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#2076994 - 05/04/13 04:09 AM Beginners Technique Video - Help
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Hello,

As some of you may know from other threads I am a beginner that has just started practising piano and I am worried about forming poor technique. I have had 1 lesson and can not have another lesson with my teacher until a spot opens up in about a month.

This teacher didnt seem to worry about technique. My other option is to go ahead with another teacher but I was advised in my other thread to give this one more time.

So I am copying Jean-Luc's thread and posting a short clip of a beginners piece my teacher asked me to learn from the sheet. Please let me know ANY improvements I can make and if I am making any mistakes. I am not so much worried about the timing and rhythm of the piece. I am mainly after critique on my hand and finger positions and pressing of keys, distance from piano etc etc.

Thank you very much. Ps. I have thick skin and will take any criticism as advice for improvement.



Edited by mattmorgan44 (05/05/13 12:40 AM)
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#2077007 - 05/04/13 05:03 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Strangely enough your hands seem to do very well for a beginner. I can't see any tension and your movements are nice and fluid and fit the sound you are trying to produce. I think that we are not exactly qualified to comment on such things in this forum, maybe you can post this in the Piano Teachers forum instead?

Is your chair height comfortable for you? From here it looks like it's a bit too high. But it might just be the angle.

Also I can't see very well from this position but your fingers seem to be moving barely and you are mainly using your wrists and whole hand to press the keys you just move your arm around in the direction and your fingers are doing very minimal movements, barely noticeable. You would have a harder time producing this quality of sound on an acoustic piano. Your keyboard seems to be rather light.

I don't know what kind of music you will want to play in the future but over time you will have to teach your fingers to be very active in pressing the keys, it will help make them stronger and more independent.

The last chord you play is too stiff. Your teacher can show you how to play chords there is other things involved and simply placing your hand over the keys with some weight is not enough. The chord however was nice and compact sounding. (your fingers were nicely rounded and they hit all the notes at the same time)


Edited by Teodor (05/04/13 05:04 AM)
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#2077412 - 05/04/13 10:47 PM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
mattroilanh_tt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/13
Posts: 66
Very nice piece!! Can you share me the sheet? Thank you smile
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#2077437 - 05/05/13 12:17 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: Teodor]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Teodor
Strangely enough your hands seem to do very well for a beginner. I can't see any tension and your movements are nice and fluid and fit the sound you are trying to produce. I think that we are not exactly qualified to comment on such things in this forum, maybe you can post this in the Piano Teachers forum instead?

Is your chair height comfortable for you? From here it looks like it's a bit too high. But it might just be the angle.

Also I can't see very well from this position but your fingers seem to be moving barely and you are mainly using your wrists and whole hand to press the keys you just move your arm around in the direction and your fingers are doing very minimal movements, barely noticeable. You would have a harder time producing this quality of sound on an acoustic piano. Your keyboard seems to be rather light.

I don't know what kind of music you will want to play in the future but over time you will have to teach your fingers to be very active in pressing the keys, it will help make them stronger and more independent.

The last chord you play is too stiff. Your teacher can show you how to play chords there is other things involved and simply placing your hand over the keys with some weight is not enough. The chord however was nice and compact sounding. (your fingers were nicely rounded and they hit all the notes at the same time)


Thank you very much for the advice smile

I will adjust the chair. Arms should be parallel to the ground right?

Yes for this piece I seem to use my hands and arms for momentum. In another piece I play I don't use my arms at all and only use my fingers. Now I am really wanting to know if one way should be changed eek

Funny enough the keyboard has heavy keys. I tested them using USA coins as weights and it is in the heavy to very heavy range! I checked it out when my fingers got really sore and I had to stop playing for a day.

Yep can't wait to have a teacher smile

Thanks again
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#2077439 - 05/05/13 12:18 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattroilanh_tt]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Mattroilanh_tt,

Sure! Do you want to send me your email address in a private message? Or is there a way to send it on here?
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#2077441 - 05/05/13 12:28 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Very good. Can't imagine this for just one lesson. Nothing to really improve on, but if you insist, I would only say you seem to be at times seaching for the next note or notes when you should pratice more toward knowing where the next notes will be and move your hands before you need to instead of just as the beat occurs. This is a small thing and I would not have brought it up for someone with just one lesson normally. You'll find that your small pauses would become much smoother when you move your hand sooner. Great job in general.
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#2077448 - 05/05/13 12:52 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
mattroilanh_tt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/13
Posts: 66
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44
Mattroilanh_tt,

Sure! Do you want to send me your email address in a private message? Or is there a way to send it on here?


