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#962377 - 08/02/08 06:29 AM Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Hi,
Just new here, I'm a teen student. I see several teachers a week in regard to music. Along with piano I do singing and theory with separate private teachers. Because of my curious mind, I ask many many questions. Certain teachers I have really love to answer questions and nurture my inquisitiveness a particular teacher that I see seems to be annoyed and ticked when I ask questions.

I wonder as a student, do teachers ever get really ticked at the inquisitive nature of certain students? Is it frustrating to have continuous questions asked? The questions I ask are not at all personal or interrogative, they are questions to assist my understanding or clear up my confusion. They are also questions for pondering and sometimes to satisfy musical curiousity.

So this is out to you teachers ... is it annoying when students can be inquisitive? How much is too much?
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#962378 - 08/02/08 06:32 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I wish my students were more inquisitive. Be aware though that most of what transpires in a piano lesson can't be put into words.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#962379 - 08/02/08 10:06 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Rebekah, there is nothing wrong with being inquisitive, but it has to be balanced with focus. Sometimes, overly inquisitive individuals come across as scatterbrains, to use a term which has probably fallen out of common use.

A teacher has a goal for both student and self, material to be covered, and when questions begin to pile up and delay the proscribed learning, then it can be annoying. If you are at a music school, where the teacher is evaluated on student learning a set criteria, then off topic questions put that teacher in an awkward position.

If you are a private student, then actually, the teacher should take the lead and discuss the situation with the parent who is paying the bills. For example, "Mrs. L., your daughter is quite inquisitive, and that can be a wonderful quality, but it is slowing down the pace of learning. Would you prefer that I keep her on task, or should I allow a little or a lot of divergence?" By asking the parent such a question, it puts the monkey on the back of the responsible individual - the parent.
_________________________
"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
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#962380 - 08/02/08 10:35 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
A couple of approaches as a student (teacher input is definitely welcome) :

1. Teacher might present something, or give me a task, which I do not understand sufficiently to carry out properly. Or when practicing something isn't going right. In that case I will ask: "I don't think I understand." or similar.
-- To note, the ** doing ** will often create the understanding, so a first step is to go home, *do* for a week, and see what happens.

2. Teachers try to have us learn things in sequence, in a particular order. They have a path in mind. The first place my attention and questions must go is along that path. I must master and understand those things that he is trying to impart to me. "Extra" things, in the first order of importance, would be an enrichment of those things we are working on, seeing them more fully, rather than following tangents.

3. Individualized teaching is different from classroom teaching, because of the freedom and one-on-one responsiveness. Classroom teaching almost runs on a written script. The teacher must remain on track from student to student. Little can be accomplished if week after week the lesson pops all over the place, does not develop within the lesson, and does not develop along the sequence of weeks.

==> I have arranged with my own teacher that if I find that in the course of the week some things have come up that I would like to explore or need to ask about, that a particular time slot be allocated to the lesson for this. For example: could we finish early and use the last 10 - 15 minutes of an hour-long lesson on something that has come up. Or could we fit in some time in next week's lesson. I would not have had that freedom as a beginner, though.

- It can also happen that a certain teacher is not knowledgeable enough to expand as far as you would like, or cannot remain organized if the tangents are too frequent. That could be frustrating.

I have gotten some insights recently because I am teaching music theory to one student. I find that while unrelated tangents are exciting, the most important thing is that she understands and works on the concepts that I am laying down for her, and generally in that manner. What I am setting up today has something in mind which I want to set up in the future. My student has now picked up the basic concepts, and she is using that knowledge and those perceptions as she asks and tells me about her discoveries. She uses the terminology with understanding of the concepts, and I find her exploring those concepts in other things she is encountering in music. Her tangents are tangents related to the studies: this "enrichment" effect. It helps me to help her, and it is also easier for me to teach and remain on track. At the same time, with the shoe being on the other foot, it has given me some insight into the role of being a student.

An example of tangents where I am teaching: major and minor scales; major, minor and perfect intervals. I have encouraged awareness in listening, and I have mentioned how these will be used later. As she plays the music she has always played, she is beginning to notice the role of scales, how chords may be major or minor. I listened to a shofar in a religious ceremony which she found had a disconcerting "sad sound" to its interval, when shofars usually play in P5 - her ear is opening to the extent that she can hear the nature of intervals at this stage, and her observation went right to my purpose, which was to build that sensitivity at an elementary level. Because she asked that question I could enhance what I was already trying to build, by pointing out that this shofar was playing minor thirds. I encouraged listening to intervals in as many settings as possible, and she was doing just that.

