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#2077443 - 05/05/13 12:30 AM Beginners technique with video - Help
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

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

I have been practising piano for a little while and I would like to hear any comments on my playing.

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. If you can let me know ANY improvements I could look at. Or any areas of my technique I could focus on. 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.

Where Go The Boats - Short Beginners Piece

Ps. I edited this opening post because my original post caused some debate. I am just after comments on my playing smile Thanks


Edited by mattmorgan44 (05/05/13 05:47 AM)
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#2077457 - 05/05/13 01:30 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44
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....

You know that after 1 lesson? smile

I don't see how you can. In fact, I'm not sure you can know that after 10 lessons. I wouldn't think "technique" is something that comes into play until way further down the road.

I would think a first lesson usually is mostly about saying 'hello' and starting to get to know each other, including the teacher finding out what you might already know and what you're interested in, and then after that the two of you feel out what you're really going to be doing.

Great that you want to be doing things meanwhile, before the next lesson. But maybe be more patient about judging what the teacher is or isn't interested in.

About the playing: You play very very nicely for a beginner! And for this stage, your "technique" seems quite good; no need to worry about it. Although, it seems to me that you're doing a lot of "up and down" with the wrists and forearms for no particular reason. grin But, I suppose it's serving some purpose for you (like, maybe it's your way of "breathing," i.e. for the phrasing, and in that case it's better than no breathing) smile and I don't think you should worry about it right now. Keep playing how you enjoy it -- and wait for what your teacher will be telling you in the coming lessons.

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#2077475 - 05/05/13 02:52 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
mattmorgan44, you've only had 1 lesson? And you are complaining that your teacher possibly is incompetent and doesn't see your "flaws" ? He didn't seem to bother about technique because it was your first lesson and you are yet to form some technique.

There is no such thing as beginner's technique. Beginner and technique are opposite words. Technique means proficiency and mastery of a particular thing a beginner is just setting on the journey to reach any form of mastery.

Sorry if this seems harsh but last time I replied to your other thread I missed the fact you only had 1 lesson and now I feel stupid for even replying and commenting. For someone with only 1 lesson you have no apparent problems that I see (no harmful ones). If I was your teacher I would say that you are doing fine as well and during the next lesson I would see what progress you made and this time have some comments if I see you are forming any bad habits. Technique is formed not so much by talking to your teacher but by conquering different technical problems and playing some useful etudes and other exercises... Bad habits are formed when you try to use your body in an unnatural way. Everything you do should be the most natural to you, there are several ways to achieve the same thing and all are good.


I will tell you one piece of advice that will help improve technique. "Talk to your teacher and discuss what's bothering you DIRECTLY and in person. Don't beat around the bush, your piano teacher is not a mind reader." They cannot possibly always know what you mean, you have to explain. An internet forum can't help you decide if your teacher is good (I feel like in a little while you might also ask about that) but you can't either before you've taken the time to talk openly.


Edited by Teodor (05/05/13 02:53 AM)
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#2077480 - 05/05/13 03:18 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: Mark_C]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Before you start get any other suggestions.....

Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44
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....

You know that after 1 lesson? smile

I don't see how you can. In fact, I'm not sure you can know that after 10 lessons. I wouldn't think "technique" is something that comes into play until way further down the road.

Quote:
I would think a first lesson usually is mostly about saying 'hello' and starting to get to know each other, including the teacher finding out what you might already know and what you're interested in, and then after that the two of you feel out what you're really going to be doing.

Great that you want to be doing things meanwhile, before the next lesson. But maybe be more patient about judging what the teacher is or isn't interested in.


I actually opened a thread to discuss this in detail because I was worried about it and choosing the right teacher. I had a few people respond similarly to you and I have taken their advice. I was going to go ahead with a different teacher that I was considering but I am going to stay with my current teacher for now based on some of the responses I got.

I did have reason to say I don't believe she is concerned with technique. The first lesson was somewhat as you describe, meeting, showing her what I know etc. but we quickly moved on to finger exercises and scales and some beginner pieces of music. The lesson did go for 1 1/4 hours. And every time I asked any question, about my hand position or fingers or anything, the response was "it's fine". And that may be because as you say technique doesn't come into it for a long time. But even little things like me asking if I was sitting close enough she responded "it's fine" but then quickly said "actually you should be further back" and we moved the chair. So I wondered if I had to ask about such a small issue as the chair position for it to be corrected, what about the much more technical aspects of playing that I don't know about. Whether it be now or later.

Anyway! I have discussed that in a different thread and probably should have left it out of this one completely. And I have taken the advice of members and will be staying with her for the time being.


