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#1997455 - 12/10/12 05:19 PM What Level am I?
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
Hi there, new user here and nice to meet you all, and I could use your help. What level or "grade" am I and how to move to the next level?

I've been playing the piano self taught since I was 3 years old (40 years). I took about 3 months of lessons when I was 10 and that was the end of my "formal" education. I've come to a point where I would like to truly be a concert pianist (pausing for the hysterical laughing), not for profession but for personal fulfillment. My goal is to play a real piano concerto with an orchestra.

I "classically" trained myself on Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, etc., and have played jazz, blues, ragtime, new age, and my own compositions. I stopped training when I was 18 and about 5 years ago decided to get back to my true passion seriously. Over the last two years I committed myself to rigorous training with Hanon, Czerny(sp?), scales, arpeggios, etc. The wall that I have hit is technique related. Double thirds and 6ths aren't strong, strength in 4 and 5 is terrible in my opinion (3-4 and 4-5 trills are embarrasing), left hand is weak overall. My accuracy and raw technical abilities are average but need improvement before feeling comfortable performing something like the Grieg Concerto with orchestra. Someday I WILL tackle the Rach 3 but I have a long way to go I think!

Some of the more challenging pieces I play acceptably, but not to "professional standards" (again with the quotes!) include:
Chopin Preludes, Waltz C#m, Nocturne Eb, Etude E, Polonaise A, Fantasie Impromptu
Liszt Standchen/Swanensang
Mendelssohn Songs without words: Hunting Song, Departure, Boat songs. etc.
Rachmaninoff Preludes C#m and Gm
Beethoven Moonlight Sonata (3rd mvt little rough still)
Grieg Piano Concerto 1st & 2nd - not sure I'm ready for 3rd.

I wouldn't win any piano competitions but people often beg me to play and enjoy my recitals. ;-)

My question here is a sincere one to help me refine my personal learning plan. Do I just keep slogging away at these excercises, practicing repitoire, and learning new pieces? Is there a faster way? Are there non-standard learning/practice techniques I should be incorporating that would be more efficient to help me with my accuracy, rate of learning, and overall polish? Should I just go pick up a Grade 3 book and start all over? (it HAS crossed my mind!) smile

I know I could benefit from lessons now that I have the patience in my old age, but my professional schedule makes that mostly impossible, and I don't have access to the folks at universities that I believe would most benefit me.

I don't really have any videos of my playing to post, I see that people like to use those on this forum - sorry.

Any tricks, tips, ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Edited by Doug145 (12/10/12 05:21 PM)

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#1997460 - 12/10/12 05:28 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17823
Loc: Victoria, BC
"Level" really has little meaning in light of the fact that there are different grading systems in different countries and even different grading criteria within different conservatories in the same country.

I would think, in spite of the fact that you say your schedule does not allow for lessons, that that is the only way that you can make any progress at this point. With only three months of lessons when you were ten, it's frightening to think of all the "bad habits" you might have learned and which might be the very reason you are hitting a wall at the moment. A teacher who can both see and hear how you play will have infinitely more practical suggestions and a plan of action than those of us who have to take your post at face value and make suggestions based on what we think you might need without hearing you play.

As for playing with an orchestra, I hope you are saving your pennies; hiring an orchestra is an expensive proposition, as I am sure you will realize. I won't touch the comment about wanting to be "a concert pianist" at this stage.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1997462 - 12/10/12 05:35 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
I think you're going to have a tough time getting a "straight" answer on this, because we cannot evaluate your performances. Bruce's comments are dead-on, and probably the best answer you'll get.

If you can post a video and/or recording of you playing, we may be able to go a little further with the discussion.

If you tell us what area you live in, there are members here who can help you teacher-search.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1997463 - 12/10/12 05:35 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19218
Loc: New York City
If you have time to practice you have time to take lessons even if just once a month.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/10/12 07:00 PM)

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#1997468 - 12/10/12 05:44 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
Thanks for each of you taking the time to share your answers. I guess I will have to look elsewhere for the information and assistance I seek.

Kindest Regards,

Doug

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#1997469 - 12/10/12 05:45 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3707
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Welcome to the forum, Doug!

I agree with pianovloverus, and here's my "tough love" approach to your question:

If you don't feel you have time for lessons, then you don't really have the level of commitment you need to get significantly better. A good plan with the right teacher is exactly what you need in your musical development now, whether that leads you to the concert hall or not.

