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#1975169 - 10/18/12 12:51 PM Student help!
CyndiV Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 8
I am an adult student taking lessons from a private piano teacher. Currently working through Level 4 Favorite Classic Melodies by Bastien.

I have been experiencing some frustration with my lessons lately and am wondering if it's truly just *ME* (highly possible) or maybe is a problem others experience.

I play at home on an older Fischer baby grand. It's in tune and has lovely, light action...easy to play. I practice my pieces and feel ready for my lessons but when I get there...it all goes down hill.

My teacher has a digital Clavinova. The action is much harder and I find myself thrown off, distracting me, killing my timing and making mistakes because the 'feel' is so different.

Do you experience the same thing with other students? Is this a hurdle I need to just 'get over'? It's caused a lot of frustration for me, especially as the pieces have become more technically challenging (for my level).

Please let me know if you've experienced this with other students and what/how you over come it?

With thanks

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#1975193 - 10/18/12 01:34 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
MaggieGirl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 509
Have you recorded your practice at home and in a lesson and talked to your teacher about it?

My daughter plays on 3 pianos - at home we have a digital piano. She plays on a grand in piano class and in a practice room she plays on an upright. The only HUGE difference for her is the pedal. At home it sounds okay but on the upright is sounds very what she calls "mushy" she also complains that one note hurts her bones because of the sound (?). The grand it sounds okay but her teacher at every lesson re-writes where she pedals on the music because she isn't happy with the sound either. I guess I'm saying the transition between different pianos isn't a big deal for her, but she recognizes their quirks.

#1975202 - 10/18/12 01:45 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7507
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: CyndiV
I play at home on an older Fischer baby grand. It's in tune and has lovely, light action...easy to play. I practice my pieces and feel ready for my lessons but when I get there...it all goes down hill.

My teacher has a digital Clavinova. The action is much harder and I find myself thrown off, distracting me, killing my timing and making mistakes because the 'feel' is so different.

Not to disparage Clavinovas (I have two), but if you want piano lessons, why not seek out a teacher who teaches on one? The difference between an upright and a Clavinova is significant. The difference between a grand and a Clavinova can certainly affect your playing at lessons. I fully understand that beginning teachers have limited resources and may well have to begin the teaching career using a Clavinova, but if it's impacting your lessons to this degree, then I think the ball is in your court to make adjustments.
"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

#1975232 - 10/18/12 02:28 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
CyndiV Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 8
Thank you both for your replies!

I have not recorded myself yet but that's a GREAT idea! I am going to do that so that she can hear me playing all the way through with my own piano...

As far as locating another teacher...I would have to give this some serious thoughts...She's the piano accompanist at my church and the director of the choir in which I sing. She's a wonderful lady and I am grateful to call her a friend. She does take her music very seriously, so she might be offended if I suggested that the switch back and forth was causing me to stumble. After all, she plays beautifully on our Boston grand at church and practices herself on a Clavinova to accompany various shows with CYT (Christian Youth Theatre) and plays whatever instrument is made available. That said, she was a music major at UCSD...so I would hope she could play on anything...

I fear she might think I am making excuses for not performing well... and maybe I am? It's just weird!

The action between her piano and mine is just worlds apart!

Any other ideas?

#1975246 - 10/18/12 03:04 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1036
Loc: Irvine, CA
If changing teacher is not a good idea, how about invite your teacher/friend come to your house for one lesson and play for her on your piano. If she is surprise how well you play, then explain to her your situation.
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

#1975284 - 10/18/12 04:19 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Couple of things that are normal:

Playing on front of teacher worse than in practice. It really bothering you.
Noticing any difference between pianos as very significant (part of the learning curve is being able to cope on new instruments, it's a bit like being able to drive different cars).

The above are completely normal. Now, I personally would rather take lessons on an acoustic piano. But, as you like your teacher and they have a Clavinova, I'll tell you about the little girls I taught this evening, on their Clavinova at their place. These girls are tiny. one is 8, and one has just turned 6. They would melt your heart. The youngest, she has teensy weensy fingers that look like cooked spaghetti.

And guess what? They manage that Clavinova just fine. Now, if they can do it then so can you! cool So you get to your next lesson and you get yourself in gear and you show that darned instrument just who's boss.
I am a competent teacher.


#1975290 - 10/18/12 04:30 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
KurtZ Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 1099
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Could you have your lesson at the church?

Unless she really needs the money from teaching you, she may care less than you think about you looking for an acoustic piano to take lessons on but be aware; It's highly likely that you will also be distracted by the differences between your light action b-grand and any other piano with a heavier action. We see posts about this at least once a month.


I'm another adult piano student

One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.


#1975338 - 10/18/12 06:08 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3297
Loc: Maine
My teacher's grand had (*) a heavier action than my light action upright. I considered it a pleasure to play on, despite the unevenness of sound my lack of control of it led me to produce. After about a year, it finally started to feel natural for me. But I don't regret any of those 52 hours spent getting used to it.

Does your teacher's Clavinova have a touchweight adjustment? My teacher's studio recital last year was on a Clavinova, and I believe she adjusted the touch to make it lighter.

(*) I say "had" -- it still has the same touch, but for financial reasons I am no longer taking lessons.

(I am a student, not a teacher.)

#1975348 - 10/18/12 06:33 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Europe
Dear Cyndi
Almost everything has already been said: Recording your playing at home, inviting your teacher for a lesson on your piano, asking her if she would teach you at church...

Here's another thought: For us pianists it's essential that we're able to adjust to all kinds of instruments. So, the best thing you can do: practise on as many different instruments as you can: the church grand, an upright,... but most important: do practice on a Clavinova. While practising, you don't have to perform, so there's no pressure and you have all the time you need to have your fingers adjust to the instrument. Afterwards, you might feel strange on your own instrument for an instant. But if you do this several times, you'll be fine.
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

#1975420 - 10/18/12 09:41 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
I'm curious as to what music stores use in the little cubicles that they rent out to teachers who teach in the store. Our local music store has only digitals in their teacher rooms.

It would be wonderful if all students owned a wonderful acoustic piano (like a Kawai, Boston, Yamaha) and if all teachers taught on high quality grands. I guess in a perfect world...

As another poster said, it's important to be able to adjust to whatever piano you come in contact with. I had a pretty lame Gulbransen spinet growing up, with a super-light action that made it difficult to play mp. Then I'd perform at competitions where they had Steinways and it completely threw me off.

I would ask the teacher if you could have a lesson on a different piano. But be careful what you wish for; some acoustic pianos are worse than playing on a Clavinova.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#1975424 - 10/18/12 09:58 PM Re: Student help! [Re: CyndiV]
pianogirl87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 107
Loc: New Jersey
As a pianist, you don't get to carry your instrument around. You do have to get used to playing on different instruments. Just the nature of it.

That being said, discuss this with your teacher, particularly on how to approach a piece from a technical standpoint with lighter action. I know it's a bit of an adjustment from going to one piano to the other. Ask for her advice on how to handle the situation.

In general, play on as many pianos as you can. Clavinovas are good in the sense that you get a grand piano feel on a keyboard. Everyone has their preferences on action. Every piano is created differently. Find what brings out your playing the best, and learn how to adapt to other pianos.
Pianist/Accompanist/Piano Instructor


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