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Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

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Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Casyopea on Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:28 pm

Some months ago when I started piano seriously I found this book on the Internet (it's for free because the author intended it to be so as he notes in the preface). I haven't had much time so far and have only read some sections but I did learn a lot about how to use practice time productively and the importance of memorising and playing slow when learning a new piece. Here is the link to the pdf:

http://www.sinerj.org/~loyer/PianoBook/piano-practice-a4-10pt.pdf

What's your opinion about it, Andrew? I heard some controversy about it, for example he dismisses Hanon as a waste of time and so on and so forth. I'd really like to have your opinion if you've read it.

In case you're addicted to podcasts like myself Twisted Evil , here I found an archive with part of the book, but it seems the guy who was generously reading it out eventually got flooded with work ... or piano maybe who knows ! Smile
You can download it and listen to it while on the bus, taking a walk, washing the dishes, looking up at the celing... isn't it wonderful?

http://fopp.henrik-pantle.de/

Cheers,

Elena.
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by maggiekedves on Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:04 pm

Casyopea wrote:

In case you're addicted to podcasts like myself Twisted Evil
, here I found an archive with part of the book, but it seems the guy
who was generously reading it out eventually got flooded with work ...
or piano maybe who knows ! Smile
You
can download it and listen to it while on the bus, taking a walk,
washing the dishes, looking up at the celing... isn't it wonderful?

http://fopp.henrik-pantle.de/

Cheers,

Elena.
Awesome I love audiobooks Smile I just rarely have time to listen to them bom maybe during the summer when school study is not an issue. Thanks a lot.
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by 07dwarves on Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:51 am

maggiekedves wrote:
Casyopea wrote:

In case you're addicted to podcasts like myself Twisted Evil
, here I found an archive with part of the book, but it seems the guy
who was generously reading it out eventually got flooded with work ...
or piano maybe who knows ! Smile
You
can download it and listen to it while on the bus, taking a walk,
washing the dishes, looking up at the celing... isn't it wonderful?

http://fopp.henrik-pantle.de/




Cheers,

Elena.
Awesome I love audiobooks Smile I just rarely have time to listen to them bom maybe during the summer when school study is not an issue. Thanks a lot.


***********************
***********************

This guys voice is really cool. I like the advice about how beginners develop bad habits by working with two hands on difficult pieces. Also, the advice on how to work through mistakes so as to avoid developing a stuttering habit seemed very helpful. I realize that there have been both positive and negative reviews of this online book. Kind of like the rain, is the book good or bad- I would not know. But the more piano links I can get the better.

I appreciate this link. A big thank you! bounce


Last edited by 07dwarves on Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Christian on Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:58 pm

There is actually another thread about the book here on the forums.

I do reccommend you google it though, have a look at other forums say about it, because the book has been slaughtered and discussed ALOT.

I think there is some good stuff in there, but I tried using it and my progression went down. (That would be the hands seperate througout a piece technique.)

I do somewhat agree with not doing Hanon though. I'm not doing Hanon. I think there are better ways to strenghten your muscles. Smile


My conclusion about the book is - don't belive everything you read. Chuan C. Chang apprantly is not a very good pianist/tutor. (I read that somewhere. :p)


Last edited by Christian on Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I wrote anything instead of everything. :D)

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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Fryderyk on Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:14 am

I must clarify that Chuan must be talking about the 30 5 FINGER exercises in the book of hanon, obviously the Hanon book has the 24 scales and arpeggios with the normal and decent fingering, therefore i personally believe thatr Hanon from exercise 31 to 60 is useful and obviously from 1-30 useless, from personal experience i must say that Hanon 5 finger exercises werent exactly useful, but i must insist that exercises 31 to 60 ARE NOT 5 finger exercises but Scales, arpeggios, repeated note exercises, scale in octaves, scales in broken octaves, trills, thirds, sixths (i think thats the name) those are usefull and are part of the base in piano technique, obviously scales, arpeggios, octaves, thirds, trills, sixth are obviously important, despite that i dont agree with 69% of what he says in his book, if he is saying Hanons 5 finger exercises are useless and a waste of time i must agree. So Hanon only created the 5 finger exercises, The scales, thirds, sixths, trills, arpeggios are only an obvious implementation for practicing technique, since i have another book, that has the almost the same exercises of hanon from 31 to 60
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by 07dwarves on Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:38 am

There are many unusual statements in this book.

