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#929924 - 04/29/08 10:11 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Mistaya Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/06
Posts: 185
Loc: Alberta
Oh, Oxford's Gal,
thank you so much for that - I'd been feeling utterly depressed about this - wondering if my teacher is secretly sighing to herself and bemoaning my glacial progess and delusions of getting anywhere - this had me laughing right out and put the whole shebang into perspective.
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#929925 - 04/29/08 10:24 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11874
Loc: Canada
To explain more completely.

A given scenario which can exist and has existed: A student believes that lessons consist of performing a complete piece as a complete piece, as in a performance, in front of the teacher. The teacher is to judge that performance. There is also an unspoken belief that either one "can" or "cannot", a magical sense of having talent or not having talent, and if that talent, evidenced by "can", is not present, one is doomed to failure. All of this is tied up in the need to play well, and for the teacher to be assured that sometimes one can indeed play well - otherwise the present "not so good" means lack of ability and lack of talent. There is a belief that the playing has to be good, and the teacher expects it to be good.

In the above scenario, all of that is tied up in IPIBAH, and those attitudes engender anxiety and make it difficult to play well in front of the teacher. Whether or not the student played better at home is less important than why the student thinks it is important to say so. The attitudes and perceptions are a block and as such they are what should be addressed and resolved. The question of IPEBAH is relatively unimportant.

From another aspect, lessons and practicing are about improving one's skills and playing ability. There are things that one needs to be working on, individual elements rather than the goodness of the piece as a whole, which is a result of such work. It is better to be working on what needs to be working on, then spending time considering how well one plays as a whole at any one particular time. It is the wrong question. It doesn't lead anywhere or accomplish anything. This is not where effort and energy should be going.

This is what I meant be irrelevance. By all means, find out if you play better at home, especially it will bring something better in its wake. But generally speaking, is this where you want to be directing your efforts?

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#929926 - 04/29/08 10:37 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11874
Loc: Canada
(a post that landed in the wrong thread)

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#929927 - 04/29/08 11:25 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
I agree with pianobuff as a whole, and would like to express my views on the point.

Please mind this is not meant to be offensive or belittling to anyone, just indicative of what I personally think is the best approach to the problem.

1) If I were a teacher and one would say to me IPIBAH, I would answer BYPIWH (but you played it worse here ;\) ). Every time he gives the statement, I would give the answer.
That's the fact and that's what must be addressed; the duty of the teacher is not to provide a balm , or an explanation, or a "justification" of sort for the shortcomings of the pupil, but to help him to look at the problem straight in the eye, and overcome it.

For this reason, to leave the room so that the pupil can play more relaxed in my eyes does not address the problem and on the contrary, it reinforces it.

2) If a student has the impression that the teacher thinks he does not practice enough, the communication with the teacher must be improved. An honest confession, made once with the attitude of he who will be believed, that one does not equal the level of performance reached at home should be the starting point for finding a way of improving. If there is no trust the communication will not work anyway.

3) In my personal experience, I often have the impression that I am at a certain level of preparation, say "6 out of 10".
I really believe this based on the sum of all the times I play the piece, which creates a "general impression", a certain "confidence level".

But when I really make a simulation and really really imagine that *I only have that one go* (that I am recording, or playing for a teacher, or for an audience) then things generally change, and not for the better.

That's the fact in my experience, and I think that's what pianobuff called "illusion", without any negative connotation. It's just that you can only know how you perform the real thing when you are in the real situation, what happens before is not how you play it, merely how you rehearse it.

4) Always in my personal experience, things that I could barely do two months ago and required all of my attention I can now play whilst intensely thinking what I want to eat for dinner. That's a fact completely detached from any level of emotional involvement I might have.

5) So the IPIBAH is just half of the story: there will, there MUST be a level at which you can play that piece good even (forcing a bit but you get the drift) crippled by fear, about to sneer, with an insect in your eye, contemplating a deep problem or in front of an execution squad and playing for dear life.... ;\) and that's the task.. ;\)

6) IMHO To understand this, and to practice in conformity to this, *overcomes the problem to a great extent*, because it gives one the very comfortable feeling that *it is possible to reach a level at which not even the teacher will scare one*, that *emotions play a role only up to a certain level of proficiency* .

Work another three months on the piece and you will discover that you will play a lot better in front of the teacher in 3 months time than at home three months before, although it's likely that you will always play better at home today than in front of the teacher tomorrow. Then work to play even better...

7) I am getting a bit new-agey here, but I would never tell the teacher "IPIBAH", because this creates a psychological barrier.
If you are afraid to underperform in front of the teacher, you will; if you affirm whatever kind of failure, failure is what you will reap; if you affirm a problem, you interiorise it, you make it yours. Every time you pronounce that phrase, you *reinforce the feeling within you that it is so*, and as a consequence *it will be so*.

