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#1738533 - 08/22/11 06:13 PM Help; feeling a little frustrated
Smilodon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/09
Posts: 52
Hi piano teachers,

Okay, First off I am not a piano teacher, but I have a question you folks might be best able to answer.

I have been taking lessons from the best teacher in my area for a couple months now. She's university trained, been teaching full time for like more than thirty years, she's turned out many successful music majors, and some professional pianists.

We have good rapport, but I have this perhaps unreasonable fear I will never learn to read music. It just seems totally insurmountable. I do everything she tells me, and although there is a little progress, I think I am memorizing pieces more than reading music.

It really blows me away to see someone play what looks like a complicated piece they have never seen before by reading music.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that reading music is where it's at, but it just feels like trying to learn nuclear physics written in Chinese.

Maybe I am expecting results too fast? She says I am doing awesome, but I am not feeling it.

I guess my ultimate goal (for right now) is to be able to read and play correctly at the level of Shumann, album for the young.

Any thoughts, or encouragements?

Thanks!

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#1738542 - 08/22/11 06:26 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
hi smile, how long did it take you to read english fluently? how much experience do you have reading a language - tv guide, phone book, recipe, tax form ?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1738544 - 08/22/11 06:30 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: ten left thumbs]
Smilodon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/09
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
hi smile, how long did it take you to read english fluently? how much experience do you have reading a language - tv guide, phone book, recipe, tax form ?


Jeez, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, not to mention lots of reading with my parents at home.

I guess that's how I have to look at it maybe? I read voraciously now as an adult, but I wasn't reading really interesting things till like maybe 6th grade?

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#1738547 - 08/22/11 06:38 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
these things take time. basically you are asking your brain to rewire itself and that doesnt happen fast.

best not to compare skill to other's skill level. that does lead to frustration. smile
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1738553 - 08/22/11 06:58 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
Smilodon, is your teacher teaching you how to read music, or how to play pieces? Let your teacher know that you want to develop that skill, and ask how to go about it.

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#1738560 - 08/22/11 07:06 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: keystring]
Smilodon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/09
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: keystring
Smilodon, is your teacher teaching you how to read music, or how to play pieces? Let your teacher know that you want to develop that skill, and ask how to go about it.


Oh she is all about me learning to read music, but she also gives me pieces that push the limits of my ability, and I can't just read them, I have to practice kind of learning the locations of the notes, then I can kind of play while reading the sheet music. I know there is some reading going on because I can't do it from memory, but it doesn't feel like straight music reading. I have many other simpler pieces that I call out the names of the notes in time. I hate doing that, but I know I have to have many hours of that, and i do it to the best of my ability. Playing simple pieces after those drills make me feel like I am reading music, and that is wonderful. I mean, HS kids like to play football at game time, but not always like to run laps, you know?

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#1738647 - 08/22/11 10:12 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
Smilodon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/09
Posts: 52
I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that this is going to take a long time, and it will consist of immersing myself in sight reading exercises daily for a long long time. And think of it like learning a foreign language, and learning an instrument... Ugh! At least it's fun :-)

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#1738689 - 08/22/11 11:02 PM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
timtopham Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 110
Loc: Brunswick, VIC
Yup, it just takes time - you can't rush it. Just as you can't rush your playing ability. Stick with it though, it does get easier and if you can read music, you're more likely to play for life.
_________________________
Tim Topham
www.timtopham.com
Piano teacher, accompanist, presenter
Melbourne Australia

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#1738800 - 08/23/11 03:18 AM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Smilodon


Oh she is all about me learning to read music, but she also gives me pieces that push the limits of my ability, and I can't just read them, I have to practice kind of learning the locations of the notes, then I can kind of play while reading the sheet music. I know there is some reading going on because I can't do it from memory, but it doesn't feel like straight music reading.


its still reading and it will still help. all types of reading will help yr sightreading. smile
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1738806 - 08/23/11 03:51 AM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5220
Loc: Europe
If you've been playing for a couple of months only, then there's little to worry. I mean understanding the mechanics behind note placement on the score and on the piano is easy enough (the middle C is "there", here's the F and the rest of the notes are there), but the actual practicing takes experience and time. I have students who have been with me for 3 years and still they mess up the notes some times. :-/

You need to think of it as some kind of gymnastic (of the brain). Exactly as in sports you may understand what needs to be done but are unable to do it; the same applies to instant note recognition and playing the piano. it takes practice!

As long as you're happy, and your teacher tells you that you're doing AWESOME, just relax and let her take you for this wonderful trip! smile
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1738828 - 08/23/11 06:59 AM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Smilodon

Oh she is all about me learning to read music, but ....

I understand from this that your teacher wants you to learn to read music. Is she also telling you how to develop this skill? This means, is she giving you things to do that are specifically aimed at learning to read, or telling you how to go about it?

It is true that our ability to read words took years. But our schooling also did specific things to give us this skill. We learned the alphabet, practised spelling, learned rules of phonetics, syntax and grammar. We used these things when we learned to read and write, which made it a more certain and faster process, than floundering around guessing how words work would have been. Of course spelling, grammar and phonics is nothing more than patterns, and we can find patterns on our own but it takes longer and we can come to wrong conclusions. If you have strategies for learning to read music specifically, then two things happen. 1. You can work on this separately, and 2. you can apply these things to the pieces you are learning. (through which you are further strengthening your reading).

Off the top of my head, here are some things that help reading: - learning where the notes are on the page and then on the piano,
- learning landmarks on the page (the C's, G4 which the treble clef symbol circles, F3 which the bass clef circles)
- landmarks on the piano (D between two black keys is one)
- recognizing intervals on the page (a third is notes sitting "on" two adjacent lines such as EG right above middle C = two piano keys skipping a middle key = 2 notes of a triad chord in root position). There is "intervallic reading"
- music theory so you get how it works which makes it more predictable
- applying these strategies to the music you area learning, in small sections, so that you are actually reading or working with understanding, rather than bumbling your way through or giving up and memorizing as fast as possible

If your teacher has not given you strategies, ask her to advise you on how to get at the skill of reading specifically. There were things that my teacher on another instrument didn't give me until I asked some years later because he thought I "wasn't interested". He was delighted that the interest was there.

There is a back and forth. Through the act of working on lots of music we will start to pick up patterns in music so that they become part of us. By working deliberately on the patterns in music, we start seeing and using them more. It is good to work in both directions.

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#1739551 - 08/24/11 09:27 AM Re: Help; feeling a little frustrated [Re: Smilodon]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I have found that many people when learning piano assuming that "reading music" consists of being able to name every single note they play. While note reading is important and necessary, when I play I do not read every note. I may read 1 or 2 out of 20. The rest is just recognition.

If you consider the analogy to reading your native language, you started out learning the individual letters that are used to build words. But knowing how to identify those does not mean you can read a sentence.

If you examine how you read now at your level of fluency, you recognize groups of words and pretty much ignore the individual letters. The same goes for music. You must get to the point first to recognize "words" or basic formations of notes. Is it a scale (moving up or down by step), is it repeating, is it skipping up or down, is it a chord (broken or blocked)? If it goes from one line to the next higher space, you know to play the next higher note on the piano. If it goes from a line to the next higher line then you know you're skipping up on the piano.

These kinds of questions allow you to be able to play as quickly as possible upon first seeing the music - called "sight reading". Many students tend to think that this is "cheating" and not real reading, but if you're playing the notes, who cares if you're not naming each one? How is naming each note even possible in a complex piece that has both hands playing independently of one another?

Me, I want to do something as easily as possible to get there faster, and this is the way to do it. I wish someone had explained that to me as a child!
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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