The best way to learn, by Mimicking

Posted by: Wizard of Oz

The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 03:17 AM

A post in a previous thread about the "traps new teachers fall into..." talked about as a teacher, to constantly play for the student rather than use words. I wholeheartedly agree!

Found a video on youtube which perfectly demonstrates this.

Watch from 2:30-4:00, as the kid is "mimicking" his father's playing. Quite the young player too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnmJjZwKvzA
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 03:56 AM

I'm very much against mimicking as a tool. It's how we learn nearly everything but it is not teaching.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 03:58 AM

Problems with the "mimicking" approach:

1) Note-reading is taught later, or not at all.
2) Students become overly dependent on hearing/seeing a demonstration before playing a piece.
3) Sight reading will be awful.
4) Students get used to looking at their hands instead of looking at the printed music, which results in a lack of familiarity with the geography of the keyboard.
5) At one point, the student's memory capacity will run dry, and he/she will be deeply troubled by longer, more difficult music.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:04 AM

Good points AZN. Those that learn from within understand.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:19 AM

On the contrary, it's the most natural way to learn. Think about how a baby starts to talk, they hear mom and dad say words and try to repeat them. Many rock and roll, jazz, pop musicians learned by listening to records of their favourite artists, imitated their sound, and then assimilated it.

Jimi Hendrix has influenced many guitarists, including Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney. Branford Marsalis said all jazz musicians learn by hearing others, he said his playing sounded like Wayne Shorter as a youth.

Which trumpet player hasn't heard of Miles Davis and said "I want to sound like him!"

Without mimicking there is no teaching NOR learning.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:31 AM


Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Art Tatum, George Shearing, sure didn't have problems playing. I've seen Marcus Roberts, a blind jazz pianist play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue flawlessly.

Nobuyuki Tsujii, a blind classical player from Japan, just won the Van Cliburn competition this year.

Reading music is highly overrated, and playing by ear sorely lacking. I personally only play by ear now.

You are stuck in the old paradigm of teaching.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:35 AM

Yes it's how we learn most things but not how we teach. You're talking about demonstration.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:40 AM

Ok then, what do you consider the best way to teach?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:47 AM

I'd start by reading Plato. Meno to start with, then get back to me in about 5 years time.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 05:03 AM

I'm talking about music here. If you can't back up what you say, I best suggest you not post on my threads.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 05:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
I'm talking about music here.
No, you're talking about teaching (this is the Teachers forum).
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 05:14 AM

So you tell your students to read Plato to learn Chopin?! great... No piano teacher goes through a lesson without physically showing and getting the student to mimic what they are doing.

Learning is the flip side of the coin from teaching. They are directly related. How a student learns best correlates to how well you teach. Dude, you haven't said one useful thing here. Just move on.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 05:28 AM

I agree they are flip sides, there's no best way. No, if they wish to teach Chopin I give them Plato. Lets give him a listen:
Quote:
BOY: Certainly, Socrates.

SOCRATES: What do you say of him, Meno? Were not all these answers given
out of his own head?

MENO: Yes, they were all his own.

SOCRATES: And yet, as we were just now saying, he did not know?

MENO: True.

SOCRATES: But still he had in him those notions of his--had he not?

MENO: Yes.

SOCRATES: Then he who does not know may still have true notions of that
which he does not know?

MENO: He has.

SOCRATES: And at present these notions have just been stirred up in him,
as in a dream; but if he were frequently asked the same questions, in
different forms, he would know as well as any one at last?

MENO: I dare say.

SOCRATES: Without any one teaching him he will recover his knowledge for
himself, if he is only asked questions?

MENO: Yes.
Posted by: TimR

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 06:30 AM

It is alleged that learning by mimicing, as children do their first language, is the fastest and most thorough way.

But it is a method that works well with children, the younger the better; and fades as we age, being nearly unavailable to adults.

It makes sense that this would be so. But I know a large number of you consider children and adults to be exactly the same in learning ability and learning strategy.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 07:45 AM

Yet another artificial either/or internet forum discussion.

There's room for mimicking in a quality piano education, as well as explanation, Socratic methodology, challenge and exploration, demonstration, etc...

And in addition to Plato, there's also Gagne, Piaget, and Bruner. (And Suzuki, and Montessori, and Clark, and Duke, etc...)

We should also acknowledge the fact that students will learn in the way most comfortable for them. If they prefer to mimic at first and we do not allow them to do so, they will not simply begin to learn in our preferred way, they will become confused and lose interest.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 09:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
On the contrary, it's the most natural way to learn. Think about how a baby starts to talk, they hear mom and dad say words and try to repeat them. Many rock and roll, jazz, pop musicians learned by listening to records of their favourite artists, imitated their sound, and then assimilated it.

Jimi Hendrix has influenced many guitarists, including Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney. Branford Marsalis said all jazz musicians learn by hearing others, he said his playing sounded like Wayne Shorter as a youth.

Which trumpet player hasn't heard of Miles Davis and said "I want to sound like him!"

