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#27648 - 11/18/02 09:12 AM Several technique questions
CR Offline
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Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
Over the past couple of months, during each of my students' lessons I've questioned myself how important it is for them to follow the given fingering on the music. How important is it really? They observe the given numbers for the beginning of each piece, but when a new fingering is given some place throughout the music, it's overlooked as if it never was there. I've read past discussions here that question finger numbers, and some have said let it go, but... the fingering the kids choose themselves looks simply terrible, to say the least! As well as ending them up in a situation where they can't play legato and the piece ends up choppy. I suppose one could say I'm an advocate for following the given numbers unless it's uncomfortable or can't be done, but in most cases w. my students, I've observed the given numbers would be easier to use. With my first teacher, she had me follow "strictly" the given fingering, except in times when it couldn't be done. So I ask you teachers out there: what is best?

My next question is dynamics - similar problem with fingering. It's either there or not. Each week I send my students home with "watch dynamics" written in their notebook. I've been working on my 13 y.o. student for about a year with bringing out the expression, and finally attained it so it pretty near comes natural in some songs. However, it still needs some working on. How long do you work with dynamics with your students, and do you keep drilling it until it's definitely noticed that it's there and they're capable of observing the marks themselves?

Lastly, voicing the melody has been introduced to my students. Trying to really bring out the r.h. is difficult for them and the l.h. ends up overpowering the melody. Again, how often do you work w. students on that?

All these problems I've been drilling as best I can w. my students, and some weeks we're both tired of hearing "dynamics once again", "fingering!" or "work on bringing out the melody", that I'll let it go to the wind for once. :rolleyes: Please help!
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#27649 - 11/18/02 10:57 AM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
I'm a piano teacher who doesn't recruit & retain very many students, so this might not be good advice if you want to keep all your students, but here goes...

If you care about how well your students play and you wish to maintain a standard of excellence for them to aspire and (hopefully) rise to, you need to make sure your students pay attention to all markings on the music (including fingering); and you need to keep working with students on these elements until they're thoroughly mastered.

Hope this helps. \:\)

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#27650 - 11/18/02 11:05 AM Re: Several technique questions
CR Offline
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Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
Great advice, Jalapeno, because that's exactly what I've been trying to do. I wanted to also include in my above post that I just feel like I'm rapping and harping them, and wonder if I should continue it or not. I guess I'm doing my job, since what you told me, I see I'm going in the direction I aspire for my students.

I just noticed I was a bit prolix in my above post, too. :] whelp, I had to sort my thoughts out some way! Thanks again, Jala!!

[ 11-18-2002: Message edited by: chopins raindrops ]
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#27651 - 11/18/02 11:16 AM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
I'm sure you're doing your best. Yes, teaching this way can feel like harping & nagging [with some students I feel like I'm going to go bald from tearing my hair out trying to work with them ]... but teaching any other way is not acceptable, IMO. You just have to keep trying & hope that at least one of your students cares enough to make a reasonable effort to pay attention, follow directions, practice, & learn.

What I tell my students: "If you wrote the music, then you can do whatever you want. If someone else wrote it, then you need to observe all the markings that the composer put in the music because that's his way of letting us know how he wants the music to be played. How would you like it if you wrote a song, put certain markings on there so people would know how it goes, & folks just ignored your markings & played it their way instead of the way you meant for it to go?"

[ 11-18-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27652 - 11/18/02 02:28 PM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
Let me throw some of my silly comments in...

First things first: I agree 100% with Jala (only for this once, OK? \:\) ) as to always wanting your students to excel. But you know that not every student CAN excel. There is about 30-40% of students that are actually able to produce good-very good results. And the rest can simply be trying their best and not achieving it! All the issues you mention are very important features at the early stages of piano learning; but I've put in my mind that not every student will master them to a 7/10 level or more. So it's more of a question of focusing on specific problems ONE AT A TIME. Sometimes kids are overwhelmed by all the complexity of piano playing. If we spend a whole year working specifically on pieces designed to help voicing and by the end of the year the voicing is better, then it's surely a victory!

