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#1495145 - 08/13/10 11:43 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: MiM]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11679
Loc: Canada
Mim, I have always been very open and interested in all kinds of views. But here a member who presented views on how she approaches music was told that she was forbidden to respond. Also a way that I have approached music my entire life, and which is both real and enjoyable, was depicted as ridiculous. Also professionals are told that they cannot do a simple thing as playing a song a small child could play unless they had the sheet music in front of them - am I mistaken that this is intended to insult? When a teacher says that she can do so, she is told to shut up and go away. These are the kinds of things I am objecting to. The things that Wiz has to share are informative and interesting. The put-downs are unpleasant, however.

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#1495150 - 08/13/10 11:51 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: MiM]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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You do have this groupthink thing, don't you MiM.

Wiz has written about 1/3 of the posts in this thread. He seems quite content to wrestle with people, and if you can't see any aggression in his posting pattern then I respectfully think you have blinkers on. Even the moderator stepped in, ever so gently. I guess Ken's part of the lynch mob too. frown

There is some good stuff in this thread (hat tip to Opus Maximum, among others). Let's leave it at that.
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#1495151 - 08/13/10 11:53 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
danshure Offline
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Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: currawong
I'm not sure why we're rehashing all this either/or stuff again - note-reading OR listening OR improvising OR singing. Good teachers do all of these.

TRUE!
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#1495161 - 08/13/10 12:09 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: MiM]
bitWrangler Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: MiM
Why do people over here love to gang up like this? I'm reading the posts and I can clearly see some very good points being made by both sides, yet most of the replies seem to want to shut up Wiz and debunk anything he says. This is immature participation, especially by people with very high post count. I didn't see anything Wiz said that was insulting or demeaning to anyone, so why the childish acts? Really this terrible, and I did comment on it somewhere else in response to someone who decided to leave PW because of acts like on this thread.


On a philosophical note, when does "a preponderance of dissenting views" turn into "ganging up". Is it proper netiquette to not post ones dissenting opinion if some number of others have already posted in a similar vein, even if the member(s) with the original opinion continue to argue for it? Certainly a large number of "me too" posts can be non useful, but if someone has additional insights or personal experiences, shouldn't it be ok to voice them, even if a large number of people voiced similar opinions? If one states an opinion that runs contrary to the beliefs of the majority of responding members, what should the response of those members be to not create this "ganging up" phenomenon?

Plus from a practical standpoint, I would argue that it is Wiz that has been more steadfast in their position that their point of view is the only correct one. Many others, including myself, have actually argued in a more inclusive manner (that his methodology is certainly valid, but not the only working one).

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#1495186 - 08/13/10 12:48 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
daro Offline
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Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Gary D, I still believe playing by ear is more important than reading a score. Both skills are great for a musician's arsenal, but for practical purposes your ear will serve you much better.

Reading is needed only if your sole focus is playing classical pieces.

Reading is distracting to me and messes me up, I'd rather hear the song in my inner ear and channel that through to the fingers.

So after all the Sturm und Drang, it really all just boils down to what Nietszche said about Wagner: "Where he lacked a capacity, he posited a principle."

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#1495199 - 08/13/10 01:01 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: bitWrangler]
MiM Offline
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Posts: 543
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Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
On a philosophical note, when does "a preponderance of dissenting views" turn into "ganging up".


"preponderance of dissenting views" is subject to group think, as noted above. So, it is not always clear that replies in favor of an opinion are independently, logically, and fairly formed, or that they are a result of some dysfunctional group dynamics. Also, in the above discussion, some of the replies weren't only expressing the opinion of the contributor, but went on to question the character of the person and belittle his views, and that's what usually stirs the pot and steers the discussion into the woods.
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#1495312 - 08/13/10 04:15 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz

[quote=Wizard of Oz]Gary D, I still believe playing by ear is more important than reading a score. Both skills are great for a musician's arsenal, but for practical purposes your ear will serve you much better.

I have three thoughts.

First, since music is about sound, being able to make sound—or sounds—is the central issue. If my ear is not working, I am useless as a musician. Anything that improves my ability to "hear" (meaning listen and understand what I hear, with the potential to use that to create music, in any way), is a good thing.

