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#946563 - 09/22/07 04:06 PM Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The Fall issue just arrived. How many of you subscribe? Dr. Paul Wirth's commentary on advancing students is most interesting. Especially his comments on being a stickler for using correct fingering. Which brings me to the point of this post, teachers, are you a fingering stickler or laissez-faire?
_________________________
"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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#946564 - 09/22/07 04:17 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
John,

I'm happy to say I'm an avid reader of Keyboard Companion! Thank you for posting about it, and about Dr. Paul Wirth who we were all posting about in "fingering" recently.

I am definitely a fingering stickler - the black key rules, and the groups of same fingering scales, and my beloved mirrored chromatic scale at middle D in contrary motion. A little study in fingering regimens goes a long way and serves you when you most need it.

Keyboard Companion is $24 per year (4 issues) or $44 for 2 years, and there is a group subscription of 5 people for $20. (Subscribe online).

I'm sorry to say my group subscription lapsed recently - so I am sending for my new single subscription TODAY! I'll have to request this particular issue as I don't want to miss it!

Thanks so much!

Betty

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#946565 - 09/22/07 04:44 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, our local chapter does group subscriptions, which is quite a savings, but I prefer having it arrive on my doorstep.

BTW, I recall the scale fingering mention. His advice is worthy of serious consideration.
_________________________
"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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#946566 - 09/23/07 08:50 AM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
I write out most of the fingerings because I disagree with some of the editorial fingerings.

My disagreement varies from edition to edition. The Keith Snell books are very, very bad when it comes to fingering (runs, especially)!! Even though I adore the Urtext editions, I can't say I agree with their fingering 100%. One edition of Clementi Op. 36 claims to have preserved Clementi's own fingering, some of which is totally illogical--Clementi must have awkward fingers. Czerny's fingering is sporadically horrible.

I have students who love to invent their own illogical, unscientific fingerings. It takes them forever to un-learn wrong fingerings and learn the correct ones.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#946567 - 09/23/07 12:33 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I'm a stickler for fingering once the student and I have decided what it is. A lot of times we stick with what the editor says, but if the student dislikes it and makes his own, and that fingering is kinesthetically sound, I make sure he sticks with it.

Editorial fingering is not always great, and everyone's hands are different. In tricky passages I make sure to offer students at least two choices for fingering, demonstrate them, have them try each, and then we decide. For example, I didn't like Dr. Wirth's fingering for the Moonlight Sonata passage he's included in that article, but I've already discussed that... with PianoJerome, I think.
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#946568 - 09/23/07 01:34 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I too over-rule editor's fingerings, on occasion. For more advanced works I use Henle, UE, and Peters (German, not NYC) editions. However, even on simpler works, I tend to stick with the suggested fingerings unless a student can show and demonstrate that for their hand, an alternate fingering is preferable. Of course, this is not what Dr. Wirth & I am talking about, but rather the student who just plays with random fingers using no thought or planning in its selection.
_________________________
"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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#946569 - 09/23/07 11:55 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
It might be interesting to someone that I teach fingering first, along with eye movement training, and note value counting, all at once in the beginning lessons through the use of simple Nursery Rhymes and Folk Music at the interview and first 10 lessons. By then I have seen enough to know what I want their program to include and in what order.

I've been using the Pre-Reading Chart approach in my "Piano Power" for quite a while, and it puts everything you want as a good habit immediately into place - the steady beat forward in pulses, and a fingering response to everything that is seen. You can't hope to have good fingering at a later date - you need to do it now - (my opinion) because with the first piano lessons you are extremely visual and the keyboard requires a finger touching it to play.

I add note reading on the staff gradually, and that falls into place nicely after we get to reading by distance and direction. I also like them to hear the sounds they are producing at the piano, and if the task is too great and overwhelming, they are not listening to the results they are getting in sound. Minimizing the tasks allows them to clearly hear the sounds of the instrument.

If anyone who would like to add to pre-chart music information and successes with it, I'd appreciate hearing about it. I have written every piece that I use, from public domain materials, but I am always looking for some fun and significant songs to add to the list. The range is within 5 Finger Positions, and must be static with no moving out of the position which is expressed in a graphic.