More specifically:

Fingering - I've been reflecting about this and have a thought; maybe kids overlook positional-change fingering because when they read new music they don't approach it step-wise, hands-separate-then-together... they just like to dig in immediately! Fingering is a habit. You put THIS and not THAT finger because your brain is trained by repetition to do it. So, if you want to help your students correct bad fingerings, you should have to repeat it with them at the lesson, all the way from hands-separate to hands-together!
Believe me - even the weirdest fingering can feel so natural once it's a habit! (been there)
Ahhh, and 100-thumbs as for sticking to fingerings in good editions UNLESS.

Dynamics - Here I have the impression that it is a matter of demanding 200% from the very first piece where dynamic marks appear and emphasizing so much at that point the importance of dynamic marks. Do you think it could be a waste of time? I feel it too in a certain way. But if you don't demand your students to make 200% dynamics from the first piece, you cannot expect them to make as little as 10% in more complex material. Once more, I strongly feel that not all students are capable of fulfilling this demand. It's up to the teacher to realise which students s/he can push harder.

Voicing - It's also a question of early starts, like dynamics, and early demand. IMO, difficulties in voicing are mostly related to quality of hearing. Children with voicing-problems are probably children who cannot correctly sing the bass tune of a small simple two-voice piece. I never, NEVER teach voicing (in early stages) through playing intensity, saying that rh has to be louder than lh or the opposite. I always say (and demonstrate with overwhelming exaggeration to prove my point) that your audience (even if it's only your teacher) will listen to whatever you are listening to. If you're not listening to your music, then it will not sound like music. If you're attentively listening to your right hand, then whoever is on the audience will also listen to it, and you will instinctively play it as to be heard. This is something I wanted to tell you personally, J~, because it may be the small little step missing for your Fantasy Impromptu.

Sorry for writing so much, I'm not trying to make a dissertation or something, just got excited about the topic. Thank you so much for inducing this reflection on me, I really love PT.com!! \:\) \:\) \:\)

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#27653 - 11/18/02 03:07 PM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Bontempo: \:D How do you know that 60-70% of students are incapable of excelling? Sure, the % of students who easily excel is quite small, but there are plenty of above-average & average students who IMO can excel if they work harder than they're presently working. If you're not in those students' homes week after week to see how much (or how little) they're actually practicing & how much (or how little) effort they're actually making to polish their pieces to perfection, then you can't say for sure how many of them can't excel. Yes, there will always be a certain % of students who are incapable of excelling, but I personally believe the % is a lot smaller than 60-70% God help us if the % is as high as you say it is! I've always firmly believed that for most people, where there's a will there's a way. \:\)

[ 11-18-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27654 - 11/18/02 03:33 PM Re: Several technique questions
Eric Offline
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Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
1. Fingering
Always demand good fingering from your students, whether it be a fingering written in the book, one that the teacher comes up with, or one that they arrive at themselves. If they come up with an awkward fingering, correct it and make sure they understand the whys and wherefores of making such choices.

2. Dynamics
Begin thinking and teaching that dynamic markings are actually only end results of bigger artistic questions. For example, instead of saying, "In measure 5, it says p so you should play softly there," try saying something like "can you make measures 5-8 seem like a distant, faraway echo of measures 1-4?" Much more expressive playing comes about if the character of the music is paramount, rather than just louds and softs.

3. Voicing
What Bontempo said~! \:\)

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#27655 - 11/18/02 05:52 PM Re: Several technique questions
Arlene Steffen Offline
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Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
Well, I guess I'll jump in here, fwiw.

I've found that anything I say is ineffective. However, if the student experiences dynamics (balance, technical gesture, etc), and better yet, if the student discovers it seemingly on his own, that's when it starts to stick.

Your job is to ask questions that lead the student to that point or demonstrate the sound in such a convincing way (and have the student imitate) that there can be no other way to do it! The other part of this process is that it has to be done when the piece is introduced, not after a week of working on the notes.

First impressions last.

