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#929894 - 04/28/08 07:43 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My original post was not about the students who suffer from extreme nervousness and cannot play well at the lesson because of that. \:\(

No doubt there are students who actually play at home better. Please, read the post carefully!
 Quote:
I believe it might be true sometimes
My post was about the students lucking critical listening skills or having bad practice habits who are overly optimistic about their playing at home and who have only illusion or perception that it is actually happening.

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#929895 - 04/28/08 08:31 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Being aware and listening well as you practice are essential skills. I do have an adult student who has difficulty recognising problems in their playing. This of course makes it hard for them to improve between lessons. If you can't hear what's wrong then how can you fix it? I can tell they get frustrated because to them everything is fine when they play at home. In the lesson I am always finding fault so it appears that they play better at home. For this student it is an illusion. They are not lying to me as they honestly believe what they say.

I think part of the problem is that there are so many reasons why a student might play better at home or at least believe that to be the case. The way forward is to get to the bottom of what causes it. For those students who suffer from this problem I would urge you to talk to your teachers about it.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#929896 - 04/28/08 08:34 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
My post was about the students lucking critical listening skills or having bad practice habits who are overly optimistic about their playing at home and who have only illusion or perception that it is actually happening.
Thank you for explaining. So it sounds as though these students need to develop two things. They need to learn effective practicing, from what you are writing, and possibly find out at what point their practicing is ineffective, and what to do instead. Are they ignoring your instructions in that matter?

I imagine that you are developing their listening skills. When you work with them in lessons on their listening skills, do they seem to understand what you are teaching them? Is it a matter of them ignoring your instructions once they get home?

As a student I have found that learning how to practice, how to set goals and reach those goals in practicing was an important thing, and an automatic confidence-builder. It is amazing how many assumptions we can make in that area yet be convinced we are doing the right thing.

For those of us students who reacted, there is probably some insights for us as well.

Best wishes for your success with these students.

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#929897 - 04/28/08 09:39 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by balalaika:
My original post was not about the students who suffer from extreme nervousness and cannot play well at the lesson because of that. \:\(
[/b]
Thanks, balalaika. I'd just like to point out that performance anxiety and evaluation apprehension occurs in most adults, not just those who "suffer from extreme nervousness." The point most of us Adult Beginners posting on this thread were trying to make is that it affects us whenever we're playing for others, perhaps even more so when we're playing for a teacher whose approval matters a lot to us.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Almost all the adult students who have chipped in tell us:

1) It's not an illusion. They often underperform in the lesson due to nervous tension.

2) Their teacher does not understand or doesn't believe them.

3) This is something abnormal and doesn't seem to happen to anyone else.
[/b]
I agree with your first two points, but I'm not sure where you were getting the third... if anything, the posts of the Adult Beginners here and the thread on AB forum suggest a near-universality of the experience.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#929898 - 04/28/08 01:24 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I am sorry. :rolleyes: I was very busy with the adult students’ recital I had on Saturday so I was unable to update my posts. The recital went really very well. Some of the students got very excited and kept coming to the piano and playing whatever they could recall much past the end of the official performance part. \:D

I still have to read all the posts but first I would like to provide with some additional explanations.

There are in my view at least three different aspects of the problem.

Firstly, here is the illustration to my point. Please listen to my recent recording of the Etude by Chopin.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqvKsVwsFVI

I touched only one or two wrong notes here. So it is pretty flawless.
But it was my attempt number five of that evening. When I tried to record it first time, I was not even able to get through (I am not in a really good shape these days). :rolleyes:
If I perceive my attempt number five as a way how I play the piece at home, it would be a great disappointment when I try to play the piece for somebody else because I will not be able to deliver equal quality performance on the first try. On another hand, I believe I would play much better in this situation compare to my first attempt to record it at home. Playing for somebody else actually has a mobilizing effect, inspiring to play with more passion and flair.

Secondly, when the student plays the same wrong note I pointed out two-three lessons ago or makes the same error in the transition between the sections of the piece over and over again and tells me that it was perfect at home I tend to do not believe it. I think, most likely the student does not pay enough attention or tend to ignore the problems or perceives them as not that important – oh, it is just a slip or it is just a miss.

