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 Post subject: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:17 am 
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Location: Cambridge, MA USA
Hi All,

I'm an adult beginner (about a year or so of playing) who is in the delicate position of taking lessons from his own father (a church organist). In some ways, it's great: free lessons, several times a week. Sometimes, however, I feel that, perhaps owing more to parental pride than pedagogical soundness, my teacher thinks I'm capable of more than I really am. For instance, we've been working on the F major and g minor preludes from the eight little P&F by Bach or Krebs or whoever. I've been working on those two preludes for weeks, and although I'm definitely improving, it seems as if it will be weeks more before I can play those 4 pages of music without mistakes. I can learn a Burgmuller Op. 100 piece in about a week, and I don't seem to have much trouble with the 1st and 4th inventions, but these preludes (and certainly the g minor fugue, which is next on the list) seem much harder than they look. I don't want to hurt the old man's feelings by consulting another teacher, but there it is. Any advice?

Regards,

Jim A.


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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:25 am 
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Hi Jim, welcome to PS.

It's not clear whether your organist father is giving you piano or organ lessons. There are 'little preludes' for hapsichord/piano as well as organ. The latter are commonly attributed to Krebs, and though I've only been working on no.1 so far, I'd say these are indeed trickier than they may sound or look.

Can't really advise you on how to handle this. Yep, fathers can expect too much from their sons, and sons can be wary of coming out and saying so. A delicate situation ! All I can say is that a couple of weeks to play such a piece errorfree is not at all uncommon. An investment well worth making, it will benefit your technique and confidence.

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:52 pm 
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Hello Jim,

I'm wondering - whose idea is it to play those Bach pieces? Part of me says to keep working on the ones in question because they will surely help contribute to your overall learning of piano music. Maybe it's a fingering issue that you need to work out? Also, I gather that you can play through the entire pieces albeit with some errors, so after just some plain old time and repetition (provided you are using correct fingering) you will get the pieces down. But the other part of me says that if you are getting to the point of being discouraged, you dread going to the piano, or not liking your lessons, then it is time to put that music away and play something else. There are 'thousands of other fish in the sea'!

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:59 pm 
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Yay ! Forget about Bach ! Play Chopin ! :P

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:03 pm 
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Exactly! :)

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:05 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Yay ! Forget about Bach ! Play Chopin ! :P


Bach, for me, is not merely the reason to take piano (or organ) lessons -- it is the reason to live. Though Chopin is right up there next to him, in my opinion.

And BTW, the preludes I was referring to are in fact the ones from the 8 little preludes and fugues for organ, BWV 553-560. Would you say the g minor fugue is easier than the easiest sinfonia? I would have thought so, but when I try to play it I'm not so sure.

Thanks for all the advice!

Jim


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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:58 am 
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jcabraham wrote:
Bach, for me, is not merely the reason to take piano (or organ) lessons -- it is the reason to live.

YES ! I could not have put it better nyself.

jcabraham wrote:
Though Chopin is right up there next to him, in my opinion.

With all due respect for Chopin, I think nobody is right up there with JSB. There is no composer that even reaches Bach's ankles in terms of unlimited skill, versatility, productivity, depth, etc....

jcabraham wrote:
And BTW, the preludes I was referring to are in fact the ones from the 8 little preludes and fugues for organ, BWV 553-560. Would you say the g minor fugue is easier than the easiest sinfonia? I would have thought so, but when I try to play it I'm not so sure.

I haven't played the G minor yet, and you don't know until you play. The Sinfonias are quite a handful if you want to do them properly.

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:02 am 
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Free lessons from a professional. I would say continue to do your best and keep working on it. As long as you're improving and your father is willing to work with you, you should be able to put up with a little bit of higher expectations. Just practice as much as you can, and do your best. If you think he may be expecting a little too much from you, talk to him about it. It may just be his way of motivation, and he may not be as disappointed with your progress as you think.

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:29 pm 
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Good advice. Thanks guys!


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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:33 pm 
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Radar wrote:
As long as you're improving

That, indeed, is the heart of the matter. Never mind that things go slower than you'd like them to.
Just as long as you make progress.

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:13 am 
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Hi Jim, it seems you and I are the only Bostonians here!

As time goes on, your confidence will grow and you'll achieve a higher level of consistency and execution. In music, there is no instant perfection. There is a margin of diminishing return, to achieve that last 1% of perfection will require time as Techneut pointed out.

As a beginner, I wouldn't recommend Bach that early on, unless you're a gifted mathematician. Both musically and technically, it is more demanding than what appears on the printed page. To play "perfectly" ultimately relies on iron clad fingering, especially with Bach, as Pianolady pointed out. Bach's polyphonic music requires considerable finger agility, equalization, and coordination as well.

Questions to consider: You have to approach practice with efficiency and intelligence. Know what and how you're practicing. Make sure that you have learned the piece before you "practice" it - because you can't practice what you don't know.

You might be less discouraged if you started with short pieces from a music album by various composers. In the mix, include Sonatinas, Preludes, Waltzes, Impromptus, etc. Here is a typical lesson when I was a beginner:

1. Music Theory: focus on 1 or 2 aspects (enharmonics, scales, rhythm, ear training, intervals, harmony, composition, chords, etc.)
2. Technique: focus on 1 technical aspect per lesson. (scales, chords, arpeggios, 3rds, 6ths, trills, octaves, repeated notes, etc.)
3. Warm up exercises
4. Pieces (beginner 2-3 pieces at a time, advanced 3-5) Learn a slow and fast piece at any given time - balance

Good Luck!

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:49 am 
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88man wrote:
As a beginner, I wouldn't recommend Bach that early on, unless you're a gifted mathematician.

I don't quite agree with that. There are enough Bach pieces (the little preludes, some of the inventions, assorted movements from suites) that can be played and enjoyed by beginners.

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:13 pm 
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That was a joke. :P I am liable to use Socrates and Slap-stick humor in the same sentence at times. :D

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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:27 pm 
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88man wrote:
88man:
Quote:
As a beginner, I wouldn't recommend Bach that early on, unless you're a gifted mathematician.

Techneut:
Quote:
I don't quite agree with that. There are enough Bach pieces (the little preludes, some of the inventions, assorted movements from suites) that can be played and enjoyed by beginners.

That was a joke. :P I am liable to use Socrates and Slap-stick humor in the same sentence at times. :D


Aristophanes was guilty of the same thing.


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 Post subject: Re: A Dilemma
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:33 pm 
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88man wrote:
That was a joke. :P I am liable to use Socrates and Slap-stick humor in the same sentence at times. :D

I am know not to recognize a joke if it slapped me in the face :D

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