Re: balance (which, btw, is different from voicing). I disagree that it is a listening thing when we are talking about a child's first experiences with it. A child just learning this skill can hear it if we demonstrate it, but they need to learn the technical motions that produce it. This is one instance where I have found that the ear does not guide the hand instanteously, in most cases.

I have the students play HS to feel the difference in weight and gesture, making sure they exaggerate. We play exercises where they make one hand feel as if it is sinking through the piano keys and the other hand is almost floating. I also think that playing a good legato is part of making the balance convincing. They often neglect tone when they are first attempting this and hearing legato helps.

My 2 cents.

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#27656 - 11/19/02 07:20 AM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
Some students don't respond to either verbal explanations or visual demonstrations. Some have to experience the "feel."

My non-intuitive adult student didn't understand legato until I played it on her forearm. She still struggles a bit, but not nearly as much as she used to.

A couple of weeks ago, after having difficulties with a student who had a bad habit of lowering her wrists way below keyboard level, I decided to ask her to rest her hand on top of mine as I played the musical passage she was having problems with. Worked like a charm! Once she "felt" it, she got it. \:\)

I have Arlene to thank for these great ideas. Thanks, Arlene! \:\)

BTW, Arlene: I can't ask my adult student any questions whatsoever because every time I do, she mentally shuts down. I have to either tell or demonstrate everything. That may not be some teachers' idea of "teaching," but it's all that can be done with this girl. Sometimes you just have to deal with what you have to deal with & not worry too much about what the "experts" say.

[ 11-19-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27657 - 11/19/02 05:56 PM Re: Several technique questions
Arlene Steffen Offline
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Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
I have Arlene to thank for these great ideas. Thanks, Arlene!

To give credit where credit is due -- thank Marvin! \:\)

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#27658 - 11/20/02 10:34 AM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
Bontempo: \:D How do you know that 60-70% of students are incapable of excelling? Sure, the % of students who easily excel is quite small, but there are plenty of above-average & average students who IMO can excel if they work harder than they're presently working. If you're not in those students' homes week after week to see how much (or how little) they're actually practicing & how much (or how little) effort they're actually making to polish their pieces to perfection, then you can't say for sure how many of them can't excel. Yes, there will always be a certain % of students who are incapable of excelling, but I personally believe the % is a lot smaller than 60-70% God help us if the % is as high as you say it is! I've always firmly believed that for most people, where there's a will there's a way. \:\)

[ 11-18-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]


Jalapeņo: I guess I was not as clear as I wanted to. I DO believe that everyone can do a decent job with their playing and learning as long as they work hard (once more I agree with you). But if you gave the same music piece to ALL of your students and told them to practice solely on that for 1 month, and (for some reason) KNEW that every student was practicing as much time as possible, do you think that the end result would be the same for all?
I'm not saying that not-excelling is bad, or that not-excelling students are not worthwile to teach. If you name your top students from a 20-student class, you'll reach pretty close to the percentage I mention. Of course, all your students can be very good (in which case the "excelling" or "top" ones are Excellent or Superb), but all of them can be medium (in which case the top will be "good" or "above average"). It's all a relative and somewhat philosophical issue... so I don't see why we should disagree (at least on this one! eheheheh)

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#27659 - 11/20/02 10:40 AM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
1. Fingering
Always demand good fingering from your students, whether it be a fingering written in the book, one that the teacher comes up with, or one that they arrive at themselves. If they come up with an awkward fingering, correct it and make sure they understand the whys and wherefores of making such choices.


Yes, Eric. I think that essentially it's up to the teacher to be VEEEERY alert to the students' fingering choice at all times. Maybe you would agree that, in intermediate-advanced material the teacher should know a good scope of different editions and have some knowledge of the alternatives available for fingerings at some spots.
[B
 Quote:

2. Dynamics
Begin thinking and teaching that dynamic markings are actually only end results of bigger artistic questions. For example, instead of saying, "In measure 5, it says p so you should play softly there," try saying something like "can you make measures 5-8 seem like a distant, faraway echo of measures 1-4?" Much more expressive playing comes about if the character of the music is paramount, rather than just louds and softs.
[/B]


Never thought of it that way at least at an introductory level. Have you tried it with beginner students? I usually go for character after the essential dynamic feature is grasped. Maybe choosing the wrong order of events?

