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#1493473 - 08/11/10 01:22 PM Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards?
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
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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. Yet this simple logic eludes many well meaning music teachers as they head first into the study of note-reading.

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.

Speaking the native language is a natural and thrilling experience for children. They can’t wait to use words and communicate. So why is it that note reading is literally forced down the throats of our young people instead of giving them the opportunity to express firsthand through improvisation?

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
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#1493503 - 08/11/10 01:50 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 417
Loc: Worcester, UK
Just because I teach note-reading from day one, this in no way implies (as your post seems to) that this is all I teach them. They learn the notation through the music that they learn to play, as an integral part of the process - done well, the student will learn the technical skills, sight-reading abilities and aural awareness that will eventually empower them to explore whatever music they choose, in whatever way they see fit.

Speaking for myself, I am able to play a fairly decent selection from the works of some of the greatest musicians ever to have lived. My ability to do so is largely based on my understanding of traditional notation, and my observation and rehearsal of established techniques. I am also able to explore my creative side through composition, which naturally involves a fair amount of improvisation to kick-start the creative process.

Given the choice, I would gladly sacrifice my creative side, if it meant I could keep my ability to play music by such incredible and diverse composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Satie, Hensel, Szymanowski, Debussy, Gershwin, Brubeck, etc.

And also, I believe I speak for all of us here when I refute your ridiculous suggestion that we "literally force note-reading down the throats of our young". You do understand what the word 'literally' means, don't you? wink
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#1493509 - 08/11/10 01:57 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ben Crosland]
eweiss Offline
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Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
Just because I teach note-reading from day one, this in no way implies (as your post seems to) that this is all I teach them. They learn the notation through the music that they learn to play, as an integral part of the process - done well, the student will learn the technical skills, sight-reading abilities and aural awareness that will eventually empower them to explore whatever music they choose, in whatever way they see fit.

I don't know you Ben. So how would I know what you teach? As far as exploring whatever music they choose, that's true as far as being able to read what others have written. But what about having them speak music? Can they just sit down at the piano and play, or is sheet music required?
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#1493535 - 08/11/10 02:28 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 417
Loc: Worcester, UK
Originally Posted By: eweiss

I don't know you Ben. So how would I know what you teach?


My point exactly. Yet your opening paragraph suggests that you assume much about those of us who adopt a more traditional approach by inflicting the evils of note-reading on our poor students from the very first lessons.

As for whether or not my students can improvise at the keyboard or play by ear at all - that depends on the student. Some of them are much more comfortable than others in this regard.

I don't know you either, Edward, but from what I can tell you offer lessons in a pretty specific subset of piano music, designed to encourage free expression? Well, that's great, but remember that your experience of teaching people this way is unlikely to give you much insight into the experience of those students of more traditional teachers, as your client base is going to be made up of people who are specifically interested in learning your kind of approach.

My client base is largely made up of people who want to play either classical music or, in the case of many of the children, 'tunes they know'. My personal experience also leads me to think that is easier for a note-reader to learn to develop their aural skills than it is for an ear-player to discipline themselves to play from a score.

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#1493538 - 08/11/10 02:33 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ben Crosland]
Mirela Offline
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Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Well, as a non native speaker of English I did learn first by imitating, because I started young (around 5-ish), but my kindergarten English was extremely limited and I couldn't carry any conversation, that's for sure. I could maybe count to ten, recite Twinkle twinkle little Star and a couple (as in 2) nursery rhymes and I understood maybe a quarter of the words I was muttering. I was good for my pronunciation, as some English sounds like "th" for example don't exist in Romanian, and we always roll the r .... so I got accustomed to English sounds early, but that was about all the benefit of it.

Real learning of English started only when I started reading and writing.
It was only then when I could start making sentences on my own, and communicate a meaning, not just repeat some sounds I was hearing.

My point is: bilingualism is possible. even trilingualism I have no doubt!

But for that to happen you need a parent to speak that language to you on a daily basis and not just in "practice time sessions", but in every aspect of your life. You need to be exposed to that language constantly and consistently. That's why I believe proper Suzuki works.

On the other hand you have the 99/% of families who for different reasons choose not to speak music 24/7 to their children. Some parents don't have the time. Others think they're too old to learn music, some children spend too much time away from their parents being in millions of extra-curricular activities away from the house all day. They practically get home, eat and go to sleep. No time for talking "music" or any other second language.

Only half an hour per week with a teacher will never accomplish anything if you go by the "second language" theory. Ask any qualified Suzuki teacher.

So what about the rest?
Billions of people around the world learn English or Spanish as a foreign language. Some become quite proficient. In certain situations, they might even have a better grammar structure compared to some lesser educated native speakers.

When you learn any language as a foreign language you do it reading and writing. And for example learning rules after rules like "in the indicative, add an s after the verb for the third person singular" "for past perfect you must use the past form of the verb "to have" plus past participle of the verb you want to conjugate"

Sounds hard? That's how most of us learned it. That means a lot of reading of what other people write and a lot of trial and error written exercises corrected by teachers.

So yes, music is a language. Yes, it can be learned as a second language and children can be bilingual with music as their second language, but for that parents have a crucial role, not teachers. There are numerous cases in which parents are of different ethnicity yet the child speaks only one of the parents' language (that's why some call it mother tongue!). The other parent had all the opportunity in the world to have his child bilingual, but probably wasn't consistent enough. Some phrases spoken now and then don't help.

That is why when as a parent you go with your child to a music teacher and leave it all to him, he has no other choice than teaching your child a foreign language.

If you, as a parent are aware of the huge opportunity your child has to learn music as a second language and are willing to commit yourself to that mission, than you take your kid to a Suzuki "life coach".

It's that simple. So, my answer is:
No, most piano teachers don't have it backwards. Parents on the other hand, may! [I don't say do, because in most cases parents really are unable to commit themselves to such a task. It's only for a few. Kind of like homeschooling is not for everyone either]


Edited by Mirela (08/11/10 02:39 PM)
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#1493563 - 08/11/10 03:04 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I started teaching my kid his ABC's in utero. smile I also taught him some sign language before he learned to talk. So at about 9 months or so, he was able to tell me he wanted more, all done, cracker, apple(sauce), and a few other things. He started talking a couple months later, but continued to sign for awhile. (And no, no one in the family is deaf.)

I have no idea what it means in terms of teaching piano - except perhaps there is more than one way, depending upon developmental stages?

Cognitively, infants aren't ready for reading and writing. However, as individuals grow and develop, their ability to learn foreign languages changes, too. Around age 12 or so, learning changes, and it has been found that students do better acquiring a language if grammar is taught at the same time, with more visual (reading and writing) tasks accompanying the speaking and listening.

It makes sense to me that teaching younger folks piano will require a different approach than older ones.
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#1493580 - 08/11/10 03:28 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Mirela
Well, as a non native speaker of English I did learn first by imitating, because I started young (around 5-ish), but my kindergarten English was extremely limited and I couldn't carry any conversation, that's for sure.

True Mireala. All I'm saying is that people are naturally 'wired' to speak language. Why not take advantage of that and teach the 'universal' language the same way?
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#1493585 - 08/11/10 03:37 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Lollipop]
Mirela Offline
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Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Youtube is full with very young children playing piano. I wouldn't call them infants though ... Toddlers maybe, but there's a thin line there smile. Evidently they weren't taught the usual reading-writing.

I am quite fascinated with bilingualism both musically as well as learning a second language that way from the very infancy. I have some friends whose kids are trilingual: Mother French, father Turkish, family living in the UK...

Too sad I have no kids.... yet frown

But I plan to learn a lot about Suzuki and other "second language" approaches to music by then. ... Although it's going to be hard to persuade my DH to give up his trashy-hard&heavy Rock music in the car to listen only to Shin'ichi Suzuki's variations on Twinkle twinkle little star! ha
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#1493590 - 08/11/10 03:46 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ben Crosland]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
Originally Posted By: eweiss

I don't know you Ben. So how would I know what you teach?


My point exactly. Yet your opening paragraph suggests that you assume much about those of us who adopt a more traditional approach by inflicting the evils of note-reading on our poor students from the very first lessons.



And also from the title of this topic. Ben, you and I are very much alike from what you've said. In fact, my very first encounter with a student includes improvising. I encourage improvising and composing throughout the year, along with note reading, theory, technique, and musicality. Improvising and composing absolutely help a student in their ability to be expressive players - this was actually the basis of my master's thesis.

