Self-Teaching Support Thread

Posted by: tangleweeds

Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 05:45 AM

I was wondering whether it might be possible to have a thread that was officially a safe space to talk about self-teaching. I've been searching back threads about the subject, and they seem to all eventually get derailed into arguments that self-teaching dooms one to pianistic hell.

While I respect the right of anyone to believe that, I think it would be a benefit to the community to have a thread, just one thread, where self-instructors can share tips and experiences without being condemned. It seems to me that there are a lot of us doing it but not talking much about it, because it's just not comfortable to bring around here. From my first days on the forum, I have always felt inhibited about talking about my self-teaching experiences, because there's always such a predictable negative response to such discussions.

Or am I just imagining things? Do any other self-teachers feel like I do? Is there even interest in having such a thread? Would we need moderator permission to do this? What do people think?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 05:56 AM

Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone? Still I'm sure you're welcome to have what you wish in your thread.

Saying that, I'm self learning the violin!
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:06 AM

I'm self taught.
I wish I wasn't , but I am. I simply cannot afford lessons.

I know when I have made mistakes, I don't need a teacher to point them out. However it takes me a lot longer to discover exactly why I am making the mistake and how to correct it, than a teacher would take. On my own I acknowledge that I am very much at risk of developing bad technique. However I can only take things slowly and be careful. I cannot change the fact that lessons are too expensive for my budget. My aim is to be a competent piano player though, not a concert pianist.

I don't know if a self taught thread would be of any more benefit than the forum already is to us, but no harm in giving it a try and seeing if it works.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:49 AM

I'm for it, too. I'm sure the majority of self-teachers here would gladly take lessons, but can't for one reason or another.

I'm curious, what to you various self-teachers (is there a better term?) do to teach yourself piano? There's this forum, of course, but what other resources do you use?

I've read quite a few books on technique: "The Pianist's Problems," by William S. Newman, and "The Art of Piano Playing: A Scientific Approach," by George Kochevitsky, chief among them. I have Barbara Lister-Sink's excellent DVD "Freeing the Caged Bird." I've found a lot of helpful websites and articles through Google. (If you know of one, this is a good place to share it.) Then there's always watching great (and not so great) pianists perform on YouTube, and listening to recordings.

So how do you teach yourself? Or, as in my case, how do you walk through the livingroom blindfolded without banging your shins on the coffee table?
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:56 AM

I am a self teach kinda guy. I'd be curious to see how others are working their way through different phases.

I realize having a teacher can help you recognize bad habits and correct techniques etc. But, there si also that level of satisfaction when you've figured out the puzzle on your own.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:05 AM

But there's always the question, could you have figured it out sooner with a teacher, and so gotten on to other things? And how do you know you've found the best solution?

Self-teaching seems to require a lot of self-reflection and second-guessing. Or maybe I'm just being neurotic.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:12 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone?


Socrates shmocrates. There's a difference between a piece played wrong and a dead baby.

I for one would be very happy to see a thread dedicated to positive energy around self-teaching.

Pianist (after lessons), self-taught guitarist and midwife.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:17 AM

Hey, I too a self taught guitarist! But only a midwife to artistic expression.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:24 AM

Can I please ask to stop the references to dead babies.
Some of us have reason to be sensitive to that one.
Thanks
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:33 AM

Self-taught senior citizen here. I can't afford lessons either - Social Security only goes so far. I also only drive on local roads, and can't travel far to a teacher. But it's more than that. I enjoy self teaching, I practice enthusiastically every day, and as someone said above, it's like solving a puzzle. I too have no delusions about becoming anything more than an old lady playing piano to entertain herself. I too can tell if I make a mistake, and I can usually find information here on Piano World to help me correct those mistakes.

I use primarily the Alfred Adult All-in-one book, and have several other books either given to me or purchased used from Ebay for variety. I read both this forum and the teacher's forum, and use what information works for me, and leave the rest behind.

I actually don't feel intimidated on the ABF forum, as I know that there are a lot of us who started out self-teaching, and a lot of us who will continue to do so. Do I believe that I would make better progress with a teacher. Of course I do. But I also think the strain of keeping up with assignments might just take the fun out of it too.

If there is a self-teaching thread, I will participate in it.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:43 AM

The first thing I did, was look back at the mistakes in my guitar experience. My parents , not knowing any better, sent me to guitar lessons as they could not buy me a piano. The teacher was as useful as a chocolate teapot.
In my first years with him, he gave me photocopied music, and some half decent method books. Only as a child, I did what he wrote in my notebook and that was it. I did the exercises and the pieces. I skipped the theory in the music books, and as an 8 year old I really should have had theory presented in a much easier to understand format, never mind it being ignored altogether.

It didn't take long before I was the star pupil, prospective students came for their trial lesson before mine, so they could stay and hear me play. Their parents were no more knowledgeable than mine, it sounded good, therefore it must be good.

When he eventually put me forward for grade 3 exam, I had to learn all the theory, prepare for aural etc by myself. I had a month to learn scales !!

The lesson I have learned is that theory and scales are important. If something sounds good, that is not the sole indicator that it is good. I realise that no single method book will teach me everything. The pieces in Alfred's I view as exercises, foundation building blocks. I supplement with Czerny studies as well as scale , broken chord and arpeggio techniques. I learn chords in inversions and understand how they are built. I try to learn a piece by looking at the music, by look around me and then back to the music, then close my eyes, then look at the keys. It is surprising how focusing on different things gives a different awareness of finger movement and positioning, and dynamics.

Forums like this, with its variety of opinions are invaluable.
You tube is useful, so long as you can tell the difference between a bad performance and a good one.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 07:45 AM

Here's a good website:

http://www.musicalfossils.com/
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:03 AM

Here's a nice quote from Fossils:
Quote:
In my B major scale example, if I play an A-natural instead of an A sharp, that's what I'm learning to do. If I say to myself, "No! That's not right! It should be an A-sharp!" as I play it wrong, it makes no difference. If I get mad at myself and call myself a stupid imbecile, it still makes no more difference than if I swear at my computer.

Most of us are confused and think this kind of talking helps us learn, as if announcing our mistakes somehow makes us improve. It doesn't. Perhaps these words are more to protect our own egos as if announcing the mistake first will keep anyone else from accusing us of making one. This is like a preemptive internal attack to ward off an external attack.
http://www.musicalfossils.com/kin.html
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:11 AM

How true.
It is so easy to practice mistakes.

What do you think is the correct approach to fixing a recognised mistake ?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:14 AM

Quote:
Words can be useful though. They can be used to help us diagnose an error and guide us to the difference in the kinesthetic sensation between the correct and incorrect key. For example, "I'm playing an A-natural instead of an A-sharp. How does it feel different under my fingers as I play the A-sharp instead of an A-natural? It's a black key and, in fact, feels quite different from the white key of A-natural. So this is what I need to feel under my finger when I get here."

Having reached this point, words are no longer useful. The sensation of the correct key is the information pertinent to playing it right. Feeling the sensation of the A-sharp is the crucial information: sensation that words cannot adequately describe.
Posted by: BenPiano

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:23 AM

Hi, self taught here too. I'm afraid of the possibilty that having a teacher (or searching for the "perfect" one) would make piano work, and not fun, as it has been for the past year.

I honestly would rather play badly than not play at all.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:27 AM

blush Yeah I know.. read the rest of the article before replying.. LOL , I will read the rest , when toddler goes to bed , I don't always learn best while a two year old is jumping up and down on top of me.

I can't resist asking though, how do we do this in practice ?
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:27 AM

It can help to ask why the mistake occurred. Sometimes, I'll repeatedly make a mistake in one hand, only to discover it's because the other hand is not secure in what it should be doing at that point; fixing that hand fixes the other hand, too.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 09:18 AM

Agreed. There are many 'types' of mistake - one grievance I have against teachers is they often just correct, rather than help you search for the source of error.
Posted by: Arghhh

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?


I often watch my hands when I miss a note. I am still working on being able to sense exactly what my fingers/hands/arms are doing while playing. But I have an incomplete sense of what that all looks like, so often I can identify what is not working right by watching myself play. I would try then to look at the fingers to correct the problem, then look away from your fingers and remember what that feels like.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 11:24 AM

I had both lessons and was self-taught. Did classical with lessons from 6-18, and learned jazz on my own.

Both have their pluses and minuses. With a good teacher, you'll develop strong technique, theory, musical skills.

But the real improvement comes with practice, just like any sport. You need to work on specific things 1000's of time so it becomes natural.

It depends on what you want to self-teach. I've tried learning guitar on my own. Didn't get too far. I can imagine I'd fail miserably if I tried to learn the violin from scratch.

For proper finger/hand technique, get a good classical. For ear training, you can work on that yourself. For jazz, learn the basics WELL and forget about all the rest until that.

If you expand on what you want to learn, people may be able to offer better advice.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 12:29 PM

Perhaps we can compile a list of resources for self-teachers.
Posted by: Nikalette

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 01:29 PM

When I have not taken lessons, I don't progress very much. I progressed the most taking a group class at our community college. That was a good setting for me.

On the other hand, I don't like weekly lessons. It's too frequent. Once a month is good for me, but I don't have a teacher close by who teaches blues/jazz.

I find the next best choice for me are online lessons, although there still isn't the motivation to practice as much.

If our community college offered pop/jazz/blues piano, I would definitely be there.
Posted by: Viktor Engström

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 02:26 PM

I have pressed the keys on a piano since quite early, but not until last year, at the age of 18, did I start to take the playing a bit more of a hobby than just plainless hammering. The first melody I learned with both hands was the Tetris A theme with both hands, and since then I have tried to learn themes and melodies that I feel I want to be able to reproduce myself. I enjoy listening to most genres within music, but the melodies I focus to learn is mostly ones from video games; those are some of the songs which have affected me greatly during my growth.

I believe my musical ear is quite developed and I am able to find the correct notes for melodies. However, I have sadly not tried much to learn melodies directly by ear, for no reason at all. After I had learned Tetris I read up on how to read sheets to be able to learn the songs I desired at that time. I am now able to read sheets at a very basic level; it takes a moment for me to find the correct key that the sheet tells me to play. Other learning methods that I use include random videos on the internet and a certain application called Synthesia. I have use of the ear in all of the methods I have until now tried, to hear if the key I pressed was the correct one and could be used in the melody.

I have not taken any lessons yet, and I do not plan to in the close future either. I do not know even a fifth of the terms that are commonly used within the world of piano, but I feel that I am moving forward at a pleasing pace. I do play one session on the piano atleast once if I have a piano close by, and within them I play both the melodies I have learned, and the ones I have yet to play fluently.

I do not inherit much knowledge about the theory of piano playing, and the items I use to learn melodies are questionably able to help me gain more of that knowledge. Yet, I do feel that I learn much by playing the songs, not only to play the song in question, but also how music works. I know much more about chords than I did before, I learn which keys works well with others in combinations, and how to move the hand up and down certain chords and arpeggios with more ease than before. I believe much of the playing is based on logic aswell; if it is uncomfortable doing a movement, change your posture and setting of hand to match up with the difficulty.

I am hobby pianist, performing for my relatives and friends, and for their friends and relatives. It does not require much to get to play at other pianos if you are visiting someone: "Oh, you have a piano!" "Yes. Do you play?" "Aye, I am within the learning phase right now". The music I play are not melodies that everyone knows of, mostly because of the reason I mentioned before; these are melodies from video games. My friends have a blast though since most of them have either played or seen the games which has the music, and that is the most important for me.

What I meant with all this greek was that the methods I use are not what one would use to become a perfect pianist; in ten years I might still not know what it means for a piece to be played in a certain key! I play the piano as a hobby, as said, and I will most certainly want to keep it that way. I am neither a prodigy nor incapable of playing at all, I want to take care of my ability to produce somewhat recognizable sounds on an instrument.

Most melodies I have learned is from the Zelda games, but I also play random pieces, of which "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" - Michael Nyman and "Korobeiniki" (russian folk song) are included. I am yet to be able to play the primary fluently, but I am working my way there!

Sincerely,
Viktor
Posted by: blueston

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 03:07 PM

I am mostly self taught but didn't break out of complete amateur status (incapable of real live performance) until I went to a good teacher for a few years. Then I realized I wasted MANY years, and wished I could have gone to this teacher 15 years ago. Oh well, there was some benefit to self taught, because I initiated it I will always have an internal desire to play, got to choose music I was interested in, and went at my own pace etc.

Anyway my take on the best thing to do is alternate- 2-3 years teacher, 2-3 years self exploration, 2-3 years different teacher, 2-3 years self exploration, 2-3 years with 3rd teacher and so on...

Learn from many different teachers as possible. Then when you are on your own, take time to explore in depth topics you would be unable to concentrate on with full weekly lessons going on.
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 03:08 PM

I'm always impressed with you self-tought folks who can make progress. I finally broke down and got a teacher 2 months ago and I have learnt more in those months in the last 20 years. That's not to say everyone needs a teacher but I obviously did.

Regarding mistakes. My teacher generally finds the mistakes I haven't found since I've corrected errors I've known about on my own. So if you don't have a teacher, make sure others who you can trust to be honest do give you feedback. Record yourself. Watch yourself critically.

Force yourself to develop a harder repetoire and keep going through the problem areas.

In other words, do all the things I didn't do wink
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 03:09 PM

Self-teaching going on 5 years and still srongly motivated and loving the journey - you know what good piano music should sound like and if what you're doing doesn't sound like that then keep working on it until it does - that's all the instruction you need - and, yes, see the Chopin quote below.

Besides, maybe it's the teachers who instill all the bad habits anyway...

I'm fully supportive of a thread like this - great idea - keep it going!

JF
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 03:48 PM

I would love to have a good teacher. I'm sure the teachers here wouldn't like to be accused of being the source of bad habits.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 03:54 PM

With a teacher chances are you'll get bad habits, on your own you'll definitely get them. With a good teacher sky's the limit.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 05:46 PM

So those of us who can't get a teacher are just doomed to failure?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 05:56 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank

Besides, maybe it's the teachers who instill all the bad habits anyway...


Actually, its the "bad" teachers who instill bad habits.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:00 PM

@keyboardklutz: I'm really curious about the motivation behind your self-teaching on violin. And I'm also very curious about how your experience, both as teacher yourself and as a beneficiary of good tuition, illuminates the process of teaching yourself, i.e. how this informs your choice of materials to play and learn from, and how you monitor your technique on a new instrument.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:20 PM

Tangleweeds, How do you like your Privia?
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 06:39 PM

I'm really happy with it. The keyboard action is very comfortable for me, much better than my PX-120, which kinda needed to be pounded on. The piano sounds are better too.

I'm particularly in love with the feature that allows me to input midi files created with hands-separate parts, so I can practice one hand at a time, but hearing how each hand's part interlocks with the other hand's part (and not just with built in tunes, but with any tune I want to make a midi of). There's also a looping mechanism within this mode, for concentrating on problem measures. Very practice-friendly.

I've been working on playing some basic blues, and the built-in rhythms are lots of fun. They are editable somehow, but the instructions for this needed a better technical writer or something (I've found the instructions for other features pretty clear).

My biggest gripe with it is that the labels on the buttons are written in fine-print grey text on black plastic, which is impossible for my middle aged eyes to read without intensive peering. I'm just memorizing the locations of useful buttons.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
How true.It is so easy to practice mistakes.

What do you think is the correct approach to fixing a recognised mistake ?

A book which really influenced my philosophy on mistakes is _The Perfect Wrong Note_ by William Westney. What I drew from it was not to "waste" mistakes, by glossing over them by saying to myself, "Wow, that was random!" or "Dangit, I always mess up that part." I try to see each mistake as a message to be decoded.

But the art, for me, comes in slowly narrowing down where the flow of music gets disrupted. Like someone said, an issue in one hand might actually expose a weakness in the other. Sometimes it's just that my fingers need to learn to move in an unaccustomed way, but instead they try to do something familiar, and then it's just a matter of practicing the unfamiliar motion, and imprinting the sensation of doing it right. Another common pitfall for me are the bits which I am generally able to play by ear and intuition and half-grown muscle memory, but don't actually know the specific notes I'm playing, so if my concentration falters, I have nothing to fall back on. There are so many reasons for mistakes -- I'd love to see a collaborative database of all the interesting reasons we've found behind our various mistakes.

I do feel that this is the sort of area where having a teacher could be very helpful, as input from someone with experience with the sorts of mistakes learners make, and what can cause or fix them. But I am also on a fixed income, so at best I could maybe afford one lesson a month... which I suspect would still leave me mostly self-teaching.

But given that self-teaching is a necessity for me, I do find that it has many positive aspects. I get a lot of enjoyment from selecting my own material, and playing pieces that make me happy contributes hugely to my level of motivation. I have a hard time staying motivated once my inner music snob starts frothing in outrage at the vapid excuses for music which our beginner-ness has condemned us to attempt to play. My main memory of childhood piano lessons was always wondering how and why they managed to come up with such dreary music for me to learn on.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:09 PM

Somebody wise (I think it was ShiroKuro) once said on another thread a long time ago that "self-teaching" is a bit of a misnomer, because we self-teachers are obviously learning piano from someplace, be it working through a method series on our own, watching tutorials on YouTube, coming here, etc.

At this stage of my learning adventure, my most common and valuable source of help is this forum. If I'm having trouble with a particular piece, odds are that somebody else has played it before me and can offer suggestions for fingering etc. I learn a lot from reading various threads here and in the pianist corner and teacher's forum in terms of tips for how to handle specific technique issues.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:26 PM

I think that the main cause of mistakes in my playing arise from the fact that the Yamaha factory which made my Clavinova was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground, and is therefore cursed. But thanks to Hanon and a garland of garlic, I am able to muddle through.

laugh
Posted by: starbug

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:38 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Self-teaching going on 5 years and still srongly motivated and loving the journey - you know what good piano music should sound like and if what you're doing doesn't sound like that then keep working on it until it does - that's all the instruction you need


Way to go.. great encouraging quote for addition to this thread smile

I'm almost 1 year on now.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 08:55 PM

ROFLOL !!!

You need a teacher !! They have got to hear that excuse, best I have heard yet !
Posted by: Emissary52

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 10:37 PM

Oh no! This is a startling development! I'm nearly done with Alfred's Book 1. I was hoping to rent out Carnegie Hall for my 60th birthday in October 2012. I figure by then, I should be through with Alfred's Book 3 and therefore, almost a "pro". I'm another person going it alone without a teacher! I hope all of those teen-age girls and their "hot cougar moms" will not be disappointed with my performance! In lieu, of not having a teacher, does everybody think that including Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers as an opening act, might cover any deficiency caused by a lack thereof?

Please advise!

-Craig
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 11:23 PM

This is a very exciting thread. It makes me feel less depressed that I'm not the only one on this boat. I'm with you guys...

From what I see, one needs great deal of motivation, self-discipline and never-give-up attitude in order to successfully self-teach.

Anyways, people say that with a teacher you would progress much faster? Is it true?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/03/10 11:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer

Anyways, people say that with a teacher you would progress much faster? Is it true?


Actually, one task good teachers constantly do is slow down their students.
Posted by: dat77

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 12:09 AM

I am also teaching myself. I did take lessons around 10 years ago but right now I cannot afford it. I also like the idea of doing the kind of music I like. I am not really sure exactly what direction I will go in but I like it I can choose that myself. I am doing a mixture of Alfred's, scales, classical(succeeding with the masters) and just started a dvd on ear training. I think having a self-teaching support thread will be a good idea!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 01:34 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
So those of us who can't get a teacher are just doomed to failure?
No, just failure to reach your true potential.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 01:49 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
@keyboardklutz: I'm really curious about the motivation behind your self-teaching on violin. And I'm also very curious about how your experience, both as teacher yourself and as a beneficiary of good tuition, illuminates the process of teaching yourself, i.e. how this informs your choice of materials to play and learn from, and how you monitor your technique on a new instrument.
Excellent question! I studied with a very influential and knowledgeable teacher, after a whole bunch of life ruining duds, for about 10 years. I realize she didn't so much teach the piano as how to enable the body to play music on an instrument (in fact she was well known for fixing violinists' and guitarists' playing injuries) - so I have very fixed ideas about how to go about the violin and have yet to observe any violinist I agree with. Were I to engage a teacher we'd be at hammer and tongs in no time!

It's all about tension - you can always add it, taking it away is an enormous effort (funny enough). But also it's about music. I surprised myself on guitar (self taught) a few years ago - I played a piece (Albeniz' Leyenda) that I'd learned as a teenager but it came out musically! Without knowing it I had learned not only to listen but what to listen for.

In a nutshell there's two things you must learn - how to allow your body to get on with a task and, quite a separate skill, what music is.
Posted by: KrystalKai

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:15 AM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
I for one would be very happy to see a thread dedicated to positive energy around self-teaching.


Agreed. The question of whether or not having a teacher is better is moot. The fact is, for whatever reason, there are some us that are either stuck having to or choosing to self-teach.

I'm also a bit frustrated with the amount of posts in this forum that inevitably ends with, "Do you have a teacher?" If I had a good teacher who I trusted, do you really think I'd be posting the question on this forum? Get off your high-horse and stop hijacking the threads and changing them all into discussions about why having a teacher is better.

And I'd like to add that *some* of us are emotionally charged to the points of being overwhelmed, stressed, and depressed about not having access to a good teacher but we're still doing the best we can with what we have - which is why we're on this forum!
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:39 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
It seems to me that there are a lot of us doing it but not talking much about it, because it's just not comfortable to bring around here.


You are right. This thread is overdue. If we put aside the discussion of the merits of self-learning, and just have a discussion about self-learning, there are a lot of fun discussions about the experiences.

There seems this underlying dynamic:

A: "I'm teaching myself."
B: "That's not wise."
A: "Why?"
B: "Trust me." or "It's a known fact. It's a law of physics." etc. [as an aside, it would be terrific if anyone had some numbers or figures to make this point]

Autodidacts tend to be intelligent (often highly so) and learn things differently than others. I hope this doesn't sound haughty, but... I think I have a knack for identifying the most efficient means of learning something. My personal experience is that I've been able to teach myself in less time than it takes an instructor to communicate. That's the bottom line. It's reasonable to infer this may apply to learning an instrument.

Experience matters. Had I not taken lessons I would have missed several crucial concepts that would have impeded my efficient progress.

However, sometimes I have to bite my tongue in lessons. My teacher often falls back into 'standard student' mode and wastes time with things that do not help me progress. I feel like lessons are 90% filler and 10% impact. I'm just afraid that if I miss the 10%, I'll be 'crippled' so to speak.

This is kind of how it's been for me forever, and I wouldn't be surprised is there were dozens just like me reading this. Hard to find someone with experience teaching someone who learns things quickly and has tons of discipline to drill in my own time.

This is all fine for me to say, but I'm not a virtuoso pianist who is filling concert halls. Who really gives a rat's butt about my un-credentialed opinion? No one should. I imagine if you had the right match of student and teacher that is ideal. [thinks to himself, 'perhaps I should explore this.']

I'd love to be able to talk to a self-taught master with some talent and deft sensitivity on the keyboard so I can learn from their own exploration. Good call on the thread. However, I believe orthodoxy will win the day, as most masters followed the tried and true path. Would be interesting to hear of one who did not and has wisdom to share.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:07 AM

Originally Posted By: KrystalKai
Get off your high-horse and stop hijacking the threads and changing them all into discussions about why having a teacher is better.
Struth.

The real question is is the wish to excel a duty or a compulsion? For me it's the former.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 04:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Somebody wise (I think it was ShiroKuro) once said on another thread a long time ago that "self-teaching" is a bit of a misnomer, because we self-teachers are obviously learning piano from someplace, be it working through a method series on our own, watching tutorials on YouTube, coming here, etc.


I would go further. The more I teach (not so much piano, but other stuff) the more convinced I am that there is no such thing as teaching. There is only learning. Each of us has to work out how to learn, and no-one can make you do it.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 04:25 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: moscheles001
So those of us who can't get a teacher are just doomed to failure?
No, just failure to reach your true potential.


And it doesn't bother you that you will never reach your full potential as a violinist?

Seriously, though, I don't understand how you can predict with such certainty the potential failure of other people.
Posted by: btb

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 04:40 AM

Hi klutz,
Can't resist a wag.

"Saying that, I'm self learning the violin!"

No wonder you haven’t any friends ... oh, Royal Greek-iness.
Posted by: ll

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 04:45 AM

This thread seemed like a good idea.

Instead, it did the opposite of what other threads do. Rather than say "Oh, you can't self-learn, get a teacher!", it's become "you can self-learn better! teachers, psh!"

Self-learners are a dime a dozen. What's the point in it for you? Why are you studying? That's what really matters. The only time a teacher becomes important is when you decide that you aren't playing musically enough, you realize that there is something wrong (ie, tension) that you'd like someone to fix, or if you want to join the ever-useful 'in' of the musical world.

I don't always agree with my teacher. And a lot of times, she says things in a way that just makes me want to burn the piano because it makes no sense even with all the "Does that make sense?" added right after. But I can see more merit in having one than self-learning - that is, for my purposes. Not necessarily for everyone else's.

Just two things scare me.
1) Playing unmusically.
2) Hurting myself.

If neither of those happen to you... you don't need a teacher. At least, not yet. One day, maybe, but enjoy yourself.

Also, go back to what this thread was originally about. How about some resources and support for those self-learning, instead of arguing which is better, which was the original reason of creating a thread just for this purpose?

GOOD LUCK TO SELF-LEARNERS!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 05:26 AM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

And it doesn't bother you that you will never reach your full potential as a violinist?
I will be having lessons when I'm at an appropriate stage.

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Seriously, though, I don't understand how you can predict with such certainty the potential failure of other people.
I suppose there has to be a first!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 05:28 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
Hi klutz,
Can't resist a wag.

"Saying that, I'm self learning the violin!"

No wonder you haven’t any friends ... oh, Royal Greek-iness.
On the contrary, I'm meeting lots of new violin friends!
Posted by: gmm1

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 07:01 AM

I am "self-teaching" myself as well. I agree with Shiro that it is a misnomer.

I like the idea of this thread, and will participate. I am not as active as I used to be, but I still visit from time to time...

I feel it is important for beginners to see a teacher/mentor/player at the beginning to get some of the basics (position, height, distance from the keyboard, etc). My big mistake. Then, going it "alone" is OK in my book.

I agree that a teacher can help correct mistakes quicker and perhaps better than self driven trial and error. But, I have to ask, what is it about my way that is so wrong? I don't care that I am doing something wrong that will keep me from playing advanced pieces if I don't fix it now while it's easy. I can play this piece now. I am probably never going to reach that level anyway, so let me enjoy what I can do now.

Mistakes are relative. My goal is to enjoy myself now, not to play "correctly", whatever that means.

I will follow this thread with interest...
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 07:26 AM

Originally Posted By: gmm1
But, I have to ask, what is it about my way that is so wrong? I don't care that I am doing something wrong that will keep me from playing advanced pieces if I don't fix it now while it's easy. I can play this piece now. I am probably never going to reach that level anyway, so let me enjoy what I can do now.

Mistakes are relative. My goal is to enjoy myself now, not to play "correctly", whatever that means.
The trouble is piano teachers have a kinda Hippocratic Oath which forbids them to allow you to hobble yourself.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 08:15 AM

I know my parents wasted a lot of money on guitar lessons with a bad teacher. I wasn't the type of kid who complained. I didn't tell them I could play better than the teacher. A teacher who listens to your pieces and doesn't teach is useless.

So although from grade 3 upwards I more or less taught myself, I found the mistakes he didn't correct tripped me up later on. Just as John Frank's signature says.
Poor technique and not correcting mistakes can limit us when we reach a certain level, and I imagine bad habits will take some time to overcome. So if we do progress further than we ever imagined we could, then yes we could lose the enjoyment , as frustration at our technique sets in.
At grade 7 I started to hate the guitar. I had to let it go for some time and just played folk instead of classical.

I think where I get nervous about self teaching, is what happens when I reach a plateau I cannot pass without a good teacher ? Will I get frustrated and will inability to progress spoil my enjoyment ?

I have heard a few people mention monthly lessons. How do teachers feel about this, I would imagine it difficult for them to keep that type of slot open ?
Posted by: MiM

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 08:25 AM

Where would you place experiences similar to mine? I knew I had to have a teacher to get going at the beginning...how to sit, how to place your fingers, the idea behind the notes on the staff, etc. That I'm sure you can save yourself a lot of time with a teacher. I kept the first teacher for about a year, then "tested" two other ones over the years for a few weeks.

However, now I don't think my issue is with having or not having a teacher. I know what I need to do. I have no problem knowing what a piece calls for, I know all the dynamics, etc. I can also view it played online if I want to. I do see value in a teacher being a cheerleader of some sort (an expensive one at that), but not really to teach me anything.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 08:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me
I have no problem knowing what a piece calls for, I know all the dynamics, etc.
That's a lot of etc.
Posted by: MiM

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:03 AM

True, but I don't "think" the problem is learning deeper and deeper dynamics and variations thereof, beyond what the piece calls for. I do feel I will need some teacher's help when I get to some advanced classical pieces, but for now, I have no use for a teacher, other than for cheerleading.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:23 AM

I thought the point of this thread would be simply to provide support among those of us learning without direct support from teachers. We're all seeking indirect support--from each other, from YouTube, books, DVD, concerts, etc. Would it be better to have a good teacher? Yes, of course. But they cost money some of us don't have.

Let's try working from where we are: we're self-learners who love what we're learning, and want to improve as best we can in the most efficient and painless way possible.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:40 AM

Perhaps then , we can think about what are important things for people starting on the journey of self teaching to know.

Links to sites that explain posture and correct placement of hands.
Theory sites.
Tips on how to practice, how to fix mistakes.

How do we organise it so the info doesn't get lost in chat about the merits of teaching via self taught ?
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
I was wondering whether it might be possible to have a thread that was officially a safe space to talk about self-teaching. I've been searching back threads about the subject, and they seem to all eventually get derailed into arguments that self-teaching dooms one to pianistic hell.



This seemed like such a good idea at the start, but it seems that another derailment was immediately and inevitably in progress - you should have posted a sign: NO TEACHERS ALLOWED!

Don't you teachers have a whole damn Forum of your own? So, unless you have something positive and helpful to say about self-teaching... We've heard all the negative stuff before in any number of other threads... Apparently some of you don't get it, or just can't help yourself & you're failing to honor and respect the OP's original intention for this thread..

JF
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:50 AM

Like I've said, we've sworn an oath!
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:57 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
This seemed like such a good idea at the start, but it seems that another derailment was immediately and inevitably in progress - you should have posted a sign: NO TEACHERS ALLOWED!

Don't you teachers have a whole damn Forum of your own? So, unless you have something positive and helpful to say about self-teaching... We've heard all the negative stuff before in any number of other threads... Apparently some of you don't get it, or just can't help yourself & you're failing to honor and respect the OP's original intention for this thread..

JF


Good post, JF
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:12 AM

Ejay rolls up a big soft fluffy pillow and bashes Keyboardklutz over the head.

I must admit I read and have posted in the teachers thread, perhaps a better request would be no teachers or indeed anyone criticising the decision to self teach. I am happy and grateful for any supportive tips and critique from the teachers here.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:12 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank


Don't you teachers have a whole damn Forum of your own?


We do, and several self-taught non-teachers post there, and we let them and they are not censored.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:27 AM

I will be honest and say I have posted a lot in this thread (just can't help it) - but then who is forced to read them? I think John is right many posters would love a thread excluding teachers (I don't agree with them though).
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:43 AM

I would say teachers would probably be welcome to post as long as they are supportive and not disparaging one's reasons to self teach.
Posted by: joyoussong

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:47 AM

I think TLT said it best - "there is no teaching, only learning." We're all self-taught. And one of the resources that can be enormously helpful is a good teacher.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:05 AM

Question:

What exactly are the criteria for "Self-Taught" on this thread?

* Is it only for those who never had a teacher?

* Or how about those who had a teacher, but now self-teach?

* Or those who currently have a teacher, but augment the lessons by self-teaching themselves a different style of music?
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:11 AM

I'm in the second category, too. Two teachers when I was a teenager. Neither was very good, unfortunately.

I don't think anyone should feel inhibited about participating. There are so many knowledgeable people posting on all the forums, and I want to learn from them.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:14 AM

By the way, I seem to recall reading that Alfred Brendel was self-taught for the most part. He turned out OK.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:19 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
By the way, I seem to recall reading that Alfred Brendel was self-taught for the most part. He turned out OK.


Actually, he had numerous teachers up to the age of 16, including studies at a Conservatory, then as an adult some master classes.