Thirdly, some students when encounter a problem while practicing at home tend to immediately start over and do not address the cause of the problem. No surprise, the mistake keeps re-surfacing at the lessons again and again. When I ask the students what actually happened, what was the mistake, they are often not able to recall what exactly happened and are just eager to immediately and mindlessly re-play the place. The question is how one can fix the problem if (s)he does not know what it is?

So the intend of my post is to ask fellow teachers to share their experiences in encouraging their students to stay more objective in the evaluation of their practicing at home.

My IPIBAH students are in their RCM grade 9th and 10th. They are not late beginners or something like that. Still as far as I know they have their bad practicing habits they are not ready to part with. They love music, play piano at home for many hours everyday but the advancement is really very-very limited. :rolleyes:

I like the suggestion from the “Practice Revolution” to keep the log when practicing a piece entering to the left column the number for each successful attempt and to the right column a number for the attempt with at least one mistake. This kind of statistics should easily evaluate the quality of the practice.

I will try to respond to the teacher’s posts later today. \:\) I have a regular computer related job during the day and I teach piano only part time. So for me there is always a time shortage.

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#929899 - 04/28/08 01:56 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Sorry, I still think it is an illusion.

For those of you that say it is not, record yourself playing a day before your lesson or the day of, before your lesson. Only one take mind you, just like at your lesson, and I will bet it will be the same level of performance. [/b]
Pianobuff, you seem to be saying that a one-take recording will prove that the student plays as badly at home as in lessons. But the student's behavior will probably change due to the pressure of wanting to perform well for the recording. I think your experiment would really only prove that the student plays badly when experiencing pressure/performance anxiety of any kind (whether from the presence of the teacher or from "Red Dot syndrome").
_________________________
Deborah
Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

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#929900 - 04/28/08 02:13 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
Balalaika, you have stated that your students do not practice properly, and that they do not possess listening skills. Because of these two lacks, they come in week after week making the same mistakes. It seems in that case that they must either apply effective practicing if they have learned what that entails and haven't bothered, or they must learn effective practicing. Whether or not IPIBAH is immaterial.

If they do not know how to practice effectively, then learning how to do so would seem to be paramount. There are specific things that one learns to do. Keeping track of how often a piece is played through without a mistake might give a general idea of proficiency, but would not be any kind of practicing strategy. Playing the music over from beginning to end five times as you wrote you did might given an indication of whether one is able to play the music through without a mistake and whether or not they have actually mastered it, since mistakes most of the time with only one flawless play-through would not indicate mastery. It tells you something, but it is not a practicing strategy.

To make clear what I'm talking about by example, specific effective practising tools that I know of might include the following:
- You make a practice plan. You isolate those areas that give you difficulty, and you work on those particular areas separatly, rather than playing the whole piece through from beginning to end. Your students have already been told where and what those errors are.
- You play the difficult section through slowly enough that it will be played correctly each time. You do not want to repeat errors. Then you gradualy increase speed while still remaining error free, and you do this over days. You may wish to log your minimimum and maximum tempo each day so that you can keep track. Eventually you blend this back into the piece as a whole.
- You isolate cause of error, if applicable. This can also happen in the lesson with a teacher. If notes are blurry, or incorrect, or uneven, is there an underlying cause? Awkward or inconsistent fingering? Something about posture, or the way the hand and arm is used, a tendency to tense up whenever playing a certain type of grouping? Physical action when shifting to differnet positions with thumb under?
- If there is an underlying cause, then you find the solution and practice the correct way of executing that technical aspect. You might turn that into an exercise, you pay special attention to it.
- You create a practice plan of how you are going to develop and practice the offending technical difficulty, and how you will develop it over the course of days and bring it into the piece. If one technical difficulty occurs in 5 separate areas of the piece, you might work on those 5 areas one after another as a group, always working on that technical difficulty.

These are examples of what I'm talking about. Playing the piece through end to end is not effective practicing. A strategic approach, including planning what goals will be aimed for before practicing on any particular day, how (strategy) these goals will be reached, and then executing that plan, rather than just starting at the beginning until you reach the end, is one way to achieve effective practicing.

