problem with my teacher

Posted by: drazh

problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 08:54 AM

hi
I have a good teacher. but sometimes he recommends some practice which I know is wrong ie finger independence exercise which is out of date. i didnt talk to him about this because didnt want him be angry. what should I do
ps: I dont want to change my teacher
Posted by: Toastie

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 10:12 AM

To be honest, you should probably ask your teacher why he set the exercises rather than strangers on the Internet. I don't mean that to sound funny, it's just that he may have a really good reason for setting these - which you will only find out by asking! And if he doesn't, we'll then at least you know either way and then you can make a sensible decision about whether or not you'll do them.

The way I see it you have a few choices:

1. Do the exercises you think are wrong and don't say anything for fear of upsetting him.
2. Don't do the exercises you think are wrong and don't say anything.
3. Don't do the exercises and talk to your teacher about why you don't want to do them.
4. Ask you teacher to explain why you're doing them and then make a decision together.

I'd go with option 4 (well actually no, I'd just do them as my teacher doesn't set things that are wrong and I trust her).

Toastie (a student not a teacher, so maybe not the best giver of advice)

Posted by: Minniemay

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 10:28 AM

You absolutely must ask your teacher about this and voice your concerns.
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 10:30 AM

well, he said it is good for my weak fingers to be stronger.
but I am sure this is an old idea
Posted by: keystring

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 10:51 AM

Let's look at this carefully. Your teacher is assigning you finger independence exercises which you say are wrong and "out of date", and that is why you are bothered. The reason it is wrong in your eyes must be because you have read somewhere that it is wrong. Depending on how (he? she?) is teaching it, and why, it may not be. So how do we know if it's wrong:

We'll have to assume that you have to be practicing in the manner she wants you to practicing consistently and for long enough, and then see the results. If the results are bad, then it might be a bad instruction. Here's the first problem. 1. Even if a student does this, it may not be as the teacher intended. 2. There may be results which the teacher sees but the student doesn't. So how can you tell? That's a big dilemma for students if they have doubts. How is your teacher's playing? Does she seem comfortable, play convincingly with a good sound and expression - which suggests that how this teacher plays has a good base (which the teacher is trying to impart to you)? Does the teacher complain of aches and pains or injury (if the teacher is old, that may be due to age rather than technique)?

In another post you write of having pain in your thumb when playing arpeggios or broken chords. Did your teacher tell you how to play them physically, and correct your physical playing? Did you tell your teacher about the pain? If so, did your teacher watch you to see what you are doing that causes the pain, and correct what you are doing to fix it? If so, did you listen and do what this teacher suggested?

I read that you were self-taught for three years, and I think you have had this teacher for one year. The teacher has brought you back to basics - which makes sense. You would have formed all kinds of habits. The question is; when you were brought back to basics, did this teacher also instruct you on how to play physically and what you were doing right and wrong from your self-taught days? If so, did you follow those instructions in good faith, consistently, and if you did what were the results? If you did not trust the instructions and didn't follow them - or went half-half with what you taught yourself plus what the teacher was telling you some of the time --- then you can't tell if this teacher's teaching is good.

Here is an analogy. Supposing that you taught yourself to cook, and when you make pudding you've always added a drop of lemon. (I'm trusting that you know lemon makes milk curdle wink ). Then you study with a chef who tell you step by step how to make pudding from scratch. You take part of what she says that you think must be right, and leave out other things that you think don't matter. And you keep the drop of lemon because - well - you like lemons. Your pudding still has this weird texture, and you say "That chef is no good. Her instructions are wrong." But it was the lemon that you still put in. The only way you can tell is if you make the pudding exactly as she says. Sports is a better analogy because the pudding forms instantly. Physical skills come over time because the body itself changes. The same is true for music.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 12:20 PM

Originally Posted By: drazh
hi
I have a good teacher. but sometimes he recommends some practice which I know is wrong ie finger independence exercise which is out of date. i didnt talk to him about this because didnt want him be angry. what should I do
ps: I dont want to change my teacher


It would be helpful if you shared with us the practice exercise that you say is out of date, and from whom did you learn that it is out of date?
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 01:32 PM

dear keystring
thank you for reviewin my piano history
1.yes he can play piano beautifully
2.i learned relaxation technics which was very effective
3. i solved arpeggio problem using piano forums comments
4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g
elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension
then tap the key as hard as you can
thank you
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 01:34 PM

dear rocket 88
my resource is a book by georgy sandors:piano technic:
but i like to know what is your opinion because as far as i know yyour an experienced teacher
thank you
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 01:48 PM

Originally Posted By: drazh

4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g
elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension
then tap the key as hard as you can
thank you


Does sound strange. Please ask your teacher, 'what's with the pain and tension?' I'm all for strengthening fingers...
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 02:04 PM

Originally Posted By: drazh

4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g
elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension
then tap the key as hard as you can


Never mind the out-of-dateness: this is physically scary stuff you are being asked to do with your fingers, hands, and arms. And you don't like it. Please be careful with this mode of practicing, before you do serious damage to yourself!

