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#2067238 - 04/19/13 05:03 PM "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 36
Just discovered this book, first reading it on line and today received my copy from Amazon. This is the answer I have been looking for on how (not WHAT) to practice! I'm psyched! I'm already learning from it. I am practicing without a teacher and, from the few lessons last fall (resulting in tendinitis) to my more recently getting some alarming advice from a prospective teacher, I'm much better off going it alone with Dr. Chang's methodology. I'm on my way!

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#2067245 - 04/19/13 05:09 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4380
Loc: Jersey Shore
Obviously you didn't read my Amazon review... smile

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#2067253 - 04/19/13 05:21 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1632
Loc: Australia
Mark - how about posting your review here it might be a worthy topic for beginners.
88 Slowpoke - I have been reading so many negatives on the book I would be interested to learn in the future if it gives the benefits the proponents claim
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
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#2067257 - 04/19/13 05:29 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5557
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
It was my first discovery of "how to" practice, too. The prose is, perhaps, overwrought laugh , but I found much that was useful by dipping into it for specific issues, like large jumps. So many other books on "practicing" focused on things like keeping a journal instead of movements at the piano, or "ghosting" the end of your jumps, or slow moves, or whatever.

But I did ignore a lot of the hype. Others seem to have found similar good advice in more clear-cut forms nowadays, so that helps.

But, yeah, I thought he had some good ideas. You can always check out specifics of them with the ABF and see what other's experiences are.

Have fun.

Cathy
_________________________

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#2067288 - 04/19/13 06:17 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
UK Paul UK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 396
Loc: Berkshire, England
The thing is.... its great and all..
But in my opinion..

Forget seeing it as a bible.

I read online, then bougjt the book.

I have books writtendecades earlier which in my view saod the most important and relevant informarion.



Nothing is new from chang. Unless yoy havent read neahaus, ir practicing puano for pleasure.. or a few others...guisking... lemar


And to be fair its the inrerpretation that is important..

Dorry, too much vino.
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#2067292 - 04/19/13 06:22 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: UK Paul UK]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2608
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: UK Paul UK

Dorry, too much vino.


Too funny!
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2067293 - 04/19/13 06:22 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
UK Paul UK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 396
Loc: Berkshire, England
Goodness, let myself down with that post... however it proves tge point that interpretation is the key...

Parallel sets are a major hazard in my view. Youll teach yourself the wrong way unless its approached with patience and accuracy....

And now its bedtime. Night all x
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#2067309 - 04/19/13 07:50 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2397
Loc: Virginia, USA
I remember reading it online when I first started to get serious about improving my piano playing. The thing that struck me was that he was making everything out to be a big secret that teacher's didn't reveal ... only to find out that any teacher in the last 30 years was teaching it.
_________________________
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  • Scarlatti - Sonata in D minor, K. 213

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#2067315 - 04/19/13 08:22 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
88slowpoke, I have read your post, here:

Just discovered this book, first reading it on line and today received my copy from Amazon. This is the answer I have been looking for on how (not WHAT) to practice! I'm psyched! I'm already learning from it. I am practicing without a teacher and, from the few lessons last fall (resulting in tendinitis) to my more recently getting some alarming advice from a prospective teacher, I'm much better off going it alone with Dr. Chang's methodology. I'm on my way!

________________________________________________

It is exciting to read your post.

I had an excellent sax teacher. Now I can't afford a teacher, but everything my teacher taught me I am doing.

1 open piano book 1 of learning the piano.
2 play the first piece, a 4 measure piece.
3 read, say, and play each note.
4 always look at your music not at your hands.
5 move your eyes first, then you hands. Find
the notes visually then manually.
Keep the hands quiet until the note
has been found visually.
6 repeat the piece at least 5 times perfectly.
7 repeat the piece several times during the day.
8 repeat the piece everyday without mistakes.
9 learn a new piece and repeat the 5 steps.
10 Gain smoothness and ease by reviewing your
old pieces and studies. Be sure to always
review all your pieces regularly.

I have been doing this for a year and it seems okay, so what is it that Mr. Chang says that is so awesome and different.

And if you weren't doing those 10 steps, what were you doing that is different. All the piano books in the music store all say the same thing - those 10 steps. Sorry, I am confused, but I don't know what people do to learn the piano that is different. Please explain to me as a beginner so I can understand what your post means. Thanks.

cheers,

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#2067356 - 04/19/13 10:07 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: jotur]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 391
Loc: Midwest USA
Originally Posted By: jotur
It was my first discovery of "how to" practice, too. The prose is, perhaps, overwrought laugh , but I found much that was useful by dipping into it for specific issues, like large jumps. So many other books on "practicing" focused on things like keeping a journal instead of movements at the piano, or "ghosting" the end of your jumps, or slow moves, or whatever.

