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What is wrong with Piano Society?

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

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Firstly, might it be worthwhile making a sticky post with the recording guidelines actually in the audition room/submission forum? http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=15
    Better imo to have it clearly visible within the forum, rather than on the external part of the site.

    I suggest amending
    "Audition Room
    Upload new recordings for evaluation and discussions. Acoustic instruments preferred, although digital is allowed. MIDI or other digitally rendered/manipulated recordings will not be admitted. "

    to

    "Audition Room [or 'Submissions Room', though that sounds a bit masochistic!]
    Upload recordings (MP3 format only) if you wish to have them considered for inclusion within the site's library of recordings. Acoustic instruments strongly preferred, although digital is allowed. MIDI or other digitally rendered/manipulated recordings will not be admitted. Video performances and performances where feedback and advice is wanted should be placed in the Works In Progress [or "Other performances"] forum"

    and change the WIP forum (possibly rename it "Other performances"?) to

    "Works In Progress
    Upload your recordings here (audio or video) to obtain feedback, advice, and for general discussion."

    I'm quite sure I've not thought of everything..
     
  2. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    All professional groups are suffering from the lack of participation in recent years. I see it in healthcare professions, and friends in law and business notice the same trend. PS is no exception to vanishing participation. Why? Perhaps so many things now compete for time for most people - social media, work, family, finances, etc. Listening and critiquing recordings is quite time consuming which might keep regulars who are busy away. Personally, I don't think making specific changes to the site will bring the members back.

    Making great recordings has never been easier; Nice video quality on our cell phones; Dizzying array of recording options - cell phone, tablets, portable recorders, etc. So the questions that I have are:

    1) Are the regulars not making recordings (like me)?... If not, let this be a wake up call for us ALL, including me! If members are recording, then are members posting to other sites besides PS like YouTube, SoundCloud, or the like?....
    2) Has the complexion of the group changed in the few years to distance the regulars?...

    I've been a member since 2008, but have been away for few years because I hardly make recordings any more. In light of this, I was still contributing to feedback and making donations for a while because I trusted and believed in how this site is run to the core of its administrators. I can honestly say with appreciation that the regulars have become friends over the years. These are superb individuals both on and off this site. Perhaps Facebook was partly to blame in recent years for my absence, taking for granted that I could always reach out to Chris, Monica, Terez, and others.

    I just found out that Chris is no longer administrator/Moderator. I am very upset over this. IMHO, losing Chris and/or Monica will be devastating to PS in drawing in the regulars back. Unless PS decides to go in a different direction and searches for new recruits on SoundCloud, Youtube, Facebook, schools, advertising, etc. I know I am not the only one in saying that dissolving PS will be bad for us all in the long run because there's nothing like it in the entire world. Sometimes one doesn't appreciate something until it's gone forever. The collective knowledge, experience, and advice is given truely and wholeheartedly. Perhaps we've all taken for granted that PS as we know it will always be here with Chris and Monica in charge... Well, let this be a wake up call for all the regulars! It was for me today when I got the note on FB, and let the word out to the regulars with emails or the like, and I think you'll get a response...

    I am sorry that I've been away. It's good to be back. For many PS members, we're friends for life. :D
     
  3. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    I forgot to mention that I share the feeling of others about youtube-only submissions in the Audition Room. Not that I've spent much time on the works-in-progress forum. But with so many submissions in the Audition Room that are not going to do the Society any good, it's not as easy to browse as it used to be.
    On occasion I'll try to look up a score to follow along on a 'legit' submission, but I would never do this for a youtube video unless it was accompanied by an mp3 and was intended to be part of our library.
     
  4. jordanr

    jordanr Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks you! I was wondering how to handle the Youtube links in the Audition room.

    PS is not going anywhere. Chris is a huge loss and losing Monice is scary to me, but even so PS will continue to run forever.
     
  5. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I saw Monica's cry from the heart on Facebook, so I decided to jump into the fray.

    I have been away in the past because I was not satisfied with some comments, but this time it has to do my issues, namely technical ones. The site's standards have become so high that I cannot possibly rise to them! I do not mean in my playing, as I can play much better than I could two years ago and play things which before were for me impossible. What stops me is the fact I now live on a noisy square and any amount of external rumours would come through, like the front door of the building slamming, gypsy musicians performing in front of the café bellow, the fruit vendors gossiping with the vegetable sellers in the market, the old lady upstairs that relives the same nightmare every day and rattles the lock, as a ghost might rattle its chains, or the postman ringing twice, as we all know they do. My piano is an upright, an upmarket, good-quality Petrof upright which can go from ppp to fff, but an upright nonetheless. I have no access to a grand. One music school would let me use any of their pianos EXCEPT the good one, while another said, NO WAY. The only other place I know where they have a grand piano is at the Anglican church, but I am not Anglican! To cap it all, I have a mp3 voice recorder, which flattens out all dynamics, and hisses, as Monica will confirm. It seems to me that even Hamelin (to give a name) would have trouble making a good recording. Add to all this, I never know when or for how long I can practise on any given day. Some times four days go by in which I cannot touch the piano.