I think it's an underrated way to get started at the piano - usually reserved for very young children - but I use it with just about everyone who hasn't had lessons before. I am tempted to say, that pre-charts might even meet "ridicule" among some teachers, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It makes lots of songs accessible for all ages very quickly and that is a really strong sense of satisfaction among new students.

Along with a good orientation to the keyboard lesson, it provides just what students need to make sense out of their first lessons, I think.

If you always want them to consider good fingering, it's important to fix that habit into place very early in lessons.

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#946570 - 09/24/07 01:29 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
kritta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 109
Loc: Maryland
Hi Betty,

What are "pre-charts" ? Is it pre-staff notation? I use pre-staff notation for beginners of all ages and find it very helpful.
_________________________
private piano instructor

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#946571 - 09/24/07 01:47 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I'm a stickler for fingering, but I don't necessarily stick with what the editor suggests. I'll try it first, but not everyone's hand is the same shape and size, and so one person may do something different. With beginner students, however, I will always make sure the students are using the fingerings written to instill the good habit of paying attention to what finger is being used. As they get into the intermediate level, I will allow them to use other fingerings if it works.

I am thinking if a particular student who is very talented, but he almost alwyas ignores fingering no matter how many times I point it out to him. He also resists counting out loud. I wonder if there's a link between the two? Does anyone have suggestions on dealing with this student?
_________________________
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MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#946572 - 09/25/07 03:12 AM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:


I am thinking if a particular student who is very talented, but he almost alwyas ignores fingering no matter how many times I point it out to him. He also resists counting out loud. I wonder if there's a link between the two? Does anyone have suggestions on dealing with this student? [/b]
I know what you mean! If they refuse to talk their way through a piece you've asked them to count, or commit to fingering, and they refuse to answer, it makes the teacher think they might not have an inner voice talking and doing the "control" work from the brain outward to the keyboard.

I think it's essential that they be willing to talk about what they are doing/thinking, or sing, or verbalize in some meaningful way. We would not be asking them to do these things if we were not "suspicious" that it was very much needed.

Maybe a demonstration of what you say to yourself in facing the same piece would be helpful. I think sometimes the best thing to do is to "model" it, and show the results and progress you can get from. Maybe calling them "tricks to success" or "not everybody knows this, but I want you to know about it."

I'm not sure what to recommend - I think you get clues from the kids themselves about how to proceed. And clues about when to continue and when to stop....you know our "expertise".

Sometimes you have to decide what the priority is and make progress where it counts most.

Betty

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#946573 - 09/25/07 09:25 AM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
I am thinking if a particular student who is very talented, but he almost alwyas ignores fingering no matter how many times I point it out to him. He also resists counting out loud. I wonder if there's a link between the two? Does anyone have suggestions on dealing with this student? [/b]
I don't think there is a link. They are pretty different problems.

I have a student who insists on using his own creative fingering all the time. One strategy that worked is to have him write out the fingering of a difficult passage--for every note in each hand. Then I point out the illogical ones and explain why HIS fingering is illogical and why MY fingering works better .

As for counting out loud--some people (myself included) can't multi-task. Counting out loud doesn't work for everyone. This is when I bust out the metronome and see if the student can match the beats at a slow tempo. Sometimes it's easier to use 8th notes on the metronome. Worst comes to worst , I'll do the counting out loud and see if the student can match my counts.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#946574 - 09/25/07 12:56 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
One of the problems with fingerings is that you can get by with almost any fingering at slow tempos but not at fast tempos. Invariably, my worst "fingerers" cannot play fast tempos fluidly. We often talk about the correlation between the two and that tends to capture most students. But there are always a few holdouts. Unfortunately!
_________________________
"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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#946575 - 09/25/07 01:41 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
I have a student who insists on using his own creative fingering all the time. One strategy that worked is to have him write out the fingering of a difficult passage--for every note in each hand. Then I point out the illogical ones and explain why HIS fingering is illogical and why MY fingering works better .

