanced player, hesitation doesn't disappear, it morphs into unwanted rubato - and is oft praised as expression when it is not.

I am not recommending ugly stabbing movements, of course. We stop short of blind panic. (well, I've had the occasional one in performance!) The anxiety I'm talking about is not that extreme. It produces a forced choice response, there is no shortage of literature on that if you want to look it up. That increases randomization. Remember that a beginner is in a far different position from you. He has to learn movements that are vague and undescribable. To learn them he must produce them the first time, be rewarded, and increase the likelihood of producing them the next time. Much of good teaching is of subtle nonverbal reinforcement of the precursors to these motions. (and some of course is a skilled teachers direct teaching of correct motion) With no randomization, he produces the same motion repeatedly, never hitting the tiny invisible difference that makes it correct. As the anxiety increases, randomization increases, and the likelihood of both error and correct responses increase. But also, the reward for correct response increases as the anxiety reduces at a set time.

The identical process occurs with jazz improvisation. The anxiety produces randomization, noise in the machine. Then two filters are applied: is it good? is it novel?

There are other ways of producing more raw material, more randomization, than holding one to a strict time standard. Drugs (standard approach for jazz musicians of a certain period), sleep deprivation, actual mental illness, etc. Playing in time is one of the more healthy ones.

Popular press equates negative reinforcement with punishment. That's wrong. Reinforcement is anything that increases the likelihood of a future behavior. Negative reinforcement does so by reducing a stress, positive reinforcement does so by increasing a reward.
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#1280267 - 10/03/09 11:08 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
It's not just some old wives tale that it's better to practise slow. There's a wealth of evidence for it.


No, it's cr*p.

Slow practise works very very well when the skill is available but the piece needs to be learned.

It is worthless for learning a new skill.

There's a wealth of evidence for the speed walls produced. And if you raise the question, somebody with 20 years of experience will immediately sit down and show you how he can learn a piece with slow incremental practice.

Try the same thing with a beginner. Different story.
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#1280271 - 10/03/09 11:24 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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"Specifically, no, I don't have references to music. Neither did I pull it out of thin air. Originally it came from classes in learning theory taken during an MS for Clinical Psychology - later I reversed direction and became a mechanical engineer. It also comes from discussions with jazz improviser about how they come up with novel riffs or licks."

Totally different issue though. Improvisers must constantly adapt and respond. Pianists must learn how to play the same notes in the correct order, whatever should occur. A burst of adrenaline could help a jazz pianist (and indeed a classical one, in performance, interpretively speaking). But how does this benefit someone who has yet to learn how to play a series of notes in the right order? Sorry, but I'm not seeing it.


"Hesitation is not just ugly to me, it is painful. This is a form of synthesthesia that makes it difficult for me to listen to or play with a group with rhythm problems. Intonation problems offend me, but they don't hurt physically. So I admit I am somewhat hypersensitive on this point. But hesitating rather than playing a wrong note teaches hesitation, WHICH IS A WRONG NOTE!. There is no more consistent bad habit in the beginner. Even the lay audience understands this. I have played for many church services, and my stumbles on the keys went largely unnoticed provided I kept the beat smoothly. In the advanced player, hesitation doesn't disappear, it morphs into unwanted rubato - and is oft praised as expression when it is not."

What is worse? Experiencing the feeling of progressing from one finger to a random one, unprepared one (typically accompanied by an awkward seizing movement, as the student panics- something that happens when having to press on unprepared, whether recommended by a teacher or not)? Or stopping, feeling the correct connection between two correct fingers and then going back to put that connection into a rhythmic context? Stopping should never be applauded. The student ought to go slowly enough not to need to stop, until they know the passage well enough to go faster with equal comfort. However, it leaves far less to fix compared to screwing up- and then having to go back without yet having had ANY experience at the physical connection.

The ability to fake for performance is important but that should never be confused with the art of learning pieces. Sight reading is one skill. Learning to play a piece to a high standard is another. Are you trying to say that nobody should do anything in practise that they wouldn't do in a performance? The two really don't overlap that much. The ability to avoid stopping when you screw up should be part of any pianists range of skills. However, if that's the primary goal in both practise and rehearsal, just don't expect to play Chopin studies to any standard. There's no room for faking in those.

"Remember that a beginner is in a far different position from you. He has to learn movements that are vague and undescribable. To learn them he must produce them the first time, be rewarded, and increase the likelihood of producing them the next time."

Sure. It's for this reason that I advocate lifting the fingers a little before each note, for beginners. It helps to have already sensed the finger. Another way of preventing mistakes before they occur. The last thing you want is a rash movement. The more you sense what is happening, the sooner you get to the stage when you can make instantaneous movements with absolute certainty. Even beginners don't need to learn from errors. If they begin by lifting the fingers a fraction, they soon get to the point of having full sensory awareness without needing to move the finger first. Randomly stabbing at a finger and seeing if it turns out to be the right one is simply not going to compete with learning what it feels like to prepare the finger.

"As the anxiety increases, randomization increases, and the likelihood of both error and correct responses increase. But also, the reward for correct response increases as the anxiety reduces at a set time."

And the penalties for a randomly struck note become all the more undesirable. If the student hasn't had time to think, the odds aren't good for them. Also, I believe it's well established that it takes far more correct executions to 'cancel out' the memory of just a single incorrect one.

"The identical process occurs with jazz improvisation. The anxiety produces randomization, noise in the machine. Then two filters are applied: is it good? is it novel?"

If you're looking to make new material, that's great. If not, why on earth should randomization be desirable? What could be less welcome?


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 11:35 PM)
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#1280272 - 10/03/09 11:28 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
It's not just some old wives tale that it's better to practise slow. There's a wealth of evidence for it.


No, it's cr*p.

Slow practise works very very well when the skill is available but the piece needs to be learned.

It is worthless for learning a new skill.

There's a wealth of evidence for the speed walls produced. And if you raise the question, somebody with 20 years of experience will immediately sit down and show you how he can learn a piece with slow incremental practice.

Try the same thing with a beginner. Different story.


Contrary to the obvious fact that it's harder to be consistent and accurate when starting fast and the wealth of evidence about how repeated movements can be more easily reproduced, it's 'crap'? Yet, you gladly take the word of some jazz pianist who once told you that anxiety should always be present in practise?

So you don't think that the pianist who has been playing for 20 year might possibly have learned something during those twenty years? That couldn't be the issue?

Tell me, are you suggesting that the beginner should sit down and play this piece fast in the first place? Perhaps that would be better than them starting slow and having to take time before they have learned the control required to go faster? Where exactly are you going with this comparison? You're criticsing slow practise, but you're not offering any credible alternatives. Accuracy doesn't come by magic, if a beginner starts by playing fast. It becomes all the more elusive. Sure, a beginner doesn't become a concert-pianist in a month simply by practising slowly. But are you honestly harboring the delusion that if they started by practising quickly, they might do better? Why? On the opinion of some unnamed jazz pianist you once chatted to?

I'd really like to see you put this radical new theory into practise by teaching a number of youngsters to play the piano at high speeds (on the grounds that slow practise is worthless). I wouldn't urge you to hope for terribly much from the results. Slow practise breeds comfort. Comfort is what permits fast playing.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/03/09 11:44 PM)
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#1280276 - 10/03/09 11:43 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

If you're looking to make new material, that's great. If not, why on earth should randomization be desirable? What could be less welcome?


What I am trying to explain is that the process of coming up with a novel jazz improvisation and the process of learning technique are precisely the same.

Both are trial and error processes.

So both require error. And error comes from randomization.

I'm not talking about playing a wrong note as error. I'm talking about the complex, almost mathematically undescribably geometric complex motion of getting the finger to the right note at speed. I'm talking about the entire sequence of weight shift, shoulder motion, elbow motion, wrist motion, etc.

Some of this is known by good teachers and they can simply instruct how to do it. Just like all of the notes are on the page - there is no mystery what to play next.

But much of it is a mystery until experienced. And unless done perfectly the first time, it doesn't happen without error. You must do it wrong many times to do it right. Then you must recognize right, and be rewarded sufficiently to do it more often.

Slow does not have to be unconnected to time, that is just an unhappy accident of the way we teach piano. Slow practice with a metronome could conceivably convey some of the benefits of practice at tempo. But slow practice without strict time is worse than useless, and beginners have flexible time.

The process of learning a technique unconnected to time, then relearning it at slow tempo, then relearning it at fast tempo, is simply WRONG.

Guitar players, even beginners, learn at tempo by playing along with records, the radio, CDs, and their peers. This is the reason they pretty much all succeed.
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#1280279 - 10/03/09 11:52 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Both are trial and error processes.

So both require error. And error comes from randomization.

I'm not talking about playing a wrong note as error. I'm talking about the complex, almost mathematically undescribably geometric complex motion of getting the finger to the right note at speed. I'm talking about the entire sequence of weight shift, shoulder motion, elbow motion, wrist motion, etc.


You may not be talking about it, but if you're not practising slowly, it's happening vastly more than with someone who begins at a comfortable pace. Guaranteed. And if you're not even taking the time to ensure that you play the notes correctly (nevermind to balance in between them), how much value do think can be found within the feedback your arms will receive? Any?

In any case, no trial and error process 'requires error'. That's grossly false logic. To arrive at a correct answer merely requires having reached it. Having got it wrong a few times doesn't change the final result (at least not positively). To claim that you have to screw something up before you can do it properly is totally missing the point. And, for that matter, learning the notes for a piece is not supposed to be viewed as a 'trial and error' process. That's simply sloppy, lazy thinking. Rapid learners don't 'have a go'. They take the time to ensure they have read every note properly and then seek to play them properly. They don't have a few guesses. You're really wildly off the mark here. If you're not able to get something right first time (without resorting to 'trial and error'), it shows just how flawed your method is. There is absolutely no place for thoughtless errors, if you're hoping for serious progress.


Some of this is known by good teachers and they can simply instruct how to do it. Just like all of the notes are on the page - there is no mystery what to play next.

Unless, of course, you both insist on going quickly at once and never taking any time between notes. In which case there frequently is a complete mystery as to what to play next and you hence go wrong.

But much of it is a mystery until experienced. And unless done perfectly the first time, it doesn't happen without error. You must do it wrong many times to do it right. Then you must recognize right, and be rewarded sufficiently to do it more often.