This quote is from his biography at his official website:

Quote:
His father then went to Zagreb and became the director of a cinema. Here Alfred Brendel was given his first piano lessons at the age of six from Sofia Dezelic (he also appeared at a children's theatre in Zagreb) and had a succession of early teachers as the family moved on, returning after the War to a place near Graz where Brendel pere worked in a department store.

Here Alfred studied at the Graz Conservatory with Ludovika von Kaan (who had studied with one of Liszt's more illustrious pupils, Bernhard Stavenhagen) as well as private composition lessons with Artur Michl, a local organist and composer. After the age of sixteen, the little formal training he had had came to an end. Apart from attending a few master classes he had no further teachers.


He likes to call himself "Self-Taught", but that sounds like spin to me, because he did have piano teachers, one of which was a star student of Liszt.
Posted by: gmm1

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:19 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: gmm1
But, I have to ask, what is it about my way that is so wrong? I don't care that I am doing something wrong that will keep me from playing advanced pieces if I don't fix it now while it's easy. I can play this piece now. I am probably never going to reach that level anyway, so let me enjoy what I can do now.

Mistakes are relative. My goal is to enjoy myself now, not to play "correctly", whatever that means.
The trouble is piano teachers have a kinda Hippocratic Oath which forbids them to allow you to hobble yourself.


Ah Klutz, you made me laugh....I understand JF's point, but must admit I enjoy the posts here from teachers.

To Rocket's point, I don't remember if you were around, but a while back the teachers had a huge thread on "teacher's only" .. I took it to heart and rarely post or visit anymore ( unless I get a note to check something out, like the "worst article" thread).

Everyone is welcome says me....
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:23 AM

Originally Posted By: gmm1


To Rocket's point, I don't remember if you were around, but a while back the teachers had a huge thread on "teacher's only" .. I took it to heart and rarely post or visit anymore ( unless I get a note to check something out, like the "worst article" thread).




I remember that conversation, and recall that the consensus was that anyone can post on the teachers forum, not just teachers.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:28 AM

Moving forward, I would like to share what has been perhaps the most helpful thing for me in my self-teaching career: making as recording of myself and playing it back - listening critically. It's painful at times - those times when I don't sound very good. But it has always been most worthwhile.

For this purpose I have a zoom digital recorder, which I love.

It's also a good self-motivational feature - to make recordings as a record of my progress. Without a teacher, this is all I have to tell myself I'm getting better.
Posted by: gmm1

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:28 AM

I'll go back and look (when I get time...)but I remember quite a few wanted an area for themselves. Some, like this thread, did not care, but the feeling I have is my posting will be tolerated but not welcome...

And, I have no problem with that. It is the Teachers Forum after all.

I will go back and check my memory.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: moscheles001
So those of us who can't get a teacher are just doomed to failure?
No, just failure to reach your true potential.
To a certain extent where we are born and who our parents are has already set many of us up to never reach our "full potential" in many areas of life. Its just the way things are.

In KK's defence most of what he's posted here so far has actually been reasonably supportive. He's admitted most people even with a teacher are likely to develop at least some nad habits at some point.

Now on to the origional purpose of the thread.
I've found some of Lypur's lessons on youtube to be helpful, although I haven't watched any lately. There's even one about setting realistic goals as a self-learner.

There's a note reading game/app on facebook I used for a while, somewhat helpful as a drill for recognizing individual notes quickly.

Right now I'm using a tutorial from "pianojohn113" on youtube to help me learn a Beatles song. I'm using music which he seems to be really close to so even the few notes that may be different I don't consider an issue. His explaination of the tempo/dynamics of the song so far heve been very helpful. I can post links to any of these later if someone would like me too, but I don't have time right now.

In classical music the grading system is helpful for the self learner to figure out which pieces may be within their reach, but there's nothing like this for non-classical. With all the different arrangements available it would be impossible but it would be helpful to maybe list songs(and which arrangement we used if we used music) and how hard or easy we found them to be.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:58 AM

I tried to watch Lypur's videos, but I can't hear a word he is saying, its so quiet.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:59 AM

On the violin front - in various forums I've been strongly advised to a) always hold the violin in front of you b) always hold the violin to the side of you.

Will that do as my positive contribution?
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 12:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine


In classical music the grading system is helpful for the self learner to figure out which pieces may be within their reach, but there's nothing like this for non-classical.


Yes, there is, it's called Rockschool.

http://www.rockschool.co.uk/

I haven't used any of the piano material, though I'm told it's solid, but not easy to work through the higher levels without a teacher. For jazz specifically, ABRSM have a jazz section:

http://www.abrsm.org/publishing/jazz

I don't honestly think real jazzers think much of it, but for classical-literate folks, it's fairly accessible.

I think I should point out that our very own Pete the Bean has a site and several publications (http://www.poppianopro.com/ )
some of which is accessible to beginning players. Covers popular piano, blues, improvising, lead sheet reading, etc. Peter is very generous with help here on the forum for anyone wanting help with his material, or generally.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 01:03 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: moscheles001
By the way, I seem to recall reading that Alfred Brendel was self-taught for the most part. He turned out OK.


He likes to call himself "Self-Taught", but that sounds like spin to me, because he did have piano teachers, one of which was a star student of Liszt.

It does sound a bit like spin. Anyone here study Brendel in any great depth? But...I wouldn't be surprised if it's the case that Brendel himself considers himself self-taught.
Just because you attend class doesn't mean the credit goes to the teacher. If you sleep in class, does that mean the teacher deserves credit? Hardly.
I find it far-fetched to believe he did not benefit from others. It's one thing if it's all theory, and quite another if there is a physical component. Great pitchers need a pitching coach, great surgeons need an attending physician, and so on. (right? or wrong?)

What strikes me as eminently profitable for the self-learners would be a list of bad habits. After all, that's the real issue right?

Music teacher: "you will cripple your potential"
Self-learner: "why?"
Music teacher: "bad habits that will haunt you when you arrive at a certain proficiency."
Self-learner: "which ones?"
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 01:55 PM

Bad habits is certainly one of the issues here. How about:

1. Playing the whole piece over and over instead of working on the hard bits?

2. Relying too much on the metronome? Or being addicted to "Play. Increase tempo one click. Play. Increase tempo one click. . . "?

3. Jumping around from piece to piece without really polishing any?

4. Doggedly sticking to one piece instead of working on several?
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 01:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Studio Joe
I would say teachers would probably be welcome to post as long as they are supportive and not disparaging one's reasons to self teach.


Yes, exactly.

Like I said - we've heard all the arguements against self-teaching a hundred and one times - a few are sound and logical but many are just plain BS - either way this isn't the place for them - and either way we continue to self-teach - so if you don't have anything helpful to say with respect to that...

JF
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:02 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

What strikes me as eminently profitable for the self-learners would be a list of bad habits. After all, that's the real issue right?

Music teacher: "you will cripple your potential"
Self-learner: "why?"
Music teacher: "bad habits that will haunt you when you arrive at a certain proficiency."
Self-learner: "which ones?"


Actually, that has been covered in these threads here and there.

Here is a list of what I have seen with self-taught students as a teacher:

1. Poor body posture at the piano, which includes sitting too far back, or too close, seat too high/ too low, slumping, not sitting centered, seat not parallel to the keyboard.

2. Poor hand/arm posture, often with wrists too low, so the tendons that move the fingers must travel in a curved arc thru the wrist tunnel, which can cause serious physical damage.

Number #1 and #2 are hard to see while your thinking and attention is consumed by trying to play, read the music, etc. Another set of knowledgable eyes is invaluable, like a golf pro observing you swing the golf club.

3. No metronome usage, or counting, so tempo is unregulated. This is a hard one to incorporate later on, which is why many teachers instill it from the first lesson. Few people like the constraints of the metronome, and feel that since they can play without it, why suffer? Tempo problems are very common.

4. Little or no technique training, so finger independence is poor, and tension is high. This is very hard to overcome after muscle memory habits are formed.

5. Poor sight reading, especially the Bass clef.

6. Lack of knowledge as to how to practice efficiently. Playing a piece over and over is not practicing. I spend a great deal of time teaching people how to practice effectively.

7. Lack of knowledge of fingering, and the need to establish from the onset one system of fingering for each piece, phrase, etc.

8. Lack of knowledge of basic Theory.

9. No one knowledgeable about your playing to talk to, to receive encouragement from, etc.

10. Playing a piece unmusically. When students do that, I play the piece or the section for them, and ask them to identify the difference. Most of the time, they hear the difference, can play it, and it is a revelation to them that permanently improves their playing. Invaluable.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:04 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank

Like I said - we've heard all the arguements against self-teaching a hundred and one times - a few are sound and logical but many are just plain BS

JF


Which ones are BS?
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:39 PM

I have in total learned four instruments do a degree of competence. Two I had years of lessons. Two I am self-taught. I have never had a bad habit. Sure, I've had many times where I've gone down a route, to discover I need to take a step back and start again. I've found a more ergonomic way of doing something. I've considered all of this a part of the learning curve. I've moved on and got better.

I really wasn't aware of bad habits in music until I joined this forum.

And I do truly feel there is an element of teacher needing to justify their value by finding bad habits in students that begin with them - whether previously self-taught or badly taught.

It seems to me that this thread was about support for those who are actively self-teaching for whatever reason. Perhaps a separate thread could be made for those who wish to discuss the relative merits of having a teacher?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:42 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
I have never had a bad habit.


Amazing!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:46 PM

+1
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 02:56 PM

Strange but true. Perhaps I should also say that I have (on the instruments where I was taught) gone through several teachers. And yes they all had their own styles, and would get me to do different things. Perhaps they *thought* I had bad habits. But they never put it to me as such. No-one ever said, you have wasted your time doing this. They just got on with the positive task of teaching.

I have also, on guitar (self-taught) come to a realisation that my posture was wrong and had to correct that. It took me all of about three days to do it, once I understood what was wrong.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:00 PM

[quote=ten left thumbs]I have never had a bad habit.[quote]

Maybe you should charge admission to let the rest of us watch you practice!
grin
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:01 PM

Thanks for this Rocket.

Originally Posted By: rocket88



Here is a list of what I have seen with self-taught students as a teacher:

1. Poor body posture at the piano, which includes sitting too far back, or too close, seat too high/ too low, slumping, not sitting centered, seat not parallel to the keyboard.

2. Poor hand/arm posture, often with wrists too low, so the tendons that move the fingers must travel in a curved arc thru the wrist tunnel, which can cause serious physical damage.

Number #1 and #2 are hard to see while your thinking and attention is consumed by trying to play, read the music, etc. Another set of knowledgable eyes is invaluable, like a golf pro observing you swing the golf club.
Perhaps videotaping practice sessions may help to observe ourselves, although admittedly that assumes we know what to look for and how to fix it.

3. No metronome usage, or counting, so tempo is unregulated. This is a hard one to incorporate later on, which is why many teachers instill it from the first lesson. Few people like the constraints of the metronome, and feel that since they can play without it, why suffer? Tempo problems are very common.

9. No one knowledgeable about your playing to talk to, to receive encouragement from, etc.

10. Playing a piece unmusically. When students do that, I play the piece or the section for them, and ask them to identify the difference. Most of the time, they hear the difference, can play it, and it is a revelation to them that permanently improves their playing. Invaluable.
Using a metronome is good advice. Recording, listening to ourselves and allowing others to hear also can help too, my DP automatically uses a metronome when recording.

8. Lack of knowledge of basic Theory.
Websites such as Teoria are a great resource , I also like their note reading drills. Are the Sight reading pratice papers by ABRSM any good ?

4. Little or no technique training, so finger independence is poor, and tension is high. This is very hard to overcome after muscle memory habits are formed.


6. Lack of knowledge as to how to practice efficiently. Playing a piece over and over is not practicing. I spend a great deal of time teaching people how to practice effectively.

Any tips on how to address this ?

7. Lack of knowledge of fingering, and the need to establish from the onset one system of fingering for each piece, phrase, etc.
Does this mean we use different fingering for each situation we come across rather than one standard fingering ?I know we can ask advice here for specific pieces , but in general what helps us learn to do this naturally ? Does scale practice help for instance ?




Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:19 PM

Ejay, Thank you for your kind words.

Quote:
6. Lack of knowledge as to how to practice efficiently. Playing a piece over and over is not practicing. I spend a great deal of time teaching people how to practice effectively.

Any tips on how to address this ?


The field of how we learn, regarding such a multi-dimensional subject as piano playing, is a field where new discoveries are constantly discovered.

I could write a book about what I have found useful, and just might.

The bottom line is that everything you do at the piano is a learned activity. This includes everything...the notes, fingering, body posture, dynamics, tempo, breathing, relaxing or not...everything.. so you must program your computer (your brain) with the simplest, most efficient, most expedient, most consistent, most effortless and most musical for the piece method(s) of doing things.

Its like tying your shoes...at one point, you had to learn the muscle movements, now most folks can tie their shoes without thinking about it, and while multi-tasking. Thats one reason why monster players can play so much better than most of us. They learn better, without having to patch up a galaxy of errors and clumsiness. That is also why their playing seems effortless...it is a relatively clean sheet of paper they start with.

But the key is that you learned ONE WAY to tie your shoes, so that action becomes automatic. Many things at the piano can become that if you do not clutter yourself with different ways of doing the same thing, AND if you have the proper technique in the first place to pull it off.

Fingering is the same...yes, scales are very helpful...and so is playing established repertoire that has good fingering already written in, although you cannot always use it, due to different hand size, and sometimes the fingering written in is just plain dumb, IMHO.

The rest is mostly common sense, and logistics...planning ahead for having enough fingers, and back again to technique, so you can actually play it with the best fingering.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:51 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001


Maybe you should charge admission to let the rest of us watch you practice!
grin


That's what I call a good idea! smile If you did that, I would be able to afford a teacher! laugh
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 03:59 PM

As a self-teaching beginner, I've found that paying for music with well-thought-out fingering has been well worth the money, rather than downloading music off the internet and figuring out fingerings on my own. I learn new fingering tricks from any piece of music that has good fingering suggestions, and I love the feeling of growing capability that comes from learning new ways to navigate my hands around the keyboard.

In the absence of a teacher to refine my hand motions, I try to spend enough time finding ways of moving my hands that feel comfortable and natural and efficient. I try to monitor myself for tension.

In an semi-ideal world, given the limitations of my finances, I would like to find a teacher who would be willing to spend most of our hypothetical monthly lesson concentrating on working on my hands & posture at the piano. I feel that's where I could most use an outside eye.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 04:03 PM

Quote:
I have never had a bad habit.

Someone observed you, listening and watching, to verify that?
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 07:43 PM

There are so many people here whose experiences are like mine.

I'm also one of those people who, once I was out of school and actually learning something instead of just intellectualizing it long enough to pass the test laugh , found that my greatest joy was in ferreting out things for myself rather than having a teacher, and that I learned more and was more whole and healthy that way. I, as others have said, think that "self-teaching" is somewhat misleading here at Piano World partly because it inevitably gets contrasted with taking formal lessons. But for me, saying that I'm self-teaching doesn't at all mean that I don't learn from others - it really does mean simply that I don't take formal lessons. But I learn from a kazillion other people - here, from other musicians with whom I play, from books and articles I read, from music I listen to, from my brother who is a professional musician. Not all of them are piano players - most of them aren't, actually - but I learn from all of them.

And at 64 I have a lot of experience, too, as I think many adults do. I've played a lot of sports, hiked a lot, danced a lot, and have some sense of body awareness and that non-tenseness wholly-aware in-the-moment being that allows one to do physical things without injury. I think it's served me well.

I have a pretty good idea of how I learn best, and it's not thru formal lessons - everyone is different. I do sometimes learn things on my own and then go take a class that will help organize it and from which I will glean more. And then I'm off again smile

I had two years of piano lessons when I was a young teenager. I didn't learn anything about music. Many of the things I "learned" then have been bad habits that I still haven't gotten quite by - unmusicality being one, relying soley on the sheet music and the eye-finger connection istead of my ears being a huge one (and, of course, a major contributor to unmusicality), a lack of confidence in my own music, and on and on. But I love it now, so it's no big thing. I love learning. I love playing music with others. I love having people dance to the music I'm playing. Music is a big adventure laugh

So I really appreciate the ideas and information and stories I find on this thread, and often in the ABF. This is a great place.

(gmm1 - my sense of the teachers forum is that the vast majority are fine with any of us posting there, but the one (maybe 2?) who aren't are so vociferous that it's easy to let them drown out others. But the others are in the majority by a long ways smile )

Cathy
Posted by: Sam S

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 09:16 PM

I consider myself self-directing rather than self-teaching. I had lessons as a kid in clarinet and piano. Majored in music in college (clarinet was my instrument, not piano) and got a degree but never really used it - never worked as a musician but instead went in a totally different direction. This was well over 30 years ago.

I've been self-directing on piano for about three years now. I would probably take lessons if it were convenient and affordable. Not because I think it would make me a better pianist than I can be on my own, but so that I could play in recitals and with other people, something that I really miss from school. Playing in the ABF recitals helps scratch that itch, but in a virtual way.

The thing I always disliked about lessons was the way they tended to dampen my enthusiasm instead of encouraging it. Maybe that would be different now that I am an adult, I don't know.

I think it's a rare teacher that teaches how to practice rather than simply dictates what to practice - I never had a teacher that taught me how, but learned through long hours of trial and error, something that is ongoing. I think practice has to be deliberate to be effective. Identify problem areas and work out a method or process to overcome the problem. You know what you are weak at and where you need work. A helpful publication is the little four page glossy "Guide to Effective Practicing" by Nancy O'Neill Breth. It's published by Hal Leonard ISBN 978-0-634-06884-3.

What to practice? What's appropriate for your skill level?
For classical music, I have found "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature" by Jane Magrath to be very helpful. ISBN 0-88284-655-8. She covers a huge amount of literature from all periods, assigning levels to everything. (Although her levels are different from everyone else's - read the book).

Want to learn blues piano? Tim Robbins "Improvising Blues Piano" is the best and most comprehensive method book out there.

Everybody is different. I'm pushing 60, I have a music degree, I am confident in my own ability to learn and self-correct and self-direct. I'm patient. Maybe we should list the qualities of people that would be happy without a piano teacher... Having a teacher is not a guaranteed path to success. More important is your own desire to work hard and practice.

Sam
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:02 PM

@Rocket: I tend to disagree with you. Learning to do thing ONE way is HABIT. This may or may not be the most effective way.

Knowing to do thing different ways is MASTERING it. You are in control of different approaches to the same problem. You know the pros and cons of it.

I know this may sound subjective but that's what I see that in everything we learn. Human learns through experiences, so why not let some experienced ones tell us about their "trials and errors / failure and success" ?

Yes, he/she might explored and discovered his/her own effective method (but very often that depends on individuals' ability).

This is the danger of self-teaching since one might not know the most effective way.
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:06 PM

I quit lessons last month after having lesson for a few months. Here is my experience with a teacher.

1) She never corrected the way I sat on the bench. I was sitting all the way back and I knew it was wrong but she never said a word. (I've recently corrected that and found my back hurts less.)

2) She started with some basic theory but that was hit and miss and scattered. On my own I bought a different theory book and am going through that on my own.

3) She never encouraged me to use the metronome. I purchased one on my own accord and use it sporadically. (I should use it more, but I'm not sure how to put it to good use.)

4) I brought some Hanon exercises to the lessons myself to start on.

5) Never worked on any sight reading. I do that on my own a few times a week myself.

I record myself to hear how I can musically improve. I used to play some woodwind instruments and I sing so I am aware of phrasing, dynamics and how to read music. As of now, my skill lacks and I don't play all that musically at time. Sometimes the simple songs are just plain boring, and sometimes it takes every ounce of concentration just to work my hands together correctly...

I have video taped myself and see the tension in my hands on some pieces. (Usually something I'm learning.) My teacher never said a word about relaxing when I play. I know relaxing is important from the reading I've done.

The only thing she taught me about practicing is to go slowly and repeat just the measure(s) that I have trouble with. Beyond that nothing...

I don't like to do scales so she let me slack off there. (Even at that, I taught myself how to do 2 octaves before she ever "taught" me.) Easy enough to look up the fingers on the net or in one of my other books. Now that I don't have a teacher, I still don't do them. I'm trying to change that, but so far no interest. smile

My teacher did correct the way I held my hands when I first started. She did start me on some ear training as well. I would not have done that without her prompting.

Today, I still do some ear training. I continue to progress. I continue to record myself, use the metronome at times, continue learning theory, continue to practice hard every day.

I have 3 excellent pianist to talk to. One is classically trained. One plays by ear using chords and more. I can't figure out how she improvises without anything other than a lead sheet. (That's not the direction I want to take but I watch her and have learned a few little things.) The other plays very well and I'm not sure her training. She just plays whatever music I give her and she adds more to make it "fancy".

When I progress further I will have to get another teacher. Right now, my method book shows the fingering for areas that are different, new or odd. When the level increases and the fingering is as obvious anymore I'll get a teacher.

Each week I hated my lessons more and more. My teacher was as nice as could be. She was positive and encouraging. She was an awesome pianist. She was very strict on what she would consider as passable on a song. So much so that I got sick of working on a certain piece to the point where I couldn't have cared less about it. I'd even tell her how sick of the piece I was and she'd keep reassigning it to me.

I enjoy learning on my own terms. I use many resources and spend a lot of time reading how to practice and becoming better/faster at reading the bass line. I'm doing the theory and some ear training. At this point, I don't need someone to sit with me every week to tell me I hit a wrong not or missed the dynamics or forgot the pedal. I know when I've made a mistake.

I'm a work in progress. I enjoy every minute I spend at the piano. I enjoy the helpful people here. I really enjoy sharing the journey with others at the same level as I am. smile

Edited to add that I'm also doing some training on improvising. Not the direction I want to go, but I'm learning some basics.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 10:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
@Rocket: I tend to disagree with you. Learning to do thing ONE way is HABIT. This may or may not be the most effective way.

Knowing to do thing different ways is MASTERING it. You are in control of different approaches to the same problem. You know the pros and cons of it.


I think we are talking about the same thing.

First, I meant learning to do something the most effective way. (Which strikes to the heart of one of the subjects of this thread, i.e. teachers are more likely than beginners to know the most effective way).

Once that "way" is discovered, one then progresses to doing it automatically and intuitively via correct practice.

That is a habit but it is a good habit. (Habits by definition are not bad).

Then, the body/mind will adapt and adjust that particular movement to each situation where it exists, although those may be quite different, without you thinking too much about it because you have mastered the basics.

That is why I used the shoe tying example.

I tie my shoes by habit, but that does not limit me. I can easily tie every shoe or boot I have ever worn, and tie them in all situations, and tie them while doing several things else, such as watch the news, and talk to someone. And the shoes usually stay tied.

That is mastery. Do that with the piano and you will play like you want to play.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Rockett88
That is mastery. Do that with the piano and you will play like you want to play.


Hey, Rockett88, your comment reminds me of a blues tune I wrote entitled "Play it like you want to"!! grin

Some of the lyrics say “you can tell me what to do, but I’m gonna play it like I want to”!

I may not be playing anything right or kosher on the piano, but I’m having a ball!! If I really did know how to play a piano, I’d be dangerous!! grin

Take care!

Rick
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:12 PM

Then my question for you is : how could you be sure that's the most effective way?

I take a simple fingering problem as an example: imagine that you need to run an arpeggio on left hand

1st one: F2, C3, G3, Ab3 (2 octaves)
2nd one: Eb2, Bb2, Eb3, G3, Bb3, Eb3 (2 octaves)

i'm sorry but I believe scale fingering theory does NOT work here. How one could possibly know which is the efficient fingering given everyone's hand size is different?

I believe this is the benefit of someone sitting beside you that would give instant feedback.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
Then my question for you is : how could you be sure that's the most effective way?


Utimately, there is no way of guaranteeing what you ask.

The best I can say is that you know its the most effective way for you when it works...when you can play well.

I don't know how else to put it.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster
Originally Posted By: Rockett88
That is mastery. Do that with the piano and you will play like you want to play.


Hey, Rockett88, your comment reminds me of a blues tune I wrote entitled "Play it like you want to"!! grin


Hi Rick...nice to hear from you.
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/04/10 11:52 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
Then my question for you is : how could you be sure that's the most effective way?


Utimately, there is no way of guaranteeing what you ask.

The best I can say is that you know its the most effective way for you when it works...when you can play well.

I don't know how else to put it.


while I understand your point, I guess the safest way to ensure that is a qualified teacher.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 12:25 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
Bad habits <snip>

2. Relying too much on the metronome? Or being addicted to "Play. Increase tempo one click. Play. Increase tempo one click. . . "?

Hmm, should I be worrying about falling into a codependent relationship with my metronome? For the longest time the metronome used to completely flip me out, and I hated playing with it. Then in the last year something came together between me and the metronome, and it became my little backup band. I can't play worth squat without it, and I worry a bit.

One factor to consider, though: the pieces I learned in my metronome- phobic days are totally screwy in terms of my wanting to speed up & slow down in the predictable difficult or easy places. I was so used to my piece sounding that way that it sounded strange to me when I first started playing it with the metronome.

I think the truth is that I sucked without the metronome, and for now I might need to lean on it until my sense of rhythm improves. I need to learn what it feels like not to slow down when things get tough and speed up on the easy bits.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 12:30 AM

Hey, nice one Gracie!
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 12:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
Then my question for you is : how could you be sure that's the most effective way?


Utimately, there is no way of guaranteeing what you ask.

The best I can say is that you know its the most effective way for you when it works...when you can play well.

I don't know how else to put it.


while I understand your point, I guess the safest way to ensure that is a qualified teacher.


Yes, but if I, a teacher, said that on this thread...
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 12:34 AM

Exactly - but don't let John hear you.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 05:25 AM

There is one thing that frustrates me with my practice.

I have read that to learn something takes x no. of repetitions. However if what you have learned is wrong, you need to do x no. of repetitions of the new way , just to erase the memory of the old way and then a further x no. of repetitions of the new to get it in memory.

Yet I find I can play something, perhaps one of Czerny's exercises, without mistake, say 5 times. On the sixth time I make a mistake I have never made before. I repeat the exercise, and I make the same mistake. Repeat same thing.

I make the mistake once, and it wipes out the good muscle memory and replaces it immediately.
Which means I then need to fix the mistake and make a few repetitions of it played correctly ,before moving on or finishing practice. ( I know to finish on the correct method as that is what sets in the brain overnight).
Posted by: Undone

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 05:43 AM

I had been teaching myself, but we got into an argument. Now I have no teacher.

I wonder how many teachers there are out there that were self-taught?

Undone
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 06:36 AM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Here is a list of what I have seen with self-taught students as a teacher:


Originally Posted By: rocket88
1. Poor body posture at the piano, which includes sitting too far back, or too close, seat too high/ too low, slumping, not sitting centered, seat not parallel to the keyboard.


BS - highly exaggerated "problem" - sooner or later (usually sooner) most players work this out for themselves - it's just practical common sense as in whatever works and/or is comfotable - pay someone $60 an hour to tell you this?

Originally Posted By: rocket88
2. Poor hand/arm posture, often with wrists too low, so the tendons that move the fingers must travel in a curved arc thru the wrist tunnel, which can cause serious physical damage.


BS - see comments under 1. above - have you ever noticed the variety of contorted seating/hand positions of many of the best pianist across the spectrum of musical genres, including classical? I swear that if some piano teachers didn't have this "problem" to brow-beat their students with they wouldn't have much to offer at all...

Originally Posted By: rocket88
3. No metronome usage, or counting, so tempo is unregulated. This is a hard one to incorporate later on, which is why many teachers instill it from the first lesson. Few people like the constraints of the metronome, and feel that since they can play without it, why suffer? Tempo problems are very common.


BS mostly - some beginners need help here , but many don't - tempo control comes with experience and listening to your own recordings - with time & practice it becomes natually instilled for most players.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
4. Little or no technique training, so finger independence is poor, and tension is high. This is very hard to overcome after muscle memory habits are formed.


BS - every practice session is technique training and finger independence developes pretty much on it's own over time with dedicated practice/playing.


Originally Posted By: rocket88
5. Poor sight reading, especially the Bass clef.


Overrated - those who lack this skill initially can teach themselves to be good sight-readers, if and when they feel it would be advantageous.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
6. Lack of knowledge as to how to practice efficiently. Playing a piece over and over is not practicing. I spend a great deal of time teaching people how to practice effectively.


There might be some wisdom in this one - granted this migjht be a major problem area for some self-teachers, but not the majority. Mostly we practice what we want the way we want until we get the results we want.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
7. Lack of knowledge of fingering, and the need to establish from the onset one system of fingering for each piece, phrase, etc.


BS - it's so easy to work out the best fingering for you for nay given piece - someone has a problem with this?

Originally Posted By: rocket88
8. Lack of knowledge of basic Theory.


BS - self-teachers teach themselves all the theory they need or want - unless you're going to compose or arrange how much do you really need?

Originally Posted By: rocket88
9. No one knowledgeable about your playing to talk to, to receive encouragement from, etc.


BS - there's plenty of that available here in the Forums, for example.

Originally Posted By: rocket88
10. Playing a piece unmusically. When students do that, I play the piece or the section for them, and ask them to identify the difference. Most of the time, they hear the difference, can play it, and it is a revelation to them that permanently improves their playing. Invaluable.


Good point - maybe your best - but again there's a multitude of sources of what playing musically sounds like - a teacher can help with this critical point, but so can many other available sources, including recording heard here in the forums. Like I said before: you know what good piano music should sound like and if what you're doing doesn't sound like that then practice longer and harder until it does.

JF
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 08:40 AM

John,

The examples I wrote come from years of personal hands-on teaching experience, and from conversing with and reading about the experiences of many other teachers and students, both in person, elsewhere in media such as journals of teachers and students, and on the internet including right here at PW, also including many from right here at the the Adult Beginners Forum.

I also have not heard of any teacher who works with self-taught people, or beginners in general, disagreeing, at least in general principle, with those statements.

You are free to disagree.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 09:45 AM

What I do correctly at the piano (by which I mean the things that make playing easier and practicing more efficient) I learned from books, articles, web sites, and videos from piano teachers. I'm willing to bet that if I were to work with one of these teachers personally in his/her studio, I would learn a lot more, and a lot faster.

I don't think teachers are superfluous; they're just outside my budget.
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 11:37 AM

Apropos of something said farther up:

It just may be that the 90 percent filler is what makes the 10 percent impact possible. One walks a lot of miles of dusty trail for one stunning cliff top vista.

Kurt
Posted by: Crit

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 04:25 PM

The phrase "Self-teaching" is confusing for me. I wonder how can one teach themselves something they don't already know how to do? It seems a self contradiction to me.

I think what some of the posters are describing here is what I would refer to as "Self-directed learning". We aren't really teaching ourselves. We are directing our own learning process instead of relying on a tutor or teacher to show us what is the next step and what we should practice. Many who direct their own development in a certain discipline think of themselves as being "self taught". But really they are learning from the people who wrote the method books and the scales, and the people on this forum who answer their questions. They have many teachers, not just one they visit each week in person.
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 04:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Crit
The phrase "Self-teaching" is confusing for me. I wonder how can one teach themselves something they don't already know how to do? It seems a self contradiction to me.


I have learned many things in my life through the trial & error method. Try this, if it doesn't work try something else. Not the fastest way to learn but retention is great.
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 04:44 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
The examples I wrote come from years of personal hands-on teaching experience, and from conversing with and reading about the experiences of many other teachers and students, both in person, elsewhere in media such as journals of teachers and students, and on the internet including right here at PW, also including many from right here at the the Adult Beginners Forum.


I have to say almost everyone of those problems I had and are getting corrected with the help of a teacher. I think the BS statements are a little overrated. Sure you'll end up with a comfortable posture, but is it the best? In my case just moving a little bit away from the piano helped a lot.

Similarly with the wrist. yes, I could play with them higher but it's better (freer, more controlled) now.

More power to those who can work these things out by themselves. I couldn't.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Crit
The phrase "Self-teaching" is confusing for me. I wonder how can one teach themselves something they don't already know how to do? It seems a self contradiction to me.

I think what some of the posters are describing here is what I would refer to as "Self-directed learning". We aren't really teaching ourselves. We are directing our own learning process instead of relying on a tutor or teacher to show us what is the next step and what we should practice. Many who direct their own development in a certain discipline think of themselves as being "self taught". But really they are learning from the people who wrote the method books and the scales, and the people on this forum who answer their questions. They have many teachers, not just one they visit each week in person.


