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#2163564 - 10/08/13 05:36 PM Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Hi,

I'm wondering if there are many different schools of thought in terms of how to teach piano technique or use technique in playing the piano. I've recently been trying to come up with a plan for my own study of the piano, and I'm trying to familiarize myself with some of the different options out there. For example, I've heard of the Taubman method and the Russian method, but I don't know that much about them, and I'm not really familiar with many other categories / approaches / methods.

It seems to me that each individual teacher will have their own take on how to teach and practice the piano to a greater or lesser extent, even if they are associated with a particular school of thought when it comes to technique, and that some teachers may not align themselves with any particular classification. I'm just trying to educate myself as to some of the different approaches that are out there. If anyone knows of a good book that surveys this topic, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Thanks!
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pianokeys135
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#2163583 - 10/08/13 06:20 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4809
Originally Posted By: pianokeys135


It seems to me that each individual teacher will have their own take on how to teach and practice the piano to a greater or lesser extent, even if they are associated with a particular school of thought when it comes to technique, and that some teachers may not align themselves with any particular classification. I'm just trying to educate myself as to some of the different approaches that are out there.


Are you doing this as a sort of academic exercise, or are you hoping that this would lead to an improvement in your playing?

If the former, that's fine; but if the latter, as you've already hinted, you'll find contradictions in the various teaching methods, and unless you know how to pick and choose which suits you, you could end up worse off. It would be better to stay with your teacher's 'method' which - hopefully - will be based on working on your weaknesses and improving your strengths.

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#2163596 - 10/08/13 06:43 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
As a visitor from the ABF, I would also have an (mostly) academic interest in knowing more about different schools of thought on piano playing -- if only to understand a bit more of what I'm reading when I visit this particular forum on PW.

So if anyone had time and experience to sketch out more of what various different methods entail, I'd love to be educated.
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#2163668 - 10/08/13 09:48 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Pianokeys,

In my signature line below is a link to an article I wrote about Dorothy Taubman's technical approach. I hope that might help on that topic, at least.
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Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2163964 - 10/09/13 02:25 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Hey everyone. Thanks for the responses. I'll take a look at that article. I'm looking into this because I think it's interesting, but I also want to educate myself about the different options so that I can make informed decisions about piano study in the future.
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pianokeys135
amateur piano player

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#2164114 - 10/09/13 07:59 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
I think it's good to expand your knowledge of different approaches to technique. There are many. I once tried to do what you are doing, but got dizzy and had to stop. grin

It may be more beneficial (in terms of practicality/usefulness, as opposed to for the sake of knowledge alone) to dive in, discover issues you are having, and then determine which approach to technique matches your personality and needs the best.
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#2164298 - 10/10/13 05:40 AM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: Derulux]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Derulux
It may be more beneficial (in terms of practicality/usefulness, as opposed to for the sake of knowledge alone) to dive in, discover issues you are having, and then determine which approach to technique matches your personality and needs the best.


I completely agree, but therefore the question: which different, mayor approaches do exist?

EDIT: I mean, as a beginner I might only become aware about an issue I have with my playing, because I read somewhere which movement should better be treated as an issue...


Edited by Marco M (10/10/13 05:44 AM)
Edit Reason: clarifying my point
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learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2164932 - 10/11/13 04:08 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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pianokeys135
amateur piano player

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#2165127 - 10/12/13 02:27 AM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Lessons are a minefield. Most teachers won't have a 'school' they follow, some will, but what you won't get is someone who teaches other than what they teach. One famous pianist told me his dad took him to at least 1/2 a dozen teachers and chose the one he felt was best - a student of Leschetizky. If you want to know about Technique you want Gerig's book: http://www.amazon.com/Famous-Pianists-Their-Technique-Edition/dp/0253348552

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#2165363 - 10/12/13 05:32 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Thanks Chopin. That book looks great. I've been looking for something just like that. On a practical level, it seems like going to meet with different teachers and then seeing which one seems like the best fit for you is a sensible approach.
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amateur piano player

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#2165376 - 10/12/13 06:02 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: Derulux]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 853
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: Derulux

It may be more beneficial (in terms of practicality/usefulness, as opposed to for the sake of knowledge alone) to dive in, discover issues you are having, and then determine which approach to technique matches your personality and needs the best.


I agree. Pianokeys, are you advanced enough yet that you recognize some specific technical/musical/ergonomic issues that you're having? If so, you should share them with us, and some may be able to direct you to a "school" of teaching that might be beneficial for said limitation.

If on the other hand, you haven't yet identified any particular issues, I think you should just stick to a good "general" teacher unless they develop. As much as very movement-oriented schools can be useful to people experiencing particular problems, I think they can lead to over-thinking and fixing what's not broken in people without said issues.

And one further note: it seems likely that the more closely a particular teacher aligns themselves with a school of teaching, the less individualized your lessons with them are likely to be (this from someone who's never had that kind of teacher).
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#2165379 - 10/12/13 06:19 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: MarkH]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 940
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: MarkH


And one further note: it seems likely that the more closely a particular teacher aligns themselves with a school of teaching, the less individualized your lessons with them are likely to be (this from someone who's never had that kind of teacher).