Do these students currently know how to do this? Do they have specific ways? Are you guiding them in this and are they following that guidance?

With critical listening I know that there are specific approaches both in anticipating what you want to play and how it should sound, and then hearing your playing and whether it sounds they way you have visualized it should sound. One must know what to listen for.

Recording yourself, and then following the recording with score in hand, marking off areas that seem "off" would probably help in the critical listening area, and that could be followed by planning the next strategy for practising. What is it that my listening tells me must be fixed, and in what order will I begin working on these things? How should I approach them?

At this point, if I were a student, I would probably come to my next lesson with a host of questions and observations: I have had difficulty with the umptidit in bar 37, and the diddlediddle in bar 45 that you keep telling me to fix my thumb keeps cramping up - could you help me find ways of fixing it? What's going wrong here?

These are the thoughts that occur when you write that your students do not practice effectively and do not know how to listen criticially. I hope these random thoughts are not unwelcome.

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#929901 - 04/28/08 02:27 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
For those of you that say it is not, record yourself playing a day before your lesson or the day of, before your lesson. Only one take mind you, just like at your lesson, and I will bet it will be the same level of performance.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pianobuff, you seem to be saying that a one-take recording will prove that the student plays as badly at home as in lessons. But the student's behavior will probably change due to the pressure of wanting to perform well for the recording. I think your experiment would really only prove that the student plays badly when experiencing pressure/performance anxiety of any kind (whether from the presence of the teacher or from "Red Dot syndrome).
Actually, what is the point of this at all? Why ask the question of whether or not you play a piece well as a whole on any particular occasion? What purpose does this serve and what does it achieve? I'm sorry, it seems pointless. Could someone enlighten me.

Before I go to my next lesson, I don't care squat about how nicely I played at home, or now nicely I will play in my lesson. I want each lesson to be a vehicle of improvement that I will then take home into my practicing. I definitely do not want to waste my time on such an exercise unless someone can tell me what value it has.

The process of lesson to practice to lesson is an endless cyle that feeds one into the other. I my lesson I am taught a certain thing, and above all I must ensure that I have understood it correctly so that I will practice it correctly. That may be my teacher's job, but if I am a mature student at the gr. 8 or 9 level, it is also my responsibility. I then go home and I practice what I have been taught, and I correct what I have been told to correct. In the next lesson I then demonstrate the results of applying the instructions from the previous lesson, and we go from there.

As I get ready for my lesson the day before, or during warm-up the day of the lesson, I may run through everything. Typically there will be things that I want to ask about. I don't know if that is standard and whether teachers have room for such questions. I am anticipating the next lesson, running through my mind what I was supposed to have achieved that week, making sure that I have worked on what I was supposed to, gathering up anything that wasn't clear. This is where my focus is as I get ready for a lesson. Where does comparing how well I played as a whole during the week have any place whatsoever? I'm sorry, I'm lost.

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#929902 - 04/28/08 02:47 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_deb:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Sorry, I still think it is an illusion.

For those of you that say it is not, record yourself playing a day before your lesson or the day of, before your lesson. Only one take mind you, just like at your lesson, and I will bet it will be the same level of performance. [/b]
Pianobuff, you seem to be saying that a one-take recording will prove that the student plays as badly at home as in lessons. But the student's behavior will probably change due to the pressure of wanting to perform well for the recording. I think your experiment would really only prove that the student plays badly when experiencing pressure/performance anxiety of any kind (whether from the presence of the teacher or from "Red Dot syndrome). [/b]
Okay, then don't record yourself and just be your own critic, and ask yourself, how did I really play this piece?

This is what I did. And it dawned on me that I've been fooling myself into believing that I played it better at home.

This was years ago when I was in college struggling with this "syndrome".
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#929903 - 04/28/08 02:50 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
keystring,

You hit the nail on the head!