-Jason

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#1997475 - 12/10/12 05:53 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
I agree with all of the above comments; just because you can "play" these pieces doesn't mean you're playing them well or correctly. A teacher would be a better gauge on that.

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#1997505 - 12/10/12 06:40 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
It would great to ask a simple question and get a simple answer. Right?

I lurked without the desire to join this or any other forum because of all the "we have to see this" and "you can't" or "you shouldn't", blah, blah, blah. The one that irks me the most is what just happened here: I asked a question and got a non-answer.

The plain truth is I have accomplished a tremendous amount of piano training on my own and have no desire to have my time wasted by teachers who don't know how to take me to the next level. And persnickety comments like "pianoloverus'" above are not helpful or productive and simply waste everyone's time. I wish I had time to waste but I don't.

So in the spirit of efficient use of time, mine and yours, one last try here to connect with mature people that may read this and are willing to provide constructive technique feedback rather than excuses. If this isn't you, please don't bother replying.

Assuming that I perform the above pieces without memory slips for audiences of 20 to 50 people, and they are performed in such a way that the audience and I enjoy the experience but not at a "professional level" (missed notes, a little muddy, but good musicality) what grade is that equivalent to? 1? 3? 6? 9? other? And with that information, what techniques outside of standard training regiments as suggested on these and other forums would be the best use of my time to achieve stronger technique on the path to playing more serious pieces? Without having a better grasp of grade or level, it is difficult to choose which projects to work on next.

Just more scales & arpeggios forever? some kind of finger strengthening device or workout routine? Tausig? Other?

Again, the responses above for the most part are a BIG turn off. They are not helpful. Look, I understand many of you are younger people, piano teachers, or just very proud of your hard earned skills. I see that a couple of you believe you have the best intentions, thank you. But I am after constructive, helpful information.

Please just simply answer the questions, or don't... Thank you.

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#1997518 - 12/10/12 07:01 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
DameMyra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1940
Loc: South Jersey
(A) You are around grade 6 or 7.
(B) I know of no technical exercises, pieces, books or videos that are likely to get you pass the wall you have hit.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher
MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA

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#1997523 - 12/10/12 07:09 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
DameMyra,

Thank you for your answers, you are very kind! This is very helpful to point me at appropriate pieces to work on!

If anyone has feedback on the effectiveness of Tausig exercizes, that would be greatly appreciated as well.

Cheers,

Doug


Edited by Doug145 (12/10/12 07:09 PM)

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#1997527 - 12/10/12 07:13 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19218
Loc: New York City
Five people basically told you exactly the same thing. You don't seem to understand what's involved in learning how to play the piano, why teachers are important, and that virtually no one gets even moderately good p;ayong classical piano with only three months of lessons and figuring the rest by themselves. It's naive to think you can figure everything out by yourself. None of the technical things you mention are worthwhile unless done correctly.

I was simply pointing out that if you have time to practice even just one hour a day you certainly have time to take a one hour lesson each month. In fact, if you're short of time you're wasting a incredible amount with your current methods. The "faster way" is what everyone suggested.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/10/12 07:22 PM)

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#1997531 - 12/10/12 07:16 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
pianoloverus,

you are very wise and I am very dumb. Perhaps your time is better spent commenting to people of your level. Thanks.

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#1997542 - 12/10/12 07:29 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Doug145
I lurked without the desire to join this or any other forum because of all the "we have to see this" and "you can't" or "you shouldn't", blah, blah, blah. The one that irks me the most is what just happened here: I asked a question and got a non-answer.

Couple things. Anyone responding typically has your best interests in mind, and genuinely wants to help. They are providing the reasons why there is an insubstantial amount of information available to provide that help, and in many cases, why that information is needed.

Here is an example: I once played an absolutely horrible rendition of the Moonlight Sonata's 3rd mvt at a piano show in one of America's largest malls. There was a crowd of around 300 people by the time I was done. By the applause, you would have thought I was Liszt reincarnated. But the performance itself was horrible, though I missed few notes, and only had a few "other issues". At the time, my skills were not sufficient to play that particular piece. So, all the pieces could be there: your skill, your audience, a nice applause, a general appreciation, but there is such a wide range that this information can fall under that it is impossible to determine with any accuracy. Anyone telling you different is lying to your face (or your avatar).

Second, if you don't like people asking for more information before attempting to provide as accurate an answer as they can, then you should reconsider asking the question in the first place. Everyone here is actually trying to help, whereas you seem to honestly want as superficial and meaningless an answer as possible.