I'm like Joe - I've learned not a few things from trial and error laugh

But you might also read through my post - I talked about the phrase "self-teaching" and what it means for me - it means not having formal lessons, for me. So, as I said, many of us have many sources of information smile

Cathy
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 06:35 PM

As a lifelong self-directed learner, I'd be the first to admit that self-teaching involves standing on the shoulders of giants, along getting by with all the help from others that one can garner.

What I meant to imply by it at the time I titled the thread was to create a haven for people who, out of choice or necessity, are not currently involved in the sort of formal, one-on-one teacher student relationship which is so generally (and rather vociferously) advocated in these forums.

I'm as saddened by the bashing of teachers I see here, as I am by (not unexpected) inability of our more evangelical teachers to display sensitivity to the fact that many of the people in this thread actually long for a good teacher, but are prevented by financial, logistical, or personal issues. It can become a emotional issue when the same people are telling you at every turn that you are are doomed to failure because you can't find or afford a good teacher.

Do we need an explicit reality-check? We are in the midst of a major recession here. Many people are in very tight circumstances, as even lousy jobs are hard to find. Sometimes the expense of a teacher is not an option, or would involve significant sacrifice on another more important front. I see parents here putting their children's musical education ahead of their own, for example, and I applaud them for it.

And some of us have had pretty upsetting experiences with teachers, which is not unsurprising since the skills of teachers no doubt follow your basic bell curve. It takes time, money, and personal investment to evaluate each potential teacher. Each bad (or even mediocre) teacher experience represents a big expenditure of mental and emotional resources on to the student's part, and can take a bit of time to get over.

If I have any special privilege as originator of this thread, can I use it to ask people to try to exercise more insight into and compassion for others' circumstances?

I'm going to go back to re-reading the thread, and responding to the actual self-directed learners who have posted asking questions or sharing stories. Clearly I can't stop the trolling and troll-feeding, but I invite others to ignore it and respond positively to the questions and experiences of other self-directed learners who choose to share here, in spite of the fray.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 06:55 PM

Well put, tangleweeds, on all fronts.
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 07:01 PM

+1
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 07:47 PM

Yea tangleweeds.

Cathy
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 08:15 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

I'm as saddened by the bashing of teachers I see here, as I am by (not unexpected) inability of our more evangelical teachers to display sensitivity to the fact that many of the people in this thread actually long for a good teacher, but are prevented by financial, logistical, or personal issues.


Well, I'm really not sure how many people in this thread actually "long" for a teacher (be careful what you wish for...) - and we don't need to "bash" anyone here - but counter-arguements made to the oft-repeated and oft-feeble arguements that teachers make against self-teaching does not constitute bashing of those teachers - it's "bashing' of the arguements. That's totally different and totally acceptable, especially since wrong-headed arguements repeated often enough by "authorities" acquire a aura of unjustified truth (just like in politics).

Other than that, fine statement TW.

JF
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 09:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
There is one thing that frustrates me with my practice.

I have read that to learn something takes x no. of repetitions. However if what you have learned is wrong, you need to do x no. of repetitions of the new way , just to erase the memory of the old way and then a further x no. of repetitions of the new to get it in memory.

Yet I find I can play something, perhaps one of Czerny's exercises, without mistake, say 5 times. On the sixth time I make a mistake I have never made before. I repeat the exercise, and I make the same mistake. Repeat same thing.

I make the mistake once, and it wipes out the good muscle memory and replaces it immediately.
Which means I then need to fix the mistake and make a few repetitions of it played correctly ,before moving on or finishing practice. ( I know to finish on the correct method as that is what sets in the brain overnight).


I find that I have a problem with this approach, which is that I reach a point where I start getting mentally exhausted and then my mistakes start multiplying, so I begin practicing in more mistakes. It works better for me to gauge when I've peaked with a certain sort of practice, and move on to a different mode -- transition from repeating problem measure to repeating enclosing passage, or the whole piece... or maybe go do some meditative arpeggios.

There's niggling sense of exasperation that I need to watch out for, because if I persist beyond that point, that's when my mistakes begin to multiply. If I can wind up my practice on that particular aspect as soon as I feel that exasperation start to tickle, the most important that I get a couple perfect repeats to wind up with, rather than chalking up specifically X perfect repeats for each mistake I've made.

I try to wind up my practice on each aspect with some sort of positive reckoning of what that specific bit of work just accomplished for me, how I got a few repeats in there that sounded just right, or that I'm more relaxed about executing that difficult maneuver, whatever I can think back on and have positive feelings about. Pausing to savor my sense of satisfaction with what I've accomplished seems to make the imprint of what I've learned stronger -- don't they say we remember things better when they have emotional significance to us? I've been working on doing this more lately, and it seems to help me when I come back the next day, to summon the essence of what I had learned the day before.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/05/10 10:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Sam Smith
For classical music, I have found "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature" by Jane Magrath to be very helpful. ISBN 0-88284-655-8. She covers a huge amount of literature from all periods, assigning levels to everything. (Although her levels are different from everyone else's - read the book).

I've also found this book incredibly useful, in terms of figuring out where I am and what to consider playing in the future. I have to admit I use it mostly as a listening guide, but it's really interesting tour through teaching repertoire for the piano.

Quote:
Tim Robbins "Improvising Blues Piano" is the best and most comprehensive method book out there.

I agree. It is the single best musical instructional product I have ever seen. I like the music, and want to play it. Theory is presented gradually but regularly, and its relevance is demonstrated right in the next tune. Improvisation and creativity is encouraged. I feel like I am learning useful skills alongside enjoyable tunes. Plus I am having a blast working from it.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 01:47 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Clearly I can't stop the trolling and troll-feeding, but I invite others to ignore it and respond positively to the questions and experiences of other self-directed learners who choose to share here, in spite of the fray.
That's a bit strong. I've not seen any 'trolling and troll-feeding' in this thread just (mostly) reasoned arguments.

As a contribution I'd suggest one thing you can do on your own is work on your posture. Those who haven't watched Esther Gokhale's video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yYJ4hEYudE I highly recommend the shoulder work she does (not so keen on her lumbar curve theories). Know that the center of gravity of the trunk lies behind a line drawn between the head of the femurs. Also I'm getting into the neck retractors (a la Bernarr Mcfadden) - anybody out there have a comment about them?
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
That's a bit strong. I've not seen any 'trolling and troll-feeding' in this thread just (mostly) reasoned arguments.

My bad, I had second thoughts about that phrase when writing. I posted under the influence of frustration at the thread's being dominated by various personalities thriving on their characteristic forms of conflict. I had resigned myself the inevitability of a certain amount of this when I started this thread, but I strongly feel there is larger audience for such a thread which is being ill served by it.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:13 AM


hey keyboard, are you a self-taught klutz as well? Or did you learn that from someone.
Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:15 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

My bad, I had second thoughts about that phrase when writing. I posted under the influence of frustration at the thread's dominated by various personalities thriving on their characteristic forms of conflict. I had resigned myself the inevitability of a certain amount of this when I started this thread, but I strongly feel there is larger audience for such a thread which is being ill served by it.


Don't worry, klutz is just one of those weird guys who posts one sentence phrases that incite but really make no sense.
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:59 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
That's a bit strong. I've not seen any 'trolling and troll-feeding' in this thread just (mostly) reasoned arguments.

My bad, I had second thoughts about that phrase when writing. I posted under the influence of frustration at the thread's dominated by various personalities thriving on their characteristic forms of conflict.


That's a bit strong too & I haven't seen any evidence of it to speak of - on the other hand there are those of us who have come to your defense by trying to adhere to your original stated intention for this thread and who have attempted to thwart the usual detractors. A "bad" would consist of not noticing and acknowledging that.

JF
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 05:24 AM

Okay, my background is as a ballet dancer and teacher. I've studied basic anatomy and bio-mechanics and have some experience in Alexander technique and Pilates.
Poor posture is widespread and I agree it is a learned procedure. Toddlers have great natural posture, but they do not stick their bottoms out, its the nappy/diaper that makes it look that way..lol

I agree her shoulder technique is spot on, the old push or squeeze the shoulders thing is all wrong, as she points out it tightens the pecs and inhibits breathing , increases neck tension and is almost impossible to maintain. I agree with the elongation of the spine, too many people let their abdominal muscles collapse into the pelvis. If you lean forward with them collapsed into the pelvic area , you reach is very much shortened, and breathing is more difficult. However, I don't like the way she teaches it. I think using the abdominals properly would be more effective.

A tip for sitting, instead of correcting the posture once you are on the seat, correct your posture while standing. Do not have both feet together as you bend your knees to sit, this causes the spine to collapse in most cases. Try placing one foot behind ( still naturally spaced apart, not one directly behind the other), then bend your knees to sit. Same technique when standing back up again.

I disagree with sticking the posterior out. I prefer skeletal structure as a guide to correct spinal alignment , than some ancient Greek statues , or African natives. They too could have learned bad habits.

I'm a babywearer. I don't use a pushchair but instead use a long piece of cloth to carry my child on my back. Unlike the African carry, known as a kanga, which uses one layer of cloth, Europeans tend to wrap the cloth around in a more substantial way.
There is a reason African ladies stick the posterior out, it stops the growing child slipping off their back ! Around one years old children start to straighten their legs themselves and slip right out of the single wrap, which cannot happen with the European/American method of wrapping. Again this is a generalisation as some African nations will use two separate pieces of cloth to achieve a similar result.

I think it is yourself KeyboardKlutz, who gives a sensible piece of advice , which is in line with Pilates technique. Most people use their shoulders instead of their arm muscles to lift things or flex. So elbows go out to the side , the neck and shoulders tense up etc. Think of the way you bend your arm upwards at the elbow if using weights, instead of elbow raising outwards. It is the same when you move your hands across the keyboard, do you hunch up your shoulders ? Lots of people do, and it actually restricts the movement.


My own problem, is I cannot really sit on the stool to play, not if I want to reach the pedal. the stool height which allows my forearms to be parallel to the floor and at the right height at the keys, means I can't reach the floor with my feet. So I have to push the stool way back from the piano, and sort of lean right on the edge rather than sit, which gets mighty sore after a while. I don't have an ounce of fat on me, so there is no cushioning there... lol.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 08:36 AM

That's why I like Lister-Sink's ideas so much. She's very big on correct alignment. Her DVD devotes a section to the skeletal structure and relaxing the shoulders.

I've found that tensing my shoulders actually increases the number of mistakes I make. I seem to remember what to do better if I'm not tense. I make a conscious effort to relax my shoulders as I approach difficult passages.
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 09:45 AM

Thanks for your post Ejay. I'm going to look at my posture again.

For those putting in a lot of time practicing & playing, what's your normal stretch of time that you sit at the piano? What amount of time do you feel benefits you most?

For me, I usually only sit for 30 minutes at a time, but that's several times a day. I can sit longer if I'm just playing, but not if I'm practicing.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 10:10 AM

A break after 30 minutes is probably a good idea. It's very tempting to keep pushing: raise the metronome a notch, etc.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 10:16 AM

I'm curious: what are people working on here? I'm doing Scarlatti L. 388, the C minor Two-Part Invention, and the Rondo from Clementi Op. 36, number 5.

The Invention is going well; I'm pretty happy with it, and this may be my next recital submission, though I need to work on my trills. The Clementi is going OK, too; working on getting up to tempo. The Scarlatti is getting there: it's a study in broken chords, my bête noire! Fun to play, though.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 10:48 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I'm curious: what are people working on here? I'm doing Scarlatti L. 388, the C minor Two-Part Invention, and the Rondo from Clementi Op. 36, number 5.


I'm revisiting my "by heart" solo repertoire. I'm playing 3 assisted living gigs the middle of this month, and I spent the last month on band stuff, so my solo repertoire is pretty rough.

In particular I want to re-solidify - perhaps the wrong word - my Joplin, The Entertainer, and Bethena. And while the "by heart" comes more easily each time I do, alas and alack the tempo seems to slow all the time. When I first recorded the Joplin for a recital a couple of years ago I did it at 1/8 = 125 - a nice jaunty upbeat tempo. Not fast, but fun. Now. 110 is kind of it. I don't know if it'll come back. One piece that at one time I could do at 116 has never come back to that tempo. The problem isn't the right hand, it's the jumps and the 1/16-note runs in the left.

I can only reach an octave in the left off the front edge of the white keys, so the stretch makes it hard to keep a loose left wrist. I've even been thinking of finally finding ways to cheat, just so I can play it at tempo frown I do that in the right hand by changing some of the octaves to 5ths/6ths, but my left hand is just a little more flexible and I'd hoped to not have to do something like that. But I dunno. I change things all the time in the traditional music I play - it's part of the tradition laugh But with Joplin I'd like to play those octaves. They just add a lot to the sound. I don't mind on a lot of ragtime - I learned Black and White from a lead sheet and it's nothing at all like the original laugh But Joplin was a genius. Anyway.

I'm working on playing slow and making sure my wrist is as relaxed as possible to see if that will help. And I'm doing some playing with my eyes closed to get as familiar with the music as possible, and the keyboard, since that will help with the relaxation/ease. But it's a long haul.

Cathy
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 11:13 AM

Hey Ejay, nice to find someone who understands the importance of posture. For those who spend more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time practicing it's is highly advisable to block up the back legs of your stool by an inch (roughly). It preserves the correct lumbar spine shape and you won't get so achy. This isn't just my advice but also one of the UK's top performing arts doctors http://books.google.com/books?id=RNXZbVo...p;q&f=false
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 11:18 AM

Much of what I'm working on now are pieces that I originally studied under my teachers in my unformed youth. I got nowhere with them (the pieces) then, but now they're going pretty well.

The two teachers I had just weren't much help. Both had studied with the same teacher at the State University of NY at Albany, Findley Cockerell, who's sort of the patriarch of piano-playing in the Albany area. They didn't learn much about teaching from him, though. Technically, I could post on the Piano Teacher Lineage thread, since Cockerell studied at Juilliard, and my second teacher was taking lessons once a month with Adele Marcus (he says she through a chair once during a lesson), but since they didn't teach me much, I don't feel I can claim lineage. The limb on which I hang, alas, is whithered.

My first teacher said a little about counting, but never talked about fingering, which is why I never progressed very much, I'm sure. I can't remember a thing my second teacher taught me.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 11:35 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
My first teacher said a little about counting, but never talked about fingering, which is why I never progressed very much, I'm sure. I can't remember a thing my second teacher taught me.
Fingering really is an art. For those 'going it alone' I can't recommend CPE Bach's Versuch enough. It may be over 250 years old but as a guide to the Baroque it's indispensable. Mozart had to study it as did Beethoven. He published a set of pieces with every single note fingered to go with it (wq 63) - don't get ABRSM's though they reduced the number of fingerings.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
It can help to ask why the mistake occurred. Sometimes, I'll repeatedly make a mistake in one hand, only to discover it's because the other hand is not secure in what it should be doing at that point; fixing that hand fixes the other hand, too.


Amen smile

Cathy
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:12 PM

When playing hands together, the "weakest link" will always be exposed, which is often depressing since hands separate played just fine.

I think about it this way: Whatever is your brain capacity for playing, it is 100% of whatever it is.

If the Right hand takes 50% of your thinking, and the left takes 50%, you cannot play hands together reliably, because that takes an additional 50%, which adds up to 150%, but you only have 100%.

(Hypothetical Numbers)

So as you practice HS, the numbers for each go down to, say, 25% each, leaving you with enough reserve to add in the 50% for HT.

Sounds crazy and unscientific, but it does help me understand the why of things, and not judge myself too much for being an untalented noob.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:22 PM

I have a full-length mirror (or, when playing Ravel, miroir) to keep an eye on my posture, hand/wrist/arm tension, etc. It helps quite a bit, except when I look at my hands: I get all confused because they're going in the wrong direction. smile
Posted by: Nikalette

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:26 PM

For me, the reason I don't progress as quickly (i.e. work as hard) without some kind of formal instruction (as mentioned, group classes work best for me) is that lack of focus or plan.

I get scattered and have a hard time figuring out what to do.

This is a personal quirk as well as a result of knowledge. With self-teaching, you have to do some guesswork, particularly with jazz/blues and the like.

With classical, you really do need a teacher...
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:37 PM

With Blues, your heart is your teacher. The music is "caught" rather than taught.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 12:41 PM

I listened to the Essential Piano Blues and Boogie cd again this weekend, and I can hear some of the licks when I play in my head smile - so it's a start laugh I love that cd.

Cathy
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikalette
For me, the reason I don't progress as quickly (i.e. work as hard) without some kind of formal instruction (as mentioned, group classes work best for me) is that lack of focus or plan.

I get scattered and have a hard time figuring out what to do.

This is a personal quirk as well as a result of knowledge. With self-teaching, you have to do some guesswork, particularly with jazz/blues and the like.

With classical, you really do need a teacher...


That happens to me sometimes. I'll come across someone's method and think that maybe those are the pieces I should play. So I start working on them and, although I seem to make progress, I start second-guessing myself and wonder why I'm not enjoying these pieces as I should.

I think the problem is the word "should." If I work on the pieces I want to work on (Bach, Scarlatti, etc.), I'm still going to progress, and I'll do so playing pieces that I like to play.

It's a matter of trusting one's judgement, I think.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 01:31 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001

I think the problem is the word "should."


Right-o...You are "shoulding" on yourself. laugh
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 01:52 PM

Sometimes I feel like I ought to wear Depends when I practice. smile
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 02:23 PM

Hi all,

I've been reading this thread with great interest, mostly because I believe that everyone is basically self-taught. Even when one has a teacher, there is always some latitude as to how the advice is interpreted and to what extent it's followed. I also think "self-taught" is a bit of a misnomer. We always learn from others - even in watching and reading. There's no reason to believe that regular weekly lessons are, by definition, superior to a book or YouTube tutorial.

Put another way - we all have teachers, in different forms and frequencies; and we're all self-taught, during those times when it's just us and the piano.

Although I am a teacher and had lessons through most of my formative years, there have been extended periods in my life where I was without a teacher and took it upon myself to continue growing as best I can.

I'd like to offer a few random thoughts. Hopefully some here will find it helpful:

1) People worry about posture too much.

I don't think people should worry about posture at all, but I do think they should experiment with it. Think about the variables that come in to play: How far/close you sit. How high/low you sit. The location and movement of your elbows. The curvature (or lack thereof) of the fingers and wrist.

2) Be Hedonistic and Voyeuristic

Good technique feels good and looks good. Spend some time doing breathing exercises, watching yourself in a mirror, and stretching. I've told this story elsewhere here - when I was learning to play golf (I'm a self-taught golfer!), I spent a summer trying to make my swing feel good. I stopped caring about the d*mn ball so much and just focused on making a motion that looked good and felt good. That was the summer I broke 100 (I don't take mulligans!)

3) Connect Your Ears to the Piano with Your Hands

Try this: Knock on your desk twice. Make the 2nd knock louder than the first. Now three knocks, each louder than the last. Now four, now five, now ten. Now do ten, but leave room for ten more. Do 7 with exactly the same sound. Knock 3 times, stopping the motion and staying in contact with the desk after each knock. Now knock 3 times without stopping the motion of your arm. Do both of those getting louder, softer. Notice the difference in the sound.

When doing that exercise, the kind of connection you forge between your ears, your fist, and the desk is exactly the kind of connection you want to feel when you're practicing. It doesn't matter whether you're playing scales or a Nocturne, practicing isn't so much about developing your ear or your technique as it is developing the connection between them.

4) What do teachers really provide, and how can you get it yourself?

Teachers fulfill a variety of needs for their students, and here's a quick list of what some of those might be. I mention it because for many of these things, there are ways to meet those needs without a teacher.

Moral support
Technical advice
Studio atmosphere (a community of others to share the learning experience with)
Feedback
Curriculum (what to learn and when to learn it)
Access (to adjudicated festivals, competitions, recitals, and other performance opportunities)
Motivation / Push (like a physical trainer; someone who helps you give 110%, making sure you never give up on yourself or settle for less than your best)

From that list, not all teachers will be able to provide everything, and not all students need all of those things. In a way, being "self-taught" is just another choice in the "which teacher is right for me" question. What do you need and how do you get it?

5) You Can't Learn it All Right Now

You can't. There's no such thing as "well-rounded." Not really. There's no way you can simultaneously build real skill in technique, repertoire, sight-reading, theory, composition, performance ability, improvisation, jazz, classical, accompanying, solo literature, etc...

This is mostly from personal experience. I'm one of those people who can do a little bit of everything, but I learned to do them one at a time. After I finished school, I took a year off of classical music to teach myself jazz. Last year, all my playing was accompanying. Two years ago, I played a concerto. This year, I'm doing a musical.

If you focus on the things you're not doing, you're going to feel bad, because there are always going to be a LOT of them.

If you focus on thing you ARE doing, then you're going to feel good, because it's going to get a lot better.

Alrighty then, back to lurkdom for me. And please keep up the discussion - like I said, I'm reading with quite a bit of interest; hearing all of this from the student perspective is very enlightening!
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 02:29 PM

Kreisler, thanks so much for the encouragement and excellent advice! This is why I come to PW! (That and the salad bar.)
smile
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:05 PM

Good post Kreisler. I am so guilty of trying to learn everything at once when it comes to the piano.

moscheles001, you asked what we're working on. Right now I'm working on Greensleeves. It's not hard. Just a single line melody in the right, and in the left I'm just playing chords but trying as many different left hand patterns as I can think of. It's interesting to hear the differences. The problem I'm having is I'm playing the left hand way too loud. I have 2 songs left until I'm finished my first method book.

I'm practicing Village Dance Op 777, No 8 (Czerny) and some broadway songs. How's that for a mix. I prefer neither type of music, but they're at the right level to give me some challenge.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 03:26 PM

I have trouble quieting my left hand, too. Any suggestions?
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 05:21 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Here is a list of what I have seen with self-taught students as a teacher:


Originally Posted By: rocket88
1. Poor body posture ...


BS - highly exaggerated "problem"...etc...

Originally Posted By: rocket88
7. Lack of knowledge of fingering, and the need to establish from the onset one system of fingering for each piece, phrase, etc.


BS - it's so easy to work out the best fingering for you for nay given piece - someone has a problem with this?



*raises hand*

I needed to be corrected on fingering. I was playing an ascending arpeggio using 5's instead of 4's and 1's. Upon reflection, I considered how idiotic that was, but it needed to be pointed out to me. Glad it was.

I don't know what the value is in this exchange:

A: "Posture/technique mistakes--they will come back to haunt you"
B: "Posture/technique mistakes are self-correcting or not mistakes at all"

Unless someone can back up their claims using an independent source (ideally with some kind of empirical evidence).

I lean toward the JF perspective but that's likely an indication of my bias and experience.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 05:41 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I have trouble quieting my left hand, too. Any suggestions?


Keep doing it. It takes more control to play quietly so don't expect it to come quickly. In the meantime play a little louder in your RH.

The secret - if there is one - is to have your fingers on the keys before depressing the key to play the note. As opposed to dropping your hand from mile above. Think minimal movement.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 05:58 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I'm curious: what are people working on here?


Schubert Wanderer-Fastasie d760 4/4 Allegro & pieces from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (promenade & baba yaga/great gate)

One thing I have recently become very aware of is my eye-assistance. I've become more aware of how the center of my field of vision tracks throughout a piece. I try to challenge myself by not relying on the visual cues and playing with eyes closed or looking at the other hand.

I enjoy practicing a piece with modified dynamics after I've learned it the 'right' way (assuming there is such a thing for a beginner).

I really want to get an H2 right now so I can have better feedback.

I'll use a metronome and play through a couple times at the fastest typical mistake-free speed I can manage, then increase it by 4 or 8 bpm increments for a total of about 12-20 bpm until the mistakes make it certifiably unmusical. Then I'll increase it again, just to force the fast synapse learning. I'll usually back it off back to a super slow pace, and concentrate on each little sound. It's my autobahn theory of learning...you know...when you go 150mph then 60 seems like crawling. I think it's crucial to play it super slow with proper attention given to every single noise made, but not all the time.

What I really need to practice I think are the Zen qualities of playing. Sometimes I play really well. How can I channel this? How should I breathe and concentrate during a practice? There are meditative aspects of playing that are very challenging. Anyone who has tried the meditative technique of number counting knows exactly what I mean--it's frustratingly difficult to control your thoughts.

I was reminded of this again playing for friends and strangers the other night. My performance was fine, but it was unusual in that it was kind of an exercise in managing anxiety and still concentrating on the piece and dealing with the intermittent thought, 'don't screw it up--on no! you are nervous! it might escalate!' you know...
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 06:31 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I have trouble quieting my left hand, too. Any suggestions?


Disclaimer: I am not qualified to teach anyone anything about anything! smile

One drill I made up is a kind of "pan" drill where I'll play a single set of notes at one moment (for example let's say the left is playing a G octave and the right is playing a second inverted C maj chord w/octave, or G-C-E-G) with increasing volume in each hand. Usually this 'moment' in the piece of music is where I notice I'm too heavy with the left. I do this when I don't like the proportion of volume from one hand or the other.

so the idea is that you play the same notes/chord in each hand several times, going from 100% volume in the right to 0.001% in the left, to 100%/100%, and then to 100%/0.001%, or all the emphasis on the left hand chord/octave/note/whatever, and none on the right. And then back and forth, maybe play with it a little bit and alternate emphasis. This is not a long, drawn out drill, just a spur of the moment thing I'll do sometimes when it gets my attention.

I'm not sure it helps, but that's how I deal with my frustration in being too heavy with (usually) the left.

Of course we can only begin to modulate the volume once we are not thinking about getting to the proper hand placement. We have to saw down the roughness of the gross motor movements before we can penetrate the million shades of color.

Part of me thinks you can only really fine tune the volume of each part once you are able to play from outside your body--you know, when you can listen to yourself playing while you're playing.

Do I need to repeat the disclaimer? caveat emptor, etc... smile
Posted by: CebuKid

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 06:52 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Question:

What exactly are the criteria for "Self-Taught" on this thread?

* Is it only for those who never had a teacher?

* Or how about those who had a teacher, but now self-teach?

* Or those who currently have a teacher, but augment the lessons by self-teaching themselves a different style of music?


rocket88,

I wondered the same thing myself. I'm from the camp of folks here who had childhood piano lessons (reached John Thompson's level 4) and restarting, took piano up again at age 38 after quitting at age 12. I took lessons from the "old lady down the street", and she was a great teacher.

I don't consider myself completely self-taught because the "basics" really never left me. When I first started again, I played a few pieces from a "wedding songbook" that I had laying around, I realized that I still had hand independence, finger dexterity, etc. Trust me, I think it's HUGE to start something like piano at a young age, which is why I admire the great self-directed adult beginners here who play so nicely. smile

I think those of us who've had childhood lessons are kind of like decent recreational adult softball players who played little league as kids.

That said, I'll admit that in my return I've had some technique issues (low wrists, lots of tension, and bad pedaling)...I feel that's where a teacher would come in handy, and another here on this forum stated that for those of us with previous background and who play at the intermediate level, we need a teacher mainly to "coach us."

One more question - and I've inquired about this before....Please define "poor fingering." Is poor fingering when you can't play a piece as intended (ie legato) due to poor "non-pianistic" moves from poor or unconventional fingering? Please clarify this.... crazy

PS-at the time of this writing, I do have a teacher whom I visited once so far, but due to recent bad times at my job, time constraints, kids, and summer activities, I haven't yet scheduled another lesson.

PPS-I've never had long-term hand or wrist problems after almost 2 years (knock on wood).. smokin
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/06/10 11:11 PM

Like you, I never know where I fit in.

I took piano lessons as a child and teen. The first 3 teachers were either completely unmemorable except one that was worse than horrible. The final one, a Russian-Schooled teacher, was the person who taught me how to really play the piano.

I then fell in love with Blues and Boogie-Woogie, and could not find a teacher anywhere, so I was forced to self-teach myself, which I essentially continue to do. This began way before You-Tube, teaching DVD's, MIDI software, etc, etc. Just a record player and a nice old Knabe grand piano.

I now am a Piano teacher to all ages from about 5 years old to my oldest student who was 88 years old.

So I have been a child student, a teen student, a Self-Taught Student, and a teacher of several styles of music to all ages. I have had horrible teachers, a wonderful teacher, a no teacher at all when I wanted one the most.

A man without a simple piano history, I guess. I think a lot of people do not neatly fit into narrowly-defined slots. Thanks for sharing your story.
Posted by: volunteer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 01:05 AM

After overworking the "what should I buy" on the DP forum, I am glad to have discovered this thread. I have read most, if not all of the postings, most discussing doing it yourself vs a teacher. I will state briefly that I live in an RV 100% of the time, and travel extensively. Obviously there would be few teachers that would be willing to take on a student for three months max, and I am not sure of any benefit from this approach other than an exchange of money. Now then, I am a real beginner and I have started my approach using the online course "rocket piano" and the Alfred Adult beginner book. I would like to hear what others are using as their framework for self teaching and what they think. Both of these courses seem to follow the same progression but each has some variety in their practice songs and their advancement. Personally I would never be able to learn without some organization and a progression to a goal. Perhaps their are other courses,books DVD's etc that others are using with success. BTW my new keyboard and I are having a ball...although regular practice is a chore right at the moment, I feel that I am making satisfactory progress in this first full month of "lessons" Cheers to all!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 01:19 AM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

What I really need to practice I think are the Zen qualities of playing. Sometimes I play really well. How can I channel this? How should I breathe and concentrate during a practice?
In my experience this has little to do with piano playing and more to do with lifestyle - but sorry, no empirical evidence!
Posted by: Canonie

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 01:37 AM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I have trouble quieting my left hand, too. Any suggestions?

The challenge of playing a louder melody in RH with a very quiet LH accompaniment is indeed difficult! But I found this to be a great approach:
IMTA magazine with great technical tips
Go to page 13 and read from the heading "Voicing". I believe this was first posted by Kreisler so you know it'll be good smile I can remember finding this so hard to do. And now quite a while later I can do it without thinking! So good luck everybody.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 02:21 AM

tangleweeds asked, several pages ago, what kinds of mistakes we make.

Besides playing wrong notes laugh

I can play my right hand without looking at it, even in the octaves, usually. But not the left if there are jumps. The left isn't as fast in other patterns, either.

So, my mistakes come from not spending enough time educating my left hand smile It's simply not as fluent. It could be. But when I can play the melody and people like to dance to my stuff I tend to let it slide. I could spend a lot more time working on dexterity and how the keyboard fits under my left hand and my music would be much more musical.

And of course, that comes a lot from not really listening carefully, too, my other bugaboo.

I use too much pedal, often. I think that's fairly common. Again, listening more carefully would help a lot. Experimenting with the pedal and phrasing more than I do would help a lot. I used my last ABF recital piece to do a lot of this. It was a long ways from really musical, but I learned a lot. I just don't necessarily keep it up frown

I am really only at the beginning of learning what it is to "polish" a piece (that's not a word I particularly like, but it's used here often to mean bringing up to a more musical level, and that's what I'm just beginning to learn to do, so I guess I'll use that word).

So those are some of the things I'm working on.

Cathy
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 05:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
... I believe that everyone is basically self-taught. Even when one has a teacher, there is always some latitude as to how the advice is interpreted and to what extent it's followed. I also think "self-taught" is a bit of a misnomer. We always learn from others - even in watching and reading. There's no reason to believe that regular weekly lessons are, by definition, superior to a book or YouTube tutorial.


Well stated - this is the bottom line - think about how much time you spend playing/practicing away from your teacher if you have one - when all is said and done you're basically teaching yourself and always will be ...

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'd like to offer a few random thoughts. Hopefully some here will find it helpful:

1) People worry about posture too much.

I don't think people should worry about posture at all, but I do think they should experiment with it. Think about the variables that come in to play: How far/close you sit. How high/low you sit. The location and movement of your elbows. The curvature (or lack thereof) of the fingers and wrist.


Thank you for this - yes, think about it in the beginning, get it set, and then forget about it - if you're worrying about this all the time you're not concentrating on the ultimate goal: musicality and superb interpretive skill.

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
2) Be Hedonistic and Voyeuristic

Good technique feels good and looks good. Spend some time doing breathing exercises, watching yourself in a mirror, and stretching.


But isn't this in the same category as excessive, compulsive "posture-worry" - maybe a good idea before a recital, but constantly?

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
when I was learning to play golf (I'm a self-taught golfer!), I spent a summer trying to make my swing feel good. I stopped caring about the d*mn ball so much and just focused on making a motion that looked good and felt good. That was the summer I broke 100 (I don't take mulligans!)