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#27660 - 11/20/02 10:45 AM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
Some students don't respond to either verbal explanations or visual demonstrations. Some have to experience the "feel."


It's funny, I always thought of it the other way round... that for most students the "feel" or "listen" approach works perfectly while some demand more theoretical or "school-like" explanations. With my best students (the "excelling-ones" \:D :p ) I always go for sensations first. When they get it (usually instantly) I explain theoretically what they were doing and some say: "I would not be able to do it if you explained it that way". Funny thing...

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#27661 - 11/20/02 10:53 AM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Arlene Steffen:
Well, I guess I'll jump in here, fwiw.

I've found that anything I say is ineffective. However, if the student experiences dynamics (balance, technical gesture, etc), and better yet, if the student discovers it seemingly on his own, that's when it starts to stick.

Your job is to ask questions that lead the student to that point or demonstrate the sound in such a convincing way (and have the student imitate) that there can be no other way to do it! The other part of this process is that it has to be done when the piece is introduced, not after a week of working on the notes.

First impressions last.

Re: balance (which, btw, is different from voicing). I disagree that it is a listening thing when we are talking about a child's first experiences with it. A child just learning this skill can hear it if we demonstrate it, but they need to learn the technical motions that produce it. This is one instance where I have found that the ear does not guide the hand instanteously, in most cases.

I have the students play HS to feel the difference in weight and gesture, making sure they exaggerate. We play exercises where they make one hand feel as if it is sinking through the piano keys and the other hand is almost floating. I also think that playing a good legato is part of making the balance convincing. They often neglect tone when they are first attempting this and hearing legato helps.

My 2 cents.


I really love Arlene's posts... can I comment on this one?

The "discovering" approach for learning (not only dynamics but everything) sounds very appealing and I really would like to apply it more often. Can you give me some practical , more concrete examples, Arlene?

My personal experience with hand-balance (as you prefer to call it) is slightly different from yours as to ear-guiding-hand. But I do agree when you emphasize legato playing as a key to this. What I also find interesting in this post is when you mention the importance of starting right away at dynamic work instead of the more traditional, "stepwise" approach. Do you feel there is a risk of confusing the student while s/he is really struggling to learn notes, rythm and fingering?

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#27662 - 11/20/02 11:57 AM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bontempo:
It's funny, I always thought of it the other way round... that for most students the "feel" or "listen" approach works perfectly while some demand more theoretical or "school-like" explanations. With my best students (the "excelling-ones" \:D :p ) I always go for sensations first. When they get it (usually instantly) I explain theoretically what they were doing and some say: "I would not be able to do it if you explained it that way". Funny thing...


It depends on the student's learning style. For example, I'm primarily a visual/aural learner; so for me, this business of teaching a student how something "feels" seems strange. But if it works, I'm all for it! Piano Kid took an online quiz & found out her preferred learning style is evenly split visual/aural/kinesthetic, which might explain why she does so well in school (where her teachers use a variety of teaching methods & materials) & with piano lessons (where eye/ear/touch are all important for successful study). \:\) I have an Asian student who is most definitely a visual learner. He's learning to read notes at a remarkably fast rate, which is fantastic. \:D He's also one of the few students I've taught who could play both f & p correctly the first time he tried it. \:\) However, I have to work with him on ear training because he doesn't do so well in that area; also, lately he's been ignoring the dynamic markings in his assigned pieces. :rolleyes: He's a very bright boy (he's only had 2.5 months of lessons & is at the end of PA primer already) & a piano teacher's dream to work with; & since I know he's perfectly capable of producing these various dynamics, I expect him to do it. He responds well to both explanations & demonstrations. I guess you could call him the "model learner." \:\) However, I think this is the sort of student chopin raindrops was venting about; the student who is perfectly capable but will not pay attention to all the markings on the page unless reminded to do so.

