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#2120781 - 07/20/13 11:05 PM Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
I'm about to start working on a piece trying to follow the methods that Bernhard (and other teachers) teach. I'm starting this thread to talk about what I'm doing as I go through the process, to invite anyone else trying to do the same or wanting to do the same to join in, and to solicit comments and questions from those who know about this method or are curious about this method.

My goal on the piece I have in mind is to try to apply Bernhard's method strictly. Over on the Practice methods in detail thread we're having a broader discussion about practice methods in general, and comparing and contrasting.

Bernhard has described how he teaches over many posts over on pianostreet. For those who like reading, here is a thread to get you started. Follow the links for hours of fun.

For those who don't want to do that much reading, there are some pages with a much shorter version of what Bernhard talks about, but I can't get the links to work right now. I'll try posting those links later.

Bernhard says about what he teaches that all of it is taught by other people; he didn't invent anything new -- even when he thinks he invented something new, shortly thereafter he will find someone who was already doing it years, decades, or centuries before. He also says he's not an evangelist for what he teaches; he lays out the information for people to try, and if they find it gives them better results than what they were doing previously, good, and if it doesn't, then don't use it.

So here I am, trying it out.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2120790 - 07/20/13 11:27 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Down to specifics: the piece I've chosen is one of Bach's little preludes: BWV 927 in F Major

Actually, I was going to do one that I have mostly learned, and try to apply Bernhard's method to finish learning it (I know he says it's not "his" method, but I don't know a more accurate but still brief phrase to use to describe it), but now as I type this I am thinking I will do a brand new one.

I'm getting my ideas for what order to learn Bach's pieces from Martha Beth Lewis's page on learning Fugues. She lays out a path that starts with the Little Preludes, proceeds through the 2-part and then 3-part Inventions, and culminates with the Well-Tempered Clavier.

I'm at the very beginning, working on Little Preludes. An even prior step could be working on pieces from the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook, but I've already done that. The Prelude that I have partly learned is the first one on Martha Beth's list, BWV 999 in C minor (except the final 2/3 of the piece is in G minor). The next Prelude is BWV 939 in C major, except I've learned that one already. I'd like to someday improve my playing of it in line with insightful comments that wouter79 made when I submitted it to my first ABF recital, but not now. So that means my Bernhard project piece will be the third on Martha Beth's list, BWV 927 in F major.

Bernhard has three major steps. The first step is preparation. This includes (but may not be limited to): listening to the piece, both with and without the score; analysing the piece; making an initial practice plan; deciding on fingering; writing out simplified scores; deciding on interpretation, etc. (Not necessarily in that order.) I'm about to go out of town for two days and won't have a piano with me, so these are a perfect two days to work on my preparation.

I'll take my Henle edition of Little Preludes, a couple of printouts from IMSLP for messing up with lots of pencilled-in analysis, a book of score paper, pencils and erasers, and my iPhone for listening to YouTube versions.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2120792 - 07/20/13 11:29 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I know this method addresses people who want to play a repertoire. Would still like to know what the differences would be for someone like me who wants to understand, create, pick up the technical aspects of piano. Not that I don't want to or play songs. I enjoy them. I'm just into the big picture.

Just to throw out my idea. The change is not in the learning of the pieces.
The change would be in choice of what to learn.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2120797 - 07/20/13 11:36 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1635
Loc: Australia
PianoStudent88 this should be fun, looking forward to further installments. I have been reading only some of the Bernhard links but not that well read on them. If you are going to try something new and share your progress I thought it would be good to know a little more about you. I did some snooping sleuthing on the recital page and gleaned the following:

So you were a child protige for ten years and threw it all away for love (sorry I might be reading between the lines there) but your back and recommenced piano about two years ago and have a teacher. So questions:

What piece are you going to learn?
What specific methods are you going to use and how do they? differ from your current methods?
What does your teacher do different to the Bernhard method?
What do you feel is the overall goal?
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2120803 - 07/20/13 11:48 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
rnaple, I remember that comment/question from you from on the other thread, and I've been meaning to try to respond, so thank you for bringing this up again.

I think it's an illusion that this method is only for people who want to play a repertoire. I think there are ideas in it for people who want to, as you say, "understand, create, pick up the technical aspects of piano."

When you say "the change is not in the learning of the pieces" -- for me, I do want to change how I learn pieces. I feel like I'm in a rut where I can't quite master the pieces I want to play, and I'm not talking about wanting to play massively complex pieces either. I'm not so interested in having a very small specific set of dream pieces that I want to play. I'm more interested in learning technique, and being able to pick up a wide variety of pieces and play them. But for the moment, for whatever reason, I'm expanding my pianistic knowledge by picking pieces I want to play, and learning the technique I need as it comes up.