I can see how this might seem likely, and I appreciate your mentioning that you haven't experienced it. But in lessons with a good Taubman teacher the exact opposite is true--because the approach is geared toward analyzing what's working and what's not in each individual's technique. The basic principles apply to everyone (because of the mechanics of human anatomy and the instrument), but the instruction is highly individualized--much more so than in other lessons I've had.
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#2165385 - 10/12/13 06:35 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Hey - Thanks for the input.

Mark - I've been playing the piano as a secondary instrument since I was a teenager, but I began studying it as a primary instrument a few years ago. As far as level, Im not a beginner, but I'm not at a very advanced level either. I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle. On the classical side, I've worked on things like Bach Preludes and Fuges, Mendelssohn pieces, Chopin Nocturnes, and Brahms Intermezzos. I've also been playing jazz standards and doing improvisation work for a while now.

I guess the main reason that I'm looking into approaches to technique is that I've been experiencing pain in my back and wrists, which I believe stems from my approach to playing. I suppose my primary goal at the moment with technique is to get rid of the pain that I've been experiencing and develop a more healthy relationship to the instrument. I also, though, have an academic interest in the topic, and I'd like to find an approach to technique that will help me develop musically and overall as a piano player, and that suits my particular musical interests and leanings.
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pianokeys135
amateur piano player

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#2166462 - 10/15/13 02:49 AM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 202
Loc: California
I'm also interested in approaches to technique because I am an adult learner and I want to be efficient as possible because I don't have time to waste.

Technique to me seems to be about 3 main things:
1) Pushing your current level of technique, which requires studying more advanced material.
2) Learning to play that material with increasing ease and effort until,
3) That material is now comfortable and it's time to go to back to 1.

In the process of 1, you will experience discomfort and tension as you negotiate the problems of discovering how to play that material. However the goal should always be not just to learn how to play it, but to learn to play it with increasing ease and relaxation. You won't be able to move to a higher level until you can do this.

Another important point is to engage your entire body and always seek motions that are as tension-free and pain-free as possible that also get the job done. Especially for easy/intermediate level stuff, there are often many more approaches that can 'work' than with advanced stuff, but most of these approaches are still bad because they are uncomfortable. So the danger in learning repertoire that's earlier than advanced is that there are more ways to go wrong. Even if many ways work, always select the best way (most comfortable, best sounding).

Beyond that, it's not that helpful to obsess about specifics. If you follow these guidelines you will eventually discover the right motions and everything else from Taubman Technique to Drop Weight technique on your own. This is because these are the motions that work for everyone, with very little variance. They are the ones that take the least effort and are the most effective at creating the sound, plain and simple. If you are looking for specifics, the only way you'll get it is from a teacher watching you and telling you or by watching the very best pianists play. MAH is the platonic ideal but unfortunately you can't watch everything he does in slow motion, although it would be great if somehow you could. It would be super insightful. At some point someone needs to take that guy, sit him in front of a camera, and have him play everything in slow motion to create a giant video library of how perfect pianism is accomplished so the rest of us can steal his moves.
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Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2166469 - 10/15/13 03:08 AM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: Roland The Beagle]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Roland The Beagle

In the process of 1, you will experience discomfort and tension as you negotiate the problems of discovering how to play that material.
No. There needs to be no unnecessary tension from the outset. As a new piece gets up to speed you'll need to be vigilant to keep the tension at that level.

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#2166513 - 10/15/13 06:33 AM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
My experience about acquiring technique could be summarized as:

1. Reading books about this topic
2. Trying, practicing and adjusting
3. Observing myself/others
4. Experimenting

Sometimes I may need to try various ways of practicing to solve a single technical problem. And it seems that I'm often not able to play well a hard measure with a single way of practicing/repetition.

And it seems the acquiring of technique is mainly relying on time. To acquire a properly sufficient technique you may need 10,000 hours of practicing, and 20,000 hours may be needed to be a professional performer. Efficient and intelligent ways may enable you to achieve a result 1.2 times better than normal ways, but may not enbale you to achieve 1.5 times of that, just like the studying of a new language. My wife is studying Linguistics, and she has told me that this idea is supported in the present cognitive science.

I hope this will help you.

-Regards

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#2166823 - 10/15/13 07:47 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Thanks for the responses!
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pianokeys135
amateur piano player

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#2170044 - 10/22/13 12:39 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
pianokeys135 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/08
Posts: 184
Loc: Greater NYC Area
Hey - I got my hands on the Gerig - Looks really great - Right along the lines of what I was looking for. Thanks for the recommendation on that Chopin. laugh
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pianokeys135
amateur piano player

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#2170084 - 10/22/13 01:42 PM Re: Piano Technique - Approaches / Methods [Re: pianokeys135]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
You'll have to post some of your favourite bits! I don't know if he's still alive. My teacher knew him - she emailed a question for me once.

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