Quote:
About the playing: You play very very nicely for a beginner! And for this stage, your "technique" seems quite good; no need to worry about it. Although, it seems to me that you're doing a lot of "up and down" with the wrists and forearms for no particular reason. grin But, I suppose it's serving some purpose for you (like, maybe it's your way of "breathing," i.e. for the phrasing, and in that case it's better than no breathing) smile and I don't think you should worry about it right now. Keep playing how you enjoy it -- and wait for what your teacher will be telling you in the coming lessons.


Thank you very much. I got a response when this thread was in a different section and the person also commented on my arms and hands and said my fingers aren't doing much work. My hand and arm movements are doing most of the work. So I am wondering if it is something I will need to focus on. I think your comment is a little different and its just an unnecessary movement of my arms (there is a word for moving unnecessarily on the piano but I've forgotten it and I can't find anywhere!! If anyone knows it please tell me it's really bugging me!)

Thank you
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#2077484 - 05/05/13 03:36 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
slipperykeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/12
Posts: 382
Loc: Dorset, England
Did you really use a "chair" at your lesson?

That would be unusual. Other than that the other comments made seem ideal, and as they reflect what you have already heard, seem good advice.

To give you some idea perhaps you would do well to watch some of the greats, Vladimir Horowitz for example. If I let my wrists droop like that my teacher would have had 40 fits, different strokes for different folks, and all that.

You play that "boat" piece well, (IMO), do you know it off by heart?

Do you hear what you are playing or are you concentrating so much you don't have the capacity to hear the music? (I have suffered from that since I started playing over 40 years ago)

A good experience for me (it may not work for you) is to learn a piace off by heart and then try to play it in different styles, eg, Bach, Mozart, swing, boogie-woogie.

This may only work for me but if you know a piece really well you develop the capicity to "fool around" with it, and this, I believe has developed my personal technique right up from "lamentable" to the dizzy heights of merely "rather poor".

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#2077487 - 05/05/13 03:49 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: Teodor]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Teodor
mattmorgan44, you've only had 1 lesson? And you are complaining that your teacher possibly is incompetent and doesn't see your "flaws" ? He didn't seem to bother about technique because it was your first lesson and you are yet to form some technique.

There is no such thing as beginner's technique. Beginner and technique are opposite words. Technique means proficiency and mastery of a particular thing a beginner is just setting on the journey to reach any form of mastery.

Sorry if this seems harsh but last time I replied to your other thread I missed the fact you only had 1 lesson and now I feel stupid for even replying and commenting. For someone with only 1 lesson you have no apparent problems that I see (no harmful ones). If I was your teacher I would say that you are doing fine as well and during the next lesson I would see what progress you made and this time have some comments if I see you are forming any bad habits. Technique is formed not so much by talking to your teacher but by conquering different technical problems and playing some useful etudes and other exercises... Bad habits are formed when you try to use your body in an unnatural way. Everything you do should be the most natural to you, there are several ways to achieve the same thing and all are good.


I will tell you one piece of advice that will help improve technique. "Talk to your teacher and discuss what's bothering you DIRECTLY and in person. Don't beat around the bush, your piano teacher is not a mind reader." They cannot possibly always know what you mean, you have to explain. An internet forum can't help you decide if your teacher is good (I feel like in a little while you might also ask about that) but you can't either before you've taken the time to talk openly.


Woah! Ok, I was not complaining. I comment and ask questions because I learn a lot hearing advice from people much more experienced than me.

I usually will never oppose a comment from someone with much more experienced than me. However, I believe there is such a thing as a beginners technique.

"Technique means proficiency and mastery of a particular thing"

How can that be? I think I know what your saying, that technique is developed over time. But that doesn't mean a beginner has no technique at all. It's just not a developed or proficient one. Technique isn't something that is achieved, so it's not proficiency and mastery of piano. I have heard many story's of people who have self taught and formed bad habits that are hard to break. That is why I opened the thread you are taking about.

If you think I have no apparent problems in my playing, i am happy to hear it, and I think that's largely because I read and start threads and ask questions about technique! I actually think we just have different definitions of the word. If I didn't worry about it at all, I probably would have apparent problems.

Thank you for the second half of your post that I quoted. I am grateful for your advice about conquering difficult technical problems and playing some useful etudes and other exercises, and in relation to talking openly with my teacher and not beating around the bush.

Edit: one last thing

"An internet forum can't help you decide if your teacher is good"

This forum and the thread that you contributed to helped me to decide to stay with my current teacher and not just leave and find another one. Which is what you believe I should do right? I am a beginner and threads like that one and this one help me. I take advice on board and this is one way I learn.


Edited by mattmorgan44 (05/05/13 03:55 AM)
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#2077488 - 05/05/13 03:58 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44
....(there is a word for moving unnecessarily on the piano but I've forgotten it and I can't find anywhere!! If anyone knows it please tell me it's really bugging me!)