Yes, it's nice to look good on the tee but ultimately it's all about distance and direction and putting the ball in the cup in the least amount of strokes - and you don't have to swing or look good to do that well...

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
3) Connect Your Ears to the Piano with Your Hands

Try this: Knock on your desk twice. Make the 2nd knock louder than the first. Now three knocks, each louder than the last. Now four, now five, now ten. Now do ten, but leave room for ten more. Do 7 with exactly the same sound. Knock 3 times, stopping the motion and staying in contact with the desk after each knock. Now knock 3 times without stopping the motion of your arm. Do both of those getting louder, softer. Notice the difference in the sound.


This is what I've been doing lately - only with my forehead, reading the posts about posture and elbow-wrist angle...


Originally Posted By: Kreisler
4) What do teachers really provide, and how can you get it yourself?

Teachers fulfill a variety of needs for their students, and here's a quick list of what some of those might be. I mention it because for many of these things, there are ways to meet those needs without a teacher.

Moral support
Technical advice
Studio atmosphere (a community of others to share the learning experience with)
Feedback
Curriculum (what to learn and when to learn it)
Access (to adjudicated festivals, competitions, recitals, and other performance opportunities)
Motivation / Push (like a physical trainer; someone who helps you give 110%, making sure you never give up on yourself or settle for less than your best)

From that list, not all teachers will be able to provide everything, and not all students need all of those things. In a way, being "self-taught" is just another choice in the "which teacher is right for me" question. What do you need and how do you get it?


Well stated - but you forgot fear - the fear that students feel when practicing at home in anticipation of their next lesson...

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
5) You Can't Learn it All Right Now

You can't. There's no such thing as "well-rounded." Not really. There's no way you can simultaneously build real skill in technique, repertoire, sight-reading, theory, composition, performance ability, improvisation, jazz, classical, accompanying, solo literature, etc

If you focus on the things you're not doing, you're going to feel bad, because there are always going to be a LOT of them.

If you focus on thing you ARE doing, then you're going to feel good, because it's going to get a lot better.



Again - very well stated!

JF
Posted by: KrystalKai

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 06:53 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
[...] Knock on your desk twice [...] Knock 3 times [...] Notice the difference in the sound.
This is what I've been doing lately - only with my forehead, reading the posts about posture and elbow-wrist angle...


lol
Posted by: GustavoF

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 08:17 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
when I was learning to play golf (I'm a self-taught golfer!), I spent a summer trying to make my swing feel good. I stopped caring about the d*mn ball so much and just focused on making a motion that looked good and felt good. That was the summer I broke 100 (I don't take mulligans!)


Yes, it's nice to look good on the tee but ultimately it's all about distance and direction and putting the ball in the cup in the least amount of strokes - and you don't have to swing or look good to do that well...




Please, do forgive me for entering into this conversation but I would like to point out that he says “feel good” twice no less ;-) I think that I agree with him. It is very important to make movements feel good. My teacher makes me work on my left hand octaves as I “strain” my hand (read does not feel good). She is asking me to stop, play slowly octaves (C, C8ve, D, D8ve, etc) and try to relax the hand.

All the remarks my teacher is giving me about posture (hand posture, body, arms, etc) is about relaxing… (feel good).
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 09:11 AM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

I don't know what the value is in this exchange:

A: "Posture/technique mistakes--they will come back to haunt you"
B: "Posture/technique mistakes are self-correcting or not mistakes at all"

Unless someone can back up their claims using an independent source (ideally with some kind of empirical evidence).

I lean toward the JF perspective but that's likely an indication of my bias and experience.


Hawgdriver, you are right.. it is always best to rely on evidence, rather than someone's personal bias.

Here are some websites that provide evidence backing up my position.

I haven't read them all, so I don't know how accurate everything is on those sites, but listed below are some resources regarding injuries that can occur to pianists.

For more, Google "Pianist injuries" and there are more pages, but I havent got time to wade thru them all.

First, two short excerpts from the first and second listed sites, then the short list:

Quote:
Repetitive stress injuries bring misery to many pianists. They are very common, and the pain they cause can be dreadful. The list of famous pianists with injuries is much longer than most people think--it includes Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher, Wanda Landowska, Artur Schnabel, Alexander Scriabin, Ignaz Friedman, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Clara Schumann, Glenn Gould, Michel Beroff, Richard Goode and many others. In most cases the injury did not end the career, but it forced cancellations of concerts or tours, or restriction of repertoire.


Quote:
Musicians, especially if you're a beginner, are prone to injuries. Injuries vary depending on the instrument you play and how you play it. If you are thinking of learning to play a musical instrument or if you're the parent of a budding musician, it is very important to know the common types of potential injuries and how to prevent them.


http://pianomap.com/injuries/

http://musiced.about.com/od/beginnersguide/a/injuries.htm

http://www.wellbalancedpianist.com/pianoinjury.htm

http://www.soundfeelings.com/free/pain-prevention.htm

Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 09:16 AM

Hawgdriver and ten left thumbs, thanks for the suggestions. Great ideas; I wish I were home so I could try them. My left hand problem only raises its ugly head when I have an accompaniment in the left hand and a melody in the right. I can manage an even volume in contrapuntal pieces. Maybe my left hand is the jealous type.

Canonie, thanks for the link. I now have something to read on my lunch break!
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 09:35 AM

Cebukid, I think poor fingering is any fingering that gets in the way of playing with ease. I'm big on "position playing," in which your hand sits as much as possible over the notes you're playing, so the hand and arm stay steady and relaxed while the fingers play the notes. I got nowhere with the A minor Two-Part Invention because my fingering had my hands bouncing all over the place. When I took the piece up again, I changed my fingerings so that as the arpeggiated figures moved up and down the keyboard, my hand would sort of hover over the notes to be played in groups. I hope that makes sense.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 09:52 AM

Rocket 88, I think a lot of us “self-learners” have checkered pasts when it comes to our piano lives. It reminds me of the Iams dog food commercial about shelter dogs: don’t pity us, adopt us.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 10:23 AM

Yes, but don't some shelter dogs bite the hand that tries to feed them? laugh
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 10:29 AM

We just needs lots of love, and lots of Snausages. smile
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 12:52 PM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

What I really need to practice I think are the Zen qualities of playing. Sometimes I play really well. How can I channel this? How should I breathe and concentrate during a practice?
In my experience this has little to do with piano playing and more to do with lifestyle - but sorry, no empirical evidence!


ouch. that's cruel..., but fair, right? smile

To the point I was trying to make regarding mind-control and anxiety, I don't know it's as much lifestyle as it is confidence. If I had the knowledge--the visceral impression of a previous experience--that my performance would be fantastic, then it very likely would be. But the future reality of my actual performance is on the edge uncertainty--I have no experience of righteously playing this piece for an audience--so anxiety will be (for me at least) a certainty.

But even during practice this phenomenon of distraction is an issue, it's just not in the form of anxiety. It sometimes comes as the 'eureka!' form, wherein I realize I'm unexpectedly playing rather well (when before I had not). Ignoring these eureka's probably comes in time with more of them.

Sometimes your mind wanders. This is no great revelation. How can I concentrate and focus better? When I increase the metronome, that *requires* more concentration, just as it does when I dramatically slow the metronome. But sometimes during practice I'll think, 'hmm that legato was too mushy' or 'oops that mistake sucked', and this is a distraction. I want to improve my ability to stay on point, and to me this is a kind of Zen type of thing. I have noticed quite distinctly that the better I sound the more engaged I am with the music, and this makes staying tuned-in effortless. My mind says, 'YES, YES, keep doing THIS!', but then sometimes this leads back to the 'eureka' type feelings.

To your point about lifestyle, if I interpret it as you meant, is that if I have distractions in my life (relationship problems, money problems, etc.) then they will seep into my piano life. Concur. When I was a pilot they would say that you are supposed to 'compartmentalize' these things. It's an interesting concept, but I can't say how valid it is. No empirical evidence... smile I am fortunate not to have too many worries in life at this point, and it would be no minor miracle for this trend to continue.

Ah, someone but an end to this wretched ramble. sleep
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 01:00 PM

Some of my worst mistakes happen right after I realize that I'm playing particularly well. The mind has to be a sort of scanning laser that reflects only on the particular place in the piece you're playing at that particular moment. (Pardon the alliteration.)

I have no idea how to achieve this, however. It has happened to me, and so, like an idiot, I think to myself, "Wow, I'm really concentrating!" And then I bang my shin against the metaphorical coffee table.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 01:15 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

To your point about lifestyle, if I interpret it as you meant, is that if I have distractions in my life (relationship problems, money problems, etc.) then they will seep into my piano life. Concur.


Isn't that a requirement to play the Blues? So it can be a good thing.
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
Some of my worst mistakes happen right after I realize that I'm playing particularly well.


That definitely happens to me. Just as my brain starts to think "Hey, this is going really well --- I either lose my place or hit a wrong note, and it goes downhill from there."
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 06:00 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

How can I concentrate and focus better?


The way I see it, concentration is bad. If I need to really, cognitively focus on something, then either it's too hard for me or I haven't practised it enough. Time to break it down into smaller chunks. Make it more automatic.
Posted by: teelions

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/07/10 07:34 PM

Hi all,

I've been a lurker on this site for almost a year. The reason being is that since I too am a self-learner and it seemed to me that this was frowned upon here. But after reading this thread I realized there is support for people like me.

I'm following the exact same course as Volunteer: Alfred's Book 1 + Rocket piano. One of the things I really like about Rocket is that it teaches you to read intervallically (sp?) as well as following a similar learning progression as the Alfred book. I started my self learning journey learning from the JazzKids series at Willie Myette's site as Jazz/Blues were my interests. From Willie's site, I've also learned about theory in creating triads, 7ths, inversions, voicing, scales, and bass lines and blues licks. And I've also learned to play jazz numbers of 'Misty', Fly Me to the Moon', and 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'; with improv and all by ear. I've now decided to take a step back and learn to read music as it takes a lot of effort to memorize a song by ear. which how I got started with Rocket and Alfreds. I find that it's a bit easier to learn sight-reading intervallically once understanding the concept. I probably would not of appreciated this route had I been a rank beginner.

I also employ various iPhone and iPad apps to test myself in ear training and in recognizing notes and and intervals. And I can also test out melodies on the Pianist keyboard app for iPad when on the road. Essentially this makes my training mobile as well. Two other great learning aids have been 'Sight Reading Studio' created by David Bagno as well as David Sprunger's ear training program.

Cheers
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 01:26 AM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

Sometimes your mind wanders. This is no great revelation. How can I concentrate and focus better?
By lifestyle I mean Mens sana in corpore sano (which is not just about fitness).
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 04:19 AM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
To the point I was trying to make regarding mind-control and anxiety, I don't know it's as much lifestyle as it is confidence. If I had the knowledge--the visceral impression of a previous experience--that my performance would be fantastic, then it very likely would be. But the future reality of my actual performance is on the edge uncertainty--I have no experience of righteously playing this piece for an audience--so anxiety will be (for me at least) a certainty.



This is either a very brilliant insight or the most inane piece of psyco-babble I've ever read here smile - and I can't figure out which - perhaps a restatement in other words...

JF
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 04:30 AM

Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

To your point about lifestyle, if I interpret it as you meant, is that if I have distractions in my life (relationship problems, money problems, etc.) then they will seep into my piano life. Concur.


Isn't that a requirement to play the Blues? So it can be a good thing.


A good thing? So, if one would want to play the Blues well - authenically - then one should need to have, one should hope to have, one should strive to have, distractions and problems?

JF
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 07:22 AM

Its tongue-in-cheek, John. Lighten up.
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 08:19 AM

Hi everyone,since this is a self-teaching journey. I'm curious to know if anyone doing exercises like Hanon, Czerny, ... and such?


PS: At the moment I am VERY tempted to look for a teacher. The result of "Figuring out things on my own" for the last 2 weeks has been disappointing:

1. I play sloppily with constant raggedness
2. I have problems with rhythm. I can't feel the beat myself. I'm totally reliant on the metronome.

Well, guys maybe I will look for a teacher and see how...
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 08:51 AM

I use Hanon and Schmitt. There are lots of pro and con arguments about exercises, but exercises seem to help me.

I'm not sure what you mean by "sloppily" or "ragged"; that can cover a lot of different aspects of playing. (My playing can easily sound like an angry mob storming the castle if I'm not careful.) If you're referring to rhythm, some find counting out loud helpful, especially emphasizing the strong beats. Are your difficulties with maintaining the pulse of the piece, or are there tricky rhythms that are throwing you off?
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 08:57 AM

Hi moscheles001,

What I meant by raggedness is the transition from note to note isn't smooth or interrupted. Probably because I can't maintain steady rhythm. Some notes sound longer than a beat some are shorted than supposed hence the unevenness of notes sound.

I believe the piece I'm playing is NOT too hard (slow tempo with simple notes) but it has eighth and sixteenth notes. The rhythm is 3/4
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 09:45 AM

I work on some Hanon. I don't know if there are different Hanon books but mine is The Virtuoso Pianist in sixty exercises. I have worked on exercises #1, 2 and #6. I use to play them a few times a week, but now I'm lucky to do them once a week. I find them helpful...and boring after awhile.

Day Dreamer, are you able to clap a steady beat to a song on the radio?
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 09:56 AM

I'd definitely try counting out loud, then. Try also clapping the rhythms away from the piano.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 10:01 AM

I've never found Hanon boring; I think because I try to concentrate very hard on evenness and relaxation. It may help to think of each exercise as a repetitive sequence within an extended solo, like the cadenza from the first movement of the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. (That's a stretch, I know, but it works for me.)
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 11:51 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
To the point I was trying to make regarding mind-control and anxiety, I don't know it's as much lifestyle as it is confidence. If I had the knowledge--the visceral impression of a previous experience--that my performance would be fantastic, then it very likely would be. But the future reality of my actual performance is on the edge uncertainty--I have no experience of righteously playing this piece for an audience--so anxiety will be (for me at least) a certainty.



This is either a very brilliant insight or the most inane piece of psyco-babble I've ever read here smile - and I can't figure out which - perhaps a restatement in other words...

JF


Haha, hi John. It's most definitely the latter, but I'll try again to make sense. I'm a wretched communicator.

Ok, so in general I am a confident, even cocky person cool , and if you’ll forgive the boorishness of sharing this story, I think it will allow me to make a point. Most of my cockiness is due to past experiences in which the reality of certain abilities seem plain and true—for example, I’m really good at math. For me this started in kindergarten when I realized I was way beyond the other kiddos' addition flash-card chops. I was so dominating at this ‘around the world’ flash card game that there was no other possible conclusion besides ‘I’m the best at this’. I couldn’t be beaten, and it wasn't ever close, and I was the youngest kid in kindergarten. And so this experience and others like it have given me a certain confidence in matters related to math. I feel like I’m probably going to be the best in any group. I’m actually kind of eager to demonstrate this, and perhaps earn more accolades. There is no anxiety for me in a math demonstration, especially not when I know the abilities of the competition. And sometimes you are going to lose at some level, when the competition becomes increasingly more talented. But in general, if you experience a lot of success, instead of apprehension in a performance situation, you might feel pleasant anticipation—because of your confidence and past experiences.

If I could restate it in the context of the story I shared and the piano:

If you knew you were good at playing a piece, and had that reality, hard and incontrovertible, presented to you—then you would be likely to feel pleasant anticipation rather than anxiety. It’s when there is uncertainty that anxiety may distract or get the best of you (and I know that it has me). Therefore it seems useful to arrange a series of ‘rigged’ contests to build confidence. But you couldn’t know that they were rigged, right? Then you wouldn’t have that visceral feeling that you *are* good. I don't have an answer, but I figure it's related to practicing until you are good + having some talent.

If I’m lucky then that made more sense…but somehow I doubt it. Math is my strength, not communication… frown
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 12:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Day Dreamer
Hi everyone,since this is a self-teaching journey. I'm curious to know if anyone doing exercises like Hanon, Czerny, ... and such?


PS: At the moment I am VERY tempted to look for a teacher. The result of "Figuring out things on my own" for the last 2 weeks has been disappointing:

1. I play sloppily with constant raggedness
2. I have problems with rhythm. I can't feel the beat myself. I'm totally reliant on the metronome.

Well, guys maybe I will look for a teacher and see how...


My teacher has me using Czerny (op 823 little pianist), and I've gone through a half dozen pieces in 'little pianist'. To be frank, I think it's mostly a waste of time. Mostly. I have gained from the Cz studies a bit. But I'm not convinced that I couldn't have achieved the same results with more compelling (complicated) music. For example, some of the final measures of Schubert's d760 are simply c-maj arpeggios at tempo.

Why learn this in a vacuum instead of to achieve a goal? To me, learning it to play it in context is so much more meaningful. I have more motivation to master it.

Things my teacher has instilled that I would not have learned on my own (I was just using the sheet music for Schubert d760 w/o fingerings):

parsimony of body movement and tension release / 'hand as workshop' concept--visual image of effortless playing
that musicality is all that really matters for conservatory judges
erasing all mistakes is the goal, and sometimes this means practice perfectly and quite slowly and with dynamics at slow tempo
ascending thumbs need to tuck immediately

I figure that's probably obvious to all of you, but it had to be pointed out to me.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 12:23 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

To your point about lifestyle, if I interpret it as you meant, is that if I have distractions in my life (relationship problems, money problems, etc.) then they will seep into my piano life. Concur.


Isn't that a requirement to play the Blues? So it can be a good thing.


A good thing? So, if one would want to play the Blues well - authenically - then one should need to have, one should hope to have, one should strive to have, distractions and problems?

JF


Yes. Here's the definitive discussion (I didn't write it - the attribtution is at the end):

"HOW TO SING THE BLUES

by Lame Mango Washington
(attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky, revisions by Little Blind Patti D. and Dr. Stevie Franklin)

1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you stick something nasty in the next line, like " I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes ... sort of: "Got a good woman - with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch; ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys and Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, " adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places:

a. Ashrams
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:

a. you're older than dirt
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied

No, if:

a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived.
d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues [jotur's EDIT: Until very recently that is]. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues.

Other acceptable Blues beverages are:

a. wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:

a. mixed drinks
b. kosher wine
c. Snapple
d. sparkling water

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:

a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:

a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn, and Rainbow can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):

a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi,etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc.

(Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues. You best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad Dog, or get out a shotgun. I don't care.

back to aNaLoG.MaN"

So rocket's right smile laugh

Cathy




Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 12:57 PM

That is GREAT! laugh
Posted by: Glen R.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 02:05 PM

OMG that was funny!
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 04:47 PM

Wonderful Cathy. I was worried perhaps we couldn't have blues in Scotland. But then I read this:

You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

And now I know it's OK. Just as well....

Ah woke up in the morning, banged ma heid
bum biddy bum, bum biddy bah
Need ma blooz tae get outta bed
bum biddy bum, bum biddy bah
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 05:45 PM

No Blues in Scotland...noooo way , not allowed, no in oor bonnie land. A lament yes, but no the blues. wink
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
No Blues in Scotland...noooo way , not allowed, no in oor bonnie land. A lament yes, but no the blues. wink


But it's half of your flag?!
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 05:59 PM

"Neil Gow's Lament for His Second Wife" sort of sounds like there might be a blues story behind it -

laugh

Cathy
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/08/10 06:29 PM

You mean St Andy's flag.. yes but that is deep blue, not a moody blue... lol

We do have some lovely laments Cathy, but they are haunting, not moody. ..although the jeely piece song is kinda full o self pity.

(Disclaimer, I don't really dislike blues music, lol)


One thing I have noticed is how many laments are played , especially out side Europe, like merry dances. Loch Lomond and the Massacre of Glencoe being just two examples.
So back on topic, as self taught, how do we distinguish between bad examples on youtube for instance and good recordings ?
Posted by: BenPiano

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 12:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
So back on topic, as self taught, how do we distinguish between bad examples on youtube for instance and good recordings ?


My experience has been to view several versions and then it's quite clear which version is appropriate.

I also find at times a slower version of a piece sounds much more pleasant than what's marked on the score. Maybe it's my subconscious eagerly directing me toward a slower and more manageable tempo, but I'd hate to think that my ears are failing me. smile
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 11:59 AM

Originally Posted By: Ejay
..although the jeely piece song is kinda full o self pity.




Ah, the good ol' jeely piece song. It's been too long. I wouldn't say self-pity. Just lots of humour. Probably is our very own blues.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 01:11 PM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver

Sometimes your mind wanders. This is no great revelation. How can I concentrate and focus better?
By lifestyle I mean Mens sana in corpore sano (which is not just about fitness).


Thank you for clarifying. Not to be combative, but quoting Juvenal doesn't much improve our understanding of things that might improve focus and concentration during practice and performance.

So if I'm a balanced person I can concentrate? If I'm not ill, mentally or physically? I'm looking for the pragmatic angle here...cheers.

The way I see it, desire is the main lever of focus. If you want to play it well badly enough, then you will. Not that it's the only factor that determines quality of a practice, no sir, but the most important one.

Dr. Terry Orlick believes you can improve your ability to focus through training. One of his books, 'in pursuit of excellence' sits on my shelf and it has some interesting tips. Sorry, I don't have it in front of me so can't share any of those gems. A lot of it is mental preparation for important competitions or events (like a recital).

I like Orlick's concepts but they don't quite hit on the most important one, which for me is just that you have an incredible passion or desire or want--and this is the force that makes everything fall in place.

I don't mean to marginalize your comment KbK, but one could easily contrive outstanding performers who lack the proper 'sano' status, if you know what I mean.

EDIT: for those interested, here is an interesting article from Orlick's website on mental aspects of opera training.
http://www.zoneofexcellence.ca./free/excellence/10_Thinking_Sound.pdf

edit^2: The Hans Gertz piece is worth a read. It's singing, but a lot of it applies. I would like to quote several selections, but here are two I like:

Quote:
The student should think of him
or herself as a real singer, and not
a student. Do not practice, perform.


Quote:
The singer must learn to build up
his or her feelings of being a good
singer. The old saying, "Form follows
thought" is very true in this case. To
train feelings of happiness when singing,
the singer must love his or her own voice
and must love to sing. In daily exercises,
effort must be put into developing the
feeling of being a good singer. The student
must as soon as possible leave behind
feelings of being a student and start
to think, "I am a singer".
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 01:19 PM

I have a question about bringing a piece up to tempo: I think it's generally agreed that a big part of the problem of playing rapid passages at tempo is training the brain to think the music faster. So, is it best to play at slower tempos until it's perfect before pushing for speed, or to push for speed in order to get the brain to think faster?

I don't think that there can be an either/or solution. No doubt it depends on the piece/passage in question.

I've tried a sort of compromise approach, by which I'd choose a tempo that was comfortable without being too slow, then alternate between pushing for speed and the confortable tempo. I'd always end practice with the slow tempo, also, so that comfortable, error-free version would be the one my brain would best recall.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 01:31 PM

I don't know, but my intuition is that you need both. I think rapid playing with mistakes helps the brain more and slow playing without mistakes helps the body more. So I do both and hope that this targets each effectively.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 01:39 PM

I prefer to start slower and build up to speed.
The reason for this is that sometimes if you start playing fast you can sort of bluff it, but if asked to play it slower, you make all sort of mistakes. While playing fast may develop muscle memory faster, it isn't always the most reliable.

I find if I build up to tempo, I am memorizing the patterns of written notes , so I can find the place in the music if I need to, as well as the muscle memory. I will usually work till I can play it faster than needed on final practice. I can then come back to it at the right tempo the next day.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
I don't know, but my intuition is that you need both. I think rapid playing with mistakes helps the brain more and slow playing without mistakes helps the body more. So I do both and hope that this targets each effectively.


I don't see any point in playing so fast you make mistakes. Best play slow, build up gradually. Most folks underestimate how long this takes.

If you need to help your brain, get a good recording of what you are playing and listen to it.

But playing too fast will simply teach your fingers to make mistakes, and teach your brain to accept them.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
I don't know, but my intuition is that you need both. I think rapid playing with mistakes helps the brain more and slow playing without mistakes helps the body more. So I do both and hope that this targets each effectively.


I don't see any point in playing so fast you make mistakes. Best play slow, build up gradually. Most folks underestimate how long this takes.

If you need to help your brain, get a good recording of what you are playing and listen to it.

But playing too fast will simply teach your fingers to make mistakes, and teach your brain to accept them.
Occasionally playing faster will show you where your mistakes are. If you always play something slow you may get it right everytime and not know which areas are really your weak spots.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 02:31 PM

One aspect of this is that playing something slow and playing it fast are not the same, i.e. fast is not simply slow done faster, just like running is not just fast walking. Even fast walking is different that just strolling along. Running is different in any number of ways, but is also the same in some ways (same legs, feet, basic muscles, etc).

I don't remember all the particulars, but this (when and how to bring in a faster tempo at practice, and pitfalls to avoid etc,) has been discussed before, I think either on this forum, or the Pianist's forum.

This is a good topic, a very important component to practicing successfully. Maybe someone else who knows more about this can chime in.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 02:43 PM

Yes, because it isn't until you get near the real tempo that you discover if your fingerings are efficient.

Chang and Lister-Sink both say to practice in small sections at tempo. I've found that easier said than done, though. Maybe it works with pianists who are further along with their technical development.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 03:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine

Occasionally playing faster will show you where your mistakes are. If you always play something slow you may get it right everytime and not know which ares are really your weak spots. [/quote]

True. Doing it occasionally - fine.

And building on rocket's idea (that playing fast and slow are not the same thing) perhaps it's a good idea to play something easy - fast.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 03:12 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I have a question about bringing a piece up to tempo: I think it's generally agreed that a big part of the problem of playing rapid passages at tempo is training the brain to think the music faster. So, is it best to play at slower tempos until it's perfect before pushing for speed, or to push for speed in order to get the brain to think faster?

I don't think that there can be an either/or solution. No doubt it depends on the piece/passage in question.

I've tried a sort of compromise approach, by which I'd choose a tempo that was comfortable without being too slow, then alternate between pushing for speed and the confortable tempo. I'd always end practice with the slow tempo, also, so that comfortable, error-free version would be the one my brain would best recall.


Originally Posted By: Little Blue Engine
Occasionally playing faster will show you where your mistakes are. If you always play something slow you may get it right everytime and not know which ares are really your weak spots.


These are my experience. I don't practice constantly at speed, but if I don't sometimes play at speed I never get to speed - I'm not in the habit of speed, I don't hear it at speed, my fingers don't go at speed. It is also true that what works slowly sometimes does not work at speed, and if I don't try it out at speed I never know that. So I, too, alternate - I try it out at speed, and I can often tell the difference between not knowing it well enough, or not having the right fingering, and just not being in the habit yet. If the first two, I go back and learn/fix it. If it's the habit, I become more aware/focused and play it right at speed, or just slightly slower. For me, it takes the alternations to get up to speed.

Cathy
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 03:28 PM

Quote:
Play slowly. Playing fast and hitting the wrong keys is pointless.


My theory is that somatic learning has at least two components. Until I can find a good piece of research on this, I'll just have to share my theory without any evidence. Those two components are sequential cognition and somatic actuation. In other words, 'what's the next note' and 'hit the next note'.

The fast playing technique is the most efficient way to improve the 'what's the next note' memory. I say most efficient because it's the most amount of learning in the least amount of time. You would still develop this playing slowly. It would just take longer.

The playing slowly is aimed at not having physical miscues--ie hitting the wrong notes. I agree--it is likely less efficient to practice this at a tempo that is too fast to actually build the proper somatic memory.

Where I'm on shaky ground is that I think by getting the procedural or sequential learning out of the way first, is that it allows me to devote my full attention to the actual striking of the keys.

I think this is most efficient for me. I want to achieve the same proper level of mastery of a given piece of music (or improvisational playing), only sooner. I hope what I've said is not taken as equivalent to the statement that you don't need to play precisely, because I think you do. But I see value in playing rapidly with mistakes as part of a training process. cheers... smile
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 04:38 PM

Originally Posted By: jotur


17. Some Blues names for men:

a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

Cathy

Good list Cathy, but you forgot Howlin' Wolf and Blind Mississippi WhiteBoy Pigsfeet Dupris...



JF




Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 04:38 PM

I found a book called "Musical Excellence: Strategies for Performance..." from Aaron Williamon of the Royal College of Music. He is the head of the Centre for Performance Science. He has collaborated on several articles published in leading neuroscience periodicals.

This book can be found at amazon and you can read a lot of it. It approaches some of the issues we are discussing.

This seems a worthwhile publication. Allow me to share a few snippets.

On Sviatoslav Richter repeating one difficult passage of 10 bars 100 times:

Quote:
You have to put the kettle on the stove and not take it off until it boils...Mastering the art of working, or learning compositions is characterized by an unwavering determination and an ability not to waste time. The greater the part...played by willpower (going straight for the goal)...the better the result" (Richter)


That just made my day. smile

On strategies concerned with tempo of performance:

Quote:
Research has shown that there are three primary strategies used when a practitioner encounters a composition that her or she is unable to play immediately at the required temp. The first, starting slowly and then gradually increasing tempo, is the most frequently recommended (see Barry, 1992). Interestingly, however, slower performances may contain more errors than those that are faster (Drake & Palmer, 2000). This is not necessarily an argument against the strategy, as the piece will no doubt grow more familiar and contain fewer errors as practice progresses. A more important objection, though, is that starting our using arm, finger, or mouth movements that are far from the physical and muscular demands of the final movements can cause the initial learning not only to be a waste of time, but also counterproductive in developing the "correct" muscular responses. The reason for this is that qualitatively different movements activate different muscles (Winold et al., 1994). Another strategy is to alternate, if possible, between a slow tempo and the faster performance tempo (Donald, 1997). This may bring the piece up to the performance tempo more quickly, since it entails regular tests of one's ability to play at that tempo.
Posted by: Ejay

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 04:49 PM

What is efficient for one person is different to another. I know for me personally, playing fast and then having to spend time fixing the mistakes takes longer overall.
I also learn what note is coming next while playing slowly. I don't learn individual notes, but how the hand moves between the notes and while playing one measure, I'm looking at or thinking of the next measure. So I know what's coming next before I get there.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 04:58 PM

John Frank - I didn't actually write that piece smile But I have to admit you found sort of the ultimate blues name there -

Cathy
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 05:01 PM

Thanks for those quotes hawgdriver -

Cathy
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 07:20 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
Another strategy is to alternate, if possible, between a slow tempo and the faster performance tempo (Donald, 1997). This may bring the piece up to the performance tempo more quickly, since it entails regular tests of one's ability to play at that tempo.[/b]


So I am vindicated! Huzzah!
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/09/10 08:49 PM

The author is definitely not coming out and saying this is the approved solution, and as Ejay acknowledges it's not 1 size fits most, but I look at this as strong support for that approach.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 05:59 AM

I don't think there's one solution; it really has to depend on context. Besides, the only way I can get to that "comfortable" tempo is by starting slowly and working my way up.

What about playing small chunks at tempo. Has that worked for anyone here?
Posted by: Skylyn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 06:21 AM

Hi! I'm new here. I'm 18 years old, soon to be 19 and I've been playing for 14 months and on my own (not exactly because I want to, but because I can't find a teacher or a music school that teaches piano, ha!). I find this thread very interesting and it's nice to see more people that, like me, are learning on their own (or as others say "without formal lessons"). smile

Regarding the bringing a piece up to tempo, well, I can't sight-read or sight-play well so I learn note by note. So normally while I'm learning/memorizing the piece, I play at a slower tempo (but not too slow) but it doesn't take me long till I can play it at the right tempo. Perhaps it's because I haven't played anything too fast. I think the faster piece I've learned/played is "Victor's Piano Solo", from the movie "The Corpse Bride" (but the "completed" or "full" version. Yes, that's fast for me ^^'). But an hour or so after I memorized it, I was playing it at the right tempo.

Of course, sometimes there are passages that I just can't play at the right tempo even after a while, so I work harder on those passages until I feel ready to play the piece from the beginning at the right tempo, making as little mistakes as possible.

By the way, I've been wondering... From time to time, I like to play the pieces much faster than the original tempo, because I enjoy it very much, haha. Do you think that's a bad thing? Some time ago I read somewhere that it is... but I don't know. What do you think?

Anyway, I apologize for my english! smile
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 07:46 AM

Welcome to PW, Skylyn!

A lot of teachers recommend practicing a piece up to tempos faster than the "correct" tempo, the idea being that if you can play it well at a faster tempo, you can definitely play it at the correct tempo.

I did this with the Bach C minor Invention, and it helped a lot.
Posted by: AC26XP

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 12:59 PM

Excellent thread.