Here's another example: last week, I heard a teenager play Chopin's Scherzo No 2. He was self-taught, and at the end of the piece, was asked to play another, so he played Liszt's Mephisto Waltz. He trained since the age of six. The people clapped. What level is this person at?

Meaningless answer: those pieces are at "grade 10" (or whatever), so that is the level this person is at. (Anyone can look this up online. It doesn't take an expert.)

Real answer: the person was probably closer to grade 5-6, because their technical facility and understanding of the music was not on par with the pieces he chose to play. Despite getting a generally positive reaction from the audience, and being asked to play more than one piece, he was not, under any circumstances, able to play at that level. But I would not know that without having heard him play and watched his hands move. It would be absolutely impossible to tell from the little information given.


Now, I think your real question (inbetween thoughts of playing with an orchestra and tackling the Rach 3) is this:
Quote:
My question here is a sincere one to help me refine my personal learning plan. Do I just keep slogging away at these excercises, practicing repitoire, and learning new pieces? Is there a faster way? Are there non-standard learning/practice techniques I should be incorporating that would be more efficient to help me with my accuracy, rate of learning, and overall polish? Should I just go pick up a Grade 3 book and start all over? (it HAS crossed my mind!)

The answer, unfortunately, is that it is impossible to say for certain. We have no idea how well you play, what technique issues you may have, what exercises would help the most, or what direction to take your training in. You're hitting a wall. This, we know. But without knowing what caused you to hit the wall, we cannot give advice that would be at all meaningful.

If you just want someone to say, "You know what? Go play scales. That'll do the trick." Then, by all means, go play scales. That'll do the trick.

But if you want an honest answer, and one that is actually meaningful to your training, you have to consider being more open when others ask for more information. The people asking aren't the bad guys--they're the ones trying to help. If they had no intention to help, they would not have replied to the thread.

EDIT: Don't betray their willingness to help by being unwilling to listen to the answer.


Edited by Derulux (12/10/12 07:32 PM)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1997552 - 12/10/12 07:52 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19218
Loc: New York City
Even if we heard performances and the OP gave much more information I think the answers would be less that what would be learned in the first one hour with a good teacher. The learning has to be an ongoing process with communication between the teacher and student.

Learning how to get better is much more complex then when someone posts a specific piece and asks for suggestions on that piece.

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#1997563 - 12/10/12 08:13 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: DameMyra]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: DameMyra
(A) You are around grade 6 or 7.
(B) I know of no technical exercises, pieces, books or videos that are likely to get you pass the wall you have hit.

Doug, we're trying to help you here.

You don't want to waste time, neither do we.

Getting a teacher who can truly assess your playing and correct any mistakes you have is the best way to save time. Learning psychology techniques for efficient practicing saves time.

Let me illustrate the answer to your question for you:

In ABRSM, the Moonlight Sonata levels are as follows (approx):

1st movt - Level 5/6

2nd movt - Level 7

3rd movt - DipABRSM (This is the diploma, after the last level.)

In RCM, the entire Moonlight Sonata can be played in the ARCT exam, which comes after the last level.

ABRSM has 8 levels and RCM has 10 levels.

You're allowed to substitute performer level pieces for grade 10 pieces in the grade 10 exam.

You can decide where you stand.

Keep in mind that at the performer levels (DipABRSM and ARCT), the examiners take into account your interpretation and quality of touch/tone of your playing.

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#1997631 - 12/10/12 10:50 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 333
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Doug145

My question here is a sincere one to help me refine my personal learning plan. Do I just keep slogging away at these excercises, practicing repitoire, and learning new pieces? Is there a faster way? Are there non-standard learning/practice techniques I should be incorporating that would be more efficient to help me with my accuracy, rate of learning, and overall polish?


This part of your post hit home with me as I was also teaching myself and then decided I had hit a wall. You are clearly much further along than I was (and much younger!) but you seem to be asking that key question: Do you just continue to increase the quantity of your repertoire and the slow improvement in quality that comes with it or is it time to make a change and work directly on improving the quality of your playing.

I came to realize that all the time I was putting into practice was much more valuable than the cost of hiring a teacher. So I got a teacher and must say I was somewhat surprised at what she teaches me. Quite a lot of it has to do with how I move my body and contact the keys, and how those things change depending upon the nature of the piece I am learning. She has me change things that don't make much sense initially and are very hard to do, but three or four weeks later I start to notice their effect on my playing and by that I don't mean the keys I hit or the rhythm, but the sound I am producing.