But I did ignore a lot of the hype. Others seem to have found similar good advice in more clear-cut forms nowadays, so that helps.

But, yeah, I thought he had some good ideas. You can always check out specifics of them with the ABF and see what other's experiences are.

Have fun.

Cathy


+1
Read widely. No one source has all the answers.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.


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#2067510 - 04/20/13 08:46 AM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
88slowpoke Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 36
Thanks to all who chimed in. Yes, I know that multiple sources (including this forum) are the best way to learn. And, I acknowledge that Dr. Chang's writing style can be, at times, somewhat didactic and maybe a little prolix. That said, his book seems like it will work best for my efforts. Perhaps some other authors put forth similar principles, in the same or different terms, and I do not disparage their material. But this is the one that speaks to me in a way I can understand. Along with Thomas Mark's book on piano-related anatomy, I believe Chang has pointed me in the right direction.

In the short history of my attempts at piano study, I have encountered several dead ends, both from teachers and self-teaching literature. I initially developed tendinitis due to a teacher who did not address arm/hand posture except in passing. Another teacher with whom I interviewed offered an amusing solution for dealing with my long legs that don't fit under the keyboard (I'm 6' 6" tall)- she said to place my knees against the front of the keyboard and play with my arms stretched out straight (like the monster in a grade B movie). My own piano, a grand, is raised 2", as is the bench, to permit the conventional playing posture. One of the self-teaching books prescribed the "curled-fingers" hand posture to make all fingers the same length. It's easy for those who are more experienced than I to belittle these teachings, but as a newbie it's more difficult to know what's correct.

Every method has its proponents and detractors. As for me, I feel I am now on the right track.

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#2067528 - 04/20/13 09:15 AM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: Michael_99]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 136
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Sorry, I am confused, but I don't know what people do to learn the piano that is different. Please explain to me as a beginner so I can understand what your post means. Thanks.

cheers,

Chang's book isn't a method for learning piano but rather a guide to practicing. It's most likely to be useful to students already beyond the beginner stage, if it's useful at all. (It's poorly written, and there's also some irrelevant nonsense that can be disregarded.)

All I got out of the book (and I am already proficient) was the idea that technical difficulties can be tackled by practicing small chunks hands-separately at fast speed. And that's true, but it's also the basic idea of Kenny Werner's 'Effortless Mastery' (another load of nonsense, IMHO, except for one important principle he waits until the end of the book to share).

And that principle is that there are three parts to to musical 'mastery': speed, accuracy, and passage length. After you you master a piece, you can play it at speed, and with accuracy, and in its full length. But Until then, while you're still working it up, you can have ONLY TWO of those elements. So assuming you always want to be accurate, then, you can choose to practice little snippets at speed - or you can do slow practice of longer passages. (And if you practice a long passage at high speed, your accuracy is gone - but that's pretty obvious.)

The difference between Chang and Werner is that Chang specifically calls for hands-separate. That MAY be useful, but even if it is, you can't magically put the two hands together afterwards because hands-together imprints in the brain differently than hands-separate does. Therefore, it might be more efficient just to practice hands-together from the start.

I think that as most people move forward through piano study, they find that different pieces, and even different parts of the same piece, lend themselves to different ways of practicing. With a decent teacher, or with the personal experience of trial-and-error, you'll get a feel for what will probably work best for a given challenge.

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#2067545 - 04/20/13 09:46 AM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: 88slowpoke]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
The difference between Chang and Werner is that Chang specifically calls for hands-separate. That MAY be useful, but even if it is, you can't magically put the two hands together afterwards because hands-together imprints in the brain differently than hands-separate does. Therefore, it might be more efficient just to practice hands-together from the start.
Excellent post altogether but you make a very good point here that I'd like to amplify.

Playing HS does have a separate brain imprint than HT and this is regularly a source of confusion for beginners. Learning HS does not make HT any easier. HT still needs all that co-ordination and hand independence BUT HS does solve the problems of mechanical difficulty (changing fingers on one key, awkward stretches, fast passages with the weak 4th and 5th fingers, etc) before co-ordination is tackled and also memorising, beyond finger memory, for mental play does, at least for me, require memorising both hands independently.