No one likes to be replaced.

Self-directed learning is the evolving reality, whether through books, media, online universities, and the inevitable artificial intelligence or possibly plug-in to your brain insta-programs (ala, The Matrix).

Yes, people write the books and program the robots, so by proxy one would still have a "human teacher".

100 years from now (or sooner) I wouldn’t be surprised if androids (or whatever) are sitting next to piano students and encouraging them with seemingly sincere intent: "Try it again, but this time remember to relax," or "Not bad, but watch me play the piece."

Yep, whether it’s the automotive factory worker or the piano teacher, no one likes to be replaced by automation.

So maybe we should just forego all this angst and ask the inevitable question:
What... or dare I say who... will teach the next generation’s piano phenomenon, the HAL 9000 or Data from Star Trek?

Happy playing,
AC

(Never say never... right?)
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 01:11 PM

You wish.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 01:15 PM

Quote:
"Try it again, but this time remember to relax," or "Not bad, but watch me play the piece."

It is too bad that "teaching" can indeed be at that level. The second line is a great way of discouraging a student. Show him or her how superior you are, without givin the tools to get there, or even divulging that there are tools - it is not pure superior talent or magic to be inhaled in the studio.
Posted by: AC26XP

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 01:29 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
The second line is a great way of discouraging a student. Show him or her how superior you are, without givin the tools to get there, or even divulging that there are tools - it is not pure superior talent or magic to be inhaled in the studio.

Oh, that was just one example of human quality and emotion advertised in the Virtual Piano Teacher 9000 brochure.

But... there is no doubt that when these interactive programs and androids are in their initial beta-testing phase, suggestions from humans will still be invaluable.
Enough reason to keep those old human piano teachers around... for now... wink

Happy playing,
AC
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 03:01 PM

I'm curious if anyone would be interesting in participating in an experiment to test learning efficiency. Because we have so many unanswered questions, it would be nice to see if we can find out the truth of matters for ourselves. Here are some questions that I'd like to know the answer to:

Which of these practice/drill methods will result in the least amount of time to go from just beginning to learn a piece to playing it well at tempo in a performance setting?

a. in chunks (and how large of a chunk)
b. both slow and fast
c. occasionally faster than tempo
d. gradually bringing a piece up to tempo methodically

And even more important--are these techniques applicable to everyone, or does everyone have their own unique method which is best?

It seems if we could find out answers to these questions we would be in better shape than before.

Because we are beginners, the piece should be appropriate for the level of ability, and not too long, but still have some difficulty and test speed.

Designing an experiment like this is tricky, but I'm sure there are other mathy/scientisty people like me to help out. It might be interesting--any thoughts? Anyone know of a similar study that's already been done? cheers.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/10/10 03:09 PM

"The Art of Piano Playing: A Scientific Approach," by George Kochevitsky is the most scientisty book I've read on the subject. I think it's time for me to read it again.
Posted by: TromboneAl

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/11/10 12:49 PM

Here's what I consider the most important tip when not taking lessons:

Record yourself, and sit back, listen to the recording, and evaluate your playing.

With my electric piano the playback will sound exactly as it does when I'm playing, and I usually walk across the room and sit down to listen.

When I do that (and I do it almost every day) I usually find something obvious that I'm doing wrong. For example, I may notice that I'm playing the left hand part too loudly, or I'm not keeping a good time feel.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/11/10 01:36 PM

Let me know if you want to know what your best learning style is. Here is an experiment I think that might provide an indication.

Take two pieces from Czerny School of Velocity--just 6-10 bars each. Heavy on dexterity, light on musicality. Learning it and bringing it up to speed should take maybe 10-20 minutes.

Learn one piece using the slow and methodical approach of gradually bringing it up to speed by increasing metronome tempo. Learn the other piece by alternating between too fast and a more accurate tempo. Time how long it takes to learn each.

This will provide two things. First, each person would have an overall percentile ranking of how long it took them to learn the music (both pieces). The second thing is more complicated to explain, so bear with me.

Let's say it took 10 minutes to learn the first piece, and 20 minutes to learn the second. So the difference was 10 minutes. Now let's say someone else learned the first piece in 15 minutes and the second piece in 15 minutes. The difference was zero. So the second thing we would be able to do is to rank everyone by how much difference there was in playing each piece. This would give an indication of how much it matters how you learn.

So with these measurements, you could learn something about yourself (above 50 is faster than the median):

Piece A: 40th percentile
Piece B: 60th percentile
Total: 50th percentile
Difference between A and B: 80th percentile

So this would tell you that you learned faster using the approach you used for piece B, and because the difference is 80th percentile, it makes a big difference which way to learn it.

Unfortunately, this won't answer the question, 'which approach is better.' One way to do this might be to have some people learn both pieces using the same technique. For example, let's say we have someone learn both pieces using the methodical approach. Suppose it takes them 10 minutes to learn each piece. Then you could compare this to someone that learned the first piece methodically in 10 minutes, and see how fast they learned the second piece using the fast/slow method. So if they learned the second piece using fast/slow in 8 minutes, but they both learned the first piece using the same technique in 10 minutes, you might say the fast/slow is better. It' not conclusive, but it's something.

Well, I'm up for finding out the best way to learn how to bring something up to performance speed as quickly as possible--anyone else? If we get ten people it's worth it. If you have any comments or if you know of a better way to achieve this goal, feedback, criticism, etc., is welcome. cheers!
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/11/10 03:56 PM

Originally Posted By: TromboneAl
Here's what I consider the most important tip when not taking lessons:

Record yourself, and sit back, listen to the recording, and evaluate your playing...


I totally agree with you. I can hear that my recordings are not as smooth as I thought they were, and it's really obvious that my left hand has been playing heavier than I intend. I've also video taped my hands playing the keys and I can see tension in my fingers at times.

Recording yourself if very useful.

Another thing that I do is watch experienced pianist play. I'm lucky to have weekly access to at least 1 and sometimes up to 3 different ones. Watch their hands. I watch to see how they make jumps, how they do runs, and watch how their fingers are relaxed. If you can turn pages for them, you may be able to watch how their hands change positions at certain areas if you're familiar with the music.

I prefer to just sit behind them and watch. Just ask them if they'd mind.

One other thing I've learned from watching one of the pianist is how she recovers from a big mistake. A few Sunday's ago I knew the pianist was going to start into a song into which the praise band would follow when she got to the chorus. She started singing and playing and I knew she was in the wrong key. My mind was rolling a hundred miles an hour trying to figure out how she was going to adjust that. She kept on playing, changed keys...ran a few rough notes and started the song again. She didn't stop and I hardly detected a change in her rhythm. Her facial expression never changed. I'll bet many of the congregation didn't notice. If I had been playing, I probably would have stopped completely, and would have made a mess of things.

Use your eyes and watch experienced players play. Watch yourself play. Record and listen to yourself. It's great to hear something that you play sound great. It's also great to improve upon what you can already do.
Posted by: Skylyn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/11/10 06:20 PM

Thank you, moscheles001. smile


And yes, recording yourself and listening to it later is definately a good idea. As GracieCat I've also video taped my hands and because of that I've noticed some things I was unaware of, for example, apparently I tend to move my hands and arms too much, now I'm conscious of that so I can control it for a bit (without turning myself into a robot, of course!) or at least try to understand why I do that (like I said, if it wasn't for the video, I wouldn't have known).

Watch experienced pianist is also a great advice.

Since I've never have someone in person to tell me what I'm doing wrong, I try to read as much as I can about important things (as correct posture, wrist position, pianist's injuries...) and watch other people playing so I can learn from them.
Posted by: DragonPianoPlayer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 08:06 AM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver


Which of these practice/drill methods will result in the least amount of time to go from just beginning to learn a piece to playing it well at tempo in a performance setting?

a. in chunks (and how large of a chunk)
b. both slow and fast
c. occasionally faster than tempo
d. gradually bringing a piece up to tempo methodically

And even more important--are these techniques applicable to everyone, or does everyone have their own unique method which is best?



Hawgrider,

Which tool can you use to build a house?
A Hammer
A Saw
A Tape Measure

Seriously, you need all of these tools and many, many more. The question is not which practice tool is better or which will get you to your goal faster, but rather WHEN do you use each technique. A lot of what teachers should be teaching you (and my very first teacher did not teach me anything about practice, she gave me great technique, but no practice skills) is when to use each particular practice technique.

Rich
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 09:28 AM

I'm embarassed to admit that I don't think I could bring a piece from Czerny up to speed in ten to twenty minutes. Learning the notes, maybe; but to speed? No.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 01:33 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001
I'm embarassed to admit that I don't think I could bring a piece from Czerny up to speed in ten to twenty minutes. Learning the notes, maybe; but to speed? No.

It would be just a small section. Maybe only 4-6 bars. Maybe 10-20 minutes is too little time. I'm not that quick either. Maybe instead of seeing how long it takes to learn it at tempo, you could see how much progress has been made in 30 minutes--what tempo did you start with and what did you finish with.

I guess I'm the only one who's in a hurry to learn things... frown

So, I'll experiment on myself...call me Dr. Frankendriver. Or, Hawgbert West, Reanimator. smile

Here is an opportunity to learn if it's possible to learn more music in less time, and so few are interested. Why stay grounded to an intuition or opinion that might be keeping you from mastering pieces quicker, when there is a way to measure which is the fastest way? :crickets:

If anyone is interested PM me and we'll pick a quick couple of selections (probably only a few measures) from the CZ etudes I linked. Once we get a handful of people we can then draw more compelling conclusions, and maybe start our own thread, which will then get people to go, 'cool, I can find out the quickest way to learn a new piece of music.'

This offer not available in stores... smile
Posted by: Odilon

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 02:01 PM

I started like this: I bought a very cheap electronic Yamaha keyboard and borrowed a book from the local library. I played through the 2 first volumes of the book series and then I tried out for this prestige music school, and I thought I totally made a fool out of myself at the audition. Two weeks after that I bought a used acoustic piano and have been playing with it ever since. And in the end I actually got into the music school to study piano playing. Now the 3rd and last volume of the book series is over so I'm just going to have to wait another month until I get real lessons.

So I think self learning is a really good way to start. But if you really want to get a lot better, you gotta get lessons, since no book or video can teach you as well as a real person (I suppose...). I'm almost 18 years old and have now been playing for a total of 6 months. I was actually totally shocked when I found out that I got into the music school since I thought I messed up the audition. But anyways... Well I guess that's what I just wanted to say!
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 02:25 PM

I'm not sure that this would prove anything, though. I think it really depends on the music you're trying to learn. A Czerny etude isn't as complex as even Beethoven's Op. 49 or Clementi's Op. 36.

I tried "chunking" at speed with the Scarlatti sonata I'm working on now, and it went nowhere. I got further by playing slowly and working up to a faster speed. Once I felt fairly comfortable with it, I jumped to a faster speed rather than continuing to gradually increase the speed.

I haven't started the second section of the sonata, so I may try chunking with that, since it uses patterns similar to those in the first part.
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/12/10 04:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Odilon

So I think self learning is a really good way to start. But if you really want to get a lot better, you gotta get lessons, since no book or video can teach you as well as a real person (I suppose...).

I'm almost 18 years old and have now been playing for a total of 6 months.


smile

JF
Posted by: Joshua Liswantoro

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/13/10 10:37 PM

Hi - I am new to piano and off course I am also new to this forum.
I did Googling and found this very interesting thread. Thanks for the administrator to approve my registrations.

I just bought my digital piano last month. The Privia PX-330. This is the first piano I ever have. Maybe I am to old as a beginer. Yeah, I am 41 years old. I played guitar before but I never had a formal lecture. Here, I want to share my first month experience of learning piano by my self.

To start my lesson, I purchase both RocketPiano and PianoForAll online piano course. Each of the course have a very different approach. Rocket Piano use the classical approach likes play simple melody and how to read a score. PianoForAll approach is using chord. In one week I am able to use my piano to accompanying my son singing his children song. Thanks to the PianoForAll. At the same time, I am start able to read the score, thanks to the RocketPiano. What I am thinking is I will easily get boring if I just follow the RocketPiano method. The PianoForAll build my confidence since it makes me feel I can play. However, the RocketPiano give me a solid foundation to works with both my hands, controlling my finger, how to sit, and read scores.

Currently I am learning to play one of my favorite piano pieces, "Ballad pour de Adeline". It takes 2 weeks to learn the scores until I remember all the notes without reading it. I spent the next week try hard to play it correctly. I am using youtube to get the video of people who play this song. There are a lot of it in youtube, I just choose one that I like much. So the term 'play correctly' is i want to play exactly the same as the video. I have no idea about is this right or wrong. It just sound good to me. And now in the week 3, I am able to play the complete song with some mistake here and there. Oh yes, I am recording my play to hear how good or bad I play.

Last weekend, my 15 years old nephew come to visit me. He never get a formal piano course but he learn and play the keyboard on the church. He saw me play the song and ask me to teach him. Amazingly, he can play at the same level with me (with some mistake here and there) in only 1 days!

So my questions is, how can we measure our efficiency in this learning process? Am I to old and that caused me to very slow in learning a new things?

I am sorry for my bad English, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/14/10 06:41 AM

Welcome to PW, Joshua! You're never too old to learn to play. I think you'll find that the longer you've played, the quicker you'll learn. And there are plenty of smart people here who can help you.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/14/10 02:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Joshua Liswantoro
I just bought my digital piano last month....Currently I am learning to play one of my favorite piano pieces, "Ballad pour de Adeline"...And now in the week 3, I am able to play the complete song with some mistake here and there. ...Am I to old and that caused me to very slow in learning a new things?



Welcome to the forum, Joshua. smile If you are playing Ballad pour de Adeline (lovely piece, by the way!) after only one month on piano, you are NOT "very slow" at all! Quite the opposite. And you are most definitely NOT too old! We have people on AB forum who started piano in their 60s or even older and are loving it.
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/14/10 04:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Monica K

Welcome to the forum, Joshua. smile If you are playing Ballad pour de Adeline (lovely piece, by the way!) after only one month on piano, you are NOT "very slow" at all! Quite the opposite. And you are most definitely NOT too old! We have people on AB forum who started piano in their 60s or even older and are loving it.


Correct and, in fact, the older the better...

The temperament of "seasoned citizens" is perfectly serene and thus ideal for the ups and downs, the frustrations and joys of piano study - it's a matter of knowing how to be patient and how to keep things in perspective - and, as a bonus, if you're retired you certainly have a lot more time available to devote to this highly commendable artistic pursuit...

But, there's something older the the 60s? laugh

JF
Posted by: Joshua Liswantoro

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 07:37 AM

Thank you guys, that double my confidence end eagerness to learn more.

What I mean with slow is relative compared to the younger, in this case it is me compared to my nephew.

Yeah, older people can manage their emotion better and usually have a narrow target. That's help. However in the context of 'speed of learning' I believe the younger is better, even it not always mean 'reach the target'.

Slow but focus vs Fast but scattered. Is that the comparison of how the younger and older learn?

JGL
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 09:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Joshua Liswantoro
What I mean with slow is relative compared to the younger, in this case it is me compared to my nephew.

Yeah, older people can manage their emotion better and usually have a narrow target. That's help. However in the context of 'speed of learning' I believe the younger is better, even it not always mean 'reach the target'.

Slow but focus vs Fast but scattered. Is that the comparison of how the younger and older learn?


I think you are trying to compare two people and from that conclude that everyone is the same. Don't compare yourself to your nephew. He is one person you are another. Perhaps he will make a flying start and you will be slow but steady. Hare & Tortoise!

But you could easily find one older person who rushes off, using their experience to sail through the early stages while a younger less confident person stumbles at the beginning.

But basically, don't over think things ... just play and have fun!!!
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 09:17 AM

Stereotyping people is fraught with problems. Everyone is different. You can find exceptions to every "rule".

Currently, I have as students a 12 year old girl who is as steady and methodical and dedicated as any student I have seen. She acts like a focused, quiet and mature adult.

And I have an older (well north of 60) self-taught man who has been playing all his life, but just recently came for lessons.

He acts like the stereotypical (yikes! it is very easy to stereotype!) 8 year old high-energy boy, without the high-energy. He cannot stay focused on-topic for more than a few moments, interrupts what I say, doesn't listen, rarely practices his assignments, has a very erratic and disorganized practice regimen.

Joshua, enjoy your piano journey. You are an individual...just do your best and enjoy the ride.
Posted by: GracieCat

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 11:06 AM

Joshua, I'm 40 and just started to learn to play the piano about 7 months ago. I'm enjoying it a ton and have really progressed steadily. It's been a dream I've always had and now is the time for me to learn.

Enjoy your journey. It's not a race. smile
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 01:47 PM

Originally Posted By: GracieCat
Enjoy your journey. It's not a race. smile


Wrong. It's a race-journey.

;p
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 01:56 PM

Rocket, that sounds like the difference between the genders there! smile

(Course in reality, there are no differences between the genders. There are only two types of people. Those who stereotype, and those who don't.)
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Rocket, that sounds like the difference between the genders there! smile

(Course in reality, there are no differences between the genders. There are only two types of people. Those who stereotype, and those who don't.)


Posted by: Crit

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 05:45 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Rocket, that sounds like the difference between the genders there! smile

(Course in reality, there are no differences between the genders. There are only two types of people. Those who stereotype, and those who don't.)


Along the same lines:

There are two categories of people: those who categorize people and those who don't.
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 08:07 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
(Course in reality, there are no differences between the genders.


In reality? In reality it would appear that there are some significant differences.

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
There are only two types of people. Those who stereotype, and those who don't.)


But isn't this - the categorization of all people into one group or the other - a "stereotype" in and of itself?

JF
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 08:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Crit

Along the same lines:

There are two categories of people: those who categorize people and those who don't.


Thus, placing yourself in the 1st category...

JF
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 08:31 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
(Course in reality, there are no differences between the genders.


In reality? In reality it would appear that there are some significant differences.

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
There are only two types of people. Those who stereotype, and those who don't.)


But isn't this - the categorization of all people into one group or the other - a "stereotype" in and of itself?

JF


I'm not sure, but I think he meant those as a joke.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/15/10 09:17 PM

I do believe that very irony the whole point of the joke.

Dangit, I've hand a long thoughtful post to this thread percolating in my head for ages, but we're entertaining a wonderful houseguest, so we've either been out and about doing fun summery activities, or having nice long conversations. I've been getting in some good piano time because our guest is a fellow musician, and our conversations have been inspiring. But I've only had time for a few drive-by forum posts.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 12:29 AM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: Crit

Along the same lines:

There are two categories of people: those who categorize people and those who don't.


Thus, placing yourself in the 1st category...

JF
You don't get it. It's a kind of logical fallacy (does it have a name?) used as a joke. My favourite is in Life of Brian. Brian says to a crowd 'You are all different' One person says 'I'm not'.
Posted by: BenPiano

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 12:45 AM

Hmmm, I've always read there are 10 different kinds of people. Those that understand binary and those that do not.
Posted by: Joshua Liswantoro

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 01:28 AM

I get the idea from this fun discussion. Every individual is difference, comparing our self to some one else is useless. But it is true?

We always need a benchmark to know are we doing thing right and to know where we are. Self teaching miss the most important aspect of learning from a teacher. The teacher will tell us where are we, what to do next, and are we doing thing right or not.

I can be seems very stupid when I feel confidence and then try to perform in hi-school reunion. What I think right can be found that all is wrong, what I feel good can be totally bad. Sound pessimistic? Maybe..

Maybe this is obsolete question that already discussed thousand times. But it will be good if you can share how you measure your self when you do self-teaching. We not only need to measure the end result, we also need to measure the process it self.

-JGL
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 02:04 AM

My biggest benchmark, the way I measure my playing, is: Do people want to dance to my music? I play with a band for contra dances, Irish step dancing, sometimes swing and other kinds of folk dancing. I also play for some nursing homes. If people at the nursing homes are clapping in time with the music, or dancing, or nodding, or smiling, or whatever, then I know I've accomplished much of what I want to do.

I also get feedback from other musicians I play with - is my rhythm good, are my dynamics good, is my phrasing good, etc.

As for measuring the process itself - have I gotten immense satisfaction out of learning something? Can I play something easily now that was hard for me a year ago? Do I play without pain? Can I accompany other musicians on a tune without having sheet music, at least more often than I used to be able to? Can I play more pieces by heart (from memory) than I used to? Can I recover from mistakes as I play a piece through (I also, of course, practice short sections of pieces - but when I'm playing for dancers or performances I need to be able to play through my mistakes)?

Those are some of my measures. They aren't the same measures other people will use - for one thing, not everyone plays dance music smile

So, for me, there are ways to get feedback without taking formal lessons. I also go to occasional workshops put on by visiting musicians - there's one on polyrhythms coming up soon that I'm really looking forward to.

As for not doing so well when playing at your high school reunion - all of us here know the nerves that go with performing! But that, too, can be practiced - practice playing your piece in front of family and friends, or just with the windows open so the neighbors can hear smile Or record yourself and post it here. Don't try playing your hardest piece - play something that is easier and play it well instead.

Welcome to the ABF, Joshua. This is a great place with lots of like-minded people.

Cathy
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 09:14 AM

Originally Posted By: rocket88


I'm not sure, but I think he meant those as a joke.


I did, thankyou rocket.

I am a she-pianist, of the female sort. Just for reference. wink
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 09:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Joshua Liswantoro
I get the idea from this fun discussion. Every individual is difference, comparing our self to some one else is useless. But it is true?

We always need a benchmark to know are we doing thing right and to know where we are. Self teaching miss the most important aspect of learning from a teacher. The teacher will tell us where are we, what to do next, and are we doing thing right or not.

I can be seems very stupid when I feel confidence and then try to perform in hi-school reunion. What I think right can be found that all is wrong, what I feel good can be totally bad. Sound pessimistic? Maybe..

Maybe this is obsolete question that already discussed thousand times. But it will be good if you can share how you measure your self when you do self-teaching. We not only need to measure the end result, we also need to measure the process it self.

-JGL


Hi Joshua, Nice of you to join in!

Most here would agree that a learner will progress better with the help of a teacher. But for some, this is not an option. Money has been tight since my husband and I both lost our jobs. If we have any money to spare, it should go to enrich our children's lives, not my piano-playing.

So this is a place where people who direct their own learning can share experiences, and share motivation to improve.

So, for example, I have noticed that if I just stick at something (doesn't matter too much how), it gets better over time. smile
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 09:50 AM

The only person I measure myself against is me. There's always someone better than you, and they're also probably younger (and have money for a good piano and lessons, and aren't balding). If I'm playing better--more accurately, closer to tempo, without tension--then I'm happy. (Happy? Hell, I'm ecstatic!)

As long as I feel as if I'm doing justice to the music, I know I'm on the right track.
Posted by: joyoussong

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 11:02 AM

Joshua,
I think measurement can come from many places besides a teacher. Knowing when something has gotten easier is a definite clue. Also, unsolicited reactions of other people - a couple of weeks ago, a friend here for dinner & afterwards, she was in the other room & I sat down to play for a few minutes. & she said "Hey! That's La Bamba!" Then, a few days ago one of my neighbours told me he hears me when he goes by in the hallway, & he thinks I'm starting to sound pretty good.

I think all the ranking stuff isn't terribly helpful because (just like grades in school) it doesn't give any clues how to improve. I can listen to myself, I know what I need to work on when I make mistakes. I just lost a teacher that I really liked - she's moving to another town - & I think the 2 things I'll miss most are that she could often point out easier ways to do things like some fingering, and she "fed" me theory in the context of whatever I was working on. She also empowered me to work on my own, so although I plan to look for another teacher, I'm not panicking, & I'll keep on playing & learning while I search.

In the meantime, I visited a friend yesterday who plays a bit, learned some stuff about jazz & blues from her, played her new Clavinova (never played a digital before). I know a lot of people who used to play, but not many who do, so it was really fun sharing "piano time."
Posted by: Crit

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 11:18 AM

Originally Posted By: BenPiano
Hmmm, I've always read there are 10 different kinds of people. Those that understand binary and those that do not.


HA! grin Ben, that is the best so far.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 12:13 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: rocket88


I'm not sure, but I think he meant those as a joke.


I did, thankyou rocket.

I am a she-pianist, of the female sort. Just for reference. wink


Sorry!
Posted by: TrapperJohn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: Crit

Along the same lines:

There are two categories of people: those who categorize people and those who don't.


Thus, placing yourself in the 1st category...

JF
You don't get it. It's a kind of logical fallacy (does it have a name?) used as a joke. My favourite is in Life of Brian. Brian says to a crowd 'You are all different' One person says 'I'm not'.


For the benefit of those who really didn't get it I was merely pointing out the "logical fallacies" (for those to whom they were not immediately obvious) as a public service...but is it necessarily a logical fallacy?

There are, of course, an endless number of examples of "people who do x and people who don't do x..." (not to mention y & z).

JF
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By: John Frank
...but is it necessarily a logical fallacy?

There are, of course, an endless number of examples of "people who do x and people who don't do x..." (not to mention y & z).
It's not a fallacy, it's probably a quirk of language - and you still don't get it.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 02:37 PM

Originally Posted By: rocket88

Sorry!


Not a problem rocket. smile
Er - perhaps we could get back on topic?
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Joshua Liswantoro
But it will be good if you can share how you measure your self when you do self-teaching. We not only need to measure the end result, we also need to measure the process it self.


I find that I get a very distinctive, pleasurable feeling when I am stretching myself productively to learn something new. It is challenging and absorbing, and I can see definite progress to reward my efforts.

It's like learning to stretch your body -- you need to feel for the point where your stretch is strong enough to expand your body's range of motion, but not so strong that you will be too stiff to stretch further the next day. Material that is too hard leaves me feeling frustrated at my lack of progress, and I fail to get musical-sounding results.

I find that it is important that I judge my progress only against myself, because if I compare myself to others I get frustrated and discouraged. I have a disability which requires strong medications, and those interfere with my concentration and coordination (very frustrating), so I find that I progress more slowly than some here, especially those who are younger, or who had more childhood lessons than I did.

I find that my practice is most enjoyable and productive when I can be patient and absorbed with the challenges of my current skill level, instead of letting myself get involved in feelings that tell me I am slow and unskilled.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 04:22 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
I find that my practice is most enjoyable and productive when I can be patient and absorbed with the challenges of my current skill level, instead of letting myself get involved in feelings that tell me I am slow and unskilled.


+1!
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 05:34 PM

OK, just thinking about this the other way. In what way would it be helpful to hear from a teacher 'You're progressing, but not as fast as the average student'. ????

Why would a teacher say such a thing? How would it be helpful to hear that your progress is faster and slower than some particular benchmark? Why be measured in this way?

Would it even be helpful to hear 'you're progressing faster than I've ever seen' ????

I mean, so what? How would it help?
Posted by: kurtie

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/16/10 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: John Frank
Originally Posted By: Crit

Along the same lines:

There are two categories of people: those who categorize people and those who don't.


Thus, placing yourself in the 1st category...

JF
You don't get it. It's a kind of logical fallacy (does it have a name?) used as a joke. My favourite is in Life of Brian. Brian says to a crowd 'You are all different' One person says 'I'm not'.


Yes, I think that it fits as a 'self-referential paradox' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_paradoxes). Another example would be the Barber paradox: An adult male barber shaves all men who do not shave themselves, and no one else. Can he shave himself?

Going back on topic, I am also a 'self-taught' adult beginner piano player ... Now I am finishing the first Alfred's Basic and AIO Adult Piano. Well, I don't plan to be self-taugh forever and I would like to take lessons in a mid-term future when improving will be harder... for now it seems that going on the self-taught route is working good enough. A good thing of being a beginner is that you improve fast at first.

Surely I would advance faster with a good teacher, but I am not in a hurry and my main objective is to enjoy playing piano, even when practicing... so I am taking it easy, without rushing.

I would like to take the improvisation and jazz route, but I think that won't be able to self-teach that, so my plan is to look for a teacher in the future... somebody that would show me how to advance when I will be lost... and I will be blush, as I've been before smile. For now I've found a path to follow with Alfred's AIO.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/17/10 03:03 AM

Thanks kurtie.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/17/10 03:20 AM

Hey kurtie, if you've finished the first volume of Alfred's, you should ready to start with Tim Richards' Improvising Blues Piano, which apparently prepares one for his 2-volume Exploring Jazz Piano. I'm working from _Improvising Blues Piano_, and I think it's the single best example of music instructional media I've ever run across. I've been having great fun with it.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/17/10 03:29 AM

I attended Tim's class at Goldsmith's years ago. Teaching something that's traditionally self taught is challenging.
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/17/10 07:01 AM

I am at the point in my self teaching to realize the keyboard I have has accomplished it's goal...to get me hooked and now needs to be replaced.

I bought a simple Yamaha Introductory level keyboard (61 YPT 220) and it has served it's purpose. I am now looking at the YPG-635...much nicer 88 key weighted keyboard. A friend has one and wow what a difference and still within the budget.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 09:41 AM

Geez, what happened? Does everybody else have a teacher now except me?
Posted by: wower

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 10:08 AM

I don't have a teacher. Never plan to have a regular teacher. I can see getting a one-shot lesson if I bring a piece to near-polish and would like a teacher to help do a final tuning of the piece. That greatly appeals to me. If its a Beethoven sonata one could try to find a high-level teacher that has a background in Beethoven. That would be insightful. Rachmaninoff piece, teacher, etc. Teachers absoltely have their place, even for those that are supposedly self-taught. Furthermore, I greatly respect a number of teachers in the piano teacher forum with mad pedilogical skillz.

x2 on what Kreisler said eailer in this thread. That everyone is self-taught basically but teachers can bring more structure and support to those that want it. I enjoy playing the pieces I want in an unrushed manner. Maybe giving them a break for 2 weeks when my attention wanes only to bring them back when I want to prove something to myself. I'm a self-taught runner, swimmer, kendama player, badminton player, writer etc. For some reason I need very little stucture and have oddles of self-motovation to sit down for years on end to learn and master something.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 09:05 PM

What I find most fascinating and satisfying about self-directed learning is being free to follow my intuitive sense of what I am ready to learn more about in any given point in time. There are so many different aspects to music making, so many layers of skill and awareness to cultivate, so much to learn more about, but my time and mental absorbency are limited. Choosing what to work on when can be gratifying, when some new or familiar aspect of playing decides to blossom into a whole new level of detail in my mind, and I am free to take a sudden left turn and immerse myself in a period of accelerated learning on that particular topic.

I wrote about something related to this in another thread

Originally Posted By: "me"
I tend to focus obsessively on one thing at a time, and seem to learn best by allowing myself to do work that way. But I find that the flip side of the coin is that one day I wake up and find myself abruptly DONE with that particular obsession, and to continue with it feels really loathsome.

I've come to accept that as a sign that my brain has absorbed all the new learning it's capable of holding regarding the object of my current obsession, and I need to go focus on something completely different for a while. This is a great time to try out lots of different things, new practice strategies, aspects of my practice which I have been neglecting, projects that have been on the back burner for a while, etc.

So I put the currently loathsome project onto that back burner, and focus on other things for a while. What I discover is that, after I take some time to digest what I so obsessively learned, that when I return to it (and brush off the rustiness), I'm suddenly a big jump ahead of where I left off because of that sense of aversion.

I really think it is my brain's way of taking time to simmer and condense/crystallize all of the skills and information I absorbed during my obsession. It reminds me of when I sleep on a problem, and can feel myself dreaming about it, or feel a need to take a nap after a particularly intense practice session -- but on a longer term scale.


Perhaps because I have been a self-directed learner for so many years, I enjoy the process of following my muse in the learning process. One of my great pleasures in life is the process of becoming fascinated by something, and learning perceive, understand, and/or execute it in finer detail. And there's a particular draw to ideas whose time have come in my mind, a sense of ripeness. I feel a strong hunger for an influx of new information to enhance my growing sense of detail, and a sense of great peace and patience with the process of building a new filing system my brain to hold this new learning. And then after a bit, my brain starts to feel over-full, and I need to back off for a while and digest what I've learned.

My experience has been that teachers prefer to prescribe a steady diet of balanced doses of this and that, and I just don't learn as well that way.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 09:37 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

My experience has been that teachers prefer to prescribe a steady diet of balanced doses of this and that, and I just don't learn as well that way.


You are correct. A lot of teachers, including myself, do prefer to provide a "balanced diet" because that has proven to be a good way to "grow" balanced players. That's our job. Certainly the balanced diet is important in the beginning.

However, I have numerous students (mostly teens and above) who, once they have become solid in their playing, choose to explore side-tracks of study, and may stay there for quite a while. And I help them with that. That is also part of my job.