Please send to my email: thutrang1986@gmail.com.

Thanks ^_^
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#2077470 - 05/05/13 02:30 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44

Yes for this piece I seem to use my hands and arms for momentum. In another piece I play I don't use my arms at all and only use my fingers. Now I am really wanting to know if one way should be changed eek

Funny enough the keyboard has heavy keys. I tested them using USA coins as weights and it is in the heavy to very heavy range! I checked it out when my fingers got really sore and I had to stop playing for a day.

Yep can't wait to have a teacher smile

Thanks again


No, there is no such thing as only fingers or only arms. Your whole body produces the sound on the piano everything is connected, you will learn it along the way.

As for chair height, no it's not "hands parallel to the ground". The keyboard should feel very comfortable and if possible the height must be such that your arms are parallel to the key bed. Otherwise you create a break in the wrist unintentionally because of the bad height.
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#2077481 - 05/05/13 03:20 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
Mattmorgan, you've met your teacher. What impression have you gathered about your teacher, and what has he said or demonstrated about your teaching goals? I.e. you seem to be uneasy about his assessment of your playing. I'm not qualified, but what I see on your clip doesn't cause me concerns. You have a good sound, control, and you look comfortable. For heaven's sake, don't start taking advice off the Internet and start changing what you do in the four weeks before starting with your teacher! If you're worried about doing something wrong, then minimize or stop playing for that month, and study theory or something else having to do with music.

You are using your body to play rather than just your fingers, and the whole thing seems to work together. That is fantastic. If you are concerned about your height, then send the video to your teacher.

I understand the unease after Jean-Luc's thread, because he was also told that his playing was ok, and he has a hand injury. But there is a difference. J-L made the classical mistake of using only his fingers that people too often still do, but you don't have that.

Do you have any reason to doubt your new teacher after that one lesson?

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#2077507 - 05/05/13 06:25 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: Teodor]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: 4evrBeginR
Very good. Can't imagine this for just one lesson. Nothing to really improve on, but if you insist, I would only say you seem to be at times seaching for the next note or notes when you should pratice more toward knowing where the next notes will be and move your hands before you need to instead of just as the beat occurs. This is a small thing and I would not have brought it up for someone with just one lesson normally. You'll find that your small pauses would become much smoother when you move your hand sooner. Great job in general.


Thank you very much 4evrBeginR smile will do. Also, I have had one lesson but I have been playing for a little while.


Originally Posted By: mattroilanh_tt
Please send to my email: thutrang1986@gmail.com.

Thanks ^_^


Will send it soon smile your very welcome


Originally Posted By: Teodor
No, there is no such thing as only fingers or only arms. Your whole body produces the sound on the piano everything is connected, you will learn it along the way.

As for chair height, no it's not "hands parallel to the ground". The keyboard should feel very comfortable and if possible the height must be such that your arms are parallel to the key bed. Otherwise you create a break in the wrist unintentionally because of the bad height.


Ah ok got it. Thank you! Ps. I didn't make the connection that you were the person who commented first in this thread. Thanks for your help
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#2077517 - 05/05/13 07:07 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: keystring]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Hi Keystring,

I have posted about this quite a lot now but yes I was very uneasy about staying with the teacher. But not uneasy about her assessment of my playing. This thread is totally un-related to the teacher. In this thread I just wanted peoples comments on my playing.

I got along great with the teacher. She is very very nice, no problems there. But there were many things that added up to me making some conclusions that have caused a stir here. Because people don't think I can make that assessment after one lesson. They are mostly right and I have taken that advice on board and will most likely stay with her for the time being. But I can only post so much when there were really so many things throughout the lesson that added up to my impression.

I don't want to keep repeating the reasons I didn't think she was the right teacher for me. One thing I may not have mentioned was that we exchanged a number of emails prior to meeting and we discussed what I wanted to do and that I wanted to pursue the piano full time. I have all day every day to pursue it and it is what I want to do with the rest of my life. In another thread I discussed this a little more and why I am in a unique position to want and be able to do that. I want to develop my playing to the best of my ability and I have the time and motivation.

