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#2190568 - 11/30/13 01:41 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: laguna_greg]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
No one has touched upon the problem I brought up. Teacher sings, student learns that singing is good, student picks up habit, a decade or more later you have Zimerman, Gould or someone else "emoting" with incredibly annoying humming...


I'm not sure Zimmerman or Gould picked that habit up from the teachers.

I'm not either. smile

But I do believe that people who are taught to sing along with themselves cannot easily turn off the habit.
Quote:

All my accompanying teachers made me hum or sing the vocal/instrumental line, or "moo" the phrase to feel the breathing (that was Gwen Koldofsky- she made everybody do it). My first teacher made me sing all the voice parts in the fugues I studied with her.

I was a brass player, so internalizing lines was automatic. I did not have to sing to feel the air. Perhaps it is different for people who play another instrument.
Quote:

However, none of that encouraged me to sing while I was performing. Of course, I think I might have gotten hit if I had, so I made sure I didn't. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have actually done it, but they sure acted like they would.

I don't remember any of the older pianists (Horowitz, Rubinstein, Schabel) humming, so I don't think it is necessary.

Bernstein was another hummer. smile
Quote:

The one thing I can't do, though, is stop counting while my students play. It requires a terrible effort to just keep it to myself...

I do the same thing! wink
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#2190716 - 11/30/13 08:15 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
KurtZ Offline
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You're sounding a little wound up yourself. I was being glib and you're reading too much into it. In the end I counseled Gary to use patience and get a better read on the situation. One of the reasons is that adult students are few and far between and they can frequently take hours that children can't. They also sometimes provide an intellectual stimulation different from child students.
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#2190723 - 11/30/13 08:35 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: KurtZ]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
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Kurtz, I assume you're addressing me.
Originally Posted By: KurtZ

I was being glib..

Ok. (?)
Quote:
In the end I counseled Gary to use patience and get a better read on the situation.

She is Peter's student.
Quote:

One of the reasons is that adult students are few and far between and they can frequently take hours that children can't. They also sometimes provide an intellectual stimulation different from child students.

One of the reasons for what? (Not catching it).

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#2190785 - 11/30/13 11:59 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7354
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Interesting thread thus far. I wonder why no one has mentioned playing along with a student (although KurtZ comes close)? Many of us have two studio instruments and use our piano to lead the student, steady a beat, help the student with phrasing, dynamics, etc., etc. Teachers of solo instruments (strings, brass, reeds, etc.) usually play along with the student. How is singing different? When I sing along with a student's playing, it is to show them the expression I want coming from their playing, or to help them in some other way.

Peter, I don't feel that it's a power issue in any respect, but rather teaching by leading. This can be explained easily to a student, adult, teen or even younger. They need to develop their listening skills to be successful as a musician, and as they hone in on these skills being able to differentiate what you're doing from what they're doing is invaluable.

OTOH, if you're just idly humming along with the student, that might imply inspiration from their playing, and hopefully, that's the intent! Otherwise, as Gary feels, I'd drop it, and pronto.
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#2190798 - 12/01/13 01:09 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
I do sign to give a better understanding of the phrasing, breathing, and of course I count out loud. BUT I can stop... grin

With piano it's difficult to give the idea of phrasing... but when singing it's "dead easy" (Morodiene will be all over me for this! grin). Thus my singing in class.
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#2190802 - 12/01/13 01:41 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
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Registered: 01/06/12
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When I mentioned the power dynamic concept, I didn't explain my ambivalence on this issue. Part of me cheers this student who says, in essence, "Cut out that singing. You might think it's helpful, but it isn't. It is just undermining my piano concentration."

Another part of me thinks, "This student is paying me to immerse her in music for an hour a week, and if I feel singing might help her, then I will jolly well sing. She has to trust the environment I create."

And I do know that I never would have had the nerve to tell one of my teachers to modulate their teaching style to accommodate me. I was a very compliant pupil - both as a child and as an adult - and more respectful of the customary power imbalance in the piano studio.

