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#15979 - 06/29/06 04:51 AM Interpreting judge comments
pat Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 52
Loc: Bridgeport, Texas
Recently my students were adjudicated by a guild judge.

This judge didn't like the use of "rubato" in some repertoire (mostly jazz). Though appreciative of these comments, they seemed more directed toward my teaching than toward the student.

Has anybody else encountered comments such as these?

I sometimes find it a bit difficult to discuss scorecard ratings with a student. Occasionally, I almost feel the need to defend my teaching, though I'm always aware of my need to improve.

This judge did make similar comments in the "confidential opinion" sheet. A part of me feels that this would have been enough, rather than fault the student who was only following my directives.

Thanks!

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#15980 - 06/29/06 05:30 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
What was the exact verbiage used? And how liberal was the rubato? I fear I have possibly been too direct at times when judging, but I only get that way on stuff that is black & white right & wrong. To me, rubato is such a personal thing I wouldn't want to knock a kid for it unless on Bach or something else that obvious.

I was judging in The Woodlands, Texas a few years ago (not Guild) and had a steaming headache after about 4 hours of non-stop students, not to mention the fact I had to negotiate I-45 (i.e. almost DIE) in a blinding tropical rainstorm to get there from Houston. Plus judges didn't get to have a break room because the contest was in the art department of the JUCO and there were some artistic nudes in the collections and someone was worried a child might see one through the glass walls :rolleyes: - this meant if we wanted a cookie and a drink of water we had to do it in a bathroom. Oops, I digress... One studio, apparently, had every cotton pickin' kid play the pedal by raising their knee/leg up in the air at least 6 inches before pushing down on the pedal. I thought I was at the county 4-H fairground! I was so irritated that I wrote, "Keep the heel on the floor at all times when pedaling. You are playing the piano, not operating a tractor clutch." on every single entry. I suppose I should feel bad, but I still don't.... \:o They never had a chance not to ask me back because soon after I escaped the great state of Texas....

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#15981 - 06/29/06 05:53 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
pat Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 52
Loc: Bridgeport, Texas
Here is one: "Learn to express your music using more phrasing and dynamics rather than changing tempos".

And another: "Learn to express your music with more tools of phrasing, balance, pedal and less with altering the tempos".

Most of the comments were referring to simple jazz pieces. I had the students on repetitive passages, push the tempos a bit just to combat boredom (if that makes sense).

Of course, my heart goes out to guild judges who must endure so many things that likely go unreported to headquarters. And I do take into consideration that some judges are sent into areas where teachers are rather intimidating to them (which is horribly wrong).

In the over twenty years of sending students to Guild auditions, I've only had to report an unfair judge once. I was careful in my criticism to the area guild chair and almost didn't make that call. Glad I did. Several teachers had already called and complained. This dear lady was having severe emotional problems.

I applaud you for judging. It is a difficult job - one I've never done, but should, so I would be more appreciative of the job you did.

I, too think rubato is individual. I was taught by a master teacher to use rubato, even in some of the Chopin Preludes (very subtle, of course) - her students were top winners all over the state -one of the comments above was made after hearing one of the Preludes.

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#15982 - 06/29/06 07:53 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
VioletBeauregarde Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 11/17/05
Posts: 502
Loc: Alabama
 Quote:
I thought I was at the county 4-H fairground! I was so irritated that I wrote, "Keep the heel on the floor at all times when pedaling. You are playing the piano, not operating a tractor clutch." on every single entry. I suppose I should feel bad, but I still don't.... They never had a chance not to ask me back because soon after I escaped the great state of Texas....
Just because one teacher taught pedalling wrong (and yes, it should have been commented on as the teacher needs to learn to do it properly before teaching students), but please don't judge everyone in Texas as doing that or making us sound like back country hicks. We aren't!
_________________________
Adopted childen are NOT lucky- they are blessings.

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#15983 - 06/29/06 09:05 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
MRM Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/18/05
Posts: 107
Loc: Washington
Of course, this is difficult because we didn't hear your kids play. When I read your judges comments it seems that perhaps his interpretation of what he heard was that he heard whole sections that were faster and slower than others. So, maybe he was looking at the music and saw some variances in the printed score marked p or f and what he heard was slow and fast...etc...

I think with rubato you wouldn't have a whole section that was faster or slower so much as within a phrase you'd have a pushing and pulling affect with the tempo to add feeling and emotion. So, perhaps the judge was listening for that but heard or felt too jerk and pulled....but like I said, I didn't hear your students so.....

But, I do know that all adjudicators have a different opinion on rubato. My teacher, who's taught for 45 years said she once asked a respected judge what he thought all kids needed more of and he replied "rubato". You know, others wouldn't have said the same thing. It all depends on who's listening.

