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#2121463 - 07/22/13 10:35 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Richard, thank you for the redirect about Bernhard's method.

Do I learn the piece as sound by listening to recordings, looking at the score, both at different times, and/or both at the same time?

Journal 3: Monday, July 22, wee hours of the morning before going to sleep. (This is from before I read Richard's post, but curiously apropos.). Went over the score many times listening to it silently in my head, thinking about patterns in the music, where phrases might end, what it might sound like to bring out one voice or the other. Realized there's a ton of subtlety about this piece that I don't know how long it would take me to figure out. I mean "figure out" as in deciding on an interpretation, not as the later step of figuring out how to deliver that interpretation. This might mean it's a long time before I start working on it at the keyboard, if to follow Bernhard's method I'm to work this all out in advance. On the other hand, I don't necessarily want to have only one fixed rendition. I want to develop the freedom to play it in different ways at different times. On the other other hand, don't confuse freedom to vary the rendition with the lack of ability to deliver a given rendition at will. (That is, if the piece comes out differently at different times, it should be because I'm controlling the differences, and not because it's random and I can't deliver any single chosen interpretation at will.)

Richard, how well do I need to know the piece for this initial step? Be able to sing (or internally audiate it) at will without the score? Or something less than that?
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#2121469 - 07/22/13 10:50 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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As far as I can recall you should be able to audiate the whole thing from memory before even looking at the score. At this audio only stage it would be good if you could break down the structure into exposition, different subjects, and the parts of different forms, eg. ABACAB etc. without necessarily having to determine key changes or other complexities.

I recall Bernhard being surprised when he first saw the score compared to how he had visualised it.

In some ways it's a shame we didn't do this in the analysis thread. Ah, me! We live and learn. If and When we get back there we might add the kind of practical analysis needed here, before attempting to learn a piece, as part of the theoretical analysis we do.

Once you get to the score you continue to listen to recordings and continue to refrain from playing while getting into the harmonic analysis.
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#2121474 - 07/22/13 11:07 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: zrtf90
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....

Every good teacher I have ever worked with or talked to has always made room for two things:
- the student's particular learning style and strengths and weaknesses
- intelligent, independent thinking in conjunction with their teaching.

In a relationship with a live teacher, that teacher will adjust how much he imposes things, giving guidance that will have the student figure things out on her own but along that guidance, and also free reign in some areas. The teacher will also adjust all of these as the student grows, because students don't stay the same.

As soon as you have a written system, all of that disappears. It is important not to apply such a thing rigidly. I've read PianoStudent88's posts for several years, and from everything I know, what she is doing seems spot on, regardless of what might be written in that system. Surely there is room for thinking and experimenting, and doing whatever works?

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#2121480 - 07/22/13 11:15 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Yes, agreed, but this is an experimental thing. She might well learn something important doing it this way like lose the reliance she places on the score and increase the confidence in her own hearing.

I think this is an important step and while she's trying out the system it seems like a good idea to add it in. When else will she try it?
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#2121482 - 07/22/13 11:21 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
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What I read seems like an excellent stepping stone or bridge between the world of reading and the world of hearing music. It just seemed right. You go from your strong side to your weak side, and you knit a bond between the two. There is also a balance to be struck as you make that journey.

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#2121485 - 07/22/13 11:31 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
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I wanted to check about something. Bobpickle, this comes from a post of yours in the other thread on practicing but it's still on this subject. You were writing here about things students might do while practising in between (traditional) lessons:

Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
... or wander back to the intuitive method in their practice,

My attention was caught by the word "intuitive" which is part of something negative here. Does Bernhard say anything about students' instincts, intuition and similar?

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#2121509 - 07/22/13 01:04 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Loc: Maine
For this piece, I agree with Richard in that I'm experimenting with doing this method as much as we can tell from how Bernhard describes it (even if Bernhard with different students might vary some things in ways that he hasn't written about).

