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#1571006 - 12/06/10 12:22 AM Common problem?
William A.P.M. Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
I recently came across this interesting case - not a first however. A student 14 years old who had several Chopin nocturnes, etudes and the 1st and 3rd ballades in his repertoire.

In my first meeting with him, I was glad that I was helping an advanced student. He played the 2 ballades he knew and Chopin's 8th etude. The problem was evident immediately: he wasn't technically equipped to handle the difficulties in any of these pieces!

My issue here is not him per se or his study habits, but the teacher(s) who gave him these pieces without providing him with some good quality excercises for his fingers. One of the first things I put him under were the 1st 6 studies in Hanon's method book. He handled the 1st 2 studies with mediocrity and he severely lacked evenness, and he crashed with the following 4 studies, pretty much giving up.

I've decided to put him under much-needed Hanon and now the mom complains I'm taking him a step back. This is very dis-heartening for me but the truth is I don't want him to be under the impression that his sub-mediocrity is perfectly fine, or that he should even be tackling these pieces. According to him he would've been playing Chopin's 4th ballade very soon. And how?!!!

Is Hanon the usual solution for anyone else who might have had a student like this?

I mean - my problem put very simply in this way:

A kid playing Chopin's 1st ballade (or 3rd ballade) who has no awareness of tempo, can't play legato, overuses the pedal and lacks the technique to execute the work(s) properly(????). What kind of teacher lets this go on?

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#1571020 - 12/06/10 01:01 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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You could try turning some of his Chopin into exercises.
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#1571029 - 12/06/10 01:45 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I don't think Hanon is going to cure much of what's wrong.

I think a TRUE and complete step back, chucking the big pieces out the window and doing music that he can actually play well, is absolutely going to happen. If you volunteer to be the one to do it though, you may quickly get dumped for another teacher.

I would say Mozart sonatas, Bach fugues, and other real music that is impossible to fake, would do him much more good than Hanon - which is more boredom than it's worth IMO.
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#1571036 - 12/06/10 02:06 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: david_a]
William A.P.M. Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
Thanks for the advice David.

The "impossible to fake" is certainly what I'm going for, and Mozart or Bach can do that. It's his fingers, PERIOD. They're not trained at all. He probably couldn't play 'Fur Elise' evenly.

I just don't want this hurting the reputation I'm beginning to acquire since I live in a private community where this could all turn against me. I have several students.

The mother is very proud of her son's accomplishments but she didn't like the idea of him moving back a step. She takes it that I'm just slowing him down when he is in fact very talented. AND there's no way on earth he could fix half the mistakes in his repertoire. I hope he likes the idea of Bach or Mozart, or surely this kid will quit and the mom will be happy. =(

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#1571038 - 12/06/10 02:12 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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In that case go for Mazurkas.
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#1571097 - 12/06/10 06:31 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
It's time to go back to basics. Scales and arpeggios every day without fail. I was going to suggest some Brahms exercises but those are beyond him. Czerny exercises - not the 51 we're used to seeing, but the lesser known ones - are fun to play and can be very musical.

I'm sure the mom is very proud, but the reality of the situation is that if something isn't done now, someone else will be much more rude to her in the future. Explain that her son needs to shore up his basic skills and make a comparison with any great athlete or musician that regularly goes back to his roots. Michael Jordan spent hours practicing dribbling and simple jump shots knowing that those two skills at the highest level would allow him to do greater things. Time and time again, concert pianists start from the beginning and rebuild their technique. Every few years, I hear, Murray Perahia returns to scales and arpeggios and rebuilds his technique with them. He practices only scales and arpeggios.

Liszt believed that in order to become a master at piano, one had to practice technique - scales, arpeggios, octaves, trills - for hours a day. I think it was some ungodly number like four. So in the end it is no big deal to go back to the basics. The challenge is (some reverse psychology here) how well her son will be able to handle it. If he's truly gifted and dedicated to piano, he will understand the value of these exercises and devote his time to practicing the foundations of piano playing.

I'd couch this with some talk about general musicianship activities such as theory, sightreading, ear training, basic composition, and see how well that goes over.