John, depending on the age, I wonder why this is addressed to the parent instead of the student. Were I the parent, I would get my child to talk to his teacher about it, and expect the two of them to arrange it between them. As a non-expert I do not necessarily know which tangents are appropriate and which are not. I am assuming a student who is a teen.

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#962381 - 08/02/08 10:52 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Something else that has just come to mind: A teacher's lessons might be so rich in content that a question-prone student may be more than satisfied, and have enough to keep her energy occupied. If I may address John in particular: you have described how your students are shown how to analyze and understand the music that they will be working on, you stress physical aspects of playing in order to bring about the nuances, so there is already a lot of "food" there. I don't think that is the case everywhere. If a student goes off on tangents, that may simply be a disorganized mind, or one that is ambitious in the wrong way, or with ambitions of a shallow nature. But in other cases, might such a student not simply need more to sink their teeth into?

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#962382 - 08/02/08 11:22 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

Are you by nature a random and abstract, many things get your attention at once kind of person? Or, do you follow a topic through to the end keeping your focus on the presentation?

If you ask the question does that mean you really want to have to know right now? Or, is that a form of making conversation and the process of communication coming up. Does the lesson prompt these questions or are they truly from out of the blue and they just popped up?

The teacher who is annoyed feels that she has the "floor" and you keep interrupting her.

As a alternative, could you take the time to write these questions you come up with at your next lesson with this teacher. Instead of asking the question, write it down and wait to see if this question is answered by what the teacher is covering. If the teacher does not cover it in the next lesson, you can do a little research on your own time, or you can email your questions to the teacher with a request such as "Two weeks ago I wrote down these questions at my lesson, and I wondered if you are able to cover any of them for me during lesson as they sparked my interest."

I have had students who asked very advanced questions while playing at a lower level of achievement. I have felt that they are precocious questions, interesting as a side story, or going to come up in the future. Each question was a valid question to be answered, but perhaps not at this time. Copious questions really slow the pace of the lesson down. It often seems diversionary to the teacher, or works as a "see how bright I am" habit of the student. In the meantime, there is plenty of work to be done in the present moment if we could only focus on it and apply ourselves.

I love curiosity and imaginative and creative people, but the lesson time is so limited that we can't chat our way through it.

Questions can become a "hobby" of collecting information and knowing more in depth about side things. Some of it could be called minituae (Did I spell that right? It took years for me to learn to pronounce it!) This comment I just made is a good example of attention drifting and a question popping up.

And, finally, treating questions in a written form, helps you see how far your curiosity has taken you. Verbal questions answers are here for the moment and may not stick around in your mind.

If you are constantly requiring your teacher to expound on something, he may be feeling put on the spot and that you are competing for control or interruption of the lesson. Testing him constantly.

Can you find another way to proceed so that you modify your habit just enough to make the problem go away. Have you asked your teacher if this is a problem to him?

If you are totally misfit for each other you will know it soon.

You are quite perceptive and it is mature of you to look for a solution. A good relationship with a teacher makes you feel accepted, involved with the lesson, and leaves you wanting more.

Good luck!

Betty

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#962383 - 08/02/08 12:02 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
We do not yet know the nature of the questions. We don't know whether they are pertinent, or wild tangents. We don't know how frequently and what point they are occuring. We don't know the nature of the lessons. At what depth, to which purpose, in which manner is what being taught? All teachers but one welcome the questions - why?

If I put on a teacher's hat for a moment, I would also look a the nature of the questions as a source of guidance to the student. What are these questions saying? What can I do with these questions?

For example, my theory student would like to compose music and in the beginning she had a scattered curiosity. Knowing of this interest, when I presented basic theory, I also gave little tidbits on how it related to composition and the structure of music. I gave some guidance to the necessity of paying attention to individual smaller seemingly unimportant things.

