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 Post subject: Branson
PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:39 am 
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Posts: 243
Location: Missouri
I'm going on a road trip tomorrow with the Messenger College choir. I leave in the morning and we're performing the pre-show for the Peter Pan show that's in town and Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan. Maybe we'll get to meet her. I don't know about that. But, since there is no piano, I have switched to playing flute for this occasion. We are doing Christmas Carols.

Since I don't feel like writing another post, I will add to this one that my piano is coming along fairly well. There may be 6 strings I will need to by. We've been taking them down a few at a time off of the piano and we accidentally soaked a few too long. My mom hurt her back, so we weren't paying attention to that at the moment. Anyway, I think we could have saved those to, if it hadn't been left in the vinegar solution. Vinegar is great for cleaning brass, by the way, and is an amazing natural cleaner. I'm 2.8 tenths paid for on my piano and I will be saving so I can repair it.

I think it's one you have to see in person to really appreciate. I guess it was meant to be mine. :)

I'm in the thought processes of thinking about my masters at Pitt State University in Kansas. I was told there are assistance ships where you work yourself through school by teaching and accompanying. You get a scholarship plus a stipend. But, I'm still in the very beginning stages of thinking this through.

Also try to have good posture while playing. I'm trying to as I'm afraid I might be hunchbacked as I age due to poor posture at the piano.

And, how do you get people to put their thumbs up in line with their other fingers. They tend to hang and it's hard to change this habit.

Well, happy playing.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:59 pm 
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whoa, Alison - you covered a lot of things here! :)

1. I would never attempt to take strings off my piano myself. Sounds very scary to me - like it could snap and shoot you in the eye!

2. I assume you mean how do you get your 'students' to keep their thumbs up? Explain to them that when the fingers are curved, the thumb is naturally on the keys as well, and if they don't hold their hand/fingers in this position, they will not get to the note that the thumb is supposed to play in time. Whether they get into that habit is what having a teacher and practicing is all about.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: thanks
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:25 am 
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Location: Missouri
haha- we've come close to having that happen, shooting in the eye. But, thankfully mostly all of us wear glasses and I think that gives protection there. Actually, it just grazed my forehead once, but that was my fault because I was standing to close to my dad when we were taking off the string.

Otherwise, besides about 6 strings, the project is going well and we're nearly done.

Yes, I mean getting the thumbs up and level with the keyboard. I've illustrated a cup hold and then had them turn it back parallel to the keys. Thanks for your tips. I will try that. But, they have to be will to change and try it, in order for it to work. I'm finding this a difficult task with some of them. This is also the first time I've had to grade and that scares me to death. I want them to like me but I want to grade them in a way that will hopefully help them improve. What are some pointers in this regard?

Thanks
Alison

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:36 pm 
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All I can think of is that over time, a student naturally gets used to keeping their thumbs up because the more they play, the more they need it up on the keys. You can also tell them that when their fingers are more flat, the thumb is way far away from the keys and has no chance of playing a key. But show them that when they round up (curve) their fingers, then the thumb is brought onto the keys too and becomes like equal length with the other fingers.

Sorry, can't help you with the grading thing.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Branson
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:52 am 
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Location: Missouri
Thanks, have another technique question. How do you loosen up a person's hands? I have another girl with a very awkward playing position in her hands and haven't quite come up with a good way of loosening her up. Suggestions are appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Branson
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
fluterific00 wrote:
Thanks, have another technique question. How do you loosen up a person's hands? I have another girl with a very awkward playing position in her hands and haven't quite come up with a good way of loosening her up. Suggestions are appreciated.
I don't know if this will help, but here's an exercise one of my teachers had me do once:
Put both hands flat on a table, palms down, all five fingers tightly together (parallel). Then, keeping the hands flat on the table, spread the fingers out as far as they will go. Then tightly together again. Alternate between the two positions. Once comfortable with this, do the exercise in the air (i.e. away from the table) but with the hands still retaining their flat shape. Then do the alternating much more slowly, gradually and smoothly moving from the together to the apart position and back, taking about 10 seconds to move from one extreme to the other, counting the seconds out loud. The idea is to learn how to make your muscles control hand shape.
A similar exercise could be used to change fingers between flat and curled.

Perhaps get her to stand up and let her arms dangle by her side, totally relaxed, with all the arm and hand muscles "switched off". Her hands should now be loose. She can then sit, keeping her arms dangling. Then get her to lift her elbow up sideways until almost level with the shoulders while her forearm and hand are still relaxed and hanging vertically. Use the upper arm like a crane to deposit the loose hand onto the table at which she is sitting. The aim is to get the hand to "land" in close to a playing position, but still totally relaxed.

Looking back over this thread, I don't know if I understand your question about thumbs. Are you saying the pupils are holding their hands so that their fingers (2-5) are resting on the white keys so near the edge of the keyboard that their thumbs are off the edge and dangling in the air? If so, get them to move their hands further forward "into" the keyboard, so that the thumbs can also rest on the keys. If their fingers are then in danger of colliding with the black keys, then they are probably stretched out flat, which is to be discouraged. They should not be like spider legs, but should be curled, like a claw, so that the fingertips are more or less at right angles to the keys. That way they have both more power and more control.

Cut out a piece of paper about 4.5 inches by 1.5 inches and lay it on a table, then get them to put their fingers on the table such that all five fingers are on the piece of paper.

As for the grading thing, try to make them understand that the grading is objective; it's a description of where they're at. A good grade isn't a favour you do for them, for which in turn they may like you. A poor grade is not necessarily a bad thing, at least not to start with. It is an opportunity for improvement. Tell them that your job as a teacher is to make your pupils better, and that means their grades have to improve over time, but they can't improve unless they start low. Bust the myth that good grades are a reward for the hard work of practising. The real reward for hard work is that they become better players, and grades are just a measure of that.


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 Post subject: Re: Branson
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:24 pm 
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
fluterific00 wrote:
Thanks, have another technique question. How do you loosen up a person's hands? I have another girl with a very awkward playing position in her hands and haven't quite come up with a good way of loosening her up. Suggestions are appreciated.

My approach to this is viewed another way. The playing position (and shape) of the hand is part of what is taught, trained and acquired in study. I don't think it shold be viewed as "my student has an akward hand position" but rather hasn't yet trained her hand. IMO there is little "natural" about natural-appearing technique; it is acquired through much fundamental work under a trained eye. Such were the aims of my first "serious" piano lessons using basic 5-finger exercises and strict rules about wrist height, finger shape, finger movement and the combination of all three. This is very much like the first months/years of instruction in ballet: there is nothing natural about it, but the aim is to acquire a technique that it both beautiful and efficient.

(DISCLAIMER: I have never had ballet lessons :wink: )

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