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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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Registered: 07/24/09
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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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Registered: 07/24/09
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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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Registered: 11/30/04
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Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
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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Posts: 302
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
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
Posts: 2464
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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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Yes.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1283614 - 10/09/09 10:03 AM Re: I know how mistakes happen! [Re: keyboardklutz]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You all apparently have much too much free time on your hands. smile
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B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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