I haven't read very much about Bernhard's preparatory Stage 1. Richard or Bob, do you have any links?
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#2121590 - 07/22/13 05:09 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
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Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I don't think there's much to read. Most of the detail is on what happens once practise at the piano begins.

I made notes when I read it, a good while ago now, and that's all I have.

1. Listen to recordings and imagine what the score will look like. Do not rush this stage. Only look at the score when the whole piece can be played in the mind.

2. Study the score. Harmonic progressions, repetitions, motifs, textures, climaxes, phrasing. Again, do not rush this stage. You don't need to memorise the score but it should be familiar. Continue listening to recordings.

3. Sight read through the whole piece. The only consideration at this stage is technical difficulty.

4. Plan the learning sequence, difficult sections first. This is the equivalent of a film director planning the shooting sequence for a movie.

5. Work on each separate section, difficult ones first, and begin memorising.

6. Join the piece, in larger sections if necessary, and play the whole piece at half speed.

7. Work on interpretation.

8. Treat defined parts as separate (e.g. Sonata or suite)

This is the basis of the advice I've given to others in the Mendelssohn and Grieg recitals, in the recital or the analysis threads or in PM's as well as to my own undertakings.

Stage 1 was a new idea to me when I read it. It wasn't realistic before YouTube. Now I find it speeds up the learning process at the cost of reducing the variety of music in the car.

Stage 3 was a joke when I was taking lessons, the rest is stuff I got from my teacher or had before lessons began.

Hope it helps.
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#2121705 - 07/22/13 10:43 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
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Hi Richard,

Here's an extract from my collection of Bernhard method:

1. The first stage is exploratory.
• Sight-read through the piece to identify the difficult sections
• Analyze the piece.
• Listen to CDs of the piece
• Break it all down in manageable sections to practice.
Figure out for each section the best fingering.
• Plan how you are going to tackle the piece; how many passages, how long the passages are going to be, how you are going to join the passages.

Most of this stage is done away from the piano. The end result of this stage is to have a thorough knowledge of the piece (theoretically) and to have a plan typed up to master the piece in as little time as possible.

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#2121706 - 07/22/13 10:47 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Loc: Maine
[cross-posted: this was in reply to Richard.]

Step 1: schedule Step 2 for July 2014, when I will have finished absorbing BWV 927 aurally.

Do you suggest continuing with BWV 927, or for this test drive of Bernhard's method would you suggest switching to a piece whose score I haven't seen?


Edited by PianoStudent88 (07/22/13 10:51 PM)
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#2121776 - 07/23/13 02:52 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: JosephAC]
Bobpickle Offline

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Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Hi Richard,

Here's an extract from my collection of Bernhard method:

1. The first stage is exploratory.
• Sight-read through the piece to identify the difficult sections
• Analyze the piece.
• Listen to CDs of the piece
• Break it all down in manageable sections to practice.
Figure out for each section the best fingering.
• Plan how you are going to tackle the piece; how many passages, how long the passages are going to be, how you are going to join the passages.

Most of this stage is done away from the piano. The end result of this stage is to have a thorough knowledge of the piece (theoretically) and to have a plan typed up to master the piece in as little time as possible.



This was my understanding as well. While fingering may need to be validated or altered later on, it's most beneficial/efficient for me personally to finger the score away from the piano in this first stage.

Explore this thread for various Bernhard posts on fingering in relation to mental practice and also in the "exploratory phase" of learning a piece.

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#2121778 - 07/23/13 02:55 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
Bobpickle Offline

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Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
[cross-posted: this was in reply to Richard.]Do you suggest continuing with BWV 927, or for this test drive of Bernhard's method would you suggest switching to a piece whose score I haven't seen?


My 2 cents: the exploratory phase of learning music is simply to lay the groundwork for memorization as well as to just come to better understand the music in general. Don't get too caught up in worrying about every detail. Just know why the general principles are there and then adjust them as you see fit.