And most students find that, after they have spent that time on the exploration, for lack of a better word, want to go back to the steady diet for a while, probably at a higher level, to continue their growth. And then, after a while, they may want to go back to exploring.

So one does not have to forego piano teachers in order to spend time focusing upon an area of study outside of the traditional areas.

And one can always explore even if their teacher does not want to be involved in that exploration. There is no rule that says that cannot happen.
Posted by: Michael Darnton

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 10:03 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
What I find most fascinating and satisfying about self-directed learning is being free to follow my intuitive sense of what I am ready to learn more about in any given point in time.


You've just had the wrong teachers, that's all. Mine works with me, not against me.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/21/10 10:12 PM

You said in 15 words what it took me all that above to try to say. laugh
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 12:51 AM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Perhaps because I have been a self-directed learner for so many years, I enjoy the process of following my muse in the learning process. One of my great pleasures in life is the process of becoming fascinated by something, and learning perceive, understand, and/or execute it in finer detail. And there's a particular draw to ideas whose time have come in my mind, a sense of ripeness. I feel a strong hunger for an influx of new information to enhance my growing sense of detail, and a sense of great peace and patience with the process of building a new filing system my brain to hold this new learning. And then after a bit, my brain starts to feel over-full, and I need to back off for a while and digest what I've learned.


+1

I often start on my own, and after awhile I may take a course at the community college, or a workshop, or something similar, that kind of organizes what I've picked up in a different way than I do - gives me a different perspective, gives me some new facts or ideas. I learned to ski that way, and race, and folk dances, and a lot of other things. I played saxophone in band thru my school years, had two years of piano when I was a teen, sang in choirs, etc, and in some ways that helped - I certainly could read music, and translate dots on the sheet to keys on the piano. My rhythm is good. But I never played music until I played for dancing 30 years later. And the kind of music I play, reading sheet music is a really bad habit laugh Actually, the bad habit, of course, was not listening to myself - which was also why there was no music. I understand that for some people the "right" teacher, or a "good" teacher, would have addressed that.

It would have driven me nuts laugh

I've had a ball, just playing with other musicians.

Cathy
Posted by: Day Dreamer

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 03:22 AM

Hi folks. I have returned to this thread after finding a teacher. Well, what can I say. Teacher is VERY helpful. I thought I was smart and that I can do it on my own. BUT, here is a big BUT, there are things you can't / need long time to figure out on your own. My problems were:

1. holding previous key when pressing the next key
2. stiff wrist. sometimes you gotta slightly move yr wrist.
3. Tone of each key is uneven and unclear

...etc

All these stuffs are hard to discover without someone else watching you play. And everyone may have different problems that should be fixed before they become bad habits

Posted by: molto_agitato

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 04:23 AM

I'm taking piano lessons, and they've been helpful to me in a several respects. First, I have someone with whom I can share my musical journey, as it may be called. I don't have any friends who are interested in music, and all of my family regards music as wasteful frivolousness. It's nice to be able to share experiences with other people, and having a teacher helps to serve this purpose. However, for those who have supportive friends and family, it would be less important to have a teacher for this reason.

Second, having a teacher has given me some structure to my practice habits. I would not have had the self-discipline to figure out (just to name a few things) all of the major and minor scales, all of the triads built on each tone of every scale, or chord progressions in all keys. Nor would I have had the self-discipline to study these fundamental elements in a systematic fashion.

However, having a teacher hasn't helped with my technique. My teacher rarely if ever says anything about my technique. I know my technique is abominable; I'd post a video of myself to solicit some constructive criticism, but I'm too ashamed of myself to want anyone to see me play. Now, I don't know if my teacher simply doesn't focus on proper technique will all of his students; perhaps he's simply seen enough of me and has judged me to be a hopeless case, unworthy of his time and effort.

In any event, the only in person experience I have with piano teachers is with my current teacher, so I don't know how my teacher compares with teachers in general.
Posted by: Skylyn

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 06:12 AM

Yes, in my opinion, having a teacher (in most or some cases) is a great idea. They can help you with many things and save you (hope that makes sense? haha) from bad habits and injuries. I'm not saying that everyone who is self-teaching is going to have any of that, but I guess it's more likely if you don't have a teacher. And I think we all know that, but for whatever reason we're still learning on our own.

But not everybody needs a teacher. I've seen some really good self-taught players and I use that as a motivation to keep going (yes, they're not concert pianists, but they play really good and that's what I want). And as for myself, at least for now, I don't think I need a teacher (even if I wanted, I can't since there are no teachers where I live), because sure, I'd improve much faster, but so far, slowly and all but I'm enjoying it. And it really feels great to accomplish things on your own. smile
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: molto_agitato
However, having a teacher hasn't helped with my technique. My teacher rarely if ever says anything about my technique. I know my technique is abominable; I'd post a video of myself to solicit some constructive criticism, but I'm too ashamed of myself to want anyone to see me play. Now, I don't know if my teacher simply doesn't focus on proper technique will all of his students; perhaps he's simply seen enough of me and has judged me to be a hopeless case, unworthy of his time and effort.


This troubles me. Either your technical abilities are not nearly as bad as you think they are or you have much worse problems than technique (although that shouldn't stop those being addressed) or - dare I say it - you have a bad teacher. Have you discussed your thoughts on this with the teacher?
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 09:25 AM

Neither of my two teachers addressed technique. I didn't know enough at the time to realize that this was a problem.
Posted by: Eddy Boston

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/22/10 05:16 PM

Hi everybody! Another self-teacher here.

I took up piano almost exactly a year ago, and I'm working my way through the Alfred's All-In-One course, as well as the Helen Curtis method that somebody else mentioned in this forum. I'm having a blast struggling forward on my own and seeing my progress. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you can do something today that you couldn't do yesterday.

I have always been a self-learner. I taught myself guitar about ten years ago, and I got pretty good at it, enough to play gigs at bars around town, and enough to have a lot of fun. I taught myself computer programming in high school, and although I took the required courses in college, I was able to skip class most of the time because I already knew the material. In general, I've never been patient enough to sit through classes, and I always found it more effective to learn on my own from books and other resources. Maybe having a private teacher would be different from being in a big class.

The one time I have ever had a private teacher was for voice lessons, and I must say that did help quite a bit. I think voice is different, though, because it is so much more individualized -- you are the instrument. Plus it's very difficult to describe how to sing in a book.

I have a lot of respect for piano teachers -- it must require a lot of patience and love for the instrument to listen to us newbies plunking away, making the same mistakes every time. I'm sure a teacher would help me learn new things. Still, I'm having such a good time on my own I see no reason to change my routine. I'm playing piano for fun, and I worry having a teacher and scheduled appointments and homework would make it seem more like work. (Not to mention teachers cost money that I don't have!)
Posted by: molto_agitato

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/23/10 12:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
This troubles me. Either your technical abilities are not nearly as bad as you think they are or you have much worse problems than technique (although that shouldn't stop those being addressed) or - dare I say it - you have a bad teacher. Have you discussed your thoughts on this with the teacher?


You've got me worried...what might they be if I may ask?
Posted by: molto_agitato

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/23/10 12:18 AM

Eddy Boston, how do you like the Helen Curtis piano method?
Posted by: Eddy Boston

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/23/10 06:04 PM

Yes, I do like the Helen Curtis method, although I skip some of the less interesting pieces -- about half of them are really good, and half are really boring and unmelodic. The ones that are good, though, are very fun to play. They're all classical, and many of them are original compositions by well-known folks.

It doesn't have the explanatory texts that Alfred has, so it's best used in combination with something else, I think.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/24/10 03:06 AM

I do often think that having a teacher who could answer my questions, suggest exercises and repertoire, and generally act as a musical mentor would be a very good thing. But at this point I kind of despair of finding a teacher eccentric enough to work with my learning style (which is supposing I could somehow afford a teacher, but that's another story).

The basic problem is I have a lot of self-motivation if left to work in my natural cycles of shifting focus, but when I have to fit myself around a regularly scheduled checklist of requisite activities, it soon reminds me of being in school and I get all stressed and depressed about it. When I tried lessons, it literally got to where the main satisfaction I got from my piano time was the relief of checking another item off of the daily to-do list.

From the time I was a little kid, I've had trouble with the traditional educational model of providing info into small daily doses of many things. I've always found it hard to work up an interest in these little dribs and drabs of info. But if left alone with the textbook, one day I'll read large chunks of it, and then, seen in terms of the big picture, all those little factiods come together in my mind to make a coherent whole. I simply can't remember details unless and until I have a larger context in which to make sense of them. And I gain that larger context by completely immersing myself in the subject until the big picture coalesces. At that point I don't forget the details, because they're integral parts of an interconnected whole.

And I work similarly with physical skills. I start out remarkably clumsy, and stay that way until I can focus on a single new skill (or set of related skills) often and regularly enough to get into a kind of self-hypntotic trance with regard to them, enough that I feel myself mentally rehearsing the skills in dreams or semi-sleep states (actually, this immersion -> dream rehearsal also happens with non-physical learning too). And then the skill will coalesce for me, and I'll be able to do it pretty effortlessly thereafter.

The thing is, I don't reach the level of immersion that I seem to need to make a good mental imprint of things when I have competing mental tracks vying for my attention (learn a little of everything every day). It was why school made me really frazzled, because my attention was always needing to jump around between too many topics. I did well because it got me attention/approval from adults (plus the world would end if I got a B :P), but it was not a rewarding experience. I was in a constant state of mental dissonance very different from the satisfaction I get when I'm allowed to learn in my natural style.

So I am conflicted about getting myself into another learning situation which seems likely to be structured along the traditional model. I'd really like to find a teacher who would be willing offer advice and suggestions which relate to my current area of focus, whatever that happens to be at the time, but be willing to accept that what I'm currently ripe to learn more about is a constantly moving target. Here and there in my educational career I've found professors who found my constantly evolving stream of curiosity interesting and entertaining, so perhaps there is hope.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/24/10 08:36 AM

Quote:
I simply can't remember details unless and until I have a larger context in which to make sense of them. And I gain that larger context by completely immersing myself in the subject until the big picture coalesces. At that point I don't forget the details, because they're integral parts of an interconnected whole.

This was interesting to read. I probably function the same way. But also, I've looked at different teaching models since I'm originally a teacher and homeschooled my children for a decade. So I'll share some of it.

There are two models, one going from the parts to the whole, and the other going from the whole to the parts. If we were to learn about the human body, the "whole to parts" one would let you see a human as a whole, notice that there is head, torso, limbs, and then start exploring the details of each and how they interconnect. The "parts to whole" starts with an eyebrow, elbow, big toe, and eventually they'll put it all together, but in the meantime you are left with these little bits and pieces. The modern system is "little bits". Anyone I ever tutored after having school problems was relieved to get the big picture. They hated this fragmented approach.

Part of the reasoning is that it's supposed to move a student from the familiar to the unfamiliar, and the concrete to the abstract. It's how we are supposed to learn best (I have my doubts). Here's geography along that model: kindergarten - my family. gr. 1 - my neighbourhood (grocer, police, teacher). gr. 2 - my town. gr. 3 - my province or country. Eventually you get to the world, countries, governments etc. Personally, I tune out when the subject is something I already know about.

The other device is to "stimulate interest in the student". We are not deemed capable of being interested in a subject for its own sake, and our attention spans are supposed to be brief.

In my province there was a reform of the school system at the tail end of my children's homeschooling, and two sets of textbooks came out. We chose one set, and most schools chose the other. I tutored kids with problems, and they were always happy to see our set, and hated the other one. This same idea is there - seen in math:

Take trigonometry. There is not a chapter on trig. and there is no overview of formulas or concept. The overall concept that they want to teach is not introduced in either book. Instead, they start with "something interesting that kids enjoy" (stimulate with something interesting and known) which has absolutely nothing to do with trigonometry. Maybe token characters (diff. races, genders, handicapped) have an adventure with a ferris wheel. Then after that irrelevant tale you are asked to do something and they then ask you about patterns you have discovered. (move from known to unknown). Then they finally tell you the concept which you are supposed to have "discovered".

I would rather be given the concept right off the bat, and then exploring the idea. So would the students that I tutored.

In addition to this, the text choice of most schools was the fragmented one. Chapter 1 had a few pages on trig, a few pages on geometry, a few pages on calculus. Chapter 2 then developed trig a bit further, always in bite-sized bits ... all the way through the book. You could never get an overview of the whole. The idea was to give the student chunks that were small enough to manage so that s/he could gradually absorb it. This strikes me as rather passive learning.

It *is* true that we can only absorb a complicated subject bit by bit. However, we are also capable of organizing ourselves to study a large thing gradually. We need to be given enough that we can start turning it over and over. We need the unknown and find our way toward it, rather than starting with things we know, and having it spoon-fed.

Whatever I saw in the texts also exists in the educational system, though a good teacher will circumvent that.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/26/10 09:15 AM

I used to write a lot, fiction and non-fiction, and my way of working was always to write everything down from beginning to end, and then go back and mold the mass of words and ideas into something that (I hoped) made sense.

I wonder if that's also the way I should practice? Work the piece all the way through, then go through and work on problematic places? I know this sounds like the "intuitive" approach that Chang opposes, but maybe, as with non-musical learning activities, I should use a musical learning style that suits how my brain is wired?

Perhaps by working this way, I can incorporate the creative part of my brain in my practicing, instead of just the re-creative part?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/26/10 11:36 AM

Quote:
I know this sounds like the "intuitive" approach that Chang opposes, but maybe, as with non-musical learning activities, I should use a musical learning style that suits how my brain is wired?

Chang is a scientist who played piano and whose daughters had an excellent teacher. He tried to get at the principles behind that teacher's approach without having the full background of that teacher, and it is filtered through the lense of his own scientific thinking. He has no experience teaching a variety of students with different learning styles or thinking styles. He has no training in music pedagogy or teaching period afaik, and I can't remember what his own musical background actually is. He has some very useful observations, but I would not restrict myself to anything just because he says so. The good and experienced music teachers seem to be open to different ways of learning and personalities in their students.

I think it's probably a balance. In your novel writing you probably have structure under your apparent randomness. If you do any of the arts professionally (writing, visual arts, music) you'll probably run into some rigid structured things that become like a scaffolding giving a better form to what you do -- sort of the professional or master's touch. I guess we all have to find that balance, myself included (still trying).
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 07/26/10 11:57 AM

Actually, I don't remember Chang saying "never" play a piece a whole way through. I think he says don't "always" play it the whole way through and expect that the rough spots will somehow come up to par without extra work.

I play pieces all the way through the first couple of times I play them. I work on the hard parts. Sometimes I play all the way through at the speed at which I can play the hard parts. Sometimes I muscle my way through them at speed or more laugh

But I don't *only* play all the way through pieces if there are parts I can't play well. I don't spend *most* of my time playing all the way through when a piece with hard parts is new to me. Or even when I'm bringing a piece back after a layoff. I *always* spend time on the chunks.

Cathy
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/02/10 02:23 PM

Dangit, I hate the way the forum software decides whether I've already read something or not (often I haven't, but it thinks I have). I missed this whole last bit of conversation frown

It's funny, I used to write a lot too, mostly fiction & making websites (back in the early days of the web, when it was all pretty amateur). But it feels like writing and music utilize my brain in such entirely different ways that I'm hardly able to encompass both at the same time. When I'm having a really productive musical period, I find it frustratingly difficult to write in my blog or keep up with email correspondences (though I seem to do a little better with writing forum posts, wonder why?). And I haven't written any fiction at all since I started playing music a few years ago, except for recent anomalous handful of weeks when I suddenly lost all interest in music, but out of the blue my mind burped up an outline for the most nicely formed plot-arc that I've ever come up with in my life. I had just enough time to get it written down before my mind switched tracks back to music, and that was when I returned to the piano earlier this summer.

So I find that my mind kind of boggles when I attempt to relate my fiction process to my musical process. It feels like my brain completely switches wiring when I move from one mode to the other.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/02/10 03:07 PM

I stopped writing when I returned to music, but that's OK, because I realized that, although I wrote pretty well, I had nothing of interest to say.

I'm happier with music. Had I stayed with it to begin with, I could be a starving musician now, instead of a starving customer service rep.
smile
Posted by: nancymae

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/02/10 05:28 PM

Moscheles001--AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH!!!! (Your comment on Starving!)

There is a book out, "Artist in the Office" which really helps me put things into perspective. It's an easy and fun read. I, too, wish I could have, would have, gone to art school--where would I be right now if I did???? Or to music school..same thing..I would LOVE to be a part of an orchestra...the Pops??? Playing for Xmas...whatever. It doesn't mean we still CAN'T do it though...there is a place for our creativity...we just have to find it and at least we are earning money for our sheet music habit!!!

I recently got a teacher, but have been teaching myself since Xmas day (literally!!) My pressie was a keyboard...and since we were having an ice storm that day, our family Xmas was postponed, so it was me and my dear hubby--who suffered through eating tv dinners at about 8pm at night...BECAUSE I WAS PLAYING THE KEYBOARD!!!

So, I was doing the self-teaching thing for about 7 months. It was great...I was able to "assign" myself certain things. But the thing I have to caution everyone about is by reading everything in whatever method and really getting the meaning of it. For instance, I am doing the Alfred system--and I told my teacher I was having problems with my fingering. She showed me what those little numbers meant on top of the notes. I THOUGHT THEY WERE JUST FINGERING SUGGESTIONS!! When all else fails, read the directions!!! I have a tendency to gloss over things in my haste to play...so it's a good thing to read and understand what the method book is trying to tell you. If you don't understand, this is the place to ask...there are so many wonderful pianists around here...and so helpful!

That's just my suggestion of the day!

Happy playing!

Nancy
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/03/10 10:23 AM

I actually did go to music school: three years at the State University of NY at Albany. I didn't major in piano, though; my major was composition. I enrolled when I was 21, but, considering that I had no interest in music until I was 15, I think that that was still a fair accomplishment.

Unfortunately, I lacked sufficient confidence in myself, and ended up changing majors (to English) and schools.

Alas. . . .
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/07/10 08:38 PM

t's a muggy, cloudy summer afternoon and I'm having trouble accomplishing today's big task, which is to create a master-list of piano-learning-related activities. I want to start tracking how often I work on different aspects of my piano skills, so I will be more aware of what I might be neglecting.

Given a bit of lead time, I can generally psych myself into a fresh obsession with activities I've let slip onto the back burner for a while. But the idea first needs to make a good blip onto my radar screen, as when someone mentions something intriguing here on the forum, or when I'm browsing a book that suggest a new strategy, but this methodology is obviously pretty haphazard.

I keep a music notebook in my practice room where I jot down ideas and practice strategies which are working out well for me, but it's just a chaotic mass of jottings on my experiences with various instruments. And I have computer files in which I save pithy statements from the forums (with author attributions, of course!), which I'm sure includes lots of great ideas which may or may not be relevant to today's task. And then there are a couple of method books I've run across recently which have some interesting exercises which I can feel stimulating my "wow-I'm-learning lots!" pleasure center, so I have to include those... hmm, no wonder I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe I need to start breaking all of this down into subtasks...

Anyway, as a self-directed learner, I find that I need to go through this sort of list-making process every once in a while, as an essential sort of mental housekeeping. I find that if I can get my agenda organized into nice lists on paper/in the computer (my methodology varies), then it frees up a remarkable amount of mental space for actually getting these various things done.

Do you make lists? Daily checklists? Keep a practice log? I've even made myself databases, but found that I get sucked into fiddling with the computer way to easily if I let myself touch the darned thing during music time.

Or do you just play it by ear?
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/07/10 09:09 PM

I have remnants of several practice logs and similar from over the years. I go in cycles. I always think I'm going to have some tidy little record of how I've done/how I'm doing. You'd think, at 64, that I would have figured out that tidy-R-not-me laugh

The method I'm using now seems to be motivating for me. In January of this year I got out an old 3-ring binder and started logging my total practice time every day and what tunes/pieces I worked on, and then I have a sheet for each separate tune on which I comment on what I worked on, at what tempos, etc. In the front I have a sheet that has genereal areas on which I want to work - more repertoire from memory, more improvisation, speed on dance melodies, octaves, etc. I thought I would be able to be more consistent about progress, but it turns out I never read it laugh But I do keep logging - this is probably the longest I've ever done that, for music any way.

The real motivation is that I play about 3 times a month for nursing/retirement/adult day care centers, and jam once a week + gigs with a band. For the solo gigs I have a 5x8 card for each possible piece I might play and at the gig I just leaf thru it for whatever's next. But then I note on each card when I play it at a gig, and I make a card that lists everything I played at the gig. Those are actually in some ways more helpful, because I note if I had trouble with a particular part of the music, whether I had it memorized or used sheets, how many pieces filled how much time, etc, and that *does* help me plan out what I'm working on in review, and seems to help me be more aware of what's happening.

But I'm always tempted by those pretty little notebooks with spiral binding and blank sheets, envisioning this neat little cottage with lace curtains and shelves of pretty notebooks.

It just doesn't work for me laugh The only thing that's ever come close, and the proof is in these latest method's enduring, is something with loose-leafs or loose cards that I can interleave more into as my repertoire/history expands.

Cathy
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/08/10 12:51 AM

Quote:
I have remnants of several practice logs and similar from over the years. I go in cycles. I always think I'm going to have some tidy little record of how I've done/how I'm doing. You'd think, at 64, that I would have figured out that tidy-R-not-me laugh

I'm generally an agent of chaos myself laugh , but every once in a while I need a good mental hair-combing, and sort everything into tidy little piles. This recurring ritual of setting up a log system seems to be just another version of this.

I'm also finding the logging-quest to be kind of an iterative process -- what I've learned from the previous systems informs the new ones. For example, I've learned that checklists feel very orderly to create, but are very oppressive to my spirits to work from. I do much better with lists that I sell to myself as menus of practice options, with places to track when each gets worked on.

The system you describe has a lot of resemblances to the musical practice databases I made, which I am now trying to implement on paper. Paper seems to work better for me too, though I do generate the paper from the computer. I discovered the hard way that using pretty notebooks suitable for lacy-curtained cottages entails way too much writing by hand, which experience has shown I don't like do when I'm practicing. It seems to work better for me to have computer generated printouts in a format which I mark with dates and codes and ratings describing practice conditions & results, stuff that hardly requires any thought or time to jot down in the midst of practicing. It's also convenient that with my various forms residing on the computer, I can update and tweak them easily, to reflect what works or doesn't work as I try to use them.

Now if only I could get to work on this instead of talking about it... Maybe it is just the muggy, oppressive weather we're having (not the usual around here), but I'm just having the hardest time getting myself organized. I know from experience that much of the sense of mental overload I'm feeling right now is because I'm trying to hold all this stuff in my head at once, and the time feels very ripe to sort my musical agenda into tidy little piles, but it's like I can't find the end of the ball of string to begin unwind it all.

I hate summer humidity. bah

UPDATE: Logjam finally broke! Got a whole bunch down. Yay!
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/08/10 09:33 AM

I have a very simple school-type spiral notebook and I write down what I practiced each day. There is also a moveable post-it note with what I want to accomplish the next day. It works for me. At one time I had made a very thorough spreadsheet on the computer with all my pieces - new ones, ones being polished, ones to keep in "repertoire", scales to work on, etc. I found it too time consuming, not flexible enough, and I was constantly changing it and printing out new ones. The notebook works much better for me.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/08/10 01:27 PM

I'm very glad for this thread because I'm a self-teaching beginner. It hasn't worked out like I would've liked, but now I'm practising major scales and chords. I have also prepared a note file of simplified one note versions of a few popular piano songs in Notation Composer.

There is a lot of helpful stuff around, both on YouTube and other websites, but it would be nice to have a teacher. Since I'm sort of on cross-roads in my life I sent a message to one such teacher that if he found a job for me I'd move to where he is and become his student. He never replied.

If any of you piano teachers (in the States or Canada) are reading this my offer stands for you as well! Help me find a job and I will take at least 100 lesson hours from you (given they are not overpriced.)
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/08/10 08:38 PM

Hmm, that does seem like a big task for a busy teacher to take on. Around here these days, finding a job seems to be a full-time job in itself.

But back to my recurrent logbook quest:

There seems to be a magic to staying up past my bedtime -- a nice second wind can really get the ideas flowing. Last night I finally got myself going by playing around with the piano section of the musical practice database I put together last summer, and wow, it was really inspiring to notice how much progress I'd made since then -- even though I had failed to log most of this progress in said database! :rolleyes:

But then I found the notes/outline I had used to set the piano part of the database, and reading through them inspired a fresh brainstorm on all my current and past piano activities. Today I think I will fill in that outline some more, perhaps with details from the notes, books, quotes files, etc. which were overwhelming to my capacities yesterday.

I do feel much better now I've got my whole brain-dumping process started. I find it much easier to expand on an outline and let it spawn subtopics than it is to get my brain to burp up the initial framework.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/09/10 03:27 AM

You're probably right, tangleweeds, just a far fetched hope somebody might lure on something. Suppose the recession has hit the US just as hard as us here overseas.

But as this a self-teaching support thread, not an unemployment service for piano enthusiasts, I have a question about practising habits.

Recently I've been focusing on practising major scales and chords with the metronome on and some music theory like the circle of fifths, as well as figuring out in which key pieces are written.

Is it not necessary to play some easy beginner songs in between, to spice my practice routine up a little? Although I must tell you I'm finding it a bit hard to play even those simplest songs with the metronome on.

I get confused and lose track of the song when I try to listen to the beats of the metronome and hit the notes at the same time, reading them from a music sheet. I'm still learning to sight read, a lot of tasks to do simultaneously.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/09/10 03:36 AM

I'd definitely play some beginner songs/tunes/pieces. I don't really learn theory until I apply it. You might also try a lead sheet - it has a melody for the right hand, but only chord names for the left hand, and it's really good for learning chords by playing them.

The trick to a metronome is to start *really* slow, so you have time to think laugh It's confusing to everyone when they first start trying to use it. When I first started I had to know a piece pretty well to do it, but I play dance music and it's a tremendous help to play a tune thru with a metronome.

You don't have to play every piece with a metronome, particularly if you have a pretty good sense of time. But it's good to do so sometimes, and it can be an eye-opener about how well you know a piece smile

Yeah, the recession has especially hit jobs here frown

Cathy
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/09/10 11:41 AM

Thank you Cathy. Actually I have found MIDI files for some songs I like, copied the melody into Notation (thrown all the other instruments out) and written the chord names above the staff. Megachords.com gives you chords for most pop/rock/country songs, the only problem is they don't tell you which inversions to play. But I have had a lot of fun experimenting with this.

I have the metronome down to 50-60, still get mixed up but I think I'm learning slowly to keep rhytm. I can play some of the major scales at a fast pace, like 120.

The circle of fifths helps me, though I haven't learned it completely. At least I know that if there are four sharp signs, F, C, G and D are raised to black keys except when there are natural signs. Then the piece is written in E major.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/09/10 08:06 PM

With the exception of doing sight reading exercises, I don't generally read new music with the metronome on. I first get my fingers around the piece without the stress of the metronome, instead taking it slowly enough to carefully test out the fingering suggestions (which often teach me new tricks, though sometimes they can turn out not to fit my particular hands).

Once I have a whole phrase in my fingers well enough to make it sound kind of musical, I will then start to test myself against the metronome, to make sure I'm not slowing down for the hard bits. But I use the metronome most when I am sewing together the individual phrases of a new piece into a seamless whole, or when trying to increase the speed of a piece I'm polishing up.

I do sometimes use the metronome to keep me on track during my sight reading practice, though more often I count aloud for this instead. I save the metronome for when I *really* want to stress myself out!

Actually, if you're new, you might not know the difference yet between reading music and "sight reading". Sight reading is when you play unfamiliar music straight through, in time, without stopping. The metronome is helpful to prevent pauses.

But a student's sight reading level will generally be a couple of levels below the level of the music they are currently taking time to study and seriously learn. The sort of music one take the time to polish will generally be quite a bit too hard for one to sight read. So you'd want to tackle that kind of music slowly, the way I suggested above.

A good way to get used to the metronome is to use it to tap out rhythms from sheet music -- ignore the pitch, and just tap the rhythms on your knees. You don't even need to print out the music from the computer, and if the music is a bit hard, just tap out the melody. Because tapping rhythms is much easier than coordinating 10 fingers, it makes it easier to learn to synchronize with the metronome. Also, practice at reading rhythms improves your sight reading skills.
Posted by: nancymae

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/10/10 09:08 AM

Using the metronome to count out the music is a wonderful idea!! I am going to use that one!! Thank you!

I do a log book. I used to just write down the date I started a piece, but then I moved around so much, I decided I needed a more linear record. I just use a spiral note book. Put down how long I have practiced, what pieces from what books, and also if I am doing scales. Those little scales can get away from you, but they are oh so important. I am down to 4 sharps (or the key of E) on my scales...not proficiently, but I'm working. Also I'm trying to do the minor scales along with the majors I have worked on. I have one of those "Scales, chords, arpeggio" books from Alfred, so that keeps me busy.

I also write notes on a particular piece/measure I'm having difficulty with. It's alot of fun to go back and see how you progress!!

Have fun playing!

Nancy
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/20/10 08:51 AM

Just bumping this thread up, with an issue:

To supplement the Scarlatti, Clementi, Bach, and Hanon I'm doing, I've started working on Czerny's left-hand book, Op 718, and Scharwenka's "Meisterschule," which has selected exercises from Czerny, Bertini, Clementi, et al., for working on velocity.

It's such a wake-up call. Better yet, a bucket of ice-water. My C major and G major scales are embarrassing. I play harder music better than I play easier music.

Should I just work on the "easy" stuff for a while and put the early/mid-intermediate on the back burner?

Should I sell one of my kidneys so I can afford a teacher? smile
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/20/10 09:20 AM

Quote:
moscheles001

Should I just work on the "easy" stuff for a while and put the early/mid-intermediate on the back burner?


M, You have good instincts.

In many disciplines, not just piano, such as sports training, golf, etc, the answer to your question is to get back to the basics.

Learn all the scales w/correct fingering, done so that each note sounds the same, i.e. smooth, same dynamics, etc.

Get a Hanon book, start at #1 and go slow until you can do hands separate, then hands together, smoothly like the scales. Hanon books also have the scales in them, if you don't already have access.

FYI, I have been playing all my life, and I warm up w/Hanon #1 and #2, then selected others and scales, then repertoire I can easily play, on an almost daily basis.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/20/10 11:20 AM

I do Hanon daily. I got 1-20 up to the magic metronome marking of 108 hands separately. I've scaled the tempo back to work on hands together.

I do know the fingerings for all the major scales. I use them to warm up. I haven't worked on the minor scales in decades. I think I'll incorporate scales back into my daily technic regimen.

I just wish there was time to do all I want to do. Argh.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/20/10 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: moscheles001


It's such a wake-up call. Better yet, a bucket of ice-water. My C major and G major scales are embarrassing. I play harder music better than I play easier music.


C has got to be the hardest scale there is! laugh I know I struggle.

Quote:


Should I sell one of my kidneys so I can afford a teacher? smile


Yes, but keep your corneas. You need them for sight-reading.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/21/10 12:32 AM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Quote:
Should I sell one of my kidneys so I can afford a teacher? smile
Yes, but keep your corneas. You need them for sight-reading.
LOL!!!
Posted by: Mala

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/22/10 12:20 PM

I decided to finally give piano playing a shot about 3 years ago - at 60 years. This is something I always wanted to do and I figured if I could successfully read music I would get myself a piano and a teacher. Well that happened. I found myself a teacher who threw music at me the first day and asked me to play. Maybe it was the right thing to do. In two months or so I was playing some music - I dont really know what level because each time I would be given music from a different (random i think) book. I felt I was just struggling to keep up with what was happening. (this was once a week). I decided to call it quits and looked around for another teacher. By now I was in a position to attempt Alfred's book 2. I searched it out myself - just browsing in the music store. My second teacher lasted two months and then had to quit because he had no time - and i was looking again. This time I had a teacher who played like a dream but told me I could not interfere with his style of teaching and to just go with what he taught. I had no choice. For four months i did just chords. That i can see now was worth it - atleast i understand chords now. He left and I havent been able to find a teacher since so I have moved to self teaching - something I had been doing all along anyway.

I just dont know though if i am doing the right thing. When i first enrolled for piano - i was asked what i wanted to learn piano for. I didnt know what that meant - and now I do. I can read music and practice practice and practice and finally be able to play a piece - but cant see myself just sitting and doing what I hear in lounges. So I am now on Alfred book 3 (using the cds as support) and after this what? do i just learn music by rote and hope it remains with me (it doesnt. is this what piano playing is? I dont know if i can afford to have 3 years with a teacher and then 2/3 years without and then back again to the teacher.