Best of luck!
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#1571128 - 12/06/10 08:23 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Remember that recent "comparisons" thread. smile

Well, now may be the time to give mom a cold shower. Compare her son to students who have a proper technical foundation. Do it in a clinical, matter-of-fact way that avoids judgmental tone. You may lose them, or you may convince them. Better to lose them now if they are untrainable. If you convince them, you will have more willing partners for whatever remedial approach you take. You win either way.

BTW, I like Hanon for finger dexterity if used judiciously. But I agree that you may face attitude problems in telling an older student to begin such 'basics.' Scales and arpeggios are also basics, but it may be easier to convince student and mom that they are part of the arsenal of any serious musician.
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#1571148 - 12/06/10 08:56 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Sviatoslav Offline
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Registered: 04/19/05
Posts: 97
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I don't think it'a an issue about "which" exercise is the best to "treat" his technical problems.
It'a all about awareness: you believe the guy needs technical work, mom and son don't.

I think you mentioned a few nice examples of what he cannot accomplish: make them listen to something on par and compare it with his performance (may a recording can do the trick).
If they recognize the difference you have a totally new student probably willing to improve; if they don't you have a clear sign that the son is probably untrainable.


Edited by Sviatoslav (12/06/10 08:56 AM)

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#1571240 - 12/06/10 11:50 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: Sviatoslav]
rocket88 Offline
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Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: William A.P.M.

My issue here is not him per se or his study habits, but the teacher(s) who gave him these pieces without providing him with some good quality excercises for his fingers. One of the first things I put him under were the 1st 6 studies in Hanon's method book. He handled the 1st 2 studies with mediocrity and he severely lacked evenness, and he crashed with the following 4 studies, pretty much giving up.


You have provided the solution in your above quote.

Have him play Hanon #1 in front of mom, and then you play it. Explain that the first few Hanon exercises are very basic, and that a student with 6 months of study should be able to do them easily, perhaps hands separate, but like you did, much better than this boy.

The fact that he could not even do the first one, which is basically a simplified scale, without errors and very unmusically indicates that the he has not been properly prepared, and that the only way you can help him is to take him back to the beginning and rebuild / build a proper foundation.

As others have said, you might lose him, but what is your option? To keep him you will battle and struggle, and likely not get anywhere. As Sviatoslav wisely said above, it is an awareness of the deficiency issue that is foundational to any progress.


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#1571367 - 12/06/10 03:03 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
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I disagree with your assessment of this student and your handling of him. You're doing it strictly by the book (he doesn't have "foundation" and thus you're giving him "foundation"), which seems to justify your approach. That's easy way to handle it, but this calls for much more flexible approach, in my opinion.

First of all, putting him on Hanon studies is not going to give him the foundation for the Ballades in no time. Anyone should be able see that. What I would do is to work with what you've got, so to speak. He can play the ballades, at least in some measure (and of course he's not going to sound like Arrau at this point). So work with that. Let him keep working on them, using repetition and time to smooth things out. With patience, and time, the ballades should fall in place under his fingers.

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#1571386 - 12/06/10 03:21 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Gyro]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I disagree with your assessment of this student and your handling of him. You're doing it strictly by the book (he doesn't have "foundation" and thus you're giving him "foundation"), which seems to justify your approach. That's easy way to handle it, but this calls for much more flexible approach, in my opinion.

First of all, putting him on Hanon studies is not going to give him the foundation for the Ballades in no time. Anyone should be able see that. What I would do is to work with what you've got, so to speak. He can play the ballades, at least in some measure (and of course he's not going to sound like Arrau at this point). So work with that. Let him keep working on them, using repetition and time to smooth things out. With patience, and time, the ballades should fall in place under his fingers.
We know that this method takes ten years for ONE piece, and that not up to a good standard either. Your method is what the boy has already been doing, and we see the results.
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#1571410 - 12/06/10 03:57 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
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,


Edited by Piano*Dad (12/06/10 08:06 PM)
Edit Reason: Post to which I was responding was deleted
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#1571424 - 12/06/10 04:14 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Gyro]
Chopinmaniac Offline
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Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 65
I agree with Gyro on this one. simply asking the kid to go back to scales, arpeggios, Czerny, and Hannon is the easy way out, it is usually what the less competent teacher will do -- they go by the book.