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#2121779 - 07/23/13 03:06 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
Bobpickle Offline

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Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
... or wander back to the intuitive method in their practice,

My attention was caught by the word "intuitive" which is part of something negative here. Does Bernhard say anything about students' instincts, intuition and similar?


He talks about them in the context of feedback - how the best benefit of good teachers and regular lessons is the feedback system that they provide. He goes on to say that if, as a beginner, you have no feedback (imagine a deserted island alone with just a piano) then no amount of time will be sufficient in learning even simple things. This is clearly evident in that no beginners come to teachers with the knowledge of general principles for how to practice. http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2599.msg22431.html#msg22431

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#2121803 - 07/23/13 06:21 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
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It's supposed to be "Re: Bobpickle"

I found the sentence: "However theory of probabilities is set against the self-taught student. It does not help that a lot of the correct procedures in piano playing are counter intuitive." It's in the word "counter-intuitive".

I am thinking now that when you used the word "intuition" negatively, that this came from your own understanding of his writings, and that intuition is not being seen as bad. It may be how you are understanding the word "counter-intuitive".

This is a very important thing. Counter-intuitive means that you are given something to do that you would not have thought of yourself and it doesn't make sense to you, but when you do it, then this thing will bring you to where you need to be, but indirectly. Not only do students not come up with it, but when told to do such things, they refuse to do it because "it doesn't make sense".

INTUITION, on the other hand, also plays a role. A student will instinctively sense something and reach toward it, or she will have an urge to do things that will get her there. It's the connection that we have with ourselves.

It is a constant balancing act for a teacher. On the one hand, the student must do these counter-intuitive things that he knows will work. Otoh, she must also draw on herself because blind robotic obedience causes something to be missing. The teacher must be careful not to crush that part.

Now the teacher himself, Bernhard, would be observing the student. Say for example that he came upon PS88 doing what she did, he might see that it is exactly right for her (or not) because he has the whole picture. But we, knowing his rules, would say "No, no, that's not what the rules say." because we are applying them rigidly. (I'm using that instant only as an example.)

For those following this system, I think a place needs to be kept open for your own intuition too. If a teacher juggles these two sides, then if you are self-teaching then you have to juggle them too.

I am glad that he did not say anything against instinct, because there are teachers who have rigid systems which they impose on students like marionettes. This doesn't seem to be the case here.

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#2121808 - 07/23/13 07:00 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
What a busy little thread!

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Do you suggest continuing with BWV 927...
Yes, definitely. It would be a good idea to transition more gently to this way of hearing first but it's good to be aware of the idea behind the process.

Are you doing a similar piece in tandem to test the speed of this method? It's not important, just curiousity. The logging will cover much of the comparisons, assuming you normally log your work or have logs for comparison.

Again, maximum efficiency isn't always the driver. Enjoying the process must play a part and if the process itself is the fastest but not enjoyable I'd throw it out the window. Being a pianist means enjoying the daily practice as we do our food and playing through pieces is reserved for celebratory meals, special occasions or just the Sunday Roast.
_______________

Thanks, Joseph, for the exploratory breakdown. I've seen a thread giving an example where he spent two months memorising a piece by listening and another poster took it to mean that they had to spend doing two months doing just that and also how he was often surprised when he finally saw the score. So there was a definite space between the listening process and going to the score.
________________

And thanks, Bob, for the fingering details. Perhaps I ought to try this myself. I have spent a lot of time and effort since joining this forum to improve my sight reading. It's working and is now the first thing I do each day.

But up till now I have made my first approach to the piano a bar by bar exploration cementing the analysis, filling in the harmonic details, fingering and finding the mechanical difficulties. Very frequently many of my difficulties were those of reading but these are now dissipating.
________________

Ah, yes, the feedback system. How pleasant it was to hear words of encouragement from my teacher before the 'but...' and ideas for improvement.

