something that helps

Posted by: pianojerome

something that helps - 10/18/08 10:31 AM

When I'm having particular difficulty with a passage, I sometimes try to imagine how an ideal teacher would teach it to me -- which then translates to imagining that I myself am the teacher, and I'm trying to teach "someone else" how to do it.

I learn so much this way -- because it allows me to step out of my own shoes, in a sense, as the frustrated student who just wants to get it right already, and look at the situation in a calmer, more objective way.

Just now I was practicing a passage with a lot of leaps and huge chords -- and when I started to "teach" it to "someone else", I began to notice all kinds of ways to make the leaps easier, to find the huge chords more easily, to phrase it better, to understand the chord progressions better, etc.

It didn't take very long, that way, to go from struggling on every chord to playing it smoothly and comfortably. And it boosted my focus, because I was then playing, in a sense, both roles as the teacher and the student: I was focused on "teaching" it to myself, and I was at the same time focused on "learning" it from myself.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 10:41 AM

Interesting approach.

I wonder if this is related to the ideas in the book from a long time ago called The Inner Game of Tennnis(or Music)by Timothy Galway. I don't remember too much about the book except that as a tennis instructor at that time I didn't think too highly of it although it was immensely popular.

What pieces are you learning these days Sam?
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 11:17 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
What pieces are you learning these days Sam? [/b]
"Volokh" and "Wedding March" by Alexander Krein
5 Pieces Op. 19 by Joel Engel
Beim Rebn zu mlave malke by Moses Milner
Mozart G Major Sonata

and a bunch of songs:

"In Kheyder" by Moses Milner (here\'s a recording)
"Two Hebrew Songs" by Alexander Krein
"Mlave Malke" by M. Schalit (not sure his first name)
"from Song of Songs" by Mikhail Gnessin
Posted by: 1RC

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 11:17 AM

That sounds like a good way to get around impatience. I think that's a common setback for students, wanting to learn too fast. Well, it's common for me. The impatience causes me to skip steps - I want to play it well right off the bat, but often it's better to take my time to absorb the skill.
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 11:19 AM

That's common for me, too -- I find that this approach forces me to not simply not skip the steps, but actually to focus on each of those steps individually.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 11:32 AM

That's immensely helpful, Sam. I've been doing something similar with myself but I certainly didn't articulate the idea as well as you did.
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 03:20 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
I wonder if this is related to the ideas in the book from a long time ago called The Inner Game of Tennnis(or Music)by Timothy Galway. I don't remember too much about the book except that as a tennis instructor at that time I didn't think too highly of it although it was immensely popular.[/b]
 Quote:
What is the Inner Game?

"There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure in the outer game." -Tim Gallwey

In every human endeavor there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. The inner game takes place within the mind of the player and is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting concepts or assumptions. The inner game is played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.

In simple terms the game can be summarized in a formula: Performance = potential-interference, P=p-i. According to this formula, performance can be enhanced either by growing "p" potential or by decreasing "i," interference.

It is impossible to achieve mastery or satisfaction in any endeavor without first developing some degree of mastery of the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. Most of us have experienced days when our self-interference was at a minimum. Whether on a sports field, at work, or in some creative effort, we have all had moments in which our actions flowed from us with a kind of effortless excellence. Athletes have called this state, "playing in the zone." Generally at these times our mind is quiet and focused. But whatever it's called, when we're there, we excel, we learn, and we enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately most of us have also experienced times when everything we do seems difficult. With minds filled with self-criticism, hesitation, and over-analysis, our actions were awkward, mis-timed, and ineffective. Obviously we all would prefer to have more of the first and less of the second.

When individuals work together in teams both their potential and their "self-interference" can combine. When the self-interferences of team members play off of one another, the interference multiplies and the effective work of such a team is greatly diminished. We have all experienced this. Likewise when the potential of team members is combined and a minimum of interference is brought to the table, the team is capable of producing results well beyond the mere sum of the potential of its members.

The Inner Game provides principles, methods, and tools to learn to get out of your own way so you can express your full potential in whatever your chosen activity. The fundamental methods for overcoming self-interference described in the Inner Game series of books are similar, no matter what outer game is being played. For example, if a person learns the art of relaxed focus of attention in one activity, that skill can be applied to any other activity. This provides great leverage for anyone attempting to maximize excellence in any field.

All outer games differ, but the inner game is always the same.
http://www.theinnergame.com/html/whatisInnerGame.html

Interesting. It reminds me of something my grandmother used to say: "Do me a favor, don't make my day!" Her idea was that other people can certainly help her in certain ways with the things that she enjoys doing, but ultimately there are things that simply nobody but her can control -- things like attitude, focus, drive, etc, that are all in the mind. IOW, nobody else but her could "make her day" -- they could certainly help in various ways, but ultimately it was up to her to make her own day. Having only read a summary of the tennis book, it seems like the "inner game" is all about these very things that are completely inside the mind, that can't really be transferred from one person to another.

That's important, too, but I'm thinking in my original post more about "the outer game" -- things like how to move/position my hand, fingerings, dynamics, rhythmic pulse, etc -- things that could actually be taught from one person to another.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 03:22 PM

Sam :

I think what you are saying is the same as saying : "Analyze the problem, then solve it." Too many will continuously repeat a passage in the hopes of "getting it right" when all they are doing is repeating the problem without analyzing it so that they can efficiently resolve it.

Regards,
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: something that helps - 10/18/08 03:31 PM

That's exactly it; and on top of "repeating a passage in the hopes of 'getting it right'", there are often times when we are so biased as students that we don't even realize that there even is a problem to begin with. We're rushing, but we don't know it. We're playing wrong notes, but we don't know it. We're taking too long for certain leaps, but we don't know it. It sounds bad, but because we've spent so much time on it and put so much effort into it, we naively don't hear that it sounds bad; to us it just sounds wonderful.

So sometimes it helps to change my perspective, to try and think as a different person with a different agenda, in order to even see the problems (and as a result, the solutions) that I didn't know were there.
Posted by: 1RC

Re: something that helps - 10/20/08 10:58 PM

Now that I think of it some more, I believe that I did this a lot when I first started learning piano. Maybe it was because I spent a few months just reading about learning piano before attempting to put together practice habits, so when I finally sat down to start practicing I had all kinds of 'teacher advice' floating around in my head.

"hmmmm, I can't get this right. Now what?"

"well how about you try doing it like this..."

"awright, lets give that a shot"

It's a well ordered multiple personality. I have to be less arrogant and learn to ask myself more questions. Or at least take more of my own advice. :p