The habit of curiosity about musical structure has not diminished, but it has been redirected. She will now focus on a simple thing, such as finding the dominant, working with major or minor scales, hearing the nature of major, minor and perfect intervals, major and minor chords. But now she is also listening for these things when she hears music or when she plays. Her attention is primarily on what is being worked on, with the advanced things on the periphery, instead of the other way around. My own stance is that the basics are the seeds of the advanced - that is also my attitude as student.

I will also get a comment these days, while she is working on something mundane, such as "I can see how eventually this will help me compose." This has the additional advantage to not only acquire acceptance of humdrum basic things, but actually derive a love and fascination in it.

My own stance would be not to quash or discourage curiosity and questions, but to channel, redirect and guide that curiosity. That is assuming that it is healthy curiosity and not "information collection".

I hope that this input is acceptable.

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#962384 - 08/02/08 12:10 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4806
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Rebekah,

As a high school teacher I think I understand what you are saying. Yes, it is refreshing to have a curious student who asks many insightful questions. But, it can get annoying when the questions are off topic, designed to get attention or are so frequent they make it impossible to get through the lesson.

If you find you are asking too many questions during the lesson, why don't you jot them down and wait until the end of the lesson to ask them. That way you won't be interrupting the flow of what is being taught.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#962385 - 08/02/08 07:11 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
mikenz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/08
Posts: 22
Loc: Christchurch - New Zealand
I think in lesson preparation you should indicate what you are going to cover in a given teaching session so everyone knows your agreed destination point up front, so part of timing allocation must allow for time deviations and points of clarification. We all learn at different speeds and the human process of communication inherently means that what we understand to be simple and obvious may not be to the recipient. The idea of having a quick note pad handy where students can quickly note a reminder to ask at the end of the session is probably the most efficient use of time. Again I recommend using a video camera to record each session as this enables a quick review of grey-uncertain-need-more-explanation-areas.

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#962386 - 08/03/08 04:43 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Rebekah,

Are you by nature a random and abstract, many things get your attention at once kind of person? Or, do you follow a topic through to the end keeping your focus on the presentation?

If you ask the question does that mean you really want to have to know right now? Or, is that a form of making conversation and the process of communication coming up. Does the lesson prompt these questions or are they truly from out of the blue and they just popped up?


Betty [/b]
I'm sure I don't ask questions to start conversations or just be random. The questions I ask are (what I think to be) sincere. I think about what I am going to ask, often because some questions I know I can do research on and don't require somebody to spoon it to me. Two out of the three private teachers I see seem to enjoy answering questions. I jokingly confessed to one "I feel sorry for all the teachers that have to put up with me" ... "why?" "I ask too many questions" ... In reply that teacher told me not to think this way, this teacher commended the fact that I ask questions. Another said "do you have anymore questions to ask me? If you ever have any questions ask away"... A few questions I have asked in the past are: "When looking at a new piece of music what are the fundamentally important aspects? How would one approach the piece of music? Often I try to hit the right notes and do my best with reading the duration but I wonder how phrasing, dynamics and expressive techniques should be treated ... how should I approach a new piece of music?" ... or ... "Why is it wrong to move in consecutive fifths in four part vocal style music when it harmonically makes sense ... I have played the chords and listened I don't hear any clashes or unbalanced voices ..."

My questions aren't intended to be out of the blue ... never. They are thought out, sometimes I don't ask certain questions because I know I can research it myself.

Thanks for posting .. any thoughts ... I think now it could be a personality thing ...
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#962387 - 08/03/08 06:35 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
To music teachers:
 Quote:
When looking at a new piece of music what are the fundamentally important aspects? How would one approach the piece of music?
Are these not things that a teacher should be giving a student without being asked? How can a student prepare music without knowing how to prepare music?

There are a number of things that I would want to ask the OP in order to be well enough informed for giving suggestions.

Rebekah, when you asked how to approach the music, what was the answer? How are you currently being guided in approaching music, or what is the general picture involving a piece of music over the course of time that you work on it? What type of feedback and instructions are you getting? (To get a picture)

How frequently do you ask questions, and during which part of lessons?

KS

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#962388 - 08/03/08 06:57 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
You sound like the ideal student Rebe(kah.)L ... but judging by your far-ranging interest in music, your questions are seemingly above the scope of most Piano Teachers ... if any mentor is unable to respond enthusiastically to your every question, the evasion should act as a clear signal to move on .