Now I'm settling for Mr Recorder telling me "Horrible! Go and do it again!" smile
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#2122036 - 07/23/13 06:46 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
Bobpickle Offline

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Registered: 05/24/12
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Originally Posted By: keystring
This is a very important thing. Counter-intuitive means that you are given something to do that you would not have thought of yourself and it doesn't make sense to you, but when you do it, then this thing will bring you to where you need to be, but indirectly. Not only do students not come up with it, but when told to do such things, they refuse to do it because "it doesn't make sense".


I agree with this definition 100%. It very much applies to what Bernhard has to say in the context of teaching it to players and/or beginners (I had a quote in mind, but couldn't find it; oh, and this is another reason he has daily lessons - to crush the fallacious logic behind the intuitive approach). Obviously in the context of "learning something" in the conscious mind (remember learning doesn't equal mastery), you'd think that 700 repetitions would be better than 7 and make something more "learned". However, this untrue, and the fact is the thing will be "learned" the same regardless of how many repetitions of something you do past 7. Now this is best understood with the example of learning and memorizing a poem (http://kantsmusictuition.blogspot.com/2007/09/secret-on-how-to-practice.html) because there are obviously a great many more things that follow the 7 repetitions in the context of learning to play a musical passage (http://brenthugh.com/piano/piano-practice.html#techniques)


Originally Posted By: keystring
For those following this system, I think a place needs to be kept open for your own intuition too. If a teacher juggles these two sides, then if you are self-teaching then you have to juggle them too.

I am glad that he did not say anything against instinct, because there are teachers who have rigid systems which they impose on students like marionettes. This doesn't seem to be the case here.


Of course, but the point is that the "instinct" which we all start off with is generally inefficient if not wholly incorrect. This is why I'm trying to now include the disclaimer with everything to "adapt the method in a way that works for you personally." However before doing this, you must fully understand every part of the method and why Bernhard's figures are what they are before veering off the beaten path, so to speak.

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#2122047 - 07/23/13 07:08 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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There was someone on pianostreet who tried out the method and found it gave him fantastic results. But along the way, once he had been through most of his sections, he observed that some were less well-learned, and those were the ones where he had taken shortcuts.

Knowing what is a good adaptation and what is a time-wasting supposed shortcut is perhaps a challenge. But this is why I want to try this out as much as possible the way Bernhard describes it.
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#2122136 - 07/24/13 01:43 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
In the preceding thread, someone posted that Bernhard might be living either in UK or Australia. How can I find out whether he lives in Australia? Is his account still active at pinao street? I would not mind taking a couple of lessons on practice technique for my beginner's level.


Edited by JosephAC (07/24/13 01:44 AM)

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#2122143 - 07/24/13 02:53 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
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Today, I had another read of my summary of the 7x20 method and I have 2 questions:
a)If I learn a chosen section after 7 repetitions, will I spend the remaining time of the daily 20 min period repeating this section (mindfully? automatically? but without hesitation or stuttering).

b)Is it Ok to work on a different section of the same piece ? or should I be working on a another section from another piece? Or could be all the individual sections be from the same piece?



Edited by JosephAC (07/24/13 02:54 AM)

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#2122182 - 07/24/13 05:53 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: JosephAC
If I learn a chosen section after 7 repetitions, will I spend the remaining time of the daily 20 min period repeating this section
The first seven repetitions are to learn the notes for this days session, each hand separately. The remaining time is to practise this section hands separately or together for up to twenty minutes.

If you get the passage as you want it after two or three minutes you are done for the day, on that passage. If you still don't have it after twenty minutes the chances of improvement by spending more time on it are remote and tend to introduce errors from fatigue.

If the passage is easy to remember but difficult to play you may use all the twenty minutes on it if you can maintain focus but cut it short if it starts to feel like drudgery. Just a few careful repetitions is all you need to make progress and we can only make so much progress in one day.

