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#2070811 - 04/25/13 05:20 PM The sound of my music
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
I am not sure how to verbalise this niggling but I am doing it anyway and I will appreciate your diagnosis and feedback.

The sound of my music does not appeal to me. Something is missing. I do not connect to it. It does not fill up my senses. It is not alive. It does not move me. And I do not know why. Yet, if someone else plays the same single note, it invokes a pleasant feeling. How can you explain that and what is the remedy?

I thoroughly enjoy listening to my son's playing. For many years, I would be listening to music all time when home, mainly classic and popular music. I feel enthralled listening to others, radio stations, concerts... I short, I appreciate and enjoy other's music ( but not mine).

Yet, I feel cold towards the sound of my music. When I raised this issue with my teacher this week, he said that I must start appreciate my own music and that he can hear my musicality and he named some pieces that I played during the lesson.

What is it ? Is it my frame of reference ? Is my dominant analytical mind ? Is it my undeveloped music mind and senses?

Music is about touching others' emotions, yet It does not touch me. Am I musically sick? I enjoy the small things in life, the fresh air and the birds' singing when I go for a walk or run... Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical.

How do feel about your music ?


BTW, I have been practising piano for 18 months now.





Edited by JosephAC (04/25/13 05:20 PM)

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#2070818 - 04/25/13 05:34 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1607
Loc: Australia
As yet I rarely connect with the music I play (been playing for 5 months). There is joy in mastering a song that has given me difficulty but as soon as I am able I move on the next piece.
After playing guitar for 40 years I can give some explanations: It takes a while to become one with your instrument, when that does happen you really begin to love your own playing. Improvisation is another facet where you can have some fun and really enjoy the music (even if only you can feel it).
If you really work on a piece until you can play it with your eyes closed the fingers become automatic and the brain can take over and just listen and appreciate.
If you ever get the chance to "jam" with other people you will really be surprised at how rewarding that can be.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
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#2070981 - 04/25/13 09:28 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
AimeeO Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 04 2013


Registered: 05/20/10
Posts: 803
Loc: New Orleans
My music sounds like could use a lot of work! Ha!

Seriously, if you don't feel like your music is musical, that could be a good step. I don't know what your playing is like, but if it is lacking musicality, you can't correct it if you don't know it's happening. I think it just means you're listening and it's a step in the right direction. I went through that too. I still go through that, actually. If it's a challenging piece, I can barely get the notes at tempo, much less make it say something. But after practice eventually you'll get there, because you're conscious of it.

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#2070997 - 04/25/13 09:48 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
I must add that when I do legato drills, the music sounds better. As there is so much to focus on, sometime my legato is compromised.

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#2070998 - 04/25/13 09:49 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8544
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
How do feel about your music ?

I'm sorry you do not feel a connection to your music or it does not touch you emotionally or spiritually.

As for my own music, yes, it does touch me emotionally and spiritually; and, I do feel a strong connection to my music. I enjoy my music immensely. It always puts a smile on my face and cheers me up deep inside. It is a huge source of stress relief in the midst of turmoil and misery.

I can see why music is a great source of medicine and therapy for those who have illnesses or are suffering from sickness and disease.

I hope and pray things change for you so that your music will stir your soul and spirit in a positive way. smile

Best regards,

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2071032 - 04/25/13 10:30 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
You're otherwise too busy playing the music to be able to listen?
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2071040 - 04/25/13 10:38 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks Rick. I need your prayers. Did it happen with the first note ? With every note ? Who long have you been playing ?
I can relate for therapeutic music on the receiving end, but not of my creation and play.


Edited by JosephAC (04/25/13 10:38 PM)

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#2071126 - 04/26/13 12:23 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 767
Speaking from a multi-decade standpoint:

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
What is it ? Is it my frame of reference ? Is my dominant analytical mind ? Is it my undeveloped music mind and senses?


Yes.

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Music is about touching others' emotions, yet [my own music] does not touch me. Am I musically sick? I enjoy the small things in life, the fresh air and the birds' singing when I go for a walk or run... Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical.


As a musician, you -have- to look at your own music critically. Tone production and phrasing is a learned skill. If you're not happy, you need to listen. Listen to your chords. Listen to your melody. Are you phrasing your melody like a singer? Is your performance breathing at the right points? Do you vary your dynamics appropriately?

This is all fixable. You don't fix it within a week or two.

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
How do feel about your music ?


This last week or two, I'm feeling better with it. My teacher gave me a really, really nice comment. But piano is struggle--at least, it is to me.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2071162 - 04/26/13 01:27 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: Whizbang]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1060
Loc: Southern California
It is a common response. I'm not saying everyone, but a lot of people cringe when they hear a recording of their playing. I can hear every bobble, every fault, every hesitation. What I have learned is to lower my standards, because most other listeners can't hear the stuff I am nit picking and indicting myself for. There is a percentage of the population that is hyper-critical of themselves.

