Robert Estrin - piano expert

Problem Solving: Piano VS Computers

How different is the approach to a computer compared to a piano?

In this video, Robert talks about how different it can be to approach a piano compared to a computer.

Released on December 16, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. This is Today, we're going to talk about how computers and pianos have completely opposite approaches. Now, for example, I had a video recently where I talked about how, when you make a mistake, it's actually, in your practice that is, it's a great opportunity to stop and to find where you are on the score so you can cement the correction. The worst thing in the world is when people make a mistake and they go, "Oh, I can get that," and they just go back to the beginning to pass that point, and maybe they will and maybe they won't, but it doesn't solve the basic insecurity that's there. That's a real shame because you want to cement the correction by finding what it is and approaching the score and not just hope that your tactile memory will just happen to get it next time.

Computers are the exact opposite. I'm going to tell you a little story how I discovered this years ago. I was engaged by a music software company, G Vox in Huntington Beach, California as the head of the music content development team. I get there the first day and there were brand new Dell computers in the box, and I was a Mac guy all the way. I'd never even worked with Windows computers, and I'm the head of the department, 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 and it was great. The team there, everyone was wonderful, it was a lot of fun. It was a high-rise right near the beach. I was very happy.

Every now and then something would happen, and not just to me, but other people in the team, where something would screw up and we'd complain to the head of the program, "Isn't there somebody who can help us?" He says, "Yes. We have somebody coming in. We have an IT specialist." We're all like, "All right." We're all looking forward to that because every time something goes wrong, you're trying to figure it out, you're restarting your computer. You know what computers can be like.

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 solves it, I wanted to learn from him. Finally, I had a problem, and so I went to him and I said, "It's locked up," or whatever the issue was. He says, "Did you try restarting?" "Yes." He said, "Did you try reinstalling the program?" I said, "Yeah, I did that, too." He says, "Reinstall Windows." I said, "What? Reinstall windows?" I was shocked that his edge, 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'd get to the nuts and the bolts of what was screwed up. No, that's not the way it's done, and that is the lesson which is diametrically opposed to piano where you want to zero in on the correction and there's a problem, you want to figure it out so you can find out what it's supposed to be.

With computers, when they screw up, the best thing you can do is just restart your computer, reinstall the program. You really want to start with a clean slate. It's really counter-intuitive for me because I I've owned recording studios for many, many years, and when I had analog studios many years ago, whenever there was a problem, yes, you would simplify, but you wouldn't tear everything apart and start over. You try to identify where the problem was and correct it so you wouldn't have those issues again. With modern digital technology, that just isn't the case. When data is corrupted in one way or another, the best thing you could do is start over.

For example, so many of us now are spending so much time online with virtual piano lessons and visits, video visits to your friends and family, and as great as this technology is, I'm sure all of you realize that it isn't perfect. Some days you're going along and for no reason the audio drops out or something gets distorted or synchronization, and you might wonder how do you solve it? Guess what? Logoff, close the program, and go back, start over.

That's the lesson for today. The difference in approach to computer technology, digital technology, where you just want to start with a clean slate and start over when you have a problem, most of the time, 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 an interesting, how they are diametrically opposed? I'd love to hear from many of you who have different ideas about that, people who know more about computers than I do. Maybe there's some secret tools that I don't know about, that starting over isn't necessary as much as I think it is. Again, this is, your online piano resource, and I'm Robert Estrin. Thanks, all you subscribers here and on Patreon. Lots more to come. We'll see you then.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Meera Thadani on January 31, 2021 @11:00 am PST
The last thing I want to do is to spend time learning computer languages. I would sooner spend the time learning music. When computers work they are wonderful. When they decide to have a mind of their own, they are very irritating. Reboot! and see if it works.
Robert - host, on January 31, 2021 @2:56 pm PST
Computers save time half the time and waste your time the other half!
Charlie on December 16, 2020 @9:11 am PST
The reason your IT man was unable to fix the software was probably because the software is propriety. That means there is no access to the code to fix the issue. If you use Open Source programs the code is available, and then you can fix the problem.
Robert Estrin on December 16, 2020 @3:10 pm PST
We were using various music production software packages. Getting into the code can be a daunting task. Easier just to start over!
Graeme Costin * VSM MEMBER * on December 21, 2020 @10:13 pm PST
That is true, Charlie, but it is not the whole story. For the last 30 years or so I have been working in computing. Some of my time has been trying to solve problems that users have in the context of not having access to the internals of the apps, and in those situations I was limited to not much more than the IT guy described by Robert Estrin. But it is not only Open Source software that can be opened up - FileMaker and Access are among the database systems that allow users access to the scripting inside the database and if you understand that, you can fix problems.
But some of my time has been developing apps in C, C++, and now Swift (for iOS) and Kotlin (for Android). But whether it is apps you are writing, or Open Source apps for which you have downloaded the source code, you are going to need additional developer utilities (Xcode, or Visual Studio, or Eclipse, etc.) and also a much deeper knowledge of how the internals of apps are coded. If you don't know what you are doing with the internals of an app, you can easily destroy it -- and then you are back to re-installing!
So most of us cannot do much about computer errors except to start over and, preferably, document what happened in a bug report to the developers who do understand the internals of the app.
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