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#2122821 - 07/25/13 02:03 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11559
Loc: Canada
I'll just say this once. PianoStudent88 you are in track with what you are doing, and it seems you have a good understanding of the principles of this without getting hung up on the details.

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#2122826 - 07/25/13 02:15 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
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
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...

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.
No, I think you misunderstood.

Start with where you're at now, using the score for guidance.

If you want to develop memorising music without using the score then start with nursery rhymes. Just for the memorising. Not for pieces to learn.

Hmm?
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Richard

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#2122831 - 07/25/13 02:34 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3155
Loc: Maine
Ok, I did misunderstand. I had asked about for this piece and you answered as a long term improvement program, beyond this piece.

I don't understand the role of nursery rhymes and Christmas carols in learning how to learn to hum a tune just from listening. I already know how to hum lots of nursery rhymes and Christmas carols. Starting with "simple music that I don't know already" would make sense to me. You haven't slipped into giving advice for how to learn to play by ear, have you? For that, nursery rhymes and Christmas carols -- tunes I know already -- would make sense as a starting point. For me, being able to learn a tune aurally so I can hum it is a long long way from being able to pick out that tune on the piano.
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#2122834 - 07/25/13 02:35 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3155
Loc: Maine
Rereading, I may have misunderstood again. What do you mean by "memorising music without using the score"?
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#2122842 - 07/25/13 02:58 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90, I have read your post, here:

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.

_________________________________________________

***What happens before sitting at the piano or looking at the score is learning the whole piece as sound in the head.

I don't know how long you have been playing the piano or how "gifted" you are.

+++Looking at a score of music, as a beginner piano player in no way puts the whole piece as sound in the head. Even playing a piece daily for as much as 2 years is the whole piece as sound in the head.


***Next is analysing the score, harmonic progression, phrasing, dynamics, texture, motifs, etc.

+++WOW - like I said - how long have you been playing music?



***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?

+++The first thing I do when I start a piece of music is reading through the score/piece to be sure I can recognize the notes in the piece - 5 ledger notes above and below I can read and recognize, but 10 ledger lines below and above may cause me to pause or is a show stopper.

***After this comes assigning the section lengths for learning.

+++I don't get this at all. If I can't play 1 measure easily and correctly - there is no better reason to assign the section length for learning immediately! Else why would it matter how and why define a section to learned and be played?

*****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.

Well, like I said, how long have you been playing. I am a beginner and the finger is in place. I have 3 John Thompson method books to work through, so maybe 1, 2, 3, years, before I am learning famous, difficult Opus numbers of famous composers.

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.

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#2122850 - 07/25/13 03:05 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Michael_99]
scorpio Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 494
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
zrtf90, I have read your post, here:

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.

_________________________________________________

***What happens before sitting at the piano or looking at the score is learning the whole piece as sound in the head.

I don't know how long you have been playing the piano or how "gifted" you are.

+++Looking at a score of music, as a beginner piano player in no way puts the whole piece as sound in the head. Even playing a piece daily for as much as 2 years is the whole piece as sound in the head.


***Next is analysing the score, harmonic progression, phrasing, dynamics, texture, motifs, etc.

+++WOW - like I said - how long have you been playing music?



***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?

+++The first thing I do when I start a piece of music is reading through the score/piece to be sure I can recognize the notes in the piece - 5 ledger notes above and below I can read and recognize, but 10 ledger lines below and above may cause me to pause or is a show stopper.

***After this comes assigning the section lengths for learning.

+++I don't get this at all. If I can't play 1 measure easily and correctly - there is no better reason to assign the section length for learning immediately! Else why would it matter how and why define a section to learned and be played?

*****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.

Well, like I said, how long have you been playing. I am a beginner and the finger is in place. I have 3 John Thompson method books to work through, so maybe 1, 2, 3, years, before I am learning famous, difficult Opus numbers of famous composers.

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.


What, exactly, is your point?
_________________________

    Yamaha P-155

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    #2122871 - 07/25/13 03:53 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    In regards to nursery rhymes and music that has words:

    This is one kind of association. If you are good at memorizing words, or if you associate melody with words, then you can use that to quickly remember the melody of that kind of music. I don't know whether it develops hearing, or if it is just good for memorizing that kind of music.

