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I’m just curious what you all feel like your strengths and weakness are when it comes to playing. And also how do you work to improve them. I strive for excellence but fall so short all too often because my technique is mediocre. I’m not sure if just practicing the difficult sections of a song will help or if I should do exercises also. 30 years of playing pop songs by ear certainly hasn’t helped and now I am tackling some pretty difficult (for me, at least) songs. As far as strengths, I can memorize quickly. This only means I know exactly what to play but usually fail to execute at a very high level. What do you guys think you excel at and need improvement in? What has helped you improve.

Last edited by benz-tech; 01/06/22 03:18 AM.
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Strengths: dense chords, octaves, understanding polyphony, understanding “the bigger picture” of the music

Weaknesses: TRILLS (please help), finger dexterity, actually executing polyphony well, and executing a the minute details as well, and while it’s improved a whole lot, I still don’t think I’m a great sight reader

Some will tell you exercises aren’t worth it, but I always enjoyed doing them, and found them helpful for me.

Last edited by Orange Soda King; 01/06/22 09:49 AM.
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My strength is I am blissfully unaware of my weaknesses(except for my obvious technical limitations).

I think many people when they think of their limitations think mostly about technical weaknesses only. Those are obvious if one can't play the notes in a piece. If one can't play a Chopin Etude up to speed it's obvious one has some technical limitation. Musical weaknesses are far less obvious because one can be totally unaware of them. Make sense?

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Strengths:
-musicality (so I'm told); I usually have a good sense of how the music should sound, and I can hear when it isn't there.
-Also rubato, as long as I don't take my enthusiasm for it too far.
-I love trills and grace notes because I can usually get them the way I want (1-3 trills using rotation were a big revelation for me).
Weaknesses:
-technical limits often keep me from getting a fast piece all the way up to the speed I think it should have.
-I feel it takes me a long time to learn new music.
-I understand basics of music theory, scales, chords, etc., but I'm not great at awareness of that in the context of pieces I'm playing.


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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Strengths: dense chords, octaves, understanding polyphony, understanding “the bigger picture” of the music

Weaknesses: TRILLS (please help), finger dexterity, actually executing polyphony well, and executing a the minute details as well, and while it’s improved a whole lot, I still don’t think I’m a great sight reader

Some will tell you exercises aren’t worth it, but I always enjoyed doing them, and found them helpful for me.

OSK I am your evil twin: laugh
Strengths: trills, finger dexterity, executing polyphony well, voicing, attention to details, love the "fingery" stuff and find it easy.

Weaknesses: dense chords, octaves, I pay too much attention to details instead of the big picture, small hands.

At least we agree on the sight reading. I have no idea why my trills are so good except for a relaxed wrist.


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Deborah
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Originally Posted by benz-tech
I’m just curious what you all feel like your strengths and weakness are when it comes to playing. And also how do you work to improve them.
I don't have any strengths or weaknesses whistle, other than that I wish I have the technique of Lang Lang, so that I can play anything I like without any effort. (OK, at a push, I'd settle for the technique of Chopin or Liszt wow)

But my parents didn't bestow on me the right genes cry, so one settles for whatever one has, and make it as good as it can get. I've also realized that I'd underestimated my ability to, er, go where I'd never gone before, and that with enough time spent on dedicated practicing, one can reach hitherto undreamed-of heights. (Apologies for the flowery language, but Star Trek and Jane Austen - perfect bedfellows, of course - have been on my radar recently......)

In other words, there is no ceiling, as long as you're prepared to spend time practicing the parts you find difficult.....

Quote
I strive for excellence but fall so short all too often because my technique is mediocre. I’m not sure if just practicing the difficult sections of a song will help or if I should do exercises also. 30 years of playing pop songs by ear certainly hasn’t helped and now I am tackling some pretty difficult (for me, at least) songs.

Firstly, are you now playing classical pieces or pop songs?

My advice is purely based on the premise that you want to play classical, and therefore you're playing what the composer wrote. In which case, a good book of pure piano exercises will soon show you what your technique is lacking in, and which you can work on. (I recommend Geoffrey Tankard's books of piano technique.)

Quote
What has helped you improve.
Basically, I enjoy playing fast, crazy stuff that give my playing apparatus a good workout, so I'm continually challenging myself to master difficult new stuff. And every challenge conquered is one small step for man, one giant leap for, er, smirk


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Counting #1, playing with dynamics #2. Not ready for the fast stuff yet. A lot of piece in Allegro I'd drop the tempo to Andante to be playable.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
But my parents didn't bestow on me the right genes cry, so one settles for whatever one has, and make it as good as it can get.

In other words, there is no ceiling, as long as you're prepared to spend time practicing the parts you find difficult.....