I'm sure there are teachers out there that ignore this side of piano - which is how it was done when I was growing up. However, a good many now are recognizing that we play composed music and many of the great composers were also great improvisers, as well as the fact that if we wish to perpetuate the tradition of playing composed music, we should be encouraging new young composers.
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#1493605 - 08/11/10 04:12 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Morodiene]
Gerard12 Offline
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Registered: 03/19/10
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Loc: South Carolina
I'm interested in hearing what those members who have started with - or teach with - the Suzuki method have to say about this topic.
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#1493606 - 08/11/10 04:16 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: eweiss
True Mirela. All I'm saying is that people are naturally 'wired' to speak language. Why not take advantage of that and teach the 'universal' language the same way?


Somehow you missed a bit of the point of that sentence. I was NOTspeaking the language. I could not communicate meaning and I could not understand meaning. If someone spoke English to me I could not respond. Teaching me to imitate some phrases in English did not teach me the language.

It's like in that kids' movie with James Belushi and some kid who "could spell" weird long words like "chrysanthemum" or something but was at a loss when asked to spell "cat".

Asphyxiate was the word curly sue could spell. Chrysanthemum was from Anne of Green Gables spelling bee I think, when she beat Gilbert smile

Yes, I would have had set answers for "what's your name" and "how old are you".

But should anyone have asked me to pass the salt or point to the toilet I would have stared blank. I could recite the numbers from 1 to 10, but if someone would have said to me "Please, count to ten" instead of "Numara pana la zece in engleza" ... again, I would have been clueless.

You speak a language first by understanding what you hear, and only after that by putting your own words together in an acceptable manner so that you, in your turn, can be understood.

Yes, maybe I was a bright kid [that's the end of modesty here! ha ]... I always said "Mirela" when someone asked "What's your name". I had lots of friends who answered "I'm 5". But that's only because I was paying attention. The same friends would also mistake a goat for a sheep [in Romanian this time]. It had nothing to do with my ability to speak English.


Edited by Mirela (08/11/10 04:23 PM)
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#1493618 - 08/11/10 04:31 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
When I was a child, my parents sent me to Hebrew school. I learned the hebrew alphabet and how to read and write the language.

But, they neglected to teach me the most important thing ... how to understand the language!

Now, most colleges today teach the immersion technique where you literally have to speak the language or get lost in the class. Is that strategy a success? You bet it is. The immersion method is extremely successful. To this day, I can speak 'survival' Spanish. Yet I forget how to read and write Hebrew.
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#1493647 - 08/11/10 04:54 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
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Loc: California
English was not my first language. I didn't speak it until I was 5 years old. I learned it through immersion, through listening to others speak it, and imitating.

We've hosted several foreign exchange students in our home over the past 15+ years. Those from Europe typically have good English skills. They have more opportunity to converse in English when traveling to other nearby countries. The students we've had from Japan have had decent English 'writing' skills, but their conversational skills have been very limited.

Our last exchange student stayed for a school year. While she spoke pretty good English, she will readily say that her skills improved not from the reading/writing associated with school, but from speaking with other Americans.

I do the same when I travel to Germany. I listen to what people around me are saying (certain phrases, verb tenses, etc...) and I purposely imitate those things.

While I don't teach Suzuki, I do subscribe to the 'ear before eye' philosophy of teaching, particularly for young children. Having taught this way, as well as the more traditional 'method book' approach for the last 30+ years, I like the end result BETTER of 'ear first'.
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#1493659 - 08/11/10 05:01 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Mirela Offline
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Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Well, you are mistaking learning a set of characters with learning a language as a foreign language.

I can read the Russian characters and I could happily "demonstrate reading" of said language, but I never pretended I speak Russian. This "skill" is helpful to me as being close to Russia a lot of sheet music we get comes from that source and when you assign a piece to a child you should at least know who composed it smile

As a lot of people pointed out here, piano teachers do teach music as a language not only some meaningless signs.

As for the immersion language technique, you have to look no further than wikipedia:
language immersion uses the target language as a teaching tool, surrounding or "immersing" students in the second language. In-class activities, such as math, science, social studies, and history, and those outside of the class, such as meals or everyday tasks, are conducted in the target language"

It's not a half an hour per week technique.
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#1493673 - 08/11/10 05:23 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
Mirela Offline
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Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
I totally agree with you dumdumdiddle,

Some people never become proficient in a foreign language because of the lack of opportunity to practice it (like you can never become a good pianist if you don't have an instrument at hand to practice on)

And as you said immersion is all about extensive exposure to the language. I am all for that. I did say I want to learn all that I can about Suzuki before I have (with God's help) my own child.

I am fascinated about immersion learning and bilingualism and all the "ear before eye" as you say.

I never argued with this side of the theory. In fact that's why I did answer this topic in the beginning, hoping to find more about what I could do for my own child if and when I become a mother.

What is still arguable is the fact that most piano teachers have it backwards.

I hate repeating myself, if it's half an hour per week it's not called immersion.

As a teacher who knows the child has only limited exposure to the language you are teaching him, you can do your best to teach the child the tools so that he can explore this language on his own.

Honestly, if you left your child half an hour per week in a room with one person speaking only Dutch, how much would he learn in a school year (roughly 34 encounters meaning a total of 17 hours scattered throughout the year)? When would he be able to carry a fluent conversation in Dutch?

dumdumdiddle,
Could you detail more on the way you approach younger children with the "ear before eye" technique?

I am particularly interested as I have never had students younger than 5.

Do you get students who aren't supported by parents (other than bringing them to the lesson and possibly buying a keyboard for practice at home)?

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#1493675 - 08/11/10 05:27 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Reading/writing and speaking skills are 2 completely different things.

I learned Chinese because my parents spoke it to me everyday from the day I was born. However, I didn't take proper lessons so I can barely read or write at all. And my spoken vocal is more everyday and social conversations. I wouldn't be able to conduct business or have a debate.

I have European friends and most speak good English simply because their native language is much more closely related. German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish and English all come from the same roots, as does French, Italian, Spanish. They also all use the alphabet.

Asian native speakers have a much harder time learning English because Chinese, Korea, Japanese, Thai... don't use an alphabet and the spoken sounds are completely different.

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#1493685 - 08/11/10 05:40 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ben Crosland]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
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Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland

And also, I believe I speak for all of us here when I refute your ridiculous suggestion that we "literally force note-reading down the throats of our young". You do understand what the word 'literally' means, don't you? wink


Indeed, I was thinking the same thing Ben thumb
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#1493687 - 08/11/10 05:42 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Asian native speakers have a much harder time learning English because Chinese, Korea, Japanese, Thai... don't use an alphabet and the spoken sounds are completely different.


So you're basically saying that if reading and writing had nothing to do with learning languages Asian native speakers should have no problem learning English.

Same as your command of Chinese: if you could properly read and write Chinese you could then consider conducting a business and holding a debate?
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#1493688 - 08/11/10 05:44 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Mirela

Honestly, if you left your child half an hour per week in a room with one person speaking only Dutch, how much would he learn in a school year (roughly 34 encounters meaning a total of 17 hours scattered throughout the year)? When would he be able to carry a fluent conversation in Dutch?

dumdumdiddle,
Could you detail more on the way you approach younger children with the "ear before eye" technique?

I am particularly interested as I have never had students younger than 5.

Do you get students who aren't supported by parents (other than bringing them to the lesson and possibly buying a keyboard for practice at home)?


The program that I teach requires that the parent attend and participate in each lesson with the child, becoming a partner with the teacher. Parents also help with practicing at home on a daily basis. As the student progresses the parent isn't quite as involved and the student will eventually surpass the parent in ear training and note reading. However, even in my advanced group classes, parents will still attend each week. They know what's expected for practicing, they know how the pieces are supposed to sound, etc...

It's completely different from the way that I was taught, where Mom dropped me off each week for lessons and had no clue what I was doing or if what I played at home was correct or not.
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#1493693 - 08/11/10 05:50 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
thanks a lot dumdumdiddle!

This is the kind of information I actually wanted to see. You say you don't teach Suzuki though.

Do you have your personal approach or is it a formal approach adopted by other teachers as well?

I keep "clinging" to Suzuki because it's the only ear before eye approach that I know of. We don't have Suzuki in Romania. Mind you, John Thompson is utterly progressive here (and shunned for being "too slow")!