If a person isn't enjoying the music while they are playing that is a separate issue. Some on the forum have read Kenny Werner's book Effortless Mastery. It isn't exactly a beginner's book and is more about jazz than other genres. There is also a lengthy YouTube if a person doesn't think the book is worth it. I believe everyone can benefit from the Zen-like approach. That said, when I shared the ideas with an analytical friend, he pooh poohed it, saying that those concepts were only for advanced musicians, not hobbyists. I disagree, but my opinion is far from universal.

There are several things a person can do. The obvious is to get better but that takes time. Sometimes getting better is a losers game, because as a person gets better, they can hear better, and get ever more critical. The other is to lower a person's standards, which is a shift in mind set that can take place in an instant.

I can also mention a point from another thread by the original poster: consider ending the sound off practice sessions. There is a chance, that the sound off practicing may be producing some kind of ideal image of the music, which only exists in theory. So when a person hears the actual music, warts and all, it falls way short.

A beginner is going to sound like a beginner. Most stay in some kind of beginner stage on piano for many years, though the forum does have more than its share of exceptions.

I tell myself that there is zero sense in beating myself up, for sounding like a beginner, when I am a beginner. It might be that obvious.
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#2071189 - 04/26/13 02:18 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3650
Loc: Northern England.
"Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical."

Stop worrying man! You`re playing from music; that makes you a technician; you`re playing other people`s emotive products written with light and shade, their emotive language. Give things time.

You`ll soon feel the music and put in your own emotive content. . . I can feel as you do and I`ve been playing quite a long time; music can become almost a mathematical exercise. (I was never good at maths either) . . . but now and again things happen. Don`t expect too much of yourself; if you perform, others will get the benefit of something which you can`t even detect which is there nonetheless . . .

Try recording yourself. That`s been the biggest wake up call I`ve ever had . . .


Edited by peterws (04/26/13 02:26 AM)
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2071193 - 04/26/13 02:57 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1336
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
It's hard, being a beginner.

Sometimes, all I can hear, when I play back a recording, is the mistakes, the imperfections, the misplaced accents, the too-much-legato or not-enough-legato phrasing, the almost-right rhythms.

If your teacher can hear the underlying spirit in the music, accept his/her judgement.

18 months isn't a long time, for an adult. "Mastery" takes longer than that.

One suggestion:

Take a piece you can play _easily_, and technically perfectly, and try to make it sound as good as you can. If recording, that will require many "takes". And then listen to yourself _at your best_. And try to balance the "ouch!" at the bad parts, with some enjoyment at your skill in the good parts.

. Charles

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#2071195 - 04/26/13 03:09 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
Some possibly interesting thoughts that might turn a few things on their head:

When you listen to music, it moves you - you can listen passively and let the whole thing wash over you. When you first play, you may get that same feeling (or not). Often at that point we are imagining what we want to sound like rather than what we actually do sound like. As you learn more, you start aiming for and hearing things like correct beat, notes that are not too loud or soft vis-a-vis the other notes, the right notes etc. At this point you hear more as your ears open up, and your playing starts sounding worse for you. Your playing may actually be better and sound better to everyone else. A point may also come where you start hearing elements in others' playing, where it no longer washes over you the same way, because you can hear why it sounds good.

I'm seeing an anology: the painter who is able to see and appreciate the brush strokes, while most people see the illusion of the painting. Something is lost but more is gain. We keep hearing about the greatest musicians as having been the most critical and dissatisfied with themselves - because they could also hear more, and imagine more. It was this dissatisfaction, in part, that pushed them ever greater heights.

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#2071209 - 04/26/13 03:45 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

I am not sure how to verbalise this niggling but I am doing it anyway and I will appreciate your diagnosis and feedback.

The sound of my music does not appeal to me. Something is missing. I do not connect to it. It does not fill up my senses. It is not alive. It does not move me. And I do not know why. Yet, if someone else plays the same single note, it invokes a pleasant feeling. How can you explain that and what is the remedy?

I thoroughly enjoy listening to my son's playing. For many years, I would be listening to music all time when home, mainly classic and popular music. I feel enthralled listening to others, radio stations, concerts... I short, I appreciate and enjoy other's music ( but not mine).

Yet, I feel cold towards the sound of my music. When I raised this issue with my teacher this week, he said that I must start appreciate my own music and that he can hear my musicality and he named some pieces that I played during the lesson.

What is it ? Is it my frame of reference ? Is my dominant analytical mind ? Is it my undeveloped music mind and senses?

Music is about touching others' emotions, yet It does not touch me. Am I musically sick? I enjoy the small things in life, the fresh air and the birds' singing when I go for a walk or run... Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical.

How do feel about your music ?


