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#2268822 - 04/29/14 07:43 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Keystring: I'd wager that this belief is more of a guess.
Zrtf90 How dismissive!!

Why are students told to read and reread material several times? Because they can't or donít take it all in at once.

The belief I was responding to was the idea that students will only follow a small portion of an instruction and skip the rest. Therefore, if you tell a beginner to do advanced things with music, you won't encounter despair at what the beginner can't do yet, because the beginner is going to skip most of it anyway.

That is the belief I was addressing.

I did not mean to insult with "guess". You wrote that you do not teach music, so if you are saying what students do, then I'm thinking it is an educated guess rather than an observation. Maybe miscommunication.

I'm beginning to think that you're not saying what I think you are saying and there is massive confusion all round.

That begins with the first post that I see as advice to a beginner and includes things that have taken me time to learn to be able to do while getting coordination. But maybe it was not meant for a beginner.

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#2268943 - 04/30/14 01:25 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
So if I try to teach what she is teaching AND teach what *I* teach at the beginning, at the same time, it will result in an incoherent mess.

Originally Posted By: quote=zrtf90

But both ways are out there and both are valid. Pity the poor unthinking student who come across both.

"Unthinking" has nothing to do with "no experience". Basic technique has to be covered. Basic reading has to be covered. These things both need to be covered ASAP, but if a student is overwhelmed with too much to think about, it all comes crashing down.

Which one should come first? It's chicken/egg. I prefer to start with basic notation starting with the first lesson. But I still have to teach both.

My experience is that when both these things are taught AT THE SAME TIME, students end up having big problems with both.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
But you can' hit a whole series of notes with the same "force", as you put it, without thinking about it, because this is a very difficult thing to learn.


Originally Posted By: quote=zrtf90
Badly written. (How can forums allow this stuff to happen?) There's a difference between trying to make the notes sound like the music and trying to make them all even, regardless of the results either way.

I disagree. Attempting to play a series of notes absolutely evenly CAN be an important musical effect, because there are times when we want just that. Making a smooth decrescendo or crescendo is also important. You can get five notes even without listening. Anything that makes a young or beginning student listen carefully will be used in music.
Originally Posted By: quote=zrtf90

You want to go for even first.

No. I want people FIRST to master what is USUALLY less difficult for MOST people. Setting a dynamic level and keeping it steady is no easy thing, but it has fewer things to think about.
Originally Posted By: quote=zrtf90

I'd prefer to go with musical line and refine the touch so well that eventually I COULD play all the notes evenly.

Again, I am not talking about what I want for students to develop. I'm talking about a logical progression.

Even in the video you linked to the woman teaching begins playing only a few keys. She is teaching a uniform touch for those keys (or notes). She does not start out with the idea of varying the velocity with which the keys are pressed.

Do you disagree with this idea?

She also begins students with portamento or semi-staccato. I assume she does this because it is more difficult to transfer from one key to another, in a legato manner. This also matches my own observations.

Your own link demonstrates careful layering of concepts in the beginning.

That was my only point.
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#2268947 - 04/30/14 01:54 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
8 Octaves Offline

Gold Supporter until July 22 2015


Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 318
Loc: USA
While this thread got away from the OP's question a bit, it does underscore the serious benefits of having a teacher. Everyone is not the same and having a private teacher means what you learn is just for you and one person's medicine may be another person's poison.

But back to the OP, it is really hard to know when to put away a piece because you don't know what you don't know. Even after years of lessons, when I think I could guess when my teacher will say yes put it away, I am still wrong. Sometimes much sooner than I expect but often much longer than I would like. The best you can do is guess best you can without a teacher, and you'll probably guess wrong, but don't worry about something you have no control over.


Edited by BB Player (05/03/14 08:37 AM)
Edit Reason: Edited at OP's request
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La musica non Ť mai finita, solo abbandonata.
RCM Level 5 | Gurlitt: Sonatina in A minor, op. 214, no. 4

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#2269138 - 04/30/14 03:32 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Basic technique has to be covered. Basic reading has to be covered. These things both need to be covered ASAP, but if a student is overwhelmed with too much to think about, it all comes crashing down.