Originally Posted By: JosephAC
Is it Ok to work on a different section of the same piece?
Yes, but there are many ways to play this out. The key idea is that you don't keep going over the first section after having worked on it. You can choose another section from the same piece but it's better to choose a non-adjacent section and preferably a contrasting section.
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#2122482 - 07/24/13 07:19 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Journal 4: Wed. 7/14/13. It's been a few days since my last journal, which is already going against the principle of "practice every day", but my iPhone connectivity at home has been spotty, making it hard to get on YouTube and listen to this prelude. Loaded it up at work (where I'm on reliable wireless) and listened to the Angela Hewitt version several times this evening.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing as I listen. I can hear certain details as she plays, but only the things that I remember from the score, or that I had looked at the score more closely after hearing them earlier in the week. The rapid rush of sixteenth notes, I can't really aurally detect the details of the exact pattern they're making. I can't hear the LH clearly in some places. But most fundamentally, I don't understand what I'm supposed to be doing if I'm supposed to be learning this to the point of humming it just by listening to it.

To illustrate that, let me talk about some other music I'm learning right now: chorus music for a concert next December. It's gospel music and spirituals, and our director wants us to be able to sing it by memory as much as possible. So I'm working not only to learn the notes, but also to memorize the words, and to be able to sing it without the reminder of the score. I have a recording of the pieces we'll be singing, and I've listened to it several times. But for actually learning my part, I can't use the CD. For one thing, I sing alto, and I can't aurally pick the alto part out of the four part harmony. So I'm using the score, working small section by small section, pyramiding my efforts, and letting sleep solidify each bit of learning rather than try to drill a section beyond the point of productivity on a given day.

So if that's what I do to learn music to be able to sing it, why wouldn't I do the same thing to learn the details of how this prelude sounds? From Angela Hewitt's recording I have gained a musical gestalt for the piece. But for the details, am I expected to learn how they sound by listening? My normal way to find out how the music sounds in detail would be to play it, perhaps HS or by single voices, slowly. Or at least to listen to it while looking at the score, which helps me to hear more things in the music than if I don't have the visual cues for details.

I understand that I will improve at learning aurally by practice, but right now I'm not good enough to pick up the details of this prelude quickly or easily. So I am balking at this part of Bernhard's ideas, to learn thoroughly how a piece sounds before looking at the score. However, this is the do-it-rigidly attempt at this method, so while I'm balking I'm not giving up this step yet. For one thing, I expect I need to listen to this over several days to use the sleep consolidation of learning (assuming aural learning works the way the 7x20 and post-performance-improvement principles say kinesthetic learning happens).

There are some songs (by which I mean real songs--things you sing--not piano pieces) that I in fact was never able to understand or sing well until I had looked at the score, no matter how many times I had heard them and sung them (shakily). Although I don't sightsing well for pitches, seeing the score explained some strange parts of the songs that I couldn't make sense of aurally.
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#2122556 - 07/24/13 10:18 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
Thanks PianoStudent88 for your posting. Very good question on what to do when listening. I am a beginner. I do not know neither. However, I have been listening to the Great Course on How to Listen and Understand Great Music. Prof Greenburg has a good framework of 4-5 questions for listening for understanding. While I did not script his questions, I came across these questions, which conver far more than Greenburg's listening comprehension questions:

What are the instruments used to make the music?
How does this music make me feel?
What is the mood of the piece?
Do I like or dislike this music?
Does this music sound similar to anything I have heard before?
Was this music recorded in a live setting or in the studio?
What is the musical texture?
Does the music have a steady beat or pulse?
What is the meter?
Is there singing?
Does the singing feature syllables, words, or both?
Is this piece an instrumental?
How many voices are involved?
What is the gender of singer(s)
In what language are the lyrics written?
What is the tonality/key?
What is the relationship of consonance to dissonance?
What is the dynamic range of the piece?
What is the size of the ensemble?
Are there any transitions between sections?
Is the music sacred or secular?
Does this music sound like it was composed or improvised?
In what genre does this music best fit?
From what time period does this music come?
From what country does this music come?
Which of my 5 senses does the music trigger?
Does this music trigger any memories?