I had an adjudicator this year and he said the thing he was most impressed with in my teaching was my students flexible sense of time and overall structural conception of each piece. So, this guy obviously like rubato--or at least a perfectly timed rallentando.

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#15984 - 06/29/06 09:49 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
pat Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 52
Loc: Bridgeport, Texas
Sometimes rubato is heard as being "erratic rhythm" when in fact it is just interpretive. A student whose rhythm is (percentage wise) right on is obvious to teachers and judges.

And on the flip side of rubato is rhythm that is so metronomic as to be stilted.

Bottom line, I still think if a teacher was instilling bad habits into a student, whatever those were, they should be addressed in a confidential manner to the teacher.

And I still think judging is a difficult job, especially when a judge has to conference with a teacher and/or parent to justify his or her assessment of the student's performance!!!

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#15985 - 06/29/06 10:39 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
VioletBeauregarde Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 11/17/05
Posts: 502
Loc: Alabama
 Quote:
I still think if a teacher was instilling bad habits into a student, whatever those were, they should be addressed in a confidential manner to the teacher.
__________________________________________________

I totally agree with you Pat!
Why say something to the student who doesn't realize they were taught wrong to begin with?! \:\)
_________________________
Adopted childen are NOT lucky- they are blessings.

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#15986 - 06/29/06 05:18 PM Re: Interpreting judge comments
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
And I totally disagree. A student is playing to be adjudicated. It is the job of the judge to provide feedback & commentary on the adjudication form, not to have a conference with the teacher that hides the truth from the student or parent. If the child is "big" enough to play, then they certainly big enough to receive feedback. If they don't care for feedback, then they don't need to enter those events. And I think the student deserves to hear honest commentary good or bad. Who's money is paying the adjudication fee? I can remember getting some negative feedback in junior high that was, in retrospect, totally my teacher's fault. She thought she was the bee's knees and would have totally ignored any private conference. If that had been the case, then I would have continued to stagnate musically. Fortunately that gave me the opportunity to work on important areas that were completely N O T on her radar screen!

Whether or not the teacher is installing "bad habits" is subject to interpretation. It is the job of the teacher (and/or parent) to make that determination. The teacher always has a choice: s/he can thoughtfully consider the judge's comments within the context of the individual player. Then one can either accept or reject the validity of the comments without getting the panties in a wad or taking it personally.

When it comes to feeling "judged" by a judge, I think the old looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck theory applies. If one judge un-noives us with, ahem, colorful commentary (guilty by example \:o ) we can choose to ignore it. But if we keep hearing the same old, same old from other judges about multiple students, then perhaps it's time to check the old backside for pinfeathers. ;\) \:D Please note I am not speaking to Pat's specific situation - just general thoughts.

That's all, folks! \:D

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#15987 - 06/29/06 07:12 PM Re: Interpreting judge comments
Q88keys Offline
Star Member

Registered: 11/19/05
Posts: 1057
Loc: Minnesota
 Quote:
Originally posted by pat:
Here is one: "Learn to express your music using more phrasing and dynamics rather than changing tempos".

And another: "Learn to express your music with more tools of phrasing, balance, pedal and less with altering the tempos".

I have had this excellent advice from my teacher for my advanced students. The problem is not always the judge's view of rubato, but may be that the student is not fully utilizing all the vehicles of musical expression and depending too heavily on changes of tempo. What student or teacher is it that has ever focused too much on exquisite dynamics or phrasing, or use of the pedal not for legato but for aiding tone color? It is all too common for a student to learn about rubato and then constantly overuse it, ignoring other tools of expression. I know because I have a student like this who was playing the Chopin Waltz in e minor for a contest. She went wild with rubato and didn't pay much attention at all to dynamic markings. When I had her take some coaching with my teacher and this came up, I didn't feel offended, but totally enlightened. This student also has told me she "hates Baroque music because there's no emotion in it." After these comments she's beginning to learn how to express emotion using different tools which are appropriate for a historically authentic sound. So, in my opinion, the judge who made these comments is right on. Our students will learn to be better musicians if they develop all avenues of musical expression, and I think that's all the judge was pointing out.
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http://maplegrovepianostudio.com

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#15988 - 06/30/06 01:03 AM Re: Interpreting judge comments
pat Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 52
Loc: Bridgeport, Texas
The matter of rubato is likely always going to be subject to a lot of debate among teachers. At this same adjudication experience, I had one student whose pieces were strict in tempo. Her rhythms were perfect and she is a second year pupil. The judge was very complimentary of every piece she played and especially lifted out her good use of steady tempo. And of course, this was appreciated by all!

I think judging young students is more about encouraging than anything. They have a lot to learn and so do their teachers. Giving criticism is important, but making a young pianist feel unworthy in their elementary efforts could be very discouraging. The way something is said is important too.

Thanks for these wonderful comments. Certainly we can learn a lot from each other.

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