This is fundamentally at odds with all science about repetive movements. Out of interest, what level do you play to? Are you playing Chopin Studies or Bach fugues with this approach? If you're playing things wrong many times, I sincerely doubt that you'll ever even approach getting such difficulties right. I'm sorry, but I really can't believe that you're defending this approach. I'd like to hear of ANY pianist who plays advanced classical repetoire to a high level by going wrong repeatedly, rather than by ensuring that things are done comfortably and correctly. Recognize right? Have you never consider having the patience to read the score properly and take the time to do it right the first place? You seriously think this would be more harmful than pissing around playing something completely wrong, time after time? Is it me you're trying to persuade of this ridiculous theory or yourself? How much time do you waste playing things incorrectly exactly? You really don't think it might be quicker to get it right the first time?

The process of learning a technique unconnected to time, then relearning it at slow tempo, then relearning it at fast tempo, is simply WRONG.

Who said anything about being uncconnected to time? Looks like the strawman is being pulled out. Pause once before playing a note and you can go back and fix it. Screw up and you have far more work on your hands. It's better to pause than to go wrong- provided that you go back and reinstate the rhythm straight after.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/04/09 12:18 AM)
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#1280304 - 10/04/09 01:49 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: bluekeys]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: bluekeys
I know nothing about teaching piano and little about psychology, but I know a great deal about making mistakes. In fact, I'm one of the world's foremost experts at making mistakes.

Thus I'll forgo my usual reluctance to post on the teacher's forum to make two points:

1. To say mistakes are caused by the "non conscious" mind, is roughly equal to saying they're caused by green cylindrical creatures from the planet Tralfamadore. There's no way to prove it one way or the other so it's just idle speculation.

2. To suggest that anything regarding avoiding or preventing mistakes is off-topic makes the whole discussion about as pertenent as a game of tic tac toe.

[edited for brevity]
1) There is a vast amount of literature out there on the non-conscious (or un, pre, but not necessarily sub. Prenoetic is a good one). The problem is that it's very much multi-disciplined and dense. What goes on in the mind will always be idle speculation for those who only look at the surface. Some of the posters here have obviously gone deeper into it and I'm valuing their contribution.

2) That cognition is going on away from consciousness is quite a revelation to many, nonsensical to most but quite revealing to a few (the cognitive therapy folks can't abide the idea). We lived under Decartes' shadow for too long. I for one, am observing a different 'set up'. So yes, for the vast majority this topic is 'as pertinent as...' but I would like to keep on topic. We can and do have threads on how to prevent mistakes all the time.

As for posting in the Teachers Forum, you're welcome to (its those that post here just to slag off teachers that are annoying).
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#1280306 - 10/04/09 02:03 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
I strongly believe the learning approach to be neurologically hardwired, not within our control. We can use one or the other, but not choose. And I think that accounts for much of the frustration when a student fails to make progress using the approach that worked so very very well for his teacher.
That's a good observation and why I think teachers should always be looking 'under the hood', both theirs and their students'. All the time, and I'm sure it's non-conscious, that I'm teaching my mind is saying 'Why did he/she get this?' 'Why didn't he/she get that?' - a constant 100%-of-the-time probing. I think that's what sets us apart from other primates.
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#1280311 - 10/04/09 02:29 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Horowitzian]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!


If you take all of times that Horowitzian posts this awesome comment you put him back to the 2000 post club.


grin

What else is one supposed to say after reading such a craptastic thread? The truth hurts, don't it?


Your twitty comments hurt? That's a laugher!

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#1280314 - 10/04/09 02:46 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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The inner game books have come up as they often tend to with approaches to the non-conscious. My quibble there is that they give equal weight and treatment to both self one and self two and always, correct me if I'm wrong, on a cognitive level. I think the cognitive differences are of kind rather than degree or identity.

For those who are frustrated at the lack of self-help in this topic, look at it this way. If you're trying to get across a river sometimes it's worth climbing a tree. Though climbing is not exactly an activity you'd think of as relevant to crossing a river, who knows what you'll see from there?


Edited by keyboardklutz (10/04/09 04:20 AM)
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#1280345 - 10/04/09 05:22 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Keyboardklutz,

I can't talk about The Inner Game of Tennis, as I've never read it. But The Inner Game of Music does not talk about the unconscious, IMO. The distinction between self one and self two are not intended to be interpreted as the distinction between conscious and unconscious, and this is stated directly in the book. I've always interpreted the point of this book as being that the conscious dialog analyzing and critiquing of yourself as you are playing interferes with the focus required in playing.

The "Game" is that you are playing an "Inner Game" against yourself - the practice of performing vs. the commentary on the performance.

Rich


Edited by DragonPianoPlayer (10/04/09 05:23 AM)
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#1280356 - 10/04/09 05:45 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I have in my hands here the Inner Game of Tennis, Music and Skiing. As Tennis was the original I'll quote from that. I've forgotten how good it is and he is describing the non-conscious 100%:
Quote:
Who and What is Self 2?

Put aside for a moment the opinions you have about your body - whether you think of it as clumsy, uncoordinated, average, or really fantastic - and think about what it does. As you read these very words your body is performing a remarkable piece of coordination. Eyes are moving effortlessly, taking in images of black and white which are automatically compared with memories of similar markings, translated into symbols, then connected with other symbols to form an impression of meaning. Thousands of these operations are taking place every few seconds. At the same time, again without conscious effort, your heart is pumping and your breath is going in and out.....If you walked to a chair and turned on a light before beginning to read, your body coordinated a great number of muscle movements to accomplish those tasks without help from the conscious mind. Self 1 did not have to tell your body how far to reach before closing your fingers on the light switch, you knew your goal, and your body did what was necessary without thought. The process by which the body learned and performed these actions is no different from the process by which it learns and plays the game of tennis....Reflect on the complicated series of actions performed by Self 2 in the process of returning a serve. In order to anticipate how and where to move the feet and whether to take the racket back on the forehand or backhand side, the brain must calculate within a fraction of a second the moment the ball leaves the server's racket approximately where it is going to land and where the racket will intercept it....
Now I would add that Self 2 not just calculates but decides (makes choices). I'll have to reread him and see what he says.
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#1280387 - 10/04/09 07:15 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: TimR
I strongly believe the learning approach to be neurologically hardwired, not within our control. We can use one or the other, but not choose. And I think that accounts for much of the frustration when a student fails to make progress using the approach that worked so very very well for his teacher.
That's a good observation and why I think teachers should always be looking 'under the hood', both theirs and their students'. All the time, and I'm sure it's non-conscious, that I'm teaching my mind is saying 'Why did he/she get this?' 'Why didn't he/she get that?' - a constant 100%-of-the-time probing. I think that's what sets us apart from other primates.


There are many approaches that can work, but there also many that simply don't. I'm really not seeing the value in going faster than you are able to be certain of working accurately at, or how this is ever going to be more suited to some people. Do we teach kids to recite the alphabet by saying the letters in a slightly different order each time, in the assumption that they'll eventually go on to say them in the correct order? Would this simply be an alternate approach of great value or a grossly flawed one? Jazz might be a different issue but promoting 'trial and error' as a method for learning the fixed patterns of classical piano just doesn't cut it for me. You learn by doing things accurately and consisently. Not by screwing up in a variety of different ways in the hope of gradually converging on the ability to do it right (when it was perfectly feasible to do so from the very outset- had you simply permitted yourself time to think).

When students don't get things right, the vast majority of the time it's either because they went too fast too soon to think it through adequately, or because they've gone wrong so many time before, that they have a hard time getting to the correct notes without confusing them with a range of previous tendencies. There are other things that can cause problems, but I'm certain that the overwhelming majority fit into this category. I don't see how encouraging students to simply "have a go" as their normal procedure for learning pieces will result in optimal results from anyone (unless their goal as a pianist is solely to be able to loosely blag their way through pieces at sight, without stopping).


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/04/09 07:27 AM)
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#1280390 - 10/04/09 07:24 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Skimmed through it. I think that would be the difference between Gallwey's inner game and the Embodiment people - Gallwey doesn't mention Self 2 making decisions. From what I'm reading of the Embodiment people it's role is extended to making choices. Of course if Gallwey had chosen to consider that role he would have seen that it definitely does. Take flight or fight for instance - you've decided long before you know you're in peril.
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#1280735 - 10/04/09 07:09 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: landorrano]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!


If you take all of times that Horowitzian posts this awesome comment you put him back to the 2000 post club.


grin

What else is one supposed to say after reading such a craptastic thread? The truth hurts, don't it?


Your twitty comments hurt? That's a laugher!


I take it, then, that that is your positive contribution to this thread? smile
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#1280772 - 10/04/09 08:21 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Keyboard klutz, you are absolutely correct.

I find that when I approach a new work, after learning it, and playing it for people, there are usually some "rough passages"...things that DO need to be corrected. So I go back and practice them as thourougly as possible, until I am physically able to play them.

However, come time of performance, sometimes, these passage, no matter how well I have actually learned them, will never EVER come across, simply because there has been permanent mental damage done in that section - such that mind subconcious nearly wills me me to make a mistake in that part. It has NOTHING to do with your actual technique, it is simply the unfortunate nature of the human condition - not leaving well enough alone. This is a universal problem. Andre Watts mentioned once that he had a season of nothing but memory lapses, and the most excruciating aspect of it all was that he could not help himself, at all costs, from EXPECTING these lapses, and he knew exactly where in the music they would be. His secondary self - as you prefer - was WILLING them to happen.

In my experience, the only way to overcome this is to :

a.) Try from the very beginning to learn as carefully as possible, knowing where you tend to fall into traps so you might be able to avoid them, so you will at least minimize the amount of these mental traps.

b.) Simply suffer through it, then wait. Drop the piece for a few months without so much as thinking about it. When you re-approach it, you will find that the tide of time has done good work in washing away the anxiety, and you will begin to "Feel" the piece - both physically and pyschologically - in a newer, more mature way.

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#1280798 - 10/04/09 09:10 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
Keyboard klutz, you are absolutely correct.

I find that when I approach a new work, after learning it, and playing it for people, there are usually some "rough passages"...things that DO need to be corrected. So I go back and practice them as thourougly as possible, until I am physically able to play them.

However, come time of performance, sometimes, these passage, no matter how well I have actually learned them, will never EVER come across, simply because there has been permanent mental damage done in that section - such that mind subconcious nearly wills me me to make a mistake in that part. It has NOTHING to do with your actual technique, it is simply the unfortunate nature of the human condition - not leaving well enough alone. This is a universal problem. Andre Watts mentioned once that he had a season of nothing but memory lapses, and the most excruciating aspect of it all was that he could not help himself, at all costs, from EXPECTING these lapses, and he knew exactly where in the music they would be. His secondary self - as you prefer - was WILLING them to happen.