For those who don't deliberately memorise, HS practice may not be necessary but for those who consciously memorise first, HS is a recommended addition to the daily repetitions.
_________________________
Richard

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#2067605 - 04/20/13 12:52 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: Goomer Piles]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Goomer Piles, I have read your post, here:

Sorry, I am confused, but I don't know what people do to learn the piano that is different. Please explain to me as a beginner so I can understand what your post means. Thanks.

cheers,

Chang's book isn't a method for learning piano but rather a guide to practicing. It's most likely to be useful to students already beyond the beginner stage, if it's useful at all. (It's poorly written, and there's also some irrelevant nonsense that can be disregarded.)

All I got out of the book (and I am already proficient) was the idea that technical difficulties can be tackled by practicing small chunks hands-separately at fast speed. And that's true, but it's also the basic idea of Kenny Werner's 'Effortless Mastery' (another load of nonsense, IMHO, except for one important principle he waits until the end of the book to share).

And that principle is that there are three parts to to musical 'mastery': speed, accuracy, and passage length. After you you master a piece, you can play it at speed, and with accuracy, and in its full length. But Until then, while you're still working it up, you can have ONLY TWO of those elements. So assuming you always want to be accurate, then, you can choose to practice little snippets at speed - or you can do slow practice of longer passages. (And if you practice a long passage at high speed, your accuracy is gone - but that's pretty obvious.)

The difference between Chang and Werner is that Chang specifically calls for hands-separate. That MAY be useful, but even if it is, you can't magically put the two hands together afterwards because hands-together imprints in the brain differently than hands-separate does. Therefore, it might be more efficient just to practice hands-together from the start.

I think that as most people move forward through piano study, they find that different pieces, and even different parts of the same piece, lend themselves to different ways of practicing. With a decent teacher, or with the personal experience of trial-and-error, you'll get a feel for what will probably work best for a given challenge.

_____________________________________________

Thank you very much for taking the time to explain what it is that piano players like about the Chang book and how it related to piano players beyond the beginner level. You are so correct, that beginners like myself have no worries about speed because beginners must ensure that they play slowly and accurately without exception and the speed will come with time by playing day after day, month after month and year after year for at least 2 to 3 years - and more - without errors at any speed.

Some people think that speed is about fast fingers, but it is about playing slowly and accurately and the brain over 2 or 3 years learns to handle the speed slowly - at gradual speed increases - as the piano player increases the difficulty of piano material because as the difficulty of material is increased the speed goes down, so it is a balancing act and that is why it takes 10 or 20 years to be able to play like lang lang -and rest of them whose names I can't spell easily - can play pieces like Chopins Op 52 ballade 4 that requires one to be able to play fast, accurately, and have the technical ability to play the piece.






Edited by Michael_99 (04/20/13 12:54 PM)

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#2067811 - 04/20/13 10:38 PM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: zrtf90]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 391
Loc: Midwest USA
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
The difference between Chang and Werner is that Chang specifically calls for hands-separate. That MAY be useful, but even if it is, you can't magically put the two hands together afterwards because hands-together imprints in the brain differently than hands-separate does. Therefore, it might be more efficient just to practice hands-together from the start.
Excellent post altogether but you make a very good point here that I'd like to amplify.

Playing HS does have a separate brain imprint than HT and this is regularly a source of confusion for beginners. Learning HS does not make HT any easier. HT still needs all that co-ordination and hand independence BUT HS does solve the problems of mechanical difficulty (changing fingers on one key, awkward stretches, fast passages with the weak 4th and 5th fingers, etc) before co-ordination is tackled and also memorising, beyond finger memory, for mental play does, at least for me, require memorising both hands independently.

For those who don't deliberately memorise, HS practice may not be necessary but for those who consciously memorise first, HS is a recommended addition to the daily repetitions.



Making sure fingering works at the tempo the piece calls for is one benefit of initial HS practice. Since most people are able to play faster, initially, hands separate, it makes sense to make sure fingering works at something close to tempo. Then return to slow practice, knowing your fingering is secure at at tempo speed.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.


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#2068447 - 04/22/13 03:24 AM Re: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", Chuan Chang [Re: Goomer Piles]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
And that principle is that there are three parts to to musical 'mastery': speed, accuracy, and passage length. After you you master a piece, you can play it at speed, and with accuracy, and in its full length. But Until then, while you're still working it up, you can have ONLY TWO of those elements. So assuming you always want to be accurate, then, you can choose to practice little snippets at speed - or you can do slow practice of longer passages. (And if you practice a long passage at high speed, your accuracy is gone - but that's pretty obvious.)


Hah, I'm making a note of this; I've never read it articulated so well. Thanks for sharing.

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