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#940664 - 06/23/08 05:54 PM Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Some friends at school are putting together a program for a local community theater and asked me if I would fill in for their pianist. Apparently she has some family thing and cannot be there for some performances. I have not seen the full program but it does not sound too challenging. The piano parts are in the beginning (Beethoven moonlight and a Mozart piece (a mvt from K547?) were planned but apparently I can substitute another piece if I want to) and some accompaniment to one song.. The program itself is a mix of "high school talents" and includes a short act from a piece of theater and some instrumentalists. This is a small low key event with money raised for a local youth group.
I am tempted to say yes because I have never before played in teh absence of my teacher and though it sounds weird, I almost want to see how I do BEFORE the teacher's recital which terrorizes me still (end of august now).. The question is do you think he would want to know that I am interested / want to do this?
I have resumed lessons as I said in the monster thread. My first "comeback" lesson was today and it went for almost 2 hours. It was painful and productive. But I had worse expectations.. so not too bad I guess. I will be back on Thursday with a lot to do in the interim.
I obviously do not want to rock the boat again and would rather "lay low" for a while so I am tempted not to say anything.. I know none of you can read the mind of a person you don't know, but some of the teachers-and others- here were right on, when predicting his responses.. I guess my real question is how bad would it be if I don't involve him and he finds out?
Thanks again

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#940665 - 06/23/08 06:00 PM Re: Question
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
Well, I didn't read the "monster" thread, and judging by the size of it, I probably won't - so I can't really comment as to what your teacher may think or if you should mention it to him/her.

But I personally think this sounds like a fantastic opportunity for you. It sounds like the pieces involved are not too difficult, and the event is fairly "low-key", so it sounds like this would be the perfect opportunity for you to get a little experience performing as an accompanist and performing in front of an audience.

I'd go for it!
_________________________
What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#940666 - 06/24/08 12:36 AM Re: Question
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Elise,

I'm so glad your "Auntie Betty" heard about this! Dear, if you are concerned about it and can imagine a bad scene because of it, perhaps you should being it to his attention for some advice. You obviously have had this thought run through your mind already.

Yes, it does "sound like this would be the perfect opportunity for you to get a little experience performing as an accompanist and performing in front of an audience."

But, perhaps he sees it as interferance with your preparations for piano lessons and your work in music together. And, you....see it as opportunity.

Opportunity is also the Chinese symbol for crisis I have heard.

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#940667 - 06/24/08 01:23 AM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Betty
Thanks. DO you students tell you about similar things/ do you expect them to?
This has not come up before for me, so I am not sure what a teacher's expectations might be..

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#940668 - 06/24/08 01:45 AM Re: Question
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Opportunity is also the Chinese symbol for crisis I have heard. [/b]
And Zen is also the chinese symbol for knickers!

If you think he'll find out, tell him it's only accompanying pop songs. He'll frown and move on. In fact, considering the kind of relationship you've got going there, you'll have to get used to telling loads of porkies (porky pie).
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#940669 - 06/24/08 05:33 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Well, considering the plans your teacher has this summer of really pushing you ahead and increasing the work you'll be doing, is there a chance that preparing for this even will impact the time you'll have to prepare for your lessons? Can it impact the quality of what you'll produce for your teacher?

Given the situation of your teacher, if you go for this then you must keep the things for lessons as your priority, and you have to be able to discipline yourself for a lot of focussed piano practice. You'd have to be able to predict how much work it would take. Do you know exactly what your part of the program would be?

Instead of telling your teacher, should you ask and defer to his advice of whether you should go for this? That is, if you decide to discuss it with him rather than sneakiness (sneakiness would not be my preferred option).

There was a thread a while back where teachers' feelings on outside performances were discussed. The teachers who wanted to be involved named a couple of reasons that those of us at the non-teacher end had not thought about.

It does sound lovely otherwise. I think I'd opt to first assess if I could fit it in without compromise lesson material, secondly discuss with teacher before committing, third make really sure I can handle the work load before committing (it is summer after all).

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#940670 - 06/24/08 06:37 AM Re: Question
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
I agree with Keystring and would like to bring a slightly different prospective.

A big problem with the teacher is that he became a lesser level of commitment that he seemed to consider due. The new "relationship" with the teacher implies a higher level of commitment.