Well when I took the lesson it was as if we had never discussed any of those things. Our next lesson would be in 7 weeks and she gave me homework that would probably add up to ~5 minutes per day. I have ~10 hours per day to spend on piano if I choose to. I asked for, and was given, a little more. I didn't seem to be able to explain my situation to her so In trying to explain the level I would like to aspire to I actually pulled out my iPad and showed her a youtube clip of a piece of music and she said "we'll he's great but its not like you want to be a concert pianist or anything, you just want to play for fun". It's like we had never discussed what we discussed and I didn't and couldn't get through to her what I would like to achieve.

Since opening the thread I have learnt a lot and taken the advice to give her some time to get to know her. To be honest I thought if I am going to leave her for another teacher, it would be much easier and nicer to leave now because she doesn't have a placement available right now than wait for her to accept me as a student in a months time only to leave soon after. But the general consensus was I need to give her more time.

Back OT, before I started posting here and asking questions I was sort of under the impression that there was a 'correct' way of playing piano. I took lessons for a year when I was young and my teacher was VERY strict. I also knew of many other teachers from a previous generation that had a certain playing technique or style and they were very strict in teaching it. I knew times and this thinking had changed a little, but now I believe that way of thinking has changed a lot. It seems there are many different playing styles and techniques and people aren't so strict about any 'correct' technique.

I still think there are some things about technique that are true for most playing styles and can be commented on. But I might be wrong. Maybe all 'rules' have gone out the window and people play however feels comfortable and that is the correct way for them. Is that true? I'm not being sarcastic.

So I think I've said well and truly enough about my teacher over the three threads I started!

I just wanted some comments on my playing in this one eek smile
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#2077550 - 05/05/13 08:48 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
Mattmorgan, usually I look up other posts before answering, and I apologize for not doing so this time round because I was missing a lot of information which is actually there! And of all the posts to miss - because you guys covered a lot!

Ok, you want to talk only about your playing here, but I think there is cross-over, so please do indulge me. Like my initial thought (before reading anything else) was that "If this person is about to start with a teacher who has seen him once, this is not the time to start making changes according to Internet advice." Now I've read the whole story. If I were to write in the "teacher choice" thread, I'd end up referring to this video. And in writing here, the teacher story also comes up in my mind. So is it ok to talk about both here? (If you want I could try to address it in the other thread - or maybe I should do that too).

Like for the feedback part: If your teacher were about to launch into guiding your physical playing (which I thought), then deciding to sit lower or higher, adding more finger action to arm motion etc. could undermine her plan for you. But when I read about "Piano for Leisure" and needing to ask about distance from the piano, then I'm thinking that maybe this plan doesn't exist. And if it doesn't exist, do you want to continue trying to shape your playing through Internet feedback? (I've gone through some stuff myself.) So for me it does come back to that. But I will address that in the appropriate thread. smile

Your playing had elements that I'm trying to get, because I was totally self taught decades ago, and my motions were fingery and sort of "in blocks". From the LITTLE that I understand, that's a good thing to build on (that a decent teacher would want to build on.) That's all I can say on that matter.

Quote:
I also knew of many other teachers from a previous generation that had a certain playing technique or style and they were very strict in teaching it. I knew times and this thinking had changed a little, but now I believe that way of thinking has changed a lot. It seems there are many different playing styles and techniques and people aren't so strict about any 'correct' technique.

That's a million dollar question, and one that I've been addressing big time as a student. (I am with a teacher now.) Here is what I understand:

There are some things that are efficient. For example, if you sit at the extreme bass end of the piano, or stand up or sit on a foot stool to play, your ability to play well will be compromised. Even if you are very talented, you'll have limitations, and the risk of injury is huge. The two factors are the human body and using it efficiently, and the nature of your instrument which you are acting on physically with that human body. There are some optimum ways of doing that, with a range of variability around that which depends on your personal body, temperament, nature of the particular music etc.