A competent teacher should be able to create customized exercise regimen specific for the repertoire at hand. The kid is 14, he should have no problem reaching an octave with ease, so physically, he should be able to play anything.

If the kid and his mom think his playing is so awesome, let them listen to or watch how the best play the same pieces, maybe they will be humble enough to go along with the remedial program.
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#1571501 - 12/06/10 05:59 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: rocket88]
William A.P.M. Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: William A.P.M.

My issue here is not him per se or his study habits, but the teacher(s) who gave him these pieces without providing him with some good quality excercises for his fingers. One of the first things I put him under were the 1st 6 studies in Hanon's method book. He handled the 1st 2 studies with mediocrity and he severely lacked evenness, and he crashed with the following 4 studies, pretty much giving up.


You have provided the solution in your above quote.

Have him play Hanon #1 in front of mom, and then you play it. Explain that the first few Hanon exercises are very basic, and that a student with 6 months of study should be able to do them easily, perhaps hands separate, but like you did, much better than this boy.

The fact that he could not even do the first one, which is basically a simplified scale, without errors and very unmusically indicates that the he has not been properly prepared, and that the only way you can help him is to take him back to the beginning and rebuild / build a proper foundation.

As others have said, you might lose him, but what is your option? To keep him you will battle and struggle, and likely not get anywhere. As Sviatoslav wisely said above, it is an awareness of the deficiency issue that is foundational to any progress.




I'd like to thank everyone for their comments and help. Very appreciative.

It's 18:00 over here and the lesson was over an hour ago. I am still his teacher. =)

Getting more information on what kind of things he was asked to prepare for lessons, not once did I hear scales or anything that might resemble a method book for building up technique. I played several passages of the 1st ballade for him so that he also understood and observed what he is doing wrong, not because he's a bad pianist but because he hasn't obtained the sufficient agility and/or dexterity in his fingers to achieve a higher degree of fluidity.

It'll be Hanon exercises 1-6 for about a month until his fingers start showing serious improvement. I followed someone's advice of something like Bach or Mozart and my student happily accepted claiming he had wanted to do a piece like that for some time.

I think I'll be able to help him out and also help him polish up his repertoire for his satisfaction. I just don't understand what kind of teacher ignores technique?!!! I'm sure nobody here gives any of their students advanced pieces just to show him/her off as their student. Despite his accomplishments with 2 of Chopin's ballades, they remain way past his technical ability. As a student I must've done Chopin's complete nocturnes before I even dreamt of wanting to do the 1st ballade. My teacher was highly aware of what I could and couldn't do, and I'll try to follow that example.

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#1571551 - 12/06/10 07:16 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Quote:
I'm sure nobody here gives any of their students advanced pieces just to show him/her off as their student.


I must admit, I fail to see how an abysmal performance of a technically challenging piece would "show off" a student in a way that would benefit a teacher.
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#1571556 - 12/06/10 07:41 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Piano*Dad]
William A.P.M. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
I'm sure nobody here gives any of their students advanced pieces just to show him/her off as their student.


I must admit, I fail to see how an abysmal performance of a technically challenging piece would "show off" a student in a way that would benefit a teacher.


Me neither, but surely I can't think of many reasons why a teacher would do that. In retrospect, I remember perceiving that in my teacher when I was barely a teenager when for a concert she was dying to have me perform last, which meant that I was performing the most difficult piece. Lucky for me, I didn't make a fool of myself trying to learn something much harder and opted for a much easier nocturne by Chopin. The Schubert impromptu the girl played at the end was way* out of my league. So afterall I do believe some teachers push their students too much, especially when these concerts/recitals become about whose student is the most advanced. I knew my teacher was one of those, but she didn't push me too much, luckily.