This means, in my eyes, that:

1) the more you practice what your teacher says as opposed to "other things", the more this will lessen any misunderstanding between the two of you;

2) as you are aware of the fact that the lessons with him are very productive, the hours that the new project may require (I am guessing here: 10? 20? 30? 50?) would be more profitably invested in practicing according to the guidance of the old chap.

The only advantage that I see in the new initiative is, as you say, the possibility to have an "external feedback" of your playing; frankly, I do not think this is an important issue. Everything that you have written up to now speaks of a very serious teacher which gives you a very strict and qualified teaching, I'd say that "quality issues" should be the last of your concerns here, it is obvious to me that you are on your way to excellence without having to look for any confirmation from a "low profile" event.

The little confrontation with the teacher has brought you some strain, and the relationship with the teacher is certainly an issue in your general quality of life. If I were in your shoes, I would maximise the commitment that I can give to the piano lessons and to the teacher without looking left or right, knowing that this will give me the most out of the relationship of my teacher; the most out of my piano practice; and a better quality of life in general (less issues with the teacher; less fear of the recital because of increased practice time, etc.).

If you invest 20 or 30 hours on this, comes August you might regret not having used the time to better prepare your recital; if your teacher knew that you are dispersing energies on other pastures, he will wonder whether this is an addition to the level of commitment he desires, or took some time out of it; and yes, I do not think that he would approve of this in any way...


Just my two cents.
_________________________
"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)

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#940671 - 06/24/08 07:33 AM Re: Question
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I think the question to ask yourself is, "Why would you want to conceal the performance from your teacher?"

On one hand, what you do outside your piano lessons is no one's concern but your own. I can't imagine your teacher would object, but then again, there's no way to predict how he would react. Has he expressed any previous opinion that he didn't want you performing (when he's not around)? Does he have an objection to you playing or learning pieces without his supervision? If so, perhaps its best to be honest about the performance. If he finds out, I think he'll likely feel either hurt or deceived. Given recent events, I think an accidental discovery of your performance would put an unwanted strain on the relationship, which I get the impression would be characterized as 'delicate,' at the current moment.

I could be wrong on this, but its something to consider.

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#940672 - 06/24/08 08:00 AM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Thanks for the input. I actually did not think that participation in that event would require too much time commitment. I already have a whole bunch of memorized "polished" pieces that I can choose to play from (the program is not rigid). the only new bit would be the accompaniment but it is a short song. The reason I am interested is not for 'quality' control as much as a way to boost my confidence and, yes, experiencing "piano" minus Him, or in a friendlier environment.
I also think this should be my business not necessarily his, but then again I do not know if anything piano has to be "run" by him first.which is why I wondered if other teachers expect that such events are also their business.. I will ty to search for that discussion that KS mentioned..I don't want to be sneaky but I also do not have an easy communication channel with him so I cannot simply ask.
I do not have previous exerience with similar questions coming up in the past.

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#940673 - 06/24/08 08:10 AM Re: Question
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11689
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
It has been my experience that events like this are usually way more time-consuming than they let on. Not only are you talking about rehearsal time, but you also need practice time to learn the music ahead of time (unless you're an excellent sight-reader, and even then, you wouldn't want to side-read something when you could have prepared it). Considering you have already made a commitment for a recital in August about which you seem concerned, I would strongly recommend against this 'opportunity'. They are a dime a dozen, and so you can let them know that while now is not a good time for you, to let you know in the future of other opportunities as you would like to help out. In general, I think it would be a great experience for you, but the timing may not be the best right now.
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#940674 - 06/24/08 09:33 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Elise - My gut tells me that it is good for you to know that this kind of opportunity exists because now you can imagine other worlds. You are already a good pianist, and that door will always be open to you.

However, this would be very bad timing. To be honest, I would stay away from this one and remain totally focussed on the goals in the studio. You want to put your all into this, because your growth this summer as well as the relationship later in your lessons are an investment you're doing now.

I've rehearsed in amateur choirs as a singer, stepping up my choirs over the year but it's remained a frustrating experience. Everything drags out - Something you have mastered at home becomes the subject of three hour-long rehearsals and still is forgotten. The accompanist becomes a conductor-in-disguise highlighting the altos here, banging out the tempo there without appearing to bang out the tempo - sometimes getting a glare from the conductor for her efforts. Well this event may be different, but expect that things may go much longer than you expect in rehearsals.