In my experience, the only way to overcome this is to :

a.) Try from the very beginning to learn as carefully as possible, knowing where you tend to fall into traps so you might be able to avoid them, so you will at least minimize the amount of these mental traps.

b.) Simply suffer through it, then wait. Drop the piece for a few months without so much as thinking about it. When you re-approach it, you will find that the tide of time has done good work in washing away the anxiety, and you will begin to "Feel" the piece - both physically and pyschologically - in a newer, more mature way.


I agree entirely with what you describe there, but KBK made it clear that he's not talking about that. He insisted on some perverse waffle about the subconscious wanting to fix a mistake and hence correcting incorrectly and denied that it's about anxiety. Of course, his theory is just a complete load of unsubstantiated hot air however, and the more likely explanation is the anxiety you describe.

I wouldn't say it has 'nothing' to do with technique though. When the movements are truly assured, anxiety is far less likely to cause problems. You can see how nervous Horowitz was on his 1968 film. However, his sheer technical assurance and ability to adjust (eg. leaving out a few notes when playing right on the edge) carry him through with no problems. A lesser pianist in the same condition might have made a total balls up. The more instability is present (whether that be in the physical memory, or the mental understanding of the foundations- something that is vital for picking up at once after finger slips or missing notes), the more damage anxiety can do. It tends to amplify small problems. Perhaps Watts was so nervous about these passages, because he was also less than happy with how they were going in practise? I find it hard to believe he was playing effortlessly and without problems in each and every rehearsal, but then losing it in virtually ever concert.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/04/09 09:16 PM)
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#1280818 - 10/04/09 09:48 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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By a weird coincidence, I was in a drugstore today browsing the magazine rack while I waited.

Discover magazine had a special issue on the brain, and an article caught my eye: why we screw up.

Neurons in the DMA fire 30 seconds before we have a brain fart. (technical term) The way the authors explained it, the brain has decided things are going okay, time to turn the autopilot on and take a little rest. And during that rest, when the more attentive sections of the brain are on coffee break, the autopilot takes us right past our exit.
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#1280832 - 10/04/09 10:36 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
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Mistakes serve a purpose according to Despair Inc..



I wonder how that might apply to piano playing?
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#1280902 - 10/05/09 01:38 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: eweiss]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Thanks for that Tim. We may be back to the ol' right brain/left brain. This guy is saying processes go on 24/7 without consciousness which can only take in one at a time:
http://discovermagazine.com/brightcove?bcpid=370512060&bclid=533256427&bctid=11141919001
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#1280906 - 10/05/09 01:46 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I love the cup of water thing - so true: http://discovermagazine.com/brightcove?bcpid=370512060&bclid=533256427&bctid=16760371001
Perhaps no relevance but it's interesting Piaget stuff. I can always tell when an 11 year old is behind others in development. Ask them to draw a car - the ones who are behind have to put 4 wheels on it even though they draw a side view.

I think this is what I'm talking about - decisions being made before you are aware of it. In fact, as he states, others around you can be aware you've made a decision before you are. The 'confidence center' of the brain seems to be the key. If it gives the OK to the correction then it'll stick. If not then you'll still be searching for the error.
http://discovermagazine.com/brightcove?bcpid=370512060&bclid=533256427&bctid=16759497001

Could we be so busy focusing on the correction we fail to inhibit the mistake? This thread is a good case in point - how many posters are so anxious to avoid mistakes that they assume that's the subject of this thread?
http://discovermagazine.com/brightcove?bcpid=370512060&bclid=533256427&bctid=11043607001

It was my amygdala wot done it:
http://discovermagazine.com/brightcove?bcpid=370512060&bclid=533256427&bctid=1283221335
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#1281328 - 10/05/09 04:00 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
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If we're talking about a half-decent pianist, there's no question of 'inhibiting a mistake'. When good pianists make mistakes, they go back and focus on what they SHOULD be playing. Nothing else should even come into the picture. I'm stunned that anyone would be thinking "Don't play an f natural" instead of thinking about the F sharp and the physical distance that will lead into it from the previous note. Those who flourish don't just "have another go" (and make the same balls up five times in a row). Fixing errors may involve going ultra slow and repeating on many occasions. However, there is no question of trying to 'remove' a mistake. You just go slow and use your brain to follow the instructions as they are presented, without allowing habit to control anything. This is repeated until the passage is under control. The only point of focus is the movement you had not done but which was required. Only those who do not stop to rethink and simply try again (on the off chance that some mysterious instinct will work perfectly well next time) might even have to contemplate 'inhibiting a mistake'. Good pianists simply focus on the positive of what they are attempting to do. To even raise the notion of thinking too much about the means of correction shows a complete misunderstanding. In fact, it probably shouldn't even be thought of as a 'correction'. You simply need to visualize what you're supposed to be doing (with 100% certainty) and focus on nothing other than doing it. If the mistake is coming back, you're not practising with any understanding but merely relying on habit still- which offers virtually no realistic prospect of improvement. Good practise doesn't come through reliance on habits. Reliable habits come through good practise.

I love the picture. I think that's certainly the only respect in which persistently making mistakes in the hope that it will lead to convergence on a right way might have any inherent value (with regard to learning pieces on the piano, at least). The results of the "trial and error" approach certainly serve as a powerful warning, so all credit to the martyrs who are going ahead with airing such a powerful message.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/05/09 04:23 PM)
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#1281544 - 10/06/09 03:11 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
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Is that why young children learn so well? Because as we get older we correct mistakes instead of inhibiting them? The child knows nothing of this so operates naturally. As they get older do children not get more emoted by their mistakes?
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#1281607 - 10/06/09 07:43 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Is that why young children learn so well? Because as we get older we correct mistakes instead of inhibiting them? The child knows nothing of this so operates naturally. As they get older do children not get more emoted by their mistakes?


You read my post then?

Getting annoyed by mistakes may well be an issue. Experiencing anxiety about having gone wrong may well make it more difficult to go back and casually focus on simply playing it correctly next time. Focus on the mistake and the stress levels may reduce the odds of playing the passage right the next time. Frustration often leads to simply launching in without the thought that is required to get it right second time round. This is the single biggest enemy to progress.

Why should correcting mistakes instead of inhibiting them be a reason why adults would learn less well? On what logical grounding? And who says that children who progress well 'inhibit' mistakes rather than go back and correct them? There's nothing 'natural' about that. It's well established that young children are more able to form neural connections than older people. That's why they learn faster. However, this makes it all the more important for them to be focussing on how they need to go about playing the passage, instead of on inhibiting something from happening. It's all the easier for them to screw things up for good by going wrong a few times. To think of inhibiting provides no notion of what means they are supposed to achieve any inhibition.

Even if you think of inhibiting a mistake, the only way to do so is to think about the positive of what movement is required to 'inhibit' that mistake- or rather to play the passage correctly. Can you inhibit a mistake by playing a random note- or do you need to think about both the RIGHT note and the RIGHT movement to be able to play it? If you haven't done that, in other words you're relying on habits (that have clearly not formed adequately, judging from the prior mistake) or basic guesswork. That would certainly explain your tendency to see new mistakes emerging around the point of the corrected one. There is simply no feasible approach that leaves out the positive of focussing on what IS required. Again, it's well established in science that the human brain cannot fully process isolated negatives (just like we can't visualize a negative quantity of apples, say, but we can process 4-3 apples- in which we can see three positive apples being removed, without having to visualize any anti-apples). This really doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What basis do you have for this ill-evidenced theory, that so much established science would suggest to be squarely counterproductive? I sincerely hope you don't teach this way, contrary to such widely accepted science about the brain.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 08:18 AM)
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#1281634 - 10/06/09 09:15 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Joe H.]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Joe H.
So mistakes are permanently engraved onto the brain, never to be erased or changed? That just doesn't seem to click with reality. I've imprinted mistakes into my subconscious before, but have always been able to change those mistakes or habits, never to be seen again. And I'm sure plenty of you, including KeyboardKlutz, have experienced this as well. Wouldn't that imply that the mistakes were erased or changed?

As far as how they occur there is an unending source of causes: misunderstanding the piece, mis-reading a note or rhythm, anxiety, nervousness, stage-fright, distraction, etc. I think you can prevent these by being patient and focused while learning and practicing a piece. Never have expectations before you sit down to play. Just accept your ability at that moment, begin within in it, and then build upon it. You will inevitably make a mistake no matter what, because you are human. When you do, correct it then and there before it gets imprinted onto your sub-conscious/limbic brain.

Web etiquette advice politely withdrawn. Voila! (I spelled it right!!!)

Sorry, I dropped out of this discussion so I'm playing catch-up now!
I don't think something ever gets fixed. When someone quits smoking, even years after they may be tempted to light one up in a particularly stressful situation. The habit never goes away, we just react to it differently.

The same is with mistakes in piano. We never unlearn a learned mistake, we just have to go through extra processes to not act on that wrong information. Set aside a piece where you thought you got it down perfectly and come back to it after a few months. Those mistakes will be right back in there.

Or take the student who learned a rhythm wrong, you point it out to them at the lesson, and they come back the next week with the same incorrect rhythm. They went home and practiced every day, but they couldn't undo that mistake. It takes lots and lots of work to learn how to not act on that first-learned sound, and it always will be there.

Why? Because the mistake always makes more sense to us than the reality of what it should be. When we finally understand what it should be -- completely understand -- then we can begin to change our response to the impulse to play it wrong.
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#1281646 - 10/06/09 09:30 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: TimR
I strongly believe the learning approach to be neurologically hardwired, not within our control. We can use one or the other, but not choose. And I think that accounts for much of the frustration when a student fails to make progress using the approach that worked so very very well for his teacher.
That's a good observation and why I think teachers should always be looking 'under the hood', both theirs and their students'. All the time, and I'm sure it's non-conscious, that I'm teaching my mind is saying 'Why did he/she get this?' 'Why didn't he/she get that?' - a constant 100%-of-the-time probing. I think that's what sets us apart from other primates.