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#1571563 - 12/06/10 08:06 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Chopinmaniac]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
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Originally Posted By: Chopinmaniac
I agree with Gyro on this one. simply asking the kid to go back to scales, arpeggios, Czerny, and Hannon is the easy way out, it is usually what the less competent teacher will do -- they go by the book.


Are you saying those posters who made such suggestions are "less competent"??

When Czerny first took Liszt as a student, he made Liszt play nothing but scales and technical exercises...for TWO YEARS!
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#1571686 - 12/07/10 12:24 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
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You are justified in having him do Hanon and some other exercises (you could try the Jazz Hanon if you want to make this more interesting for him harmonically and if you want to involve all keys and hand orientations). Maybe try giving him some pieces from Mikrokosmos (again, more interesting harmonically). However, kicking out those pieces that he's been playing will be received well neither by the student nor by the mother. What you can do is, you can work on one of them, two measures at a time, at each lesson. Maybe you'll have him play that ballade much better in 4-5 months from now along with having him do the basic technical exercises, scales and arpeggios if you allocate time wisely (do just 10 mins of the ballade.. 2 measures should take 10 minutes of explaining and demonstrations. Move on only if he perfects those for the next lesson and make sure he memorizes the connections with the previous measure and the succeeding measure, so that you teach him how to memorize effectively along the way). Strictly instruct him NOT to play at speed. Have him play it at an extremely slow tempo. Tell him never to try out what he just practiced at speed to "see" what it sounds like. Just a few suggestions.. wink
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#1571709 - 12/07/10 01:21 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
molto_agitato Offline
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Registered: 04/05/09
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Loc: Washington State
William, I'm just curious, but what does your student think about his playing? I realize his mother believes he is immensely talented, but does your student hold the same opinion? Unless I missed it in this thread, I didn't read any indication that the mom and son have the same high opinion of the son's playing. Is it possible he realizes his current skills are woefully inadequate to conquer the pieces his previous teacher assigned? Perhaps he realizes this, and desperately wants to improve his basic skills, but, as he apparently hasn't had a decent teacher until now, he doesn't know how to go about doing so.

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#1571797 - 12/07/10 07:22 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: William A.P.M.

... but surely I can't think of many reasons why a teacher would do that.

One reason is staring you right in the face. Student and mother were convinced that he was advancing and advanced. Everyone's happy, right? frown - what a wonderful teacher who can make his student "advance" so fast. How wonderful everyone is. If a student does notice that his later pieces can't be brought to sounding decent, he won't know why he's struggling. I mean who would know that when you are "advanced" the solution lies in what you should have gotten in the beginning, while under the guidance of a teacher? Why would anything be missing? It is close to a betrayal of trust. As student I am glad you are doing this.

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#1571843 - 12/07/10 08:27 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: Chopinmaniac]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
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Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Chopinmaniac
I agree with Gyro on this one. simply asking the kid to go back to scales, arpeggios, Czerny, and Hannon is the easy way out, it is usually what the less competent teacher will do -- they go by the book.

A competent teacher should be able to create customized exercise regimen specific for the repertoire at hand. The kid is 14, he should have no problem reaching an octave with ease, so physically, he should be able to play anything.

If the kid and his mom think his playing is so awesome, let them listen to or watch how the best play the same pieces, maybe they will be humble enough to go along with the remedial program.


You know, I gotta say it: I'm offended. I am not a "less competent" teacher. Scales and arpeggios are a very necessary part of any pianist's practice regimen whether they be beginners or advanced. Everyone does scales, myself included, and I'd hardly say any of my teachers were incompetent.
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#1571902 - 12/07/10 10:08 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Minaku,

I suspect it was more of a thoughtless toss-off thing to say, and not a malicious jab. Like me, Chopinmaniac seems to be a parent and not a teacher. Don't get too bent out of shape.
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#1571904 - 12/07/10 10:11 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
One reason is staring you right in the face. Student and mother were convinced that he was advancing and advanced. Everyone's happy, right? - what a wonderful teacher who can make his student "advance" so fast.