Your valid enquiry deserves a quality analytical response:
"When looking at a new piece of music what are the fundamentally important aspects? How would one approach the piece of music? "

Only a Piano Teacher who daily expands a personal delight in the playing of the piano is likely to give you the answers you crave.

Search out an ikon whose flair you respect ... responses to your questions are then likely to put you on cloud nine.

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#962389 - 08/03/08 07:11 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
To music teachers:
 Quote:
When looking at a new piece of music what are the fundamentally important aspects? How would one approach the piece of music?
Are these not things that a teacher should be giving a student without being asked? How can a student prepare music without knowing how to prepare music?

There are a number of things that I would want to ask the OP in order to be well enough informed for giving suggestions.

Rebekah, when you asked how to approach the music, what was the answer? How are you currently being guided in approaching music, or what is the general picture involving a piece of music over the course of time that you work on it? What type of feedback and instructions are you getting? (To get a picture)

How frequently do you ask questions, and during which part of lessons?

KS [/b]
That was just an example of the types of questions I ask. I asked that a while ago when I was fresh transfer student. The new (current) teacher I had gave me a fresh start on everything and I have approached things differently. I ask questions in the beginning or end at times. Some particular teachers I have, have kept their line open particularly before a performance and if I am not seeing him/her at any stage before a performance.

The answer I had by the way was - Tackle it bar by bar, hands separately, make sure there is a pulse, that the phrasing is correct, to have the MUSIC there in the first place rather then learning just the notes and tidying everything later ... make sure that there is an underlying pulse, that the dynamics are under consideration, that the accentuation is correct, etc.

(The approach I took before with a different teacher was to sightread through at first, hands together to get a feel for the melody, to keep reading even if there is a big mistake. From then on to read half a page a day and to make sure there are accents in the correct place and the notes and rhythm is correct, make sure you pedal as soon as possible and the dynamics are added in last. ... Very different to the current teacher I have)

That was basically the response, mind you that was the response condensed , it was much more longer! The teacher in that scenario commended me for asking that question.
_________________________
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#962390 - 08/03/08 07:30 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
So as a new transfer student you asked *another* teacher, who welcomed your question, a necessary and pertinent question. Her answer gave you guidelines in approaching pieces while practicing, which would result in you coming to lessons well prepared.

So the question becomes: What is not working with this one teacher who dislikes your questions, and why is it not working? Is it ok to ask: What type of lessons (theory, piano, voice, history)? What kinds of questions? How might something be presented right now? What kinds of response to questions?

Perhaps that will help music teachers in this forum to provide more specific answers. As students a lot of us end up learning from such answers so we also have a keen interest.

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#962391 - 08/03/08 02:47 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Rebekah, one reason certain teachers get annoyed when questioned is they don't know the answers - - - if this is the case it may be time to look around for another teacher.
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#962392 - 08/03/08 02:53 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Theowne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 1099
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I'm guessing the line between being too inquisitive is the same as with any class. It might be good to ask questions and clarify your understanding in math class, but if you ask too much questions the professor won't be able to get through all the material to be covered, which isn't good for anyone.
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音楽は楽しいですね。。。

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#962393 - 08/03/08 03:34 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12056
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think in private lessons, however, questions are good. Sometimes as a teacher, if I have a particularly inquisitive student (usually adults are like this), I will answer those questions that are asked, and with joy. I love to foster the enthusiasm that a student has, which is often showed by the questions they ask. However, every once in a while a student will go off in left field, and if I feel that it is making progress impossible, I will patiently bring the discussion back to the topic on hand. I don't get impatient or angry, however.

This does remind me of one instance where I did get impatient, and I was in a class as a student and there was one student who seemed to have a question about everything. Even if something was explained clearly and the student obviously understood it, she would still restate what was said. It was very frustrating for the teacher and for the other students. This, however, was in a class setting and not private lessons, and in this case I think the student was doing this either because she really was not able to grasp things and should have been in an easier class, she was insecure and wanted attention, or was very needy in regards to reinforcement from the teacher. Or perhaps a combination of all 3.

