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#1201363 - 05/18/09 08:56 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1735
I can't imagine a better way of encouraging students to love music in general and piano in particular than making them cry at their lessons.

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#1201616 - 05/18/09 04:27 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]
hippido Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 107
Loc: SoCal
I read with keen interest this thread because of what happened to my son last week.

Let me start with a little background. My son is 6yo going on 7 soon. He started taking piano lessons since July last year, and by many accounts, he’s progressing well. He is currently studying Burgmuller Opus 100 Ballade, and Bach’s Little Preludes. Two weeks ago, due to his progress with Burgmuller, his teacher signed him up to play at the school’s open-house party, and he has been practicing for over an hour a day, 5 days a week. But last week just before the party, after his lesson, his teacher came out and talked to me, which she rarely does for his lesson typically runs past the 30 minutes. She was mad and told me that she is considering pulling him out of playing at the party, because he has regressed: something about his right hand does not play staccato correctly, and both hands got “muddy” in the last few measures. She also admitted she yelled at him, and he cried. I was shocked! A few months back, when dropping him off, I saw the girl in the lesson preceding his came out of the session, tears streaming down her cheeks. After that incident, I basically told the teacher that I don’t know what has happened, and don’t care, but would not want the same thing to happen to my child. That, if he does not do things that she asks, she can discuss it with me, but don’t yell at him. She agreed.

After this incident, I’m considering changing his teacher, because I believe there is no room for mean teachers in young children’s education, piano or otherwise. She is strict, and I’m OK with that. I don’t expect laughter to stream out of the studio, but I don’t expect yelling and crying either. I understand teachers are human, and many care deeply about their field, and the progress of their students, hence the frustration and consequently the occasional loud voice but making your students cry at lessons isn’t acceptable. Kids are human, there will days when they are good, and days when they are not to your expectaion. There has got to be another way! I read with horror the stories about knuckle rapping and such. If my son has to endure torture to play piano well, then I’ll pass.

Teachers, I implore you to pass on to your students the joy of music, not the pain of it. Music in general, and piano in particular, might be your love, and for it you have dedicated hours of your time to. But it’s not your students’ yet. Take the encouragement approach, and in time many will develop the love. Get the parents involved when the children are not doing what is asked of them. Stop the lesson if you feel frustrated. It’s simply wrong to be mean to your students.


Edited by hippido (05/18/09 05:31 PM)

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#1201670 - 05/18/09 06:39 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: hippido]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Your son is a talented child, playing Bach and Burgmuller. This is wonderful and I share in that joy with you! He is accomplishing a great deal, so much to be proud of.
32 years ago I put up with verbal abuse from a teacher, who is still teaching at a music conservatory. I started this thread in hopes that we can share similar experiences, offer support to each other, and if nothing else, just read and learn.
My heart goes out to you, you sound like a kind-hearted person who cares deeply for your child and you are aware of what is going on. Follow your heart, there are many very fine teachers out there.
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#1201810 - 05/18/09 10:40 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
chihuahua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 391
Loc: An Oligarchy
I almost shelved my plans for a piano diploma after 6 months with my current teacher ... I just couldn't take the mental torment any longer. I'm not a child (I'm 36!), and she yells at me whenever I fail to produce the "standard" she expects. She is a good teacher - she knows a lot and has great experience - but I'm starting to DREAD every lesson because of my experience with her. In my last lesson, I was close to a depressive episode - and that was the last straw. I think she was trying to destroy every iota of confidence I had in myself ... (???)

All in all, I'm glad I'm changing teacher and am starting lessons with ANOTHER teacher in June 09. (even though I've paid for the june lessons with my yelling teacher LOL).

Sigh ...
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Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.

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#1201818 - 05/18/09 10:51 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: chihuahua]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I stopped playing saxophone due to a meany. He was from France and quite a douche if I say so myself.

Mean teachers do not care about their students, On the contrary, it's all about them and their frustrated dreams and desires. This unfortunately produces sadists who then take it out on innocent students. So sad really. whistle
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#1201848 - 05/18/09 11:49 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: eweiss]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: eweiss


Mean teachers do not care about their students, On the contrary, it's all about them and their frustrated dreams and desires. This unfortunately produces sadists who then take it out on innocent students. So sad really. whistle

I don't know why we even have to say this. Isn't it self-evident?

I agree 100% with you.
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#1201852 - 05/18/09 11:55 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Are we talking classroom teaching in an inner-city school? Five classes of 25 - 30 a day? It's extreme, and I recommend the experience to all who are privileged to teach one to one (as I now am - though I prefer 2 or 3 to one) in nice places.

I wouldn't recommend that kind of teaching to my worst enemy. smile

But I would like to see people who make quick judgments about others who do it have to do it themselves. Five classes in one day with that kind of class load is VERY difficult even when you get cooperation from the students, and how often does that happen? frown
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#1201854 - 05/18/09 11:59 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: eweiss


Mean teachers do not care about their students, On the contrary, it's all about them and their frustrated dreams and desires. This unfortunately produces sadists who then take it out on innocent students. So sad really. whistle

I don't know why we even have to say this. Isn't it self-evident?

I agree 100% with you.


