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Topic Options
#1100390 - 09/01/04 02:16 PM Does your teacher expect perfection?
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
My previous teacher said she worried about me because I never played an entire piece perfectly. I always messed up a note or a dynamic change, or phrase ending. She told me she had other students play perfectly.

I mentioned that to my new teacher who was a bit angry at my previous teacher's attitude because it is negative and ridiculous that everyone should be able to play everything perfectly! \:\(

Of course I play better at home on my own piano, but that doesn't stop me from making a mistake or two! My new teacher tells me to think of each lesson as not a recital, but as a rehearsal, so I can make mistakes - she can then help me with my problem areas. I like that style of teaching better! \:\)
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#1100391 - 09/01/04 02:32 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
My teacher seems to measure success by the extent of my progress, not "perfection."

I guess she is unusually humane, because if I'm really struggling with a piece, she will allow me to put it away and come back to it in a few months.

I don't think I'd last with a perfectionist piano teacher, to be honest. I mean, my exercise instructor doesn't insist that I run 5 minute miles, either.

And I can't believe your former teacher compared her students like that! Yuck. Sounds like your new teacher will work out better.
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#1100392 - 09/01/04 03:02 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Either my teacher is too lax or I'm a phenomenal student compared to his other students. He says I'm doing great, but I don't know if I am or if he just likes to ensure his paycheck continues. :-/

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#1100393 - 09/01/04 04:23 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
Bob,

My teacher tells me the same thing, even though I am rarely satisfied with the way I play in my lesson . I don't think it is just for he reason that you eluded too. You probably have some talent or you are just out working the other students, OR BOTH[/b] . I know in my case I work my ass off. Even if I have some talent it won't do me any good if I don't spend the time at the piano. SO HOW BAD CAN THAT BE \:\) . My teacher is good about mistakes.... no big deal.... we'll just do it again this week and next week and the week after that :rolleyes: . This is the best motivation for me to practice properly. Works ALMOST all of the time.

Sleepingcats,

Sounds like your situation is much improved. Good luck with the new teacher.
_________________________
Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1100394 - 09/01/04 04:53 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Mikester Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 1254
Loc: Minneesooota
What's perfect anyway, ya know? I mean if you play the notes 100% correct that can hardly be considered a "perfect" performance; otherwise we wouldn't have people performing, we'd make machine robots to do the job. Every performer makes mistakes.

Here's my thoughts on what a teacher should expect from student.

1) Understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
2) Be able to practice efficiently on your own.
3) Learn to appreciate music and be able to differentiate performances and be able to critique music.
4) Finish pieces before starting new ones. Have patience.
5) Know that having memorized does not equal recital quality. Persevere.

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#1100395 - 09/01/04 05:19 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
Yes, my teacher goes by progress (as Cindysphinx said), and I agree with you Mikester......

My teacher says that I am way ahead of others if I notice the little things, like:

1) I'm tense and can then relax and play more legato
2) My elbows are sticking out too far to the side unless it's needed for flow
3) My scales or Hanon are not even, but feel and sound syncopated instead, etc.

Just the fact that I am aware of these things without her telling me means a great deal to her, more than playing a piece with no mistakes. I'm happy that I have an understanding teacher (who also has a background in Psychology). Maybe that's why I feel like my lessons are therapeutic! \:\)
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#1100396 - 09/01/04 11:52 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Maybe,
I'm just thinking out loud here,

you should be making mistakes because you should be working on challenging material, and as you improve you work on harder material.

BUT, you should be able to go back to something simple and play it flawlessly.

??
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1100397 - 09/02/04 05:42 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
TimR,

VERY good point.. this thread started me thinking back over my lessons as well.

At three years in, I rarely play my current lessons perfectly, but if I come back to them maybe a year later I can normally just whip right thru them with great skill. I think progress is the whole point.

I have sometimes questioned if my teacher (who I think the world of) is tough enough on me. She has, however, been teaching adults for 30 years and I bet she has a great sensitivity for when to be a bit more demanding and when to back off. We adults, after all, don't have anyone making us praactice or keep at lessons.

I can play an arrangement of Claire De Lune perfectly and may submit it for the CD if I can figure out how to record it decently.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#1100398 - 09/02/04 06:30 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"I can play an arrangement of Claire De Lune perfectly and may submit it for the CD if I can figure out how to record it decently."

I hope so Michael, I'd love to hear it!