There are many approaches that can work, but there also many that simply don't. I'm really not seeing the value in going faster than you are able to be certain of working accurately at, or how this is ever going to be more suited to some people. Do we teach kids to recite the alphabet by saying the letters in a slightly different order each time, in the assumption that they'll eventually go on to say them in the correct order? Would this simply be an alternate approach of great value or a grossly flawed one? Jazz might be a different issue but promoting 'trial and error' as a method for learning the fixed patterns of classical piano just doesn't cut it for me. You learn by doing things accurately and consisently. Not by screwing up in a variety of different ways in the hope of gradually converging on the ability to do it right (when it was perfectly feasible to do so from the very outset- had you simply permitted yourself time to think).

When students don't get things right, the vast majority of the time it's either because they went too fast too soon to think it through adequately, or because they've gone wrong so many time before, that they have a hard time getting to the correct notes without confusing them with a range of previous tendencies. There are other things that can cause problems, but I'm certain that the overwhelming majority fit into this category. I don't see how encouraging students to simply "have a go" as their normal procedure for learning pieces will result in optimal results from anyone (unless their goal as a pianist is solely to be able to loosely blag their way through pieces at sight, without stopping).


Slow, deliberate practice does not mean hesitation. If I have a student who need sot hesitate, it means their fingers are going too fast for their brain. Often beginners have one speed - the speed at which we speak, which is 116. However, when learning a new piece this is way too fast. They are speaking a foreign language, and they're not yet familiar with the vocabulary. Therefore, they must learn to speak slower, the speed at which they can process the "words" if you will. This is not hesitation; doing the opposite will cause hesitation.
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#1281683 - 10/06/09 10:36 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Slow, deliberate practice does not mean hesitation.


Agreed. Going slowly enough to think everything through adequately yet maintain continuity is always the goal. However, I would say that a moment of hesitation is always better than going on to strike a wrong note (in practice time). Land on a a wrong note and you have a lot of work to do, if you don't want it to come back. However, hesitate a little, and you can figure out what the note is for definite before going back and then getting the rhythm immediately afterwards (perhaps at a slower tempo, if required).

Some people have the idea that any hesitation is ALWAYS a cardinal sin and that it's better to go wrong in any instance. I think this is rather short sighted. It's vital to have the skill to fake in this way, but the procedures for practising sight-reading and the procedures for learning pieces should not be treated identically. A good pianist ought to have both sets of skills, through working both ways. Those who always favour wrong notes over hesitations in all circumstances (rather than merely in run-throughs) will inevitably be less accurate in pieces they are seeking to learn, even if they are more continuous in their sight-reading. The only problem with hesitations is when they are not properly fixed, through slower continuous work.

I agree that the memory of wrong notes is hard to remove, but I don't know if I agree with this:

"Set aside a piece where you thought you got it down perfectly and come back to it after a few months. Those mistakes will be right back in there."

If old errors return, it suggests that it hadn't quite been down perfectly before. I've notice recently that pieces I have learned in more recent years have come back very easily, after time off. Any slips tend to be down to having forgotten what I was intending to play (hence the importance of starting from the score and thinking it through as if from scratch), rather than bad habits from before. In the past it took ages to relearn an old piece (basically because I had learned them with such inefficient movements in the first place). I think whichever habits were strongest are the most likely ones to come back. I think the biggest risk with old pieces is to think that because you could play them before, you don't need to put much thought into bringing them back up. It often causes a whole load of new problems, when you go wrong because you were expecting everything to be as familiar as it used to be. However, if you start slowly and patiently, it can be surprisingly easy to return to the exact state in which the piece had been previously (or ideally better).
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#1281734 - 10/06/09 11:57 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Morodiene Offline
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Another note on the "hesitation" subject: one cannot compare hesitation in improv with hesitation in practice. These are two distinct activities, like improv acting vs. acting a Shakespearean role. While both involve language, they are very different in their execution. One rarely sees mistakes in improvisation in general since it is all ad hoc, whereas mistakes in performing a written piece can happen for various reasons.

Quote:
"Set aside a piece where you thought you got it down perfectly and come back to it after a few months. Those mistakes will be right back in there."

If old errors return, it suggests that it hadn't quite been down perfectly before. I've notice recently that pieces I have learned in more recent years have come back very easily, after time off. Any slips tend to be down to having forgotten what I was intending to play (hence the importance of starting from the score and thinking it through as if from scratch), rather than bad habits from before. In the past it took ages to relearn an old piece (basically because I had learned them with such inefficient movements in the first place). I think whichever habits were strongest are the most likely ones to come back. I think the biggest risk with old pieces is to think that because you could play them before, you don't need to put much thought into bringing them back up. It often causes a whole load of new problems, when you go wrong because you were expecting everything to be as familiar as it used to be. However, if you start slowly and patiently, it can be surprisingly easy to return to the exact state in which the piece had been previously (or ideally better).


It is a scientific fact that something learned cannot be lost with the exclusion of brain trauma. What is lost, however, is the ability to retrieve, like a bridge that breaks down over time. The place the bridge goes to still exists, but the means of getting there may not. Some bridges are better left broken, and when I've relearned pieces if enough time has happened, the old mistakes do not return. Or, as I put forth in my previous post, if the proper way was sufficiently learned and understood then the bridge to the mistake will not return.


Edited by Morodiene (10/06/09 11:58 AM)
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#1281757 - 10/06/09 12:45 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Another note on the "hesitation" subject: one cannot compare hesitation in improv with hesitation in practice. These are two distinct activities, like improv acting vs. acting a Shakespearean role. While both involve language, they are very different in their execution. One rarely sees mistakes in improvisation in general since it is all ad hoc, whereas mistakes in performing a written piece can happen for various reasons.


Yeah, I think that's a nice comparison. Following on from that, I don't think any actor would feel that it would be a good idea to maintain the rhythm but make up random words, while learning their lines- rather than simply go back to the text and check it. You have to make a distinction between whether you're practising or performing. When you're practising, it's better to hesitate or to stop, before going back to put everything together into something that is not only whole, but also correct. It's only when you're rehearsing performance itself, that you ought to be willing to make compromises in favour of going ahead rather than stopping. If a student has learned a piece from start to finish, I'd expect them to be in performance mode, when playing it to me. I wouldn't want to hear stops. Conversely, if they haven't yet learned the notes, the last thing I would ever encourage them to do is to make guesses when playing any of it for me, purely for the sake of maintaing the rhythm.

"It is a scientific fact that something learned cannot be lost with the exclusion of brain trauma. What is lost, however, is the ability to retrieve, like a bridge that breaks down over time. The place the bridge goes to still exists, but the means of getting there may not. Some bridges are better left broken, and when I've relearned pieces if enough time has happened, the old mistakes do not return. Or, as I put forth in my previous post, if the proper way was sufficiently learned and understood then the bridge to the mistake will not return."

Again, that's a nice way of putting it. When relearning a piece, if you have the patience to treat every note on the score as though you are reading it and playing it for the first time (paradoxical as it sounds), you soon find it feels as instinctive as when you were working on it before. However, if you start by attempting to play it as you did previously, you create all kinds of new problems and probably never get back to the same old standard. As you say, it's just a matter of rebuilding the bridge to where you were before.
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#1281766 - 10/06/09 12:58 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Again Morodiene you are getting side tracked. If you really want a side track how the amygdala 'lights up' perceptions to re-enforce their retention is a good one. How do we get students to emote over what we wish to get into their memories and not emote over errors? I know Tony Buzan uses colours.
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#1281773 - 10/06/09 01:13 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Again Morodiene you are getting side tracked. If you really want a side track how the amygdala 'lights up' perceptions to re-enforce their retention is a good one. How do we get students to emote over what we wish to get into their memories and not emote over errors? I know Tony Buzan uses colours.

This whole thread seems sidetracked, so why not?

They first have to realize that they've actually solved the error. Psychological barriers happen all the time in singing and can prevent a singer from singing a high B-flat that they've done time and time again in other contexts without issue. As I said, it has to do with the approach. You cannot unlearn something, but you have to learn a new reaction. The best way to do this is to think about the meaning of that passage. Is it fear? Probably not, and therefore it has no place in the piece. They must understand what emotion is in the passage to replace the fear.

Now there are certain techniques to emote in performing, but again, that is a side issue. In general, a performer can be in love mode or fear mode. The two cannot coexist in that person at a given moment. Either you are loving the audience enough to be completely open or you fear them and thus shut down any possibility of emoting. You are then only trying to get through with the right notes, and thus, have no room for emoting. Again, it has to do with creating a bridge to a new place, and not going on the old, dilapidated one that always leads you to where you do not wish to go.
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#1281784 - 10/06/09 01:31 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
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I'm not quite quite sure you get the subtlety of memory Morodienne. All memory is filtered by emotion. Every memory you have, no matter how tiny, is there because it means something to you emotionally, whether its a shopping list or a bar of a concerto. As putters-of-memories-in-other-people people we need to zoom in on this.
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#1281787 - 10/06/09 01:36 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I'm not quite quite sure you get the subtlety of memory Morodienne. All memory is filtered by emotion. Every memory you have, no matter how tiny, is there because it means something to you emotionally, whether its a shopping list or a bar of a concerto. As putters-of-memories-in-other-people people we need to zoom in on this.

I don't see how this negates what I said. If a wrong note is there emotionally, then a new correct note needs to be replaced with the correct emotion, or nothing will change.
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#1281800 - 10/06/09 01:56 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Quite right except there is no 'correct' emotion as far as memory goes - any emotion will 'fix' something in memory. So likely, it's not an emotion that has anything to do with the piece. It's a split second lighting up of the frontal cortex by the amygdala (that is in fact one way to describe emotion) of something it feels needs to be held on to (notice I used the word 'feels').
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#1281804 - 10/06/09 02:03 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Quite right except there is no 'correct' emotion. But it's not an emotion that has anything to do with the piece. It's a split second lighting up of the frontal cortex by the amygdala (that is in fact one way to describe emotion) of something it feels needs to be held on to (notice I used the word 'feels').

No, but if you are trying to correct a mistake, or if you've corrected the mistake but the emotion of fear or anxiety is still there, it does need to be replaced with one that is more conducive for playing, preferably one that suits the musical moment. Sometimes it is the extra-musical emotion of Love Mode vs. Fear Mode which can help someone get through a difficult or previously difficult passage and focus on the musicality, other times one can associate the correct note with the affect of the piece itself.
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#1281805 - 10/06/09 02:03 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Quite right except there is no 'correct' emotion. But it's not an emotion that has anything to do with the piece. It's a split second lighting up of the frontal cortex by the amygdala (that is in fact one way to describe emotion) of something it feels needs to be held on to (notice I used the word 'feels').