    Am I mistaken or do PS standards rise with the rising of the administrators technical threshold (I mean the piano itself as well as the recording process)? Not everyone can have a grand piano in the living room and we are not all sound engineers with access to the latest technology.

    I think that the people evaluating recordings should not themselves be pianists on the site; it would add credibility and impartiality. This would also avoid having a miffed would-be member from making nasty remarks about the administrator, as happened once to Chris.

    Sometimes there are bores who sign up, are never ready to submit and only seem to get on people's nerves. These should be excluded as soon as they are noticed.

    I believe you need to put a limit to the time someone keeps away from the site and you should weed out people who only use the site as storage. If someone does not post for a year, they should have their accounts and recordings suspended. After two years they should be deleted.

    PS also has a very tough competitor in YouTube. Who wants to listen to John Willy playing Chopin's Mazurka op 17/3 (is there one?) if on YouTube one can choose between Horowitz, Ashkenazy, Cortot, Haskil and so on? All right; on PS one can download them, but so can one from YouTube.

    About the Auditions Room, I would call it "submissions to the site", leaving the "room" out. I could never quite get the sense of this extra word. The rest of Andrew's suggestions for this section seems good to me. It would be best to impede the posting of links which are not authorised by the administrators. This would stop the posting of links to YouTube" or personal sites.

    As for the other section, why not just call it "evaluation and advice" or something like that?

    I agree with a real name policy. When I signed up, however, I was given no option and I believe that goes for everyone else.

    As for links to the scores I really do not think this such a good idea. Supposing someone were submitting a recording of a Mozart sonata using an "urtext" (by the way, I have all his sonatas in two different "urtext" editions and... they are different!) and the reviewer were to refer to a XIX century edition in the public domain? When I started playing Mozart, I was using a Schirmers' and... Let us not talk about that! What I did once suggest is that pianists should state which edition they are using.

    Why not have the site a bit more helpful for pianists? That is, discuss technical issues, publish insights into interpretation and new composers or things like that? They do that in Piano Street and in a blog I subscribe to. Let us take François, for example, who could write something about ornamentation in XVIII century French music; and Andrew, who knows all there is to know about paraphrases. I myself was thinking about writing about the insights I have had over these two years since I decided to improve my playing.

    You might consider using Facebook, if only as a means of getting the site visited. I would do it in such a way that people cannot comment directly on the post, but are directed to the site.

    As for reviewing, I believe one should give a template. I believe, as mentioned by François, examine the fidelity to the score (respecting dynamics, observing repeats, how the tempo compares to other readings) and to normal practice, even, when necessary, comparing it to other recordings, if not by famous pianists, by others on the site which are considered superlative and then concluding what is good and what no so much.

    I myself are not a great reviewer, I will concede, but then I am a strange pianist, in that I am no great fan of the XIX French and German core repertoire, such as Chopin, Liszt and others and do not feel qualified to comment on them. Give me Mozart, Haydn, Galuppi and Bortkiewicz and I might even say something intelligent, but ask me to review Fauré and I will be asleep half way through.

    What I also notice is that standard repertoire is almost not submitted any more, except for the Chopin that Monica posts now and then. I also remember some Haydn not too long ago and I remember it as of very high quality. I suppose competition has pushed most pianists into musical archaeologists, myself included at times.

    I could go on, but I think I have written enough for now.
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm not quitting, either. I just don't want to be the only one evaluating recordings and then having to process them too. It looks like we're getting some great suggestions here, so let's see if anyone has more ideas.
     
  7. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Monica, I'm just having some medicinal (neurological issues, you know about), as soon as I'm finished I intend to become quite an active pianist, both physically in my country and "online" in some channels, including PS.

    I can even consider being an admin!

    The only thing is that I simply can't do this right now, because I'm so unstable.
     
  8. jordanr

    jordanr Administrator Staff Member

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    I moved some of the recent Youtube posts in the Audition Room to the Works in Progress.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello everybody,
    It's good to see old friends coming back! Regarding this evaluation stuff, I'm sure we will find a number of fellows eager to contribute from time to time, but the difficulty will arise if we ask a firm commitment to the members of such a virtual committee. Rather, we could imagine to let a certain time after a submission, eg 1 month, during which the vote office would be open. After a month, if a minimum of votes has been cast (say 3?), the decision of uploading or not uploading is taken. If not, the original submission is moved on the top of the pile, with a message to members like "please provide your evaluation".
    I know such a process can be automated. I'm just wondering if it can be done with the current PS software. Richard (new admin), what's your opinion?
    Otherwise, within the current participants to this discussion, who is volunteering to take part to the evaluation process? I am !
     