But times change, and teaching changes. It's also just interesting to be rebuked by a student, since this doesn't happen too often.

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#2190809 - 12/01/13 02:40 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
keystring Online   content
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Peter, the first time I read your OP, what I read is that she was telling you that your singing was making it hard for her to concentrate on playing for you. (That also seemed plausible to me, if she was a beginner.) Reading it the second time, this stands out:
Originally Posted By: Peter
when she asked me firmly to please stop, as it disturbed her concentration. So I stopped, in deference to the request.

So you're not seeing it as her giving you feedback on that you might use as a teacher (that she can't concentrate) but rather that she is taking over and telling you what to do. Is this Does she need your guidance on what her role is? Do you, in fact, want to know this kind of information or do you want to draw your own conclusions? If lessons are new to her, she may not know how to act, or that you do have a purpose.

Do you want to hear anything - and if so, what kinds of things? These are things I wrestled with at one point myself. I was the student who kept all questions to myself for the first few years - some I shouldn't have.
Quote:
It's also just interesting to be rebuked by a student, since this doesn't happen too often.

I wonder if she knows you felt rebuked.


Edited by keystring (12/01/13 03:07 AM)

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#2190810 - 12/01/13 02:49 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Interesting thread thus far. I wonder why no one has mentioned playing along with a student (although KurtZ comes close)?



Oh, but I did! smile
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#2190823 - 12/01/13 05:03 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: keystring]
Toastie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 210
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: keystring
Peter, the first time I read your OP, what I read is that she was telling you that your singing was making it hard for her to concentrate on playing for you. (That also seemed plausible to me, if she was a beginner.) Reading it the second time, this stands out:
Originally Posted By: Peter
when she asked me firmly to please stop, as it disturbed her concentration. So I stopped, in deference to the request.

So you're not seeing it as her giving you feedback on that you might use as a teacher (that she can't concentrate) but rather that she is taking over and telling you what to do. Is this Does she need your guidance on what her role is? Do you, in fact, want to know this kind of information or do you want to draw your own conclusions? If lessons are new to her, she may not know how to act, or that you do have a purpose.

Do you want to hear anything - and if so, what kinds of things? These are things I wrestled with at one point myself. I was the student who kept all questions to myself for the first few years - some I shouldn't have.
Quote:
It's also just interesting to be rebuked by a student, since this doesn't happen too often.

I wonder if she knows you felt rebuked.


I logged in to "like" this reply.

Whether she is trying to "take over" will probably become more apparent as lessons go on, because if that's the case she will do so in other ways too.

Though I have to say, if my teacher started to sing along with me, I would probably feel the same way as your student, and I'd also ask her not to. She does sometimes hum when I get stuck on the next note, because she must think it helps me find it... It doesn't, truthfully it actually makes me a bit stressed and takes me longer to look at the page and think because I'm distracted by it. But it's such a small thing that I leave it and let her carry on thinking it's helpful. If I she sang too though it would just be too much and I'd have to say so. I don't see a problem in your student telling you what she does and doesn't find helpful.

Which will gain the bigger advantage? Insisting on doing it because you think it's for the best, or listening you what your student wants?
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#2190858 - 12/01/13 08:41 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Toastie]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Toastie
Originally Posted By: keystring
Peter, the first time I read your OP, what I read is that she was telling you that your singing was making it hard for her to concentrate on playing for you. (That also seemed plausible to me, if she was a beginner.) Reading it the second time, this stands out:
Originally Posted By: Peter
when she asked me firmly to please stop, as it disturbed her concentration. So I stopped, in deference to the request.

So you're not seeing it as her giving you feedback on that you might use as a teacher (that she can't concentrate) but rather that she is taking over and telling you what to do. Is this Does she need your guidance on what her role is? Do you, in fact, want to know this kind of information or do you want to draw your own conclusions? If lessons are new to her, she may not know how to act, or that you do have a purpose.

Do you want to hear anything - and if so, what kinds of things? These are things I wrestled with at one point myself. I was the student who kept all questions to myself for the first few years - some I shouldn't have.
Quote:
It's also just interesting to be rebuked by a student, since this doesn't happen too often.