BTW, I have been practising piano for 18 months now.

__________________________________________________

I have been playing for a year.

I am a do'er. What I mean is I would rather play basketball than watch it. I would rather play the piano than watch someone else play. I like the action of doing something. Needless to say I haven't had a tv or watched it since in left home in 1969.

I played a sax for 4 years - just a beginner learned to read the music and play in my 40s and playing in bands or groups jamming is fun, but you very soon realize where you are and where everbody else is in terms of play.

i know 100 pieces but they are beginner pieces so most of them are only 4 measures long. What I learned is that you can play any piece and play it as impressively or musically as any piece of any size. It is important to listen to your own playing. There are two aspects. Firstly, when you listen to your playing, you should know when you have played a note too loud, too soft, held it too long or held the note too short. It is part of playing. But by listening to yourself, you can hear what you do play is nicely played. You don't need anybody to tell you that, you can hear it. So you don't need an audience.

There are a couple of pieces which I like to play but sometimes they don't sound right and I don't know why. So that happens.

It is all about the journey. There is an expression. If you can't enjoy a coffee at Macdonald's you will never enjoy a coffee in Paris.


So don't be too hard on yourself. Just relax on the piano bench and just play anything because it is such an awesome experience just seeing a piano digital or otherwise sitting silently and then you press a key and there is this awesome sound, day or night. The piano needs you to make a sound.

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#2071313 - 04/26/13 08:54 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
I have read what you wrote and the others' responses and must say that I agree with what others have written here. From my own experience ... I am a perfectionist through and through, very analytical, a total type A personality and very critical of myself. There are sooooo many things in life that I have never attempted because of my perfectionism. For instance, my husband is a pilot and there was a time that he encouraged me to get my private pilot license. But I didn't. Oh, I could have - I had the money and the time and the ability. But I had this looming cloud of perfectionism and because of my fear of failure - because I just over-thought it - I never did it. I regret that. And there are other things like this in my life that I could share.

I over-think, I over-analyze. I want to do everything perfectly right off the bat. Impossible! Music has taught me to enjoy the journey and not to be focused on the destination, if you will. So many other things in my life I focus on the destination and I end up missing the scenery along the way. And I can find myself getting that way with the piano from time to time. And so I must force myself to stop, to change my focus, to just enjoy playing ... even if it's a piece that seems childish to my adult, analytical mind, or if it's scales and technique work. I have learned that all the scenery along way is lovely because I am learning and growing and improving, no matter how small the step.

Last summer I decided to learn to play the guitar. I am TERRIBLE at it ... truly. But you know what? I just don't care. I enjoy playing what I can and learning and improvising strumming patterns. The chords I play are NOT lovely and there's a lot of hesitation in my playing, switching from chord to chord. But I.just.love.doing.it. Oh it was not always so. I used to get so frustrated until I just forced myself to stop over-analyzing and start having fun. So I don't care what I sound like. I know it's not anywhere near what I listen to for entertainment. Of course not! But it's fun and I know that every tiny step means I'm learning something new.

And so it is with the piano. I am a beginner. There are many building blocks to playing the piano and each step is important and takes you a little bit higher. So for me it's all fun and enjoyable. OK, maybe 95% of the time it's fun and enjoyable and sometimes I get frustrated ... let's be honest. But that's an attitude that at one time I had to force myself to have, and now it's much easier to think that way.

OK ... I feel like I am going on and on ... I just want to encourage you to stop over-thinking it, stop over-analyzing your playing. Just sit and play. No matter what it is. No matter if it's scales or finger exercises or something simple that you know well or something you are just learning. You might have to force yourself to change your mindset every time you sit down at the piano. I've had to do that in the past, especially with the guitar.

I can tell you that now, when I am practicing the guitar, but ESPECIALLY when I am practicing the piano, I lose all track of time. Is my playing that lovely that it would take me to some heightened emotional state? HECK NO! But I just get so enthralled in it, in learning it. And I know that one day I will be able to sit and play and it be completely lovely.

I hope this helps! smile
_________________________
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

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#2071365 - 04/26/13 10:02 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: heathermphotog]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 197
Loc: USA
Personally, im in the same boat as Rickster. I may be a hack, but it's therapy to this hack.

But here's another vote for letting yourself win every now and then. Take the time to play and not practice. Playing is the payoff. Just play what you know. But I may be presuming, and I apologize. I know many people drill for years. It is very much a big step to cypher out a hymn in total. If you are heavily influence by the method and curriculum of your instructor, you may want to relay these feelings to him or her. It's your money. Lastly, if playing is the payoff, playing ensemble is the bonus. When it's right, there's nothing printable that can compare. smile

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#2071439 - 04/26/13 11:30 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and 'multi-decade' insights.... Thanks heather for your in depth insight, just to name a recent responder. Your responses shed a new perspective. This is counselling at its best. Do not undermine your postive influnece. Keep responding to this post and all others. For your resposnes cure some deeply rooted unspoken worrisome.
You are giving me the support in a long journey. I no longer feel lonley in my endevour. I know I can turn to this forum for guidance beyond the technical stuff. This online community is already part of this journey. A community with like minded and friendly people.
Keep up the excellent responses.