When you say "the change would be in choice of what to learn" -- one of the things Bernhard does in working with his students to choose pieces is to structure the sequence of pieces in order of increasing difficulty, and to choose the easier pieces so as to build the skills needed for the harder pieces. I haven't found many of his posts that talk about details of how to do this, although I have found a few that give examples of preparatory pieces for specific harder pieces. (And as usual, I don't know where those posts are right now... grrrr, am I going to have to create a fully cross-indexed reference guide to Bernhard's posts as I read so that I can link to things at times like now when I want to illustrate what I'm saying from the horse's mouth? Apparently smile .)

Bernhard teaches technique through teaching pieces; for a variety of reasons. Actually, he has the students choose the pieces they want to learn. There's a whole set of philosophical and practical reasons for why he does it that way, and a lot of nuances to how it works out in practice. This can make it seem as if the method is solely for people who are focused on a repertory, but I think there are some fundamental truths in the method that could be applicable to anyone.

There is a very different -- or at least different-seeming -- approach which starts from looking at techniques to learn, and finding material (whether pieces or etudes or exercises) to work on to learn those techniques. keystring has written about this kind of approach on the other thread.

I'm still exploring these ideas and approaches. On the other thread, I'm in questioning mode, turning over the rocks and kicking the tires. On this thread, I'm figuring that the only way to really understand this method is to try it out, so I'm trying it out.

You mentioned "create" -- do you mean composition and/or improvisation, as opposed to learning others' already-composed pieces? I have some ruminations on this topic (nothing so concrete as to be called either a question or a comment) but I'll put them on the other thread.

I appreciate your question -- I like being pushed to really examine things, to question assumptions, to look for deeper connections or fundamental differences.
_________________________
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#2120805 - 07/20/13 11:52 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: earlofmar]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
earlofmar, supersnoopsleuth smile , great questions. Unfortunately, it's almost midnight, I still have an hour of work to do before I go to bed (which I've been procrastinating on by writing about my new obsession, Bernhard's method, here on PianoWorld), and I'm about to drive 10 hours tomorrow. So it may be a while before I can reply. Stay tuned...
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2120815 - 07/21/13 12:21 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
PianoStudent88, I am looking forward for the development of this thread.

Firstly, drive safely. Secondly, if you could please JOURNAL your daily practice of the method.

I appreciate your 'obsession' with Bernhard method. Few days ago, you were expressing your frustration with the endless repetitions and now you are fired up. This is awesome.

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#2120842 - 07/21/13 02:34 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
PianoStudent88, I have read your post, here:

I'm about to start working on a piece trying to follow the methods that Bernhard (and other teachers) teach. I'm starting this thread to talk about what I'm doing as I go through the process, to invite anyone else trying to do the same or wanting to do the same to join in, and to solicit comments and questions from those who know about this method or are curious about this method.

My goal on the piece I have in mind is to try to apply Bernhard's method strictly. Over on the Practice methods in detail thread we're having a broader discussion about practice methods in general, and comparing and contrasting.

Bernhard has described how he teaches over many posts over on pianostreet. For those who like reading, here is a thread to get you started. Follow the links for hours of fun.

For those who don't want to do that much reading, there are some pages with a much shorter version of what Bernhard talks about, but I can't get the links to work right now. I'll try posting those links later.

Bernhard says about what he teaches that all of it is taught by other people; he didn't invent anything new -- even when he thinks he invented something new, shortly thereafter he will find someone who was already doing it years, decades, or centuries before. He also says he's not an evangelist for what he teaches; he lays out the information for people to try, and if they find it gives them better results than what they were doing previously, good, and if it doesn't, then don't use it.

So here I am, trying it out.

_________________________________________________

Mr. PianoStudent88,

The stuff I read in the pianostreet thread didn't make sense to me about pushing for speed with scales and lots of other stuff.

When you open a music book, you look at the piece of how ever many pages of 1, 40, 400, 4000 pages. You can start where ever you wish, but I would start at the front and work my way to the end.

The first thing I would do, and I suppose anybody would do, is to look at the music to see if there is anything you don't understand - symbols, etc., ledger notes that I don't instantly know or can't play, counting in measures that might be too difficult to play such as dotted 64th notes, etc. time signature could be difficult.

At some point you will begin to play the piece and you will play it very, very, very, slowly without mistakes because you want your brain to remember what you have played correctly.

There was some mention of scales played fast. Doesn't make sense to me. There is never ever a reason to play any music fast unless it is played without errors. And you don't play scales mindlessly, but reading the scale notes and playing as you read them from the music.

Once you have the piece under your fingers, smoothly, and without errors, then you can get a feel for the piece/music and you can adjust everything to your liking.

There was even mention of leaving out notes. I am sure that maybe some of the most famous and gifted pianists leave out a note for some reason, but as a piano student, it is all about playing the notes in the piece - not leaving notes out.

cheers,


Edited by Michael_99 (07/21/13 02:37 AM)

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#2120844 - 07/21/13 02:39 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: earlofmar]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine

Originally Posted By: earlofmar
...sleuthing on the recital page and gleaned the following:

So you were a child protige for ten years and threw it all away for love (sorry I might be reading between the lines there) but your back and recommenced piano about two years ago and have a teacher.

