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How do you feel after your lesson?


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#46 sbhoa

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 19:57

I had my piano lesson today and feel a mix of things.
I always enjoy it and come away inspired but my teacher didn't seem all that impressed by my stated aim to try and memorise my latest piece. I've read a few things recently (probably in magazines and in scholarly articles about developing greater aural acuity) recommending that we try to play more 'by ear'.
"Why make it harder for yourself?" was the response from my teacher. I think her reasoning -not in so many words- was that I'm bit long in the tooth to develop a skill from scratch with a complex score. When young children memorise their music, it is usually much simpler and they 'grow' the skill as they become more accomplished.
Ho hum.
I'll still give it a go, though. At present I'm not slogging at LTCL rep but just learning to play beautiful music beautifully, with no other aim than to improve my skills. The Schumann op.18 Arabeske, like many of his works, comprises several short-ish sections that might be easier to memorise than a piece with longer movements.

A bit of a strange response.


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#47 Paola

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 22:08

Mel2 - I'm sorry to hear you had a negative experience from your teacher.    I'm puzzled by your teacher's reaction as you are an advanced pianist and therefore, as trying to memorise a piece develops new neural pathways, I would have thought that learning to memorise a piece was beneficial to developing your skills, as long as you have the correct techniques in the piece to back it up.   I disagree with your teacher in that you are making it harder for yourself and her reasoning seems old fashioned and a bit patronising.    You are never too old to learn.  

 

Even as an advanced player you are keen to develop mel2, so keep on with memorising that piece and inspire and amaze yourself!    Enjoy the learning experience along the way and I wish you the very best.   


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#48 BadStrad

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 22:19

@Mel - yes, a strange response and not really in keeping with modern research into neural plasticity. In short the adult brain is able to learn new skills throughout life and in fact learning can be more efficient due to existing connections. (Wish I could pin point where I was reading the research so I could post a link).

I am aware of at least one adult pianist who has improved their memorising in leaps and bounds. In part this has come from having a new teacher who insisted on spending time with the music (analysing structure, possible fingerings, etc) before turning to the piano and who also emphasises memorising. Another part is due to developing the stamina and technique to play longer and more complex pieces which required greater focus to really do justice. From being unable to memorise much beyond simple tunes they have begun to find it increasingly easy.
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#49 mel2

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 16:20

Thank you BadStrad, sbhoa and Paola for the encouraging words. Current educational theory has made 'respectable' some things that were frowned on not so long ago, e.g rote learning, and there is much opinion in favour of cultivating 'the ear' with improvisation and compostition, and placing less emphasis on use of notation, at least in the early stages. Quite different from when I first learned!

Ironically, my teacher was expected to memorise all her music from an early age and especially at the conservatoire, so in a way it came naturally (I presume). She did suggest some strategies that might help, if only because she figured the way I was planning to do it (learning each 'vocal line' separately) seemed awkward. I'll try learning the piece in chords and see how far I get.

I find it quite surprising how useless I am with memorising; with pieces I have been working on for some years, blush.png put me in front of another piano with no music, and I can't even play the first bar! The last thing I want to do is to pass on this ineptitude to future pupils so this seems to be the time to develop my own aural skills so I can help others.


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#50 thara96

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 07:40

I've been learning for 4-5 months now. I usually feel good after lessons. I like the teacher. But I'm kicking myself for not beginning earlier. 


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#51 Paola

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 11:13

Mel2 and BadStrad - there is currently a programme on BBC4 called "The Brain" with David Eagleman.   It's on late at 12am.   One of the early programmes featured was regarding memory and how people from teenage years to elderly age learn and memorise.   It was fascinating.

 

I don't know if the programme is on the BBC i player, or on Utube, but it's worth a look.


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#52 lubylu

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 12:52

Mel2, I do wonder, with advanced pupils, whether some teachers can feel a bit threatened..... Possibly she feels she needs to maintain some level of superiority and her ability to memorise is part of that? Just a thought....

Personally I would do it anyway! Memorising the music allows you to "get inside" it in a much deeper way. I cannot play a piece well until I have memorised. My previous teacher used to encourage it. One tip she gave was to attempt to write the music down without referring to the score. This helps your visual memory to imprint it. I find memorising easy (just the way my brain works) but still do this for security if I'm going to perform from memory.
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#53 EllieD

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 19:47

... I cannot play a piece well until I have memorised. My previous teacher used to encourage it. One tip she gave was to attempt to write the music down without referring to the score. This helps your visual memory to imprint it. I find memorising easy (just the way my brain works) but still do this for security if I'm going to perform from memory.

 

That's fascinating - how different our brains are! I am very much a memorizer too, but I wouldn't even be able to write down the first bar of Fur Elise, despite the ridiculous number of times I've played it! I memorize, I think, more by visualizing the keyboard, and I can see the groups of notes, the chords, the general patterns in that. I honestly don't think I read music at all well - to me it's a set of instructions which I translate into notes on the piano, and then promptly forget as I don't need the instructions any more. So there is obviously more than one memory technique!

 

I would definitely think it's a skill worth learning, though - as pieces get harder / faster / more complicated, there is surely a point at which it is impossible to read the notes at the speed you want to play the piece anyway?


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#54 lubylu

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 21:16

Yes, definitely re your last paragraph. When I'm playing the cello, I have so many things to think about....intonation, tone, vibrato, bow speed, direction, place on the string, relax, breathe.......argh! There is NO WAY I can do all this and read the music. Not a chance. I learn the notes very quickly, then think about all the other stuff. I have done entire lessons with one of my teachers without referring to the score at all. We both know the music, we focus on all the other stuff.

It's not just about speed, it's about the complexity of the music and the amount of technique required to play it well. Playing the notes is not the challenge very often!
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