From that thread, we know that teachers do feel they have a role and they give reason for it. There was a fair amount of misunderstanding among non-teachers when it first came up.

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#940675 - 06/24/08 11:28 AM Re: Question
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Elise asked: (Betty) DO you students tell you about similar things/ do you expect them to?
This has not come up before for me, so I am not sure what a teacher's expectations might be.

To the ones who play well and are at the age where accompanying may come into the picture, chiefly becuase they are in junior high/middle school or high school, I always let them know these are wonderful things to do as a contribution, and they will learn a lot from the experience. However, if it's an all year responsibility such as jazz ensembles, or school choir, I warn them their ability to prepare their piano lessons and even their academic preparations in homework will - could suffer when the accompanying takes priority in your life. It has to at several times during the year when the music is being prepared for concerts, or for festivals which are graded.

I don't interfere with their decisions as I know this is a huge step to take for a pianist. The kids I've had who play accompaniment for band, or choral, or solo festivals are usually very mature, responsible, organized, and see it through with their best effort kind of student.

Something does slip though, when you add something new to the mix. There are pros and cons to both "Yes" and "No".

Once in the role they have chosen, they rarely bring anything back for me to check out or help with. I do hear about special events and things that happened that were exciting or special. They have good things to say about their involvement.

I don't consider it a competition between piano lessons or the accompaniment, when another music teacher enters they get a bigger, broader idea of what being a music teacher is like.

Yes, the lessons become less intense and I see a tendency to stay on a practice concept for a longer time then previously. But, there also are benefits that surface, too.

For a piano teacher who has deadline, events planned, competitions, musical goals planned for the student, the idea of delay due to any reason is something to assert control over.

Good question, answered from my experiences.

Betty

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#940676 - 06/24/08 11:58 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Elise: the question of teacher involvement in outside performances was discussed by teachers and students here: performance question

Betty: I'm trying to reconcile what you say here with what you wrote in the Speechless thread, where it mattered very much that you be asked and have the final say. It seemed very important.

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#940677 - 06/24/08 01:02 PM Re: Question
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Yes, Keystring, it is important.

It's not that I have the final say, it's that I have an opportunity to contribute my opinion and caution or clear it.

Because of the overload that happens sometimes. SOme are very enthusiastic to do these things, but are not ready to be an asset to the group without more skill.

With Elise, the caution is her overload, and the way her teacher would feel about it.

I always tell my students that I want to know what their extracurricular activities are.

I had a wonderful student who's father and mother were very gung ho soccer - playing on two teams - one recreational department and one high school. The piano lessons went to hell.

Swimmers have a hard time playing piano after a meet or practice. As do ice hockey kids.

I want to know. Sometimes I caution heavily and predict the beginning of the end of piano lessons.

Betty

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#940678 - 06/24/08 01:15 PM Re: Question
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17770
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
The thread keystring linked was the follow-up to the first, large thread that raised this issue:

the speechless thread

It's worth reading simply to see the diversity, and vehemence, of opinions expressed.

Elise, I think it is terrific you are interested in this performance opportunity. My personal opinion is that it is a good thing to take advantage of opportunities to play for others. I also see some symbolic importance in this particular situation, as it allows you an opportunity to pursue your love for piano as an autonomous individual in a setting separate from your lessons.

However, given the reaction of some of the teachers on the speechless thread, I would not suggest concealing the performance from your teacher. Instead, after you have given yourself a couple of lessons to get settled back in lessons, just tell your teacher casually at the end of a lesson that "by the way" you will be playing in an informal setting. If he then expresses any concerns about it detracting from your "serious" piano work, simply explain it as you have to us. I personally would not ask permission, but if you read the speechless thread, you'll see that I came down hard on the side of the student's right to play when and wherever he/she wanted to. \:\)
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#940679 - 06/24/08 01:35 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Betty, the thread itself held an impression of final say. I'm glad you cleared that up, and what you say is absolutely reasonable.

The Performance Question contains explanations by teachers such as John, Morodienne, Tenuto and AZNpiano as a contribution of their thoughts on the matter. It was created during your absence and is a treasure trove of insight, a resource. Have you had a chance to read it? What you have written here would probably enrich the insights.