(OT, but just to avoid misunderstandings: I'm talking about JT's Easiest piano course. Somehow I am under the impression that evertime I say JT to people in the USA they always think Modern course for the piano which is much faster paced)
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#1493700 - 08/11/10 05:56 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
The curriculum I use is called Harmony Road Music Course. Other programs that share a similar philosophy are Music For Young Children and Yamaha.

www.harmonyroadmusic.com

www.yamaha.com

www.myc.com
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#1493730 - 08/11/10 06:46 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland

And also, I believe I speak for all of us here when I refute your ridiculous suggestion that we "literally force note-reading down the throats of our young". You do understand what the word 'literally' means, don't you? wink


Indeed, I was thinking the same thing Ben thumb

It's not ridiculous Ben. Note reading is what most piano teachers teach. They teach it because people want to learn the classical repertoire. Nothing wrong with that. Literally.
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#1493753 - 08/11/10 07:23 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland

And also, I believe I speak for all of us here when I refute your ridiculous suggestion that we "literally force note-reading down the throats of our young". You do understand what the word 'literally' means, don't you? wink


Indeed, I was thinking the same thing Ben thumb

It's not ridiculous Ben. Note reading is what most piano teachers teach. They teach it because people want to learn the classical repertoire. Nothing wrong with that. Literally.

What is "ridiculous" is the notion that we are cramming something down people's throats. I do not cram. If it's a matter of having to cram something, then they are with the wrong teacher.
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#1493771 - 08/11/10 07:46 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Morodiene]
eweiss Offline
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You're right. Poor choice of words. frown
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#1493801 - 08/11/10 08:36 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss

And also, I believe Note reading is what most piano teachers teach. They teach it because people want to learn the classical repertoire. Nothing wrong with that. Literally.


Wrong. Piano teachers teach note reading because people want to learn classical, and jazz, and pop, and gospel, and every other style of music that is written in the language of music, i.e. notation.
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#1493832 - 08/11/10 09:30 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
eweiss Offline
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Really? You mean someone wanting to learn Gospel, Jazz, or pop wants to learn note reading before a chord-based approach? That's unusual. smile
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#1493835 - 08/11/10 09:35 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Mirela]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mirela
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Asian native speakers have a much harder time learning English because Chinese, Korea, Japanese, Thai... don't use an alphabet and the spoken sounds are completely different.


So you're basically saying that if reading and writing had nothing to do with learning languages Asian native speakers should have no problem learning English.

Same as your command of Chinese: if you could properly read and write Chinese you could then consider conducting a business and holding a debate?


No, what I'm saying is that reading/writing and speaking are 2 completely different skill sets when learning a language.

Written Chinese is made up of characters, not words from an alphabet. If you didn't know how to say the character in spoken form then you would not even be able to read or guess the word. Whereas if it were a language with an alphabet, you could guess phonetically, even though you don't know the word.

Asian speakers have a hard time with English because the phonetic sounds are completely different. Just like you would have a very difficult time if you tried to learn spoken Chinese right now. You would have no basis for the sounds used.

The reading and writing supplement the spoken language. I would have to learn the vocab verbally first. I probably could become business fluent in Chinese if I studied hard, even if I couldn't read or write 1 word. They are 2 completely separate things.


Same with music, btw. A blind person can learn music just as well as one who can sight-read, because music is an aural art, not dependent on reading. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Marcus Roberts, George Shearing....plenty others.

How do you think they learned music? By listening alot and emulating the SOUND on the piano.

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#1493842 - 08/11/10 09:48 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
Really? You mean someone wanting to learn Gospel, Jazz, or pop wants to learn note reading before a chord-based approach? That's unusual. smile


Reading music is not some kind of disease that that one must avoid to be able to play the piano.

FYI, chords are made of notes, so being able to read notes can only help you read/play chords.

Here's a shocker: Its not all-or-nothing, i.e. Its not either "a chord-based approach", or "a note reading approach." Chords can be learned along with reading music, in fact that is the normal approach. Check out one of Alfred's very popular Adult books...chords come in very quickly.

The ability to read notes is thus helpful for all styles of music, including reading from fake books, where a lot of pop and jazz standards are available.

Suggestion: How about applying your talents to writing materials that include reading music...then you would not have to constantly pop up on these forums on a regular basis calling into question classical music, notation, reading music, conventional music teachers, etc...and you might even make more money.

Just a thought.
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#1493848 - 08/11/10 09:55 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: rocket88
Suggestion: How about applying your talents to writing materials that include reading music...then you would not have to constantly pop up on these forums on a regular basis calling into question classical music, notation, reading music, conventional music teachers, etc...and you might even make more money.

Just a thought.

That would go against what I believe about teaching piano. Plus, I already wrote a book that outlines my teaching philosophy. It's called Free to be Creative at the Piano .' As far as making money goes, I'm not too worried about it. smile
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#1493852 - 08/11/10 10:01 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
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smile
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#1493943 - 08/12/10 01:25 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Reading music is important but using your ears to listen and learn is FAR more important.

I could never understand the classical bent on reading, it should be the other way around.

The funniest thing I ever saw was a clip on youtube about classical pianists who poured over a score and tried to hear it in their mind away from the piano. They would digest it all day and then finally play it once.
The most absurd approach to playing music in my mind.

They would have been better off listening to the song 10 or 20 times first.

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#1493991 - 08/12/10 03:42 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
The funniest thing I ever saw was a clip on youtube about classical pianists who poured over a score and tried to hear it in their mind away from the piano. They would digest it all day and then finally play it once.
The most absurd approach to playing music in my mind.

They would have been better off listening to the song 10 or 20 times first.


What clip are you talking about?? If it's the one I've seen, I think you missed the point of the exercise.
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#1494019 - 08/12/10 05:45 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: AZNpiano]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Can't remember the link or name of the guy, I think he was a fairly well known current player. He had a group of students all read the score at a table, then got one of them to play it at the piano, then asked the student how he felt. The student couldn't even say anything of note, like "uh, it was ok".

Imagine teaching people a new language this way. You'd be laughed out of the class!

Exactly what is the point of the exercise? I see no benefit at all.

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#1494190 - 08/12/10 11:46 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Can't remember the link or name of the guy, I think he was a fairly well known current player. He had a group of students all read the score at a table, then got one of them to play it at the piano, then asked the student how he felt. The student couldn't even say anything of note, like "uh, it was ok".

Imagine teaching people a new language this way. You'd be laughed out of the class!

Exactly what is the point of the exercise? I see no benefit at all.


Maybe I missed something, but I assumed that the word "reading" in the context of piano learning (and this thread) was shorthand for "sight reading", not cozying up to a score by candle light and your favorite glass of wine and "reading" it for the next four hours (though I guess if that works for you then more power to ya). I didn't get the impression that any of the teachers was advocating the use of learning to read a score like one reads prose as a teaching method, but rather "reading" combined with the playing of what was read. But perhaps I misunderstand what the meaning is?

[edit]
As a follow up, I am familiar with teachers having more advanced students "read" scores with the primary purpose of helping to memorize it, so that would be a bit of an exception to my statement above.
[/edit]


Edited by bitWrangler (08/12/10 11:56 AM)

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#1494261 - 08/12/10 01:06 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Can't remember the link or name of the guy, I think he was a fairly well known current player. He had a group of students all read the score at a table, then got one of them to play it at the piano, then asked the student how he felt. The student couldn't even say anything of note, like "uh, it was ok".

Imagine teaching people a new language this way. You'd be laughed out of the class!

Exactly what is the point of the exercise? I see no benefit at all.



This was most likely pianist Fredric Chiu, in his "Deeper piano studies" workshop.

First of all, everybody who participates in that workshop is already an EXTREMELY advanced pianist with years of performing experience behind them, so note reading is not going to be an issue.

The point of that particular exercise was to challenge the traditional way of learning a piece of music, which is AT THE PIANO - the argument being that when you learn something AT the piano, you are too consumed with the physical aspect of playing rather than the more important mental absorbtion of the material. When you study a score away from the instrument, you are suddenly liberated from technical aspects and have a more relaxed opportunity to notice things about the music that you might not have noticed at the piano: Motivic connections, rhythmic patterns, markings, structure of the piece, etc etc.

When you start learning something AT the piano, you are so consumed with the physicality of piano playing that it can actually stifle your mental and aural conception of the work. If you study a piece BEFORE taking it to the piano, you can establish a clear, purely MUSICAL goal for the piece.