Second, there seems to be a disagreement about whether reading well has a) no effect on the ear (making it an entirely separate skill-set), b) detracts from hearing and thus from playing, in general, or c) may enhance the way we hear, in some ways.

Three, no one does everything equally well. We all, to some extent, make a decision to specialize. Some only interpret and thus have little or no interest in composing or arranging. Some prefer the latter, which has become true for me, and focus on the compositional side of things. I do not claim to be a great composer (that would be absurd), but my ability to write music that excites and motivates my students is central to my teaching.

Perhaps the most misleading thing about this discussion is that somehow it seems to center on READING music but not on WRITING it. You mentioned Beethoven. The fact that he was able to write his greatest music while deaf, or very nearly so, is a huge support of the idea that hearing is the key to everything. After all, he was still able to hear his music in his mind. On the other hand, people who do not read well seldom write well (in my experience), so for all those who like Beethoven's later works, I think we can assume that it is unlikely that they would have been written if he retained his hearing but went blind.

Final point: the exact way in which the ear develops remains a mystery. None of us know for sure what role reading plays in helping the ear develop, just as we can't be sure what role reading (and writing) language enhances the ability to work with language.
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#1495405 - 08/13/10 06:38 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Gary D.]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Ponder this, between musicians who can only do 1 or the other, either just play by ear or just read (or they have very poor skills in relation to the other, like 90% vs 10%) which do you think ends up being the better musician?

There are so many pros who can't read music yet play incredibly. If you are a concert pianist and need the sheets you'd be laughed at.

So a question, if you could only use one skill which would it be?


There's a blind jazz pianist named Marcus Roberts who played Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and he just nails it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjQLM0EaZ8k


His lack of reading ability certainly hasn't hurt him.

I rest my case.

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#1495496 - 08/13/10 08:33 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Sightly off topic perhaps, but there's an interesting article in this month's American Music Teacher on improving duets with young students. It's titled: Musical Conversations: Improvising Duets with Students to Awaken Creativity. But it would surely sharpen listening skills as well.
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#1495538 - 08/13/10 09:57 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: TimR
Piano is approached, at least by beginners, disconnected from time, then with time added at slow tempo, then brought up to tempo.
Hmmm. That's not quite how I teach beginners. I never start a piece "disconnected from time". But maybe some self-taught beginners approach their learning like that?


Perhaps I exaggerate somewhat.

and yet, I think there's a point here.

How many teachers insist a beginner do all, or a significant portion of their practice with a metronome? It may be a large number, I've just been unlucky enough to meet any. But quite often any discussion of metronome use here is met with horror.

Or, barring a metronome, just a CD. Or drum machine, as rocket suggested. or duets.

What is the most significant characteristic of beginners? isn't it the stutter? It's not wrong notes at the right time, it's any note at the wrong time.

Contrast that to guitar students who may do 99% of their practice with metronome or CD.
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#1495555 - 08/13/10 10:53 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
daro Offline
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Registered: 11/09/07
Posts: 168
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Ponder this, between musicians who can only do 1 or the other, either just play by ear or just read (or they have very poor skills in relation to the other, like 90% vs 10%) which do you think ends up being the better musician?

The "better" musician is the one who can more effectively communicate musical ideas, and it matters not one whit whether those ideas are written down or made up on the spot. I would expect any musician to understand that.

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
There's a blind jazz pianist named Marcus Roberts who played Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and he just nails it:

His lack of reading ability certainly hasn't hurt him.

Marcus Roberts was classically trained and learned to read fluently using Braille scores, including the Gershwin.

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
I rest my case.

Good idea.

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#1495564 - 08/13/10 11:11 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: daro]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: daro
The "better" musician is the one who can more effectively communicate musical ideas, and it matters not one whit whether those ideas are written down or made up on the spot. I would expect any musician to understand that.

Well, that's what this thread is really about. Excluding which approach is 'better' and focusing on communication, I ask the question "what is being communicated?"

In the case of the note reading musician, we have, in most cases, someone recreating the music of another. In the case of the improvising musician, we have music created in the moment ... an entirely different process. Where one is speaking the language, the other is recreating it.

I never ask "is it better?" I simply extol the virtue of a communication that comes directly from the heart and mind of the performer. Further, this approach is usually pushed in the background with many teachers giving students the note reading curriculum without teaching them the 'grammar' of music - simple theory or diatonic harmony.

