Help me!..... I play like a robot

Posted by: David P

Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 06:01 PM

For the life of me, I just can't seem to introduce acceptable musicality into my playing. I do keep my hands and finger loose without tension but this does not even seem to help. I have a teacher whos experienced with degrees and has recognized this early on. He has made the comment to play more musically but he has not made any effort to correct this problem. I believe he believes there is little that can be done for the reason of a limited ability or late start on the piano (39yrs)I'm unsure. He says its not my age implying it just my natural inability. So, he doesn't bring it up. However, could it be that he just does not know how to help someone like me out of this bad style?

I have played for 6years and get plenty of practice in. He told me to get czerny. I did and played it through the entire book. It taught me how to sight read better and play ornamentation but still to no avail. I did Hanon 60 through out the book this enabled me to move round on the keyboard with easy but apparently did not help at all with musicality.

The piece I'm robotic on is a contemporary piece from Keith Greens repertory. Its extremely syncopated. I know certain pieces are less demanding on musically (attack of keys and transitioning from note to note) such as a negro spritual though dynamically demanding, the slow speed of the piece gives me time to render dynamics better.

What exercises or how should I practice inorder to come out of this flawed techneck. Is this a matter of week fingers or uncontrollable Hand's/arms? Don't be afread to tell me like it is. If I'm unable to improve I'll just have to live with it, maybe move over to trumpet where I excell and find it a
"breeze"

Posted by: jotur

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 06:12 PM

There's a thread with a similar question here in the teachers forum that might offer some insight:

Expression in music thread

Cathy
Posted by: Pianos_N_Cheezecake

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 06:35 PM

Well, this is coming from a jazz musician but a lot of how I express notes and use different dynamics comes from years of listening. Maybe you should try picking up a few recordings, maybe even an exact recording of the pieces you are playing and see how that musician interprets the piece. You could even take one passage, a few bars, and try and play it exactly like that musician. It's a good way to gain the right sensibilities for the music.

Cheeze...
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 06:58 PM

Originally Posted By: David P
I believe he believes there is little that can be done for the reason of a limited ability or late start on the piano (39yrs)I'm unsure. He says its not my age implying it just my natural inability. So, he doesn't bring it up. However, could it be that he just does not know how to help someone like me out of this bad style?


What a crock, if you'll excuse the expression. A good teacher should be able to guide your playing to become expressive. I am assuming that you don't speak or sing in a monotone.
Posted by: eweiss

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: David P
What exercises or how should I practice inorder to come out of this flawed techneck. Is this a matter of week fingers or uncontrollable Hand's/arms? Don't be afread to tell me like it is. If I'm unable to improve I'll just have to live with it, maybe move over to trumpet where I excell and find it a
"breeze"

David, forget about exercises. Musicality comes from within. You must "feel" the music. Now, you're probably playing classical pieces right? Guess what? It's not "your" music. Try to improvise. There's no quicker way to be in the present and with the music instead of in your head analyzing notes etc. I have a free lesson that might help. Just click my sig.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: David P

The piece I'm robotic on is a contemporary piece from Keith Greens repertory.


Keith Green is not even remotely Classical:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Green
Posted by: David P

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 09:19 PM

I like the idea of playing from listening. The difficulty rises as the music is at a fast tempo. Though I heard of a software called the "great slow downer" I think. this allows mp3s to be slowed down while one listens. Making it possible to play along with the song.
Posted by: toejamfutbol

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 09:34 PM

Originally Posted By: David P


The piece I'm robotic on is a contemporary piece from Keith Greens repertory. Its extremely syncopated. I know certain pieces are less demanding on musically (attack of keys and transitioning from note to note) such as a negro spritual though dynamically demanding, the slow speed of the piece gives me time to render dynamics better.




I grew up playing Keith Green! I was obsessed with his music when I was about 14. Which song is it?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 09:35 PM

Welcome to PW David! You need to understand what the piece is expressing, this will be on many levels and is a lifetime's work.
Posted by: DragonPianoPlayer

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 09:41 PM

Originally Posted By: David P
I like the idea of playing from listening. The difficulty rises as the music is at a fast tempo. Though I heard of a software called the "great slow downer" I think. this allows mp3s to be slowed down while one listens. Making it possible to play along with the song.



The software is called the Amazing SlowDowner. There is another program, Transcribe!, that also includes information about what frequencies are being heard in the music.

Rich
Posted by: toejamfutbol

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 10:01 PM

Maybe try playing the complete opposite way: instead of playing robotic, be as overly dramatic as you possibly can. That way you can assess the extremes and find a more appropriate middle ground.
Posted by: J Cortese

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/06/09 11:39 PM

One simple thing: get the sheet music for something simple that you LOVE. And play that.

Something you adore. Something that you want played at your funeral (and no, not "Achy Breaky Heart" because you'll be dead and not have to listen to it). Get the sheet music for a simple contemporary song that you are absolutely crazy about or that has deep emotional meaning to you. Anything. What's your favorite Simon and Garfunkel song?

Play that, one tiny phrase at a time so that you aren't sweating getting everything right and tensing up.
Posted by: David P

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/07/09 01:06 AM

Ok, good tips, thank you, the song is "soften your heart". This is my 8 piece by him. I trying to learn hi
Posted by: Roxy

Re: Help me!..... I play like a robot - 08/07/09 02:47 AM

David, I agree with John, Your teacher should be able to guide your playing to become expressive. I'm surprised He doesn't want you to, after all it can only be more enjoyable to listen to for him. I also agree with Cheezecake, listening to different recordings of a song you like and pay attention to what you like with a phrase or don't like so that you know what to try and achieve will help immeasurably. After you are able to play a phrase the way you have heard that you like try and put your spin on it by maybe holding something out a bit more or moving it in a different place than on the recording. Record yourself playing it so you really know what you are sounding like. Sometimes we hear ourselves in our heads or hearts but it is not what is really coming out from under our fingers and we don't realize it unless we can listen back to our recording objectively while not playing. Sometimes singing the phrase while you play it can also help.