I am not at a level to answer most of these questions. I usually listen to develop a frame of reference on how the music should sound like.


Edited by JosephAC (07/24/13 10:22 PM)

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#2122654 - 07/25/13 03:57 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Bobpickle]
Michael_99 Offline
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Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Sorry, Bopickle, I cut and pasted your posting to a txt file and then I couldn't find out where where in was until now where it was in the forum:


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).

__________________________________________________

Thanks, Bob, for your feedback.

*** 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?


-Playing the piano is an ever learning journey. When I started over a year ago, I played slowly without errors and then increased my tempo by playing the pieces over and over until it was awesome(!!!). About 3 months ago I read a post here that said that playing something you can play well is a waste of time. I immediately agreed that it applied to me and I stopped immediately. In stead of learning a piece in a week, I was learning a new piece almost everyday. The reason, is that if I could play a new piece slowly without errors, that was it, it was a done deal. My piano life changed for ever. Shortly after that I thought why do I play a piece without looking at it first, because if I look at the music and sawe a ledger note or a measure that is confusing, it is a show stopper if for any reason you have to stop or slow down to be able to play the piece.

From that point in time I always read through new music to make sure there are NO show stoppers present.

With a little bit of luck I play new pieces once without errors and that is the end of it.

It is interesting that beginner books don't say read through the music before you begin to play it to make sure there are no show stoppers. Yes, they tell you to say the names of the notes as you play them, and count through the measures - but that doesn't help you if you are stuck and being stuck means you have to repeat.

***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).

---There are things that I know and, of course, things that I don't know. My pieces, as I say are only 1 or 2 pieces at this point. But I have music "to look at" such as Chopin's ballade 4, Op. 52 of 17 pagers. To me it doesn't matter where I break the music for this reason - I will only play music I can play by reading the music - no memory stuff because I am dyslexic. I would break the music probably by page. As to how long you should play them, the rule is if I can play it slowly without errors - that is good enough for me. But having said that, the fact it is a long/huge piece, I would still do it by the page, but I would at the end of each week, for example, play everything I had learned up to that point if you will, as a review.

With respective to putting hands together, I read in one of the piano magazines that one famous pianist said you should play hands apart and then hands together and I posted that here and everybody came down on top of me, saying you should only play hands separate if you can't play anything - and I agree, absolutely, so I have yet to play the music hands separate for a few reasons, I want my brain to remember how I played it, so there is no reason to confuse my brain by learning someting that I don't absolutely have to do - so I play music at snale's pace without errors rather than using hands separate.


***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).

---If you define love as fun, then you are right. I love playing the piano. I love playing anything - any music. I can play every piece I have ever learned, tiny beginner stuff of 4 to 8 measures, to a total of 100 pices and I love playing all the time a long with new pieces I am learning. But apart from that I enjoying learning and playing anything and always trying to make it sound beautiful to my ears and heart.

But probably what drives me most is how much can my dyslexic brain learn or is there a limit of my ability to play the piano. It is very fascinating to learn how technique enables you to move around the 88 keys on the piano "effortlessly". Those are not negative statements, or self deprecating statements, but just interest. I love a challenge, and if anything was a challenge - piano playing is the ultimate for me. So rewarding.

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#2122669 - 07/25/13 05:45 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
It's been a few days since my last journal, which is already going against the principle of "practice every day"


Then adjust your principle. It's not that you need to practice everything every day. It's far more valuable to practice something small every day and after a few days, master it than to practice a lot every day, but at the end of a few days or a week, have nothing to show for it (just as it so happens, this also makes keeping a journal far easier).

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#2122712 - 07/25/13 09:30 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
It's been a few days since my last journal, which is already going against the principle of "practice every day"
I believe it was Godowsky that said we don't play piano with our hands.

Practising piano involves a lot more than sitting at the keyboard improving the mechanical aspects. I've improved many pieces by taking a vacation and playing fragments on a virtual keyboard or running the sound through my head on my virtual hi-fi while strolling along a deserted beach.