What evidence is there for this business about every single memory being tied into emotions? I don't buy it. I would certainly like to see some something further if we're supposed to believe that you cannot remember a pattern of movements without recourse to emotion. Am I right in assuming that you are confusing the fact that memories CAN frequently be tied in with an emotional stimulus with the bogus notion that no memory can exist without reference to emotions? Are you suggesting that we memorise better if we undergo extremes of emotion while practising? I'd like to see some more on this, as I'm really not convinced that you are accurate in your claims. Certainly, we remember events and situations in which we felt the strongest emotions. However, is there any evidence that this has any bearing on how we remember an intricate pattern of movements? I'm not convinced that these things are interchangable.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 02:09 PM)
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#1281809 - 10/06/09 02:13 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Quite right except there is no 'correct' emotion. But it's not an emotion that has anything to do with the piece. It's a split second lighting up of the frontal cortex by the amygdala (that is in fact one way to describe emotion) of something it feels needs to be held on to (notice I used the word 'feels').


What evidence is there for this business about every single memory being tied into emotions? I don't buy it. I would certainly like to see some something further if we're supposed to believe that you cannot remember a pattern of movements without recourse to emotion. Am I right in assuming that you are confusing the fact that memories CAN frequently be tied in with an emotional stimulus with the bogus notion that no memory can exist without reference to emotions? Are you suggesting that we memorise better if we undergo extremes of emotion while practising? I'm certainly not convinced.


Good point. Just because some are tied doesn't mean all are. In the interview posted, I did not draw a conclusion from what this doctor stated that all memory is tied to an emotion. I do understand that emotion can be a trigger for remembering something. It appeared from the interview that this doctor had worked with only one patient with a completely disconnected right brain from left. I would need to see more research with other subjects to be able to draw any such conclusions.

For example (and I know this is not research but allegory), I can memorize a word's definition. I may not have any emotional attachment to the word or to the circumstances of learning the definition, but I can memorize it. And certainly, it wouldn't take an emotional state for me to recollect the definition.

It is an interesting hypothesis, but I'm not sure I believe it is the only way we learn.
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#1281812 - 10/06/09 02:20 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

No, but if you are trying to correct a mistake, or if you've corrected the mistake but the emotion of fear or anxiety is still there, it does need to be replaced with one that is more conducive for playing, preferably one that suits the musical moment.
Emotion is post amgydala, a 'happening' brought about by the amygdala which takes place in the frontal cortex. Maybe that's why memories can't be changed? The damage has already been done - the amygdala has inscribed the perception on the mind. We don't so much want to induce an emotion for a new memory, we want to stimulate the amygdala to 'fire'.
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#1281819 - 10/06/09 02:26 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

What evidence is there for this business about every single memory being tied into emotions? I don't buy it. I would certainly like to see some something further if we're supposed to believe that you cannot remember a pattern of movements without recourse to emotion. Am I right in assuming that you are confusing the fact that memories CAN frequently be tied in with an emotional stimulus with the bogus notion that no memory can exist without reference to emotions? Are you suggesting that we memorise better if we undergo extremes of emotion while practising? I'm certainly not convinced.


Good point. Just because some are tied doesn't mean all are. In the interview posted, I did not draw a conclusion from what this doctor stated that all memory is tied to an emotion.
I'll try and dig up some more 'evidence', but at least we're on the same wavelength. How do you think memories are chosen out of the massive stimulus which is your daily life? You're getting bogged down with a common definition of emotion. Emotion is what the amygdala does, as movement is what a limb does. To think of all emotion as intensely felt is to lose sight of 99% of it.
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#1281823 - 10/06/09 02:38 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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I think something to keep in mind that with music we are also involving Broca's area, which is the language center of the brain. This would be something interesting to research further, on how they inter-relate and how much emotion does actually play in the learning process.
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#1281825 - 10/06/09 02:39 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Quote:
Amygdala Modulation of Memory Consolidation: Interaction with Other Brain Systems
James L. McGaughf2, Christa K. McIntyre and Ann E. Power

Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California, 92697-3800

Available online 24 January 2003.

Abstract

There is a strong consensus that the amygdala is involved in mediating influences of emotional arousal and stress on learning and memory. There is extensive evidence that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is a critical locus of integration of neuromodulatory influences regulating the consolidation of several forms of memory. Many drug and stress hormone influences converge in activating the release of norepinephrine (NE) within the BLA. Evidence from studies using in vivo microdialysis and high-performance liquid chromatography indicates that increases in amygdala NE levels assessed following inhibitory avoidance training correlate highly with subsequent retention. Other evidence indicates that NE influences on memory consolidation require muscarinic cholinergic activation within the BLA provided by projections from the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NB). Evidence from several experiments indicates that activation of the BLA plays an essential role in modulating memory consolidation processes involving other brain regions. These findings provide strong support for the hypothesis that the BLA plays a critical role in regulating the consolidation of lasting memories of significant experiences.
Not that you would call bar X of Sonata X a significant experience. But can we make it so?
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#1281827 - 10/06/09 02:41 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Quote:
Amygdala Modulation of Memory Consolidation: Interaction with Other Brain Systems
James L. McGaughf2, Christa K. McIntyre and Ann E. Power

Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California, 92697-3800

Available online 24 January 2003.

Abstract

There is a strong consensus that the amygdala is involved in mediating influences of emotional arousal and stress on learning and memory. There is extensive evidence that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is a critical locus of integration of neuromodulatory influences regulating the consolidation of several forms of memory. Many drug and stress hormone influences converge in activating the release of norepinephrine (NE) within the BLA. Evidence from studies using in vivo microdialysis and high-performance liquid chromatography indicates that increases in amygdala NE levels assessed following inhibitory avoidance training correlate highly with subsequent retention. Other evidence indicates that NE influences on memory consolidation require muscarinic cholinergic activation within the BLA provided by projections from the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NB). Evidence from several experiments indicates that activation of the BLA plays an essential role in modulating memory consolidation processes involving other brain regions. These findings provide strong support for the hypothesis that the BLA plays a critical role in regulating the consolidation of lasting memories of significant experiences.
Not that you would call bar X of Sonata X a significant experience. But can we make it so?

Right, but perhaps the whole piece can be. I'm sure we have all experienced a situation where a student loved a piece so much that they were able to overcome difficulties that perhaps in another piece they wouldn't have been able to accomplish.
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#1281837 - 10/06/09 02:59 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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To get back to mistakes, I think we can quite definitely say a fear of mistakes (or any heightened emotion in response to them) will cause the amygdala to ingrain any a student makes, further consolidating them in memory.
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#1281844 - 10/06/09 03:14 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

What evidence is there for this business about every single memory being tied into emotions? I don't buy it. I would certainly like to see some something further if we're supposed to believe that you cannot remember a pattern of movements without recourse to emotion. Am I right in assuming that you are confusing the fact that memories CAN frequently be tied in with an emotional stimulus with the bogus notion that no memory can exist without reference to emotions? Are you suggesting that we memorise better if we undergo extremes of emotion while practising? I'm certainly not convinced.


Good point. Just because some are tied doesn't mean all are. In the interview posted, I did not draw a conclusion from what this doctor stated that all memory is tied to an emotion.
I'll try and dig up some more 'evidence', but at least we're on the same wavelength. How do you think memories are chosen out of the massive stimulus which is your daily life? You're getting bogged down with a common definition of emotion. Emotion is what the amygdala does, as movement is what a limb does. To think of all emotion as intensely felt is to lose sight of 99% of it.


Yes, but are they the same issue? Sure we choose to remember situations more easily when we experience emotions. Does that suggest in any way that a movement must be tied to an emotion for it to be learnt? Not necessarily. Indeed, above all it's the emotions we remember from distinct situations- not how we moved at the time. There may be no relation at all. I'd like to see some evidence. Incidentally, if it's not about 'emotion' in the way the word is widely used- perhaps you simply shouldn't confused the matter by bringing up the notion of something 'meaning something to you'? If it's not emotion in the conventional sense, you didn't seem terribly aware of that when you used that phrase. Perhaps you've been on wikipedia a little more since then, but I'm not sure why you're now correcting Morodine for referring to it in the context you personally outlined.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 03:30 PM)
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#1281848 - 10/06/09 03:19 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Quote:
Amygdala Modulation of Memory Consolidation: Interaction with Other Brain Systems
James L. McGaughf2, Christa K. McIntyre and Ann E. Power

Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California, 92697-3800

Available online 24 January 2003.

Abstract

There is a strong consensus that the amygdala is involved in mediating influences of emotional arousal and stress on learning and memory. There is extensive evidence that the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is a critical locus of integration of neuromodulatory influences regulating the consolidation of several forms of memory. Many drug and stress hormone influences converge in activating the release of norepinephrine (NE) within the BLA. Evidence from studies using in vivo microdialysis and high-performance liquid chromatography indicates that increases in amygdala NE levels assessed following inhibitory avoidance training correlate highly with subsequent retention. Other evidence indicates that NE influences on memory consolidation require muscarinic cholinergic activation within the BLA provided by projections from the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NB). Evidence from several experiments indicates that activation of the BLA plays an essential role in modulating memory consolidation processes involving other brain regions. These findings provide strong support for the hypothesis that the BLA plays a critical role in regulating the consolidation of lasting memories of significant experiences.
Not that you would call bar X of Sonata X a significant experience. But can we make it so?


I can't say that this sounds terribly specific to the memory in the sense of the abiity to replicate complex movements. I'm not ruling it out, but this doesn't particuarly convince me. I'm not necessarily going to feel that I ought to read a sad novel before practising and then attempt to cry while working on scales, based on this.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 03:23 PM)
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#1281849 - 10/06/09 03:20 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Morodiene]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Right, but perhaps the whole piece can be. I'm sure we have all experienced a situation where a student loved a piece so much that they were able to overcome difficulties that perhaps in another piece they wouldn't have been able to accomplish.


Surely because that love motivated them to work harder, in almost every single case? That doesn't rule out additional factors, but I can't say I'm convinced that it points to any great bearing on the issue. Ironically, when I love a piece the most I often find it hard to work to my best level, because I'm too interested in playing it through, rather than practising it productively.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 03:26 PM)
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#1281856 - 10/06/09 03:38 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Slow, deliberate practice does not mean hesitation.


However, I would say that a moment of hesitation is always better than going on to strike a wrong note (in practice time). Land on a a wrong note and you have a lot of work to do, if you don't want it to come back.

Some people have the idea that any hesitation is ALWAYS a cardinal sin and that it's better to go wrong in any instance.