8) I suggest everyone to buy books like "the inner game of music" and "mind over matter", and ask myself for suggestions about other books you have found useful and that I might read. Again, it is not about explaining that something happens. It's about not letting it happen anymore.

9) "Fear before a performance is the price I must pay for the wonderful life I lead". So, or about so, Arthur Rubinstein. So, whatever problem you have, you are in very good company and you can still become as good as Rubinstein... \:\)
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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#929928 - 04/29/08 12:52 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
When I was a kid, I played in recitals, competitions, master classes regularly. It was no difference to me if I played alone for my ears, in front of 700 people, or 3 competition judges sitting less than 10 ft away. I often played better outside because the piano I had was crappy.

After many years of not playing, and since the return, I've had very little public performance. Now when I sense someone else is listening or even play just for the Zoom recorder, I get quite nervous and it's very difficult for the brain to control the fingers; I make tons of errors that I don't normally make. It's now taking me 10-20 times longer to learn and prepare something ready for performance because I have to rely much on fingers memory.

In my opinion, "playing better at home" is very real.

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#929929 - 04/29/08 01:07 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
OK, here is one question that has not been answered on this thread yet.

From the perspective of the student, errors in lessons that are very frustrating are usually things we either fixed (or thought we fixed) at home, or mistakes we never made before because, for whatever reason, we're 'thrown' by playing it for the teacher.

From the perspective of the teacher...I'm guessing maybe those errors aren't what you're talking about...that there are other things in the playing (or a general gradual improvement that the student is not focusing on or even aware of) that tell you whether or not a student has been practicing.

So, can you tell when a student has practiced even when there are mistakes that frustrate the crap out of the student??

Since I'm a returning student I'm aware that those glitches don't mean that a teacher considers the piece "ruined" for the purpose of the lesson...if there are other good things going on.

I suspect not all (adult) students realize that.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#929930 - 04/29/08 01:34 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 Mistaya:
Oh, Oxford's Gal,
thank you so much for that - I'd been feeling utterly depressed about this - wondering if my teacher is secretly sighing to herself and bemoaning my glacial progess and delusions of getting anywhere - this had me laughing right out and put the whole shebang into perspective. [/b]
This is not how I feel when someone says IPIBAH ("secretly sighing to myself and bemoaning my glacial progress.")

I think most of the students here are missing the point completely.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#929931 - 04/29/08 01:39 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 ProdigalPianist:
OK, here is one question that has not been answered on this thread yet.

From the perspective of the student, errors in lessons that are very frustrating are usually things we either fixed (or thought we fixed) at home, or mistakes we never made before because, for whatever reason, we're 'thrown' by playing it for the teacher.

From the perspective of the teacher...I'm guessing maybe those errors aren't what you're talking about...that there are other things in the playing (or a general gradual improvement that the student is not focusing on or even aware of) that tell you whether or not a student has been practicing.

So, can you tell when a student has practiced even when there are mistakes that frustrate the crap out of the student??

Since I'm a returning student I'm aware that those glitches don't mean that a teacher considers the piece "ruined" for the purpose of the lesson...if there are other good things going on.

I suspect not all (adult) students realize that. [/b]
Absolutely! When I hear IPIBAH, the thought of it being an excuse for not practicing does not even enter my mind.

I cannot speak for the original poster. But this is definately how I think.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#929932 - 04/29/08 01:47 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11874
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Absolutely! When I hear IPIBAH, the thought of it being an excuse for not practicing does not even enter my mind.

I cannot speak for the original poster. But this is definately how I think.
That is very good to read , Pianobuff. \:\)

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#929933 - 04/29/08 02:28 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 Innominato:
I agree with pianobuff as a whole, and would like to express my views on the point.

Please mind this is not meant to be offensive or belittling to anyone, just indicative of what I personally think is the best approach to the problem.

1) If I were a teacher and one would say to me IPIBAH, I would answer BYPIWH (but you played it worse here ;\) ). Every time he gives the statement, I would give the answer.
That's the fact and that's what must be addressed; the duty of the teacher is not to provide a balm , or an explanation, or a "justification" of sort for the shortcomings of the pupil, but to help him to look at the problem straight in the eye, and overcome it.

For this reason, to leave the room so that the pupil can play more relaxed in my eyes does not address the problem and on the contrary, it reinforces it.

2) If a student has the impression that the teacher thinks he does not practice enough, the communication with the teacher must be improved. An honest confession, made once with the attitude of he who will be believed, that one does not equal the level of performance reached at home should be the starting point for finding a way of improving. If there is no trust the communication will not work anyway.

3) In my personal experience, I often have the impression that I am at a certain level of preparation, say "6 out of 10".
I really believe this based on the sum of all the times I play the piece, which creates a "general impression", a certain "confidence level".