If you don't want to change teachers now, I'd suggest you start studying with this person's polar opposite behind his back.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: drazh

4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g
elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension
then tap the key as hard as you can
thank you


Does sound strange. Please ask your teacher, 'what's with the pain and tension?' I'm all for strengthening fingers...


I agree...this sounds weird.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 05:26 PM

Quote:
4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension then tap the key as hard as you can


with pain and tension means something is wrong...
Posted by: Opus_Maximus

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 05:26 PM

"Lifting one finger as high as you can and tap the key as hard as you can" is exactly how I was taught, and is widely accepted as one of the chief methods for building finger independence.

What does raise concerns is his insistence to keep doing it even if you have pain and tension. Did he really say that??
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 06:02 PM

I'm glad your arpeggio studies went better, drazh.

"...i didnt talk to him about this because didnt want him be angry. what should I do
ps: I dont want to change my teacher"


It's not the end of the world if your teacher's nose gets out of joint. This is just a question, such as any good student might ask, and I don't see any call for him to become angry over it. But if he does, so what? That is his life problem to handle, not yours to take on yourself. It is not as if you have made some offensive personal remark. This is where you need to know where a healthy boundary is, for your own good.

You must find out more about the technique he is asking you to do (and find out from him, in person). He must understand what your hands are feeling--- it is your responsibility to tell him, since he probably doesn't have x-ray vision like Superman. It is his responsibility not to tell you to do something that will injure you, and your responsibility not to let him--- for you are the one who will have to live with it.

However, finger-independence is good, and learning how to put some power into the keystroke is good. Pain and discomfort means, "time to stop--- that's enough."

BTW, plenty of piano students simply don't do what their teacher tells them to. If you followed that path, it would be unsurprising.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 08:53 PM

Get a new teacher.
Posted by: keystring

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/01/12 09:30 PM

I am bothered. Nobody has heard or watched this student play a single note. No teacher has asked him whether he is experiencing problems or what kind of problems, whether his playing has gotten better or worse, whether he has increased or decreased comfort or ease. At least Opus Maximus wrote this:
Quote:
...his insistence to keep doing it even if you have pain and tension. Did he really say that??
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 12:22 AM

dear Opus maximus
yes he said elevate your finger as hjgh as possible and remain in high position even with pain and tension in your finger
but as far as I know real piano playing is not like that and plays very relaxed also
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 12:27 AM

dear jeff clef
I solved arpeggio problem using thumb over technic.
but he insisted on thumb under legato slow motion without arm swinging which was very painful and I told him several times

he just said thats ok no problem
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 12:30 AM

dear aznpiano
I cant because i dont have many options here
and he is a very good pianist but with some old concept
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 12:33 AM

dear keystring
I think I had some progress with my teacher
my playing is more relexed
fewer wrong notes
less messy
with some bad habits still remain
Posted by: keystring

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 02:45 AM

Originally Posted By: drazh
...
swinging which was very painful and I told him several times

he just said thats ok no problem

That in itself is disturbing.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 05:25 AM

Originally Posted By: drazh
dear jeff clef
I solved arpeggio problem using thumb over technic.
but he insisted on thumb under legato slow motion without arm swinging which was very painful and I told him several times

he just said thats ok no problem


Thumb under legato without arm swinging should be comfortable if you are using your hand in an efficient way. I say 'should' - we are all different and it is possible you have some physical barrier to this (e.g a stiff joint) and your body works differently.

What concerns me is a student saying 'this is very painful' and a teacher saying 'ok, no problem'.

I was reading about outdated techniques, like playing exercises with heavy books wedged between arms and sides of the body. I can't see how this would make a player better, but I can see how a good player would manage to do it, while a lesser player would struggle. So perhaps the proponent of the system got better despite the exercise not because of it.
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 06:37 AM

and what is the efficient way?
to me at least thumb over was effective and thumb under was ineffective
Posted by: apple*

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 07:57 AM

give peace a chance. I wish i had a teacher to spring some unusual exercises on me.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 07:59 AM

Originally Posted By: drazh
and what is the efficient way?
to me at least thumb over was effective and thumb under was ineffective


OK, I'll do my best. The hand is in a good position on the keyboard (by that I mean, there is a bit of an arch in each finger). The thumb joint slides under the arch made by the hand, with the thumb moving sideways parallel to the keys. The thumb then depresses the key, contacting the key at the side of the tip not by pressing the entire length of the thumb on they key. When it presses, the tip of the thumb is lower than the thumb joint.