In my opinion, it is a cardinal sin.

Landing on a wrong note does not always ingrain that error. It must be repeated many times to do that - and yes that can make it hard to unlearn.

But hesitating not only teaches you to hesitate on that note, it teaches you hesitation in general.

You are obsessed with thinking that hitting a wrong note IS an error, but not hitting a note is not an error. It is. The hesitation is as much an error as the wrong note would be. The difference is hesitation is a far worse error, and a habit far more difficult to break.

If you want to play so slowly you can avoid both errors, fine. The biggest danger in slow play is that you detach from time. Playing outside of time should be avoided. Playing in strict time but very slowly can work well.
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#1281858 - 10/06/09 03:46 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
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I agree, hesitation is not an alternative.
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#1281874 - 10/06/09 04:20 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I agree, hesitation is not an alternative.


In the interest of fairness, I must also concede that anticipation is an error.

It is less of a problem though. <grin>

In teaching someone to hesitate rather than make a mistake, we teach them that when in doubt, do nothing. Unfortunately "nothing" is an error, so what we have taught is when in doubt make an error.

Making the error produces instant punishment - IF the student perceives it. That's a function of their progress; some hear mistakes and some don't. The faster they learn to hear mistakes the more progress they make.
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#1281876 - 10/06/09 04:22 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
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WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!
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#1281927 - 10/06/09 06:20 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I agree, hesitation is not an alternative.


In the interest of fairness, I must also concede that anticipation is an error.

It is less of a problem though. <grin>

In teaching someone to hesitate rather than make a mistake, we teach them that when in doubt, do nothing. Unfortunately "nothing" is an error, so what we have taught is when in doubt make an error.


Nothing is not an error. The physical connections between two fingers are no more different after a pause than those that occur within differing tempos. There is no reason why this should cause a problem than there is reason to believe that a pianist would only be capable of executing music at one specific tempo, or that they would be incapable of adapting to take time over a passage in order to follow a singer. The issue is merely to redress the balance of how accurate linking movements relate to each other. This must be done at once, to prevent serious problems, but there is no inherent inaccuracy, if the player is fully aware of what is going on. Conversely, when you play a wrong note, you retain an INACCURATE physical memory in the brain- in the sense that you used entirely the wrong finger or felt a completely incorrect distance in the hand. Playing incorrectly is an error of the most literal kind that bears no relation to stopping once to feel the connection between two notes.

Many great pianists use practise methods that involve habitually pausing to listen to the sound production and balance. It causes no problems because there is no incorrect movement. It merely means that the next part of the chain has yet to be added. You simply need to ensure that it DOES get added at the first opportunity where you can be certain will be connected accurately. Once you know what to add you get the experience of connecting the two correct fingers (a movement that is still the same as that required, regardless of whether you have taken time), you go back and get it right what actually equates to FIRST TIME. Play a wrong note and you have added an incorrect link to the chain. When you go back, you have literally zero experience of how to add the correct link and you also have the fact that your hands are going to want to do the same again. Very dangerous. This is where the bad programming sets in.

Pausing is never to be recommended. However, if it's a toss-up between guessing the next note and being sure of it, a pause wins every time. The only issue is whether the student goes back to correct it. They should do so at once, otherwise pausing can end up a habitual flaw. Assuming they do correct it, they have far less work on their hands than the student who panics and plays a random note but feels he has to keep going. There is science to back this up. The brain retains the knowledge of the wrong note, whether you like it or not. Its knowledge of a hesitation is no different to the differences that occur between playing the same notes at different tempos, physically speaking. In fact, if the thought-processes are sound, what you learn from stopping to focus a particular isolated connection is exactly what will permit you to execute a flawless rhythm next time round, without sloppy guesswork. The whole purpose is actually to build up to a whole as soon as possible. It's just that you favour isolating those moments that are least likely to prevent a continuous whole, over settling for an inaccurate whole. Would you prefer your train to take you to the correct destination half and hour late, or to arrive on time at a random station on the other side of the country? If you don't get it right, the benefits regarding time are simply not benefits.

A wrongly struck note leaves a memory that is different to that required in every possible respect. Admittedly, isolated wrong notes can be fixed too, albeit with greater effort. However, if you have the mindset that it's better to screw up than to stop, wrong notes are not exactly going to be rare. Once you've messed up a few times, you've got more work on your hands than if you took the time to be sure of every note first. The mindset simply isn't conducive to accuracy.


If you refuse to trust hesitations however, I'd suggest a compromise. It's far better to stop at once if you feel unprepared for what follow and to plan it out before attempting it again. The greatest enemy is simply to guess because you don't know what you're attempting to do. As long as you have a means of preventing random guesswork, you stop yourself wasting time trying to remove bad habits. No method should ever encourage guesswork (outside of sight-reading practise), or it's just asking for irrepairable inconsistency.

PS. I never allow students to release the previous note if hesitating though. If they do so, it really is deeply counterproductive. You need to feel the means of connection between fingers, to have awareness of what will be required when you lead back in to ensure that the rhythm will be there next time.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/06/09 07:03 PM)
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#1282019 - 10/06/09 09:46 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR

In my opinion, it is a cardinal sin.

If it is true that to hesitate rather than err is a cardinal sin then I guess I am condemned to roast in hell. smile

I got the quote "hesitate rather than err" from the lovely book "Improve your Piano Playing" by John Meffen. He has a whole chapter entitled "Methods of preventing and correcting mistakes" which has some bearing on the issues discussed in this thread, although a certain party wishes to forbid such a discussion:
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Prof that's great, but nothing to do with this thread. It's about how mistakes happen not how to prevent them.

Nevertheless, being an engineer, I believe in practical approaches to things as opposed to philosophizing and bloviating about things I know nothing about. That is why I have taken John Meffen's advice to heart and have succeeded in minimizing the frequency of errors in my playing.

The "hesitate rather than err" advice is meant to be applied during the stages where one is learning the notes and committing things to memory. It is at this stage where one must be on guard against hitting wrong notes. At this stage one is playing so slowly that matters of timing and rhythm are almost irrelevant. "Your brain must always be directing your fingers accurately to the next note or chord" he states.

This idea of hesitation is related to the notion of inhibition in the Alexander technique, meaning the ability to prevent an unwanted habitual response from taking place by deliberately creating a pause.
Quote:
Inhibition, in this sense, is of considerable use to us in improving our piano playing. The ability to exercise self restraint by inhibiting an action, and thereby allowing us to think out the next move, is one to cultivate. It takes courage to decide not to have just one more 'go' to see if things 'come right' of their own accord. If we do have one more go, responsibility for that next move is thrown back onto our self-organising system, and if that has set us on the wrong track already it will be pure chance if things do 'come right'.


He concludes: "Inhibiting an action in order to prevent making an error is an essential first step, but it is not an end in itself. It does, however, provide space (thinking time) to allow the next moves to be worked out."

Anyway, I highly recommend that book.
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#1282138 - 10/07/09 01:50 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Meffin is referring to something quite different. The idea that if you try, try again you'll get it right. That doesn't work in piano. As far as forbidding goes, maybe inhibit is a better word?

And again, your misconstruing of this thread as about how not to make mistakes reveals your anxiety over the issue - that will only lead to more mistakes. Instead philosophize and bloviate.


Edited by keyboardklutz (10/07/09 02:13 AM)
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#1282157 - 10/07/09 02:53 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
theJourney Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Prof that's great, but nothing to do with this thread. It's about how mistakes happen not how to prevent them.

Nevertheless, being an engineer, I believe in practical approaches to things as opposed to philosophizing and bloviating about things I know nothing about. That is why I have taken John Meffen's advice to heart and have succeeded in minimizing the frequency of errors in my playing.

The "hesitate rather than err" advice is meant to be applied during the stages where one is learning the notes and committing things to memory. It is at this stage where one must be on guard against hitting wrong notes. At this stage one is playing so slowly that matters of timing and rhythm are almost irrelevant. "Your brain must always be directing your fingers accurately to the next note or chord" he states.

This idea of hesitation is related to the notion of inhibition in the Alexander technique, meaning the ability to prevent an unwanted habitual response from taking place by deliberately creating a pause.
Quote:
Inhibition, in this sense, is of considerable use to us in improving our piano playing. The ability to exercise self restraint by inhibiting an action, and thereby allowing us to think out the next move, is one to cultivate. It takes courage to decide not to have just one more 'go' to see if things 'come right' of their own accord. If we do have one more go, responsibility for that next move is thrown back onto our self-organising system, and if that has set us on the wrong track already it will be pure chance if things do 'come right'.


He concludes: "Inhibiting an action in order to prevent making an error is an essential first step, but it is not an end in itself. It does, however, provide space (thinking time) to allow the next moves to be worked out."

Anyway, I highly recommend that book.


thumb

Post of the day. The link with Alexander Technique was spot on too. It also supports my earlier observation: "You can never unlearn anything", therefore you are well advised to practice the correct movements on the correct notes versus spending your time doing things wrong and then correcting tha later, burning at least three ambiguous neural connections along the way.

Trying to endlessly understand how things work or why they are is a dead-end path compared to just entering the moment of now and picking relatively simple and practical approaches, actually applying them consistently, obeserving the results and booking success. The rest might be termed pianistical verbal master**tion.

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#1282160 - 10/07/09 03:00 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: theJourney]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You calling me a wanker?
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#1282282 - 10/07/09 09:39 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz

And again, your misconstruing of this thread as about how not to make mistakes reveals your anxiety over the issue - that will only lead to more mistakes. Instead philosophize and bloviate.

Thank you for that free bit of psychoanalysis. You have been able to identify my anxiety issues from a distance. Are there any meds you would prescribe...or I should just join you in philosophizing and bloviating?
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#1282316 - 10/07/09 10:23 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
keyboardklutz Offline
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What the hell, join in, chill.
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#1282344 - 10/07/09 10:51 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
jazzyprof Offline
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OK, I'll join in. Here's my take on how mistakes happen, from a quantum electrodynamics perspective. Mistakes originate from vacuum fluctuations.

In other words s..t happens.
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#1282352 - 10/07/09 11:02 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I think maybe quantum biology could have some relevance here.
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#1282355 - 10/07/09 11:06 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Now, I know a couple of you disagree with me that stumbling and stuttering is a fault.

Or at least you think it is a very minor one compared to a finger occasionally bumping the wrong key.

But, if you can bring yourself to, consider it as a possibility. Temporarily think of it as error.