Hardly a prodigy. But very happy with what I could do on piano. Threw it all away not for another love but for lack of a piano.

When I restarted, I had a teacher for 15 months but stopped lessons last September (proximate cause: finances).

Quote:
So questions:

What piece are you going to learn?

One of Bach's little preludes: BWV 927 in F Major. This is part of a long-range plan to eventually play the Well-Tempered Clavier.

Quote:
What specific methods are you going to use and how do they differ from your current methods?

On this thread for this piece I'm going to try to follow Bernhard's method strictly. Similarities to my current methods include breaking the learning of a piece down into small pieces. Differences include how much preparation to do before putting hands to keyboard; specific guideline for how to choose the small sections and what order to build up in; use of short-term memory as opposed to purely reading from the score (I don't think Bernhard's method applies only to purely memory playing without the score, but that will be a future investigation); what to do with each small section; very specific instructions for day-to-day practice until it's fully mastered; and tracking, timing, and journaling what I practice. For starters.

As I go along step-by-step I'll talk about which of Bernhard's steps and techniques I'm using.

Quote:
What does your teacher do different to the Bernhard method?

My teacher never taught me anything about how to practice, except for one specific method for overcoming a certain rhythm problem.

Quote:
What do you feel is the overall goal?

I want to be able to play the piano well, focussing on classical music. (I'm interested in other things too, but not enough yet to put much time into them.).

Without a teacher, I don't have a specific plan of skills to learn or progressive pieces to learn them in, so I'm guided these days by choosing pieces at about my level or a little above, and trusting that through a variety of pieces I will be exposed to a variety of pianistic challenges that I will be able to learn how to do.

Specifically, I feel like I'm stagnating in learning pieces, never quite getting as solid in them as I would like. Also, Bernhard says these methods are highly efficient, and I have a lot of music I'd like to learn how to play, solidly, so what's not to like about something that might enable me to learn faster?

I speak about pieces, but if I were going to get a new teacher I would tell him or her that I really don't care about pieces, that I want to learn techniques and musicality that I can then apply in all my piano playing. And that I'd be willing to start at square one "how to touch a piano key" or "how to sit at the piano" if need be.

But I can't devise that plan easily for myself, because I don't know what I need to know about technique and musicality.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2120882 - 07/21/13 07:04 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Quote:
What does your teacher do different to the Bernhard method?

My teacher never taught me anything about how to practice, except for one specific method for overcoming a certain rhythm problem.

Quote:
What do you feel is the overall goal?

I want to be able to play the piano well, focussing on classical music. (I'm interested in other things too, but not enough yet to put much time into them.).

Without a teacher, I don't have a specific plan of skills to learn or progressive pieces to learn them in, so I'm guided these days by choosing pieces at about my level or a little above, and trusting that through a variety of pieces I will be exposed to a variety of pianistic challenges that I will be able to learn how to do.

Specifically, I feel like I'm stagnating in learning pieces, never quite getting as solid in them as I would like. Also, Bernhard says these methods are highly efficient, and I have a lot of music I'd like to learn how to play, solidly, so what's not to like about something that might enable me to learn faster?

I speak about pieces, but if I were going to get a new teacher I would tell him or her that I really don't care about pieces, that I want to learn techniques and musicality that I can then apply in all my piano playing. And that I'd be willing to start at square one "how to touch a piano key" or "how to sit at the piano" if need be.

But I can't devise that plan easily for myself, because I don't know what I need to know about technique and musicality.

_______________________________________________
The only thing anyone needs to know about practicing any music at any level during your lifetime, is to open up a music book, look over the music, do you know the names of the notes in the piece in the treble clef and the bass clef. Can you read through the measures and count the values of the notes and the values add up in each measure to 4/4, 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, and lots of others.

Then you sit down at the piano, and without looking at your hands, you read and play the music and SAY THE NAMES OF THE NOTES AS YOU PLAY THEM. You only play the music without mistakes - no exception - and when you can play the piece by reading the music, and play the music slowly and smoothly without mistakes that is all there is to playing the piano.

There is only one music book series that teaches technique called John Thompson Modern Course for the Piano written in the 1900s. It is only about 5 dollars a book of 75 pages. I can't afford a teacher, but the John Thompson books are the only books on the PLANET that teaches technique. If you don't believe me, go to your local music store and see for yourself.

There is no FAST method to learning to play anything in life and certainly not learning to play the piano.

The only thing that I can do away from the piano, is reading the music, writing out scales, play the piece on the cardboard piano keyboards that sit at the back of the piano so beginners can look at the names of the keys - on one side but on the other side it is a complete piano keyboard of perfect size and 88 keys so you can effectively walk though the piano piece as if you were playing - all for a $1.95 at your locall music store.