I don't pretend to know if your circumstances are at all like mine, so don't take this as advice, rather just one more data point for your consideration. Good luck to you.

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#1997640 - 12/10/12 11:05 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
Doug, try posting this on the Adult Beginner Forum. We folks there are friendly and many are self teaching. You have a good chance of getting advice there.
_________________________
Becca
Began: 01-12-11


Floundering and Lost
Roland RD300NX

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#1997667 - 12/10/12 11:50 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
Great post Derulux!!
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 119
Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1997675 - 12/11/12 12:09 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 99
Loc: Mumbai, India
I'll tell you personal anecdote.

Honesty, having a good teacher is the best way to improve as a MUSICIAN. Do you honestly think that people go to conservatories are stupid? Those people are the one's who end up becoming becoming concert pianists. That's mostly because of the high quality of teaching offered and the environment as well. All of the great pianists have had teachers for a long time, who guided them musically and technically.

Now if you want to ignore everyone's advice, I'll answer your question, use this link . It is syllabus for the trinity college london diploma exams. I'd suggest you try a few more pieces from the ATCL repertoire for a year, but avoid Chopin's 3rd ballade(I don't understand why it is there). However, using this won't remove your technique hitting the wall.


Edited by arpan70 (12/11/12 12:10 AM)
_________________________
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.23, Op.57 "Apassionata"
Brahms: Violin Sonata No.2, Op.100
Faure: Barcarolle No.5, Op.66
Grieg: Cello Sonata, Op.36

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#1997689 - 12/11/12 01:31 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
Thank you all sincerely for your input. There are some useful pointers here that I will take to heart. As I stated in my first post, lessons at this point are simply out of the question for me. If I were taking productive lessons at this point, I would not have felt the need to reach out here and ask these particular questions.

I recognize how easy it might be to confuse my questions as useless but I am simply trying to get expert opinions to gauge where I might best focus my efforts. I also recognize that those intelligent and talented people who have gone to conservatories and or dedicated their lives to some form of formal music training have worked hard to most likely make music their profession.

This is not my destiny. I simply have a 12 hour a day job and travel over 100K miles per year. However the piano is my meditation, stress relief and passion. It is a passion I will continue to develop in my own way, and I had a few moments to reach out here to ask for help.

For anyone who still has any patience left to provide feedback to me, here is a list of the main issues I struggle with:

- Left hand needs strengthening? - rapid triplet chords sometimes end up being "doublets" (cheating with the right hand). Practicing slow, fast, LH only seems fine. BUT, when bringing some pieces up to tempo with RH, brain goes haywire. Dexterity? Technique? Strength? Psychological? All?

- Also left hand double 3rds get lazy/muddy. My solution is to just keep practicing double 3rd scales... should I be doing something else? strengthening grip? mental play? Tausig?

- I would like to know the keyboard better for accuracy in jumps. I do eyes closed jump exercizes RH c4-c5-c4-c5#-c4-d5-c4, etc. through c7. LH opposite. I feel this is helpful and should propbably be doing this with chords... but I just don't know.

- trills 3-4 and 4-5. More Hanon? Just do trills for 10min per day? strength exercizes? Other?

Again, thank you for the pointers.

Cheers.

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#1997707 - 12/11/12 02:36 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Great post Derulux!!

Thank you, though I'm tempted to think you only like my self-effacing admission about the Moonlight.. laugh

Originally Posted By: Doug145
This is not my destiny. I simply have a 12 hour a day job and travel over 100K miles per year.

Jesus, are you a truck driver? That's 273 mi/day with no holidays or weekends! Cross-country truck drivers max at about 125-150k mi/yr. The average American drives 12-13k mi/yr. Heck, I did national sales for 3 years, and only managed about 35k mi/yr.

I'll take a look at your technique issues, but keep in mind what I suggest is truly only the most common issues I've come across. It is difficult to say for certain whether they might specifically apply to you.

Quote:
- Left hand needs strengthening? - rapid triplet chords sometimes end up being "doublets" (cheating with the right hand). Practicing slow, fast, LH only seems fine. BUT, when bringing some pieces up to tempo with RH, brain goes haywire. Dexterity? Technique? Strength? Psychological? All?