But when I really make a simulation and really really imagine that *I only have that one go* (that I am recording, or playing for a teacher, or for an audience) then things generally change, and not for the better.

That's the fact in my experience, and I think that's what pianobuff called "illusion", without any negative connotation. It's just that you can only know how you perform the real thing when you are in the real situation, what happens before is not how you play it, merely how you rehearse it.

4) Always in my personal experience, things that I could barely do two months ago and required all of my attention I can now play whilst intensely thinking what I want to eat for dinner. That's a fact completely detached from any level of emotional involvement I might have.

5) So the IPIBAH is just half of the story: there will, there MUST be a level at which you can play that piece good even (forcing a bit but you get the drift) crippled by fear, about to sneer, with an insect in your eye, contemplating a deep problem or in front of an execution squad and playing for dear life.... ;\) and that's the task.. ;\)

6) IMHO To understand this, and to practice in conformity to this, *overcomes the problem to a great extent*, because it gives one the very comfortable feeling that *it is possible to reach a level at which not even the teacher will scare one*, that *emotions play a role only up to a certain level of proficiency* .

Work another three months on the piece and you will discover that you will play a lot better in front of the teacher in 3 months time than at home three months before, although it's likely that you will always play better at home today than in front of the teacher tomorrow. Then work to play even better...

7) I am getting a bit new-agey here, but I would never tell the teacher "IPIBAH", because this creates a psychological barrier.
If you are afraid to underperform in front of the teacher, you will; if you affirm whatever kind of failure, failure is what you will reap; if you affirm a problem, you interiorise it, you make it yours. Every time you pronounce that phrase, you *reinforce the feeling within you that it is so*, and as a consequence *it will be so*.

8) I suggest everyone to buy books like "the inner game of music" and "mind over matter", and ask myself for suggestions about other books you have found useful and that I might read. Again, it is not about explaining that something happens. It's about not letting it happen anymore.

9) "Fear before a performance is the price I must pay for the wonderful life I lead". So, or about so, Arthur Rubinstein. So, whatever problem you have, you are in very good company and you can still become as good as Rubinstein... \:\) [/b]
Just read your post Innominato.

Thank you for your time writing such a great post. It clearly states my feelings on the subject.

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

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#929934 - 04/29/08 02:46 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Coolkid70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 378
Loc: Irvine, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by ProdigalPianist:
OK, here is one question that has not been answered on this thread yet.

From the perspective of the student, errors in lessons that are very frustrating are usually things we either fixed (or thought we fixed) at home, or mistakes we never made before because, for whatever reason, we're 'thrown' by playing it for the teacher.

From the perspective of the teacher...I'm guessing maybe those errors aren't what you're talking about...that there are other things in the playing (or a general gradual improvement that the student is not focusing on or even aware of) that tell you whether or not a student has been practicing.

So, can you tell when a student has practiced even when there are mistakes that frustrate the crap out of the student??

Since I'm a returning student I'm aware that those glitches don't mean that a teacher considers the piece "ruined" for the purpose of the lesson...if there are other good things going on.

I suspect not all (adult) students realize that. [/b]
Those who have read some of my other posts probably realise that I make a lot of relations back to mathematics. I wanted to do that here, with respect to your post, ProdigalPianist.

I do a lot of tutoring work in math for lower-division undergraduate classes. I rarely really spend much time looking at arithmetic, which is a minor detail. I prefer going after bigger ideas, because they are much more important. So, if I look at a student's work, and he perhaps got a few problems wrong, I check it to see what was going on. It is then that I can tell whether that student really understood what he was talking about.

I think it should be the same for piano. If you maybe make some little mistakes, your teacher should have the experience to look past those and see if you understood the main concepts of the piece you were working on.

EDIT:

I just wanted to add a brief disclaimer that I am not a piano teacher. So my comments are open for debate.
_________________________
Kawai K-3 (2008)

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#929935 - 04/29/08 03:10 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11874
Loc: Canada
Going a little bit toward both of the last two posts - addressing the cause is paramount. That is why I mentioned the perception of required talent and perfection, because if that is the cause of difficulty, that is what has to be addressed.

Here is a scenario that can happen: Student is struggling to get a piece right, and a particular passage in that piece. Teacher tells student to have round fingers, or to count, or whatever. Student sort of hears that, but those are trivial matters and he has more difficult things to deal with - like this whole blasted piece, and the hard passage.

So student keeps working on the piece, the hard passage, still struggles week after week. Teacher, annoyingly, doesn't seem to pay much attention to the actual problems. Is still waffling on about the round hand or counting to three. Yes, right, I'll get to counting to three or having a round hand - that's simple enough - but why am I not getting help with this difficult passage?