That would suggest a teacher who did not care about reputation, or did not understand it.
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#1571916 - 12/07/10 10:30 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Minniemay Offline
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Scales, arpeggios and Hanon are useful tools. When I get a student like the one described, I use them a lot, at first, because they are usually easy enough that the student doesn't have to think about the notes, but can think about what their body is doing and how they sound while playing.

It isn't a matter of textbook at all. It's a matter of creating the opportunity for the student to become self-aware and to retrain some basic technical gestures and listening skills.

I also choose short repertoire that uses these skills, pieces that can be learned relatively quickly and put aside once the main goal is met.

I have never had a problem telling both parent and student exactly what I see needs to happen. They have to be on board. I also remember that the student needs plenty of encouragement along the way.
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#1571929 - 12/07/10 10:44 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I'm not sure where the idea the student doesn't know his scales and arps came from - if it's so it isn't good. I certainly don't see why Hanon's called for, poor sod!
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#1571930 - 12/07/10 10:46 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Minaku Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Minaku,

I suspect it was more of a thoughtless toss-off thing to say, and not a malicious jab. Like me, Chopinmaniac seems to be a parent and not a teacher. Don't get too bent out of shape.


You're right, P*D. I think I was just surprised that someone agreed with what was clearly awful advice.
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#1572002 - 12/07/10 12:37 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Minniemay Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I'm not sure where the idea the student doesn't know his scales and arps came from - if it's so it isn't good. I certainly don't see why Hanon's called for, poor sod!


I use certain Hanon exercises to teach basic physical gestures like wrist flexibility, rotation and weight transfer. I don't just make them play the exercises. They do portions of them with purpose, not mindless repetition. Not having to concentrate on the actual reading makes it easier to concentrate on the important stuff. Once they have these down, we move on to Czerny 8-measure exercises, again not all of them, just certain applications. They are short and musical and make thejump to repertoire more successful.
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#1572006 - 12/07/10 12:41 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
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Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Czerny 8-measure exercises

What's the opus number for these?
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#1572056 - 12/07/10 01:59 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
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Op. 821
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#1572079 - 12/07/10 02:48 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm skeptical that any standard technical studies--Hanon, Czerny, etc.-- will do any good in this situation. The technical problems in the ballades are essentially unique to them and no technical studies are going to really apply--that is, no one wrote any technical studies specific to these ballades. In particular, I'm skeptical about Czerny. My impression of him is that his studies are essentially worthless in real word situations. He apparently did a great job of promoting himself, using the fact that he was taught by Beethoven and then taught Liszt briefly, to his advantage. He churned out tons of technical studies, all different--just the dilution effect alone here would call them into question--and they sold well, given his carefully cultivated reputation, and made him a rich man. But they apparently were written with profit in mind more than anything else and are of questionable value, at best.

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#1572098 - 12/07/10 03:25 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Chopinmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 65
Thanks P*D for the sharp perception. I am sorry if I offended anyone. I should have been more specific in my statement.

My qualification is for those who just throw the scales book, Czerny, and Hannon at the students and tell them to go home and practice (for hours!!) without educating them why a specific piece of exercise is chosen and how it is linked to the difficult passages of the repertoire at hand.

I personally knew quite a few of piano teachers like that, their students either switching teacher or quitting altogether because of the mindless drudgery.

In the classical piano literature (as limited as I know), one of the most difficult challenges is how to play the long, long, and fast running notes evenly and under control (play it anyway you want). You don’t need to practice scales, Czerny, and Hannon to overcome that challenge; you can use a method called Rhythm exercise, which I am pretty sure most of the piano teachers here already knew. You practice on the passage that you are having difficulty on. This is how you do it:

1. Long, short; long, short; …………..
2. Short, long; short, long …………..
3. Long, short, short; long,short,short; ………….
4. Short, short, long; short short long …….

So on and so forth.

After a while, your fingers become faster than your brain, and that is what you are aiming for, if you have to think, then you will have problem playing the passage.

The above is just one example demonstrating that you don’t need scales, Czerny, and Hannon to help the students play advanced pieces.

You do need to do scales to warm up your fingers though before your practice session.