There isn't really any standard word for that. I think the word you might be looking for is "extraneous," but don't worry about this either.
Including because I think "unnecessary" is better. grin

IMO when there's a choice between plain English and some fancier word, and the plain English does the job at least as well, the plain English is better -- in music or anything else.

BTW I didn't invent this rule. ha
I think I might have gotten it from George Orwell (who actually did do stuff besides "1984" and "Animal Farm"). smile

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#2077493 - 05/05/13 04:53 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

Woah! Ok, I was not complaining. I comment and ask questions because I learn a lot hearing advice from people much more experienced than me.

I usually will never oppose a comment from someone with much more experienced than me. However, I believe there is such a thing as a beginners technique.

"Technique means proficiency and mastery of a particular thing"

How can that be? I think I know what your saying, that technique is developed over time. But that doesn't mean a beginner has no technique at all. It's just not a developed or proficient one. Technique isn't something that is achieved, so it's not proficiency and mastery of piano. I have heard many story's of people who have self taught and formed bad habits that are hard to break. That is why I opened the thread you are taking about.

If you think I have no apparent problems in my playing, i am happy to hear it, and I think that's largely because I read and start threads and ask questions about technique! I actually think we just have different definitions of the word. If I didn't worry about it at all, I probably would have apparent problems.

Thank you for the second half of your post that I quoted. I am grateful for your advice about conquering difficult technical problems and playing some useful etudes and other exercises, and in relation to talking openly with my teacher and not beating around the bush.

Edit: one last thing

"An internet forum can't help you decide if your teacher is good"

This forum and the thread that you contributed to helped me to decide to stay with my current teacher and not just leave and find another one. Which is what you believe I should do right? I am a beginner and threads like that one and this one help me. I take advice on board and this is one way I learn.


Sorry I can be an ass sometimes, I apologize for my initial reaction. Just don't obsess with technique right away, it's more about enjoying your music. It's good to have it in mind and it's great that you are aware of forming bad habits right from the start.

I guess what I should have simply said is to not rely so much on internet forums and our opinion. You should trust yourself more and see how you personally feel about the teacher. When I was starting with my first teacher I had mixed feelings and I thought she was limiting me by not providing constructive feedback enough and by looking down on me for being a late beginner.

I am glad I now have a good teacher and I can tell that it's not easy finding one. Some great musicians are terrible teachers and some great teachers are just not a match with every person. You need to fit with that person to have good effective lessons. But to know that you will need more experience with your teacher. In the end you will be able to feel for yourself if she is right. But also give her the benefit of the doubt if only because she has more experience and might know better. If after a few lessons you do not like how things are going you can always look around for another teacher.

What I can also tell from the video is that you are doing very well so far and you show great promise. From here on you can only get better but you are already off to a good start.

I apologize again for my rudeness. I mostly have my temper under control but sometimes I don't, especially on forums. I am only lately beginning to control such reactions because they are not constructive at all. Lashing out at somebody is hardly ever a good thing. I have to work on my communication with people as it turns out. Sorry about that.


Edited by Teodor (05/05/13 04:55 AM)
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#2077495 - 05/05/13 05:05 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: slipperykeys]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

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

No it was a proper piano bench/stool smile my mistake

Your Horowitz point is of interest to me. When I was young I took 1 year of lessons and my teacher was VERY strict. And many teachers I knew that taught long ago had a certain "technique" that was taught and they were very strict about it. I am getting the impression that this has changed and there is a new thinking when it comes to playing styles. I guess I posted because I know there are some things that will probably never change and if my playing could be improved in any way I would like to know.

Thank you for the compliment on the boat piece. My teacher said it would be good for me to start learning pieces from the sheet rather than by ear and youtube and gave me a few pieces smile so it took me about an hour of figuring out the notes and I would play (very slowly) each note as I read it. But I know it off by heart now so when I am playing it I am thinking about how it sounds and how it flows and how hard or soft I'm hitting the keys.

Playing in different styles is a great suggestion. Will definitely try that smile

Haha I'm sure your giving yourself a bad rap! Thank you be much for the suggestions smile smile
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#2077496 - 05/05/13 05:12 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: Mark_C]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
IMO when there's a choice between plain English and some fancier word, and the plain English does the job at least as well, the plain English is better -- in music or anything else


It's only annoying me because someone used it and I looked it up in the dictionary! Starts with an A and is about 7/8 letters haha. But I totally agree with you and I won't worry about doing it smile
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#2077498 - 05/05/13 05:28 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: Teodor]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
It's all good wink I appreciate the advice your giving me smile

It sounds like you had the same experience as me! And yes I definitely need to give it more time, not jump to conclusions and give her the benefit of the doubt. It did cross my mind that she is very experienced and does pay attention to detail etc and just doesn't find it necessary to talk about this early on. So I'll give it some time.