All this time, however, the difficult passage has a hidden cause. There is a solution to this hiddne cause: the round fingers, or the counting to three. There seems to be no direct link between the difficulty - the student is concentrating on something different that is wrong; yet that's the solution. It may be the solution because counting is directly related to teh problem. It may also be a solution because working on one isolated aspect such as counting may bring in a different kind of concentration and awareness which will help the ability to play. It may be that the passage has many aspects, the student is trying to battle them all at once, and by focussing on the piddly thing, his experience will change.

So student is frustrated that the teacher isn't working more with the problem at hand: the difficult passage, and frustrated that the teacher keeps insisting on counting and round fingers. But in fact the solution to the difficult passage resides in focusing on something different, namely counting and round fingers.

This is a dynamic of the interaction that can occur between teacher and student. In our hypothetical scenario, the student may eventually concentrate on the piddly task of counting, and his dificult passage may improve - he might never get the connection. Or if he does, he will have discovered that working on something that does not seem to be directly related to the problem may in fact be the solution to the problem.

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#929936 - 04/30/08 11:51 AM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
Ashdyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 83
Loc: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
i deal with that all the time! lol. like you said, sometimes i don't htink it's an illusion, i know as a child and even now as an adult i CAN play better at home simply because there is no pressure, plus i'm used to my own piano.

your recording idea is head on. that's what i try and get my students to do. of course many of them don't... but one did, and her claims were true! she really was better at home, lol.

Most of my students are younger so i have to delicately approach the subject, but i just say that i totally understand and believe them, and tell them what i just said about less stress and getting used to their own piano, but i say imagine if you practiced even more, then you wouldn't make mistakes anywhere, you could play this in your sleep on a trombone it you wanted! (that always gets a giggle)

good luck!
_________________________
Love is a friendship set to music.

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#929937 - 04/30/08 01:11 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
balalaika - You asked: "I am wondering whether other teachers also have some “playing better at home” students and how they deal with the issue."

My wife & I took an extended get-away weekend, one in which I never turned the computer on. I was stunned to see over 100 reponses to your question! Great topic!

Yes, I hear this too, from time to time. But of course, we know that when a student thinks they are playing it better at home, it's more often a case of not being super self critical which they are when they are playing in front of the teacher. This really isn't about where they played the piece better, but how to improve their playing overall.

When I suspect a student may be about to offer the IPIBAH defense, I often disarm them by saying, "You probalby played that better at home, but don't worry about it. Let's get to work and see what we can do to make it sound better here." Of course, we can generally tell when practice has been minimal, or when it's be sufficient.

I want my students to break down the piece into small segments and discover the probems, then work out the difficulties. Most students, I would guess, use the "play it through, then play it through again, but try to make it better" approach, which as we all know, is positively the slowest approach to learning the music.

I have the student play the piece through a second time, but ask them to note areas needing improvement. Typically, they can recall only 3 or 4 deficiencies, rather than the dozens of tweaks needed to make it truly their own. So we start of with perhaps the closing of the piece, and play it through. Well, there were problems here, here and here. Let's work them out, hands alone if necessary. Good, now lets back up a phrase and do the same again.

Thirty minutes later, the piece is beginning to really sound like something, 1000% better than when they first played it for me, and then I suggest that if they can force themselves to practice this way at home, they will be simply amazed at their weekly progress.

Of course, there are things we as teachers can do to help the student at the lesson. I always start with technique, first scales, then etudes. So we don't even get to the first piece until 20 - 25 minutes into the lesson. By then, the student is well warmed up, has made adjustments to playing the studio instruments, nerves have calmed down, etc. It's one of my many rationales why older students, including adults, should be taking hour or longer lessons.

John
_________________________
"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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#929938 - 04/30/08 06:27 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
John, is your name really John? You sound so much like my teacher. I've heard some of the exact same words... How many times have I heard. "OK. that was good. Now start again and I'll stop you along the way...."
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#929939 - 04/30/08 06:54 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, my name is really John! Middle name Edward. Named after my grandfathers. Quaint custom of yore!
_________________________
"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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#929940 - 04/30/08 08:56 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
 Quote:
When I suspect a student may be about to offer the IPIBAH defense, I often disarm them by saying, "You probalby played that better at home, but don't worry about it. Let's get to work and see what we can do to make it sound better here." Of course, we can generally tell when practice has been minimal, or when it's be sufficient.
[/QB]
You know - as an adult student, if you said that to me - it would be *wonderful*! I think it would really help me "reframe" from my stressed out, "why can't I play this perfectly I must really suck!" mindset to being in "work mode" and feeling like there's definitely not an expectation of "perfection". I think it's a great thing to say!

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#929941 - 04/30/08 10:52 PM Re: "Playing at home better" illusion
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks. BTW, even if we're not all great communicators, my guess is that 99% of all teachers really have their students' progress at heart!
_________________________
"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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