Which one should come first? It's chicken/egg. I prefer to start with basic notation starting with the first lesson. But I still have to teach both.
...
Do you disagree with this idea?
I disagree with the approach of doing one thing at a time to the exclusion of everything else. Do a little reading, a little technique and a little of something else, and put all the things in context. Talk about the dynamics and say that you won't be concerned about them until they have the notes down, maybe. But I wouldn't have them play for weeks before they get the accents in.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
But first you get control, and that is true on any instrument. Getting any beginning player to play with a good forte sound in one hand while playing piano in the other does not just happen.
...
Inexperienced teachers don't know how to guide a student through this stage. It is NOT easy for either the teacher or the student.
On the other hand it's not rocket science. I don't know anyone who's had a particular struggle.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
When you are teaching one thing, but mention other things, the minds of the learners are split. The concentrate less fully on the thing that needs to be learned now, worrying other things they are not ready for.
But how long do you leave them in state? The OP is on book 3A of his course. I would understand from that that he has done or is already above Books 1 and 2.

In John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano, Book One, the first four lessons cover phrasing, rhythm, accents, tonal shading and reviewing pieces. The book's been out there since before WWII and it's still being used.


Quote:
Alfred's Level 1, page 7, Piano Tones.

1. Play any white key with the 3rd finger of either hand, softly.

2. See how many times you can repeat the same key, making each tone a little louder.

Before you play any key, you should decide how soft or loud you want it to sound.
If it's so difficult why are these books so successful? If people aren't reading and remembering this stuff because (they don't take everything in at first) then why is it so bad that I should throw it out there as a reminder? Surely if they disregard it in such popular publications they'll disregard my little post. And if some can handle it in JT and Alfred's then why not put it out there again?

I'm not adding anything new. I'm not playing teacher or filling the world with brave new ideas from a background of no experience. It's all in print already in popular titles. These are not bad ideas. They are not difficult things to achieve. Many people have done it.
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#2269170 - 04/30/14 04:50 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

In John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano, Book One, the first four lessons cover phrasing, rhythm, accents, tonal shading and reviewing pieces. The book's been out there since before WWII and it's still being used.

The two worst transfers I've gotten in years came in with the Thompson series. We have had numerous discussions about in the Teacher's forum. It blocks reading.

The main problem is that there are so many finger numbers in the beginning that students follow only the hand positions and then puts a finger number on every note.

I never suggested teaching only one thing to the exclusion of all other things. Only making sure that each skill is nailed down well enough so that the next skill added does not interrupt the one before. I have no huge opinion about which skill to add when, only that as a teacher I know from experience, teaching for decades, that it is very important in building not to teach too many idea at that same time.

This needs to be adjusted to the age and talent of the student.

I'll leave it at that.
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#2269202 - 04/30/14 06:04 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm well aware of the flaws in the Thompson book but it still covers phrasing, accents, dynamics and reviewing material in the first four or five lessons, which was my point in mentioning it.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I never suggested teaching only one thing to the exclusion of all other things. Only making sure that each skill is nailed down well enough so that the next skill added does not interrupt the one before. I have no huge opinion about which skill to add when, only that as a teacher I know from experience, teaching for decades, that it is very important in building not to teach too many idea at that same time.

This needs to be adjusted to the age and talent of the student.
I go along with that completely. I didn't write anything that goes against that.
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#2269229 - 04/30/14 06:55 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Richard, the part some of us are talking about is the development of the beginner. I do believe that you are thinking of students at a more advanced level when (hopefully) they already have some experience and skills under their belt. As I understand it, when you taught people, it would not be long term development over months and years (not the developing part) and also not from scratch, which is the thing we're concerned with/

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Talk about the dynamics and say that you won't be concerned about them until they have the notes down, maybe. But I wouldn't have them play for weeks before they get the accents in.

