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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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http://www.youtube.com/user/tyj1020

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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: 10372
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.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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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.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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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 Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11708
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 Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11968
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: 10372
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: 7384
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.
_________________________
"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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#1573342 - 12/09/10 12:37 PM Re: Common problem? [Re: William A.P.M.]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11708
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.)
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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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: 7384
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.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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