1. Play segments hand separate first and be cautious of hands together practice until the song is running smoothly. Most people start off a new song hands together.

2. Play slow speeds last and especially end the practice with the song at a moderately slow speed. The guy believes the brain builds pathways while the person is asleep at night. Just like a bodybuilders muscles do not form at the moment that they are lifting the weights. Most people play slow to start learning a song and then ramp up the speed.

3. Play through mistakes to avoid a stuttering habit. Most people will stop and then go to the part of the song that they destroyed and they will start over from there. Eventually the brain learns the stuttering version of the song.

4. Most people practice the entire song as a whole over and over. This guy says scramble the sections of the song up and play the hard sections. I have seen a piano school lady use the same advice as part of the "Suzuki Method " and she says she uses scramble cards at every single piano lesson.

5. Memorize the song before you play it and imagine playing it in your mind until your mind has memorized both the left and right hand parts. Yet most people play the song in order to memorize it.

6. If notes are close enough to be played together, then this guy says play the notes really fast as if they were a chord and do it as fast as you can and then as you slow the speed down, start to play them individually. He calls this "chord attack" and says it is for breaking "speed walls."

These are just some of the ideas from the book. I am not really for or against them but I have sampled several of these techniques so far. Hand separate practice works for me because I am at a severe disadvantage by being left handed. Also, I had a rather severe stuttering habit on one song.

In that case, there is one certain song that no matter how many times I go to play it, I play the notes wrong because my brain will not let go of the stuttering version. I never want to go to see that happen again, what a nightmare. Lately I have been trying to banish the curse with the way that Thomandy says to play something 13 time perfect before you can erase the mistake.

Also, I have found that if I try to fantasize about a song while walking through the grocery store, the parts of the song that I can not visualize in my head are always the parts of the obstinate sections that I have a hard time to play.
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Thomandy on Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:55 pm

Great info you got there Smile They arent that unusual though. Cause it is kind of like everything else have read and heard. Andrew also mentions some of them in various videos. Smile

I have actually from the start always claimed slowpractice as my biggest friend at the piano. This is cause I have detected a greater progress that way. I have been a "serious athlete" at a amateur leve of course, and I know that in that world the body and brain develops a lot more in between practice than during. I guess thats why I always from the beginning made sure my last playthrough before I want to bed; Made sure it was as perfect as I could do it, even though I think the brain is so good that small errors here and there is something it trows away instantly... Smile

But yeah. What Im working on as we speak is that I have troubles breaking the pieces up in sections - The reason is that Im TO eager to play the piece when I got it memorised Sad

Yeah, Andrew was the one teaching me the 13 inarow part Smile
a fine thing for me, is that since I always slowpractice from the beginning, not going a km/s faster than I can - I usually never do mistakes. They do however arrive when Im performing the piece later on though Razz - I think that also got something to do with awareness and being able to stay focused. 3-4 min + can be a long time to be focused, so that also something I practice.. And One other thing from that list im struggling with is that I tend to put hands together, maybe not to early, but to many bars at the time perhaps... Smile

And you are right on that last part about fantasizing about the piece. The parts I cant see in my head are also the parts that are poorest.

Try something, a little challenge to you 07(or anyone):

Try to find a easy piece! Pick out 1, 2, 3 or 4 bars from that piece.
Do NOT sit at the piano. Try to picture you playing in your head, and do it until you feel you can sit at the piano and play it right away. Smile

It might take a short time or several days, but dont cheat, dont look at the piano, just walk trough those notes in our head. If two hands are to hard, try on hand!! Smile

Let me know how it went. Its fun when you get it right Wink
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by VictorCS on Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:35 pm

It seems I do use some, but not all... It's all about what I prefer and wanna adapt.

1. I do it that way, and it's working good.
2. I do believe the brain cleans up at night, but I believe that pathways are made from the moment you do start memorising. I've been skipping sleep a few times, and I've actually still made the same progress.
3. I usually repeat the area where it stutters, to smooth it out...
4. I do split a piece into sections.
5. This one to me sounds like a waste of time ^_^
6. Never tried this before...

07dwarves, being lefthanded isnt actually the biggest problem, because most stuff can be learn by both hands. And a huge bunch of left handed guitar players do play a right handed because it's not that difficult, and you get so much more options when going "righthanded", more guitars to play etc.