One of the reasons that some musicians carry a little more weight - not of the keys - it is because a piano player's life is sitting on the piano bench playing anywhere from between 6 minutes a day to 6 hours a day for a lifetime.

But if anyone is good at anything, they have to do the same thing, be it golf, running, acting,


YOU SEE, when you say > Also, Bernhard says these methods are highly efficient, and I have a lot of music I'd like to learn how to play, solidly, so what's not to like about something that might enable me to learn faster?

I guess that is like saying you can drive a car at 100 miles an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush hour!

I love playing the piano. I have been playing for a little over a year. I have learning difficulties, memory problems, but I can read and playing the music slowly without errors, but it takes me many months to play the pieces smoothly and without mistakes. You are playing way more complicated pieces than I could play, so you know more about piano than I do. There is no magic as far as I can tell, it is just sitting down at the piano playing slowly without errors day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Of all the famous piano players - has anyone ever said or written things about learning to play a piano in a short period of time. I think it is understood that most piano players have been playing for 20, 30, 40 years. That is not fast.

My sax player when I was 40 said to me as we were walking down the street, you see that guy playing the sax, he has probably been playing at least 10 years. If a street musician can play a few nice tunes for change after 10 years then that says a lot.

So just go up to the street musicians and ask them how long they have been playing. They will tell you, either with a teacher or self-taught, it would be at least 10 years or more - and that is only to get spare change, not having a musician's job that pays the rent and feeds the wife and kids.

cheers,


Edited by Michael_99 (07/21/13 07:21 AM)

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#2120884 - 07/21/13 07:09 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
And that I'd be willing to start at square one "how to touch a piano key" or "how to sit at the piano" if need be.

Excellent starting point!

There is a series of TV ads in the UK using puppet meerkats to sell car insurance. These meerkats have a strong Russian accent despite meerkats coming from the Kalahari in Africa.



Because of these ads I find it very difficult to take this girl, Ilinca Vartic, seriously - she just sounds like a comical meerkat - but she is well worth listening to.



_________________________
Richard

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#2121035 - 07/21/13 02:09 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 340
Michael_99

Bernhard never says play fast with mistakes only to play as up to tempo as possible but after you've mastered the section you are working on . If its only just a few notes then so be it. It's not disputed that playing a passage slow will be different (physically) from playing it fast. He also says once the piece is mastered to go back and also practice slow HT. I think anyone skeptical should just try it, I did last night with a piece I had on my long term play list. In two session I go through 2 lines HS at a descent tempo & by memory. Hence I have no moved that piece to my short term play list.

Bernhard and even Chang both write about methods I've heard bit's & pieces from other teachers over the years they are just the only ones i've seen who put it down on paper (for free). While most critics seem to bash their credentials, some of what they say is repeated by this talented player and teacher who has credentials and has studied with credentialed instructors.

So did he get it wrong?
[video:youtube]http://youtu.be/IVgvHWTLOIA[/video]

[video:youtube]http://youtu.be/Th5ljgUP9lg[/video]

[video:youtube]http://youtu.be/QBYbF5dXoE0[/video]
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2121052 - 07/21/13 02:44 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Michael_99]
scorpio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Connecticut, USA
There are so many ways to paint a picture, no single correct way. Some methods are more efficient than others. But I know this, in general, efficiency increases with the passage of time. Learning methods, practice methods, can be more efficient and specific the more we investigate new ways to approach the task. I, for one, am always looking to improve whether it be at the piano, in sports, or at work. I appreciate that this topic has been introduced and look forward to following along.
_________________________
Kawai MP11 :: JBL LSR305 :: Focusrite 2i4 :: Pianoteq Standard

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#2121086 - 07/21/13 03:32 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
Reading that Piano Street forum hurts my eyes.
_________________________
Zaahir

Self-taught renegade - Kawai CL-36

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#2121124 - 07/21/13 04:42 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: floydthebarber71]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: floydthebarber71
Reading that Piano Street forum hurts my eyes.

Mine too. Perhaps this means we are too old for the venue?

Hmm, but maybe if I stole my piano glasses and used them on the computer, I might be able to get further with it...
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Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2121189 - 07/21/13 06:02 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Miguel Rey]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

Bernhard never says play fast with mistakes only to play as up to tempo as possible but after you've mastered the section you are working on . If its only just a few notes then so be it. It's not disputed that playing a passage slow will be different (physically) from playing it fast. He also says once the piece is mastered to go back and also practice slow HT. I think anyone skeptical should just try it, I did last night with a piece I had on my long term play list. In two session I go through 2 lines HS at a descent tempo & by memory. Hence I have no moved that piece to my short term play list.

Bernhard and even Chang both write about methods I've heard bit's & pieces from other teachers over the years they are just the only ones i've seen who put it down on paper (for free). While most critics seem to bash their credentials, some of what they say is repeated by this talented player and teacher who has credentials and has studied with credentialed instructors.

