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What is wrong with Piano Society?

Discussion in 'General' started by jordanr, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. jordanr

    jordanr Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi all,

    I took over for Robert some months ago. Since then it seems like participation has declined before I have had a chance to do anything. I was emailing with a member, and he raised the below questions:

    - why the attendance has fallen down so dramatically ?
    - why there is now so little discussions and submissions ?
    - what could be done to rejuvenate the collaboration process ?

    I wonder if anyone could provide input to help me. Thanks!

    Richard
     
  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Good question. In short, there aren't enough core members, and if they go through a phase of inactivity, the site is almost moribund. Also, I'm not sure how obvious it is to newcomers that this is the exception amongst piano forums: most places you post material for commentary, whereas this is for inclusion in the recordings database. It is a different attitude. As it seems Chris has left, there must be questions about the future of this site, as it's only fair to say his energy was the biggest factor keeping things ticking over (assisted by Monica, it goes without saying).
     
  3. jordanr

    jordanr Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks!

    In regards to future of site, it will be up forever even if no one is here except me. I promise that. There are so many great recordings hosted.

    R
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm still here too!
    Except I can't write much right now. I'll have more time tomorrow though, so see you then.... :)
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, Piano Society's vast amount of high-quality recordings is wonderful! And thank you, Richard, for wanting to keep the site up for a long time!! We all appreciate that very much!
    But we do need to exchange ideas (all of us members!) on how to spark more activity on the site/forum. One of the reasons I've been slacking off is that I simply got burned out. Then some personal issues arose and I haven't been playing much piano. But I'm not quitting, and I would love if we could get PS up to where we were a couple years ago. So please everybody...please chime in with whatever ideas you may have. :)
     
  6. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    To throw a few thoughts out there:

    It probably doesn't help that Piano Society may be perceived as somewhat cliquey and inward-looking. I actually rather like that, in the time I've been here, there has been none of the adolescent chit-chat seen on pianostreet, for example, but Piano Society may well fall between two stools; the "anything goes" of the wider internet and the highly disciplined world of professional pianism. As most regular posters here have been amateurs, or pianists not pursuing a professional career, it's only fair to say that the level of work and commitment goes some distance to bridging the gap, but the very nature of the site, which is to collate good recordings, may be a little off-putting to the casual poster who could, potentially, become a more regular one. I've also never liked the way some professional pianists have used the site as a way to park recordings for reference, and then never return.

    As long as the site remains basically a few people talking amongst themselves, I don't see the issue ameliorating. I would suggest, that for clarity, some form of distinction needs to be made regarding the audition room - namely formal submissions vs feedback recordings. I knoiw we have the work in progress forum, but it seems that a lot of video links are posted in the audition room as separate from files being uploaded as potential submissions to the recordings archive.

    If we do somehow get an increase in participation, something is going to have to be done about evaluation of submissions. It's not fair to ask Monica to do it all on her own. I would consider helping, but unfortunately I am often very busy and in fairness I really do need to make it clear that my musical knowledge and tastes are to a certain extent specialised and I wouldn't feel comfortable judging baroque or contemporary.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    What I'm hoping for, and I think Richard is working on this, is that processing new recordings is more automated and then I wouldn't have to do much work. Then I wouldn't mind listening to so many new submissions. Listening/evaluating/and then having to check tags, titles, process, update main site...it was just too much. However, if someone were to submit a new recording, and a core member said that it's good enough for the site, then the person submitting the recording could maybe update the main site themselves. Or something like that...

    I agree that over time we have turned away people because of our high standards, I wish there was something we do about that. And yes, I also highly dislike how several pianists have come along and dumped a bunch of their recordings and then disappeared.

    One more thing...Andrew, I would certainly trust your judgement as to whether or not you thought a recording was worthy of the site! :)
     
  8. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello everybody,

    It was me who wrote to Richard about the need of having this discussion, and I'm pleased to see we are at least 4 wondering about the future of PS. I'm sure we are much more, so, to the others: please contribute ! First I would like to say that I haven't been always as present as I would have liked, because of my professionnal commitments (as many of you). However, I could retire in the next 4 to 5 years, and then, if PS still exist, I will volunteer to take part of the hard maintenance work !

    For the years to come, I am making two suggestions:

    - the first one is to try to set a more democratic evaluation process. Since none of us are qualified professional pianists, we do not have the credibility to assess alone the quality of a rendition. On the other hand, we are good amateurs, great piano lovers and, collectively, we may have a fair judgement of what we like to listen. And the aim, I think, is to retain on PS recordings that are interesting to hear, even if many much better professional versions of most piano pieces can be listened on the Interned nowadays (I am thinking about some streaming sites). So, we could imagine a system of votes, where, when a recording is proposed, the members would have the possibility, during a certain time frame, to give notes. I would suggest e.g.

    * one mark for fidelity to the text (which means a limited amount of wrong notes, a reasonable tempo, a suficient attention to dynamic indications etc.)

    * one mark for musical quality (emotion, expression etc.)

    * one mark for technical sound restitution (quality of piano and tuning, quality of recording).

    The mean values of the three marks would give an individual rating. Once three ratings are obtained, or when the time frame has elapsed, then the decision of uploading or not uploading would be automatically taken. Of course, the evaluators would keep the possibility to give comments and to have a dialogue with the proposer, but the marks would be anonymous. That would prevent I think irrelevant personal reactions that we have seen sometimes in the past...