Peace & Love
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#1572347 - 12/07/10 10:37 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: molto_agitato]
William A.P.M. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 554
Loc: Ecuador
Originally Posted By: molto_agitato
William, I'm just curious, but what does your student think about his playing? I realize his mother believes he is immensely talented, but does your student hold the same opinion? Unless I missed it in this thread, I didn't read any indication that the mom and son have the same high opinion of the son's playing. Is it possible he realizes his current skills are woefully inadequate to conquer the pieces his previous teacher assigned? Perhaps he realizes this, and desperately wants to improve his basic skills, but, as he apparently hasn't had a decent teacher until now, he doesn't know how to go about doing so.


Thanks everyone again for your thoughts.

My biggest fear was having to tell this student in some way that he's seriously not ready for the repertoire that he has somehow been able to learn.
He has shown the desire to improve because there are certain passages he cannot execute with enough speed or consistent precision.
Despite what some have shared here, I really believe this kid needs work on scales and plenty of technical exercises. I don't plan on bringing up the ballade again for a long time.
More than anything, I believe it's been his obssession with certain popular classical works that has motivated him to learn them, despite the lack of technical ability.
I'm not fired, but the mother understood my point when I played the first 4 pages or so of the 1st ballade. I have a student willing to learn who has somehow been deprived of proper training to help him achieve more. I'm good for now. XD

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#1572364 - 12/07/10 11:21 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Definitely don’t go backwards (please burn the gruesome Hanon and Czerny studies)... the obvious solution is for the Piano Teacher to select a fresh work by Chopin and teach the jolly old thing THE RIGHT WAY ... and this includes good fingering, awareness of tempo, legato, use of pedal and technique.

Why not use Chopin’s Etude Opus 15, no. 3 to get back on track?

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#1572374 - 12/07/10 11:48 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Maybe you can assign him a theme and variations or a set of Bach Suites that has dances ranging from easy to difficult. Assign him the easy ones first and insist that he work on those to perfection before proceeding to another, coaching him on all the essentials that have been missed (which will include technical and musical aspects since this is actual music rather than pure technique). He won't feel like he's being moved back because he's still being assigned an advanced piece.

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#1572581 - 12/08/10 10:13 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: btb]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: btb
Definitely don’t go backwards (please burn the gruesome Hanon and Czerny studies)... the obvious solution is for the Piano Teacher to select a fresh work by Chopin and teach the jolly old thing THE RIGHT WAY ... and this includes good fingering, awareness of tempo, legato, use of pedal and technique.

Why not use Chopin’s Etude Opus 15, no. 3 to get back on track?


btb,

Yours is a taste that is not shared universally. Equating exercises with things "gruesome" and saying that YOUR solution is the OBVIOUS one do not advance the argument very much. On the other hand, statements like these DO suggest that you have a very high opinion of your opinion. smile
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#1572614 - 12/08/10 11:01 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
But then you're not a Piano Teacher PD ...

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#1572657 - 12/08/10 12:25 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: btb]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: btb
But then you're not a Piano Teacher PD ...
I am a "Piano Teacher" (why the capital letters?), and I am in total agreement with PD's post.
_________________________
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#1573052 - 12/09/10 12:19 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi David a,

Are you really a Piano Teacher?

1. You don’t describe your piano
2. Have no e-mail, and
3. Don’t accept private messages

Not the best of recipes for good business.

Strange!

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#1573062 - 12/09/10 12:55 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I am a Piano Teacher (tm) and I hereby endorse Piano*Dad's post.
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#1573070 - 12/09/10 01:23 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: btb]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: btb
Hi David a,

Are you really a Piano Teacher?

1. You don’t describe your piano
2. Have no e-mail, and
3. Don’t accept private messages

Not the best of recipes for good business.

Strange!
I come to pianoworld for discussion, not to advertise my business or to make new friends. If that's strange, then so be it.
_________________________
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#1573079 - 12/09/10 01:36 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: david_a]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Actually, forum rules require that you state your profession in your signature if you're a piano teacher, but that's not followed by everyone. I don't think it's a big deal unless you're slyly promoting your own business, which you're not.