    I was in a choir where one day we were given music that had a long passage of just "ooh". My reaction was "Finally something where you don't have to try to look at both the music and the words - easier." This choir had sung the song for years but still had trouble with it at the "ooh". That's when I realized that they focused primarily on the words, and attached the melody to them, while I started with the melody. They did not think like instrumentalists.

    If your strong point is reading, then doesn't it make sense to attach the melody to the written notes, instead of attaching it to words? And if you can do that, wouldn't memorization for performance without the score arise from practising that way, without ever needing to start with memorized music?

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    #2122873 - 07/25/13 04:00 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    Originally Posted By: zrtf90

    If you want to develop memorising music without using the score

    I see no reason for memorizing music without using the score, and I DO see potential harm in this. If you aren't hearing everything correctly, you may well play notes that have not been written in, but that you think you are hearing.

    I also suspect that some clarifications are needed because the impressions may not be what you are actually trying to say. For example: listening to the music and imagining the notes before ever looking at the score. I do have some abilities both in audiating, and playing what I hear or writing it down, but I know for certain that the music would have to be very simple for me to do that. For example, I cannot recognize thick chords accurately. Even if I hear the quality of that chord, I may not hear the distribution of the notes in it accurately. How could someone who is at the beginning of learning to hear possibly imagine all the notes in both hands in a complex piece of music? And since scores exist, why not use them?

    You cannot be meaning literally what you seem to be saying.

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    #2122929 - 07/25/13 05:59 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    PianoStudent88 Online   content
    3000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/16/11
    Posts: 3155
    Loc: Maine
    I agree with your reservations keystring. This is why I asked what Richard means by "memorizing music without using the score." I thought we were talking about the ability to become able to hum the melody of a piece, just from listening to it repeatedly. But now I'm not sure what Richard is talking about.
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    Ebaug(maj7)

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    #2122931 - 07/25/13 06:03 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
    What if I'm really bad at remembering tunes if I can only hear them...
    Start memorising "simple music that you don't know already". smile I initially thought of nursery rhymes, carols, folk music...

    Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
    ...if I can look at the score at the same time as I listen to them I can remember the tune much better
    So a) use the score or b) try to memorise tunes without looking at the score - the way you (presumably) learnt the nursery rhymes. But I'd start with "simple music that you don't know already". smile

    Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
    What do you mean by "memorising music without using the score"?
    Listening to recordings or performances until you can audiate them from memory - the way you do nursery rhymes and carols - and know where you are in the score, well enough that on hearing "dit-diddley ah-da" you can add "boom, boom".
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2122932 - 07/25/13 06:04 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: Michael_99
    ***What happens before sitting at the piano or looking at the score is learning the whole piece as sound in the head.

    I don't know how long you have been playing the piano or how "gifted" you are.
    Very gifted! I'm fluent in my mother tongue and I'm incredibly good looking. Nearly everyone I visit has a photograph of me in their bathroom! laugh

    Originally Posted By: Michael_99
    +++Looking at a score of music, as a beginner piano player in no way puts the whole piece as sound in the head. Even playing a piece daily for as much as 2 years is the whole piece as sound in the head.
    You've misunderstood the quote Michael. The first step is to memorise the sound from listening to recordings - not from looking at the score.

    Originally Posted By: Michael_99
    ***Next is analysing the score, harmonic progression, phrasing, dynamics, texture, motifs, etc.

    +++WOW - like I said - how long have you been playing music?
    This is not difficult, Michael. There was a gang of us doing just that on this forum and PianoStudent88 was one of the leading participants.


    Originally Posted By: Michael_99
    +++The first thing I do when I start a piece of music is reading through the score/piece to be sure I can recognize the notes in the piece - 5 ledger notes above and below I can read and recognize, but 10 ledger lines below and above may cause me to pause or is a show stopper.
    Ledger lines are a reading difficulty. I'm going through as an experienced sight reader looking for big leaps, weak finger trills, difficult stretches, polyrhythmic passages or fast arpeggios, etc.

    I'm looking for things that are difficult to play even when I can read the notes or have memorised them.