We have to keep in mind that teaching approaches are very different between teachers, because it is too easy to extrapolate what we know, and think that is involved. Here, for example, you are imagining working on a piece and eventually bringing in the dynamics of the piece (for an early stage). But the approach may be that of bringing in a few basic skills in the first pieces, using the pieces as a tool for the skills, then leaving those pieces and going on to other pieces. In the next pieces those first skills are there, we add a new skills, and so on. I.e. the scenario you are painting may not take place at all.

In teaching long term, we have a map of the things we want to develop, and then we create a kind of time-line or matrix over the long term. When piece X is being taught, it is within that invisible framework. You are not teaching piece X for the sake of piece X, but rather bringing in skills 6 & 7, and developing piece X up to the skills the student has and is developing. You may even choose piece X because of the skills you can introduce. This is all part of pedagogy.

Meanwhile - jumping to method books: hopefully these kinds of ideas have been brought into the method book. But it is possible for a self-taught student to focus on the wrong things. That is why in the least, to the original question of when to move on, one answer would be - when you have absorbed the actual thing they are trying to teach in that chapter.

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#2269596 - 05/01/14 11:59 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: keystring
I'm beginning to think that you're not saying what I think you are saying and there is massive confusion all round.

That begins with the first post that I see as advice to a beginner and includes things that have taken me time to learn to be able to do while getting coordination. But maybe it was not meant for a beginner.
I am not saying what you think I am saying, it doesn't take time for everyone to learn these things and it was meant for a beginner.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Richard, the part some of us are talking about is the development of the beginner. I do believe that you are thinking of students at a more advanced level when (hopefully) they already have some experience and skills under their belt.
Yes, that is what I wrote. Here it is again...
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Once you get beyond the method books you should be coming across more music that once learnt, you'll want to keep it in your repertoire and perfect it some more...Are you bringing out the melody above the accompaniment?...
This is not a list of things that a beginner has to put in at the outset but a list of questions to ask yourself when you're beyond the method books. It is addressed to a beginner but not necessarily for immediate use.

Originally Posted By: keystring
As I understand it, when you taught people, it would not be...from scratch, which is the thing we're concerned with/
That is not what I am concerned with. I addressed the OP directly. The OP is on Book 3A (this is not from scratch). His question was...
Originally Posted By: alans
How do you know when you don't need to review something you've worked on for a while?
This is what I addressed.

My second post, "Polishing includes..." was in response to PianoStudent88,"Also: what does "polishing a piece" mean?" also not a player from scratch.

My third post, "Our approaches may differ here..." is where I believe the problems really began. You have used your own experience and the reported findings of others to make assumptions about the learning process.

1. Your assumptions are not universal laws and they may have blinded you to the other two out of ten cats.

2. You have misread much of what I have said. The misreading seems to have led you into jumping to incorrect conclusions about what I'm saying. There is a difference, for example, between saying that "string players may be" and "strings are".

3. You have also used faulty logic to mistake what I've said for something else entirely. I've listed examples for you in a PM that I hope will clarify everything better.

Originally Posted By: keystring
We have to keep in mind that teaching approaches are very different...
I do and I have pointed it out.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Here, for example, you are imagining working on a piece and eventually bringing in the dynamics of the piece (for an early stage).
This is not what I'm imagining, it is what you're reading into my posts.

Originally Posted By: keystring
In teaching long term, we have a map of the things we want to develop, and then we create a kind of time-line or matrix over the long term. When piece X is being taught, it is within that invisible framework. You are not teaching piece X for the sake of piece X, but rather bringing in skills 6 & 7, and developing piece X up to the skills the student has and is developing. You may even choose piece X because of the skills you can introduce. This is all part of pedagogy.
I am not using pieces to target skills. I am concerned with getting the skills required to play a particular piece. This is a more efficient and pragmatic approach for me, as in 'just in time' learning. While you may be covering skills that you might use later to produce music, I am covering all the skills that get to the music right now. By limiting the scope of the chosen pieces the number of skills needed are controlled. Easier music first (fewer skills), harder music later (more skills).