As for counting out loud--some people (myself included) can't multi-task. Counting out loud doesn't work for everyone. This is when I bust out the metronome and see if the student can match the beats at a slow tempo. Sometimes it's easier to use 8th notes on the metronome. Worst comes to worst , I'll do the counting out loud and see if the student can match my counts. [/b]
I think tht's a good idea, having the student write out his fingering, and then compare it to mine. As far as multi-tasking, I don't think that this is a problem for most people. The students that don't count out loud can do it, but then it's forcing them to realize all the rhythmic errors they make, and so they are constantly fixing them as they go. This is harder, yes, but students who count out loud when learning a piece never learn rhythmic errors. This boy has done that several times to the extent that it is unfixable, and the piece is not performable. I have pointed this out to him many times, and have also had him do metronomic work. But if a student won't do what you tell them, what more can you do?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#946576 - 09/25/07 02:19 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I don't know if this will help anyone, but sometimes, when I can read a student's personality, I will try a bit of positive sarcasm, such as: "The piano has been around for 300 years, and the brightest and best minds have been struggling with how to best finger difficult passages. I have no doubt you're every bit as smart as these geniuses, but rather than waste time trying to figure out a better way, why not try what they've already discovered. Then, when you're older, and a concert star, you can spend time coming up with an even better system."
_________________________
"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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#946577 - 09/25/07 07:25 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I don't know if this will help anyone, but sometimes, when I can read a student's personality, I will try a bit of positive sarcasm, such as: "The piano has been around for 300 years, and the brightest and best minds have been struggling with how to best finger difficult passages. I have no doubt you're every bit as smart as these geniuses, but rather than waste time trying to figure out a better way, why not try what they've already discovered. Then, when you're older, and a concert star, you can spend time coming up with an even better system." [/b]
LOL! Yes, I've tried the sarcasm approach with him, and he gets it right away. Also enlisting his mom helps too \:D . I'll be sure to try this as well.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#946578 - 09/26/07 05:02 AM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
This boy has done that several times to the extent that it is unfixable, and the piece is not performable. I have pointed this out to him many times, and have also had him do metronomic work. But if a student won't do what you tell them, what more can you do? [/b]
If it gets to that level, time to change pieces!

Some kids just won't listen. If the student is worth keeping, then you'd have to be extra creative. I'd just give the student to someone more tolerant than I. :p
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#946579 - 09/26/07 05:07 AM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I don't know if this will help anyone, but sometimes, when I can read a student's personality, I will try a bit of positive sarcasm, [/b]
It works with older kids (I'd say 6th grade and above). Some kids take it way too personally. I know I was that way all through high school, so I was often offended by teachers' sarcasm.

I do a lot of explaining. If students understand WHY I finger passages a certain way, they're more likely to listen. They need to know the truth.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#946580 - 09/26/07 12:16 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I agree. We start off in beginning lessons telling students why things are fingered the way they are. I have seen students playing a simple five finger patter, C to G, use 5-3-2-2-1 or 5-3-2-1-1 or 4-3-2-2-1. I feel it's important to establish firm ground rules on fingering from day one.
_________________________
"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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#946581 - 09/26/07 02:08 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
AZNpiano: this student has been with me for many years, and in spite of his poor fingering, he is as I said, extremely talented and loves piano. We get along very well, and I feel that his lack of fingering has more to do with when he sits down to play, he just practices his own way rather than read my notes for him. Sarcasm doesn't hurt his feelings, of that I'm sure. I am very sensitive to student's feelings, too, and I know which ones I can joke around like that with and which ones I can't.

I certainly do move on, after pointing out the fact that since he didn't count out loud, this passage repeatedly is played wrong after each week we "fix" it in the lessons. As for fingering, if they can play it up to speed with their poor fingering, I pick my battles. Sometimes it's not worth telling them it's not efficient when they can play it at tempo as it is. :rolleyes:
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#946582 - 09/27/07 06:37 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Markeyz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/06
Posts: 135
Loc: Seattle
When I have a student that isn't applying advice I try to emphasize how much extra work they are creating for themselves if they ever hope to play it right. Having started out as a self taught pianist I have plenty examples of bad habits that I've had to fix. I let students know that many of these habits have taken me years to correct. I tell them that every time they play something wrong they are going to have to play it right at least twice to reverse the damage and many more times if they want it to be secure in performance. Most students want to progress as rapidly as possible and this usually gets their attention.

I find it much more difficult dealing with students who insist that an obviously bad fingering or hand position is "easier" simply because they've become accustomed to it. It can be a challenge getting a student to accept that a particular fingering will cause problems at faster tempos as they will try to make their own fingering work. There may be value in allowing a student to fail on their own occasionally.