If this is taught, it comes at a later stage. All I'm saying is I think that's a 'backwards' approach.
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#1495568 - 08/13/10 11:23 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: TimR]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1489
One thing that I think has to be kept in mind is that if you insist on the EITHER/OR notion of reading or playing by ear (as this conversation seems to be doing), if one learns to read music and is consistent and dedicated and pursues a long term study of music, they will basically - after a certain point - be able to play by ear. It will just happen naturally.

When you read music you are reproducing the notation you see in sound, so - in turn, you will eventually reach a point in which you are familiar with the basic laws of music and harmony and how to execute them at the piano: Which intervals sound like what, where your fingers need to go to get a minor sound vs. major vs. diminished, the differentiation between chromatic and diatonic steps...etc etc. Even if you don't study much theory, you will develop this ability unconciously. In this sense, learning to read music IS a type of learning to play by ear.

I know this because I was taught - as most are taught in America - just to read music at the beginning and nothing else. A few years later I was able to play by ear and improvise well, not because I have some incredible genius, but it was just the result of all those years of seeing music on a page and having it instantly in my ear.

I can't comment on what it's like to only play by ear since I have never experienced it, but I know for sure that even if I had the ear of Mozart and no idea how to read, I would not have been able to play Rachmaninoff and Wagner smile


Edited by Opus_Maximus (08/13/10 11:30 PM)

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#1495579 - 08/13/10 11:54 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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This thread is beginning to compare apples and oranges. Classical and jazz/pop - while both still music - exist in worlds too far apart to be excelled at by the same techniques.

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#1495581 - 08/14/10 12:09 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
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Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Even in a classical-only world I agree with the fundamental premise of the topic - that having reading as your starting point is a backwards approach! The first thing for a beginner to address is how their body and the piano can interact. The focus on reading for beginners means that students in the first years are not encouraged to perform easy-to-play actions at the piano but rather easy-to-read actions, and this is to the detriment of their engagement with the instrument. It is the tail wagging the dog.

All this can be agreed to without having to compare jazz musicians with classical musicians, without discussing the (indisputable) value of improvisation.

Disclaimer: to say 'most piano teachers' implies a global judgment - maybe most piano teachers in some parts of the world have it backwards, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that most piano teachers in the world have it backwards..... I simply don't know enough about the piano teaching cultures of every piano teaching nation...


Edited by Elissa Milne (08/14/10 12:13 AM)
Edit Reason: need to add a disclaimer.....
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#1495613 - 08/14/10 01:20 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
This thread is beginning to compare apples and oranges. Classical and jazz/pop - while both still music - exist in worlds too far apart to be excelled at by the same techniques.


Thank you. Good post.
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#1495624 - 08/14/10 01:52 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz

I rest my case.

Oh? Is there a judge somewhere? A jury? Are you opposing councel?

Have I stumbled into a law forum by mistake? smile
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#1495711 - 08/14/10 07:47 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Gary D.]
btb Offline
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I'm ducking the cut-and-thrust to set a cat amongst the pigeons.

Sensibly (to meet mathematical precision) the keyboard stave should look like this ... a repeating 6-line stave with equal space for all 12 basic notes ... the format finds a place for
all the previously alphabetically homeless black notes ... sharps and flats thereby disappear.

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#1495714 - 08/14/10 07:53 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Canonie Offline
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Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: eweiss
They do if they start with the note-reading approach. Most would agree that music is a language. Language is learned first by speaking it. <...>

But just imagine if children learned how to speak the language of music before learning how to read and write it. Imagine the connection, the innate sense of ‘wiring’ for lack of a better word that can occur if we introduce kids to simple diatonic harmony and improvisation first.


I agree with your approach. With my particular group of students I've found greater fluency if beginners don't have to read what they play most of the time. They learn a musical language by it's sound. Sight reading comes later. But we do start with writing straight away. Would this inhibit the listening and creativity do you think?

But I wouldn't be able to teach the chords that Ed and others suggest because most of my beginners are too little to play more than a note in each hand. Simple diatanic harmony with a melody would probably be too much.

What do you do with 6 to 8 year olds Ed or Wiz or others? Do you start them on a simple bass line in LH with improvised melody in RH?