Accept for the sake of argument that we A) want to prevent hesitation and rhythmic stumbling, and B) would really like to avoid teaching it in the first place rather than having to cure it later. (I'm not sure if those are two ideas or one. It seems to be a given with some approaches that beginners must play stumbling and haltingly, and we'll cure that as they advance. But I'm sure we'd all agree if there were a way to avoid having to unlearn it later that would be preferable.)

So, then how would you change teaching to address that as a priority instead of something else?
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#1282359 - 10/07/09 11:11 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
So, then how would you change teaching to address that as a priority instead of something else?

As student: Is it in the teaching or the learning - studio or home? We cannot really learn, in the sense of turning something into a physical habit, during a lesson. We can get an idea and hopefully the right one. But the part you guys are concerned about would happen between lessons, wouldn't it?

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#1282364 - 10/07/09 11:24 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, I know a couple of you disagree with me that stumbling and stuttering is a fault.

I think you're missing the point of that "hesitate rather than err" quote. It is not advocating stumbling and stuttering while performing a piece. All it is saying is that while in the process of learning the notes be sure to mindfully hit the right notes. Allow yourself the thinking space to figure out what the next note or chord is. After many correct repeats the notes are secure and well in hand. One can then play the piece without stumbling or stuttering because the notes have been learnt correctly and securely.
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#1282369 - 10/07/09 11:36 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I think concentrating on making a beautiful sound first and foremost, followed by no stress what so ever over mistakes. I had a teacher once who I could tell was seething every time I made a mistake. All the time I was playing she stressed me out - consciously willing me not to make an error.
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#1282407 - 10/07/09 12:15 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
theJourney Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, I know a couple of you disagree with me that stumbling and stuttering is a fault.

I think you're missing the point of that "hesitate rather than err" quote. It is not advocating stumbling and stuttering while performing a piece. All it is saying is that while in the process of learning the notes be sure to mindfully hit the right notes. Allow yourself the thinking space to figure out what the next note or chord is. After many correct repeats the notes are secure and well in hand. One can then play the piece without stumbling or stuttering because the notes have been learnt correctly and securely.


I tend to agree with TimR that practicing with mucho hesitations or pauses could be just as damaging as practicing and correcting wrong notes. It is how people learn to play with out a sense of pulse and is perhaps more difficult to un-teach than a few wrong notes.

The better choice would seem to be to choose a simple enough task (one voice, one hand, short section) or slow enough tempo to be able to do it right without wrong notes and without pauses.

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#1282408 - 10/07/09 12:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Come to think of it 20 odd years ago I picked up a habit from a friend whose playing I then admired. Whenever he made a mistake sight reading he'd go 'D'oh', like Homer Simpson. Myself I was quite stoic and just brushed off errors. It's taken me a while to get back to the condition.
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#1282413 - 10/07/09 12:22 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, I know a couple of you disagree with me that stumbling and stuttering is a fault.

I think you're missing the point of that "hesitate rather than err" quote. It is not advocating stumbling and stuttering while performing a piece. All it is saying is that while in the process of learning the notes be sure to mindfully hit the right notes. Allow yourself the thinking space to figure out what the next note or chord is. After many correct repeats the notes are secure and well in hand. One can then play the piece without stumbling or stuttering because the notes have been learnt correctly and securely.


Agreed. Ironically, willful hesitation between two notes is often the quickest way of connecting those notes- when done with understanding and thought. Say if you have four semiquavers descending by step followed by a wide interval of a 7th say. Stop willfully on the last semiquaver and you can teach yourself how to perform the most difficult movement with certainty, first time around. Now that your hand has experienced what it needs to do to make the most difficult connection, you can go back and get it in a steady tempo (still slow though)- knowing that you have prior knowledge of how to cover the most likely stumbling block to the rhythm. If you think that the worst thing you can do is to lose the rhythm you will almost inevitably take a wild stab and have to go back to square one- without the faintest idea as to how you are going to cover the difficult movement. This is absolute useless, if you're hoping to get anywhere.

To think that it's better to arrive on a wrong note than to hesitate makes about as much sense as saying that it's better for an aeroplane to arrive on time, even if that means crashing straight into the terminal, than for it to arrive safely but a little behind schedule.

KBK- you feel that nobody should worry about wrong notes at all? Perhaps this is why there are so many flubs in your film of the Chopin A flat study? Perhaps this is why you're not playing any pieces of advanced difficulty to a high standard? Have you never thought seriously about that? You should always worry about wrong notes when practising. However, you worry about them in context of thinking about what you are trying to achieve that did not happen. You simply have to avoid dwelling on a negative, and think about what you ARE trying to achieve. Thinking of a beautiful sound is futile, if you learned a piece so poorly that you cannot play it without mishitting half of the melodic notes (and sounding audibly strained on those that you reach). I wasted years of my time thinking so exclusively about the sounds I intended to achieve, that I never learned how to achieve them. Since I started practising slowly with accuracy and precision in mind, I can actually produce something like the sounds I intend to, when I return to playing through.

If you learn how to move properly in practise, you can permit yourself slips in performance and they will probably do little harm. If you tell yourself that it's okay to screw up frequently when practising, results will be ten times worse still (and will be very unlikely to sound beautiful). We learn to play accurately, in order to not to have to worry about mistakes in performance. Tolerate regular mistakes in practise, and you will put yourself in a position where the added nerves of performance result in something that is beyond the point of being tolerable. It causes far more stress when you make a proper balls up of a performance through lazy preparation, than when you refuse to settle for basic errors during practise.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/07/09 01:08 PM)
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#1282440 - 10/07/09 12:53 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, I know a couple of you disagree with me that stumbling and stuttering is a fault.

Or at least you think it is a very minor one compared to a finger occasionally bumping the wrong key.

But, if you can bring yourself to, consider it as a possibility. Temporarily think of it as error.


I think you misunderstand though. It's not what you want- certainly not. I do think think of it as an 'error' of a kind, and indeed it's important to do so. You have to go back and deal with it at once. It's just not an error in the same sense that a randomly struck note is. Indeed, there is no error in judgement as long as you know that you are pausing for a purpose- and that you go back rectify the rhythm at once. This has nothing to do with simply reading the notes one at a time and failing to count. That is worthless, beyond any doubt. However, if it's between guessing and pausing (under the strict condition that the pause would be rectified immediately afterwards) there's no doubt that guessing is less productive.

In order to ensure the student can grasp the rhythm as marked, it's good to do tapping exercises. They get the full mental sense of the rhythmic feel from doing it. If a student knows what the rhythm should have been they can fix it very easily- provided that they have discovered a means to connect the correct notes (which is exactly what the pause enables, with near 100% certainty). The only problem is when the student simply doesn't consider or understand the rhythm, or when they are too concerned with continuing to go back and remove any hesitations.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/07/09 12:56 PM)
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#1282452 - 10/07/09 01:10 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
One can then play the piece without stumbling or stuttering because the notes have been learnt correctly and securely.


I see your point, and it does sometimes work that way.

I would make two observations though.

One is that a note that has been learnt at the wrong time has not NOT! been learnt correctly. It is just as wrong as B instead of Bb. Maybe even more wrong - could be a MAJ 7 chord instead of a DOM 7 and still fit. Hee, hee.

The other is that for a very large number of people it simply does not seem to work. By the time they have the notes learnt with the stumbles, they've learned the stumbles too well to every completely unlearn. These are the points where they make mistakes later. Every been to a piano recital? Ever NOT heard those stumbles? Note errors are rare compared to rhythmic stumbles, at least in the recitals I've been at.
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#1282460 - 10/07/09 01:15 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Stop willfully on the last semiquaver and you can teach yourself how to perform the most difficult movement with certainty, first time around.


A willful hesitation is not a hesitation. It is merely rewriting the rhythm and then playing it correctly, in good time. It is a method I highly approve of. Make that last semiquaver a quarter note, half note, triple dotted whole note, I don't care. But don't put a fermata over it.
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#1282463 - 10/07/09 01:17 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Don't you see my point though? A musical line is basically a series of connections between pairs of fingers. Whatever timing you adopt these connections are felt the same way physically. All we're talking about is a different set of proportions between links in the chain of connections. This is not hard to fix- provided that you know how important it is to fix it. In a sense there is no error but merely incomplete links, which have yet to be fully interconnected.

Provided that you are capable of feeling every physical connection, anyone with a good sense of the rhythm (that can be aquired through tapping exercises, with no ill-consequences) should be able to reinstate the rhythm to these connections. When you prefer to go wrong, you have learned NOTHING about how to perform the connection that governs everything. If you're looking at it from a jazz point of view, it's fine to change things. However, nobody learns to play accurate Chopin etudes, by guessing which note to flap around at in the correct rhythm. The benefits of 'correct' rhythm are not benefits in any sense if not accompanied by the correct notes. The benefits when pausing are very real, because it allows you to practise the connection that will be required when you go back to reinstate the rhythm. There is no way that going wrong can ever be better than pausing, when you're learning difficult pieces.

I'm not saying that pauses are a good thing. In an ideal world where nobody ever went wrong, the best thing would be to play in a continuous tempo with perfect accuracy. In a world where almost everyone does go wrong, allowing yourself time to think is better. Any mindset that promotes random guesswork over thought is fundamentally flawed in its foundations.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/07/09 01:25 PM)
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#1282465 - 10/07/09 01:21 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Stop willfully on the last semiquaver and you can teach yourself how to perform the most difficult movement with certainty, first time around.


A willful hesitation is not a hesitation. It is merely rewriting the rhythm and then playing it correctly, in good time. It is a method I highly approve of. Make that last semiquaver a quarter note, half note, triple dotted whole note, I don't care. But don't put a fermata over it.


Yeah, fair point. I prefer such things to be felt with some kind of pulse still operating behind them (even if not the notated rhythm).
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#1282467 - 10/07/09 01:22 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: theJourney]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: theJourney
It is how people learn to play with out a sense of pulse and is perhaps more difficult to un-teach than a few wrong notes.


I would go even further. The sense of pulse is the most critical element of music performance, on which all else is based. It's almost impossible to teach if a person is lacking, and we don't want it to degrade in those who have it.

When a student hesitates, the pulse normally stops. If we taught him to continue the pulse in his head, the hesitation might not do as much harm.
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#1282470 - 10/07/09 01:27 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Don't you see my point though? A musical line is basically a series of connections between pairs of fingers.


Ah. Yes. But I don't hear note-note. I hear note-time-note. All three equally important.