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#2071522 - 04/26/13 01:00 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 509
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical.

I feel this way a lot too. When I don't feel this way, it is more often than not because I'm doing something different than on the written page. I've put my own interpretation, my own feelings, into it. Some times this is unintentional -- I make a mistake (rhythmically usually), like it, and stick with it.

I would suggest giving serendipity a try. Take a piece/song that you know really well, and then play it freely -- ignoring the intended/written rhythm. I'm messing around with Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" right now, and the only guidance re: timing is "Freely". I love that. Just play what you feel, and see how it feels.


Edited by aTallGuyNH (04/26/13 01:01 PM)
Edit Reason: emphasis on "don't"
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2071560 - 04/26/13 01:52 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
AimeeO Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 04 2013


Registered: 05/20/10
Posts: 803
Loc: New Orleans
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Yet, if someone else plays the same single note, it invokes a pleasant feeling. How can you explain that and what is the remedy?
... Yet, I feel that the sound of my music is neutral and mechanical.



Originally Posted By: JosephAC
I must add that when I do legato drills, the music sounds better. As there is so much to focus on, sometime my legato is compromised.


You know, when I read this, I'm wondering if the notes sound "clipped" to you when you listen to what you're playing.

Try this:

Take an easier piece that you think sounds bad, and pull out the metronome. Start out slo-o-o-owly. Pick a tempo that you can play every note with the emphasis that you want (play around some! Actually, you could use aTallGuyNH's suggestion to play freely to find your sound). After you you get that down, try bumping it up a couple of ticks(seriously! 2 or 3), and try to play with the same emphasis at that tempo. Rinse and repeat until you get to the desired tempo. It might take a while, but I'm hoping you'll find that it sounds better.

The metronome doesn't work for everybody, but it sure has helped me! I just wish I had the patience to always use it.

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#2071573 - 04/26/13 02:10 PM Re: The sound of my music [Re: AimeeO]
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 509
Originally Posted By: AimeeO
Try this:

Take an easier piece that you think sounds bad, and pull out the metronome. Start out slo-o-o-owly. Pick a tempo that you can play every note with the emphasis that you want (play around some! Actually, you could use aTallGuyNH's suggestion to play freely to find your sound). After you you get that down, try bumping it up a couple of ticks(seriously! 2 or 3), and try to play with the same emphasis at that tempo. Rinse and repeat until you get to the desired tempo. It might take a while, but I'm hoping you'll find that it sounds better.

The metronome doesn't work for everybody, but it sure has helped me! I just wish I had the patience to always use it.


I like that idea...

I practice absurdly quickly sometimes (I'm not very good, so this is on very slow passages -- "quickly" is relative to the tempo of the piece, not empirically fast) just for yucks. If you pick a piece where you are capable of doing this, then you can play "freely" anywhere you want within the range between glacial and jackrabbit. Essentially, you've removed your technical limitations and are freed to roam wherever you want rhythmically. But, you are severely constrained if "normal" is your max speed.

Do I have an entire piece for which I could actually do this myself? No... but I can do it for portions, and it's fun and interesting.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2076399 - 05/03/13 02:44 AM Re: The sound of my music [Re: JosephAC]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
I thought I sounded great at first. My ear was undeveloped.

As my ear developed (and more importantly, I started listening to recordings of myself instead of solely myself in the moment), I realized my sound lacked. My ear had surpassed my playing.

I think there's a constant battle for us to grow more capable of reaching the sounds we desire and for our ears to continue growing sharper and more in-tune to hearing sounds period (both the good and the bad). As we strive to better the two, we simultaneously take notice of our own sounds and (hopefully then) proactively work to improve them. Learning as an adult is a double-edged sword in that we can more actively listen and have more sounds in our memory with which to compare our own, making things depressing. We triumph over children, though, in that if we kick our own butts and do the right kind of work (proper practice), with some effort, we can more rapidly achieve these sounds we desire.


It's important to note that there is a good period of time in learning new material of some difficulty where we're forced to be somewhat mechanical in our practicing, going slowly and repeating small passages many times slowly. This is so that we can take more of our conscious mind and direct it towards our sound instead of just simply playing the right notes.... so don't undervalue the importance of this first stage of practice if a good sound is what you desire.
Originally Posted By: Stephen Heller
It is better to play slowly and accurately than play too fast early on. You don't want to develop bad habits - that's not productive practice.Practise very slowly; progress very fast

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