    Originally Posted By: Michael_99
    +++I don't get this at all. If I can't play 1 measure easily and correctly - there is no better reason to assign the section length for learning immediately! Else why would it matter how and why define a section to learned and be played?
    The test is not what you can or cannot play but how much you can hold in working memory. If you can't memorise 1 measure, playing hands separately, it may be better to work on a half measure...or just one beat...or just two notes.

    As your experience grows so does your ability to memorise passages. I have memorised a full page of an easy Scarlatti sonata in one day. I struggle with a half measure of a Bach fugue.

    The object is to find out how much music you can hold in working memory so that improvements at the end of the section will still be there for the next repeat. If you're having to read the music to remember the notes, remembering the new fingering, for example, may prove too much.



    Edited by zrtf90 (07/25/13 06:12 PM)
    Edit Reason: spellings...
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2122933 - 07/25/13 06:05 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: zrtf90
    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...


    Originally Posted By: keystring
    I see no reason for memorizing music without using the score, and I DO see potential harm in this.
    1. Should we stop singing lullabies to infants without giving them the score?

    2. Going back to my reply to Michael, the essential thing is to know the notes well enough to hold in working memory and learn new fingering to try it out without having to write the fingerings in the score first but remember which ones we've tried and which ones we've not. If we're using a softer staccato for a particular note than it's adjacent buddies it helps to remember which one without having to add a mark in the score.

    If you're trying a new phrasing to make the line more meaningful, more seductive, more pleading, more majestic, more piquant it helps to be able to hear it that way in your head first without having to follow the notes from the score.

    Originally Posted By: keystring
    For example: listening to the music and imagining the notes before ever looking at the score.
    I don't think I've ever seen the score but I can sing "One, two, three, four, five, Once I caught a fish alive" and I'm fairly sure I've got the notes right! Singing that in my head is what I'm talking about.

    Originally Posted By: keystring
    For example, I cannot recognize thick chords accurately. Even if I hear the quality of that chord, I may not hear the distribution of the notes in it accurately.
    Ask any budding guitarist how 'Smoke on the Water' goes and he'll sing the "chords" using single notes and a throaty timbre. That's what I'm talking about.

    Originally Posted By: keystring
    You cannot be meaning literally what you seem to be saying.
    Then I don't mean it literally. I'm not writing statutes here and not passing it through the legal department. Luckily this is a public forum and anything that doesn't make sense can be questioned and clarified.

    Instead of memorising music perhaps I should say memorising melodies and throwing in the occasional 'um-ching-ching, twiddle-de-dee' in the gaps.

    Of course, as you get better you may well be able to add in the bass and drums or even whole orchestras but that's possibly beyond basic requirements here. The essential thing is to "know the tune", not every harmonic nuance but the basic melody from start to finish.

    Originally Posted By: keystring
    I also suspect that some clarifications are needed because the impressions may not be what you are actually trying to say.
    I may be fluent in my mother tongue but that doesn't mean I'm lucid. frown

    I'm not making huge technical demands on people here, honest!



    Edited by zrtf90 (07/25/13 06:13 PM)
    Edit Reason: more spellings...
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2122935 - 07/25/13 06:07 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: JosephAC]
    Bobpickle Offline

    Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


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


    Hi Joseph. I've been meaning to get around to responding to this, but haven't yet. How are things going - do you still need help?


    Edited by Bobpickle (07/25/13 06:14 PM)

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    #2122960 - 07/25/13 07:04 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: zrtf90
    We can only hum one note at a time so start with that. Hum along.
    ...
    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.

    This was an earlier post I made. I couldn't find it for my last responses. (I'm clearly not a fluent reader of my mother tongue, either.)
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2123026 - 07/25/13 09:55 PM 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
    Originally Posted By: JosephAC
    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.


    Hi Joseph. I've been meaning to get around to responding to this, but haven't yet. How are things going - do you still need help?


    Since my posting, I have managed to progress further. Now I can play HT reasonably well. Actually, I spend daily 20 min playing HT slowly, and within 2 days I got the gist of it.I kept toggling between HS and HT. I am OK for now. Thanks. It was a question of time... slowly but daily... Thanks for asking.