Regarding the temper, don't worry about it (with me I mean). I have had quite the temper in the past myself eek In fact I'm paying for it now in a big big way. I got a little (a lot) angry at my brother a year and a half ago and instead of punching him I punched a wall and hit the 2x4 stud behind the wall instead. And now I have a semi deformed pinky finger to contend with while playing piano. Back then I wasn't a piano player and now I'm seriously suffering the consequences!

Moral of the story. Punch your brother (hehe)



Edited by mattmorgan44 (05/05/13 05:36 AM)
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#2077500 - 05/05/13 05:35 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Ok. Please OT, if there is anything about my playing that I could focus on to improve, please let me know.

I am keeping my teacher, I have no complaints.

I am spending a lot of time on the piano so I'd like to know what areas of my playing I could improve. And if the fact I'm just starting out makes a difference, pretend I'm a few years in!
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#2077574 - 05/05/13 10:15 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I guess this has been said pretty much already, but I agree with your teacher that your technique is fine. Your movements are quite fluid and you seem relaxed and I think you have a very nice sense of phrasing which you can see reflected in the physical movements.

It can sometimes be difficult to sustain the relaxation and fluidity and arm weight when you begin to play more complex passages and exercises, but that's something to focus on when you get to it I think.

Keep up the good work! :-) That was very nice!

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#2077576 - 05/05/13 10:22 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mermilylumpkin]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Thank you Mermilylumpkin smile
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#2077592 - 05/05/13 10:54 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Affectation, may be the word you are searching for?
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#2077603 - 05/05/13 11:14 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: mattmorgan44]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3189
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44

I did have reason to say I don't believe she is concerned with technique. The first lesson was somewhat as you describe, meeting, showing her what I know etc. but we quickly moved on to finger exercises and scales and some beginner pieces of music.


This is a contradictory statement.

"...finger exercises and scales and some...music." is exactly how one develops technique.

That your teacher started you with those at the first lesson, and given the decent hand position you exhibit, is proof that, #1, she is concerned with technique, and #2, she is doing exactly what she should to develop your technique at this stage of your studies.
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#2077631 - 05/05/13 12:25 PM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: rocket88]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5536
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: mattmorgan44

I did have reason to say I don't believe she is concerned with technique. The first lesson was somewhat as you describe, meeting, showing her what I know etc. but we quickly moved on to finger exercises and scales and some beginner pieces of music.


This is a contradictory statement.

"...finger exercises and scales and some...music." is exactly how one develops technique.

That your teacher started you with those at the first lesson, and given the decent hand position you exhibit, is proof that, #1, she is concerned with technique, and #2, she is doing exactly what she should to develop your technique at this stage of your studies.


I agree.

I hope the OP didn't expect his teacher to physically mould his hands (and feet and trunk) into the 'correct position' while he was playing, or put coins on the back of his hands to see if they fell off from 'excessive' hand movements......
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#2078178 - 05/06/13 08:29 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: R0B]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: R0B
Affectation, may be the word you are searching for?


I hate to disappoint but this isn't it lol. I will find it one day and post it here!!!!!
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#2078187 - 05/06/13 08:47 AM Re: Beginners technique with video - Help [Re: bennevis]
mattmorgan44 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: rocket88
This is a contradictory statement.

"...finger exercises and scales and some...music." is exactly how one develops technique.

That your teacher started you with those at the first lesson, and given the decent hand position you exhibit, is proof that, #1, she is concerned with technique, and #2, she is doing exactly what she should to develop your technique at this stage of your studies.

Originally Posted By: bennevis
I agree.

I hope the OP didn't expect his teacher to physically mould his hands (and feet and trunk) into the 'correct position' while he was playing, or put coins on the back of his hands to see if they fell off from 'excessive' hand movements......


I appreciate your advice. I honestly now think that I just can't explain the situation well enough for me to convey what happened in the lesson. It was many many things over the hour and a quarter that made me concerned, and wonder if I should go ahead and trial the other teachers I was looking at. I have mentioned some of those things in other posts but there were so many reasons that I just couldn't go through or rather explaim them all in a post. Many of her comments, not lesson structure, attributed to my concern.

The decent hand position is from me looking up tutorial videos on the net, and I posted the clip here to see how I was doing.

Anyway, I have learned a lot from everyone's responses and I consider the teacher subject resolved for now. I have taken the advice from here and will be staying with that teacher and give her time to get to know her better and see how things are doing in the future. I guess I will find out if she is concerned with technique over the next months or year.
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