Without mimicking there is no teaching NOR learning.





Mimicking is a great way to learn for those styles in which it is the chief way of learning. Jazz is an aural tradition, and not a written one, so if a student is having trouble reading some jazz music, we do some listening. And while this can also help in Classical music, it is not the primary method of learning because of the complexity. At some point the student has to learn to read, and sooner rather than later so that when they get to the music that is too complex to learn by ear they aren't struggling with the score. (In the instance of blindness, I am sure there is someone who plays the music at a slow tempo for the performer to pick up by ear. I cannot imagine playing Debussy from listening to a CD at full speed.)

On the flip side, it is a detriment to a student for a teacher to teach exclusively by ear and neglect the reading. A good teacher balances the two so that the student is capable of doing both.
Posted by: rada

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 09:34 AM

I believe a combination of approaches can work but there is no way to measure a learner's persistence. Learning to read music opens the possibility for life long learning . I hear many people play by ear that have the same ad libs, same voicings, same chord changes. Go play some Chopin and you will never be bored by that.

rada
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 03:47 PM

Kreisler: Always the voice of reason. Thank you!

It's all about balance, people.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 04:29 PM

I think it's important to teach to the student's strength and to his weakness' from the beginning. That means observing his personality, learning styles, and preferance and working with him so that he can as comfortable as possible, follow.

There may be times when modeling something on the piano would be helpful, so I would have no qualms in doing that. Other times, I may want him to follow me into a way that is outside his comfort level, I would be careful in leading and expect his willingness to follow and explore.

When it comes to acquiring skills, very often the student has to do the hard climb to make it happen. It's important that the student do things outside of his comfort level. Without effort, he is not likely to be able to keep making progress.

Natural talents are nice, but they don't always give the student what he needs in his tank when things get tougher to do musically.

If a student limits themselves to only doing what they know and are comfortable with that puts a deadend to what might have been accomplished with a different attitude.

So imitation, mimicing, rote when expeditious to create the experience and then other methods to make it understandable in what occured and what it looks like on the music paper.

A piano teacher's goal is to transfer knowledge and empowerment and independance to the student. Our vocabulary and methods are much larger than any "parrots" vocabulary and we should use our knowledge accordingly for our student's success in getting results and making progress.

Let's remember that "Simon says" is a children's game.

Betty
Posted by: eweiss

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/05/09 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
A post in a previous thread about the "traps new teachers fall into..." talked about as a teacher, to constantly play for the student rather than use words. I wholeheartedly agree!

Found a video on youtube which perfectly demonstrates this.

Watch from 2:30-4:00, as the kid is "mimicking" his father's playing. Quite the young player too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnmJjZwKvzA

I think it depends on what is being taught. For example, demonstrating a technique and having a student mimic it may prove helpful. In that case, I'm all for it. But as far as "inner creativity" goes, the student needs to draw from their own resources.
Posted by: R0B

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/06/09 10:55 AM

Apropos of nothing at all, I just watched a re-run of 'Parkinson' (yes, Australian TV is really that bad ;-) )

Guests were Rod Stewart and Michael Buble.

Both admitted to not being able to read a note of music, and honed their craft, by mimicking their respective heroes.

Neither have had too shabby a career :-)
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/06/09 11:50 AM

Which Beethoven Sonata did they play?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/06/09 12:02 PM

Originally Posted By: R0B
Apropos of nothing at all, I just watched a re-run of 'Parkinson' (yes, Australian TV is really that bad ;-) )

Guests were Rod Stewart and Michael Buble.

Both admitted to not being able to read a note of music, and honed their craft, by mimicking their respective heroes.

Neither have had too shabby a career :-)


Since when does monetary success dictate musical genius? Were Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and all those composers who could hardly make a living from their art hacks at composing then? With pop stars who don't even have to know how to SING in tune with Autotune technology making millions off of CD sales, I find that line of logic hard to believe.

Again, back to my original point, that within the context of that genre, imitation is perfectly acceptable. However, it is not the *primary* source of learning in the tradition of Classical music. Even in Classical, it is acceptable alongside reading but not in place of reading. The exception of course in in cases of blindness, but this is still not ideal as it requires someone to play at a slow tempo pieces of more advanced levels.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/06/09 04:15 PM

It's a myth that Mozart could hardly make a living. He actually did quite well until that pesky war broke out and the nobility started sending their money to the war effort instead of spending it on piano concertos and operas.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: The best way to learn, by Mimicking - 10/07/09 02:06 AM

Originally Posted By: eweiss
I think it depends on what is being taught. For example, demonstrating a technique and having a student mimic it may prove helpful. In that case, I'm all for it. But as far as "inner creativity" goes, the student needs to draw from their own resources.


But remember, the young student may not have a frame of reference. Early on in a student's study of Mozart, for instance, I may do quite a bit of demonstrating because they don't have any idea of what defines a good, Classical, Mozart sound. The more experience they get, the less I may demonstrate, but they have to hear it first so that we can associate a language or term with a sound model it represents.