    Edited by JosephAC (07/25/13 09:56 PM)

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    #2123078 - 07/26/13 01:07 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    PianoStudent88 Online   content
    3000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/16/11
    Posts: 3155
    Loc: Maine
    This statement of a major aural component to Bernhard's method as preparation before looking at the score is making me absolutely miserable. Richard, you are modifying Bernhard's method by not learning your sections up to final tempo initially; I wonder if your sense of how much should be aurally learned before looking at the score is also a modification?

    It would be very helpful to have some of Bernhard's posts where he talks about this and then I could gauge firsthand what he's getting at and how he approaches it with his students.

    I'm thinking for the sake of my sanity I'm going to modify this to "get familiar with both the sound and the score in as many ways as you know how to do, before breaking it down and starting to practice sections at the keyboard." I'll look at the list JosephAC quoted to give me some ideas, and also see if I come up with any other ideas.
    _________________________
    Ebaug(maj7)

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    #2123158 - 07/26/13 05:04 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
    This statement of a major aural component to Bernhard's method as preparation before looking at the score is making me absolutely miserable. Richard, you are modifying Bernhard's method by not learning your sections up to final tempo initially; I wonder if your sense of how much should be aurally learned before looking at the score is also a modification?

    It would be very helpful to have some of Bernhard's posts where he talks about this and then I could gauge firsthand what he's getting at and how he approaches it with his students.

    I'm thinking for the sake of my sanity I'm going to modify this to "get familiar with both the sound and the score in as many ways as you know how to do, before breaking it down and starting to practice sections at the keyboard." I'll look at the list JosephAC quoted to give me some ideas, and also see if I come up with any other ideas.



    What makes you thinking the ability to auralize is in any way, shape, or form a major component to Bernhard's method? This is simply a part of Richard's take on Bernhard's approach (maybe Bernhard isn't even involved - there's been so much writing, I can hardly follow). Why does this have to be your take?

    If you can't auralize music to the extent that Richard can (I imagine few of us can), then this in no way, shape, or form excludes you from being able to benefit from Bernhard's approach to learning repertoire. All Richard has been describing is his approach to learning repertoire/sections/passages and its relation to what he's read of Bernhard's writing (again, maybe). Just as exactly what you do probably won't work for him, exactly what he does probably won't work for you. The only two necessities of Bernhard's approach (I hesitate to call them necessities, but they're the two core points everything is built around) is to practice a section of music no longer than 20 minutes (an average figure - maybe it's 10, maybe 30, just set a time limit for which you can focus) and to make significant progress in that period of time. Everything else amounts to great supplementary tools depending on your specific purpose in learning the piece, but nothing else is required (obviously even following the two aforementioned principles aren't required of anybody to follow, but we're trying to make the most of our practice, are we not). The only prerequisites to using Bernhard's routine and tips for learning repertoire are being able to read music and work out functional fingerings (which doesn't even need to be done away from the piano, but it makes you have to think in a good way). That's all.

    All not being able to auralize music means is that you have something to practice for the benefit of your musicianship (though it's debatable whether it compares in value to something like sightreading). Go re-read Richard Kant's Bernhard Summary - it says nothing about mental practice or auralization, let alone needing to do them. The only part of his (Bernhard's) routine where auralization is particularly helpful is when starting practicing passages hands together. The sooner you can hear in your head exactly what hands together sounds like, the sooner the fingers will be able to play it. Obviously a simple tape recorder or digital piano recorder function (i.e. recording one hand and playing along with the other) can take the place of auralization at performance or whatever tempo.

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    #2123159 - 07/26/13 05:07 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: JosephAC]
    Bobpickle Offline

    Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


    Registered: 05/24/12
    Posts: 1383
    Loc: Cameron Park, California
    Originally Posted By: JosephAC
    Thanks for asking.


    No problem. Sorry for the slow response.

    I may try and summarize a few of the more important Bernhard principles to use when practicing new repertoire, as well as why they're important and the specific figures are what they are and if and when I do, I'll ask for you and others to proof-read it and look for holes for me.

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    #2123165 - 07/26/13 05:46 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    Sam S Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/12/07
    Posts: 1406
    Loc: Georgia, USA
    OK, I have read over some of the material about the practice methods (not all of it - too much to read!), and I have to say that it seems to me that little of it is controversial or even new. The summary that I read sounds very mainstream - breaking the music into chunks, the importance of repetition, limiting yourself in time (the same as the "pomo d'oro' method).