A question I consider still open is whether any given pair of notes can be learned without timing. For example, a blind leap of a tenth. We could practice it slowly as whole note to whole note. Or we could do it slowly without a set time. I don't ever do the latter, because I think learning is faster and more permanent when done in time. But I don't have proof it is superior, just a sense that it is (and concurrence of a large number of brass playing colleagues).
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#1282473 - 10/07/09 01:30 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: theJourney
It is how people learn to play with out a sense of pulse and is perhaps more difficult to un-teach than a few wrong notes.


I would go even further. The sense of pulse is the most critical element of music performance, on which all else is based. It's almost impossible to teach if a person is lacking, and we don't want it to degrade in those who have it.

When a student hesitates, the pulse normally stops. If we taught him to continue the pulse in his head, the hesitation might not do as much harm.


Absolutely. I completely agree that an internal pulse should be felt during this pause. And I stress that the student MUST stop and go back. If the pulse stops, the playing should also stops (except to make the single difficult connection that could not be managed in tempo). Then there's no problem. Sloppy sense of long-term pulse only comes when the student thinks it's okay to stop and start whenever they feel like it but then keep going. I don't think anyone advocates that.
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#1282475 - 10/07/09 01:34 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Don't you see my point though? A musical line is basically a series of connections between pairs of fingers.


Ah. Yes. But I don't hear note-note. I hear note-time-note. All three equally important.

A question I consider still open is whether any given pair of notes can be learned without timing. For example, a blind leap of a tenth. We could practice it slowly as whole note to whole note. Or we could do it slowly without a set time. I don't ever do the latter, because I think learning is faster and more permanent when done in time. But I don't have proof it is superior, just a sense that it is (and concurrence of a large number of brass playing colleagues).


In the final result, yes. I don't hear note-note either- unless I am covering an individual difficulty in order to prepare myself to put everything together in unbroken rhythm, without straining for notes. That which we depend on our physical reactions the most for is the connections from note to note. You cannot feel a slow piece solely 'physically' for the rhythm. Rhythm is more mental. If you have a good grasp of rhythm, stopping once to check a note will not damage your ability to mentally grasp the rhythm- assuming you cover the difficulty that prevented the rhythm being realised and then go back to reinstate it. This is a must. Those who problems simply don't go back to correct anything. However, guessing notes can cause major issues in the physical instincts.

Also, it cannot be compared to brass playing. There's not the same physical relation between notes. Piano playing is all about a series of unbroken physical connections. I believe that for brass players, it's more a sense of landing on each note the same way, regardless of where you come from. It doesn't destroy the whole chain, in the same way if you screw up one note but go on to the get the next right. On the piano it's usually a break between two particular links, that causes a break in the long-term flow. Fix that single link and you're ready to put the whole chain back together as a unified whole. Guess what it might be and the problems begin...

As an example, students often screw up between two lines of music. If so, I always get them to play the last note of the line and the first of the next and repeat it until the distance is fully sensed. When they feel the physical distance between them, they usually bridge the gap very easily and with no stop. The problem was simply that they didn't know how to connect the notes. Not that they had no grasp of the rhythm. If they guessed the notes, that would put them no closer to getting both notes and rhythm. There is literally no rhythmic context whatsoever, to doing this act of connecting two fingers. However, it reinstates the flow between two lines virtually every single time. Isolate and fix the break in the chain and you have a whole- both in the rhythm and the notes. An accurate link in the chain is the only source of benefit.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/07/09 02:00 PM)
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#1282494 - 10/07/09 02:05 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Another thought:

What would be easier? You learn a series of notes in a particular rhythm. Then you have to completely change the rhythm in which those notes are played, or you have to play a completely different series of notes in the same rhythm (reading these new bars off the page- not improvising on them)?

I think it's safe to say that it would be harder to play a whole new series of notes. I think this serves to illustrate how much more physical the notes are and how much more mental the rhythmic issues are. Also, I often practise dotted rhythms for difficult semiquavers but I have NEVER inadvertently strayed into doing that while playing normally. The rhythm is guided much more by the head, than by the physical sensations. Anyone who has a good sense of rhythm ought to be able to adapt the long-term proportions, once they have learned how to perform every one of the individual physical connections. However, having pre-learned a rhythm is not going to make life much easier when you have all new notes (unless you're a truly hopeless counter). It would be scarcely easier than if you changed both the notes and the rhythm. Would Chopin's op. 25 no. 12 be easier, if you had practised op. 10 no. 1 before, because they both have semiquavers? Similarly, does anyone hesitating in those do so because they are unable to feel continuous semi-quaver movement? Or are the joins between the notes causing the difficulty? Surely it's self-evident that the key to stable rhythm there is to get all of the notes equally comfortable at the earliest possible stage. The idea of simply hacking your way through, being absolutely sure never to hesitate (at the expense of accuracy) doesn't bear thinking about. The results might be a little like this:

http://www.youtube.com/user/datruzepp#play/all/uploads-all/2/OVC9ESsA3Go

Again, this illustrates how limited the benefits of the rhythm are, if not accompanied by the correct physical connections. In terms of movements, the connections are the foundation for the movement as a whole. In any heirarchy, they have to come first. The rhythm is how these connections lie in proportion to each other. You can tweak the proportions for the rhythm very easily, but you don't want to be fooling around having to make adjustments to the very foundations.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/07/09 02:44 PM)
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#1282525 - 10/07/09 02:42 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
jazzyprof Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Note errors are rare compared to rhythmic stumbles, at least in the recitals I've been at.

Rhythmic stumbles (technical rubatos) arise because the student has not mastered the next sequence of notes or is unsure what they are, having blundered through many wrong repetitions at speed.
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#1282875 - 10/08/09 08:19 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: jazzyprof]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: TimR
Note errors are rare compared to rhythmic stumbles, at least in the recitals I've been at.

Rhythmic stumbles (technical rubatos) arise because the student has not mastered the next sequence of notes or is unsure what they are, having blundered through many wrong repetitions at speed.


So you don't hear stumbles from kids playing very slowly? I do.

And your answer, I think, is of course you do at first. They learn the notes, then they learn to play the piece smoothly.

In other words, they learn notes and time separately. Notes first, then time later. I agree that this is frequently the case. I'm proposing it is inefficient and that the two can be learned together. Just as you try to structure practice to avoid errors in notes, you should try to structure practice avoid errors in time. The reason you should do this is errors in time are more difficult to unlearn, and more obvious to a listener, than errors in note.

Beginners don't hear error well. They are protected by some kind neurological mechanism. But they seem to learn to hear note errors faster than rhythm errors. Many never learn to hear rhythm errors. That may be hardwired, but I suspect it is due to teaching that focuses more on notes than time.


Edited by TimR (10/08/09 08:31 AM)
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#1283041 - 10/08/09 12:49 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
MA Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: TimR
Note errors are rare compared to rhythmic stumbles, at least in the recitals I've been at.

Rhythmic stumbles (technical rubatos) arise because the student has not mastered the next sequence of notes or is unsure what they are, having blundered through many wrong repetitions at speed.


So you don't hear stumbles from kids playing very slowly? I do.

And your answer, I think, is of course you do at first. They learn the notes, then they learn to play the piece smoothly.

In other words, they learn notes and time separately. Notes first, then time later. I agree that this is frequently the case. I'm proposing it is inefficient and that the two can be learned together. Just as you try to structure practice to avoid errors in notes, you should try to structure practice avoid errors in time. The reason you should do this is errors in time are more difficult to unlearn, and more obvious to a listener, than errors in note.

Beginners don't hear error well. They are protected by some kind neurological mechanism. But they seem to learn to hear note errors faster than rhythm errors. Many never learn to hear rhythm errors. That may be hardwired, but I suspect it is due to teaching that focuses more on notes than time.


"errors in time are ... more obvious to a listener, than errors in note.

Beginners don't hear error well ... But they seem to learn to hear note errors faster than rhythm errors."

So true!

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#1283131 - 10/08/09 02:58 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: jazzyprof
Originally Posted By: TimR
Note errors are rare compared to rhythmic stumbles, at least in the recitals I've been at.

Rhythmic stumbles (technical rubatos) arise because the student has not mastered the next sequence of notes or is unsure what they are, having blundered through many wrong repetitions at speed.


So you don't hear stumbles from kids playing very slowly? I do.

And your answer, I think, is of course you do at first. They learn the notes, then they learn to play the piece smoothly.

In other words, they learn notes and time separately. Notes first, then time later. I agree that this is frequently the case. I'm proposing it is inefficient and that the two can be learned together. Just as you try to structure practice to avoid errors in notes, you should try to structure practice avoid errors in time. The reason you should do this is errors in time are more difficult to unlearn, and more obvious to a listener, than errors in note.


Fair points. Nobody would deny that getting both right is the best situation. All that's being argued is that if something has to go, it's better to lose the rhythm than to take random guesses at notes for sake of maintaining it. Obviously everyone would prefer both to work equally well at once.


There is no reason to break with rhythm more than once over any connection. After you have learned how to connect two notes, you should immediately reinstate it. If it still doesn't work, you're going too fast. Once you find the speed where you can do both with thought and understanding, there is no problem. However, are you still standing by the idea that it's better to play the notes wrong than break the rhythm? That is all I would dispute (except in the situation of running through a piece as a rehearsal- after everything has been learned). I'd argue that notes must always come first- but that rhythm must follow immediately afterwards (and I mean phrase by phrase or even bar by bar- you should certainly never learn the notes for a whole piece outside of any rhythmic context) I'm happy for students to discard the rhythm in the short-term for the sake of note learning, but never in the long-term. If you approach the odd pause as a means of learning the connections that will enable steady rhythm (rather than see them as an alternative to bothering to play in time) then there need be no long-term compromises on either side.

Ultimately, the cardinal sin is to guess anything. If you're guessing at notes for the sake of keeping rhythm (with the hope of learning a piece), you're not going to make the progress you are capable of. If you're pausing, there's no guesswork involved. What matters is that you know that you are doing so, with the greater purpose of getting the notes so comfortable that you can play rhythmically without resorting to guesswork. Approach it this way, and nothing suffers.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (10/08/09 03:29 PM)
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#1283331 - 10/08/09 09:20 PM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
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I find myself now mostly in agreement with N.

Scarey, isn't it? <grin>
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#1283427 - 10/09/09 01:25 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes.
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#1283614 - 10/09/09 10:03 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Minniemay Offline
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You all apparently have much too much free time on your hands. smile
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