I wonder if she knows you felt rebuked.


I logged in to "like" this reply.

Whether she is trying to "take over" will probably become more apparent as lessons go on, because if that's the case she will do so in other ways too.

Though I have to say, if my teacher started to sing along with me, I would probably feel the same way as your student, and I'd also ask her not to. She does sometimes hum when I get stuck on the next note, because she must think it helps me find it... It doesn't, truthfully it actually makes me a bit stressed and takes me longer to look at the page and think because I'm distracted by it. But it's such a small thing that I leave it and let her carry on thinking it's helpful. If I she sang too though it would just be too much and I'd have to say so. I don't see a problem in your student telling you what she does and doesn't find helpful.

Which will gain the bigger advantage? Insisting on doing it because you think it's for the best, or listening you what your student wants?
But here is a counter-question: how does the student know what's best for them? Are they experts in playing piano that they can dictate how they are taught? What are they paying the teacher for, if not to teach in the manner they feel will be the best for the student?

The teacher humms the note for you to teach you to use your ears to help you find the note. She does it because at some point this is what *you* should do to help you find a note faster. Learning to associate the sound of a pitch to a key on the piano is extremely helpful, but a skill that takes time to develop. She's not doing it to fluster you, but to help train your ears.

I agree with keystring, depending on how this was said it could be very well the adult student taking over. Adults are often used to being in charge of things - especially ones who are in management positions or teachers (yes, we are often the WORST students LOL). An adult has no problem talking to a teacher in that manner.

I have had children say that to me at times when I sing or play along with them too, and I explain to them the reason why I'm doing it just as I would to an adult. However, I think adults ask more "why" and need more explanation than a child normally does. Yes, it's more time-consuming, but after a while they will trust you more and not need the explanations, then the questions are more out of curiosity.
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#2190870 - 12/01/13 09:08 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: ten left thumbs]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7354
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Interesting thread thus far. I wonder why no one has mentioned playing along with a student (although KurtZ comes close)?



Oh, but I did! smile

Sorry, your point was so subtle that I had to reread your post several times before I finally "saw" it.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2190899 - 12/01/13 10:28 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
I once thought it was that simple, but it's not. When I took my first ever lessons (different instrument) I kept in mind what you just said, Morodiene, because I am a teacher myself. I assumed that what I was told had a purpose, so I followed instructions to the letter. There were things that did not work no matter how long I tried them, and I felt effects that I did not tell my teacher about. Several years in, I talked to that teacher for the first time, and gave feedback about such things. It turned out that it was needed and wanted. This was a good teacher btw. As an adult who had done music as an amateur, I was more complex, with more unknowns about me.

Teacher hat: The things we is for a purpose, and we assume that by doing them, we reach that purpose. So for example, you sing in order for the student to feel the musical line, or even to pre-hear what the notes sound like - the result you want is that the student will be able to play musically. Or the result you want is that the student will start feeling those black dots as music, and play them as music. But for anything that you do, can you tell (esp. for each student) if it is having that outcome? Or will you assume that it has that outcome, so you always do it? I know you will go by observation - is feedback by the student also welcome? If the student says "I can't concentrate when you sing." do you want to know that and deal with it?

Adult students are uncharged territory. I will give one example:

A young child is learning to use his body, and everything is new to him. He has to learn to press the keys, to play one note after the other, it's all fresh sound and sensation. All this internalizes. When he gets to stuff that is music, that training of body and senses are in him, and he uses them. If he is asked to aim for the musical at the appropriate time, when he is ready for it, then he will draw on that training.

The adult seems to know a lot and is able to understand a lot of concepts: those who have done music in some manner are in the biggest danger of that. But of all age groups they are the most likely to be disconnected physically and in the senses. What are the NEEDS of this adult? What if, for example, this adult needs to learn to coordinate his body to the notes? What if the act of pressing and releasing one note after the other takes every ounce of concentration? Is the student that you teach (anyone, any student) where you think they are?