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#1573098 - 12/09/10 02:29 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: Frozenicicles]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11181
Loc: Canada
The idea of stating that you are a teacher came up two years ago, because of confusion. For example, if a teacher asks about a technical issue then it is for teaching and s/he will have a lot of background. If a student asks about the same thing, then different kind of information is needed. Teachers didn't know how to answer queries and so requested this signature line.

Also, when advice is given, it is good to know whether that advice comes from a music teacher or not. This is the other reason that members posting in the teacher forum were asked to identify their status.

It was never meant to be used as a way to diminish a person's input. Either a point is sensible or it isn't.

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#1573107 - 12/09/10 02:56 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Please chaps ... read the small type

We’re trying to help Piano Teacher William with his take-over slap-dash 14 year old student ... however Mum complains about her dear son going backwards with the Hanon fingering exercises (clearly a better win-win solution is called for) ...

the OP asks

“Is Hanon the usual solution for anyone else who might have had a student like this?”

Now PD, David a and Minaku oppose my suggested solution to the problem ... namely to choose a fresh Chopin masterpiece and for William to use this model to teach properly ... highlighting shortfalls in tempo, legato, pedal and technique.

Don’t snipe chaps ... please try to solve the problem.

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#1573201 - 12/09/10 08:28 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10763
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I totally disagree with the idea that giving a student (or allowing him to continue) in a piece that is far beyond his ability to play is a good thing. A student needs success. There are plenty of wonderful works at all levels. If this boy needs to take a step back (and he does), then perhaps choose repertoire from different style periods at first. It will be less noticeable and harder to compare difficulty.

Also, scales and arpeggios are extremely important, despite what others may say. They are the building blocks of most tonal music. Hanon or Czerny can be a great help, but I recommend picking only ones that directly apply to the music he's working on for now so that he understands the purpose behind them (i.e., you need help on trills in a peice, so you do the trill exercises in Hanon).
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#1573204 - 12/09/10 08:33 AM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Actually, btb, I have no objection to you voicing your opinion. There is even some merit in your idea, IMO. What I object to, and what I think leads many readers to dismiss you, is your tone. You casually dismiss everyone with whom you disagree. Things that you don't like become "gruesome" and things that you advocate are "obvious." A tone like that is not an invitation to a conversation. It is instead an opening shot in a firefight, or worse, a invitation to silence as people who have a different view refuse to participate when their considered views are ridiculed as "gruesome" or stupid. Yes, I know you didn't use the word "stupid," but if someone disagrees with something that is "obvious" I guess that person could fairly be termed stupid.
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#1573323 - 12/09/10 12:10 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Quote:
The idea of stating that you are a teacher came up two years ago, because of confusion.

It was a stated requirement when I joined the forum many years ago (4 1/2 yrs).

As Keystring stated, it's very helpful for forum participants regardless of whether they are teacher, student or parent.
_________________________
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Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1573342 - 12/09/10 12:37 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11181
Loc: Canada
I'd think that different solutions apply to different scenarios: what the teacher sees in regards to the student as a whole. So how can one thing be right, and the other ridiculous?

When I was a student on another instrument, I advanced very fast. Music comes naturally, and never having had lessons, I had not learned not to be spontaneous. At the higher grades I could not get past playing relatively crudely because I simply lacked the technical foundation and this was frustrating. Above all, I didn't know what I was missing. Then I went over to the equivalent of Hanon / Czerny after getting some basic technique. This worked for me because of where I was at as a student. Another student might have found exercises derived from pieces to work for them.

These studies allow you to focus on a physical action (technique) and musical effect exclusively. You can put your attention entirely on it, without being distracted by anything else. For me this was ideal. I had never experienced learning technique in this way. It was a huge reward to have these things in my hands, and then apply them to the pieces I had struggled with. It was magic to me. It may well be the same for this student if his situation is similar to mine.

Another student, maybe even having the same weaknesses that I had, might need a different approach than what worked for me.
The teacher's teaching style might be more in sync with one teaching tool than another. Even in my field of training and expertise, I would not insist on one approach being right and the other being nonsense.