My question is - am i on the right track? is this what piano playing is? where does improvisation come in? what can i do to head a bit in that direction??

thank you for starting this thread - i know now i am not alone!
Posted by: Bonnie Woodruff

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 07:21 AM

I might now have a PhD in Music Education for piano, and I have taught piano for 50 years, but for a long time I couldn't afford continued studies after getting married, but I was at advanced/concert levels, who still wanted to continue my studies, so self-studied on my own for many, many years, practicing and arranging. Then, in the 80's I had the opportunity to study with a European concert pianist, who gave me another approach to studying piano, and I FINALLY had the study that had all the patterns/theory needed to complete my education. So from 1959 to the early 80's I was self-taught to be able to continue my study of the piano, but still didn't have all the theory needed to understand measure by measure what/why the harmony was the way it was/why, until studying with this wonderful concert pianist. and his piano method was handed down through his family for many generations. He died and left me this piano method, which I put into a self-study with audio/visual for students who can't afford to study with a piano teacher.Adults really love learning the piano this way, where they can start at level 3-5 and beginners don't have to read notes at first, thus they work on their theory and performance only, then later note reading....awesome way to study piano. For me, I enjoy now being smart at the piano and my level of performance enabled me to do concerts.
Posted by: Bonnie Woodruff

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 07:23 AM

Please ~ don't sell one of your kidney's,I'll give you my piano method so you can study....please!
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 09:53 AM

You're right, Bonnie. I'm being silly.

I'll sell a kidney so I can get a better piano. grin

So, Bonnie, can we see your method? Thanks!
Posted by: BEARitone

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 08:26 PM

Hello,

First of all I would like to thank the folks here for the support. I was surprised to see so many negative comments to people who don't have a teacher, almost to the point of being rude. Maybe it is just a shock coming from guitar, where the forums I visited were extremely positive for people looking to learn. Either way I am glad there is at least a small corner for folks learning without a teacher. I was actually already getting discouraged before I started until I found this thread.

I recently decided to pick up the piano. I bought a starter keyboard and printed out a few pieces to try and enjoyed playing Fur Elise that was simplified. It was the only thing I could really pick up that sounded ok. I also learned how to read sheet music at a basic level.

Now I am wondering what I should start learning? Should I continue to just try out easy songs for a bit or is there something else I should start learning? I friend gave me a stack of piano books(mostly song books for children), but the only one I have heard of is the Hanon(The Virtuoso Piano in 60 Exercises) book.

I would really like to play mostly non-classical piano(pop, rock, ragtime). I am not planning on playing professionally or anything, it is just something I would like to do for personal enjoyment.

Any pointers on where to start?
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 08:42 PM

For Mala and BEARitone - there are three long-on-going threads here in the ABF, one for each Alfred's book. They aren't the only books available, but here you'll have people who are playing the same pieces at the same level you are who can help you out. There are also people who can recommend other pieces that will be at or slightly above your level, so that you aren't playing *only* pieces from Alfred's, and you can begin to branch out into other music. Those books will give you a foundation for the things you want to play later, whether classical, pop, or ragtime.

If you want to play Joplin and other classic ragtime composers you'll want that foundation, both in reading and technique. If you want to play pop there is also a thread here in the ABF on Pete the Bean's Pop Piano course, and Pete his very self checks in sometimes.

So there's support here to help you get further along in your piano playing. You can even post your playing in the monthly piano bar threads, and/or once every 3 months in the ABF recitals, so you cana get applause and have a record of your progress laugh

And yes, there's a good contingent here of people learning outside of formal lessons. But we all learn from each other and from many people around us.

Cathy
Posted by: BEARitone

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/26/10 08:50 PM

Thank you so much for the kind and helpful reply.

I had seen the Alfred books mentioned before around here but I didn't know too much about them. I am going to grab level one right now.

Cheers.
Posted by: Mala

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/27/10 08:30 AM

Thank you Cathy - I really appreciate this - you can sense my frustration from my ramblings!

The good news here for me is that I see now it is okay to branch out and try 'other pieces' - straying away from Alfred's now and then will be helpful mostly because I enjoy classical - and also pop! So much to learn - such little time!!

I will be looking out for suggestions on material I can use - i know that i will definitely be looking for something that has a cd with it -

time to get back and hit the keys!! thank you again!
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/28/10 03:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Mala
The good news here for me is that I see now it is okay to branch out and try 'other pieces' - straying away from Alfred's now and then will be helpful mostly because I enjoy classical - and also pop! So much to learn - such little time!! i know that i will definitely be looking for something that has a cd with it
Sheet music may not come with a CD. You've progressed sufficiently to start looking for sheet music for tunes/songs that you like. If you google the name of the piece, you may find it on a CD on Amazon. CD's on that site often have brief sound clips. That'll let you hear how the piece should sound.

If you have music notation software, you could enter eight or sixteen bars and then just play them back.



Posted by: Mala

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/28/10 06:55 AM

thank you!! didnt know about the software - thats worth exploring i am sure
and thank you also for suggesting that i am now ready to look for sheet music and try it out - a definite 'feel good'!!
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/28/10 02:07 PM

Mala, thanks for the kind words.

People on this forum have recommended free/low cost music notation software. You might want to start a new thread re that. You'll for sure get good info. Developers often offer a trial period, so you could experiment, to learn what seems to work for you.

All the best with your playing.
Posted by: Late-Starter

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 09:45 AM

I was self-taught for 3 years on a digital piano but having purchased an acoustic piano towards the end of last year, I decided to take up monthly lesson at the start of this year.

My experience is that unless one is musically gifted, self-teaching can only take one pass the beginners phase to somewhere in the early intermediate stage (and stuck there for a long time). Without a qualified teacher to point out mistakes and to help with developing a good ear and sound techniques, progress can be painfully slow. As one is never sure of doing the right thing, the absence of conviction in learning/practising would inevitably translate into a lack of confidence in performance.

Prior to the lessons, I'd only play the piano in private and would never dared to do it in front of friends, let alone any strangers but now I might give it a go if the environment is conducive enough. Come to think of it, having a teacher listening critically while you play is good preparation for that.

It's easier to afford monthly lessons but you will need to be flexible with lesson time as most qualified teacher are engaged on a weekly basis and can only 'fit you in' at irregular hours.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 10:37 AM

I think most of us agree that regular lessons with a good teacher is optimum. However, I also think that the results of self-learning, just as with learning with a teacher, will vary according to the student.
Posted by: BEARitone

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 06:49 PM

Late-Starter: To be honest it has been discussed to death. I only see posts like this as discouragement for the people who want to visit this thread.


I am loving the recommended Alfred books, I bought them on my Kindle right after they were recommended because I couldn't wait. Cheers for the advice Cathy.
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 07:51 PM

I agree - this is not a thread to discuss whether or not self teaching is a good idea, it is a "self-teaching support thread". We are already self teaching, and need a thread where we can discuss our progress - or lack of it LOL - without constantly being told that we need to get a teacher.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 08:06 PM

Originally Posted By: BEARitone
Late-Starter: To be honest it has been discussed to death. I only see posts like this as discouragement for the people who want to visit this thread.


Tedious is the word I might use laugh I've never been discouraged in my own musical journey because of them. I just keep having fun.

I was way keyed last Wednesday at jam because suddenly (she says - a little like "overnight sensation" applies to someone who's been trying to break in to the music business for 10 years) I was very loose and relaxed and the piano just "popped" in its sound - quite lively and quick. Great fun.

Cathy
Posted by: apple*

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 08:07 PM

well, i've been silently supporting this thread by not jumping in and giving advice. I really admire those who have the confidence to pursue any endeavor.

i taught myself for years.. 3+ decades really. i interviewed teachers occasionally but never wanted to engage one.

good luck everyone.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/30/10 09:14 PM

For me, it's very mood-dependent whether I let the various "You can't progress without a teacher" posts make me feel oppressed by my entire life situation, or whether they roll off without dampening my spirits too much. Mostly I try to view it as a matter of making lemonade from life's lemons -- a matter of appreciating the freedoms that self-teaching allow me.

But there is also something much larger and deeper, the question of how one motivates tasks which are not supported by any external structure in one's life -- tasks with no accountability beyond being true to one's musical self.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/31/10 02:04 AM

I think I posted before my thought was quite ripe.

I think that what I was trying to say, is that working without external structure or reward is an interesting spiritual challenge in its own right. There's nothing visibly lost to the world by my failing to persist, just the abstract positive motivator of maintaining integrity in relation to my process of musical growth.
Posted by: moscheles001

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/31/10 06:21 AM

When life gives you lemons, just throw them at the next person who says you can't progress without a teacher.
Posted by: NocturneLover

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/31/10 09:43 AM

Lovin this thread tangleweeds.

IMO, teachers are important for kids and students looking to major in music, or perform, but for the average adult there are diminishing returns. The older one becomes, the more this should be a side hobby then something that is taken too seriously.

It is safe to assume that the older one gets, the more unlikely they will be playing in competitions in front of a panel of judges. Friends and families are usually the ones who hear us play, and mostly they are just happy to hear us playing whether it be classical or pop.

Self teaching is sufficient for an adult because this is not our priority and you can actually get a lot out of reading books, listening to recordings, etc... And I have lesson when I was younger from the ages of 7-18 and for all those years my teacher mostly corrected my posture and hands, taught me a little theory, and she would play pieces while I imitated her... then again, I had the "little old lady" piano teacher who just taught kids whose parents just wanted their kids to have fun.
Posted by: Bradley P

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 08/31/10 05:16 PM

I am self taught after 6 weeks of lessons a decade ago. I will say that high school band helped solidify the theory of music in my mind, those 6 weeks of lessons helped me learn posture and fingerings, etc.

My main method of practicing and learning is to just sit down with some new sheet music, try my hand at sight reading it, then slowly work my way through from start to finish.
By the end, I usually end up with the song memorized anyway so i can play it wherever I go (and there's a piano).

I think there is nothing wrong with self teaching, especially if it makes you happy...anyway, thats what this is about right? I get a lot of enjoyment from sitting in front of a piano a fiddling around making up chords and melodies even though I don't do it perfectly. Piano makes me happy and I don't need to be a professional to appreciate that!

P.S. I'm excited to be a part of this forum! I am amazed to see some folks with tens of thousands of posts!

-Brad
Posted by: Krukje

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 09/21/10 04:29 AM

I thought myself to read music and play the piano. I play pretty hard pieces after 1 year. But now I take lessons once a month to get some advise on my finger positions and some techniques.

It helps a lot and I decide myself when I go to the teacher.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 09/24/10 09:12 AM

I began learning to play piano after I retired 5 years ago. I am full of music (singing, playing guitar, banjo, trumpet) so this seems to be the next (and final) step in my musical journey.

I used to jump all over the place trying to find things I could learn to play and purchased a ton of books and materials to help me learn.

I had a tendency (and still do) to practice things until I could "almost" play it. Then I would get tired of playing it and move on to something else. This has resulted in my being able to play very little from beginning to end but a ton of things at 75% completion.

I have now decided to focus on just a few pieces (5-10) and keep rotating around with those until I begin to "finish" some of them before adding any others. This seems to be working as I am now beginning to build a repertoire which I am comfortable playing at a moments notice.

As others have said, I play (and practice) because I enjoy doing it, not to arrive at some destination. I just do it for fun.

Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 12:32 AM

I'm self taught. No regrets.

I'd surely have learned better and more quickly if I'd had a proper teacher.

But no matter. I don't intend to become a performer. I only perform for myself. Lots of fun.
Posted by: Una Bicicleta

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 03:54 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I'm self taught. No regrets.

I'd surely have learned better and more quickly if I'd had a proper teacher.

But no matter. I don't intend to become a performer. I only perform for myself. Lots of fun.

I couldn't agree with you more! Isn't it more fun to skipping some boring lessons?

I do like to practicing Hanon, Czerny, Brahms or Burgmuller, but I don't want anybody force me to do that laugh
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 11:50 AM

So, I am trying to mix it up some in my pursuit.

I have Alfreds All in One.. Book 1 and some Blues books and some sheet music I downloaded from Musicnotes (great site BTW).

I am also practicing "Through The Eyes Of Love" (theme from Ice Castles). It was our wedding song and I would like to learn to play it so I can play it for my wife on our 30th next year.

What I am finding is I have trouble immediately recognizing what notes are on the upper scale. Additionally when I play what I think is the right combination of notes, it doesn't sound right. So, I have jotted notations on the score and even then, some parts sound off.

I have tried looking for videos of it, but there are so many witdh different interpretations and none that show clearly the fingerings.
Any ideas?
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 12:38 PM

I love the theme from Ice Castles! But I haven't tried playing it other than a very simple 4 bar version in the Schaum primer a few years ago, so I can't offer any suggestions. But I'd love to hear it if you get it to a recordable version.

Oh, I'm sure you can find a chart of those upper notes online somewhere to check your score against, and then you can write in the note names of the ones you are having trouble with. Just don't let any of the teachers here know that you did that. LOL

Have fun with it!
Posted by: nancymae

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 12:38 PM

I'm joining the self teaching thread. I started learning to play piano on Xmas Day 2009, with a keyboard. I started with the Alfred Series, of which I am in Book 2. When I received my acoustic piano, I decided that I need a teacher, but due to personal conflicts which I mentioned on the Alfred thread, I have decided to quit this teacher.

I have always been a self-starter with learning. I taught myself to knit, crochet, play guitar, Irish Tin Whistle, self taught watercolorist, oil painter, so this stuff isn't new to me. It's with help like this forum, that you can achieve so much more than hammering away alone.

I will look forward to any insights and will offer my own. My first, I believe is to practice each and every day...setting up a schedule for yourself. When you do lessons, you have deadlines. Although you may not want or need to push yourself to learn certain songs, you should still have a schedule. I think my commitment to practicing each and every day has made my advancement more than anything else. Am looking forward to hearing what works for you/what doesn't!

Nancy
Posted by: Daryl Durand

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 01:01 PM

Learning the songs you like is the key to being self taught. I like lots of types of music but it needs to have a good catchy melody.
When I was taking lessons in my younger days from a teacher the songs she picked we're terrible. It's a lot more fun to hand pick my songs to learn.
Posted by: ladypayne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 01:01 PM

I haven't had a teacher in about a decade or so but I still have improved a lot just by playing pieces that I enjoy. I took one piano class at college and improved a little bit but mainly on some music theory and those scales. I'm sure I've acquired all kinds of bad habits in the mean time playing by myself :p Which can be a downfall if you don't have a teacher but I still love to play and encourage anybody who wants to play, to go ahead and do so with or without a teacher. It's a wonderful hobby to have if you want to do something with your free time and it's very relaxing and a good way to clear your mind if you have a lot on it smile LOVE that PIANO!
Posted by: bluebilly

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 01:05 PM

-
Self teaching Piano is different now, we have the support of this forum, if we're having difficulty we can ask here and we get good advice. I admit I'm biased, in my early teens my parents paid for me to be tutored by three different piano teachers none of whom inspired me into wanting to continue playing piano. However, there are teachers who contribute to Pianoworld who would be excellent, unfortunately none of them seem to be located in the UK, i.e., Morodiene and Betty Patnude are locate in the USA.
-
Posted by: ladypayne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 01:17 PM

I definitely agree with Daryl though that playing pieces you like is the key to self teaching. I only play pieces that I enjoy and I'm also constantly playing new pieces. I'm always getting new music all the time. I get rather bored playing the same songs over and over unless I really enjoy them and I lose interest in playing rather fast. So playing pieces I like and playing new pieces is how I keep playing without losing interest!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 03:29 PM

This topic seems to come up a lot here on the ABF…

There seems to be two primary camps here (or schools of thought); one thinks the only way to learn to play the piano is to have a teacher. The other thinks they can learn to play the piano well enough without a teacher. At times, there seems to be just a little animosity between the two camps and that is a shame.

Nothing is completely and totally “self-taught” without the learner seeking instruction and information from somewhere. So, I agree with those here who believe we all learn from each other. I learn a lot by watching and listening to others play. Perhaps this is called “visual” and “auditory” learning styles.

I enjoy sitting down at my piano(s) and making some sort of coherent music to my ears. I like the way the keys feel to my fingers and hands. I like the way my piano sounds to me. Sometimes my music is coherent and sometimes it is not. Even the incoherent jargon that I play at times sounds good to my ears.

I usually match my style of music to my moods, not that I’m all that moody. If I really feel inspired, I’ll write a new song that has never been heard by anyone but me, unless I record it and post it on YT. Sometimes I’ll learn a new blues lick or a new intro run or a new cord just by playing around or noodling around, if you will. It’s all for the sake of fun and enjoyment and stress relief.

Sometimes my playing ability surprises me; sometimes it disappoints me. But it always makes me feel good and often brings a smile to my face and even tears on occasion.

Does any of this make any sense?

Take care,

Rick
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 04:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Rickster

Does any of this make any sense?


Totally!
Posted by: jlynne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 05:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365
I am also practicing "Through The Eyes Of Love" (theme from Ice Castles). . . .


30 years? Congrats! Here's page 1 of the version I have - if your copy is the same, I can try and help you work through it.

*** Copyrighted material deleted by moderator ***
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 06:06 PM

Jlynne...yes that's it!

In the second measure of the bridge, is that a natural E or an E Sharp? I have seen it played on video both ways.

Then in the 8th measure, it has a "Fm7/Bb" how is that played?

Actually, the 7th, 8th and 9th measures all give me problems! crazy
Posted by: jlynne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/13/10 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365
Jlynne...yes that's it!

In the second measure of the bridge, is that a natural E or an E Sharp? I have seen it played on video both ways.


Natural E - because the key signature specifies E Flat, the little square thingy (accidental) is used to denote E Natural. The number sign accidental that would indicate an E Sharp looks similar, but you would see the difference if I could only figure out how to make the symbols show up here. Sorry. mad Look at the 2nd measure, 2nd line, page 2, and the 3rd measure, 1st line, page 3 - each has an F-Sharp accidental, and you can see the difference in the symbols.

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365
Then in the 8th measure, it has a "Fm7/Bb" how is that played?


Ignore the chord markings above the staff. Just tell your brain that they are for guitar players and those crazy people dedicated to improvisation, and forget all about them. Follow the notes on the staff.

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365

Actually, the 7th, 8th and 9th measures all give me problems! crazy


Because of the chord notation? or for other reasons?
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/14/10 12:21 PM

Mainly chord notations. I will readily admit, I am weak on chords. I REALLY need to practice them more. They just don't come to me easliy when I see them on sheet music. I end up pausing to think about what I am seeing.

I alos don't fully understand the "to Coda" part. I always thought that mean the way to end the song. Yet it seems you go to the coda and then back to the second verse. Or am I lost here too?

Thanks!
Posted by: jlynne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/14/10 01:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365
Mainly chord notations. I will readily admit, I am weak on chords. I REALLY need to practice them more.


We all do. wink One step at a time.

Originally Posted By: Cobra1365
I alos don't fully understand the "to Coda" part. I always thought that mean the way to end the song. Yet it seems you go to the coda and then back to the second verse. Or am I lost here too?

Thanks!


You got me there. My copy of the music does not have a Coda. So, I'm not sure what you are seeing. As noted above, we can't post even portions of copyrighted material, so can you describe the notation?

Generally speaking, you are correct, the Coda ends the piece. Just before the actual start of the Coda, you will see the notation, "D.S. ___ al ___ Coda". In the blanks are two weird looking characters. The first is a lazy S with an inverted percent sign superimposed on it. That is the "Segno" or "sign". That same character will appear by itself at some point in the music - usually toward the beginning. The second character is the Coda sign. It looks like a capital letter "O" with an inscribed plus sign or cross. That sign also appears by itself - at the start of the Coda.

Playing through the first time, when you reach "D.S. __ al __ Coda, you return to the point in the music where the Segno appears by itself, and play from there until you are directed to go "to Coda," at which point you jump to the Coda sign and then play to the end.

Does that help, or have I confused you more?

[edit] PS: If you really can't make yourself ignore the chord notation, this site may be of some help. 8notes
Posted by: Cobra1365

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 10/14/10 04:09 PM

Quote:
Playing through the first time, when you reach "D.S. __ al __ Coda, you return to the point in the music where the Segno appears by itself, and play from there until you are directed to go "to Coda," at which point you jump to the Coda sign and then play to the end.

Does that help, or have I confused you more?


That part clears it up! Thanks!

I sent you a PM about the score.
Posted by: FrostyKeys

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/04/14 09:05 PM

Hi, resurrecting this thread because besides it being awesome, I have a question.

I had a teacher for two years, and learned a lot....well a lot for two years. Anyway, I simply can not afford a teacher anymore. Does anyone think those two years should be enough foundation for me to go it alone with significantly less likelihood of bad habits?

I read these forums, music theory books, and watch videos, which, while not an actual person, are a type of teacher in my eyes.
Posted by: earlofmar

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/04/14 10:00 PM

It's an interesting question and I don't feel experienced enough to really answer but my insight is this.

I have had a teacher for a year, I got a teacher a couple of months after starting piano. Except for the very start I virtually have always picked the repertoire I practice/learn and during the year it feels I have guided the general direction. I like having a teacher for the tricky questions that pop up but I think I could live without one when there is a great resource like PW.

I am highly motivated and disciplined in my practice so don't need the motivation of a weekly session. Using my books, PW, and the internet I can usually work out any problem that arises. What I feel my teacher really provides is a guide and a sounding board. I think these are important elements but to be honest I do wonder if I could get by without them. I think probably not as there would be something nagging at me am I still doing the right thing all the time. But if it were a financial decision I could go without and still maintain learning and improving.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/04/14 10:24 PM

Oh dear. This is the "self-teaching support" thread, and your post, Frosty Keys, invites all the old "teacher vs. self-teaching" discussion into it!

From your older posts I gather you had "several" teachers in the last two years. At one point you said you might do an exam-based curriculum because you need that structure.

The folks in this thread have the kind of personality that enjoys finding their own way. At some point they build the same kinds of skills in terms of musicality, etc, that folks with teachers do - slower, faster, in the same order, not in the same order, whatever.

But the question isn't really whether you have enough base to be self-teaching. The question is, are you that kind of personality?

I only had 2 years of lessons, a long long time ago, and it was plenty. Many people here had *no* formal lessons and it works for them.

I've come a *long* ways in terms of my piano playing since this thread first started. As with others, it's not that I don't learn from others - I learn a million things from others. I just don't do it in a formal lesson kind of way.

So, ask yourself - am I the personality that, in general, learns things by dinking around, checking in with others, following a manual/lesson book without anyone looking over my shoulder, picking up bits and pieces here and there, seeking out the information I need from some other structured approach but not a formal lesson, etc? If you do a lot of that, then self-teaching might bring you great rewards.

Or, ask - am I the personality that, in general, prefers to go the experts first and lay down the base in a 1-2-3-4 kind of way, feeling that I don't waste time that way, like having a regular schedule and goals to motivate me, enjoy the rewards pf preparing and passing formal milestones, value the kind of feedback and guidance from a regular meeting with experts, etc. If so, then having a teacher would work.

Not that there isn't overlap in the two methods of learning. But there's a difference in the process.

So if you enjoy self-teaching, certainly you know enough. You can start from knowing nothing at all and learn, so 2 years of good progress in lessons is more than good.

But if you, as you said a couple of years ago, like the motivation of a more formal structured learning style, then maybe not.

But it's a personality difference, and only you know if self-teaching is your personality.

The resources and help here in the ABF are huge, as others have said. And there's more of them now - there's the MOYD thread which some people like for nudging them to play every day. There's an FOYD thread for those of us who finding it helpful to remind ourselves of particular techniques or goals we want to focus on. There's the Achievement of the Week thread, where you can go celebrate your wins. Those are all helpful for keeping you engaged, whether you have a teacher or not.

So my answer is, yes, you have enough. But that's not the question. The question is, is self-teaching an interesting way to learn, for you? If you can't afford a teacher but you're iffy about self-teaching, can you utilize some of the resources here to help yourself keep on track? Try it - it just might work!

Cathy
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/04/14 11:15 PM

Hey, I remember this thread! laugh

Seriously though, that's a great post, Cathy. I think you nailed it.
Posted by: Rerun

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/04/14 11:27 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Hey, I remember this thread! laugh

Seriously though, that's a great post, Cathy. I think you nailed it.


Yep, very good post!
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 12:08 AM

blush Aw, shucks. Thanks, guys smile

This place is great.

Cathy
Posted by: FrostyKeys

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 12:14 AM

Thank you Cathy. Great post. Yes reading my old posts you will see the I have been on and off, trying different methods and having different ideas or plans. I have many struggles learning, but I just can't quit, which is good. I do like structure, and I think I can do it on my own if I keep a journal and set goals. I also will start recording my playing. The thing I liked most about lessons was that it kept me in check. I had the pressure of knowing that my teacher would know if I didn't practice much that week. But is all of that worth the price of admission?

Anyway, here I am again. Going to try going it on my own. Maybe somewhere down the line I will have more disposable income and get a teacher, but until then I will not deprive myself of learning the piano. After all, it is more of a hobby for self enjoyment. I am not looking to play in Carnegie Hall or make a career of it. The most I hope to achieve is to maybe play at a lounge or restaurant when I am older.

And thank you too Earlofmar. Good stuff.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 01:31 AM

Sounds like a couple of good ideas there, Frosty Keys - a search here will bring up threads on keeping practice journals, too, and for many they're a great way to help us keep track of goals, problem fixing, musical ideas, etc. For a real kicker, hie thee to he MOYD 2014 thread that's stickied at the top of the ABF forum, read the "rules" on the first page (essentially, the only rule is to try to get to the piano every day, never mind for how much time, and if you don't for some reason you have to go 'fess up laugh ). It's not my thing, but they have a good time, and they get badges at the end of the year!

Recording for the recitals, for me, helps make sure I get a piece at more than just "knowing the notes", so I think you're really on the right track with your ideas.

And you can come here or the Achievement thread and let us know how you're doing!

Cathy
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 07:30 AM

FrostyKeys, yes, I imagine two years will have instilled some sense of postural correctness, hand shape and usage, and fingering choices.

There are many reasons why you might choose not to use a teacher, financial, logistical and personal. Once the risk of injury is out of the way, and there are many that have developed injuries despite having used a 'teacher' there is the obvious question of rate of progress.

With the advent of the internet, forums and YouTube, etc, self-teaching is a whole other ball game than in my day. We all know that learning the piano is far more demanding than most other instruments and really does benefit from being shown how to do certain things but at the end of the day the biggest obstacle to progress is knowledge. The internet is a great way of disseminating knowledge - mostly too much at once - and with careful filtering you should make adequate progress on your own.

I suggest you be an active participant in these forums and an active researcher of piano pedagogy (I can recommend some sites if you're interested), include a regular back to basics segment in your annual progression and be a keen participant in the recitals on offer here.

Piano playing is a long journey and it may be quicker with a teacher but it's just as much fun with friends, especially knowledgeable and supportive friends such as you'll find on this very forum. Good luck.
Posted by: Tienne

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 09:25 AM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
I suggest you be an active participant in these forums and an active researcher of piano pedagogy (I can recommend some sites if you're interested), include a regular back to basics segment in your annual progression and be a keen participant in the recitals on offer here.

At least I would love those piano pedagogy links. I'm about to start learning to play with a teacher, but I want to supplement it with my own research.
Posted by: mom3gram

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 09:51 AM

I had forgotten that this thread existed. Glad to see it come back to life. I'm almost 69 and have been self teaching for several years now. I wouldn't call myself an "accomplished" pianist, but I enjoy playing the piano, play and/or practice nearly every day, and love the freedom of playing what I want, when I want, without the pressure of someone "judging" me. After all, this is not brain surgery, it's just a very enjoyable hobby. Who needs pressure at my age? LOL!
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 11:58 AM

Welcome to the forum, Tienne.

Yes, this is a great thread to have back. I'd not seen it before. I might read it from the top, though it's quite long. Too many are put off by the 'no teacher - no progress' reaction of many hereabout but not all of us have the same ambition or purpose, let alone good fortune.

If you're going to teach yourself (and don't we all when it comes down to it?) you owe it to yourself to be the best teacher you can. These links should help a lot. They've been useful for me.

Dr. Brent Hugh lists a lot of useful resources for overcoming difficulties as well as highlighting a basic approach to learning and improving pieces.
Brent Hugh

Graham Fitch is quite popular with several of the folks here. I'm one of the many who've made use of his piano practise e-books. They're soon to be made available offline, too.
Graham Fitch

Ilinca Vartic promotes the Russian School methodology. Her free e-book on phrasing is worth a read and her videos on YouTube are among my favourites.
Ilinca Vartic

Josh has encapsulated most of the practise techniques my teacher gave me and some valuable (for me) tips that I haven't seen anywhere else.
Josh Wright

Albert Franz was the first site that I remember finding that I didn't disagree much with when I returned to the piano two years ago though most of it has been covered in the links above. Still it's helpful to see the same tips and techniques keep on being repeated just so you know it's a strong approach.
Albert Franz

And, of course the Chang book that works best with the occasional sprinkling of salt but it's core is worthwhile.
Piano Fundamentals

And here is what some of us regard as the mother-lode. Bernhard had quite a reputation and following when he was active and has been the source of many discussions here, too.
Berhard's Links
And his method encapsulated

When you tackle easier pieces, like Fr Elise, there's no reason why you shouldn't aim to sound as good as Valentina Lisitsa or Ivo Pogorelich. Therein, I believe, lies the secret to good technique. In my experience it's easier to impress an audience with a very polished and expressive trifle than hammering out the Moonlight Sonata like you're trying to hold a tiger by the tail even though it's harder, longer and slower to achieve such a level of polish.





Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 02:17 PM

Another thing that has helped immensely in self-teaching for me, and also helps if you have a teacher, is the best advice I ever got: Listen, listen, listen.

Richard posted some you tube performances in that light. Sometimes I do that, too. But I play in a band, and I play for dancers. That feedback is invaluable.

I can hear how other musicians, on different instruments, are articulating a phrase (or how they're not doing it, for that matter laugh ) and emulate it. I think about how, with the music and phrasing, I can encourage or support the "hop" a dancer uses, or how to ramp the energy into the next figure. Those things are really helpful in making my playing into music, and not just notes. When I listen to good (amateur) traditional musicians I try to figure out what they're doing and how they're phrasing things, and where the accents are, etc. I've known for many years that some of that has to do with how the tune is phrased - which notes in a measure are finishing the previous thought and which are pick-up notes to the next phrase. That isn't marked in the music. So I experiment with it, changing what is what and how it's accented, until it sounds more like music.

So, listen, listen, listen, is a huge way to get feedback and educate your ears.

Cathy
Posted by: Ganddalf

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/05/14 05:10 PM

Interesting thread. I have been self-teaching for more than 45 years and never used any resources except the sheet music. I guess I could befefit from some of the suggested links. The problem may be limited time and I'm also afraid that I have developed too many bad habits that can be difficult to get rid of at my age. Anyhow I'm open to anybody's advice to an old fox like me.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 01:36 AM

Originally Posted By: FrostyKeys
Hi, resurrecting this thread because besides it being awesome, I have a question.

I had a teacher for two years, and learned a lot....well a lot for two years. Anyway, I simply can not afford a teacher anymore. Does anyone think those two years should be enough foundation for me to go it alone with significantly less likelihood of bad habits?

I read these forums, music theory books, and watch videos, which, while not an actual person, are a type of teacher in my eyes.



Less likelihood of bad habits? Probably. Significantly less? Maybe or maybe not. These really aren't things people here can answer for you, and you, of course, can't answer yourself what you don't know. Only a teacher or highly experienced individual that likely worked with you in-person for a time would be able to answer that question, ironically.

Also, you should be aware of the shortcomings of self-teaching through books, videos, forum advice, etc. Keystring's accounts of how teachers do and should work seem to read the most comprehensively to me of any I've read. She clearly articulates that there can be wild variance in what can be accomplished through studying one simple piece of music, for example.
Click to reveal..
Originally Posted By: keystring
A small note about method books. A method book, like a textbook, is a tool. If it becomes a crutch, then teaching is not going on. But someone who knows how to teach will use whatever tools are at her disposal, to suit her purposes, in the manner that suits her.