Ok, so then people try to codify this set of optimum things. You get into the "holding the ball" of decades ago which had its roots in roughly the shape your hand might adapt when playing closed position white key music - but it gets turned into a rigid (harmful) rule. You get "relaxed" which can become "limp", and a dozen rules. If we try judiciously to shape our bodies to those rules, we may also get in our own way. If you took something that you do naturally such as walking, and tried to do the "physically correct walking motions" you might make yourself stiff and awkward. Supposing that you are given varied music to play, and told to produce a good sound while seeking the greatest comfort. You would experiment back and forth, and the final result might be something that is "good form" which comes from inside. That's another side of it. I'd want a teacher who is observant, has an idea of efficient body use, is able to tell about my own body use, and could guide me based on all that. I might shy away from a teacher who has a rigid idea of "what is right" and imposes this on all his or her students because it's a rule.

(Going to the other thread now.)

And thanks for answering so thoroughly here. smile

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#2077583 - 05/05/13 10:37 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: keystring]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: mattroilanh_tt


Please send to my email: thutrang1986@gmail.com.

Thanks ^_^


Hi,

Just letting you know I sent that sheet music to your email smile


Originally Posted By: keystring
Mattmorgan, usually I look up other posts before answering...............


Hey Keystring,

Thanks for such a detailed post!

I would love to respond but I reeaaally must go to sleep lol. I will reply to you tomorrow smile Thanks
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#2077608 - 05/05/13 11:24 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
mattroilanh_tt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/13
Posts: 66
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44


Hi,

Just letting you know I sent that sheet music to your email smile



I've received it. Thank you. What book this sheet come from?
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#2077888 - 05/05/13 08:53 PM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattroilanh_tt]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
I have no idea my teacher just gave it to me on its own in my first lesson smile
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#2078089 - 05/06/13 02:58 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
This certainly tells you nothing of how to play once positioned, but this is a place to start if you haven't already seen something similar (not saying that you're positioned incorrectly or anything):



nice playing, by the way

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#2078092 - 05/06/13 03:02 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 977
Loc: Italy
Hi Matt, I've read the topics you started, and I want to add my advice here, although not on your technique but on the "how to fill 10 hours a day with piano" thing. I work as a freelancer and I happen to have entire days off quite often, and have to decide what to do with so much time (well, there's always cleaning etc. but I'm not too keen on that wink ).

There is so much you can do away from the piano, and you've already received plenty of good advice, but I would add to this Prof. Greenberg's music courses on thegreatcourses.com. For the last year I've often started my day with one of his lectures and I've learned so much from him, and in particular from these courses:

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition
The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

They're quite expensive but you can find some videos for free on the Internet so check him out. Right now he's wrapping up a new course on the greatest piano works. He has a sick sense of humor but after a while you won't be able to do without him! He's a pianist too.

Wow that sounded like advertising laugh
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#2078201 - 05/06/13 09:25 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: keystring]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: keystring
Like for the feedback part: If your teacher were about to launch into guiding your physical playing (which I thought), then deciding to sit lower or higher, adding more finger action to arm motion etc. could undermine her plan for you.
Quote:
But when I read about "Piano for Leisure" and needing to ask about distance from the piano, then I'm thinking that maybe this plan doesn't exist. And if it doesn't exist, do you want to continue trying to shape your playing through Internet feedback? (I've gone through some stuff myself.


I definitely agree with what your saying in the first part I quoted above. And I so happy to hear that you seem to understand my situation better than some in the second part I quoted. A lot happened in the 1 1/4 hour lesson and I was given a VERY strong impression that no plan exists or will ever exist. And it's funny you use those words because I spoke to my father about my concerns and he used the EXACT same words as you. I said pretty much exactly "she is a very qualified teacher so maybe she has everything thought out. Maybe she has a plan and that is the reason for her comments and all of the things that worried me during the lesson." His response was "From everything you just told me, it sounds like no such plan exists". To be completely honest I have even forgotten some of the things that concerned me. But it seemed very clear to me and my parents at the time and it still seems clear to me now with all the comments and everything else I do remember about the lesson.

Quote:
There are some things that are efficient. For example, if you sit at the extreme bass end of the piano, or stand up or sit on a foot stool to play, your ability to play well will be compromised. Even if you are very talented, you'll have limitations, and the risk of injury is huge. The two factors are the human body and using it efficiently, and the nature of your instrument which you are acting on physically with that human body. There are some optimum ways of doing that, with a range of variability around that which depends on your personal body, temperament, nature of the particular music etc.