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#27663 - 11/20/02 12:17 PM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
Jala, I remember reading about this Asian student when he started at your studio (if my memory does not betray me, he's 5 y. old, right?), and you said from the first lesson that it looked promising.. I'm very happy that you're lucky and got your hands on some "valuables" (sorry for writing like this, but it felt like! eheheh \:D :D), best of luck with the little boy.

Now back on topic...
I was so impressed by Eric's suggestions that I wonder; are we demanding too much from our younger students when we tell them to perform abstract dynamics? Do you approach dynamics from the pictoric-character point of view? I think this can make the difference between "Oh, bugger, there comes the boring f, p again!" and "Ahh, now I must do some echos and musical-painting, it's the best part!"...
I remember listening to a colleague with the same problem: a student who was perfectly capable of making dynamics, but said it was "too much work at the same time" (not that it was too complicated). Can this feeling that some students have be somehow reversed by our approach to dynamics? I mean, there are some students who ALWAYS do them with no complaints and even like it, but maybe it's a question of abstraction. And abstraction is only available from 8 y.old forward, I guess (not sure). Does this make any sense?

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#27664 - 11/20/02 01:27 PM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bontempo:
Jala, I remember reading about this Asian student when he started at your studio (if my memory does not betray me, he's 5 y. old, right?), and you said from the first lesson that it looked promising.. I'm very happy that you're lucky and got your hands on some "valuables" (sorry for writing like this, but it felt like! eheheh \:D :D), best of luck with the little boy.


Nope. He's 8 going on 12, LOL! \:D

 Quote:
Now back on topic...
I was so impressed by Eric's suggestions that I wonder; are we demanding too much from our younger students when we tell them to perform abstract dynamics? Do you approach dynamics from the pictoric-character point of view? I think this can make the difference between "Oh, bugger, there comes the boring f, p again!" and "Ahh, now I must do some echos and musical-painting, it's the best part!"...
I remember listening to a colleague with the same problem: a student who was perfectly capable of making dynamics, but said it was "too much work at the same time" (not that it was too complicated). Can this feeling that some students have be somehow reversed by our approach to dynamics? I mean, there are some students who ALWAYS do them with no complaints and even like it, but maybe it's a question of abstraction. And abstraction is only available from 8 y.old forward, I guess (not sure). Does this make any sense?


My $10 worth: What, pray tell, is "abstract" about dynamics? We're talking volume here (ranging from softest to loudest), which I believe anyone who has ever operated a TV, radio, CD player or tape deck can readily understand. Geez! :rolleyes: I believe the problem is that today's kids listen to pop/rock music that is mostly played with 1 volume level, fortississimo. I don't think they understand that music is much more expressive when the volume is varied.

FWIW, I always teach students how to produce various dynamic levels on the piano, because this is something they do not instinctly know how to do. I also use the overall "mood" of the piece, as well as lyrics, to help students grasp the reason why the composer has indicated a certain dynamic level. I make sure to emphasize the need for expression so the song doesn't sound monotonous or boring. I also make sure the students can produce these dynamics before leaving the studio to go home & practice. Really, the pieces are practically mastered during lesson time; all the students have to do is put in a reasonable amount of practice time between lessons to polish & perfect the pieces. I'm not sending them home to figure things out on their own. Sometimes I feel like I'm coddling them, & maybe I am; but I don't want anyone complaining that I haven't taught them what they need to know. So, IMO, no excuses for not paying attention to all markings on the music!

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#27665 - 11/21/02 01:48 PM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
My $10 worth: What, pray tell, is "abstract" about dynamics? We're talking volume here (ranging from softest to loudest), which I believe anyone who has ever operated a TV, radio, CD player or tape deck can readily understand. Geez! :rolleyes: I believe the problem is that today's kids listen to pop/rock music that is mostly played with 1 volume level, fortississimo. I don't think they understand that music is much more expressive when the volume is varied.


