Problem Solving: Piano VS Computers

Piano Lessons / piano facts / Problem Solving: Piano VS Computers

Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The topic today is about how computers and pianos require completely opposite approaches to problem solving. For example, in a recent video I talked about how when you make a mistake in your practice, it’s actually a great opportunity to stop and to find where you are on the score so you can cement the correction. The worst thing is when people make a mistake and they go back to the beginning to try again. Maybe they will get it and maybe they won’t, but it doesn’t solve the basic insecurity that’s there. It’s a real shame because you want to cement the correction by finding what it is and approaching the score. You don’t want to just hope that your tactile memory will just happen to get it right next time. Computers are the exact opposite! I’m going to tell you a story about how I discovered this years ago.

In the early 2000s, I was engaged by a music software company called G-Vox in Huntington Beach, California to be the head of the music content development team.

When I arrived the first day there were brand new Dell computers in boxes. I was a Mac guy all the way. I’d never even worked with Windows computers, and then I was the head of the department with Windows computers! It was my job to set them up, so I was a little bit scared. But everything kind of worked. I was very lucky and started getting productive. It was great! The team there was wonderful. It was a lot of fun. I was working in a high-rise right near the beach. I was very happy.

Every now and then something would go wrong with the computer system, not just for me but for the whole team. Something would screw up and we would ask the head of the program, “Isn’t there somebody who can help us?” So, he sent in an IT specialist. We were all looking forward to that because every time something went wrong we couldn’t figure out how to fix it. When this gentleman came in, I was actually looking forward to the first time I had a problem so that I could see how he solved it. I wanted to learn from him. Finally, I had a problem. I went to him and showed him what the issue was. He asked if I had tried restarting, I told him I had. He asked if I had tried reinstalling the program, I told him I had done that, too. Then he told me to reinstall Windows. I was shocked! I thought he was going to go in there with his magic fingers. I wanted to see the codes he would find, the underlying programming where he would get to the nuts and the bolts of what was wrong. But that’s not the way it’s done. This is diametrically opposed to piano where you want to zero in on the correction when there’s a problem. You want to figure it out so you can find out how it’s supposed to be.

When there is an issue with computers, the best thing you can do is just restart your computer or reinstall the program.

You want to start with a clean slate. It’s really counter-intuitive for me. I’ve owned recording studios for years. I had an analog studio many years ago. When there was a problem, you would simplify, but you wouldn’t tear everything apart and start over. You would want to try to identify where the problem was and correct it so you wouldn’t have that issue again. With modern digital technology, that just isn’t the case. When data is corrupted in one way or another, the best thing you can do is start over.

So many of us now are spending so much time online with virtual piano lessons and virtual visits with friends and family. As great as this technology is, it isn’t perfect. Sometimes for no reason, the audio drops out or something gets distorted. Of course, the best way to solve these problems is to logoff, close the program, and start over.

That’s the lesson for today. There is a huge difference in approach to computer technology, where you just want to start with a clean slate when you have a problem. Because you can spend far more time trying to identify the problem than just starting over again. Whereas, on the piano, that’s the worst thing you can do, because you’ll never really develop security. Isn’t that interesting? They are diametrically opposed! I’d love to hear from any of you who have different ideas about this subject. There are plenty of people who know more about computers than I do. Maybe there are secret tools that I don’t know about. Let me know in the comments! Thanks again for joining me! I’m Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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