1st January 2018 David Magyel

Working together – Communication and miscommunication

Whenever I get an email from you, I keep you in my head. I remember your story, your motivation, your likes and dislikes, experience with the piano, which membership you signed up for, so on so forth.  Based on that info, I create lessons, write additional exercises to the descriptions and add new practice plans to the site.
However, I have to see you playing the exercises. It is crucial.

Here is a message example that can quickly lead to miscommunication:

“I have played for eight years now, I am practicing 6 hours every day, can you add more advanced lessons?”
(I made this up now.  However, this could be me 15 years ago.)

Let’s analyze this.

“I have played for eight years now” –  I did that too, and I was horrible. My parents asked me to change my interest if I don’t want to end up homeless. (Recently I told my mom about my YouTube channel. She said – They follow you because you look handsome, not because you are talented. I told her that they only see my hands. haha.)

“I am practicing 6 hours every day” – That tells me you love playing the piano. If you can show me a video of you playing, I can also tell you that if are wasting your time or not. (No, I would not tell you that you waste your time… I would only tell this to myself if I could go back in time. )

“add more advanced lessons” – The problem with that, that I don’t know what is advanced means to you unless I see you playing something advanced.

Once I had a member, who told me that my lessons are easy for him. So I pictured a pianist who has the same abilities as I have… or even better.  We started to talk, and I gave him some advice. Telling him what I am working on at the moment, and that maybe we can work on it together. A few days later I received a video from him, playing one of my beginner improvisation exercises… poorly. I learned my lesson that day. To help you, I have to hear you first.

“We don’t talk music. We just play.”
(Monty Alexander)

How to get good advice:

  • Your name, age, and main motivation.
  • A link where I can see or hear you playing any of my exercises from my website. (Unlisted youtube link, mp3 file, etc.) If you are not a member yet, please chose a lesson from my Youtube Channel. Play the entire exercise from the beginning to the end with a steady beat and let me know how long time did it take you to complete the lesson. If the recording is about improvisation, please improvise at least for 1 minute (with a steady beat).
  • How much time do you have for practice?
  • Are you flexible, or is there anything on the website that you don’t want to practice? (Jazz, Blues, Contemporary Music, Latin?)
  • Do you follow any of my practice routines already? Are you working on the additional exercises too?
  • What lessons have you already completed or are still working on?
  • What is your next short-term goal? Is it ok if I tell you that you should change that goal?:) Most of the time you think that your problem will be solved if you learn more about theory, scales, and licks, but then I come and tell you that all you have to do first is to keep the rhythm.