We don't train for piano playing by lifting weights or spending time at the gym. With all due respect to the MOYD thread, it's our brains that need the daily practise, not our fingers.
______________________


Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing as I listen.
We can only hum one note at a time so start with that. Hum along.

Listen to the melody line and get to know it well enough that you can whistle it or hum it in your head (where your compass is unrestricted). Mentally fill it by listening to whatever is filling the sound stage between the gaps in the melody. Then learn that backing sound without the melody. Start by working on just the bass. Then fill in with the inner voices.

If you can hum, whistle or imagine the melody all the way through the piece from memory you're ready to start looking at the score. The other listening skills come with time and practice.

Advanced readers don't vocalise the words in their heads when they read. Try do the same with music.

You might add a da-da-da-dah along to Beethoven's fifth when audiating it. Try not to do this but hear, listen to or create just the timbres of the orchestra without your tongue, throat or Adam's apple responding physically.

But concentrate mostly on humming along until you can hum along from memory.
_________________________
Richard

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#2122763 - 07/25/13 11:44 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
What if I'm really bad at remembering tunes if I can only hear them, but if I can look at the score at the same time as I listen to them I can remember the tune much better [ETA: even without the score]?

I have read Bernhard writing about getting better at various kinds of mental practice with practice, in a way that implies that one starts out less good and improves over iterations with different pieces, so how good do I have to be at pure aural learning with this first piece I'm learning to practice?


Edited by PianoStudent88 (07/25/13 12:00 PM)
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2122775 - 07/25/13 12:17 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11585
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
What if I'm really bad at remembering tunes if I can only hear them, but if I can look at the score at the same time as I listen to them I can remember the tune much better [ETA: even without the score]?

If it works then it is probably right.

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#2122805 - 07/25/13 01:27 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
...how good do I have to be at pure aural learning with this first piece I'm learning to practice?
If you intend to embrace this method fully then good enough to learn the tune by hearing it without sight of the score.

If you want ideas for getting there start with children's nursery rhymes and Christmas carols. Then move onto popular vocal music (popular across genres not 'pop' music per se), show tunes, folk music etc. Vocal music has readily identified melodies and words make them easier to remember, especially if they're well crafted and are sung in the same metre as when they are spoken. Good scansion. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are better at this than Michael Jackson, for example.

When you get to instrumental music start with Chopin's Prelude in A not Bach's Prelude to his solo 'cello suite in G.

And as keystring notes, use whatever works for you. This isn't a test. Don't burden yourself.
_________________________
Richard

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#2122809 - 07/25/13 01:34 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
What if I'm really bad at remembering tunes if I can only hear them, but if I can look at the score at the same time as I listen to them I can remember the tune much better [ETA: even without the score]?

If it's any comfort to you, I'm exactly the same way.

One positive side to this kind of bonding with/dependence on the score is that (after a number of years of practice) I've found myself developing an increasing ability to audiate* scores I've never seen/heard before. At this point mostly pretty simple ones, but hey, you've gotta start somwhere...

* for newbies unfamiliar with the term, audiate means to be able to read an unfamiliar score and hear in your mind what it would sound like
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2122817 - 07/25/13 01:53 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
...how good do I have to be at pure aural learning with this first piece I'm learning to practice?
If you intend to embrace this method fully then good enough to learn the tune by hearing it without sight of the score.

If you want ideas for getting there start with children's nursery rhymes and Christmas carols. Then move onto popular vocal music (popular across genres not 'pop' music per se), show tunes, folk music etc. Vocal music has readily identified melodies and words make them easier to remember, especially if they're well crafted and are sung in the same metre as when they are spoken. Good scansion. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are better at this than Michael Jackson, for example.

With the first piece? That doesn't seem like Bernhard's method from what I have read. He describes starting students with a piece they want to learn, not with nursery rhymes and Christmas carols in case they don't have sufficient aural skills yet.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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