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#1573468 - 12/09/10 04:42 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: Morodiene]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I totally disagree with the idea that giving a student (or allowing him to continue) in a piece that is far beyond his ability to play is a good thing. A student needs success. There are plenty of wonderful works at all levels. If this boy needs to take a step back (and he does), then perhaps choose repertoire from different style periods at first. It will be less noticeable and harder to compare difficulty.

Also, scales and arpeggios are extremely important, despite what others may say. They are the building blocks of most tonal music. Hanon or Czerny can be a great help, but I recommend picking only ones that directly apply to the music he's working on for now so that he understands the purpose behind them (i.e., you need help on trills in a peice, so you do the trill exercises in Hanon).
I generally agree with this, but I make an exception: if a student wants to take on one piece far beyond his ability, and only for the reason that he himself really wants to play that specific piece, AND he is willing to spend most of his practice time on things appropriate to his level at the same time, then I'm in favour of it. I would never take the initiative in assigning something like that however. (Of course I assign things that are a little bit beyond the student's level, but I view that as a different category.)

(In general, I don't "believe in" simplified arrangements of original piano music. I do "believe in" arrangements of music that was not originally for piano anyway.)
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#1573484 - 12/09/10 05:22 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: William A.P.M.
I recently came across this interesting case - not a first however. A student 14 years old who had several Chopin nocturnes, etudes and the 1st and 3rd ballades in his repertoire.

In my first meeting with him, I was glad that I was helping an advanced student. He played the 2 ballades he knew and Chopin's 8th etude. The problem was evident immediately: he wasn't technically equipped to handle the difficulties in any of these pieces!

My issue here is not him per se or his study habits, but the teacher(s) who gave him these pieces without providing him with some good quality excercises for his fingers. One of the first things I put him under were the 1st 6 studies in Hanon's method book. He handled the 1st 2 studies with mediocrity and he severely lacked evenness, and he crashed with the following 4 studies, pretty much giving up.

I've decided to put him under much-needed Hanon and now the mom complains I'm taking him a step back. This is very dis-heartening for me but the truth is I don't want him to be under the impression that his sub-mediocrity is perfectly fine, or that he should even be tackling these pieces. According to him he would've been playing Chopin's 4th ballade very soon. And how?!!!

Is Hanon the usual solution for anyone else who might have had a student like this?

I mean - my problem put very simply in this way:

A kid playing Chopin's 1st ballade (or 3rd ballade) who has no awareness of tempo, can't play legato, overuses the pedal and lacks the technique to execute the work(s) properly(????). What kind of teacher lets this go on?


In quick response to the OP 1st post (and not sure if any of this was addressed later on)...

There seems to be a lack of information sufficient to answering the question.

-At what age did he begin lessons?
-Were his lessons consistent or did he have breaks?
-How many teachers has he had?
-How long was it from his last teacher until beginning with you?
-What did he study? Method books? Repertoire?
-Did he in fact work on any scales etc or is this speculation?
-Can he currently play any pieces reasonably well?
-How is his sight reading?

I wouldn't jump to any conclusions about him or his teacher until these questions are answered.


Edited by danshure (12/09/10 05:22 PM)
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#1573486 - 12/09/10 05:26 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Students can make amazing progress in a year. We've all seen it. The key, as I believe we're all saying, is finding those upper intermediate and early advanced works which the student can learn rapidly, find musically exciting and desirable to play, which will also solve those technical issues which are plaguing him. Etudes generally fall into one of two categories - complete focus on technical issues, like Hanon and Czerny, but with no musical substance, and those which combine both. Most of the Heller and Bertini etudes which meet this criteria are hard to find in the USA, anyway. There are a number of 20th century pedagogues who have written good stuff for students as well.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1573498 - 12/09/10 06:04 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Quote:
The idea of stating that you are a teacher came up two years ago, because of confusion.

It was a stated requirement when I joined the forum many years ago (4 1/2 yrs).

As Keystring stated, it's very helpful for forum participants regardless of whether they are teacher, student or parent.
I wasn't previously aware of this, and have added this information to my signature.
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