    The only thing I see that is controversial is listening to the music before you learn it. What I have always been taught is that this causes you to 'copy' what other pianists are doing in the interpretation of the music. Much better to listen once, or even not at all, and develop your own skills to hear and interpret the music. Admittedly, this is easier the more experience that you have. It can be very difficult for an absolute beginner, but very rewarding for those with more experience. The goal is to develop your own sensibility to interpret music, and too much listening teaches imitation instead of independence.

    Just my thoughts...

    Sam

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    #2123177 - 07/26/13 07:26 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Sam S]
    Peter Leyssens Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 09/20/11
    Posts: 20
    Loc: Leuven, Belgium
    Originally Posted By: Sam S
    The only thing I see that is controversial is listening to the music before you learn it. What I have always been taught is that this causes you to 'copy' what other pianists are doing in the interpretation of the music. (...) The goal is to develop your own sensibility to interpret music, and too much listening teaches imitation instead of independence.


    I can imagine why people would advise not to listen to pieces too much. But a strange side-effect is that this approach assumes that interpreters need to work in a vacuum, i.e. when they are not exposed to the interpretations of others, they are completely free to invent their own interpretation, but they lose this freedom when they get "tainted" by the world. There are a couple of philosophical problems with that assumption.

    First, about the performer trying to figure out from the score what the interpretation should be. Even this bit is not context free, as the score is obviously a way to indicate how the piece should be played. And, as it was written for piano (presumably), the composer had certain fingerings in mind that can be figured out with time and experience.

    Second, about the performer being influenced by a context until it is beyond his capacity to invent a new way of interpreting the piece. As I've already noticed in discussions here, many are using several versions of the score, using fingerings from one or another version as it suits them. Also, it's always possible to adapt your interpretation to your feeling as you go along. Glenn Gould did this for piano and Ton Koopman on organ. Even if you've heard one interpretation a lot, it doesn't mean that it feels right for you to play it that way. Listening to music and playing it are two very different things because playing involves your physical movement, which can be very different of how another interpreter moves.

    The way of thinking about being "free" when "untainted" by other influences and "bound" when "touched by others" seems very romantic to me (a bit like Candide) and not very relevant any more right now. We can learn from trying to imitate, but we can also deviate when needed or wanted.

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    #2123182 - 07/26/13 07:32 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)
    This is getting ridiculous!

    I don't use Bernhard's method. Up to tempo HS before joining hands is too much for some of the passages I have to contend with. There are passages I've been playing for years that I still can't play up to tempo, HS or HT, eg. M10 & 12 of Beethoven's Moonlight, 3rd movement. I can't move my 4th finger fast enough in the descent. I'm content to take the hand up to a tempo where playing is automatic and without conscious effort. No more than that.

    I made notes from a Bernhard post that summarised his approach. He spent two months memorising a piece of music before he looked at the score. This is his first step but it doesn't have to be two months (as someone had misunderstood). He was simply stressing the importance of the step. Then he went to the score and remarked that he is 'usually' surprised by it's appearance being different from what he'd imagined. Again he emphasises delaying going to the piano. Maybe he doesn't do that with his students.

    What do we mean by memorising it and audiating it?

    I mean "knowing what comes next" and hearing the melody with a bit of accompaniment in the gaps. I don't mean reproducing all the inner notes, bass, passing traffic, subtle nuances, the timbre of the bassoons...I just mean to be able to da-de-da the music in your head. I very much doubt that Bernhard means any more by it either.

    When I play a piece that's recently been memorised the greatest difficulty I have to contend with is forgetting what comes after the current phrase. If I don't have the score in front of me, open at the right page, I have a few moments to recall it or I'm stuffed. If I learn a piece of music well enough to whistle it or hum it (and keep it in my head when it goes beyond my compass) while I do the washing up I don't have that pressure when I've recently learned a piece.