When I was talking about abstraction, I was talking exactly about understanding the need for dynamics and not about volume or sound-intensity production! (duh! :p ).
So, anyhoo, if you do it the way you mention there are really no excuses for not paying attention and "wanting" to do dynamics. Is it possible that excessive "coddling" gives the student the impression that it's not necessary to work at home because at the lesson the teacher will explain it all again? (just a thought, don't flame me!) :rolleyes:

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#27666 - 11/21/02 02:08 PM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bontempo:
When I was talking about abstraction, I was talking exactly about understanding the need for dynamics and not about volume or sound-intensity production! (duh! :p ).
So, anyhoo, if you do it the way you mention there are really no excuses for not paying attention and "wanting" to do dynamics.


Precisely! \:D

 Quote:
Is it possible that excessive "coddling" gives the student the impression that it's not necessary to work at home because at the lesson the teacher will explain it all again? (just a thought, don't flame me!) :rolleyes:


Yes, it's possible. I just don't want to be accused of not teaching the material. If a student goes home from each lesson with a thorough understanding of what s/he is supposed to do, then the ball's in his/her court to complete the assignment & come to the next lesson completely prepared & ready for a new assignment. \:\)

My uppity opinion (FWIW): You'd think that parents would be smart enough to figure out that the less a child practices, the more money they end up paying for lessons! :rolleyes:

[ 11-21-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27667 - 11/22/02 05:40 PM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
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Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņo:
Yes, it's possible. I just don't want to be accused of not teaching the material. If a student goes home from each lesson with a thorough understanding of what s/he is supposed to do, then the ball's in his/her court to complete the assignment & come to the next lesson completely prepared & ready for a new assignment. \:\)


I guess there is really a very thin line between learning by discovery (as Arlene mentioned)and excessive coddling... I mean, it is very wise to do as you mention, but is it the best way of learning? Maybe it is and I'm just making nonsense again.

 Quote:

My uppity opinion (FWIW): You'd think that parents would be smart enough to figure out that the less a child practices, the more money they end up paying for lessons! :rolleyes:

[ 11-21-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]


I'm sorry but I don't quite follow you on this one... the students I give more lessons to (including extra-lessons) are the ones who practice harder and therefore study enough to have 2 productive lessons during the week. The ones who DON'T practice really give me no motivation for extra-lessons or make-ups (unless I am obliged to it). A very good student I had last year had lessons from 6h30 to 7h30 and was the last one of that day. But she was so good and such a pleasure to teach that our lessons often ended well after 8h (I always say that my conscience cannot rest peacefully when I don't have enough time to listen to everything the student worked at home). I did it for the sheer pleasure of teaching, because I'd rather be there teaching this amazing student and watching her progress as a pianist than doing most of the usual chores I had by that time, and she had no time-problems too. And after 3-4 weeks like that, the mother automatically upgraded the tuition to 1 1/2 h per week. You see, this is probably why there has not yet been a need for policies in Portugal - because (most) parents are attentious and polite enough. Although I risk being the first teacher to implement them in a studio, USA-style!

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#27668 - 11/23/02 06:34 AM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
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Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
I agree with Arlene that learning by discovery is the best way to learn. That's what I pretty much do when teaching my own kids. I give them general instructions & help where needed, but when they're practicing I try to butt out (I usually get busy doing something so I'm not hearing all the mistakes they make) & let them figure things out by themselves. My own piano teacher "taught" me that way. There were many things I "discovered" on my own, thanks to the leading questions she asked me that made me think & want to explore. \:\)

However, since moving to Lubbock, I've had to deal with students who are used to being coddled by the public school system & by parents who don't expect much of them. :rolleyes: They're not accustomed to the way I'd like to teach. In order to keep them from shutting down (tuning me out completely), I have to coddle them.