It does not sound like this is the case with you, Rebekah. To be honest, I think it is sad that this teacher does not encourage your participation, because you seem to learn more when you can interact rather than be lectured (as is the case with many). I would usually say to talk with your current teacher and see if this would change, and if not look for another teacher, but I don't think this is something that can be "corrected". It appears to be a personality conflict where you two don't seem to be working on the same plane. Perhaps look into finding a new teacher.
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#962394 - 08/03/08 09:21 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
My take when I was teaching privately was that if a student had a germane question, I was happy to answer it and to take as long as necesary to clarify the issue for the student, even if this interfered with any "lesson plan." I was not teaching to any particular program, however, and therefore was not under the gun to keep studnets on any particular learning schedule. I felt like any question was legitimate if it pertained to piano or music in general, and would only augment the student's understanding of his/her craft as he/she was trying to learn it. Digressions do not equate with diversions. If I couldn't answer the question I would say so - and would offer to find out more about it before our next lesson, or (depending on the student) suggest some resources the student could pursue on his/her own. Nobody knows EVERYTHING and there is no shame in saying "I don't know." It's too bad if this is behind any annoyance on the teacher's part.
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#962395 - 08/03/08 11:57 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5513
Loc: Orange County, CA
I wish my students would ask more questions! Some of my students won't say more than two words total during the lesson ("hello" and "bye").

I do have talkative students, but all they do is talk about their lives or school; rarely do they ask anything about the music they're playing.

"Question posing" is an imporant skill to have if you want to succeed in school. I wish more of my students would ask questions. \:\(
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#962396 - 08/04/08 03:09 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
So as a new transfer student you asked *another* teacher, who welcomed your question, a necessary and pertinent question. Her answer gave you guidelines in approaching pieces while practicing, which would result in you coming to lessons well prepared.

So the question becomes: What is not working with this one teacher who dislikes your questions, and why is it not working? Is it ok to ask: What type of lessons (theory, piano, voice, history)? What kinds of questions? How might something be presented right now? What kinds of response to questions?

Perhaps that will help music teachers in this forum to provide more specific answers. As students a lot of us end up learning from such answers so we also have a keen interest. [/b]
This is my theory teacher. I ask theory related questions and sometimes piano related if they relate to theory. Often I get answer but an unenthusiastic one it sends me wondering if I am annoying \:\( ... at this stage it seems that our personalities don't match up ... So I think if might be time to see someone else
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#962397 - 08/04/08 04:57 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
It appears that the Theory teacher is the fly in the ointment .

Why not go to the Austrian author of the dated rot on theory JJ Fux? Get there via

Google
JJ Fux (and then 8 subjects lower to the Piano Forum chat)
Piano Forums at Piano World triads

to discover the blarney ... and then lay hands on an good book on acoustics like:

The Physics of Music by Alexander Wood, M.A.,D.Sc.
Faculty Lecturer in Musical Acoustics, Cambridge University

to gen up on the acoustic relationships between notes ... why a note and it’s octave, dominant and sub-dominant are consonant and others dissonant.

Once you realise that the Theory Teacher is driving a hearse to a place with dry bones ... you might prefer to hitch a ride to the more pleasant company of a fun fair or a Lang Lang concert.

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#962398 - 08/04/08 06:19 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11737
Loc: Canada
Theory can be both alive and fascinating, if the learner and teacher can go past the rules and dry stuff that must be learned, and relate it to music itself. Music came first, and theory is a way of organizing it. Correction: systems were, in fact, devised to enable composers to write more complex music and these are indeed artificial, but they also base themselves in some sense on the nature of tones and our psychology in perceiving them. It can be meaningful.

The first question that springs to mind is whether music and theory are meaningful to your teacher, and/or whether it is being presented in a way that would give it meaning. Is it possible to give 1 - 3 examples of a) what kinds of things you are studying and how they are being presented b) what kinds of questions you are asking (specific ones) and c) what kinds of answers you are receiving (whether reluctantly or enthusiastically).