Thank you.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#929904 - 04/28/08 02:56 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
Oh, good. :-)

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#929905 - 04/28/08 03:14 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
glyptodont2
But no one has described the opposite-- playing WORSE at home -- or to put it differently, actually playing something BETTER at one's lesson.[/b]
It happens to me quite often. When I play for the inspiring audience, or when I play on a really good piano (better than I have at home), the pieces come up with fresh feeling, unexpected colors and flair. That’s why I like performing. You never know what you can discover!!! \:D

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#929906 - 04/28/08 03:28 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
 Quote:
Originally posted by saerra:

For me - I think it's about frustration. It feels like - how I play in my lesson is completely unpredictable. It feels like even if I practice for 40 hours in a week, I just don't know what's going to happen when I sit down in front of my teacher. I can have it memorized, and feel really good (not perfect - but at a point where I feel good about it and can hear it coming together) and it can still totally fall apart within the first couple measures.

This feeling of unpredictability causes me great stress, because honestly, it feels like no matter what I do in practice - no matter how much time I spend or how together the piece feels, I have no idea what's going to happen. So it feels like, even if things seem to be going well, I am on edge because disaster is just a breath away! It's VERY unnerving![/QB]
Bingo.
BingoBingoBingoBingo

I am a returning adult so I also deal with the frustration of it taking much longer to learn and correct things because I am sooooo rusty.

Also, although it was mentioned in the first page, I really can't stress enough the importance of asking about what kind of instrument the student practices on. When I was a kid the piano my parents bought was seriously detrimental to my progress, but they didn't know enough to realize it and my teacher...none of them...never asked.

I'm not blaming them it probably never occurred to them and I am sure teachers often run across situations where, even when parents are informed they are unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

In my case, there was no resistance on the keys whatsoever, so when I would get to my lesson and try to play "soft" like I practiced it, many of the notes would not sound at all. And the keyboard was so high relative to the bench that practicing proper technique, arm and hand position was just not possible.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#929907 - 04/28/08 03:41 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 Quote:

Monica K.
I'd just like to point out that performance anxiety and evaluation apprehension occurs in most adults, not just those who "suffer from extreme nervousness." The point most of us Adult Beginners posting on this thread were trying to make is that it affects us whenever we're playing for others, perhaps even more so when we're playing for a teacher whose approval matters a lot to us.

Chris H.
Almost all the adult students who have chipped in tell us:
1) It's not an illusion. They often underperform in the lesson due to nervous tension.
2) Their teacher does not understand or doesn't believe them.
3) This is something abnormal and doesn't seem to happen to anyone else. [/b]
I can imagine there are many adult beginners who have described psychological problems. It is not the case with my adult students. Most of them are well established professionals in other fields who take piano lessons for pleasure and know exactly what they want. For example, one of my students teaches computer science at the University.
The flow of the lessons with them could be described as following:
  • They come to the lesson.
  • They tell me what they accomplished last week.
  • They play their pieces.
  • They tell me what they want to do next week.
  • Then they I ask me whether it is OK with me while I am trying to squeeze some suggestions in between. \:D

Sometimes I am asking myself a question – who is the teacher here???

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#929908 - 04/28/08 03:55 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Pianobuff, Glaswegian, DragonPianoPlayer and Keystring!

Thank you very much for your insightful posts. They are very interesting, thoughtful and educating to read. \:\)

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#929909 - 04/28/08 03:58 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
happens to me quite often. When I play for the inspiring audience, or when I play on a really good piano (better than I have at home), the pieces come up with fresh feeling, unexpected colors and flair. That’s why I like performing. You never know what you can discover!!!
If I may say so, Balalaika, I watched your video, and the immediate impression is of someone who really loves to perform. I can't even put my finger on what it is - body language, flow - there seems to be this zest of enjoyment. \:\)

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#929910 - 04/28/08 04:30 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Glaswegian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/05/07
Posts: 278
Loc: Glasgow, Scotland
I am that sort of student. I am an IT professional, in a high pressure high stress job, and I am loving rediscovering my music from when I was a small boy playing keyboards and organs in public every week.

But I always harboured a desire to play piano, and to learn to play it "properly". I'm enjoying my journey, no matter how difficult or frustrating it can be at times. And I can't tell you how much I love owning a piano. It's probably the best posession I have ever owned in my life. I get goose bumps just noodling, playing basic chord progressions. I love it.

I know exactly what I want from my lessons, and now we have put to bed the "but you're not reading the music when you play" debate - my teacher is very old fashioned but I always had a good ear and a talent for near instant memorisation, I'm having lots of fun.