    Of course this proposal has a cost in terms of information system. On the other hand, it would make many of us, I think, more concerned and involved in the PS process. And, for the proposers, decisions would appear more acceptable and not arbitrarily taken by a single person, whatever his competencies.

    - the secound one is to chase new members by going on all other piano forums we know, telling the people: you have the possibility of giving a long-lasting visibility to your recordings, rather than sending a file on a forum, and seeing it forgotten and not accessible after some weeks. Moreover you can become part of an international friendly community of piano lovers.

    I hope this may help ?

    François


    P.S.: another thing I don't like, not only at PS but on all Internet forums, is the fact of hiding behind an avatar. Very often, I have hard time remembering who is who, although all of us have a biography published on the site (and I think this is excellent). Why not signing clearly our posts by our full names ? This will also help newcomers to integrate the community. Otherwise, dialogues between people signing with an avatar looks like a small private circle in which you are not welcome...
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry, Francois, I guess I'm one of those hiding behind an avatar. I did it for safety reasons, though. I've never felt qualified in evaluating other people's recordings and was sometimes fearful that some crazy person would try to find me if I said something to anger him/her.

    I think you have some good ideas!
     
  10. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Monica,
    Please do not take personnaly my opinion about the PS selection process. You and Chris deserve a high recognition for having done the job during all these years, and I never found your own judgement expressing excessive pretention. Coming back to my suggestion, it would relieve the administrators from a responsibility, and from the risk of being hated by some furious rejected proposer. BTW, in the current system, it is possible to find your bio, since there is only one Monica in the 'artist' list...

    Otherwise, I have another suggestion to increase the members involvement in the selection process: to ask the proposers to provide, together with a mp3 file, a link towards the score (eg on the IMSLP site). I don't think it might raise any legal issue since IMSLP is quite well managing the downloading rights depending on the specific local legislations. For the listener, I think it is much easier to click on a link and to watch the score while listening the music, in order to assess the quality of the recording. Of course any one can do this score search, but it takes time. Often I had only 5 or 10 minutes to listen a piece proposed in the audition room, and I gave up doing it because of the lack of an easy accessible visual support.
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    This isn't meant as a criticism, more an observation. Isn't it a little ironic that, while we are discussing the problems of the site and bemoaning the lack of activity/membership, no-one has commented on the three newest recordings in the audition room?
     
  12. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry I have not been around for the past couple of months. The computer in my house that has a sound system is one I rarely use, and is in a room that I don't use much, either. (And I've been saturated with all sorts of activities.)

    I don't have much experience with other sites, since I record only a few numbers a year, so I cannot make comparisons. I *do* appreciate having a web link to recordings, since I play 'live' every now and then (church, community, whatever) and can send a link to someone and say "Do you think this is appropriate, etc.".

    I'll try to catch up on the Audition Room soon; perhaps between Christmas and New Year's.

    BTW: The suggestion about providing a link is intriguing. It might cut down on the number of recordings one could listen to, but make it easier to make intelligent comments. I get so tired of writing "I liked it, but what do *I* know?"
     
  13. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Actually most of them are only links to YouTube, while the main aim of this forum is to submit recordings to be uploaded on the site, isn't it ?
    Otherwise, any sugestion to revitalize PianoSociety ?
     
  14. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Indeed, this is a major issue. It is very hard to provide worthwhile in-depth commentary on pieces (ie something which goes beyond, essentially, 'I liked it'/'it was ok'/'didn't like it') unless one has worked on them in detail beforehand, and I'm deeply uncomfortable critiquing someone's interpretative decisions knowing that they have probably thought about them and my view may be quite superficial.
     
  15. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Francois: yes, but please note what I wrote earlier in the thread -
     
  16. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, however watching the score, first it is easier to be concentrated on the music, and second you may at least check wether all composer's indications are addressed. But it is true that often we don't feel as being competent. And sometimes, I don't like a rendition without having any objective argument. In such a case I don't comment rather than giving negative feedback without proposing a solution for improvement...
     
  17. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Perhaps we should add a permanent message directing these requests (for feedback from YouTube videos) towards the Work in Progress section ? Or simply changing the term 'Audition room' to 'Submission room' ?
     
  18. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, I would agree. 'Audition Room' is a bit ambiguous. Unfortunately, a sticky post under heading 'Please read', explicitly stating the purpose of the subforum, probably won't work - experience suggests 'please read' has the exact opposite effect of that instruction..
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, we definitely need to keep the Audition Room only for formal submissions....just mp3's. We can reword the description of both the Audition Rooms and the Works In Progress forum if you think that would help. But can one of you do the writing and then just forward it to me so I can make the change? You can't believe how burned out I've been feeling lately, and can't even bring myself to listen to new recordings anymore. I'm just hoping we can get something figured out and then the actual processing of new submissions is more automated. Then I won't mind staying on as an admin.

    Also, I guess I should go on to my facebook page and seek help. I have lots of PS friends who aren't active on our site anymore. Maybe I can get some of them to chime in here. Can't hurt to try....
     
  20. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I will post draft wordings later tonight in this thread; that way if I've missed a vital point someone is more likely to spot it.
     

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