Originally Posted By: keystring
Meanwhile - jumping to method books: hopefully these kinds of ideas have been brought into the method book. But it is possible for a self-taught student to focus on the wrong things. That is why in the least, to the original question of when to move on, one answer would be - when you have absorbed the actual thing they are trying to teach in that chapter.
Yes, it's possible. But it's not set in stone. And this again assumes that the chapter is teaching specific skills but in all the method books I can find they target the music first. Get everything the music needs and you've covered all bases - and no more. That's an easier and more direct way to establish when you can move on. The right notes, accents, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, phrasing. Everything (that the student knows about). This obviates having to guess or divine what skills the lesson might be addressing.

I've shown examples from Alfred's and The John Thompson Modern Piano Course. Let's now look at John Thompson's Easiest Piano Course, Part One. This course starts with two pieces having one pitch, middle C. It begins playing with four middle C's as semibreves/whole notes, played by the thumbs only and counting four to each note, one for the right hand and one for the left. The third piece introduces minims/halves with both hands taking the middle C's two at a time. The fourth piece introduces crotchets/quarters taking four notes at a time.

The fifth piece introduces a second note, D, and mixes all three just learnt note values. There is a note to the teacher for this piece "From this point on, be sure to stress the importance of accenting the first note of each bar." This is five pieces in. Some may cover this in five minutes.

By starting with the thumb there is only a remote possibility of moving the thumb. Most normal people, in my experience, will use a still hand and move their arms not their thumbs, just as they'd press a doorbell or a lift button (though I still think that the middle finger would be better). And they can control dynamics easily with large arm, shoulder, back and chest muscles (that they use with precision every day) - and with weight from the body not finger strength.

I reiterate, the advice I'm giving is solid and from reputable sources that are already out there. I'm not introducing guesswork or making stuff up. I'm not playing at being a teacher. I'm not writing in an authoritarian manner but passing on reliable and well published advice.



Edited by zrtf90 (05/01/14 02:01 PM)
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#2270411 - 05/03/14 12:12 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
I tried to respond but I'm lost in too many of the points. At best I have to wait yo get to a normal computer.
(Edited)


Edited by keystring (05/03/14 02:11 AM)

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#2270720 - 05/03/14 09:46 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Quote:
My third post, "Our approaches may differ here..." is where I believe the problems really began. You have used your own experience and the reported findings of others to make assumptions about the learning process.

Ok, I looked back at that post.
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Originally Posted By: keystring
In the example of playing one voice louder than the other, this happens in any piece, even the simplest ones. But you wouldn't ask this of a student who is just learning to coordinate the basic playing of notes with a generally controlled touch.
Our approaches may differ here. I wouldn't ask a student to coordinate the basic playing until they've mastered the even more fundamental skill of playing with arm weight instead of their fingers (speed or strength).

How is there a problem here? You are saying the same thing that I'm saying. You are saying that if you were training a student from the beginning, you would first ensure that the student has the skill to do something, before asking the student to do it in music. You start with the sentence "Our approaches may different", and then follow it by saying the same thing I was, i.e. the same (not different).

Quote:
2. You have misread much of what I have said. The misreading seems to have led you into jumping to incorrect conclusions about what I'm saying.


I have asked about a lot of what you said, because to me it was not clear.

Quote:
There is a difference, for example, between saying that "string players may be" and "strings are".

The whole strings statement was confusing, not because of strings, but because of what "dynamics" might mean. You explained some posts later that you meant a way of playing legato on piano which takes into account the decay of sound, where you say one plays subsequent notes quieter or something like that. That was not clear the first time round. But why bring it up again, so late?

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#2270722 - 05/03/14 09:53 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Originally Posted By: keystring
In teaching long term, we have a map of the things we want to develop, and then we create a kind of time-line or matrix over the long term. When piece X is being taught, it is within that invisible framework. You are not teaching piece X for the sake of piece X, but rather bringing in skills 6 & 7, and developing piece X up to the skills the student has and is developing. You may even choose piece X because of the skills you can introduce. This is all part of pedagogy.
I am not using pieces to target skills. I am concerned with getting the skills required to play a particular piece.

Yes, when we work on individual pieces, we would do that. But my paragraph starts with "in teaching long term". That was the subject. So what is it that you do when teaching long term? (It was supposed to be sharing one concept and one aspect.)

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