    The issue and depth of memorising is, perhaps, overstated. If you know what phrase comes next that's usually enough and finger memory can take over from there. I prefer not to rely on finger memory but use cognitive recall which is hard work but bulletproof in performance, allows mental practise away from the piano and lasts a lifetime. Most non-memorisers "follow" the score rather than "read" it as they also have developed finger memory from their long hours of practise. It's a normal human function. That's why we use repetition.

    If ever I was called on to turn a page in practise I'd lose it. I've never turned a page while playing or practising without stopping the music. I memorise the rest of the phrase over the page or memorise the whole thing up to the page turn. I use this method but do not advocate it.

    Whatever method Bernhard advocates there's no point getting miserable over it whether it's what he writes or what someone else relates. No method is worth jack if it makes you miserable.

    Woodog is right. It must be fun. And fun means it drives you and motivates you, not just amuses or entertains you.
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2123183 - 07/26/13 07:37 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Bobpickle]
    Peter Leyssens Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 09/20/11
    Posts: 20
    Loc: Leuven, Belgium
    Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
    Go re-read Richard Kant's Bernhard Summary - it says nothing about mental practice or auralization, let alone needing to do them.


    Very interesting article. It reminds me of when I was memorising Japanese vocabulary and kanji, I was also using a system where I would repeat daily what I forgot, less frequently what I could remember. The granularity was a bit finer than just practice-now vs repeat-monthly, but the idea is the same. And I can fully testify that this approach works.

    If I was a developer for tablet computers, I'd build an application that works as a daily work book for musicians on this base. After doing the initial phase of determining which passages to work on when, it could remind me what I'm working on, what I need to rehearse and what I need to re-do after a month's time. If anybody else is interested, you can steal this idea without referring to me smile

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    #2123185 - 07/26/13 07:40 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Peter Leyssens]
    zrtf90 Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 02/29/12
    Posts: 2310
    Loc: Ireland (ex England)
    Originally Posted By: Peter Leyssens
    We can learn from trying to imitate, but we can also deviate when needed or wanted.
    Hear, hear! (pun intended.)

    We could not duplicate a Horowitz or Rubinstein interpretation if we tried. We are inspired by what we hear and we choose what appeals to us. These choices combine to form our 'style'. And if we didn't have the score (i.e. a system of writing music down) how would we learn other than by listening?
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2123187 - 07/26/13 07:43 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Peter Leyssens]
    zrtf90 Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 02/29/12
    Posts: 2310
    Loc: Ireland (ex England)
    Originally Posted By: Peter Leyssens
    If anybody else is interested, you can steal this idea without referring to me smile
    Tony Buzan beat you to it a few decades ago but not specific to music!

    smile
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2123190 - 07/26/13 07:56 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    woodog Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 03/21/12
    Posts: 376
    Loc: Bowling Green, KY
    Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
    This statement of a major aural component to Bernhard's method as preparation before looking at the score is making me absolutely miserable. Richard, you are modifying Bernhard's method by not learning your sections up to final tempo initially; I wonder if your sense of how much should be aurally learned before looking at the score is also a modification?

    ..... Slippage



    PS88,

    As BobPickle pointed out above - and it bears repetition -

    Quote:
    The only two necessities of Bernhard's necessities

    Practice music no longer than 20
    and
    make significant progress in that period of time.


    I cannot play up to speed quickly and avoid tension, so I play h.s. WAY over speed at first only to see if the fingering I've chosen isn't going to be problematic, then I apply the principle (I think I first read this phrase in one of Richards posts!) of increasing speed by relinquishing restraint.

    But back to Bobs point, progress is satisfying. Small sections means my brain can continue to think about the music after I'm done with the section, when I'm away from the instrument. And....

    I truly believe this point that Chang mentions in his writings, ...

    If you can imagine yourself playing at speed, then you can (or will eventually) be able to play it at that speed.

    It used to be that I focused in the fingers, but these days I'm putting focus on the brain work - and not so much the fingers as the shoulders.

    Lastly, keep enjoyment in the process. :-)

    Forrest
    _________________________
    Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
    (A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

    --------------------
    current studies:
    Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
    Beethoven Op. 78
    Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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    #2123192 - 07/26/13 08:08 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    Richard, thank you for responding yesterday. I'm glad that I asked because with Internet posts, it happens all too easily that we think we understand or are understood, while everyone is going off on the picture they form of what the person is trying to say. That is what happened here.