Here I quote Leon Fleisher on this...

"I think, ideally speaking, with a new piece one should sit down, probably in a chair away from the piano, and learn it, look at it, take it apart, try to understand it structurally, harmonically, and in all it's elements as much as possible. Sing it to yourself. Sing the various components, the various material. Get some kind of idea. It's not an idea that you have to be wedded to for life, but get some kind of idea of what you think it should sound like, of what you want it to sound like. Then, when you have gotten as far as you can in this manner, when you've become as specific as you can about the material in this manner, then take it to the keyboard, because then you have a goal. Then you have at least a temporary ideal, something to work towards. The basic reason for this is that I think if we learn the notes first, what we become involved with are "those difficult passages." How am I going to transcend this difficulty? And in approaching it from the purely physical point of view, we make certain adjustments in order to achieve the purely physical realization of this. Sometimes without realizing it, we'll think "Oh, this is a difficult place to get into. Maybe if I kind of spread the tempo, if I slow down a wee bit, I can prepare myself. I can gather my energies and strengths" This kind of thing begins to take over in place of musical values, begins to dictate how you're going to play it, and very often on a totally subconscious level as well as on a conscious level. What you wind up doing, eventually, after you've learned the notes, is having to achieve, having to define some musical intention, some musical value. One finds so often that one has to overcome a lot of work that one has done from the purely technical point of view. One has to change that. It's a waste of time as far as I'm concerned.

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#1494276 - 08/12/10 01:20 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Bart Kinlein Offline
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I recall a story about Glenn Gould preparing for a recording session. As the story goes, he looked at the score for the first time while on the train to New York. Upon arriving he did the recording (I'm sure with some retakes)!

I think a preliminary study of a piece away from the piano is a great benefit, th ough I'm merely echoing the words of the great teacher, Leon Fleisher (above).
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#1494291 - 08/12/10 01:32 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
The funniest thing I ever saw was a clip on youtube about classical pianists who poured over a score and tried to hear it in their mind away from the piano. They would digest it all day and then finally play it once.

They would have been better off listening to the song 10 or 20 times first.

Agreed. It seems so obvious to me that music is an 'aural' art first. Which is why I raised the question of this post in the first place.
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#1494292 - 08/12/10 01:32 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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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. Yet this simple logic eludes many well meaning music teachers as they head first into the study of note-reading.

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.

Speaking the native language is a natural and thrilling experience for children. They can’t wait to use words and communicate. So why is it that note reading is literally forced down the throats of our young people instead of giving them the opportunity to express firsthand through improvisation?

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


I generally agree with you that there should be more creativity encouraged in training at various stages of development, the only problem is.....how?

When a seven year old comes in for the first piano lesson in her life you can't really be like "ok let's just play random notes and clusters for the next few weeks!" They can do that at home, and maybe share it with you in the first or last 10 minutes of each lesson. There has to be at least SOME sort of preliminary discipline, some sort of reference point upon which to build creative training. More effective, IMO, would be something like introducing them to a few notes on the staff, them having them compose or improvise something using those notes. You talk about introducing kids to "Simple diatonic harmony"..but this can't really be done without some basic notational knowledge...

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#1494339 - 08/12/10 02:36 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
When a seven year old comes in for the first piano lesson in her life you can't really be like "ok let's just play random notes and clusters for the next few weeks!"

Agreed. I don't teach children, and I know that requires a seperate skill set, but ... if I were going to do this, I'd try and find the right set of limitations to encourage creativity while actually teaching them something about harmony.

Maybe something like a few notes from the C Major scale and just 2 chords - C Maj. and F Maj. The point being to have them experience music firsthand as they create it.
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#1494402 - 08/12/10 03:56 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus



I generally agree with you that there should be more creativity encouraged in training at various stages of development, the only problem is.....how?

When a seven year old comes in for the first piano lesson in her life you can't really be like "ok let's just play random notes and clusters for the next few weeks!"




The way you teach kids is to get them to to sing or hum simple songs in an easy key like C or F.

Play songs like Row your boat, Twinkle little star, happy birthday, Mary had a little lamb, anything that they would know. Cartoon and movie themes would work too. Christmas songs too.

Just make sure the melody stays in one key.

Play it to them a few times first in the key you want them to learn. Then get them to play along with you at the same time, 1-2 bars at a time.

Make sure they sing the notes aloud as they play.

Basically this is learning to play by ear. I've done this with all my students and get kids to learn songs in their first lesson. For theory, it's just a major scale.

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#1494415 - 08/12/10 04:07 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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The tradition of teaching jazz has always been aural.

The black slaves used to sing and dance together, doing call and response, and dancing to the African rhythms.

Jazz musicians have always had a mentor/student role where new players learned by sitting in and listening to the older guys.

Every player today listens to tons of records and tries to imitate and emulate the sound.

How do you think all those rock guitarists learned music. Certainly not by pouring over a score 100 times!

They blast that album in their basement and jam along.

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#1494507 - 08/12/10 05:50 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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I think we're comparing very different things. I still believe most "classical" piano students don't spend enough time analyzing the score. And note-reading is still the key to success if you want to play classical music.

I don't play jazz, rock, and other genres of music, so I can't comment on that.
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#1494538 - 08/12/10 06:31 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: AZNpiano]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Why would you bother analyzing the score when you could listen to 10 interpretations by different people.

Music is meant to be listened, and you'd pick up far more. I bet even the composer never played it exactly the same way each time.

It figures that you don't play any jazz or rock or anything else.

Could you play Happy Birthday in Db or F# if you didn't have the score? If not perhaps it's something you need to work on.

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#1494575 - 08/12/10 07:03 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Why would you bother analyzing the score when you could listen to 10 interpretations by different people.


Huh, again you make it sound like the two activities are mutually exclusive. When our daughter starts in on a new piece both activities occur. The score is analyzed to help with memorization and to pick out potential problem spots as well as general familiarization, we also end up listening to various versions of the piece (always fascinating to compare "professional" versions to the youngsters). Both activities seem to have their place and in practice, being familiar with the score actually enhances the listening, _especially_ when you are actually comparing multiple recorded versions. You almost seem to be asking "why read the book when you could see the movie(s)". The answer is you can do both and get more than either activity alone can provide.

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#1494576 - 08/12/10 07:03 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
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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.
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#1494579 - 08/12/10 07:06 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
LimeFriday Offline
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I still can't understand why this argument has to be an either/or one. Surely music education is about both - aural training/playing by ear - and being able to read music and read from a score. Why limit yourself to one or the other? Why not analyze a score and listen to different interpretations?

Wizard - you began with note reading and classical training - do you think you could do what you do now without that foundation in music? You understand what you are listening to - you have a musical background which informs your 'playing by ear'.

If someone chooses to only play be ear - that's fine - but it doesn't make note reading redundant. Even jazz musicians can get something from being able to read music.

And yes - I play classical, jazz and rock. And yes - I could play happy birthday in any key without a score.

(Edit - I see that others feel exactly the same way smile )


Edited by LimeFriday (08/12/10 07:06 PM)

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#1494605 - 08/12/10 07:29 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
I still can't understand why this argument has to be an either/or one. Surely music education is about both - aural training/playing by ear - and being able to read music and read from a score.

It's not about either/or. It's about the approach piano teachers take when teaching students how to play piano. I say it's better to start with a chord-based approach because it's a natural (and easier) way to speak the language of music.

Which is why guitar is so popular. Students can learn a few chords and then can happily create music on the instrument.
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#1494608 - 08/12/10 07:34 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: bitWrangler]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
You almost seem to be asking "why read the book when you could see the movie(s)".


Great analogy. Those who discount note reading and score analysis won't go very far in their classical piano studies.
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#1494617 - 08/12/10 07:44 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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ah the usual suspects are back! hahaha, same ol' same ol'.


When I learned jazz, I had to train my ears to hear melodies, harmonies, rhythms. Completely new skills.
Reading a score doesn't help you one bit to learn how to improvise.

If you play classical solely by reading, the tendency is to go on "auto-pilot" once you learn a song. You just follow the score and put your fingers where the notes are. In a way your mind is actually shut off, because you are relying on the sheet music to guide you, rather than your mind and inner ear.

Jazz musicians read music differently than classical. Most times it is a fakebook which only has the melody and a chord. It is up to the musician to interpret the chord and there is freedom to add or subtract notes. You could also change the melody and that would be fine.