The key is getting the hand position right before you start, and then sliding the thumb joint. Most people resist this and do the chicken-elbow thing.

Edit: By thumb joint, I mean the very base of the thumb where it joins the hand.
Posted by: keystring

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 10:51 AM

Here is the bottom line. An good, efficient teacher will be observing his student, and teaching according to what he observes. When he assigns something, he also watches to make sure the student will be going home and practising it right,and when the student comes back the next week, he will see whether what he is doing is on the right track. This only works if the student does what he is told to do, how he is told to do it, for long enough.

No teacher here, especially without seeing a student play, can make that kind of judgment call. If they do see the student play, then they call tell all kinds of things.

Meanwhile playing an instrument is not black and white. For example, when you play scales and arpeggios, your thumb will have to do its thing, and the joints of the rest of your body have to not be locked. On one extreme you have a student who has nothing going on in the wrist or thumb and chicken-wings wildly; at the other you have a perfectly still arm with everything locked in, and a hyper-mobile thumb compensating, ready for future injury. Teachers will have GENERAL rules of thumb. A student reading on the Internet may have the idea that these are rigid rules, and will go, "(gasp), my teacher is not following the rules. I'm being mistaught!" Any particular teacher may be going at things from an opposite angle than the majority, yet end up meeting in the same place. Or the teacher is working a certain way because of what he sees with this particular student.

Take an hypothetical example. Two students: one "chicken wings". The other freezes his arm and everything else and uses only his fingers. If teaching can involve learning to use all the joints, or learning to use the fingers, will these two students be approached the same way? The body works as a whole, from fingertip to feet, but what will be emphasized with these two students? (Btw, I tended toward the second while self-taught).

Another example: In the ABF someone put up a tutorial on thumb motion in scales. The teacher was doing the same old-fashioned thing I had learned from an old book; swinging his thumb under the 3rd or 4th finger, then moving his hand. It's what had come close to injuring me. I saw from his demo that I had practised it "perfectly" according to the book. But I also saw small micro-movements in his wrist and arm which corresponded to what I have learned about all the joints being free to move - and this is something that was not in the book I had used. If a ** good ** teacher is teaching along this avenue, he will also be seeing that his student is locking his wrist or elbow or shoulder and will be correcting that. It's not the "teaching method" as in a formula, but how the teacher teaches from day to day. It's not as simple as a student seeing on the Internet how "it's supposed to be taught" and then seeing whether his own teacher is doing this "supposed to be", though we can get a general idea of things.

The big thing is the fact that you talk about pain, with your teacher seeming to shrug it off. There will be soreness from time to time when you do something new that your body isn't used to, but pain is a warning sign. The world is full of people who have been injured due to teaching methods, or following instructions faultily, with a non-observant teacher going by some formula. This is the part that does not feel right: you telling your teacher of pain and your teacher seeming to shrug it off --- IF that is what is happening.

Addendum: TLT has given a good overview of some key aspects.
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 03:43 PM

and what is the diference between soreness and pain?
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 04:18 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring

The big thing is the fact that you talk about pain, with your teacher seeming to shrug it off. There will be soreness from time to time when you do something new that your body isn't used to, but pain is a warning sign. The world is full of people who have been injured due to teaching methods, or following instructions faultily, with a non-observant teacher going by some formula.


Keystring has put it better than I could. Many thanks to him!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 05:25 PM

Always listen to your body, whether it's fatigue, soreness, or pain. ALL are bad and unnecessary if you are doing things right, and not excessively or incorrectly. If your teacher is unconcerned about this causing you pain then you should search for another teacher, no matter how well they can play.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 07:44 PM

"...and what is the diference between soreness and pain?"

This is a good question--- a very good thing to think about, and to be aware of for your protection. I will offer my opinion, based on my experience as a student; I'm sure others may see the matter differently. Keep in mind, I'm not a doctor or health practitioner (though I've seen plenty of them at times, for these problems).

The continuum goes from:
[1] a slightly lingering fatigue, the feeling that muscles have been used and exercised, maybe for something unfamiliar; a slight sense that the tendons and skin have been stretched a little bit. You might call this 'soreness,' but I would simply call it the feeling of having exercised. There is no pain as such. Rest overnight is sufficient for recovery.

[2] Then we have real soreness: the feeling that we have overdone it. The fatigue lasts longer, the stretching is uncomfortable, there is an ache which lingers for awhile. There could be a slight degree of swelling, and using the hand or arm for other other ordinary tasks causes noticeable discomfort. This soreness might take a few days of rest to recover from.