_________________________________________________

**Bernhard never says play fast with mistakes only to play as up to tempo as possible but after you've mastered the section you are working on .

I think I went to pianostreet and grabbed a few thoughts, but that is no excuse for me to misquote someone.

PLaying fast without errors - is only ever done slowly over many days, weeks, months, and years.
But the key to doing something fast to play the measures,notes, pieces, is that it has to be done at at a speed that you can do it without errors, and play in very relaxed fashion. That simple. You should know that to play anything a Presto/200 beats a minute, you actually have to be able to play it at 20 beats higher so that your brain and your body function in a relaxed fashion.

And playing any notes, measures, and pieces is done slowly and usually at Presto/200 it would take the average piano player 2 years to play at Presto/200. that long to get the speed up playing everything you learn to play. Understand that playing Mary had a little lamp you could play easily at 200 in a shorter time as opposed to play Chopin's ballade 4, would take you probably 10 or 20 years to do it. so there are many factors but the main thing is that as long as you play anything without errors, you can play at any speed, but if you make an error - you have to slow down, because you only want the brain to remember how to do it correctly and not otherwise.


** If its only just a few notes then so be it. It's not disputed that playing a passage slow will be different (physically) from playing it fast.

Well, I politely and respectfully, disagree. if you are playing anything at Largo/40beats, you can look at your hands, you cane enjoy playing the piece at the speed Largo40.

If your are playing anything at Presto200, is likely at 200 - you can't even see the fingers clearly because the fingers are a blur. I think it means at 200beats a minute you are pressing the piano key or keys 1 to 4 times a second, so you can do that playing one piano key constantly 4 times a second and you will see how fast it is - and I respectfully say that, you can do it withour errors and be relaxed, but is very, very, fast no matter how complex the music you are playing.

**He also says once the piece is mastered to go back and also practice slow HT. I think anyone skeptical should just try it, I did last night with a piece I had on my long term play list. In two session I go through 2 lines HS at a descent tempo & by memory. Hence I have no moved that piece to my short term play list.

Well, I am only a beginner so as I play more complex music things will change. But my routine is to read through the piece to make sure there are NO show stoppers - being notes I can't read, measures that I may not be able to play because of the not values that may cause me to stop or make an error, etc.

It is then that I sit down and play the piece HT slowly without errors once. If I can play it slowly without errors, - 3 times without errors - I am done with the piece and move on the the next new piece. But understand that because I can play the piece without errors, slowly, it means I will play the piece/pieces for many months, bringing the piece slowly without errors up to speed, relaxed and then I make it musical and make sure the dynamics are right.

**Bernhard and even Chang both write about methods I've heard bit's & pieces from other teachers over the years they are just the only ones i've seen who put it down on paper (for free). While most critics seem to bash their credentials, some of what they say is repeated by this talented player and teacher who has credentials and has studied with credentialed instructors.

I don't disagree with what Bernhard and Chang say about piano playing, I politely might disagree with what some posters have said is their interpretation of an easier or better way to learn to play the piano at any rate or speed, because piano playing is all about sitting on the piano bench for 5 or 10 years to be able to play basic music. As long as NOBODY on the planet says there is a easier better way to learn to play the piano, I rest my case, else I might have something politely to say.

cheers,


Edited by Michael_99 (07/21/13 06:15 PM)

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#2121208 - 07/21/13 06:33 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: floydthebarber71]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
floydthebarber71, I have read your post, here:
Reading that Piano Street forum hurts my eyes.

________________________________________

When you read anything on the net that is in small/smaller print - copy and paste the text into a text file and make the print whatever size you want to read it and simply paste back to where ever you want to put it. You don't have to change the font size, it will automatically make it to the size of the font used wherever you put the paste.

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#2121222 - 07/21/13 07:02 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: rnaple]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: rnaple
I know this method addresses people who want to play a repertoire. Would still like to know what the differences would be for someone like me who wants to understand, create, pick up the technical aspects of piano. Not that I don't want to or play songs. I enjoy them. I'm just into the big picture.

Just to throw out my idea. The change is not in the learning of the pieces.
The change would be in choice of what to learn.


What a lot of students and parents can relate to are things like repertoire, recitals, exams (of graded pieces) etc. so many teachers gear lessons toward that orientation. So many teachers teach toward that motivation, and then use that to add technique, theory etc. That is what Bernhard is doing. Now, we don't know if he only goes in that direction in real life, because he is also teaching the PianoStreet forum. He has to take some angle so we can assume he is addressing an audience that is largely interested in repertoire.

Everything that Bernhard writes is geared toward that primary aim. It's organized around that aim.

If the aim is different, then you can organize differently. To illustrate by contrast, what I do with my teacher's guidance is geared toward skills/knowledge as the primary goal. Therefore we might choose a piece that will teach me a particular skill, and not push it to completion, because the skill is the aim. We may choose to fully develop some pieces but not others. We may choose to not memorize at all.