My first piano recital as an adult beginner pianist is at the end of next month, but I haven't decided what I'm playing yet. Plenty time yet for that.

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#929911 - 04/28/08 05:25 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Almost all the adult students who have chipped in tell us:

1) It's not an illusion. They often underperform in the lesson due to nervous tension.

2) Their teacher does not understand or doesn't believe them.

3) This is something abnormal and doesn't seem to happen to anyone else.
[/b]
I agree with your first two points, but I'm not sure where you were getting the third... if anything, the posts of the Adult Beginners here and the thread on AB forum suggest a near-universality of the experience. [/b]
Monica, what I meant by the third statement is that many adult students seem to think it only happens to them which is clearly not the case. Some say that out of all the adult students with their teacher they are the only one who gets nervous. Others believe that this problem only occurs with adults and not with children. That is also incorrect. As you say, almost everyone experiences the same anxiety so why is it that we all feel so bad about it?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#929912 - 04/28/08 05:34 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
piano_deb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 787
Loc: Memphis, TN
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_deb:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Sorry, I still think it is an illusion.

For those of you that say it is not, record yourself playing a day before your lesson or the day of, before your lesson. Only one take mind you, just like at your lesson, and I will bet it will be the same level of performance. [/b]
Pianobuff, you seem to be saying that a one-take recording will prove that the student plays as badly at home as in lessons. But the student's behavior will probably change due to the pressure of wanting to perform well for the recording. I think your experiment would really only prove that the student plays badly when experiencing pressure/performance anxiety of any kind (whether from the presence of the teacher or from "Red Dot syndrome). [/b]
Okay, then don't record yourself and just be your own critic, and ask yourself, how did I really play this piece?

This is what I did. And it dawned on me that I've been fooling myself into believing that I played it better at home.

This was years ago when I was in college struggling with this "syndrome". [/b]
Pianobuff, it sounds like you had a real “aha! moment” in your earlier piano studies. I certainly welcome those sorts of mental/emotional leaps in my life, and believe that great growth and advances can come from them. So congratulations on having come to a personal realization that helped you become a better pianist. I’m glad to hear of it.

But, I have to ask you: How would you feel if I insisted, instead, that that significant moment in your life, that feeling/belief/experience wasn't real? What if I told you it was really all in your mind? What if I kept telling you to do what I do in my piano studies because my way is valid and yours is not? I doubt very much that you would like to have your unique personal experiences devalued in such a way. And it would be wrong of me to do that.

Yet that is what you, and one or two others here, are doing by repeatedly calling the IPIBAH syndrome (for lack of a better term) an “illusion.” I’m offended by it, as are other posters in this forum and in the ABF.

FYI, I’ve recorded myself several times recently while practicing a piece I was going to be playing publicly. I did so to figure out how to get a decent recording, to hear my performance with an unbiased an ear as possible, and to help deal with performance anxiety. Certainly, I think that a session with the red dot can help in a lot of ways. I just don't think it's the solution/panacea/proof you keep declaring it to be.
_________________________
Deborah
Charles Walter 1500
Happiness is a shiny red piano.

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#929913 - 04/28/08 05:54 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Have you read all of this thread? All of my posts?

If you are happy where you are right now with your feeling of calmness at your lessons and knowing where you're at in your mind when it comes to your music and are happy with your progress and are not annoying your teacher (or yourself) by saying, "I played it better at home" then by all means ignore every post I wrote.

The fact that you are taking it offensively says a lot.

My posts are to help and should not be taken offensively.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#929914 - 04/28/08 06:50 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
Pianobuff, I believe there is misunderstanding because of terminology. I ran into this language last year and it confused me for months regardless of how much I tried to understand. "illusion, comfort zone, honesty" etc. I'm also seeing it with a translator who took psychology. In music, it's practically a code for important factors. The problem is that those not accustomed to that vocabulary, or familiar with the concepts, will see in your words something different than you intend.

The fact that Deborah is taking it offensively says mainly that Deborah doesn't understand what you are talking about, and is understanding your words conventionally. People harbouring illusions are conventionally seen as maladjusted human beings who cannot live a normal life. Game playing is something that abusive individuals and small children do. Etc. Your words mean none of these things but appear to to anyone not in the loop.