On a guitar you actually do the "presition" work with the left hand.
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Christian on Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:16 pm

I think I have commented on this before, but Ill do it again just for fun and incase I missed something.

1. Play segments hand separate first and be cautious of hands together practice until the song is running smoothly. Most people start off a new song hands together.
I tried this. I ended up being able to play a piece with one hand, and with the other, mixing them was impossible. Ive made greater progress learning a few bars seperately, then mixing them together.

2. Play slow speeds last and especially end the practice with the song at a moderately slow speed. The guy believes the brain builds pathways while the person is asleep at night. Just like a bodybuilders muscles do not form at the moment that they are lifting the weights. Most people play slow to start learning a song and then ramp up the speed.
The brain does actually do this. Its how babies grow. Smile

3. Play through mistakes to avoid a stuttering habit. Most people will stop and then go to the part of the song that they destroyed and they will start over from there. Eventually the brain learns the stuttering version of the song.
I agree with this, play through mistakes. Why not? If you play for someone, stop and go back, you screwed up. I believe you can learn the stuttering version, and you will notice because you will do the same mistake over and over, even though you know you memorized it correctly. Playing it slower should also help.

4. Most people practice the entire song as a whole over and over. This guy says scramble the sections of the song up and play the hard sections. I have seen a piano school lady use the same advice as part of the "Suzuki Method " and she says she uses scramble cards at every single piano lesson.
Is this from the how to learn a piece part? He says you should give each bar a number, and practice the hards bars first, because they will need more practice. Starting from anywhere within a piece really isnt an issue for me, because when you learn bar by bar, you also learn new starting points.

5. Memorize the song before you play it and imagine playing it in your mind until your mind has memorized both the left and right hand parts. Yet most people play the song in order to memorize it.
Did I skip this part? I like the exercise Thomandy proposed about learning 4 bars in your mind.

6. If notes are close enough to be played together, then this guy says play the notes really fast as if they were a chord and do it as fast as you can and then as you slow the speed down, start to play them individually. He calls this "chord attack" and says it is for breaking "speed walls."
I know the English in this book is somewhat overwhelming at times. Atleast for me being bilingual. I probably dismissed this as something I didnt understand, or something something. Are you sure it said this? Makes no sense to me.


I dont think this book is all that great, maybe its not suited for me. But this book has, as Ive said before, been picked apart by other pianists on other forums. I recommend googling it and see what you find.

And I dont think being lefthanded is a disadvantage unless you let it be. Wink

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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Thomandy on Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:45 pm

Christian wrote:
And I dont think being lefthanded is a disadvantage unless you let it be. Wink

Well said Smile Most classical pieces I have seen and heard are often alike in the righthand and the lefthand. Just take bach, its no difference whether you are a lefty or a righty Smile
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by VictorCS on Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:16 pm

I think he means:
"If you play something really fast it's bound to become a "chord", lets say you need to play CDE, if you play them very fast they will sound together."

Something like that probably.

I read the third wrong... Playing through mistakes, ofcourse, I read it as "when you practice". If I play a piece for "performance" I just keep on playing. But when I practice the song I take the stuttering part, and plays it multiple times to make it smooth ^_^

2. Babies do sleep alot, and sure it helps very much... To clear up my last thought, I think the material for the pathway is stored while you practice. As you can practice something before work, and play it pretty good when you come home, I do think the pathways are created 24/7, but not stored in a efficient way. That's where sleep does a difference, I think it defrags the parts and collect it into a small part. The next they it's a big chunk, not 100 small ^_^
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by Thomandy on Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:39 am

VictorCS wrote:2. Babies do sleep alot, and sure it helps very much... To clear up my last thought, I think the material for the pathway is stored while you practice. As you can practice something before work, and play it pretty good when you come home, I do think the pathways are created 24/7, but not stored in a efficient way. That's where sleep does a difference, I think it defrags the parts and collect it into a small part. The next they it's a big chunk, not 100 small ^_^

You are right! When we sleep the brain Organizes all the activity we have had that day Smile
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Re: Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang

Post by rbacl on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:51 pm

I tried hands-separate practice on a piece, and it didn't seem to assist me at all, not in the systematic way that Chang encourages. I do think his encouragement of mental play is very important, though. I suspect that many people don't develop their minds enough. If music doesn't course through the brain in a relatively clear way, then I don't think a person will be able to enjoy an instrument.

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