What I'm wondering, Peter, is whether some dialogue and exploration are in order - or maybe some kind of observation. She mentioned concentration. What is she doing as she is playing? Is she "concentrating fiercely" (tensely)? Can she press / find the notes with ease (both physical and reading ability)? Does she know how to prepare a piece at home - to break it down to work on it in stages? Is she missing abilities which actually do make your singing overwhelming? Is it the way she focuses her attention while playing for you that is causing a problem? And of course she also needs to know that what you do as a teacher is for a purpose.

Student hat: I had to learn not to be completely silent. And what degree of independence do you want from your student? Even here the lines are blurred, because for young children it evolves naturally.

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#2190904 - 12/01/13 10:37 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Morodiene]
zillybug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/11
Posts: 127
Loc: USA
I am an adult student who returned to piano almost 3 years ago. My teacher sings quite frequently during lessons to help find a note and more often for help with phrasing. He also plays along at times too. I have no problem with him singing. The only problem is when he wants me to sing. I can't sing and I refuse to sing in front of anyone. He keeps trying and I will try singing at home to work on phrasing. As someone else said, he says singing makes you naturally take breaths so it can help make your playing more musical. I don't know if this is something new or if I just never had teachers who asked their students to sing. Even when I was in college, my piano teachers did not ever ask me to sing. My granddaughter who is 8 just started taking lessons from him and he has her sing almost everything she plays. However she can sing and loves to sing. I have been a teacher in the past but also would not think of telling my teacher what to do. I may ask questions but I am always respectful.

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#2190911 - 12/01/13 10:46 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
keystring Online   content
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Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
Morodiene, we may be more on the same page than it appears. You also teach singing, and I know that you are a very serious and careful teacher, and have advanced training in this area as a singer. I know that for singing, you want the mechanics to go right first - how to breathe, how to produce a note without straining. And if a student aims too early to be musical, they won't develop the physical reflexes which have to be there to support it. Am I correct in that?

I see the same thing for musical instruments. I also see that for those who have played piano (taught) since childhood, it seems so natural - the musical side is so fused into the physical. If you feel crescendo, your body does the right motions to produce crescendo. Piano, above all, is so "easy" for producing a sound. But might the same thing apply as in singing?

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#2190913 - 12/01/13 10:49 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: zillybug]
keystring Online   content
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Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zillybug
...Even when I was in college, my piano teachers did not ever ask me to sing. ....

There is an important factor here. You had piano lessons before, so the physical (technical) training is there. When your present teacher sings to you, those reflexes are formed. How is it for a beginner who has never played piano before?

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#2190937 - 12/01/13 12:12 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
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Registered: 01/06/12
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I know I sing more with some students than with others, but I'll start paying more attention to when and why. Clearly my student wasn't setting out to rebuke me: she was just trying to concentrate on playing her piece for me, and my singing was in the way and throwing her off.

This didn't seem the time for a talk on the benefits of singing. Besides, I was too startled.

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#2190942 - 12/01/13 12:38 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
I know I sing more with some students than with others, but I'll start paying more attention to when and why. Clearly my student wasn't setting out to rebuke me: she was just trying to concentrate on playing her piece for me, and my singing was in the way and throwing her off.

It's a balance, because she also has to learn how to work with a teacher, and what you do. If this is her first time having lessons, it's all new to her. Including maybe what she thinks you expect of her.

This has made me think. One vivid memory that's come back is that the teacher of my first instrument always said "psss" if counting came up and there was a rest: 1, 2, 3 and psss, 1...." I'd concentrate on my playing and was barely aware of it. But years later I taught theory to someone, and being self-taught she had "discounted" rests in a sense. A rest is when you don't play so it's "nothing". But is is in fact a something - it is a space in time when you don't play. And what did I do? I found myself making an audio where I was saying "1, 2, 3, psss". It is a subliminal thing that I had internalized. This "psss" was "Here is something - silence is something that you insert." Our choirmaster would say "off" - "1, 2, 3, off, 1" Same thing. He didn't discuss it with us - he just did it.