I have also seen repertoire used in an unthinking manner - an "old fashioned approach" but without much behind it. Pieces and studies don't teach anything, but you might teach things through them. You get an old fashioned mentality that says a student will "learn" if she works through these particular pieces in this particular order, does all of the Bach Inventions in a given order, does all of a particular set of etudes "because that's what I did, my teacher before me did, and the teacher before that". But how do you do them? What do you teach through them? What should your student be focusing on when practising at home, and what other things in terms of theory or whatever should your student be doing?

Any material of any kind is only a tool of teaching.

I've read similar accounts of someone learning to play all of Bach's inventions only to find later that they missed out on being taught invaluable lessons on interpretation, ornamentation, theory, practicing tools/tricks, etc. and had to re-learn them all.

keystring's also good at pointing out that while these forums are invaluable for a music student, providing advice over a medium such as these forums is destined to often be inadequate because those providing advice and those reading said advice are doing so through their own respective prisms, commensurate with their highly unique knowledge and experiences. As such, it's as though there's a filter between the two trying to communicate (as there often is trying to learn from a book or anything else on one's own). I'd read through some of her recent posts (here are two good ones: Link 1, Link 2) and re-evaluate your thoughts towards lessons and going at it alone. Lessons don't have to be of the formal - and sometimes expensive - meet-at-this-same-time-every-week format to be of great value.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 07:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Also, you should be aware of the shortcomings of self-teaching through books, videos, forum advice, etc. Keystring's accounts of how teachers do and should work seem to read the most comprehensively to me of any I've read.
These are good points and I'm sure they're well meant but there are two realities they don't address.

One is that here's no such thing as a 'qualified' piano teacher (no Piano Teacher qualification). You have to take pot luck. If you end up with the wrong one you may be better off not having a teacher at all. Accounts of how teachers should work and accounts of how teachers don't work make me want to stop anyone taking lessons until they're good enough first to assess their teacher's ability to teach. There are teachers that post on PW that I wouldn't recommend to anyone.

I think that relying on advice from a forum is as dangerous as relying on advice from a poor teacher but I doubt this forum is their first and last source of information on the subject.

The advantage with self-teaching today is that there are enough resources to research the field on a much deeper scale and take account of enough different ways of saying the same thing that there are much better chances of forming a correct understanding. Twenty years ago you'd have needed a library and a huge amount of luck to get this opportunity. It would be folly to assume readers are taking only one view and then going off and following it as it would also be to only take one view from a forum and run with it. Whatever advice we offer, it is only one voice among many.

And anyone who has the acuity to re-evaluate well enough their thoughts towards going it alone probably has enough to self-teach reasonably well too.

The other reality is that many of those taking the self-teaching route are not doing so because they've come to a reasoned formulation of their ideas. They're doing so because the alternative is to not play piano. They're not all going in the classical direction either so whether they need a teacher at all in that case is moot. There are personal reasons as well as financial and logistical ones. It may well be that the idea of teaching oneself an instrument is the motivation to learn rather than the achievement in the musical sense. There are those that want to play like Horowitz at Carnegie Hall and those that want to play like Paul McCartney at the White House.

Self-teachers have enough to face without continually being told that it's not the best way to go. Most of us know it's not the recommended path. Many also, alas, have the experience with teachers to believe that it's not always the best solution, nor, indeed, an appropriate one, and others are forced into the route by quirks of fate and fortune. Self-teaching is their reality and this is their support thread. Let's support them in their endeavours whether it's a voluntary decision or Hobson's choice.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 09:33 AM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Self-teachers have enough to face without continually being told that it's not the best way to go.


Well, you may feel that it is "continually" because you are reading these posts regularly. However, I think the reality is that only those just beginning their journey are getting this advice and usually only when they ask for "advice".

And truth is ... the best advice we (as a group) can offer is to get a teacher because we feel it is the best way to go.

If they decline and decide not go that route, so be it.

I don't think anyone is being hounded about getting a teacher.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 09:43 AM

However, the basic premise of this thread is to have a place for self-teaching individuals to share their experiences without constantly being told that one should have a teacher.

Unfortunately the problem with is that non-self-teaching persons, who apparently haven't bothered to read this premise keep popping out of the woodwork to cheer us on with a helpful "ur doing it wrong"

I think the fact that there are already two fresh posts trying to counter the basic premise of this old thread is very illustrative of what vacuum this thread ( was at least supposed to) fill.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: dmd
Well, you may feel that it is "continually" because you are reading these posts regularly.
No, Don, it's because I read this thread after reading the OP and I think enough is enough!

Originally Posted By: dmd
And truth is ... the best advice we (as a group) can offer is to get a teacher because we feel it is the best way to go.

If they decline and decide not go that route, so be it.
No, it is not the best route for everyone. But they have declined and decided not to go that route. That's what this thread is for.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 10:31 AM

I'm with Tangleweeds, and zrtf90. This thread was for those of us who self-teach to share our ideas and experieces.

I really, when this thread first started, didn't want to have to, jeez, there's the word, continually counter the "you'd be better off with a teacher" posts. It's why I was concerned with Frosty Keys' post - it immediately went back to "am I good enough to do without a teacher" and that invited all the nay sayers again. Sigh.

It's like the "you know, you could have done such-and-such and gotten a lot further on that issue" invading the AOTW thread. Or the "you know, just 'playing' every day won't get you anywhere, you have to 'practice'" invading the MOYD. It's not what those threads are for.

Apparently the "you'd be better off with a teacher" crowd never reads/hears those of who prefer self-teaching, or, don't have the money, or - whatever.

SELF-TEACHING IS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE for me. And yes, I meant to shout.

SELF-TEACHING IS AN ECONOMIC CHOICE FOR ME - as many say.

So this thread is for the folks above. To share ideas and experiences.

Not, you know, for folks to come in and say - but you'd be better off with a teacher.

So I really do regret the tenor of Frosty Keys' post. Not that I think FK meant to start the debate again - well, yes, it did imply that FK was worried they might not get anywhere without a teacher, which was really not the point of this thread. It's why I asked FK whether self-teaching was something they did regularly in other areas.

But FK also said - I CAN'T AFFORD A TEACHER - eh? So I guess for them, it was self-teach, or not play.

But if you have to self-teach because you can't afford a teacher, then asking whether you're good enough to self-teach is kind of pointless. You either self-teach or don't.

So really, this thread is for - how do I go about self-teaching, since I CAN'T AFFORD A TEACHER.

And now, GET OFF MY LAWN.

smile

Cathy
Posted by: sinophilia

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 11:23 AM

Wow, thank you for digging this up, I didn't know there was a thread for us teacher-less - or teacher-free wink - people! I'm in heaven!
Posted by: scorpio

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 11:30 AM

Originally Posted By: jotur
And now, GET OFF MY LAWN.

smile

Cathy
Bravo!
Posted by: dmd

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: dmd
Well, you may feel that it is "continually" because you are reading these posts regularly.
No, Don, it's because I read this thread after reading the OP and I think enough is enough!

Originally Posted By: dmd
And truth is ... the best advice we (as a group) can offer is to get a teacher because we feel it is the best way to go.

If they decline and decide not go that route, so be it.
No, it is not the best route for everyone. But they have declined and decided not to go that route. That's what this thread is for.


You know ... I forgot that this thread is a "Support" thread for self-teaching. So, having been reminded of that ... I understand your "outrage" better.

However, as Cathy "regrets"... the OP did ask.

Actually, in the final analysis ... most of us are self-teaching. A teacher is just another way to gather methodology, direction, other information. We all have to do the work at the keyboard, with or without a formal teacher.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 01:28 PM

Originally Posted By: scorpio
Originally Posted By: jotur
And now, GET OFF MY LAWN.

smile

Cathy
Bravo!


laugh

Originally Posted By: dmd

Actually, in the final analysis ... most of us are self-teaching. A teacher is just another way to gather methodology, direction, other information. We all have to do the work at the keyboard, with or without a formal teacher.


I think this is true. There are many, many experiences that are in common between learning while having a formal teacher and learning without formal lessons. And all of those are fodder for great discussion on the ABF, and there's some great food for thought from all of us. Long live those of us learning to play piano!!

Thanks for your post.

Cathy
Posted by: evamar

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 01:57 PM

Thanks Cathy, I'm sure there won't be more "get a teacher" advice so that we can now enjoy our lawn grin

... Going back to the actual purpose of this thread, which I hadn't seen it before and am very grateful for its existence and good support...

Thanks in particular to zrtf90 for the recent info and links, they will be of great help for me and other self-learners. I'm sure there is a lot more info here and people to thank, just need the time to read the thread from the beginning, so please accept a general big THANK YOU!

For me, as hard as actually getting to play a piece, that is hitting the right keys, is getting right the expressions and feeling, transmitting something. I have to listen to good pianists in order to be able to learn where to give the expressions. What I get without this is similar to reading something emotional in a very boring monotone voice... so hard to give the passion a piece intended to create on its listeners.

How do you deal with this issue? Just by hearing again and again the piece from youtube, cd or similar, or is it something that with time you get to know by yourselves at the same time you learn the actual piece?
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 06:38 PM

Evamar, I am just a low level beginner at piano. However, I have been playing live music in front of casual audiences, for more than ten years so my ear is a bit better than many other new piano beginners. What I do, is learn far fewer pieces, but learn them very well. I get to a far deeper level than the typical grade 1 or 2 piano beginner will with their pieces. I'm not saying my way is a better way. Like so many choices, there is a cost, and the cost in time is high. However, it is what I enjoy doing and choose to do.

I also tend to do my own arrangements. Arranging is a slow process for me, the musically uneducated beginner. I like the level of intimacy that I get by arranging. Obviously my approach is not for everyone. I do not believe it is suitable approach for beginners using a method book, except perhaps on a very few select favorite pieces. Short simple pieces might take me 3 months to learn, with arranging taking 3 or 4 weeks of that.

I wish this thread were active when I started (March 2012).

/edit to add: something else that I do is devote approximately 20% of my time to technique, 20% to musicality. This is suggested by the book The Musicians Way. The rest is 40% to new pieces, 20% for old pieces. Listening to music, especially live music, helps a person develop their ear.

Technique might include scales, arpeggios, metronome. Earlier technique topics might be basic posture, arm weight, wrist position, hand position, fingering. Later on, phrasing and dynamics, legato, staccato, jumps. Musicality includes theory, sight reading, ear training, rhythm training, live performance routine and practice.

Some tell me that my technique is poor. I tend to agree. However, I think about how bad my technique might be if I did like so many self-directed learners and mostly ignore the topic. Poor technique is often a huge hurdle for beginners, and is that much harder without a good set of ears to guide the beginner.

While I have a slightly better than average ear and many years of experience as a musician, my ear is no where as good or as objective as a good and experienced music teacher might have. A person can't learn what he/she can't discern. If a person can't hear the difference, how are they supposed to improve up on it?

Recording and listening back are more things a person can do. The quarterly virtual recitals, monthly piano bar thread, and the Ecco Fatto thread are all ways to share music. Live performance is something else I always encourage.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 09:34 PM

Originally Posted By: evamar
What I get without this is similar to reading something emotional in a very boring monotone voice... so hard to give the passion a piece intended to create on its listeners.

How do you deal with this issue? Just by hearing again and again the piece from youtube, cd or similar, or is it something that with time you get to know by yourselves at the same time you learn the actual piece?
As a rule of thumb phrases rise toward a climax and fall at the end. Pick something from your current music and we can go through a specific piece. In the meantime, listen to Happy Birthday.

The first two lines build to the highest note, 'TO you', for the third line the first syllable of the celebrant's name takes a quick rise and a pause to give it extra emphasis and the last line falls to pattern.

Once you recognise the phrases build the dynamics gradually toward the climax, usually the highest note in a phrase or sometimes the highest note before the final descent, and soften the dynamics for the fall at the end. If you sing, not all do, then imitate your voice. You need more breath for the higher notes and relax at the phrase ends. Imitate this when you play.

In time you can build each phrase to its own climax and each climax to the main climax of the piece, again often the highest note of the piece or the last highest note.

I do this stuff while I'm memorising the music before starting on the piano. Most people add this stuff after or while they're learning it.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 10:16 PM

evamar - I couldn't agree more that getting the passion/emotion that makes it into music is harder than just getting the notes right. Whew! I've been working a lot on that for the last 1/2 year or so.

I don't know what kind of music you play, but perhaps some of what I do can translate to something for you.

I play dance music - Scottish country dance, contra dances, waltzes, swing, fox-trots, 2-steps, et al. From the very beginning my music made people tap their feet - I think because I am in fact a dancer and when I played pieces I had danced to that came naturally. I had no idea how I did it, tho.

But what I *did* do was see dancers in my head. So that movement obviously went, however inadvertently, to my finger and body movements to make music. I still see dancers in my head, and it helps me a lot. There are 2 couples in particular that I "see" when I play waltzes, and if I can get them to waltz in my head then I am closer to having it right. There's another couple that I "see" swing dancing, another that I "see" fox-trotting, another that I see Scottish, another that I see contra, and yet another two-stepping.

So perhaps there are images that the music conjures up for you that you could invoke while you are playing to get some of that flowing thru your body while you're making music.

Recently, when I finally get them dancing in my head, I try to hear what it is I'm doing when it happens, so that maybe I can consciously recreate it. I notice that, for me, waltzes are counted at one beat per measure rather than three, and then they lilt along splendidly. Well, more splendidly than otherwise any way. Two-steps (country-western style) have to have "swing eighths" for me to see that couple dancing. Strathspeys (a Scottish country dance) have to have a pick-up note at the right time. I haven't quite been able to verbalize what it is that I do for swing, but that comes more easily for me than others, so it's a little deeper to dig out.

So the listening, for me, goes along with the seeing in my head.

Then there's the dinking around, as I mentioned earlier laugh This is what I do when I know something is going on in the music when I listen to others play it, but I don't know what it is. So I experiment. There's a lot of "pick-up" notes in the phrasing for Scottish/Irish, at least the way I hear it, so I'll take a phrase and at the end of it and the begining of the next one I'll just experiment with accenting different notes, and leaving some space between them, in different ways. It's sort of like that old joke - WHAT am I doing? What AM I doing? What am I doing? What am I DOING? And the answer is: making a fool of yourself. So that's what I do. I'm not sure that my phrasing is quite like what I hear, but it for sure is more musical than it was before.

Another thing I do is to just play the piece at different tempos and in different moods. Play a reel as an air, or a jig as waltz, or anything as a lament, whatever. That kind of gives me a broader sense of the possibilities.

None of that is to say I'm good at being musical yet. But I'm closer than I used to be, and I can hear the difference.

I suspect it's a life-long process.

Cathy
Posted by: FrostyKeys

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 11:00 PM

Originally Posted By: jotur
I'm with Tangleweeds, and zrtf90. This thread was for those of us who self-teach to share our ideas and experieces.

I really, when this thread first started, didn't want to have to, jeez, there's the word, continually counter the "you'd be better off with a teacher" posts. It's why I was concerned with Frosty Keys' post - it immediately went back to "am I good enough to do without a teacher" and that invited all the nay sayers again. Sigh.

It's like the "you know, you could have done such-and-such and gotten a lot further on that issue" invading the AOTW thread. Or the "you know, just 'playing' every day won't get you anywhere, you have to 'practice'" invading the MOYD. It's not what those threads are for.

Apparently the "you'd be better off with a teacher" crowd never reads/hears those of who prefer self-teaching, or, don't have the money, or - whatever.

SELF-TEACHING IS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE for me. And yes, I meant to shout.

SELF-TEACHING IS AN ECONOMIC CHOICE FOR ME - as many say.

So this thread is for the folks above. To share ideas and experiences.

Not, you know, for folks to come in and say - but you'd be better off with a teacher.

So I really do regret the tenor of Frosty Keys' post. Not that I think FK meant to start the debate again - well, yes, it did imply that FK was worried they might not get anywhere without a teacher, which was really not the point of this thread. It's why I asked FK whether self-teaching was something they did regularly in other areas.

But FK also said - I CAN'T AFFORD A TEACHER - eh? So I guess for them, it was self-teach, or not play.

But if you have to self-teach because you can't afford a teacher, then asking whether you're good enough to self-teach is kind of pointless. You either self-teach or don't.

So really, this thread is for - how do I go about self-teaching, since I CAN'T AFFORD A TEACHER.

And now, GET OFF MY LAWN.

smile

Cathy


I certainly did not resurrect this thread to stir things up. It was a self teach support thread, and I am in a scenario where that is my path. I too hate the constant 'get a teacher' comments. However reading it everywhere on this forum, made me second guess myself. So basically, I saw this thread, enjoyed it, and just made a simple post with a question, looking for support. If others chose to make it a debate, that was not my intention.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 11:54 PM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Also, you should be aware of the shortcomings of self-teaching through books, videos, forum advice, etc. Keystring's accounts of how teachers do and should work seem to read the most comprehensively to me of any I've read.
These are good points and I'm sure they're well meant but there are two realities they don't address.

One is that here's no such thing as a 'qualified' piano teacher (no Piano Teacher qualification). You have to take pot luck. If you end up with the wrong one you may be better off not having a teacher at all. Accounts of how teachers should work and accounts of how teachers don't work make me want to stop anyone taking lessons until they're good enough first to assess their teacher's ability to teach. There are teachers that post on PW that I wouldn't recommend to anyone.

I think that relying on advice from a forum is as dangerous as relying on advice from a poor teacher but I doubt this forum is their first and last source of information on the subject.

The advantage with self-teaching today is that there are enough resources to research the field on a much deeper scale and take account of enough different ways of saying the same thing that there are much better chances of forming a correct understanding. Twenty years ago you'd have needed a library and a huge amount of luck to get this opportunity. It would be folly to assume readers are taking only one view and then going off and following it as it would also be to only take one view from a forum and run with it. Whatever advice we offer, it is only one voice among many.

And anyone who has the acuity to re-evaluate well enough their thoughts towards going it alone probably has enough to self-teach reasonably well too.

The other reality is that many of those taking the self-teaching route are not doing so because they've come to a reasoned formulation of their ideas. They're doing so because the alternative is to not play piano. They're not all going in the classical direction either so whether they need a teacher at all in that case is moot. There are personal reasons as well as financial and logistical ones. It may well be that the idea of teaching oneself an instrument is the motivation to learn rather than the achievement in the musical sense. There are those that want to play like Horowitz at Carnegie Hall and those that want to play like Paul McCartney at the White House.

Self-teachers have enough to face without continually being told that it's not the best way to go. Most of us know it's not the recommended path. Many also, alas, have the experience with teachers to believe that it's not always the best solution, nor, indeed, an appropriate one, and others are forced into the route by quirks of fate and fortune. Self-teaching is their reality and this is their support thread. Let's support them in their endeavours whether it's a voluntary decision or Hobson's choice.



A good complement/rebuttal to my post. Thanks for pointing out some of these things.

And apologies to those for whom this is a support thread as I didn't mean to intrude or offend with any sort of implicit "holier-than-thou" stance. I simply wished to help frosty make - for himself - an informed decision. Support thread or not, had he not posted, the thread would likely still be buried (candidate for sticky?).
Posted by: jotur

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/06/14 11:59 PM

Originally Posted By: FrostyKeys
I certainly did not resurrect this thread to stir things up. It was a self teach support thread, and I am in a scenario where that is my path. I too hate the constant 'get a teacher' comments. However reading it everywhere on this forum, made me second guess myself. So basically, I saw this thread, enjoyed it, and just made a simple post with a question, looking for support. If others chose to make it a debate, that was not my intention.


Yeah, I don't think you meant to start a debate. I can see where those who state "get a teacher" as if it were a universal truth might make people pause. But - ditch the doubt laugh I think your 2 years is plenty, and the resources here in the ABF can be a huge help. And I think, as dmd said, there's a lot in common between those with and without formal lessons - for me, it's a personality trait. For others it's economic. As Richard says, there's other considerations, too.

Let us know how it's going.

Cathy
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/07/14 12:42 AM

More on the topic of expression. One thread that was active when I started on the forum was on Effortless Mastery, a book by Kenny Werner. There is also a good free Youtube video. The book goes into some of the more subtle aspects of expression, connection and music. Basic dynamics and phrasing tend to be topics introduced and emphasized for late beginners or intermediates (though a few teachers will talk about it from day one). I describe some of the Werner topics as the Zen aspects of making music.

The more subtle aspects can be a lifelong pursuit, even for the best of the best. I recently saw legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma on TV. He talked about teachers telling him to find his voice when he was a star student and where that prodding pushed him. How in each decade of his career, his voice continued to develop.

Piano is a percussive instrument, so expression is sometimes more difficult to distinguish then with a string or wind instruments where bowing and breath give the musician a much higher degree of subtle control than a drum or a piano.

There is the TV show the X-factor (which I do not care for). Some musicians have that secret ingredient and can become the star headliners if they also can do the technical work. The X-factor might involve finding their voice as the cellist talked about, or some other way to connect as Kenny Werner writes about in his book. A few just have it and they know it. The immortal John Coltrane put it like this: "you can play a shoelace if you are sincere." The existential question is how to express sincerity in music. Conviction, emotion, connection are other useful words. Some spend a lifetime looking for the answers, and many never get a good answer.
Posted by: minimax

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 09:49 AM

I am 100% in support for Self-Teaching and I applaud anyone who has chosen this way of learning piano. I am in the beginner camp, with my two kids (ages 8 and 11).

I learned languages, photography, computers that way. In my opinion it is the most rewarding and valuable way of acquiring any knowledge. Why? Because it forces us to seek from many sources, opposing ideas, and allows us to grow by making our own decisions. We gonna make mistakes, but in order to learn we have to make them, recognize them and correct them. So I say, do not be afraid! Trust in your own power and abilities! If you do not trust yourself, investigate why, and change it. It is not hard if you know how. Do not let others tell you what is best for you, as nobody knows it but YOU. Do not believe, but pick what good and logical advice others give and test it. If it works make it your own. If is does not, let it go. Be always neutral. You do not know if something will work or not before you try it - so do not judge prematurely.

The most precious lesson for me, was recognizing that I live out my thoughts and feelings. I was able to see (to my horror at the time) my 2-3 years old negative thinking (motivated by fear) being lived by me. What I got from it? I learned that if I give my attention to any negative thoughts, allow them to multiply, eventually I will have to experience them, as it is the law. That led to realization that I could water the good thoughts and they will manifest in time.

How this can help anyone in learning piano? Simple. Find out if what I have proven to myself is true for you too. If it is, use it by paying attention to positive thinking only. Let negativity go, by not allowing it to stick to your mind. Formulate your thoughts according to your desires and give them life by keeping those thoughts in your mind. Come back to them every day. Let them grow. With it, your motivation will increase. Obstacles will seem smaller and be easier to overcome. Whatever you will need to know, on your way of learning, will appear in a form that will be best for you. You will find a book, a post on a forum like this or a person who will give you what you want to know. Just search, search, search - like a child be open to all ideas, and above all be patient, because the cause for all delay is your own old thinking.

These are the words of a wise man, Billy Meier: Pay attention to your thoughts, for they become feelings. Pay attention to your feelings, for these quickly become words, and these become actions as well as deeds. Deeds and actions however become habits, which form themselves quite quickly to the character, with which, through all these things, determines your destiny. If you see logic and truth in them you will realize, that you can accomplish almost anything if you will not let the mind run you, but see for what the mind really is a tool to be properly used. With that understanding a Self-Teaching way of life is a happy way.
Posted by: neuralfirings

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 11:30 AM

I wonder if there's a better way to leverage the resources here at Piano World. The best part about having a teacher is having somebody actually look at the way you're playing, pay attention to the nuances in sound and posture.. and setting aside a full hour or 30 minutes to do so. The problem online is that the quality of input isn't there (I've only posted recordings, not videos, for instance) and the time isn't there (I often skip parts of the piece in "members recording" section).

However, there's obviously a great community here and I think one that can be very beneficial to self learners. There's also a range of people here from beginners to advanced to teachers, so I think if there's a better way to tap into the wisdom here it could actually be a better substitute than just going over method books.

Here, I see more of the support group ("you can do it!") and less of the feedback that I expect from teachers. Not to say my teachers weren't encouraging, but they spend much more time critiquing. Their critiques were also specific and iterative. They would give me feedback about a measure, I replayed that measure, they adjusted feedback based on my playing, etc. Whereas here when I post a recording, that back and forth is just not possible.

Just throwing it out there, maybe there are other ways to support self learners on this forum. I think the talents are there in the community, but just need to find the right way to take advantage of the talents.
Posted by: sinophilia

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 12:10 PM

You're right neuralfirings, the "problem" with this forum is that it is too supportive wink

There is some critique going on sometimes, but it is mainly about advanced players, and always extremely polite and understated. This is one of the reasons why this place is so nice, and even absolute beginners are not afraid of posting their recordings. Being quite sensitive and self-conscious, I find it quite reassuring. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind a bit more frankness once in a while. There are teachers and other knowledgeable people here, and many seem more than happy to help, so that many times I have been tempted to post specific questions... but usually I just tell myself, 'you're not paying a teacher to solve your problems, now you can't ask these people to solve them for you.'
Posted by: scorpio

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 12:36 PM

Originally Posted By: sinophilia
I wouldn't mind a bit more frankness once in a while.
I completely agree. But the problem, as we know, there are several that have not developed a thick skin. In fact I bet most want to hear positive comments about what they upload. As a result no one wants to venture down the road of being accused of not being supportive or just being downright rude.

I think there should be a thread where repertoire pieces can be uploaded with the intent of receiving constructive comments. And it does not even have to be the full piece, it could be just a phrase. Many may not have the time nor desire to make comments, but at least an area can be identified as a safe zone for critique. I don't know, this could be a dangerous path too.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: scorpio
[quote=sinophilia]I think there should be a thread where repertoire pieces can be uploaded with the intent of receiving constructive comments. And it does not even have to be the full piece, it could be just a phrase. Many may not have the time nor desire to make comments, but at least an area can be identified as a safe zone for critique.


That would be a great idea.

I would be more apt to post something if I thought I would get a "real" critique. All I ever see are comments like... "Great Job", "You nailed it", "You play beautifully", .... even when (in my opinion) the piece was played too fast for the skill set of the player, or it was grossly out of time, etc ...

I can understand trying to be kind, but it might be nice to at least hint at something that could be improved upon.

One of the most helpful critiques I received was from a close friend (not musically gifted) who after hearing me play a piece ...exclaimed ... "Why do you hesitate while you are playing ?"

I wanted to say "Hey !!! This stuff is hard !!! You try it !!"

But then, I got to thinking ... he was absolutely right. So, now I truly understand and strive for NO HESITATIONS before declaring something ready for prime time.

I believe those types of comments would help many on this forum.

Some might be offended, but if there was a special thread where you knew you were going to hear the truth, you could stop posting in that thread if you only wanted compliments.

I am not suggesting "nasty" comments but gentle suggestions. We would need to be cognizant of the fact that this is a hobby and these are not professional players.
Posted by: D7K

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 01:42 PM

So, Im now about 65% through the Emedias Piano and Keyboard. Ive actually learned a few things along the way that I thought Id share.
1. My Yamaha P-105 was the perfect tool for me to use to learn piano. While not having many voices, it does have great learning tools, especially the recording ability (although I had a good DAW before I started this journey) to review what I sound like.
2. The metronome and Drum accompaniments are really a part of my learning process as I often play parts or the whole piece at differing tempos to learn it.
3. Headphones keep me focused
I wanted to know about music and how it worked and felt the piano would be the best tool for me to use to achieve that go. I have instructed many college/university level classes and understood what pedagogical model would work well for me. I needed structure and feedback, but my goal was to understand music not become a concert pianist. So I looked at online sources. I found Rocket, Piano for all, and Emedia as options that I thought would work. Emedia is really designed along the old school methods and takes you a step at a time.

Here is what I have found about learning piano self-instructed using software:
1. This particular software focuses on the basics and then moves forward, seemly at first a slow pace, about lesson 100 things change:).
2. The technical aspects (not really discussed in any of the reviews) that really worked for me:
a. The ability to highlight highly difficult sections and play them, record them
b. The focus on playing on rhythm (counting using the metronome)
c. I am performance driven and this program provides feedback on performance, a 90% (no note errors, and good tempo)gets you a green light
d. The ability to play and record with a midi version of the song for feedback (I also video myself)

At one year most of the songs are only 16 bars with melody and harmony that jumps the staffs with (at this point 2 or 3 cords) a second course.

Ive found that I do best when I set a lesson up in the following way: (each hour playing on a different day)
1. Take one hour to explore at whatever tempo (mostly slow, playing 4 bars at a time)
2. Take an hour to pass the lesson playing it at and full tempo
3. Take an hour and play without the metronome, note display off, and no feedback for feel which I record.
4. Then replay the technical introduction(each group of lessons has a technical introduction like play this cord in grand or base)

After using this software for a year, the other day I realized something by the time I hit #3 Im playing at speed, no tension, and it has a musicality about it in the recording. A year ago I bought a book of Andrew Weber Music and find that unlike the Greek it looked like then I can read it and understand all of the notation and am starting to learn to play it. 16th notes still require a lot of effort as does anything over 120bpm, but this is what worked for me.

One last thing, what a great thread this is.
I'm a true 64 year old beginner - no prior musical experience at all.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 01:48 PM

I think there is such a thread here already, of the kind (approximately) scorpio is requesting. Or wasn't exactly this the purpose of the quarterly recitals?

I can't agree that all comments are pads on the back. I have gotten constructive comments (does it mean I'm that bad?) grin Still presented in a nice manner, like "add your own embellishments", "keep practising and you will get more flow in it" and so on.

I think the monthly piano bars have a nice relaxed atmosphere, users are not putting up their teacher glasses, which is good, though I personally would welcome some guiding criticism. The recitals are a bit more "serious" but maybe we need the third option, depends on the demand (the law of supply and demand.)

Then users can always put their performances in seperate threads and many have done so. I've often thought to myself, why don't they post in the monthly piano bar? Then again, maybe it's a good idea to post it seperately, makes it less likely to be missed because of so many postings.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 02:31 PM

When you post something in a piano bar you can always ask specifically for any critical comments or critique. I've seen that before and it would seem to say you would not be offended by any (most?) negative, or at least critical assessments.

I probably wouldn't venture there without a specific request though.

Isn't there a box or something to check when you submit something to the recital asking for critical comments? At least it seems like there used to be. On the other hand I could be wrong. Sometimes it seems like my mental decline is turning into a plunge.
Posted by: neuralfirings

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 02:44 PM

I think there's two sides to this.

From the pianist's perspective, there is the worry that you will demoralize beginners.

From the critic's perspective, let's face it... constructive criticism is way more time consuming and brain-power-consuming than the "attaboy" comments.

Three thoughts on what might be helpful:
1. Shorter clips and targeted questions rather than posting entire pieces. Might be less daunting for the performer and less time consuming for the critic.

2. Weekly (recorded preferably) updates to show progress. One of the best parts of having a teacher is that they get to know you over time. This also show the critics that you've listened to their feedback. Last, a weekly update might compel people to practice as well.

3. Separate into thread per piece or at least per student. It's tough for me to comb through all those X of the Week/Month thread to see what a particular musician has worked on in the past, and context is important.

I'd be happy to add any sheet music to Notable Scores so people can easily reference bar numbers, and of course, give feedback where I can.
Posted by: sinophilia

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/08/14 04:28 PM

I would be very happy to participate in this kind of threads - I see the quarterly recitals more like a friendly gathering to share music than a way to get specific help and advice. I always check the 'technical comments' box (or whatever it's called) but I only ever got (very welcome) pats on my back. I think those who don't like my submission simply don't comment on it. And of course it would be definitely time-consuming to analyze entire pieces in detail. Some aspects are very subjective, so there are risks involved... but there are useful comments that you need to hear if you want to progress. When I listen to myself I think I know what's wrong with my playing, but I rarely know how to fix it, and sometimes I might just miss an important issue completely.
Posted by: lotal

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread - 01/09/14 12:13 AM

In relation to the critique thread. Long ago I posted once or twice my performance here in PW, but soon lost interest to that because of that very reason that all responses seemed unrealistically mild to me and I had got no hint for my further way of improvement. Yes, I agree that this is a slippery road to critique someone, but. I remember a literature teacher of my school days, who, being a fine and sensitive nature, slammed down the piano lid when I was bumping something around for a couple of friends of mine, perhaps some rock, on a school piano during a pause between lessons, with the words: You are playing bad! That gave me a kick for lifetime )))

I also would suggest to differ the recital and critique thread. I would call the critique thread a lesson thread (vs. recital), something with the name Help to find my problem and give me guidance tips. There I would like to see short clips of performance with some added words about what is being looked for, what seems to make a problem.