It is important to understand the goals behind a system, and your own goals, so that you have the necessary perspective. Some things are universal. Chunking music and not working from start to finish day after day is universal.

My primary need is to get at healthy technique, undo and replace a host of poor habits which tie me up, and do whatever is necessary to get there. I want fluidity to grab what I need when I need it (this includes my teacher's fluidity). Having to keep at a piece because it isn't polished can stop me from getting at what I need to do.

So IF your main goal is to get a repertoire of memorized pieces - whether it's 20 or some other number - then you will look at what is here one way, and it might give you almost everything that you need. If your main goal is something else, it may not be as good a fit, but there may still be useful elements. So then you adapt.

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#2121233 - 07/21/13 07:52 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Michael_99]
scorpio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Connecticut, USA
There is always an easier and better way. That "way" may have not been discovered, and that "way" may be different for each individual, but there is always room for improvement. Thinking in absolutes can be dangerous. Absolute thinking precludes discovery and advancement. It fosters stagnant growth.

If anyone looks at the history of piano teaching, one will quickly see that methods have changed, quite dramatically, over time. In fact, piano students are getting to repertoire faster than ever. YT is littered with examples. Declaring that learning the piano is done only one way is quite short sighted.
_________________________
Kawai MP11 :: JBL LSR305 :: Focusrite 2i4 :: Pianoteq Standard

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#2121244 - 07/21/13 08:34 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: scorpio]
Miguel Rey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 340
Originally Posted By: scorpio
There is always an easier and better way. That "way" may have not been discovered, and that "way" may be different for each individual, but there is always room for improvement. Thinking in absolutes can be dangerous. Absolute thinking precludes discovery and advancement. It fosters stagnant growth.

If anyone looks at the history of piano teaching, one will quickly see that methods have changed, quite dramatically, over time. In fact, piano students are getting to repertoire faster than ever. YT is littered with examples. Declaring that learning the piano is done only one way is quite short sighted.


If you look any history about teaching of anything one will quickly see that the methods have changed. Mathematics, science, golf, tennis etc... Plus one must take into consideration the old world methods were most likely meant for children who have a completely different way of learning than adults. If you're lucky you can find a teacher that can utilize the old way foundation mixed in with new ways to trick the old brain into doing what is should.
_________________________
Bechstein B c1905


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#2121246 - 07/21/13 08:46 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: scorpio]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: scorpio

If anyone looks at the history of piano teaching....


Piano lessons are mostly given privately, one-on-one. We don't actually have much of a view of how teaching is done, or was done. There are some anecdotal stories of famous people who were teachers, told by their students or assistants, but generally this is at an advanced level. The closest we have come to it actually is happening right now with the advent of the Internet, where students can share their stories, teachers can talk to one another and so on.

So you have a certain set of repertoire and maybe etudes and scales and maybe theory that were taught and/or are they taught. How are they taught? What does the teacher do in the lesson? What type of practising is the student given to do at home? What kind of guidance for the practising?

These are the very things that we are exploring right now. In fact, the teachers in the teacher forum are asking the same kinds of questions.

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#2121261 - 07/21/13 09:56 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

If anyone looks at the history of piano teaching....


Piano lessons are mostly given privately, one-on-one. We don't actually have much of a view of how teaching is done, or was done. There are some anecdotal stories of famous people who were teachers, told by their students or assistants, but generally this is at an advanced level. The closest we have come to it actually is happening right now with the advent of the Internet, where students can share their stories, teachers can talk to one another and so on.

So you have a certain set of repertoire and maybe etudes and scales and maybe theory that were taught and/or are they taught. How are they taught? What does the teacher do in the lesson? What type of practising is the student given to do at home? What kind of guidance for the practising?

These are the very things that we are exploring right now. In fact, the teachers in the teacher forum are asking the same kinds of questions.

________________________________________________

Well, I pop in almost daily into the teachers forum but I have not seen too much discussion of technique, lessons given to students, the guidance for practicing. In the various forums, lots of people speak of not liking the music they have to play, they don't like their teacher and they are always looking for a better teacher. Of course, in the digital forum, NOTHING is spoken about what music they play or at what level they play - only that their major focus is to find the best and cheapest digital on the planet. And teachers complain about no-shows, parent issues, student bad attitude, don't practice, on and on.

To me, the most important thing is not the teacher, not the piano - digital or acoustic - BUT the goal of learning they best that you can be piano player. So if I read anything about repertoire, or technique - I make a note and tack it to the wall. The reason I say that the teacher is not important - is in the context of a lawyer. You can have the best lawyer on the planet, but if you tell lies, no lawyer can help you. If you have the worst lawyer on the planet, the judge and the jury can see through the lawyer,s inability and the client will win. So in the same way that if a person has a great teacher, the best, but complains about their instructions they are given, the music to have to play, they will go nowhere, but if a less adequate teacher has the best student on the planet, the student will make the best of teacher, but still go on to be the best because they know how to make the best of a bad situation


Edited by Michael_99 (07/21/13 09:58 PM)

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#2121282 - 07/21/13 11:04 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Journal 1: Sun. 7/21/13. Started to work out fingering. I penciled into my Henle edition and tried out the fingering of my edition of 18 Preludes, edited by Willard Palmer and published by Alfred. (I tried them out by playing HS, slowly so as not to make errors.) The Palmer fingering works well in most places, solves some problems in a few places that would have eluded me, and seems remarkably wierd in a few measures. I went back and forth, trying it slowly in Palmer's fingering and in the fingering that makes more sense to me, but am still undecided.