A communication is only effective if understood, and there must be understanding on both sides, with both sides understood by each other. I believe that is what is happening here. Thank you both Chris ans Pianobuff for sharing your thoughts.

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#929915 - 04/28/08 07:23 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I hope you are correct keystring and thank you for your post. By the way I think you meant piano_deb, not Chris. But I understand.

I am starting to think that a lot of the student posters here really enjoy being able to say, IPBAH. They also feel teachers should completely understand and do what they can to believe them and support them.

But is this a good thing for a teacher to do? Is this really the best thing for the student?

That is, by reinforcing their feelings that they can "play it better at home", which I still don't believe is true. Won't this just facilitate their "illusion." Sorry I had to say the word, but it does fit. I don't mean that they are not honest on purpose, by any means, nor do I think they are mal-adjusted people. They just need a little bit of eye-opening which can really help.

Unless they don't want to be helped and enjoy being able to say IPBAH. Which is their choice.

Also, we need to remember, this is a Teachers Forum. The OP was asking teachers if they experienced this and what do they do to help remedy the problem, which is what I addressed and probably should have kept it at that instead of trying to help students that have these tendencies of saying IPBAH.
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#929916 - 04/28/08 07:26 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
You are right, Pianobuff, on the last point, and I, too, was guilty of deviating somewhere in the middle. This is not an adult learner problem as far as the OP is concerned. In fact, his adult students seem to be taking off with him running to keep pace from what he's saying - something must be going right. ;-)

I've corrected "Chris" to say "Deborah"

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#929917 - 04/28/08 09:05 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
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Sorry to delete.

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#929918 - 04/28/08 10:23 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Late Beginner Offline
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Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi Balalaika,

Sorry that this is so long, but it’s meant to helpfully answer your original question. It’s also been interesting to work through my own thoughts and motivations for studying.

Good to hear your further explanations of your situation. I did notice your initial comment of "I believe it might be true sometimes", and included it in my first reply above. As I said, I didn't believe that any teacher could not know that performance nerves is a genuine issue.

Clearly, some of your comments did touch a raw nerve with many students here though. They also provoked a long thread in the Adult Beginner section, some of it bagging your perceived attitude. Perhaps you just forgot that many students also read the threads in this section and might feel differently about what were meant to be wry comments from teacher to teacher.

I am currently an adult student on piano. However, I've taught other subjects formally, and guitar informally. So I've been on both sides of the fence.

I hope that I can add some useful comments without fanning any more flames.


 Quote:
Originally posted by balalaika:
Recently I found myself struggling with quite a few students that have “playing better at home” illusion.

They come to the lesson unprepared, play with stops and mistakes, but claim they can play perfect at their home. So in their view the problem is that they just cannot do it well for me. :rolleyes:

I believe it might be true sometimes but in most cases it is just an illusion. Usually, I ask these kind of the students to make a recording of their practice at home to prove their notion. Of course they never did but they stick to their guns.
[/b]
I'm guessing that you're probably a much better teacher than that first post suggested. To a student the way you put that made you sound dismissive and impatient with your students. The flaming symbol suggests anger and frustration with them, and the eye rolling icon is seen to be dismissing the student's point of view.

You stated that they come to lessons unprepared, have delusions about their ability, and you apparently then challenge them to prove otherwise by making recordings. Understandably, this raised a few hackles. Apparently, to some students, this gave the impression that you are exactly the sort of teacher that they would avoid. \:\(



Assuming, that in fact you are a good teacher and do want genuine feedback, here's my take on it:


  • 1. IPIBAH:

    Unless a student is clearly lying about having done any work at all then "I played it better at home" is a genuine expression of how a student feels, and should be respected as such. I'm sure that all teachers, and almost all students know that this doesn't mean they're perfect. It simply means that they've done better performances than they are currently able to display. Most likely, if you were able to "run the tapes" you'd both find that there was not a single great version, but a number that got close in different ways, and which the student thinks all add up to a win. ;\)

    The point is though, that it's not necessary to challenge them on this. You know it, and in all probability they do too. In the eyes of most students, a good teacher would acknowledge that they have made genuine progress at home, and find friendly and supportive ways of suggesting further study. Most students want heavy on the positive support, and light on the criticism.

