Who's using the book?

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This is my question to start things off. Who is using _To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us_, and what comments or suggestions do you have for others?

-- James Boyk (boyk@caltech.edu), March 22, 1998


Although I do a fair amount of performing, I consider myself primarily a teacher. Nost are in the elementary and middle school age group. The idea of taping yourself teaching a lesson is a new idea for me and one I will pursue. Yesterday, I had several students practice "beginning a performance" [Session 5 in Part I] and it was very effective. Since I work with young and inexperienced students, I found a fun way to augment your suggestions. We started from various points away from the piano, moving in time and tried to arrive in performance position a little before we had finished singing through our first phrase. They had to gauge energy and distance depending on how far or near to the piano we began the process. After 2-3 times with this activity, we tried beginning seated at the piano as suggested. The results were quite astonishng and it was fun, too. I'm not using the tape yet but I clearly understand its being a necessary component. It was obvious to me that there was dramatic improvement but the students couldn't tell whether they were doing it any better now than before!

-- Noriko Tsuchiya (NT2469@aol.com), July 09, 1998.

It's just wonderful to hear about your use of the book. Your creativity with "Beginning a performance" (Session 5) is a dream realized to me; for as I say in the introduction, it's only in your hands, and the hands of others like you, that these ideas can come alive. I think starting the students away from the instrument and having them arrive there in time to begin is just a splendid idea! The problem of their not recognizing their own improvement is all too familiar. It too can be helped with taping. You might get one tape for each student, and tape that student playing something at the next lesson; then add something every month or two. After a while, they'll get more objective. (I would keep these tapes separate though from the one you may use during lessons. Less danger of erasing something you want to keep.) All best wishes, Jim Boyk

-- James Boyk (boyk@cco.caltech.edu), July 09, 1998.

I'm an economist in a fairly demanding job. I crave my hobby of classial piano and would classify myself as "intermediate" (e.g. Chopin nocturnes, judiciously selected Rachmaninov preludes, some WTC). I don't get that much time to practice and my crazy travel schedule interferes with my lessons. So I found the book useful because it promotes better ways of practicing on one's own.

I have found Professor Boyk's book most useful in the following respects.

(1) Singing. Often by singing the main melody of a difficult passage I'll realized different ways of interpreting it. And then singing the fugal parts or accompaniment parts it's become clearer to me which elements should be emphasized and where to modify the tempo, etc.

(2) Outlining. In fact I'd been doing something related to "outlining" before I read the book. I use simplified Schenkerian analysis of the "middle ground" to figure out where the climaxes should be and how to interpret particular phrases in the context of the whole piece. For instance, subjecting Franck's "Prelude, Fugue and Variation" (trans. Bauer) to this analysis led me to some different patterns of dynamics from those I've heard in recordings. Now "outlining" adds a further twist: just **play** the key structural elements so as to fix them firmly in the mind.

(3) Jim Boyk has stressed the importance of the **objective** message conveyed by recording and playback. I've not done this yet but I'm now quite convinced that it's worth investing in -- comparing a year's worth of lessons with the cost of a reasonable-to-good recording system, it's clear that the latter will be a good decision. One of my favorite forms is the fugue and I can tell that recording and playback will provide a lot of self-criticism and correction, thereby making my lessons more productive.

So thanks again for a wonderfully entertaining and humorous book that gives good guidance on how to progress.

-- Peter G. Moll (pmoll@worldbank.org), August 19, 2002.

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