Firstly, are you now playing classical pieces or pop songs? /

Genes can suck. Simply put, I have stubby hands. My pinky fingers don’t reach the second knuckle on my ring finger. I can only reach a 9th if I lay my hand off the end of the keys and stretch. And I can’t hit some white/black 9ths. So yeah, many thanks to my moms 4’11” Albanian genes.
On a different note…I had an interesting experience the other day. I have practiced a section of Grieg concerto until I can’t stand it. Perfect slowly, garbage at anywhere close to tempo. Anyway, I had stopped learning more of the song after about 8 pages in (after the repeat is done in a different key) to just focus on improving what I had memorized. After a month or so I continued on reading/learning new measures and suddenly, the section I struggled with just clicked. I played it well repeatedly. Hope it sticks.
With my rekindled foray into classical, pop music getting even easier to play by ear, with many exceptions of course. I can sing ok, and I have a friend sings beautifully. So that’s fun. Let’s face it, Journey, Billy Joel, Adele, and Elton John and are always great party tricks. Sorry, couple of whiskeys in now. I’ll stop typing.

Last edited by benz-tech; 01/07/22 01:51 AM.
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My biggest weaknesses are that I practice too much, I'm too self-critical and I'm a perfectionist.

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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Some will tell you exercises aren’t worth it, but I always enjoyed doing them, and found them helpful for me.

I recently discovered the Dohnanyi exercises, and think they’re great. Take a look if you haven’t seen them already

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Originally Posted by spk
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Some will tell you exercises aren’t worth it, but I always enjoyed doing them, and found them helpful for me.

I recently discovered the Dohnanyi exercises, and think they’re great. Take a look if you haven’t seen them already

I did some basic ones way back when I was a high school student. They were helpful, and maybe I should revisit them.

To be honest, I’m in a completely different part of my life where I’m not playing much advanced repertoire, so I’m honestly not practicing like I used to… one day, I hope to get back to that again.

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Originally Posted by Gooddog
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Strengths: dense chords, octaves, understanding polyphony, understanding “the bigger picture” of the music

Weaknesses: TRILLS (please help), finger dexterity, actually executing polyphony well, and executing a the minute details as well, and while it’s improved a whole lot, I still don’t think I’m a great sight reader

Some will tell you exercises aren’t worth it, but I always enjoyed doing them, and found them helpful for me.

OSK I am your evil twin: laugh
Strengths: trills, finger dexterity, executing polyphony well, voicing, attention to details, love the "fingery" stuff and find it easy.

Weaknesses: dense chords, octaves, I pay too much attention to details instead of the big picture, small hands.

At least we agree on the sight reading. I have no idea why my trills are so good except for a relaxed wrist.

With our powers combined… ha

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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
With our powers combined… ha

laugh


Best regards,

Deborah
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Not always able to play fast pieces at tempo. Takes a while to get the speed to go up with errors along the way...

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I place more value on musicality than absolute accuracy. Maybe that’s cuz I’m coming to terms with my limitations. I’m impressed with anyone who can sight read. I had a friend as a kid that took lessons at the same time as I did. She could play nearly anything you put in front of her. We both played moonlight sonata but, while she played it with more accuracy, people would say my rendition was more moving. I mean, we we like twelve then, so maybe they were just sparing my feelings.

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I'll list my weaknesses and strengths based on a more technical perspective because I think most if not every pianist considers their musicality or playing with emotion as a strength (I'm tempted to do the same, but this is a matter of taste).

Strengths: passagework, voicing, memorization
Weaknesses: leaps, arpeggios (just on their own, in context I normally can manage in context but simple arpeggios hands together kills me for some reason), sight reading (atrocious), polyphony (especially when written by J.S. Bach)

I know this is a bit bare bones but these are probably my most obvious strengths and weaknesses.


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Bach BWV 870
Beethoven Op. 90
Schubert Op. 90 No. 3
Chopin Op. 31 and Op. 10 No. 3
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Not going to comment on musicality since that's a big grey area, but technique?

Strengths: jumps, maybe octaves

Weaknesses: everything lol, but especially thirds and chromatic chord runs (you know those nasty things that Liszt likes to use in his cadenzas).

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My strength is the ability to play by ear, improvise and just make up stuff on the spot. My weakness is hand independence. Its so bad it stops me playing (I haven't touched my piano for months for this and other practical reasons)


If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.
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My strengths: solid technique, good reader, versatile (I can play classical, jazz, gospel, lead sheets)

Weaknesses: I don't memorize easily (and I don't require my students to perform from memory, since I can't). Not good at playing by ear (I'm overwhelmingly a visual mode learner)


Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir
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This is all so intriguing. I am only capable of performing by memory. Reading music is only an instructional input into my brain. Then, after I process the raw data, I translate the notes into a song that eventually flows out from my fingers. Yet there are so many others that can translate the notes on a page directly into music. I see notes on the page as a set of build instructions for Legos. Then I use the blocks over and over again until I am a master builder and finally there is music at the end. It so hard to explain, but, although off my original topic, is really interesting.
Maybe I haven’t melded the two languages together: sheet music and sound music. I applaud those of you that are fluent

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