My classical training gave me good finger technique, but not a solid foundation.

Maybe you guys should try and sit at the piano for an hour and improvise something completely new.

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#1494622 - 08/12/10 07:51 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: AZNpiano]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
You almost seem to be asking "why read the book when you could see the movie(s)".


Great analogy. Those who discount note reading and score analysis won't go very far in their classical piano studies.



Reading a book and reading a score are 2 completely different things. You get enjoyment out of a book, but I don't know any musician that sits back with a glass of wine and reads a score. No, you turn the stereo on, chill on the couch and LISTEN.


If all you play is classical then yes, you need to read, but if it's anything else you better have good ears.

Another thing is that in classical piano, 99% of the time you playing solo.

In jazz, rock and roll, pop, most of the time you are playing with other people. That forces you to interact with your fellow bandmates, use your ears to see who's in tune and time.

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#1494626 - 08/12/10 07:57 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Another thing is that in classical piano, 99% of the time you playing solo.

In jazz, rock and roll, pop, most of the time you are playing with other people. That forces you to interact with your fellow bandmates, use your ears to see who's in tune and time.
Must just pick up on this. 99%? Simply not true. So many classically trained pianists play chamber music, accompany choirs, accompany singers and instrumentalists, play duets etc. I'd say 99% of my (classical) piano playing is with other people.
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#1494631 - 08/12/10 08:02 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
LimeFriday Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz


Maybe you guys should try and sit at the piano for an hour and improvise something completely new.


You assume that we don't do this already?

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#1494632 - 08/12/10 08:04 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Another thing is that in classical piano, 99% of the time you playing solo.

In jazz, rock and roll, pop, most of the time you are playing with other people. That forces you to interact with your fellow bandmates, use your ears to see who's in tune and time.
I'd say 99% of my (classical) piano playing is with other people.


To be fair, I think you need to count practice time plus performance time, not just performance time.
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#1494633 - 08/12/10 08:04 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
You almost seem to be asking "why read the book when you could see the movie(s)".


Great analogy. Those who discount note reading and score analysis won't go very far in their classical piano studies.



Reading a book and reading a score are 2 completely different things. You get enjoyment out of a book, but I don't know any musician that sits back with a glass of wine and reads a score. No, you turn the stereo on, chill on the couch and LISTEN.


If all you play is classical then yes, you need to read, but if it's anything else you better have good ears.

Another thing is that in classical piano, 99% of the time you playing solo.

In jazz, rock and roll, pop, most of the time you are playing with other people. That forces you to interact with your fellow bandmates, use your ears to see who's in tune and time.


Consider that we're not talking about simply consuming content, we're referring to learning to produce content. If you want to be an screenwriter, then "reading a book" goes beyond reading for enjoyment. You are interpreting the content with the goal to reproduce it in a particular way, so the analogy isn't as far off as it may sound at first.

Also, your statement about classical piano being a 99% solo endeavour is only true if you don't consider chamber music. I'd agree that the majority of kids taking piano are unfortunately not exposed to chamber music, but many are and for those kids the most of the skills you mention apply just as much to them. This is especially true for the pianist as it's usually their responsibility to hold things together for the group and respond/adjust when necessary (they have the complete score for the other instruments as well as the piano part). In this situation sight reading _and_ using your ears is paramount. You may even be forced to improvise a bit when things really go pear shaped.


Edited by bitWrangler (08/12/10 08:04 PM)

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#1494635 - 08/12/10 08:05 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss

Which is why guitar is so popular. Students can learn a few chords and then can happily create music on the instrument.


They can start playing music almost immediately with other instruments also, such as an ocarina, a harmonica, a recorder, etc, but those instruments are not very popular with young people. So ease of making music quickly is not a viable reason for the guitar's popularity. In fact, many quit because of the pain beginners have w/the guitar until they develop finger calluses.

The main reason the guitar is so popular among young people is it has a huge amount of peer pressure / image support for young people to emulate (rock stars, etc) of which the piano has very little, except now for Ms Gaga!

And if Ms. Gaga were not so roundly skewered by so many, even here on these forums, perhaps people could use her as an example for kids to learn the piano.

She is actually a pretty decent musician. Google "Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta" her real name, and check out her music prior to the Gaga incarnation.


Edited by rocket88 (08/12/10 08:18 PM)
Edit Reason: for clarity.
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#1494641 - 08/12/10 08:13 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: TimR]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Another thing is that in classical piano, 99% of the time you playing solo.
I'd say 99% of my (classical) piano playing is with other people.
To be fair, I think you need to count practice time plus performance time, not just performance time.
And jazz musicians as described by Wizard don't practise by themselves at home?
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#1494644 - 08/12/10 08:15 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: bitWrangler]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
You may even be forced to improvise a bit when things really go pear shaped.
Absolutely. And frequently. smile
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#1494645 - 08/12/10 08:16 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
bitWrangler Offline
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Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: eweiss


Which is why guitar is so popular. Students can learn a few chords and then can happily create music on the instrument.


There are more reasons why guitar is so popular.

Compared to a piano, or even a cheap keyboard, you can buy a decent beginner guitar for very little money, and it is small, light, and easy to carry around, and playing it has a huge amount of peer pressure / image support for young people (rock stars, etc) of which the piano has very little, except now for Ms Gaga!


You forgot the most important, guitarists get all the chicks!!!

Wait, or was that drummers.

Nevermind.

Anyone want to comment on the gender distribution between guitarists and pianists in relation to the the two teaching styles being discussed and it's effect on that distribution smile

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#1494650 - 08/12/10 08:24 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: bitWrangler]
TimR Offline
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Originally Posted By: bitWrangler

Anyone want to comment on the gender distribution between guitarists and pianists in relation to the the two teaching styles being discussed and it's effect on that distribution smile


I would point to what I see as a more basic difference (and perhaps even more basic than the ear vs eye split being discussed.)

Guitar is learned almost from the beginning "in real time."

Piano is approached, at least by beginners, disconnected from time, then with time added at slow tempo, then brought up to tempo.

Something different happens with the learning process when the playing is in real time from the beginning. Notes are missed but fluency is learned.

Guitar players don't have a metronome. They don't need one. They have the CD playing. Or their friends.

Pianists don't have a metronome either, because it might cause their playing to be mechanical. Hee, hee.
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#1494657 - 08/12/10 08:27 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: TimR]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: TimR


Guitar players don't have a metronome. They don't need one. They have the CD playing. Or their friends.


Actually, all the guitar teachers where I work use a metronome or a drum machine with their students.

And what makes you think "their friends" have perfect rhythm and tempo?
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#1494663 - 08/12/10 08:30 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: TimR]
currawong Offline
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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?
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#1494664 - 08/12/10 08:30 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz


Maybe you guys should try and sit at the piano for an hour and improvise something completely new.


You assume that we don't do this already?


Let's hear some then!

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#1494672 - 08/12/10 08:39 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
And jazz musicians as described by Wizard don't practise by themselves at home?



Of course we do. I am referring to the fact that when playing jazz or rock and roll in a live or performance setting you are mostly playing with other people. As well as when rehearsing.

I'd say well over 90% of people who play classical piano don't play chamber music, with a choir, or an orchestra.

Unless you have great talent or are a concert performer, no orchestra's going to be banging at your door offering their services.

How many of the kids learning classical right now are playing with other people? Not a lot I bet.

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#1494675 - 08/12/10 08:42 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Originally Posted By: LimeFriday
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Maybe you guys should try and sit at the piano for an hour and improvise something completely new.
You assume that we don't do this already?
Let's hear some then!
Why do you have to hear it? Don't you believe LimeFriday?
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#1494679 - 08/12/10 08:49 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
I am referring to the fact that when playing jazz or rock and roll in a live or performance setting you are mostly playing with other people. As well as when rehearsing.

I'd say well over 90% of people who play classical piano don't play chamber music, with a choir, or an orchestra.
Well those are your estimates. Mine would be different. I know plenty of young high-school age classical piano students who do a lot of ensemble playing. I hear them often at school concerts. And, as I said, in a performance setting my playing is almost entirely with other people. It's not that unusual.
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#1494681 - 08/12/10 08:55 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
[]Why do you have to hear it? Don't you believe LimeFriday?


Why not? Music is meant to be shared. It's not a matter of believe, but edification. I might like and appreciate it.