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#940680 - 06/24/08 02:20 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Uhh. I have one word, one comment, a conclusion and a song to describe these threads:

- the word is: omigod!
- the comment is a reprise: "Piano teachers get away with EVERYTHING!!!
- conclusion: I better ask Him
- the song: Avril Lavigne: why do you have to go and make things so complicated? (not addressed to anyone specifically)

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#940681 - 06/24/08 02:22 PM Re: Question
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Hi, Elise. All the caveats about your teacher thinking that his assignments might fare poorly if you decide to do this notwithstanding, there is a chance that he will recognize the value for you of doing this, too. Most pianists are not destined for solo careers at Carnegie Hall. In fact, professional pianists really need to have good accompanying skills for a well-rounded musical life, especially where paying the rent is concerned. Thus, if you have not done any accompanying work yet, it's entirely possible he will see that this gig can help you begin to develop some important skills, and he just might be thrilled you have been given the opportunity. FWIW as a former singer, I can tell you that some of the finest "concert" pianists make truly lousy accompanists, as they have not been trained in any of the necessary ensemble skills. If your teacher is even moderately savvy about the reality of life as a piano player, he will probably know this and, with luck, he will acknowledge it and be happy that you are exhibiting interest in broadening your skills.

p.s. I had a similar opportunity my senior year in high school - the production was a semester project for one of the musical theater classes - and they asked me to accompany although I was not in their class. It was a load of fun for me and I developed some important skills as a result.
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#940682 - 06/24/08 08:47 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
the word is: omigod!
You poor thing - You actually slogged through the GreatMeltdown? \:D However, did you manage to see the smaller thread with the more reasoned discussion?

All these teachers and adults don't matter: It's you, your teacher, and the events of this summer. What's happening there?

You're giving it a go with your teacher, and you're doing that after you realize what you value. You want to progress on the piano in a serious manner, and you also want to establish yourself differently. The key is your practicing and what that will show, as well as what you will be able to do (for you). You also have a recital coming up. We know that before you had this probation situation your teacher really wanted to grab this summer to push you to new heights.

If you've chosen to stay with your teacher, and you have to weigh priorities, the work with your teacher has to come first - it cannot suffer. Is it the kind that you have to pour 100% of your time and effort into, or do you have time left over.

Do you know enough about this other event that you can assess and plan out your time? Do you risk being watered down or scattered? Before you even approach your teacher if you decide you want to participate, you have to have thought this through yourself. If this were my teacher, he would be asking me "How do you plan to handle both events in such a way that your work with me will not suffer? Which is your priority?"

If you know your priorities and have looked at what's involved the decision might be easier. Best.

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#940683 - 06/25/08 11:48 AM Re: Question
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Elise, don't be misled into believing that it's about "establishing priorities" as if developing accompanying skills is something your teacher plans to forbid. You don't know that he would view "his work" as suffering if you broaden your skills (note this is NOT "watering down") by doing some accompanying. The only way you can know what he thinks is to ask him. He will quite possibly be supportive of this, rather than feeling hostile about it. Don't let anyone, who thinks they know what's best for you, stop you from inquiring about this opportunity if it's something you are interested in doing.
_________________________
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#940684 - 06/25/08 12:04 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Yes, I really want to try to do this. It will be fun. Many of my friends will be there and there is not much supervision. meaning the students run everything or almost. As for my lessons, well I am putting in teh time and effort. no less than 3-4 hours a day including the day of the lessons, which are planned late in the day. The lessons themselves are suddenly longer and I feel totally drained afterwards. He is assigning me brand new pieces mostly Debussy stuff, sometimes nameless.. and expects me as is his "rule", to be "performance ready" all the time. with only 3 days between lessons, it can be hard. But I think I can do it and I am motivated to do the other "opportunity/crisis/whatever..
If things go well on thursday, I shall inquire.. and may be live to tell... \:\)

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#940685 - 06/25/08 12:27 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
SanteFePlayer - again there is no disagreement between us though you probably see it that way. Essentially we're saying the same thing: I just wanted to bring the facts to light. Taking on more responsibility can lead to tighter focusing rather than being scattered: it depends on how much of a handle you have on it and what you do with it. "Watering down" happens if you try to do a lot of things at once so that your efforts are all over the place, but if you know how to be in one thing at a time and you have organized your time that won't happen.

Prioritizing does not mean bending to someone's will, it means being dead sure what your values and goals are, because that makes decision making much easier.