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#1100399 - 09/02/04 07:56 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
My teacher will sometimes stop me if a make a blatant error, but normally she just listens and encourages me. She has never said I want it perfect, even to my son, who takes lessons from her as well. I personally feel that she doesn't have to make[/b] me play perfect for me to strive for perfection. I am never really satisfied with how I play and I am always trying to pull off that perfect performance.
Jon
_________________________
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

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#1100400 - 09/02/04 08:39 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411

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#1100401 - 09/02/04 08:44 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Amen, Jon.

Bob, thanks.. but bear in mind it is an arrangement of it.. a good one, but the real thing, which I have tried, is a wee bit more impossib... er.. I mean difficult..
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#1100402 - 09/02/04 10:15 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
jazpianizt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/04
Posts: 411

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#1100403 - 09/02/04 05:32 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
BeeLady Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 2339
Loc: Massachusetts
What exactly IS perfect? The right notes? The perfect dynamic interpretation... according to who?

My teacher is VERY picky. But the most inspirational critism she gave was "I wouldn't have played it that way, but I wouldn't have changed the way you played it..."

To each, his own...
_________________________
BeeLady

Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!

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#1100404 - 09/04/04 03:38 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
LudwigVanBee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/04
Posts: 83
Loc: USA
 Quote:
My previous teacher said she worried about me because I never played an entire piece perfectly. I always messed up a note or a dynamic change, or phrase ending. She told me she had other students play perfectly.
What a horrible thing to say to a student, very demeaning, in my opinion. Teachers can be cruel. I remember many of them growing up in school. I now know that perfectionism is a mental disorder. Such people should be banned from teaching.
_________________________
_ _ ___________________________ _ _
"There are no shortcuts to anything worth doing." Beverly Sills

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#1100405 - 09/06/04 05:52 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I agree with LvB, the way your teacher phrased it is very demeaning. I'd have to say my teacher does expect perfection, but also understands that it's an almost impossible goal to attain. I also think that "perfection" really means being able to play something musically, really getting into the piece and playing it as it was intended by the composer, the period it was composed in, etc. Being note-perfect isn't it.

I think my teacher would rather I play a piece musically and well than be note-perfect. But without a doubt, the goal is perfection.

But I've NEVER been put down for failing to achieve it!

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#1100406 - 09/06/04 08:57 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
sleepingcats Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 982
Loc: Oregon
I've really enjoyed everyone's opinions on this subject.....

 Quote:
I also think that "perfection" really means being able to play something musically, really getting into the piece and playing it as it was intended by the composer, the period it was composed in, etc. Being note-perfect isn't it.
I agree..... Since I'm not planning on becoming a concert pianist, as long as my teacher and I are happy with my progress, that's the main thing. Also, I do agree with TimR and Mikhailoh that returning to a piece after a break is beneficial because of the progress during the break.

I want to play "correctly", but not to the point where I'm stressing out and not enjoying practicing. \:\) I put too much pressure on myself sometimes, but on the other hand, it's good for me to have something to focus so intently on.

I have played Fur Elise perfectly in my past piano life years ago, but right now I think I have a "complex". Hopefully it'll disappear as I continue to work with my new teacher. \:\) I am[/b] more relaxed with her than my previous one.
_________________________
"Cats make purrfect friends"

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#1100407 - 09/06/04 09:08 PM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
By TimR

 Quote:
you should be making mistakes because you should be working on challenging material, and as you improve you work on harder material.

BUT, you should be able to go back to something simple and play it flawlessly.
My teacher says that there are two levels, your working level and your actual level. Your working level is music that you have to spend a lot of time to learn and your actual level is music you can actually play without any difficulty..... I am paraphrasing here. I am sure at some point with very difficult music that changes a bit. I think he was speaking to beginner and intermediate players more than advanced players who are dealing with very challenging music. Has anyone heard this before? It makes sense to me.
_________________________
Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1100408 - 09/07/04 03:44 AM Re: Does your teacher expect perfection?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Or, maybe the teacher was correct, though a little less than tactful.

Maybe something is interfering with performance, such that the student is not playing as well as they should.

On a simple piece, note perfect should be a given, and musical interpretation should start from that point. If a student has flaws in something that should be well within their abilities, then it makes sense to identify what causes them and try to fix them.

For example, the student always misses the accidentals the first time through the piece. Well, we need to have a strategy to prevent this. It may still happen on a difficult piece, but on an easy one, we should get the accidentals right the first time, not the second. The student always miscounts triplets. Etc., etc.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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