I know I've asked you before to post some of your songs but you're too chicken. Perhaps all that score reading has numbed your mind to the fact that music is meant to be listened to.

Feel free to post some of yours anytime, I'm all ears.

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#1494689 - 08/12/10 09:07 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
I know I've asked you before to post some of your songs but you're too chicken. Perhaps all that score reading has numbed your mind to the fact that music is meant to be listened to.
You really have no idea, have you. Your assumptions are as staggering as your (bad) manners. You know nothing of the music I've written, or my teaching style - yet you pretend to. A word of advice: if you want people to take you seriously, you might try a style which is a little less confrontational.
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#1494706 - 08/12/10 09:29 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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How can I have any assumptions of your music when you haven't posted anything or said what you play. For all I know you could be into new age elevator music and consider Yanni the greatest musician on earth.

As for bad manners, take a look in the mirror. You seem to pop up unannounced like a gnat at my posts and challenge them, and also interrupt posts which have nothing to do with you.

Why don't you let LimeFriday speak, maybe he/she wants to post an hour long improv. Why do you insist on expressing your opinion when it doesn't concern you or do you do that in real life too?

I may be confrontational when needed but you are condescending and arrogant.

A word of advice: Mind your own business and stay out of posts that don't concern you. If I irritate you so much then don't bother replying to anything I write. For your sanity I'd suggest blocking me so you can't even read it.

It seems I trigger an anger emotion in you that causes you to react badly. If that's the case then just stay away.

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#1494711 - 08/12/10 09:32 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
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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?
If a teacher is teaching a beginner to play in a manner that is 'disconnected from time' then they don't just have it backwards, they have it all twisted up and bent out of shape.
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#1494812 - 08/12/10 10:58 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Elissa Milne]
LimeFriday Offline
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Wizard - I choose not to post an hour long improv - but thanks for asking. My improvisation is for my own enjoyment, for relaxation, my own way of meditating if you like. Those who are around at the time might hear it - but recording it - and posting it somewhere to prove that I can actually do it would take away from the experience. Therefore - you'll just have to take me at my word.

I think what gets me in your posts - is that you assume so much - and if someone challenges those assumption - you ask them to prove themselves - as though what they say can't possibly be true because it goes against your own ideas.

I don't doubt that you play jazz... and that you play well. Why do assume that others, who also happen to enjoy playing and learning classical music, don't and can't play and enjoy jazz? And that learning classically can somehow hinder creativity and the ability to improvise?

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#1494823 - 08/12/10 11:15 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Elissa Milne]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
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?
If a teacher is teaching a beginner to play in a manner that is 'disconnected from time' then they don't just have it backwards, they have it all twisted up and bent out of shape.


I teach counting / rhythm / tempo from the first moments a beginner plays their first notes, unless they are one of the rare ones who does it well automatically.

Why anyone would think that rhythm / tempo etc. are an optional component of music that is tacked on at the end of the learning process is beyond me.

Like, "You want rhythm with those notes"?

"If it ain't got that swing, it don't mean a thing" Duke Ellington


Edited by rocket88 (08/13/10 12:55 AM)
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#1494838 - 08/12/10 11:40 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
currawong Offline
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I think there are quite a few assumptions flying around here about how "most piano teachers" teach. Perhaps it's how these posters were taught themselves, but it's drawing a long bow to generalise it to all or even "most" teachers.
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#1494844 - 08/12/10 11:47 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
saerra Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Why do you insist on expressing your opinion when it doesn't concern you or do you do that in real life too?


I know - how dare someone, express an opinion on a public forum. Wow, what nerve!

By the way, if you don't want random people expressing their oh-so-pesky opinions, perhaps a private message might be more appropropriate. You know, seeing how it's actually "private", as opposed to "public" - like the rest of the forum!

Quote:
I may be confrontational when needed but you are condescending and arrogant.


Wow. Really? I mean, really? Because that's not really how it reads to me. Just another unsolicited opinion though.

Oh, and I have to add... Currawong has been one of THE MOST level-headed, calmest, and generally tolerant and understanding of others' positions of anyone here! I've seen her side with and empathize with many adult students here when issues over various "teaching policies" and misunderstandings have blown up. It seems incredibly ironic to me that, of everyone here, you'd pick her to describe as condescending and arrogant! wink

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#1494852 - 08/13/10 12:01 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: saerra]
Gary D. Online   content
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Originally Posted By: saerra

Oh, and I have to add... Currawong has been one of THE MOST level-headed, calmest, and generally tolerant and understanding of others' positions of anyone here! I've seen her side with and empathize with many adult students here when issues over various "teaching policies" and misunderstandings have blown up. It seems incredibly ironic to me that, of everyone here, you'd pick her to describe as condescending and arrogant! wink

I have to agree with that. I don't recall seeing anything but positive posts from Currawong.

I do believe that there is a HUGE difference in basic mindset between my friends who are jazz players and those who play more "conventional" music. However, it is not so unusual to meet people who have considerable ability "on both sides", and there you can see them switch gears, according to what they are playing/practicing/performing/teaching.


Edited by Gary D. (08/13/10 12:01 AM)
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#1494865 - 08/13/10 12:35 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: rocket88
And if Ms. Gaga were not so roundly skewered by so many, even here on these forums, perhaps people could use her as an example for kids to learn the piano.

She is actually a pretty decent musician. Google "Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta" her real name, and check out her music prior to the Gaga incarnation.

I've seen that video and enjoyed it. Boy was she meant to be on stage! smile
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#1494877 - 08/13/10 12:53 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
rocket88 Offline
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She definately has "it", thats for sure!
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#1494918 - 08/13/10 02:25 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: rocket88]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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currawong has had these arguments with me several times, it's old hat. Anytime I say that playing by ear is a better way to learn than from a score, she'll chime in with some snippet comment.

This is like the 3rd or 4th time so it wears thin and I'll say what I need to say. She may be nice to you guys but she's got a bad attitude towards me.

So I told her never to bother replying to anything I say and she'll save herself alot of trouble.

It's funny knowing that with conflicts in the past she'll still try to be confrontational. Just give it up and go bother someone else.

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#1494923 - 08/13/10 02:40 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Originally Posted By: LimeFriday


I think what gets me in your posts - is that you assume so much - and if someone challenges those assumption - you ask them to prove themselves - as though what they say can't possibly be true because it goes against your own ideas.

Why do assume that others, who also happen to enjoy playing and learning classical music, don't and can't play and enjoy jazz? And that learning classically can somehow hinder creativity and the ability to improvise?



I'm not assuming anything. I'm speaking from my own personal experience and that of my friends, many of whom learned classical piano or violin growing up.

What I said is that the method for learning classical is incomplete and lacking for a person to develop the skills needed for jazz and rock/pop music.

Many of the best jazz players had a full classical background, like Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea.

Herbie said when he first learned jazz, he would listen to records, play all the right notes, but the swing and rhythm wasn't there.

Keith Jarrett said there is a total shift in thinking when playing classical vs jazz.

Here is an excerpt of him in an interview talking about the crossover of classical and jazz:

TR: Would you ever be interested in doing a concert where you played Mozart the first half and then played a (jazz) trio (set)?

KJ: No, that's what I think is hilarious. I mean that is true insanity. The insanity I'm talking about is like a chosen practically impossible thing, but you know how weird it is! Then you have to try to figure out how you can go about doing both these things without them ruining each other in a funny way. I think the thing that can get ruined, that would be destroyed first if someone does both these, is the jazz.

TR: Interesting. Why is that?

KJ: Because if a player gets used to not disappearing into the music completely and starts thinking about the kind of details you have to think about in classical performance, that's not what you should be doing when you play the blues. Jazz isn't really as much about the how, as it is the ideas that you're coming up with. I think if someone sat down and looked at (the people) who play jazz and classical music, it's almost 100 percent across the board that they don't really have an individual jazz voice. If you think about who these people are and you take them one by one, they might be curios, but have not really contributed something lasting. You become a musicologist when you become a classical player. You go back to jazz and if you're a musicologist, then you're like a jazz professor. That's OK, but that's going to probably steal from the transcendent nature of that dive, you know?


The 2 genres are so completely different that the mindset needs to be focused on one.

This coming from a true master of both genres, who could rightly be considered one of the best living pianists in the world.