    I'll summarize what I see, and you can tell me if I'm off the mark. As I understand, you were talking about ways to get at the ability to hear music in general. Your various suggestions were for that purpose.

    Meanwhile we were discussing Bernhard's approach to learning a piece of music. One stage, as I understand it, is listening to the performance to get it in your ear. (Did I get that right?). So when you were talking about being able to hear the whole thing in your head, and being able to see the notes, I thought you were talking about the preparation of the piece. At PS88's level of playing, these are not simple pieces. So you can see what I thought you were asking her to do. But in fact, you were talking about a type of ear training in general.

    While in the context of a stage in preparing the music you are playing, "hearing the whole thing in your head", for me included all of the notes for both hands, recognition of chords in their entirety, their inversions, etc. Recognizing the notes would require "perfect pitch" unless you are thinking melody in Solfege. I can duplicate a melody, but it may be in a different key. I'll hear "Do Do So So La La So..." of "Twinkle, or "1 1 5 5 6 6 5..." in degrees, but I might play that as C C G G A A G; or G G D D E E D etc.

    So while reading your advice in the context of Bernhard's preparation of a piece, what I pictured was far removed from what you had in mind. I don't know how far that was true for others.
    Originally Posted By: zrtf90
    I'm not writing statutes here and not passing it through the legal department. Luckily this is a public forum and anything that doesn't make sense can be questioned and clarified.

    That clarification thing has been done now. smile

    But you have touched upon something important. What is written here in some ways matters more than what passes through the legal department, because it is taken more seriously and more at face value. A student will spend countless hours - maybe days or even months - trying to do what she understands a teacher has told her to do. If that is misunderstood, imagine the havoc it will create.

    From time to time I see teachers or advanced musicians write in a kind of "shorthand". A single sentence reflects a concept that they themselves developed over years, and they are thinking of all those things as they write that single sentence. You get five such sentences, and each should be a paragraph or more.

    So in this sense, yes, each word might sometimes be looked over like a legal text, because each word is being translated into hours and days of practise. If it's misunderstood, then a mess has been created.

    Two things arise from this:
    - care by someone who is teaching to check as much as possible that what he or she says is understood
    - the awareness of students that it might not be understood as meant. There is a line to be tread where on the one hand you try to follow what someone you find trustworthy has told you, rather than putting in your own interpretation. Otoh, questioning your understanding of it, whether it applies to you, and listening to your own senses. The hardest thing that I have found as a student, was in how far to go on either side of that line. As teacher: not to overteach, underteach, or be misunderstood.

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    #2123201 - 07/26/13 08:53 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)
    I caught a video yesterday on essential Life Skills. Skills 2 & 3 were understanding other people's ideas in perspective and making sure others understand our ideas correctly.

    So I take all your points on board.

    And yes, it's good that we've reached some clarity now. smile

    ETA: and yes, your summary of my intent is correct. Ear training in general and the whole thing meant the span of its melody horizontally not the details of harmonic depth.



    Edited by zrtf90 (07/26/13 08:58 AM)
    _________________________
    Richard

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    #2123227 - 07/26/13 10:06 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    Originally Posted By: zrtf90

    I don't use Bernhard's method....


    This is important. This thread is specifically about Bernhard's method, I imagine mostly for those who are trying to follow it. So when things that appear to be instructions or advice come, it is assumed that his method is the object. Whenever anyone writing here is talking about something that isn't his method, I think that should be clarified from the onset. Otherwise what you write risks being read in that context.

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    #2123230 - 07/26/13 10:14 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    A final point is that TEACHING is not to be taken on lightly. Whenever anyone writes in the forum and is taken to be a teacher or an expert, what they write will be used by students. There is a reason why teacher training exists where teaching methodology is taught, followed by internship (in my time it was four). And even that is no guarantee, because there are lousy teachers out there who have had all the training in the world.

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    #2123232 - 07/26/13 10:17 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
    keystring Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/11/07
    Posts: 11559
    Loc: Canada
    Originally Posted By: zrtf90
    Nearly everyone I visit has a photograph of me in their bathroom! laugh

    You've seen my bathroom? shocked shocked wink grin

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