Ok, so then people try to codify this set of optimum things. You get into the "holding the ball" of decades ago which had its roots in roughly the shape your hand might adapt when playing closed position white key music - but it gets turned into a rigid (harmful) rule. You get "relaxed" which can become "limp", and a dozen rules. If we try judiciously to shape our bodies to those rules, we may also get in our own way. If you took something that you do naturally such as walking, and tried to do the "physically correct walking motions" you might make yourself stiff and awkward. Supposing that you are given varied music to play, and told to produce a good sound while seeking the greatest comfort. You would experiment back and forth, and the final result might be something that is "good form" which comes from inside. That's another side of it. I'd want a teacher who is observant, has an idea of efficient body use, is able to tell about my own body use, and could guide me based on all that. I might shy away from a teacher who has a rigid idea of "what is right" and imposes this on all his or her students because it's a rule.


Thanks for these comments and the advice. Well the first part I made bold is why I thought posting a clip of my playing isn't a bad idea. I believed while playing styles can vary, some things will be standard across the board. If some of these standards apply to the smaller more technical aspects of playing, then getting feedback by way of posting a clip could be at least somewhat useful.

The second part I bolded is why this is complicated. Every body is different.

Either way no matter what anyone posts about my playing or in any of my threads I seem to gain valuable information in one way or another! Whether it be direct or indirect and intended or unintended! So I am happy I started these threads. I have learned a lot smile

Thank you
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#2078204 - 05/06/13 09:26 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: Bobpickle]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
This certainly tells you nothing of how to play once positioned, but this is a place to start if you haven't already seen something similar (not saying that you're positioned incorrectly or anything):


Bobpickle,

Thank you that is very helpufl! And thank you for the compliment smile


Edited by mattmorgan44 (05/06/13 09:27 AM)
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#2078209 - 05/06/13 09:31 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: sinophilia]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: sinophilia
Hi Matt, I've read the topics you started, and I want to add my advice here, although not on your technique but on the "how to fill 10 hours a day with piano" thing..............

There is so much you can do away from the piano, and you've already received plenty of good advice, but I would add to this Prof. Greenberg's music courses on thegreatcourses.com. For the last year I've often started my day with one of his lectures and I've learned so much from him, and in particular from these courses:

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition
The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

They're quite expensive but you can find some videos for free on the Internet so check him out. Right now he's wrapping up a new course on the greatest piano works. He has a sick sense of humor but after a while you won't be able to do without him! He's a pianist too.

Wow that sounded like advertising laugh


Hi sinophilia,

Thank you very much for the tip. I am going to go through my threads and make notes of everything everyone has suggested which will be very helpful to me. I will make sure to check out Greenberg's music courses too.

Thank you kindly smile
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#2078219 - 05/06/13 09:45 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
Matt, I addressed most of the teacher issues in your other thread, because I understood you wanted to dedicate this one to your playing video. My thoughts are there:
Your other thread. wink

One of the things that I stressed there is that there is no impression of what your teacher's goals or philosophies are. So I suspect that in the many e-mails, you said what you wanted, but she didn't say her own thoughts (which keeps them an unknown). More in that thread.

I've had a few experiences, and one of my first purposes in joining PW was to find out about studies with teachers and such because of those experiences. Interesting that your father had the same impressions that I did.

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#2078252 - 05/06/13 11:02 AM Re: Beginners Technique Video - Help [Re: keystring]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: keystring
Matt, I addressed most of the teacher issues in your other thread, because I understood you wanted to dedicate this one to your playing video. My thoughts are there:
Your other thread. wink

One of the things that I stressed there is that there is no impression of what your teacher's goals or philosophies are. So I suspect that in the many e-mails, you said what you wanted, but she didn't say her own thoughts (which keeps them an unknown). More in that thread.

I've had a few experiences, and one of my first purposes in joining PW was to find out about studies with teachers and such because of those experiences. Interesting that your father had the same impressions that I did.


Hi Keystring,

Yep I replied to the post in the other thread. Its just taking me a looong time to post so much! smile
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