Here's the full interview:

http://www.tedrosenthal.com/tr-kj.htm

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#1494931 - 08/13/10 02:56 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Gary D. Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz

Currawong has had these arguments with me several times, it's old hat. Anytime I say that playing by ear is a better way to learn than from a score, she'll chime in with some snippet comment.

Why does one way have to be better than the other? To me it is apples and oranges.

For improvisation, regardless of how you gain the knowledge to do it, nothing written down is going to do the job. I think we all know that. That goes all the way back to Bach. If you give someone a possible short theme and ask him to improvise a fugue, that may sound totally different than a jazz improv, but the idea is really quite close. The brain-power required is high (I would say enormous when done well.) I can't improvise in jazz, and I also can't make up a fugue on the spot. Those I know who can do these things awe me, but I also have a different personality. I am most interested in composing and arranging, and I like to write down my ideas. It's a different process, but I doubt people would say that it is not creative. It's just a different mindset. The jazz I listen to is lean, well-thought out, perhaps more thoughtful and less impressive. That's just my personality.

I remember going to a gig where one of my friends was playing, and he said he was very nervous because of "my knowledge". He thinks that I know more than he does. He does not read music. He's heard me play, and he would like to be able to do what I do. I must have spent a good half hour saying, "But Billy, I can't do what YOU do. You do stuff I don't fully understand, stuff that sounds cool to me, and I wish I could absorb those skills and add it to what I can do."

To me being able to read a score at sight, as well as possible, is something that I value and use. I love it when a student brings in something, something I have never seen, then I nail it and shock the student by saying that I have never heard it. Sometimes that means reading the notes, exactly as they are. This is for something more thoughtful and very well arranged. Other times it means scanning the music and changing things on the spot, sensing the style and what can be added or changed. I also have students play things for me they have made up, asking me, "What am I doing?" In that situation I'm very happy that my hearing allows me to duplicate what they do, but I also love being able to notate it on the spot, if necessary, then talk about what else we might do with it.

Playing be ear, playing from score: to me this is the chicken and the egg thing all over again. In the end, in my opinion a really well-rounded musician can do both, and how he (or she) gets there is of no importance so long as the goal is reached.

You have reading-Nazi's who are ready to comdemn any player who can't read music as musically illiterate, which is how Brubeck came to be told he could not have a degree unless he promised never to teach. Brubeck is a guy who actually likes having a lot of his stuff written out very accurately (see his Nocturnes), but most people do not realize that someone else has to write it out for him. Steve Allen, an amazing improviser who was known for taking a few random notes and composing a tune on the spot, did not read.

Then you have the "reading music is for zombies-Nazies" who warp everything so that anyone who plays effortlessly from music and is just interested in interpreting the music of others is branded a moron.

My own position is that in a perfect world, ALL musicians would read well, have a thorough grounding in composition, be familiar with ALL styles of music from ALL periods, be confident in improvising in at least several styles of music, and so on. The best I've seen reach this lofty goal to a very small degree, though getting anywhere close to that ideal is amzing in my mind.

Now, having explained my own POV, I'll let those who want to tear each other's throats out continue the blood-bath. And I'll go back to lurking... smile
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#1494932 - 08/13/10 02:57 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Maybe this is a bit of a devil's advocate post from me......

Wizard of Oz, I read your comments demanding LimeFriday post an improvisation as being tangental to the discussion. Improvisations aren't *for* other people to listen to, they are about the performer experimenting and exploring. If someone shows no interest in putting their improvisations on YouTube this suggests that their improvisational experiences are more personal than public, and I think that there is very much that is RIGHT about this attitude.

God knows I've been bored to tears listening to solo improvisations many more times than I've been inspired by them.

eweiss talks about playing being for oneself in this sense - and in this sense I completely agree..... posting a improvisation for others to comment goes against the spirit of the thing.....
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#1494940 - 08/13/10 03:23 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Gary D.]
currawong Offline
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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.
I'm quoting my earlier post just to sum up my position, which is in danger of being distorted.

(My piano teacher from my teens would be amused to hear I was being accused of favouring reading to the exclusion of improvisation.) smile
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#1494979 - 08/13/10 05:27 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Look, I wasn't demanding Limefriday to post one up, I asked him/her if they wanted to, as I didn't know they improvised. I've asked Gyro a hundred times to do the same, because he keeps talking about improvising and yet I wonder if he actually knows how to do it. Same with currawong.

Improvisations are both for the performer and the audience. Some people chose to just play for themselves which is fine. If you ever heard Keith Jarrett, you'd know the audience plays a huge role in giving him energy and feedback.

This isn't a contest about who's the better improviser. There's always people who are better and worse than you. You are looking at it like a competition to see who's better. I'm looking at it as a way to share my approach and musical personality.

Go to the jazz threads, most everyone has posted stuff for others to listen, share ideas, explore, critique, and simply enjoy.

This is a MUSIC forum!!! If you aren't going to exchange musical ideas and actual music, then what are you here for?

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#1494989 - 08/13/10 05:40 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Canonie Offline
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Originally Posted By: opus-maximus
When a seven year old comes in for the first piano lesson in her life you can't really be like "ok let's just play random notes and clusters for the next few weeks!"

Actually that seems like a pretty good idea to me. I'm often surprised how much kids enjoy random improv around 6 or 7 years old. If you encourage it they will more easily acquire a regular habit of playing piano at home, without parent having to constantly remind child. Quite good finger and ear exercise too. But I don't fill the whole lesson with this wink I don't do reading of notes on staff either. Too early and gets in the way. We learn some songs by rote, and some other activities.

Reminder to self: don't forget to do free improv with All your beginners.
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#1494990 - 08/13/10 05:47 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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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. I stopped classical altogether after high school, and now I never read music while playing.

The only time I look at a score is for tunes which have unusual key or chord changes, or jazz tunes which use non-functional harmony like a Wayne Shorter or Herbie modal song like Dolphin Dance, Maiden Voyage, Nef.

And I use it to learn and practice the shifts, but when I play the song I put it away.

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.

If you asked Beethoven what he thought was more important I have a pretty good feeling what he would say. My guess is he would have given up his eyesight rather than be forced to go deaf.

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#1494994 - 08/13/10 06:00 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Reading is needed only if your sole focus is playing classical pieces. I stopped classical altogether after high school, and now I never read music while playing.
That's your choice and I don't think anyone is trying to convince you that it's a bad choice for the sort of music you play. My choice is to cultivate reading AND playing by ear. I teach both so as to develop a well-rounded musician.
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#1494998 - 08/13/10 06:14 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: currawong]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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currawong, I told you not to reply to any of my posts. Why aren't you listening to me, oh wait, you're just reading!!

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#1495008 - 08/13/10 06:40 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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If you are a session musician you need some pretty serious reading chops....
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#1495113 - 08/13/10 10:41 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
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Wizard, I would expect a jazz musician to be about freedom and open mindedness. I deeply resent your apparent attempt to tell me and everyone else how we should approach music rather than allowing us to do what we enjoy and feel comfortable with. Have you any idea of how intolerant and judgmental you come across? This is not how I imagine jazz musicians as being.

I play first of all by ear because I was not fortunate enough to have the instruction that you had when you were younger, so that you can choose to use what works best for you. I imagine that possibly how these instructions were given was not in a good way so that you have one particular view of it. Being able to approach music a number of ways, from different angles, is my own choice. One can also approach the traditional classical things in different ways, and then it becomes alive and probably not that far removed from what you are pushing. There is no one way.

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#1495115 - 08/13/10 10:43 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Ken Knapp Offline



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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
currawong, I told you not to reply to any of my posts. Why aren't you listening to me, oh wait, you're just reading!!


Wiz, I don't have enough time to get into an in-depth research project to determine where this all evolved between you and currawong, but I have a distinct impression it began with you.

How about we stop it?

Ken
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#1495121 - 08/13/10 11:02 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Ken Knapp]
MiM Offline
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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.
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#1495145 - 08/13/10 11:43 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: MiM]
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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 Offline
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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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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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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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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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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]
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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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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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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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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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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]
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Posts: 303
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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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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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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 Online   content
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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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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
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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
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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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#1496321 - 08/15/10 06:20 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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I don't agree with your assertion that rhythm is non-quantitative.... and I'm not sure what you mean by saying these aspects of music are 'in a different category', unless you mean this self-evidently: pitch is a different category to timbre, for instance.