Elise, you've weighed things and made your decision. Do let us know how it goes. \:\)

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#940686 - 06/26/08 07:25 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
well.. just back..a mix of a demoralizing and interesting lesson. Despite having memorized and played technically well, I am apparently totally lacking in the art of interpreting Monsieur Debussy.. but I mean totally ignorant. and my teacher made it clear to me at the rate of seventeen "absolutely NOT"s per minute (give or take). It did not help that I do not have any books about Debussy and his times yet.. I did read plenty on the internet but that did not qualify..
OH and the idea of playing at that "opportunity",, well the answer was also a "No. Absolutely NOT!.."
ON the other hand, now I know that Debussy and Saint-Saens were enemies, that Debussy used non western scales, that someone thought he copied from them (?Ravel.. I forgot what he said here)..
part me thinks well Manhattan is a big town and that gig may technically be in the Bronx, practically in the town next door.. so may be I can still get away with it..

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#940687 - 06/26/08 07:46 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
So, (curious), did your teacher tell you how to interpret Debussy? Was that within the 17 notes per minute as a demo? Anything specific that you could catch from that? Have you been taught how to go about interpreting a composer? Debussy? Did you know you were supposed to interpret him? Are you asked to interpret other composers, and have you been taught how to go about this?

Like, there are certain things which are in the "d'uh factor" we should not ask because it is assumed we will know how to do them. Others that have an approach or two so I'm curious about this.

No idea about "the opportunity". Best of luck coming to a decision.

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#940688 - 06/26/08 08:56 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
that's funny KS..
he did say a lot of things but he would not play for me. In fact he said that I should not be listening to anyone's interpretation at this time.. (does that make sense?)
I need some time to digest all that was said, but what I remember now is that i should be approaching his music very differently from the "romantic" sonata and that Debussy "does not sing"..
Ok it was not 17 times but there were a lot of interruptions, so much that I lost track of how to resume (I can't 'start from measure 16 "off the top of my head, without the score).. you can imagine how things can spin downwards then..
I am sure there is a lot of wisdom to all this.. I just need to be able to "see" it..(Impressionist paintings is another thing I am supposed to be looking at). the thing is I had planned to listen to some different interpretations of Debussy ( I can use my dad's rhapsody account)but i am a bit confused about the recommendation that I do not..

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#940689 - 06/26/08 09:53 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
(Summarizing a way too long post from before)

It sounds like you are used to listening to good pianists in order to understand the interpretation, and your teacher's idea now is that you should not listen to anything at all this time. This idea seems new and a bit confusing to you. It seems as if your teacher is trying to bring you into a new kind of musicianship - he's already indicated that he wants push you forward this summer.
 Quote:
In fact he said that I should not be listening to anyone's interpretation at this time.. (does that make sense?)
Yes - because he wants you to learn to create your own interpretation. When we hear others' interpretations, our hearing of it can stay on the surface. Creating your own means you go deeply into the music, your understanding of it, and it comes from within the music and yourself. When you've learned to do that, then listening to the interpretation of the greats also becomes more meaningful, because you have an inside view.

 Quote:
Impressionist paintings is another thing I am supposed to be looking at)
If you google "Debussy + Impressionism" you get over 1 million hits. The first article describes Debussy's work in terms of Impressionism, while in the second Debussy is insulted by the idea and declares what he's trying to do.

I could imagine as a student, becoming immersed with the idea of impressionism - what do these colours and "suggestions of a picture" mean - experimenting at the piano with the idea of colours - and ideas starting to mesh with the piece. Maybe your teacher is thinking of such a process.

Probably the "16 interruptions" contain 16 clues, if you could go back through the piece to each interruption and find what advice is hidden in them.

Well, those were yesterday's thoughts, but a bit more succinctly, in case they are of any use.

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#940690 - 06/26/08 10:53 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Great KS.. why don't you explore and tell me more!!! \:\)
I am already gearing up to memorize monday's piece while re-doing this one since I "massacred" it so horribly. It feels like there is barely enough time to get this stuff to sink in..
Thanks for the analysis though.