At present, I teach 3 students (besides my own 3 children). Only 1 (the non-intuitive ult) has to be coddled every single step of the way. The other 2 are good students who need a little more detailed instruction than my own children, not because they're less bright or talented, but because I only see them 45 minutes a week. My own children have never had weekly structured lessons as such. We just have time to work on piano every day, year 'round. I think it would be unfair to compare my kids' musical progress to those kids who do not have a "Piano Teacher Mom."

Parents paying more for lessons: What I mean is that if a child hardly ever practices, his/her progress is painfully slow. It therefore takes him/her longer to get through each level; more money out of the parents' pocket because they have to pay more for the amount of knowledge/skill their child attains. For example, I've had students go through primer level in only 4 months' time [looks like my Asian student is going to break that record, btw :)] while others have taken 1.5 to 2 years! Also, "cost" IMO is not just calculated in dollars & cents. It's calculated in return on investment. Parents whose children practice receive an excellent return on the money they invest. Parents whose children don't practice are wasting my time & their money. In this sense, piano lessons is indeed much more "costly" for the parents whose children aren't making an effort.

Regarding studio policies: I had policies in Costa Rica simply because I wanted to present a professional image to my clients & run my studio in a businesslike manner. However, my policies weren't nearly as detailed as the ones I have now because there wasn't a need for it.

[ 11-23-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27669 - 11/27/02 03:12 PM Re: Several technique questions
Bontempo Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
I'm still waiting for replies from Eric and Arlene, but I guess my posting-mania made it more complicated...
Anyhoo, stupid question from an English-ignorant? What does FWIW mean? \:o And when you say

"He's 8 going on 12" that means that he'll turn 8 on the next 12th of December or have I got it all wrong once again ?(Ahhhhh, Magoo... you've done it again!) \:o \:o \:D
***feeling embarassed*** \:o

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#27670 - 11/27/02 04:34 PM Re: Several technique questions
Jalapeņo Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/04/00
Posts: 5712
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bontempo:
I'm still waiting for replies from Eric and Arlene, but I guess my posting-mania made it more complicated...
Anyhoo, stupid question from an English-ignorant? What does FWIW mean? \:o And when you say

"He's 8 going on 12" that means that he'll turn 8 on the next 12th of December or have I got it all wrong once again ?(Ahhhhh, Magoo... you've done it again!) \:o \:o \:D
***feeling embarassed*** \:o


"FWIW" means "For What It's Worth."

"He's 8 going on 12" means that he's an 8-year-old who acts like a 12-year-old.

[ 11-27-2002: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]

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#27671 - 11/27/02 04:51 PM Re: Several technique questions
Arlene Steffen Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
Sorry ... too exhausted ... end of semester is near ... must ...keep...going........ \:\(

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#27672 - 12/22/02 04:45 PM Re: Several technique questions
Shirley Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/02/02
Posts: 309
Loc: Denver, Colorado
I'm hoping that during this busy time some one of you who have read Josef Lhevine's Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing, and are also familiar with Lister Sink's method, would tell me if these two approaches are basically the same. The falling arm and the "floating arm" seem the same, but perhaps there is a large difference here? Thanks so much, if you can even figure out what I am trying to ask! Shirley

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#27673 - 12/22/02 10:13 PM Re: Several technique questions
Shirley Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/02/02
Posts: 309
Loc: Denver, Colorado
This is just a little bump because I posted so late last night. Cheers! Shirley

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#27674 - 12/23/02 12:34 PM Re: Several technique questions
Shirley Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/02/02
Posts: 309
Loc: Denver, Colorado
I perhaps "bumped" this too soon?

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#27675 - 01/13/03 11:27 AM Re: Several technique questions
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
Shirley, I was taught Josef Lhevinne's method when I was in my teens (my teacher was a student of his). I've since hybrid the method with Taubman. I don't know Lister's method. With Lhevinne's method, I'll tell you that you can get very fast.

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#27676 - 01/13/03 10:35 PM Re: Several technique questions
Shirley Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/02/02
Posts: 309
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Piano Lady: Thanks so much. I wish I knew more about Taubmann. I'd like to rent her tapes, at least at first, since they are a bit pricey. Thanks for the reply! Shirley

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