"Strengthening" is probably the wrong word, and the idea of it leads to many side-issues, particularly "gripping". I can think of two very common issues here:

1. Tension
2. Interdependence

Tension is a very common cause of feelings of "weakness". When your hand/arm mechanism is tense, the muscles are contracted, and fatigue easily. The smaller the muscle, the faster the fatigue. Practicing slowly can help to eliminate some tension, but there could be inherent, underlying technique issues that are causing it. If the chord is a pretty large stretch (or, particularly, is a broken chord), you may be stretching, which is similar to 'gripping' or locking your hand in one particular form in order to not miss the notes. All of this is tension. Unfortunately, the cause of tension is difficult to diagnose, and would likely require us sitting down at the keys to examine.

Interdependence is easier to diagnose. What I mean here, is that you are trying to play (for example) something like a 3 on 2 rhythm, and can't quite get it to match up. In an example like this, you are not feeling the firing of the notes in the correct sequence, and hence, it causes issues in playing it back. Another example would be notes that should be played together.. if you do not play them together, you are not quite getting the "feel" for how they are supposed to be attacked. Slow practice can help with this. The usual culprit is transitioning relatively quickly between left/right motions of each wrist.. it is a coordination issue.

Quote:
- Also left hand double 3rds get lazy/muddy. My solution is to just keep practicing double 3rd scales... should I be doing something else? strengthening grip? mental play? Tausig?

This statement leads me to believe I may have been on track when I mentioned "gripping" and "coordination" issues. I inherently believe you have quite a bit of tension in your playing, and nothing screams coordination and/or tension issues like double thirds. Why? They're very complicated.. one of the most advanced techniques out there. When you say "muddy", what does that mean? Are you not able to play the notes together? Is your hand "collapsing" as you try to play the notes, making it very difficult to play each third in the series? Check wrist height (when in doubt, try lifting your wrist higher first), whether you need to be in/out on the keys (if playing black keys, especially), and whether you release the proper note/notes at the proper time.

Quote:
- I would like to know the keyboard better for accuracy in jumps. I do eyes closed jump exercizes RH c4-c5-c4-c5#-c4-d5-c4, etc. through c7. LH opposite. I feel this is helpful and should propbably be doing this with chords... but I just don't know.

Leaps are actually counter-intuitive. The longer you hold the note, the easier the leap. Most leap issues revolve around trying to jump too soon. You tend to glide over the note/notes, and as a result, your hand loses track of where it is on the keyboard. Trust me, by now, you know where the keys are on the keyboard. They haven't moved in twenty-plus years. wink It's the way you move to/from the notes that causes the issue, and the easiest way to explain it is to hold the note longer. (Incidentally, make sure your entire hand/arm mechanism truly reaches the note you're trying to play. If you get there, hold it, and realize your finger is stretched and "reaching" for the note, instead of resting comfortably on it, then you're going to miss often.)

Quote:
- trills 3-4 and 4-5. More Hanon? Just do trills for 10min per day? strength exercizes? Other?

Depends. What causes the issues? "Strength" exercises are pointless. If you can press down the keys, you have enough strength to play the piano. (In this way, "strength" is a misnomer.) I'm guessing that this is a coordination issue.. that while trying to play "3" in a trill, your hand is stuck to the right, and vice versa. Creates a nasty "destructive interference" effect (to use the engineering/physics term) in your muscles/joints. Same for 4-5.

Another counter-intuitive principle: go slower. When you feel comfortable, go slower. And when that feels comfortable, go slower. If it doesn't feel comfortable, go even slower. This is one of many retraining techniques. Others may point out some great ones that work besides this one, but it's 2:35am and I'm pretty much at the end of my rope for one night.

I do hope this helps. Where are you in the country? (Well, if you travel 100k mi/yr, I should ask, when you are home, where is that?) If you're anywhere near me, or someone I know, perhaps we can arrange a "diagnosing" session to see if we can't help identify some particularly troubling issues in person? That is, if you're up for it.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1997726 - 12/11/12 03:51 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Doug145 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/10/12
Posts: 7
Derulux,

These are great insights, tension is something I do struggle with. I will spend time with your suggestions and see what I can put into practice. Thanks for staying up until all hours to type this response!

My travel is on airplanes flying around the US and abroad, and I'm based in Northern Cal.

Thank you!