Having written this, there is a certain body of rudimentary knowledge that must be acquired (memorized as well as understood) before you can go very far in theory. For example, later a student might be working with the series of triads that occur in a scale and music, but before doing that she will have to know and understand what a major and minor chord is, where the dominant is located, how to recognize and name an interval. That part is like learning the alphabet, and what to capitalize and punctuate in a sentence. Before this is laid down it is hard to discuss meaningful theory, because you would be constantly hunting for basic terms and concepts. In that sense I could see a theory teacher wanting to skip certain questions and lay down rudimentary knowledge as quickly as possible. I am teaching basic rudimentary theory to someone who wants to learn to compose eventually. I will present certain things, and give a small indication of how those things fit into the composition of music. Knowing that what she is studying now will eventually be used gives context to her present studies. For example, my student is learning to recognize major and minor triads; minor, major and perfect intervals - she is becoming sensitive to the feel of these intervals and can already hear how some are very comfortable and pleasant to the ear, while others makes you want to pull away to something more comfortable. She knows that the Dominant is important and can hear that the dominant chord of both the major and harmonic scale is a major chord. She knows that the seventh degree pulls to the tonic, and that music constitutes creating and releasing tension, moving away from home and returning to it (the key note or tonic). But she also knows that in order to work with any of these things, she needs to have a good handle on such basics as being able to identify a major and minor second, ability to name and recognize the dominant and subdominant, know what a degree in a scale is. We are concentrating on the nitty gritties in order to get them out of the way. There is no shortcut to that. Digressing would only cause a delay, and some questions cannot be answered until a certain groundwork has been laid.

The Fux which was mentioned by btb, deals with older music, counterpoint etc. Physics: the way notes vibrate and what that means, are two other branches of theory.

But I think the question does not involve approaches to theory, but how to best deal with a particular theory teacher. All of the above are actually one long digression.

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#962399 - 08/04/08 09:08 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Morodiene Offline
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Actually, keystring, I think that the systems are hardwired into us as humans. There was a study done on aborigines that had never heard western music, and they played all different genres, both those that are considered great and those that were "one hit wonders" in "classical", jazz, rock, country, etc. And the aborigines were asked to pick their favorites, and guess what? They picked the same favorites that we have. Theory is based on what is already there. Someone can compose and not know a lick of theory. Theory explains why something is there, such as what btb touched upon with "why octaves etc are consonant." The theory did not make these so just by naming them thusly, it was designed to explain what was already there.
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#962400 - 08/04/08 10:45 AM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
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That is interesting about the Aborigines, Morodienne. Was a study also made of their indigenous music or chants to compare possible characteristics?

I noticed that certain properties of sound are picked up in diverse civilizations so that we get octaves and fifths everywhere, as well as searches for the harmony of the universe or similar. Intervals and rhythms to denote certain emotions, or create them would be another.

Other theory however involves symbolic constructs as well as devices that were needed to create music. We can appreciate music better and play it better when we understand it, I would think. For example, the horizontal independent passages in contrapunctal music, the call-answer in fugues - if you hear it and recognize it then it will be easier to play and more meaningful, no? The Indian Raga is based on formal sequences and microtonic nuances which each express particular emotions rendered ritualistically but as tightly governed improv. If we don't understand these constructions then we cannot appreciate or enjoy their music. It will merely sound strange.

People can compose certain things without knowing theory - I did so myself - but I think that certain kinds of music can only be composed if we also have some theory under our belt. The jazz musician will improvise freely without writing anything down, but he would seem to have a fair bit of knowledge, such as understanding modes, different kinds of scales, chord progressions. I can't see someone being born and somehow innately coming up with a blues scale or a Phrygian mode. I can, however, see him being exposed to this music and picking up the patterns through exposure, because it's human nature to be musical. Is this also part of what you are saying?

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#962401 - 08/04/08 03:52 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
Morodiene Offline
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Actually, jazz and blues are a primarily aural traditions and so there are many who can play just based on the fact that they've listened to a lot of it and trying to emulate that sound, so your comment about learning it innately, is what I'm talking about. Music of other cultures can be understood if one listens to them for a little while. Perhaps not what kind of scales or tuning they use, but you can understand what it's getting at, what its conveying.
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#962402 - 08/04/08 04:37 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
keystring Online   content
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Yes, that makes sense. I would think that the jazz musician who did not study formally has still acquired a host of formal knowledge which he possesses, understands, and uses in the moment. It is "in us" to understand. I sometimes wonder whether some of our formal teaching and learning processes can actually get in the way of natural learning.

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#962403 - 08/05/08 06:47 PM Re: Student likes to asks questions ... annoying?
musiclady Offline
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I loved how my first clarinet teacher, who wanted his students to write down their questions and then have them answered at the lesson, and I really like students who ask me good music or playing related questions.
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