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#2190953 - 12/01/13 01:13 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
AnneJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 48
Loc: Toronto, ON
Hi Peter,

If your student was really concentrating hard to play the correct notes and use her fingers properly, then your singing really could have been distracting since it is interfering with the aural feedback she is used to.

I think you need to ask yourself why you felt the need to sing. Since this is an external factor that you are imposing in your student, she might get the idea better if you explain why you were singing. Then get her to sing the part without playing, for example to shape the phrase. Perhaps she can try to emulate this on the piano, but making an effort to draw a singing line from the piano, or whatever your purpose of singing was to begin with. This makes singing internal to her and less distracting for her. Who knows, she might even get the idea faster this way.

Anne

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#2190986 - 12/01/13 02:42 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2521
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I get distracted by all kinds of stuff all the time; siren on the street, noise from the next room, a roll of thunder. What is a distraction really--a shift of attention or a change in focus. When my teacher does something that "is distracting," I believe that what he is doing is directing me to some aspect of my playing that could benefit from a bit more of my attention.

To me it's a good thing.
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#2191033 - 12/01/13 04:41 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Toastie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 210
Loc: UK
Morodiene, thank you for your thought provoking comments. Well no, it's unlikely the beginner student will know what's for the best more so than the teacher, but they will know what they like and don't like. I can't speak for Peter K Mose's student, but I do know I'd prefer to develop more slowly (or whatever would be the result of not hearing the teacher singing) with a teacher who listened to what I thought. I would, however, be open to discussion if the teacher felt it was important to have the singing, but ultimately as it would be my lesson and my learning I would have to be satisfied with it. I hope that doesn't make me an awful customer, I like to think of myself as a really nice piano student, but I would respectfully ask a teacher to stop doing something I didn't like.

Re. My teacher humming: It happens so very rarely (I'm quite conscientious about learning things), so I can't imagine it's doing all that much for my aural development. There seems little point in telling her not to hum when it's so infrequent and would just seem unnecessarily peevish. As I said, if it was more often I would say so. If she then said there was some good reason for it then I'd be perfectly happy to concede. 
_________________________
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#2191130 - 12/01/13 10:41 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
A rest is when you don't play so it's "nothing". But is is in fact a something - it is a space in time when you don't play. And what did I do? I found myself making an audio where I was saying "1, 2, 3, psss". It is a subliminal thing that I had internalized. This "psss" was "Here is something - silence is something that you insert." Our choirmaster would say "off" - "1, 2, 3, off, 1" Same thing. He didn't discuss it with us - he just did it.


A rest is a very important nothing, and I insist on silence for the full time period. That isn't easy with my groups; singers tend to be lazy with cutoffs, and my bell ringers have to take a positive action (damping) to terminate the note. My last visual image seemed to work. I called their attention to the fact that a quarter rest symbol looks very much like a dead seagull, and required them to observe a moment of silence in honor of the deceased.
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#2191133 - 12/01/13 10:53 PM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: TimR]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7579
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: TimR
I called their attention to the fact that a quarter rest symbol looks very much like a dead seagull, and required them to observe a moment of silence in honor of the deceased.

ha thumb

frown (for the seagull. grin)
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#2191364 - 12/02/13 11:16 AM Re: Do you sing in your piano teaching? [Re: Polyphonist]
Forstergirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Ontario
Very interesting discussion so far!

I'm recommending letting this beginner student some sense of being able to influence her learning environment. As others point out, adults arrive at the bench with established ideas of control. Sometimes there are battle scars. So not listening to students when something bothers them initially may inadvertently damage the trust that has to be built in order to create a really excellent learning forum.

Besides, she also sings in a choir, as I do. To be a good choir singer requires listening hard to the voices around you. When all you want to do in the beginning is get your fingers to turn the little black dots into sounds, being distracted by someone singing in the background would not be helpful initially. Later of course, yes, as I am sure she will make the connection herself that singing is the root of musicality.

My two bits.

Forstergirl

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