This edition also has articulation suggestions (slurred throughout, for the most part) and dynamics suggestions. I'm not sure about these; I'll listen to some recordings and see if I get any ideas. I really would like to read some of the treatises (both historical and current) about Baroque style.

Journal 2: Sun. 7/21/13. Searched on "BWV 927" on YouTube and listened to several recordings. Of notable interest are Angela Hewitt, Glenn Gould (listed as Marcelo Gandolfi for some reason), UIPianoPed, ecolepiano. Also listened to several student renditions which ranged from adequate to painful. There are subtle issues to work out, like which voice to bring out when, what articulation to use, and just how fast to go (although judging by the exemplars, the only answer to that is: fast). But the biggest glaring feature that distinguishes the performances I like from the others, is an open and flowing quality to the playing. For example, in the figures of three eighth notes at the beginning, these can either be bashed out (bad) or touched lightly (good). Even if they are brought out above the sixteenth notes, as when they appear in the right hand (in some performances), the good performers still give them a light quality. I'm not even sure if these are the right words. The huge challenge for me will be to capture this overall quality of the piece, that I can't even describe. I can hear it though, so maybe I will be able to use my hearing to guide my playing in the right direction.

I don't hear any added ornaments, except perhaps a RH mordent at the end. This is good; I think there will be enough challenging here for me without also trying to get good at fast ornaments. Something to think about for the future though: developing my ability to ornament. I think I'd like to work at that purely as exercises to start with; whenever they come up in a piece I'm too impatient to learn the piece to want to take the time I need to get the ornaments right (maybe Bernhard's method rigorously applied would help me with that problem in learning an ornamented piece, though).

Another big challenge for me will be bringing this up to tempo. I've never played these kinds of sixteenth note runs this fast.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2121307 - 07/22/13 12:44 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Michael_99]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
The only thing anyone needs to know about practicing any music at any level during your lifetime, is to open up a music book, look over the music, do you know the names of the notes in the piece in the treble clef and the bass clef. Can you read through the measures and count the values of the notes and the values add up in each measure to 4/4, 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, and lots of others.


I disagree. When the intuitive method suggests practicing your whole piece by repetition endlessly (by the time you get it right, if you ever do, you'll want to quit after the first successful attempt) until you can eventually play it, then, in actuality, you need far more than just a music book to know how to play. But then do we really need anything? What role does needing play in relation to learning to play piano, anyways?

Let's assume you're practicing a little bit more efficiently than above and practicing your music not as one giant whole, but as sections. You still may have little to no idea how long these sections should best be, how and for how long you should practice these sections, how to deal with the coordination difficulties in putting hands together and how they may relate to the above, etc. This is the category the majority of players fall under (as a result of the methods of the majority of teachers).

Bernhard is doing nothing more than providing a set of general rules or suggestions with which to enhance your practicing by defining some of these arbitrary variables. He himself says that you shouldn't believe him, but that you should try them - and to be more specific, test them scientifically by learning one new piece of x difficulty with whatever current method/approach you use and then learning a second new piece of a similar difficulty of x and then comparing the results. Chances are, one approach's results will stick out more than the other (in some cases, significantly so). When, like me, after almost two years of playing (as well as what you thought constituted practicing), you realize that you don't know how to define any of these variables (for me personally or otherwise), then this is damn frightening - especially if one of your goals is to go on later and teach others ("the blind teaching the blind").

Now if you were to change what you said to instead say, "The only thing anyone needs to know about practicing any music at any level during your lifetime to have fun," then I couldn't agree more (though this would depend on your definition of fun). Just so there's no ambiguity, my personal definition of fun in this context is not only progressing towards my goals, but clearly understanding how I did so and may continue to do so beyond any reasonable doubt (as well as eventually passing on the knowledge to others).

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#2121312 - 07/22/13 12:52 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Journal 1: Sun. 7/21/13. Started to work out fingering. I penciled into my Henle edition and tried out the fingering of my edition of 18 Preludes, edited by Willard Palmer and published by Alfred. (I tried them out by playing HS, slowly so as not to make errors.) The Palmer fingering works well in most places, solves some problems in a few places that would have eluded me, and seems remarkably wierd in a few measures. I went back and forth, trying it slowly in Palmer's fingering and in the fingering that makes more sense to me, but am still undecided.