  10. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    There are still some links there, however.
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I think it's a great idea to have a sort of committee to evaluate recordings. I don't mind staying on as an admin then. I can let you all evaluate the recordings and then hopefully Richard will have changed the way recordings are processed and then I wouldn't have to do that much. Richard already knows how time consuming it is processing recordings, so I know he is working on this issue.
    So about the naming of the Audition Room and the Works In Progress Room....what's the consensus on this? I like Andrew's suggested wording. Except definitely not use "Submissions Room" because of what you said earlier....lol. I still like "Audition Room" though...I think most people know what that means. Changing "Works in Progress" to "Other Performances" is a good idea. What do you all think? Do we want to eliminate any of the current forums? Add new ones?
    Btw - My signature now shows my name.. :wink:
     
  12. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I let native English-speaking people choosing the best term (I understand 'Submission room' sounds like places recommended by some French Marquis, but not for recommendable pianists, right :oops: ?).
     
  13. jordanr

    jordanr Administrator Staff Member

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    I may change the software underlying this forum. It is something I have been debating.

    I really like the idea of a committee to evaluate recordings. All those who are interested please post here. I will make your accounts have special privileges on PS and make your username be a different color, etc. so everyone know you are special.

    I will keep going through the posts in the Audition Room removing links.
     
  14. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm happy to evaluate recordings, just not EVERY recording! I would suggest that a prospective recording should be evaluated by at least two members - I think the more people who can do this the better; it's more democratic and eases the burden - that each evaluator rates it 1-5, where 1 would be an outright no, 2 please revise certain points, 3 adequate but no more, 4 good but could be improved marginally and 5 a fully professional recording or equivalent thereof - then use the average score to determine admission. To avoid potential abuse (eg via duplicate accounts) I would suggest that only "trusted" posters can evaluate, as a simple starting qualification might I suggest >50 posts?

    I'm not absolutely happy with the term "audition room": I think it probably gives an ambiguous impression, but I'm having trouble coming up with a better term. "Performance submissions" as opposed to "Other performances" for the other recordings forum?
     
  15. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    The evaluation of recordings is, however, only a tiny bit of the problem. The main issue is the lack of active membership, and objectively, beyond appealing to the better side of human nature, there is no especial reason why someone should hang around after submitting recordings if that is the way they feel inclined. Sadly, and I notice this on pianostreet as well, some, though not all, of the better (as in, fully professional in every way) recordings are submitted by those who don't otherwise partake of the forum. If your view is charitable, they wish to share their quality performances for the greater good, and if your view isn't, they merely wish to self-publicise.

    Perhaps one thing we could do which might be useful in the long term is to increase the number of recordings here which are referenced by IMSLP? I've never been sure what the relationship between the two sites is.
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sign me up too, Richard.

    More ideas for changing wording of the "Audition Room"

    -Recordings for the Archive
    -Recordings for the library
    -Archive Submissions
    -Main Site Submissions
    -Proposed Recordings for the Archive
    -Archive Additions

    I like the idea that only 'trusted' posters can be ones to evaluate recordings.
     
  17. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I could ewvaluare too. I suggest, however, we decided also who can review what. Ask me to review Liszt and I cannot do it, but ask me to review Haydn, yes, I can.

    I do not think only a vote will do; the vote must be justified, that is, the juror or whatever must state why the vote is 2 or 4 and the number should come after the evaluation, not before.

    How about New Recordings for the Site?
     
  18. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I also think that before being able to submit a recording one must have been a member for some time or to have participated a bit one the site. That should discourage people from just signing up and sending recordings or posting links immediately.
     
  19. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    @Andrew:
    - I like your idea of ranking from 1 to 5. But I think we might refine a little, for instance, as I proposed, giving three notes, respectively for accuracy, musicality and sound quality;
    - I also agree with having qualified evaluators who have shown their interest and their good manners. A minimum number of posts would be a criterion...

    @ Richard:
    Sorry not to be fully of the same opinion:
    - I'm not sure it's realistic to think about a formal committee with members specialised on a given list of composers, given the number of them and the few people eager to evaluate (at the moment). Rather I think we just have to let people who are inspired by certain types of music to intervene when they feel qualified (and available !). So, no obligation, just free participation to the evaluation process;
    - regarding the professional pianists who are just dropping recordings without participating to the debates nor giving any feedback to the others: I think we have to keep open-minded to the different ways of contributing to the site. A beautifull recording of a piano piece is a gift to the musical community, and I can understand that someone who is profesionnally involved in music all the day, as a performer or a teacher, has hard time spending hours to listen and comment recordings from unknown, remote and sometimes average musicians. Furthermore, note that our present problem is to get only very few submissions. Excluding newcomers or nomads will even cut the amount of material to evaluate !
     
  20. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Maybe you are right, François: if there are not so many people to evaluate, that might be a point you have.

    Should not full.time pianists state why they are submitting, instead of the usual twaddle that, yes.yes, I will participate and all that.
     

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