[3] Really sore: like #2 above, but worse. The recovery phase takes longer, the discomfort is greater, and this is verging closely on danger. It requires that you stop practicing altogether for at least several days. Some people might treat this bad soreness with ice or NSAIDS for relief--- which is ok for most people (unless a doc tells you not to; for example, if you have an allergy, a stomach ulcer, a conflict with some other medication, etc). But, the real solution is to stop overdoing it and also to correct any problems with technique. If we continue to do the same thing, though, the next step is:

[4] Sharp pain, stiffness, swelling, great discomfort with movement. This may last for more than a few days and require a week or more of rest. The tissues and physical structures are being damaged at this point: tearing, inflammation. If we keep overdoing it at this point, the next stage will require treatment by a doctor.

[5] Pain that doesn't go away with ordinary home treatment and rest for more than two weeks. I hate to even go so far to describe the possibilities, but people do this. We are on the doorstep of tendonitis (a long-lasting and troublesome inflammation of the tendons of the hand and wrist, and the processes in the wrist through which they are conducted), sprains (tearing of ligaments), joint pain (possibly, aggravation of existing mild arthritis, or irritation of the joint capsule), tearing and severe soreness of muscle tissue in the arm. It can be worse: the shoulder, back, and neck can be damaged. Long-term overuse or misuse can have many fruits; all of them are a drag. It is time to see a doctor, who may send you to a physical therapist, if you are lucky, for correction; or treat you with medications or possibly even surgery.

So drazh, the difference lies between practicing or exercising reasonably and feeling good, if maybe a bit tired... maybe, going a little further next time, as you get stronger and more skillful... or going all the way, eventually, ignoring the body's healthy message of pain, to seriously bad news, brought on by mistreating the body.

If you are hurting--- and we all know what that is--- stop. If your teacher says, "Oh it's ok," you say, "No, it's not ok, it hurts."
Posted by: BethH

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 10:34 PM

I think even good teachers are not good for all students.

Some teachers play extremely well. Extremely well. Do you think a teacher who was a child prodigy necessarily knows how to teach well? They learned so much when very young I think they may not be as good of a teacher as someone who was mediocre but worked hard in college.

People learn differently as well. If a teacher teachers/learns very differntly from you, then it is much slower to teach you. Teacher may be good, and you may be a good student, but the combination of the 2 of you may be a mismatch.
Posted by: drazh

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 11:37 PM

thank you jeff clef
maybe you mean muscle fatigue for good soreness
because of muscle oveuse
then rest is the best treatment
but because there is no musclr in our finger(only tendons and joint)any type of discomfort (as morodiene said)will be bad and should be avoided
Posted by: currawong

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/02/12 11:40 PM

Jeff, just speaking for myself here - I wouldn't be comfortable with any levels on your continuum except [1]. And I'm not even sure I'd be all that happy about [1] either. I certainly would stop and rest if I felt it.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/03/12 07:00 AM

"...Jeff, just speaking for myself here - I wouldn't be comfortable with any levels on your continuum except [1]...."

My exact point.

Well... that, and that it worries me that the teacher is trying to bully the student into doing something that could be physically harmful--- and that the student feels reluctant to stand up for himself. If I'm reading this right. Teachers are supposed to push us beyond our limitations, but there's a point when you have to say, "No...." Or, "Not now."
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/03/12 08:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...Jeff, just speaking for myself here - I wouldn't be comfortable with any levels on your continuum except [1]...."

My exact point.

Well... that, and that it worries me that the teacher is trying to bully the student into doing something that could be physically harmful--- and that the student feels reluctant to stand up for himself. If I'm reading this right. Teachers are supposed to push us beyond our limitations, but there's a point when you have to say, "No...." Or, "Not now."


I agree. The "no pain, no gain" mentality does not apply to something that requires less large muscle strength and more small muscle finesse and arm weight. Not all great pianists are great teachers.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: problem with my teacher - 12/04/12 01:38 AM

Originally Posted By: drazh
well, he said it is good for my weak fingers to be stronger.
but I am sure this is an old idea
Does "my weak fingers" mean, the fingers on the weak side of the hand (4 and 5) or, all fingers are weaker than optimum?

Originally Posted By: drazh
dear rocket 88
my resource is a book by georgy sandors:piano technic
If I remember correctly, Sandor wrote to the effect that "the fingers should be independent...from one another. Not from the hand."

Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
"Lifting one finger as high as you can and tap the key as hard as you can" is exactly how I was taught, and is widely accepted as one of the chief methods for building finger independence.

What does raise concerns is his insistence to keep doing it even if you have pain and tension. Did he really say that??
Opus Maximus -So was I taught to lift fingers high. But were you taught to hold down the idle fingers? If I interpret the OP correctly, that is what his teacher recommended. It sounds very dangerous.
Originally Posted By: drazh
4. technic of finger independence: put your fingers on c-g
elevate only one finger as high as you can even with pain and tension
then tap the key as hard as you can