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#940691 - 06/26/08 11:02 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Fine, I do your homework, and you do mine. I don't think our respective teachers would be thrilled, though. ;\)

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#940692 - 06/27/08 08:05 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
I must admit that I got fascinated by your teacher's angle of visual art etc. and lost time on the computer. ;\) As a violin student primarily, I found myself listening to Heifetz play "Maid with the Flaxen Hair" - what struck me is that this piece could have been very lyrical, "singing", Romantic, but it wasn't. Instead, it was like splashes of colour, impressions .... erm, Impressionistic painting. There it was, your teacher's "Dubussy is not sung - impressionism".

I bet your teacher wants the next piece to be treated the same way. I'm curious about one thing: while developing a piece does he want this "artistic understanding" (Impressionism, intent etc.) to be done first before tackling the piece, or added on after you get the basic correct playing?

It's intriguing - of course I don't have to do the work ;\) - I'll butt out now.

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#940693 - 06/27/08 09:31 AM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:


I'm curious about one thing: while developing a piece does he want this "artistic understanding" (Impressionism, intent etc.) to be done first before tackling the piece, or added on after you get the basic correct playing?

[/b]
NOT!! I am supposed to have all that taken care of during my practice, and show up memorized and playing it pretty well. Then during the lesson, we work on interpretation and other errors of mine.. He has very little tolerance for pure technical mistakes (thunderstorms ensue).. We quickly sight read the new piece at the end of the lesson and then "I am on my own". The problem with this system is that it takes alot of preparation and at twice a week lessons, it is exhausting to me. It also feels pretty lonely.. "solitary piano boot camp" is what I call it in my mind .. I have to say that I do enjoy the learning part, the moving forward and the more complicated approach.. I am also hearing my teacher talk more than before. It used to be more like giving me instructions and drills. Now he can "spin" for a while (break for my hands and my concentration!- oops I forget that we are on some kind of teacher forum) and he looks sort of interested in what we are doing.. which is good I guess.. But keeping up will be difficult for the whole entire summer..
In other sad news, he is having me work with a substitute, while he makes his much anticipated (by both of us) summer vaca... although if the sub is who I think it is, it won't be half as bad..
I never heard a violin rendition of fille aux cheveux de lin (she is on my list for later on). I will look it up. wonder if the violin version is covered by the ban!! I also wonder if other teachers approach this the same way.. Gotta go. i have been needing giant breakfasts lately..

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#940694 - 06/27/08 09:36 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
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I can see the difficulties in this - exhaustion doesn't sound good. Hang in there and keep us posted.

It might have been a different "fille" - it was late and I was tired - but I remember listening for "impressionism", hearing it, thinking "This could be played like a romantic and lyrical song, almost as though the romance was missing, yaddayadda..." and then his rendition made sense.

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#940695 - 06/27/08 10:04 AM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
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Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Oh KS.
if in your explorations, you find out about these non-western scales, would you please let me know..
Tahnks

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#940696 - 06/27/08 10:17 AM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
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I had a Saint Saens last year which "sounded funny" in places - or rather I was inclined to play something different than written until I learned of this. Two things: just being aware of it helps you make sense of what you're playing. Different scale arrangements (modes?) create moods, colours, shades - the crude example of this is major and minor.

The only way to get a handle on it is by playing, observing, maybe analyzing parts of your music - the act of practicing & developing the music with understanding. There is no shortcut and it can't be transfered. Are you taking theory? Have you gone past the usual majors and minors?

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#940697 - 06/27/08 05:54 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
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Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Theory is not exactly my forte but of course I learnt about the majors and minors. But I think he meant scales that are totally different, like for example in Arabisch music where the steps are less than a semi-tone? (I hope I am not saying something totally stupid here).
Any references from the teachers here as to Debussy's use of unusual scales?

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#940698 - 06/27/08 06:19 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
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Ok, here goes. The major and minor scales are actually two "modes" which each create a distinctive mood - major tending toward happy & sunny, minor being sad and blue. The intervals of tones and semitones are arranged in a consistent order for a major scale, and for a melodic or harmonic minor scale. In a melody without accompaniment that gives a mood. With harmony the moods are even stronger. There is your first "tone colour" if you will.

There are a lot of other scale types. Each has the order of tones and semitones arranged in a certain way. That gives "colour" or "mood", and lends itself to particular harmonies. Some, such as the whole tone scale, are modern inventions.