This edition also has articulation suggestions (slurred throughout, for the most part) and dynamics suggestions. I'm not sure about these; I'll listen to some recordings and see if I get any ideas. I really would like to read some of the treatises (both historical and current) about Baroque style.

Journal 2: Sun. 7/21/13. Searched on "BWV 927" on YouTube and listened to several recordings. Of notable interest are Angela Hewitt, Glenn Gould (listed as Marcelo Gandolfi for some reason), UIPianoPed, ecolepiano. Also listened to several student renditions which ranged from adequate to painful. There are subtle issues to work out, like which voice to bring out when, what articulation to use, and just how fast to go (although judging by the exemplars, the only answer to that is: fast). But the biggest glaring feature that distinguishes the performances I like from the others, is an open and flowing quality to the playing. For example, in the figures of three eighth notes at the beginning, these can either be bashed out (bad) or touched lightly (good). Even if they are brought out above the sixteenth notes, as when they appear in the right hand (in some performances), the good performers still give them a light quality. I'm not even sure if these are the right words. The huge challenge for me will be to capture this overall quality of the piece, that I can't even describe. I can hear it though, so maybe I will be able to use my hearing to guide my playing in the right direction.

I don't hear any added ornaments, except perhaps a RH mordent at the end. This is good; I think there will be enough challenging here for me without also trying to get good at fast ornaments. Something to think about for the future though: developing my ability to ornament. I think I'd like to work at that purely as exercises to start with; whenever they come up in a piece I'm too impatient to learn the piece to want to take the time I need to get the ornaments right (maybe Bernhard's method rigorously applied would help me with that problem in learning an ornamented piece, though).

Another big challenge for me will be bringing this up to tempo. I've never played these kinds of sixteenth note runs this fast.


Thanks for these journal entries.I am just wondering whether the Henle edition does not come with fingering. Were the fingerings of the 2 editions different? I understood that you do not have access to piano for 2 days. How did you try the fingering HS?

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#2121323 - 07/22/13 01:14 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Bobpickle]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
how to deal with the coordination difficulties in putting hands together and how they may relate to the above, etc.


Bobpickle,

At the moment, I am learning Canon in D Pachelbel and I am struggling putting hands together for a specific section of 4 measures. I have already spent 3 days, 30 min a day on this section and still not struggling to play through these 4 measures. Can you advise step by step how I should be learning it using Bernhard method.

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#2121330 - 07/22/13 01:26 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
JosephAC, apparently all Henle Bach editions come in two versions: fingered and unfingered. I didn't know this when I got my Henle Little Preludes And Fugues, and by the luck of the draw it's unfingered. I'm wondering if I should bite the bullet and get the fingered version instead. (I have probably approaching $100 worth of Henle Bach books that I might want to replace; how depressing.)

I tried out the fingering on my piano at home this morning before I left on my road trip.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2121336 - 07/22/13 01:44 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Correction to Journal 1: the marks I took to be slurs are in fact phrase marks. The introduction to the Palmer edition says "it is clear that Bach expected the notes to be played cleanly and well articulated at all times." So, not an endless legato.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2121403 - 07/22/13 07:41 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 402
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
.... I'm wondering if I should bite the bullet and get the fingered version instead. (I have probably approaching $100 worth of Henle Bach books that I might want to replace; how depressing.)



I wouldn't. It'll take time to work out fingering that's best for your hand, but you'll be better for it.

I used to think the fingering in the score was sacred, but now only see them as suggestions, and with fingered Bach editions, sometimes the fingering forces an articulation that YOUR musical mind might disagree with.

Have fun! I'm following your progress!

Forrest
_________________________
-------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Bach 848, 866
Schumann Op. 15

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#2121439 - 07/22/13 09:49 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
You're looking at the fingering and listening to recordings?

This is not the Bernhard method.

What happens before sitting at the piano or looking at the score is learning the whole piece as sound in the head. Next is analysing the score, harmonic progression, phrasing, dynamics, texture, motifs, etc.

The third step is to play through the score looking for technical difficulties. After this comes assigning the section lengths for learning. I'm not exactly sure where the fingering is done but I would suspect that it's after this stage and the first thing done when beginning each section.

Do you have a better idea, Bob, of when the fingering is assigned?

Speaking of fingering, the unfingered Bach editions are not to be sniffed at. If fingering is important to you then you might want to check out the IMSLP editions for ideas on fingering or buy cheaper versions fingered by different editors. I have several editions of the inventions all edited by different folks and a prized copy that was unfingered and my own fingering written in only after I finished each piece.

I typically begin Bach with a variety of editions all on the rack together. As I'm usually only working a couple of bars a day it's no hardship to compare all the editions once I've tried my own intuitive fingering and come up short of complete success. I don't think I've ever used all the fingering of one edition.

There's a lot to be said for intelligently tackling your own fingering especially when comparing editions that are fingered differently and you try to find out why.
_________________________
Richard

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