    It's common to point out that a hobby player can be satisfied with an occasional good rendition (and indeed many never get further than that) but that good players always take it further. The saying ":Amateurs practice a piece until they can get it right once, Pros practice until they can't ever get it wrong." comes to mind. Perhaps, tell them they have the makings of a good player, and it will be worth their while to toughen up their skills until they’re a little more bullet-proof. Then give them some strategies to do that. However, most won’t ever be pros, and will be satisfied with less than perfection. Unless they can attract only elite students who deliberately want a tough work-out at a high standard then the teaching life could entail a lot of frustration for teachers who have trouble accepting students with different goals than their own.


    2. Illusions:

    On many different levels, music itself is about illusions. Magician and Musician are only two letters apart. Music can paint pictures, tell stories and evoke emotions using only sound. A group of musicians can create the illusion that they are speaking with one mighty voice, which is greater than the sum of its parts. And the humblest of players will nurse dreams of playing above their level. To a student, these dreams are precious and to be treasured. They’re a part of what drives you onwards. A teacher should take care not treat them as delusions to be shattered, but dreams (illusions if you like) to be carefully shaped and developed.

    Sadly, the majority of people who begin studying an instrument end up dropping out. The major reason is that their motivation dries up. I believe that most of us harbour the notion that we can, could, and sometimes do, play a good deal better than we are usually capable of. It’s that gap between the daily stumbles and the flashes where dreams and reality briefly collide that we want the teacher to not only believe in, but help us reach on a more regular basis. Try to burnish the bubble, rather than bursting it.

    I’ve also taught mathematics and computer related subjects. These are fundamentally different in character to music. If your computer code isn’t 100% accurate it often won’t run properly. For most practical purposes, a maths calculation that is ‘not that far off being right’ might as well be completely wrong. But most music students (especially adults) are not really aiming to be musical Mathematicians. They dream of being musical Magicians. So a different approach is required. Try and take off your IT hat and put on the wizard’s robe for the lessons. A performance that simply wouldn’t run if it was a computer program can still feel like magic to a beginner kid (or adult) and light us up with enjoyment.


    3. Teacher/Student Roles:

    Teachers are paid to support their students not discourage them by being over critical. The students main role is to meet their own learning goals, rather than to flatter or please the teacher (although it's nice when they do. \:D ) It's a two way street when it comes to understanding each other's position, but as the paid professional the teacher needs to shoulder the greater responsibility of understanding of the many different styles and capabilities of their students. There’s a fine line between accepting mediocrity and expecting unrealistically high standards for each individual. Try to coax us across it with enthusiasm rather that poking us along with the stick of disapproval. I believe that any teacher's Number 1 priority is to be a Motivator. I can find most information for free in the library or on the internet. It's that blend of knowledge and enthusiastic motivation that I most hope to get from a teacher. \:\)


Good luck with it all,

Chris
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#929919 - 04/29/08 08:51 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Tony.S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/06
Posts: 211
Loc: Alberta
I stongly believe in the illusion that some teachers think it is an issusion that thier students think they play better at home. ;\)
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#929920 - 04/29/08 09:53 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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I believe that the question of whether one played better at home is irrelevant. The question of whether a student is right that he played better at home is also irrelevant. The question should be what his strengths and weaknesses are right now, during the lesson, and what needs to be worked on. The only relevance and importance would be if IPIBAH was indicative of a problem which needs to be addressed.

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#929921 - 04/29/08 09:54 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Oxfords Gal Offline
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Registered: 11/21/06
Posts: 1553
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
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#929922 - 04/29/08 09:58 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
dannylux Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 1820
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I believe that the question of whether one played better at home is irrelevant. The question of whether a student is right that he played better at home is also irrelevant.[/b]
What complete and utter nonsense.

The Truth is never irrelevant.


Mel
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#929923 - 04/29/08 10:05 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Canada
Dannylux, do you understand what I am trying to say, and in what context, before reacting? You have lifted one quote without the entire message.

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