Examples:
- blues scale
- whole tone: 7 notes, all a whole tone apart. Example: C D E F# G# A# C. (B would be B# but that is C enharmonically.) If you play this you will hear the mood or colour of this strange scale.
- octatonic: WT ST WT ST repeatedly (WT = whole tone, ST = semitone), or ST WT ST WT

Then you have all the "church modes" which preceded the modern scale. Each mode has a different arrangement of tones and semitones creating a different colour or mood. You can discover the arrangement easily as well as hearing their mood by playing ** white keys only ** as follows:

Ionian - C to C (modern major scale)
Dorian - D to D
Phrygian - E to E
Lydian - F to F
Mixolydian - G to G
Aeolian - A to A (modern natural minor)
Locrian - B to B (rarely if ever used)

Some or all of these would have been Debussy's pallette. At least if you find these scales being referred to you'll have an idea what they're about. The best is to play them to get a feel of what they're about.

The music you were thinking of is typical of India and China and I don't know where else. They use microtones which are tiny intervals less than a semitone in size. But they would not be meant here. For one thing, as a tuned instrument, the piano cannot play microtones (unless it's badly out of tune ;\) )

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#940699 - 06/27/08 06:20 PM Re: Question
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Hi, Elise

The scales used in the Arabic (and I think Indian) music are actually much finer than our own twelve-toned scale. They actually divide into quarter tones and finer. To our western-trained ears, it almost sounds like they are just off-pitch, but the wonderful, wandering melodies they achieve are really wonderful to listen to. Of course we cannot play these scales on a piano, which is hardwired to the 12-tone chromatic paradigm.

There are indeed different scales used even in the music we are more familiar with. I don't recall their names offhand, but it's a question of the whole-half relationships and their order. For instance if you played all white notes but started on D - that's one. Playing all black keys would be the Pentatonic Scale, which we tend to think of as being Oriental. Wind chimes are often tuned to this scale. I'm at work and therefore am surrounded by geophysical theory books rather than music theory books - but if you did a Google search on musical scales or musical modes, you'd probably get some good information on this question. Alas, I have not had the priviledge to play any Debussy yet, but I know he does invoke some creative scalar and harmonic relationships.

As for getting the impressionistic musicality / feel, I would suggest (in all your "spare time" - ha!) you try to listen to a lot of Debussy. This of course goes for other composers as well, whomever you have been assigned. Debussy, being impressionistic, was often trying to actually evoke a specific image to come to your mind with his compositions. In some ways this can make it easier - if you can dig up just what it is that 'most' folks imagine in the music, you can use these images to try and shape your own interpretation. Alternatively, you could just try to get your mitts on several different recordings of the same piece, listen to them all and try to decide which appeals the most to you. This will inspire you to treat the piece in a certain way artistically. (I did this with great success with my own teacher, whose recording was the one I chose to be a bigger influence on me. When I brought the piece to the lesson the next week and played it for him, he said "Oh, very nice, I really like the way you're approaching this part and that part!" ;\) )
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#940700 - 06/27/08 06:44 PM Re: Question
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Thanks for your responses. I obviously need to read up more about this some day.I want to mention that the use of non western scales as it was being discussed does not necessarily refer to D's piano music- if taht makes any more sense ? either that or I completely misunderstood. ..My attention span expires every now and then.. definitely by minute 50 of the lesson.. we were on 75 I think during that discussion..

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#940701 - 06/27/08 06:59 PM Re: Question
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11647
Loc: Canada
Elise, you'll probably get most of your answers by googling Debussy + Impressionism. I think the scales are discussed. These are NOT non-Western scales - they are extremely Western scales for the most part.

Here's a start:
 Quote:
"Debussy's String Quartet in G minor .... In this work he utilized the Phrygian mode as well as less standard scales, such as the whole-tone , which creates a sense of floating, ethereal harmony." [Wikepedia]
5 minutes of playing through some of these scales might give you a feeling for scale types and mood.

Wikepedia The rest is yours. ;\)

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#940702 - 06/28/08 12:15 PM Re: Question
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Does anyone think you can play well and absorb the lesson while walking a tightrope?

In another thread the word belittlement came up.

Teaching and providing a list of the Debussy resources he wants you to read, see, or hear, would be helpful to his students.

Since he's not providing it, perhaps you should make that list for yourself like a term paper outline - and over time (not at once) you would pursue information of things Debussy.

Your list will get longer as you learn more and more. It is not something to do overnight - it is a long term, in depth study.

Best wishes, again and again.

Betty

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