Play Piano Today With Dr. J

Posts Tagged ‘pentatonic method

Jeannine at Piano-JPG-sm-webWelcome would-be-piano players, pianists, musicians and music-lovers to Dr. J’s blog.  Check back often to see what my latest thoughts on playing the piano and making music are on any given day.  Enjoy.  Talk to you soon.     Dr. J

PS  See what you can have at Play Piano Today With Dr. J

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I have been teaching adults how to play the piano and the organ for many years.  It has been challenging and satisfying at the same time.  Every week I learn so much from my students including patience, perseverance, how to overcome challenges, enthusiasm, happiness, knowledge and of course wisdom.

But, what is it I hope my students learn from me?  I hope they learn

How to choose a piece of piano music
How to work through a piece of music
How to find “the music” in a particular piano piece
How to share their music
How to find joy in making music

Oh and did I mention, I also hope my piano students learn patience, perseverance, overcoming challenges, enthusiasm, happiness, knowledge and wisdom from me.  Yes, the give and take between teacher and piano student is continuous.  The learning and knowledge are constantly shared.  That is why I continue to teach adult students how to play the piano.

So, what do I learn every week from my piano students?

Perseverance – steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks.  Learning to play the piano as an adult can be a daunting task, yet week after week, I have students who continue to diligently practice to attain technical proficiency in their piano studies.

Patience – the ability to endure waiting or delay without becoming annoyed or upset.  Learning to play the piano as an adult is a slow process and often the technical ability to reproduce the sounds heard in recordings or in the student’s mind is slow in coming.  The patience required to achieve a modicum of success in playing the piano is immense.

Fortitude – strength and endurance in a difficult situation.  Learning to play the piano as an adult is not accomplished by playing at the piano for a few minutes a week.  It requires mastering difficult eye-hand coordination skills which takes an inordinate amount of time at the piano.

Determination – firmness of purpose, will, or intention.  My adult piano students set goals for each series of lessons.  To fulfill those goals and dreams requires a firm resolve to continue practicing and studying even when the desired results are slow to attain.

The successful pianist has developed the skill of memorization by using visual, aural, or tactile memorization skills.  The successful pianist knows in what way they most fluently memorize a piece and use the other two skills to enhance and enlarge their memories.  A successful pianist combines all three memorization skills to their complete advantage.

The successful pianist easily and willingly shares their music.  They enjoy giving their gift and allowing the ideas of the composer to flow off the written page into glorious sound.

Are you a successful pianist?  Do you have a toolkit of skills, traits, and habits to aid your journey of studying the piano?  Start today to create your personal toolkit filled with self-discipline, technical skills, reading skills, memorization skills and performance skills.  Allow your joy to show in the playing of the piano.

Every productive piano practice session is composed of several things.  First, each practice session should have a specific goal in mind.  Is that goal to be able to play a specific cadence of a repertoire piece successfully or to work out an intricate rhythm, or to practice technique only with exercises and scales or to work on memory?  The possibilities are endless, but every piano practice session should have a goal.

Once the goal is set, make sure you know how the finished passage or exercise, or cadence will sound.

Second devise a piano practice plan.  Determine how much time you will spend on specific activities or when you will let yourself move to the next challenge.

What methods will you use?  How will you get to your goal – by using a metronome, by practicing rhythms away from the keyboard, by playing short sections, or by working on fingering?

Determine how you will know when you are finished for the piano practice session.  Has the timer run out or are you finished when you are tired or when you have accomplished your goal.

Answer those questions and your piano practice sessions will be a sucess and it will be a joy to make music on the piano.

I have the privilege of teaching a wonderful group of adult piano and organ students on a weekly basis.  Some of my students are beginners, some are intermediate and some are advanced.  The reasons they are taking piano lessons vary.  Some of the adult piano students are taking lessons to enhance and broaden their skills, some are learning pedagogical techniques, some are studying theory and others are learning to play the piano simply for pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Each of these students brings to their piano lessons a variety of joys, challenges, needs and desires.  I have to but listen to them and to their playing to gain a wealth of information.  So, what do I learn every week from my piano students?  Patience, perseverance, fortitude, determination, discovery, happiness, pride, knowledge and wisdom.  How wonderful it is to be a teacher of piano.

From time to time, I use a recording device in my piano teaching.  It has been met with mixed results for my students.  Some students enjoy hearing themselves play and are amazed at their progress.  Other piano students are appalled at their lack of progress and their shoddy playing.

The students who find the recorded piano lessons helpful are usually those who follow good practice routines and who diligently and carefully prepare repertoire within their abilities.  These students accept the level of their playing prior to hearing their recordings.  They have a soundscape in their mind that is close to their actual abilities and skills.

These students are usually pleasantly surprised by the quality of their piano playing and are eager to accept feedback.  They more quickly make changes and want to record themselves again and again to hear the improvements they have made.  These students mirror their teacher’s experience with a recorder as a device to learn from and design ways to improve their piano playing.

The students who find the recording of their piano lessons stupefying at best and simply awful at most are those who have attempted to learn pieces beyond their current abilities.  These students “hear” themselves playing on a much higher level than in reality they are.  The recording points out flaws on the most basic level – note inaccuracies, incorrect rhythms, and great flexibility in tempo to compensate for lack of the technical skills needed to play the repertoire they have chosen.

These students sadly realize they have not been applying good piano practice techniques to repertoire more suited to their abilities.  Hence, their goals and their ways of achieving those goals have to be redesigned.  This is difficult for many beginning adult pianists. However, once the student has overcome the shock of actually hearing the sounds they are creating in real time, they are usually eager more open to pursuing their goals in a more appropriate manner.

To record or not record a beginning pianist’s lesson?  It is exaltation for some and peril turning to discovery and skill building for others.  Recording is a wonderful tool for a beginning student of the piano.



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  • freeonlinemusiclessons: Hey nice blog. I just picked up you RSS FEEDS. Check out my new website, you’ll like it! http://freeonlinemusiclessons.com
  • bhundley1: I'm interested in your elaborating on the "fingering" aspect of practice. Are you a fan of Czerny, for instance, in terms of building up dexterity wi
  • promotionmusic: Thanks for your response. Congratulations to you on the work you are doing in the piano world.

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