Originally Posted By: eweiss
True enrichment comes from direct experience with the music. And this is best accomplished when children can actually create on their own without the aid of sheet music. Why this isn’t being done more is a complete mystery to me. And if it is being done, that's a mystery to me as well since you really never hear about it. smile
You can hear it now laugh my students make up stuff and bring it to lessons (usually not written down). Also enjoy doing free improv with beginners (but not all of them).
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#1495767 - 08/14/10 10:35 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
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Loc: CA
My beginning students always create music as part of their assignment. Music Pathways calls it "You, the Composer." I still use it even if I'm not using MP. Sometimes I'll give the a title to start with, sometimes a concept and sometimes no direction at all. They don't write these things down. That would be too limiting.

If they enjoy this kind of thing, I continue it through their study. If not, I don't force it on them.


Edited by Minniemay (08/14/10 10:36 AM)
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#1495793 - 08/14/10 11:35 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
eweiss Offline
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Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Canonie
What do you do with 6 to 8 year olds Ed or Wiz or others? Do you start them on a simple bass line in LH with improvised melody in RH?

I don't really teach kids but what I might try is triads in the left hand and simple melody in the right. For example, start with two chords - C Maj. and F Maj. (you can even teach inversions here) and a specific rhythm pattern for these chords. Then have them improvise using a few tones from the C Major scale. Have the improv begin and end with the C note.

Developing a set of limitations to set creativity free while focusing attention on learning a little about harmony should work as well with children as it does with adults. Not really young kids of course. smile
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#1496052 - 08/14/10 07:50 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
There's a tendency to believe that improvisation can only be accomplished through a series of chords in one hand (not particularly improvised) with a melody in the other hand (which is where the bulk of the 'improvisation' is believed to reside). Further, students are shown ways to plays chords to create greater interest in the not-so-improvised aspect of the improvisation, and this is rather systematically taught to students as the building blocks of their improvising.

There are many other ways to use students natural curiosity and desire to explore to connect with the piano, and these don't involve restricting the student to diatonic harmony. Limits do stimulate creativity, but limiting the creativity of students to chords I-IV-V and their minor counterparts is not the most creative/imaginative kind of limit.

But it comes down to the purpose of the improvising as well. There's a lot that can be accomplished through improvisation to benefit technique/connection with the instrument, expressiveness/communication (as compared to expressing *oneself*), and the experience of new rhythms.... to name a few.....
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#1496092 - 08/14/10 09:06 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Canonie Offline
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Registered: 10/04/09
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Loc: Australia
After some more thought I've realised that I know exactly the style of improv/composition that my students produce. Their compositions are always related to learnt material, and sometimes it's so close to the original you have a little smile at the fact that they are convinced the piece is entirely from their own head. I agree with them wink

What I find interesting is that sometimes I'l get a transfer student who has learnt only the unsurprising C major material of a method book, and been exposed to nothing else. IMO their compositions are astoundingly boring!! They have absorbed the "truth" that the only way to create is to place hand in C major position and play quarter and half notes...

In contrast; if you present the piano as a marvelous huge and loud music making machine, and give no limitations, young students create something that could be used as a film score without much editing. They use huge range of dynamics, they build up sound then allow silence and space, they revel in dissonance then resolve it with one of their few consonant discoveries. Here I am describing say a 7 year old with less than 10 lessons.

After 10 lessons or so I do seem to let the business of learning Everything Important overwhelm opportunities for this sort of exploration. I'll tie a piece of string around my finger this week wink

Originally Posted By: eweiss
Originally Posted By: Canonie
What do you do with 6 to 8 year olds Ed or Wiz or others? Do you start them on a simple bass line in LH with improvised melody in RH?

I don't really teach kids but what I might try is triads in the left hand and simple melody in the right. For example, start with two chords - C Maj. and F Maj. (you can even teach inversions here) and a specific rhythm pattern for these chords. Then have them improvise using a few tones from the C Major scale. Have the improv begin and end with the C note.

Developing a set of limitations to set creativity free while focusing attention on learning a little about harmony should work as well with children as it does with adults. Not really young kids of course. smile


You are right, young kids can't play a 2 note chord, let alone a 3, and as I said above the wellspring of creativity in kids (under 10 or so) should not IMO be inhibited by conservative forms such as Cmajor simple tunes, or diatonic harmony LH with tuneful RH.