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#1997808 - 12/11/12 09:55 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
neeeel Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 10
I was the same situation as the OP. I started self teaching piano about a year ago. I thought I was great. I could play the notes of some fairly difficult pieces, in the correct order, at a reasonable speed. Thats all thats involved in playing the piano , right? About 6 months ago, I started getting lessons, only once a month because I couldnt afford more. And I have learned that I am nowhere near as good as I thought, and that there is much more to playing piano than playing the notes in the correct order at a reasonable speed. Unless you are a genius, very disspassionate, honest in your self critisism, able to listen to your own performance with a critical ear, not just play and think "Hey, that was really good" , then having another ear, who is highly skilled and trained, to listen to you and give you advice, is a great way to advance your playing. Almost every time I go to my lesson with a piece ive been working on, I think I am playing it great, and then in the lesson I found out there are so many nuances I have just missed altogether.

I guess you could do it yourself, by listening to other peoples performances. But then you would have to be skilled at picking out the differences between their performances and yours, knowing how they did what they did, knowing why it was different, and knowing the correct way to do it. And if you could do that, then you would already be a concert pianist?

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#1997975 - 12/11/12 04:26 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Doug145
Derulux,

These are great insights, tension is something I do struggle with. I will spend time with your suggestions and see what I can put into practice. Thanks for staying up until all hours to type this response!

My travel is on airplanes flying around the US and abroad, and I'm based in Northern Cal.

Thank you!

No problem, I'm happy to try and help.

Northern Cal is literally inbetween the areas I can recommend someone (Seattle/Portland or LA/San Diego). If you repost in the teacher's forum, there may be someone who can help you find a "diagnostician" there. I'll ask around, but I can't make any promises.

What kind of job do you have? Is it some type of professional training, where you fly somewhere and stay there for 2-3 weeks to train a staff, then fly out again? Or are you literally hopping flights every 2-3 days? Do you get home every 30-60 days?

Reason I ask is this: have you ever heard of skype (online video conferencing) lessons? More teachers are beginning to offer this, and for someone on the go, it might not be a bad option. It's tough to carry the piano with you, but if you can get back home every 30-60 days, a quick skype session might cut down on taking up your time, while also helping you progress more quickly.
_________________________
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#1997988 - 12/11/12 05:06 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19218
Loc: New York City
I think all the above lengthy posts are interesting and there's a chance they might be relevant but no one knows based on all the verbal descriptions. For starters, I'd guess the word "tension" could mean countless different things to different people.

The skype suggestion is a good idea. IMO to changing one's way of playing cannot normally be achieved by lengthy posts. A teacher has to see and hear what's happening, offer suggestions, have the student try something, see how it works, offer more advice, etc. It usually doesn't happen by reading a lengthy essay.

I think it may be possible to help with a very specific technical question but general improvement in technique and musicianship require a teacher to be there, either live or by skype to see and hear what's happening and to have an ongoing dialogue with the student.



Edited by pianoloverus (12/11/12 05:40 PM)

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#1999465 - 12/14/12 03:16 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2402
Doug145,

Regardless of your level, at your age and limited time schedule, I would recommend that you don't waste more time with Czerny or the likes. These are generally for young pianists (kids) and are of less value for adults.
Instead work on the repertoire that you enjoy playing.

I would especially recommend the Tchaikovsky Bb minor concerto. IMO your technique can benefit tremendously from practicing it.

Good luck.
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#1999673 - 12/15/12 03:35 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2402
BTW, this site can also help you.
And don't forget to look at the "ask me a question" section too.

http://www.pianocareer.com/archives/
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#1999695 - 12/15/12 06:26 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Hakki]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Hakki
I would recommend that you don't waste more time with Czerny or the likes. These are generally for young pianists (kids) and are of less value for adults.

Czerny is useless, period. Piano teachers who assign Czerny exercises, volume after volume, are doing so blindly because that's how their teachers were taught, and that's how their teachers' teachers were taught, etc.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1999699 - 12/15/12 06:33 AM Re: What Level am I? [Re: Doug145]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Doug145
As I stated in my first post, lessons at this point are simply out of the question for me. If I were taking productive lessons at this point, I would not have felt the need to reach out here and ask these particular questions.

If not regular, weekly lessons, how about an occasional coaching session? There are plenty of teachers in your area who wouldn't mind taking an occasional student like that.

The questions you posed are serious ones, but unfortunately this forum is not the correct medium through which you can get those questions answered satisfactorily. Even if you post Youtube videos of your performances, forum posters can barely scratch the surface. You really need a teacher.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2000730 - 12/17/12 03:06 PM Re: What Level am I? [Re: AZNpiano]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2402
AZN, as someone who have studied Czerny extensively in my teens, I wouldn't say Czerny is useless. Indeed young pianists can benefit very much from it.
I only wanted to emphasize that it is not useful for adults.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

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