My point was that the idea of improvising out of one category (pitch) [and doing so in a diatonic fashion] is a somewhat one-dimensional idea of improvising. See Canonie's comments which expand on other ways of improvising in a lesson context.
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#1496372 - 08/15/10 09:33 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Elissa Milne]
danshure Offline
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here's a student of mine improvising. he's 7 i think.

the funny thing is, i never asked him to improvise. he always just started playing around on the piano right when he sat down. one day i decided to let him continue. sometimes he goes on for 20 minutes! i've never "taught" him or said a word about what to do, he just does it - but i see my role more as "allowing" than "teaching" in this particular circumstance.

http://www.evolvingmusicedu.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/02-18-10.mp3
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#1496537 - 08/15/10 02:28 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Having limitations is actually better than telling them to play whatever they want. Usually they will be completely lost.

I agree with this. For most, not having some kind of guideline for improvisation would be too daunting. Especially with a sea of 88 shiny keys staring back at them.

Much better, (and more musical) to show what can be done with a small amount of material. Eventually, students learn how to develop their own set of limitations.
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#1496545 - 08/15/10 02:47 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
keystring Online   content
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May I suggest that it depends on the student and/or depends on the teacher, and that there is no single right way.

I suspect that like with language, we absorb the structures of music and can end up using them in a way that makes sense. We don't know what we know, but we use it anyway. The clip of Danshure's student reminds me a bit of how I experimented - you can hear little patterns emerging and coming together. It does not seem to be driven by chords, but maybe they'll come in.

One of the things that I invented around age 8 got frozen in time because I was deprived of an instrument after that. I remember it. You could analyze it and think it was written after studying theory and form. But actually four notes inspired four more notes on the melody side, but I must have also had a feeling of how music is structured. If somebody had restricted me to two chords and forced me to work along a "guided" way as you two propose, I would have shut down. I am not linear. I can't think that way.

I have no trouble believing that this works with many students. The part that bothers me is if I understand that this is supposed to be the only way. To me it is not liberating - it is restricting, and doesn't go with my nature. Ed, etc., are you open to the idea that there may be more than one way becuase there is more than one kind of student and teacher?

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#1496553 - 08/15/10 03:01 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: keystring]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Ed, etc., are you open to the idea that there may be more than one way becuase there is more than one kind of student and teacher?

Absolutely! Whatever works for you works. What I'm saying is most beginning students have a problem if you simply sit them at the piano and say 'improvise.' There are way too many choices. Many fight the idea of limitations but it's a very helpful way to focus in.

Think about writing prompts. For example, if someone says, "write about the hottest summer you've ever experienced using no more than 300 words," it allows the writer to write extemporaenously about that one particular thing. This kind of exercise can be very freeing because of the limitations themselves.

Actually, this topic is a very good one and sort of deserves it's own thread. smile
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#1496619 - 08/15/10 05:07 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
keystring Online   content
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Thanks for the response, Ed, and it makes for interesting open-ended exploration.
Quote:
What I'm saying is most beginning students have a problem if you simply sit them at the piano and say 'improvise.'

I'll have to take your word for it since I don't teach. I don't know what I would have done since this wasn't asked of me.
Quote:
For example, if someone says, "write about the hottest summer you've ever experienced using no more than 300 words,"


I cannot begin to express how much I hated those!!! You are boxed in left, right and center.

Give me a peanut, a feather, the sound of water. Allow it to develop. I am extremely creative person in the arts, especialy language and music. The process is the same in either of them. All these "guided creativity" things kill everything for me.


Edited by keystring (08/15/10 05:12 PM)
Edit Reason: 1st par. changed

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#1496805 - 08/15/10 10:32 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: eweiss]
LimeFriday Offline
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Quote:
What I'm saying is most beginning students have a problem if you simply sit them at the piano and say 'improvise.'


I certainly wouldn't ask any student to sit at the piano and just say 'improvise'. For a start - most young beginning students wouldn't have a clue was improvisation was!

But getting beginners to sit down and explore the piano - putting their stories into music - playing with loud/soft - high/low - different rhythms - that's not frightening. The young kids love making noise. And no - it's not improvising in the way that experienced musicians improvise.

It seems that there are a few of us that like to begin with the exploring what the piano can do - rather than beginning solely with reading.

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#1496993 - 08/16/10 10:10 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: LimeFriday]
Canonie Offline
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danshure, thank you for posting that recording. Only a young kid sounds like this, and I love it laugh oh my goodness, he just used the sustain pedal. Now it's over. Ah! he uses the very sophisticated composition tool of "saving something until climax/end". The rhythm is interesting in that it is very rhythmic, but not metronomically so. The rhythm ebbs and flows more like breathing, or like spoken sentences.

Ed, your idea of "For most, not having some kind of guideline for improvisation would be too daunting. Especially with a sea of 88 shiny keys staring back at them." is spot on, except for this younger age group. There is something extraordinary that can be drawn out with little to no effort or input. Their improvisations change with time as the pieces they learn are incorporated into their creative repertoire. As a Classical-lots-of-reading teacher, I have to try to keep the improv and creativity going as they begin to learn more interesting pieces.

When *I* do a bit of composing I set limitations. Nothing fires up my creativity than limitations. The whole first part of the process is devoted to finding a really good set of limitations. But I'm not 6 years old I guess. Interesting how that changes with age.

Another thing. I'm fascinated that danshure's student plays entirely in C major (although it sounds more Machaut than Mozart) especially after what I said about methods and c major a few posts back. If you are around danshure, would you tell us whether the child has mainly been playing c major pieces at the moment? and whether his improv's ever move to other tonalities?
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#1497008 - 08/16/10 10:33 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
danshure Offline
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Originally Posted By: Canonie
Another thing. I'm fascinated that danshure's student plays entirely in C major (although it sounds more Machaut than Mozart) especially after what I said about methods and c major a few posts back. If you are around danshure, would you tell us whether the child has mainly been playing c major pieces at the moment? and whether his improv's ever move to other tonalities?

He mostly does play C major pieces, and at the time of that recording he had only gotten to the end of PA Primer level. His improvisation ability is far beyond his reading. I have some other more recent recordings I can dig up, which get more involved than this one, and if I get a chance I will.

BUT one thing he did once - he was improvising in C, but then took both arms, held down the pedal and starting doing these gliassandos on all the black notes by running his arms repetitively top to bottom over the black keys. My jaw dropped.... I have NO idea where he came up with that! It was a beautiful Gb Major Glissando, that's for sure.

I have showed him how to play in G by changing all the F's to F sharps, which he will do occasionally, but mainly he sticks to C smile


Edited by danshure (08/16/10 10:33 AM)
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#1497427 - 08/16/10 07:58 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: danshure]
Canonie Offline
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Loc: Australia
Thanks heaps for answering my questions. Yes, his improv is way beyond the slow simplicity of Piano Adv Primer. But this example confirms my ideas that pieces studied are the source material for improvisation, except for those glisses which he has found with his own exploring - Nice! It shows how kids are ready to embrace the full sounds and possibilities of the piano, unless we get too much in the way with teaching correct music played correctly. It's great that his rhythm is adventurous smile

Very inspiring and interesting thread, although I've forgotten what it is that i have backwards... I think we have drifted from the original topic smile Thanks again to danshure for a recording. One day I will set up recording in my "studio" and then be able to post kids improvising, oh and playing my own "incorrect" compositions and songs - which they learn by ear, exploration and pattern - see; I am back on topic!


Edited by Canonie (08/16/10 07:59 PM)
Edit Reason: happy birthday dansure!!

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#1497672 - 08/17/10 06:56 AM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
danshure Offline
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No problem... I do agree, most of my students who improvise draw from what they've learned in books or otherwise.

I FOUND another recording - same student, two months later. This one has those glissandos at the end... more beautiful than I remember. It's 12:00 minutes but worth a listen. smile

http://www.evolvingmusicedu.com/Recordings/Students/04-02-10.mp3
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#1498576 - 08/18/10 12:24 PM Re: Do Most Piano Teachers Have it Backwards? [Re: Canonie]
qtpi Offline
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I confess to only reading the first page and the last 2 pages- so I do not know is this point has been made but human beings already have a musical language in place when they start piano- when I taught, I taught note reading right from the beginning.Kids love it- it's like learning to read a book. we already know the words and stories. Children sing, skip, run, jump, hum, and listen to music from their earliest days.
I also would teach them how to use the keyboard to write a humorous story.
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