Whenever possible, when a student is showing a consistent bad habit I will try to pick a piece where that habit will cause insurmountable problems. For example, I have one student who came to me from group lessons where, presumably, no one was watching his hand position. He had learned to play chords by lifting his wrist and curling the unused fingers tightly into his palm. The solution was a series of pieces with octave chord spans and some time in lessons holding down 1 and 5 and playing various notes with the middle fingers. This has been mostly successful, barring the occasional open fifth played with the "hang loose" technique.

Having read through this post I realized I've been responding to Morodiene's comments about challenging students rather that the original topic. On that subject I'm a bit schizophrenic. Mostly I'm strict about fingering consistency (which may or may not be the same as the suggested fingering ) as the most direct route to secure performance. On the other hand I've found that alternate fingerings for scales and arpeggios can be quite useful for improvisation and, to a lesser extent sight reading, where there may not be sufficient time or information to determine the best possible fingering for a line. I'd say these alternate fingerings are only acceptable after the standard fingerings have become thoroughly ingrained though, as the standard fingerings should be the default whenever possible.
_________________________
Jazz pianist and teacher.

http://www.marchager.com

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#946583 - 09/27/07 07:03 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Excellent point on the use of consistent fingering. By the way, welcome to the forum. Nice to have another Puget Sound area teacher here.

Your point about allowing students to fail on occasionally is interesting. My students unfortunately get plenty of practice "failing." \:D

I suspect that the problem with intermediate and higher level lit is that with elementary pieces, it's possible to work completely through it (most of the time) without having to break it down into component parts. This isn't true for intermediate and up, and it's hard for students to make the transition in their home practice.
_________________________
"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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#946584 - 09/28/07 07:41 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Markeyz,

Markeyz said: "When I have a student that isn't applying advice I try to emphasize how much extra work they are creating for themselves if they ever hope to play it right. Having started out as a self taught pianist I have plenty examples of bad habits that I've had to fix. I let students know that many of these habits have taken me years to correct. I tell them that every time they play something wrong they are going to have to play it right at least twice to reverse the damage and many more times if they want it to be secure in performance. Most students want to progress as rapidly as possible and this usually gets their attention."

The voice of reason, Markeyz! Telling them "effective" and "efficient", does that help? Saying "Have you heard about the One Minute Manager?" Just how does one get through to these 'I'd rather do it my way' kids?

Like John, I'd like to say hello to you from nearby South Hill - Puyallup. What say to Western Washingtons or Washington State teachers getting acquainted and getting together sometime in the future (2008)?

Betty

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#946585 - 09/30/07 03:56 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Markeyz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/06
Posts: 135
Loc: Seattle
John and Betty, thanks for the greetings. I actually found these forums over a year ago while searching for a new piano but haven't posted much in this particular section. I've found the forums to be a tremendous resource, though, as I am relatively new to teaching. I've had one or two students on and off since college but have only carried a significant number for the last three or four years. Reading the words of more experienced teachers such as yourselves and others has been quite helpful in my efforts towards becoming a more effective teacher.

To answer your question, Betty, I certainly use the words "effective" and "efficient" but the word "work" seems to be the one that gets the student's immediate attention. I'm not familiar with the "One Minute Manager" myself, or if I am I don't know it by that name. Could you elaborate on that? I think I do a good job of communicating what to practice, how to practice it, and how often to practice, but I could probably improve in the area of how to structure the individual practice sessions, probably because I am not particularly rigid in my own practicing.

Marc
_________________________
Jazz pianist and teacher.

http://www.marchager.com

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#946586 - 09/30/07 10:24 PM Re: Keyboard Companion - fingering
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Markeyz:

Google: One Minute Manager

Kenneth Blanchard, the author, has many books available on managing time and results in many areas of life. It is easy to take his concepts and apply them to the management of music study, especially in practicing.

His basic premise is that there are three basic ideas known as "the three secrets of the one-minute manager", namely: one-minute goals, one-minute praisings and one-minute reprimands.

Hope that gives you some ideas. I find they work well for me at home and in the studio and just about everything I do as a project.

It is interesting to see what you can come up with as a one minute task. It avoids diddling and dawdling and gets right to the meat of things. Simplifies your intentions and helps you get results.

Betty

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