In teens where there has already been so much exposure to pop music, it probably isn't inhibiting their creativity to follow the kinds of improv you suggested above. They've already been inhibited by culture, and this could be a stepping stone towards something more original, and I DO think it would be a very relaxing way for teens and adults to enjoy the piano. I could certainly do more of this too! Anything that gets them to spend time at the piano is great for their development.
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#1496161 - 08/14/10 10:24 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
LimeFriday Offline
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Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 303
Loc: Australia
The way I usually start kids improvising is to ask them to tell me a story - and then I ask them to put music to that story. Music that suits the 'happy' parts - music to suit the 'scary' parts - and music to suit the 'sad' parts. Then I get them to explain to me what's happening... why they are expressing... or they get me to guess what's happening.

Quote:
if you present the piano as a marvelous huge and loud music making machine, and give no limitations, young students create something that could be used as a film score without much editing. They use huge range of dynamics, they build up sound then allow silence and space, they revel in dissonance then resolve it with one of their few consonant discoveries.


That's exactly how it sounds... they aren't limited by rules or what they've 'learned'... what they are doing is telling a story in their own way. I LOVE hearing what they come up with - particularly when the 6 and 7 year olds try to act out the story as well as play the music wink

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#1496165 - 08/14/10 10:29 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
they aren't limited by rules or what they've 'learned'... what they are doing is telling a story in their own way. I LOVE hearing what they come up with - particularly when the 6 and 7 year olds try to act out the story as well as play the music wink

I'd actually like to hear that myself. Anyway to do that? Video or audio with permission of course.
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#1496280 - 08/15/10 04:24 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Chick Corea, the great jazz pianist wrote an article called "The myth of improvisation"

Basically he said that we draw from a pool of musical "vocab" as you will, scales and chords we learned, and arrange it in new ways.

This is the article: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=701735


True improv, like playing random notes and clusters with no regard at all for any music theory will more often than not sound bad, i mean REALLY bad.

I just finished a lesson with one of my younger high school students today. I showed him a simply major 7th chord and told him to play whatever notes he wanted in the right hand while playing the chord in the left.


Having limitations is actually better than telling them to play whatever they want. Usually they will be completely lost.


Another good way is to teach the pentatonic major and minor scales, and use only notes from that scale. You'd be amazed how many rock and theme song melodies are derived solely from those scales.

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#1496288 - 08/15/10 04:45 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2466
Loc: France
Chick Corea's comments are very interesting.

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#1496291 - 08/15/10 04:47 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: landorrano]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Ah yes, but the idea that the musical vocab we have is ONLY scales and chords (pitch materials that are almost always diatonic) underestimates our musical vocab....
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#1496301 - 08/15/10 05:18 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Ah yes, but the idea that the musical vocab we have is ONLY scales and chords (pitch materials that are almost always diatonic) underestimates our musical vocab....


Last I checked there were only 12 notes we could choose from and they are arranged in certain ways which form scales and chords.

If you are talking about non-quantitative factors like dynamics, rhythm, timbre, touch, etc... then of course those are part of musical vocab but in a different category.


You forget that people can very easily create scales of their own. There are Asian and Middle Eastern scales that differ from our major/minor diatonic. There's whole tone scales, diminished. Anything you can think of from those 12 notes.

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#1496316 - 08/15/10 06:11 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5932
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
Originally Posted By: Canonie
if you present the piano as a marvelous huge and loud music making machine, and give no limitations, young students create something that could be used as a film score without much editing. They use huge range of dynamics, they build up sound then allow silence and space, they revel in dissonance then resolve it with one of their few consonant discoveries.
That's exactly how it sounds... they aren't limited by rules or what they've 'learned'... what they are doing is telling a story in their own way. I LOVE hearing what they come up with - particularly when the 6 and 7 year olds try to act out the story as well as play the music wink
My approach is similar to these, and part of establishing the concepts of high/low, loud/soft, fast/slow. I also relate it to basic concepts of notation early on - pitch being represented vertically, for example - and get them to "notate" their pieces in a graphic way (not quite like yours, btb smile ). It's part of the whole playing/creating/reading experience, and my approach developed out of what I had done for many years in classroom teaching. (In fact I wrote my honours thesis on the subject many many years ago!)
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