Could be true, who really knows though? In my experience with a complete nut case of a sadistic teacher, this teacher continues to have major success in her career at a reputable music school...for the past 35 YEARS. She is highly respected! What the heck is up with that? Question:
HOW CAN MEAN TEACHERS CONTINUE TO BE SUCCESSFUL given their reputations for hurting students? IMO, I think these folks are indeed very self involved, they do not care about their students and in some odd way, I don't think they want students to succeed, this is threatening, that someone could be "better than" they are.
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#1201863 - 05/19/09 12:15 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Question: HOW CAN MEAN TEACHERS CONTINUE TO BE SUCCESSFUL given their reputations for hurting students? IMO, I think these folks are indeed very self involved, they do not care about their students and in some odd way, I don't think they want students to succeed, this is threatening, that someone could be "better than" they are.

Answer: There are even more masochistic students than there are sadistic teachers. Many students believe unless their teacher is punitive, they won't learn at the highest level. They equate abuse with love.

Interesting isn't it?
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Play New Age Piano
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#1201875 - 05/19/09 12:50 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: chihuahua]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: chihuahua
I almost shelved my plans for a piano diploma after 6 months with my current teacher ... I just couldn't take the mental torment any longer. I'm not a child (I'm 36!), and she yells at me whenever I fail to produce the "standard" she expects. She is a good teacher - she knows a lot and has great experience - but I'm starting to DREAD every lesson because of my experience with her. In my last lesson, I was close to a depressive episode - and that was the last straw. I think she was trying to destroy every iota of confidence I had in myself ... (???)
I'm lis'nin to ya. I had the same thing at the same age! Sadly they are in very rare occasions a genius and that, as it's a gift from the gods, demands respect. That said of course, most are just losers! Here's a thread I started last year: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/957058/1.html
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1201878 - 05/19/09 01:00 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I'm lis'nin to ya. I had the same thing at the same age! Sadly they are in very rare occasions a genius and that, as it's a gift from the gods, demands respect. That said of course, most are just losers!

So it's OK for a genius to take out the whip? To each his own I guess. But think about this ... along with the transmission of genius come demons as well. Choose wisely.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
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#1201887 - 05/19/09 01:22 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: eweiss]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: eweiss

So it's OK for a genius to take out the whip? To each his own I guess. But think about this ... along with the transmission of genius come demons as well. Choose wisely.

There isn't a human being on this planet that I will willingly take abuse from, no matter how talented, and I've felt that way ever since I got old enough to fight back.

For instance, I think any man or woman, no matter how talented, no matter how much a genius, deserves to be humiliated for acting like a spoiled child, not rewarded.

Then genius who takes out a whip deserves to receive a whipping.
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#1201899 - 05/19/09 02:13 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
You take the rough with the smooth. Or as my mum says, take it from whence it came.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1201932 - 05/19/09 04:16 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
There is a difference between a teacher who is abusive for the Hell of it and a teacher who is a hard task master with high expectations. Not all teacher's who make students cry are abusive. Sometimes a student absolutely should cry because they just have not put the work in and need to understand that it's not acceptable.

Someone asked why these seemingly abusive teachers have so much success. I would say it's obvious. Fear can be a great motivating factor. I bet their students would not dare turn up to a lesson unprepared.

I had a very hard teacher at college. He was not abusive although he was prone to a bit of swearing now and then. He just wouldn't take any s**t. Most of his students ended up transferring to the 'easy' teacher on the staff. Their grades went down! I talked to him about this once (when he was in a good mood). He said, "What are good results compared to an easy ride?". I was the only student who stuck him out for the full course. My final exam was great and I got the best grades in the whole department. The best complement he ever gave me was, "You are okay, you can play". That was a one off. Most of the time he was telling me to **** off and come back when I could play the notes.

I do think it can be a fine line. Look at hippido for example. Here we have a 6 year old boy playing intermediate pieces. There is no doubt the lad is doing well. So his teacher can be tough. Is that really so bad? I would think twice before switching to someone else.
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#1201951 - 05/19/09 06:35 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
pianoperformer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 164
Loc: Johnstown, PA
I agree with Chris H.

My piano teacher at college is very tough an dintimidating. You can tell that she doesn't mess around just by walking in there; she doesn't even have to say anything. She has never raised her voice, but anytime she says anything negative I feel horrible. I would never dare go in there without having practiced sufficiently.

It took me a while to understand her. The first semester I was in the music school, I thought I was doing horribly because she never complimented me, and always found things to improve. I thought all the other piano majors were better than me. Then I told her I considered transferring out of music, and she told me how she really felt. She said I was one of her most talented students, etc. Now when I heard that, of course it meant absolutely the world since I respected her very much, and since she had never said anything that nice before.

It is stressful, especially when I don't practice enough, but I'm progressing incredibly quickly under her than any other teacher I've had in the past, so I really am grateful for that.

I remember the day I was glad I did practice though. I was in a piano ensemble, made up of 10 people, 4 of them playing the piano at a time. She once took music from someone and gave it to someone else, saying it was difficult and they'd be able to handle it better. Another time, she told someone if they came the next week without having practiced, she would send them home.

But when I told her I was having a lot of trouble affording the music school, she went out of her way to try to get me a grant, writing a letter of recommendation and everything, all of which was her idea. I was really grateful for that.

I really like my teacher at home, who is very personable and I can actually talk to. But she's not nearly as good as my teacher at college.


Edited by pianoperformer (05/19/09 06:36 AM)
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#1201965 - 05/19/09 07:22 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
Quote:
There is a difference between a teacher who is abusive for the Hell of it and a teacher who is a hard task master with high expectations. Not all teacher's who make students cry are abusive.

That's the first thing right there - intent and purpose. In fact, a teacher who cruises through the pages of a book without teaching much, gives a student simplified music requiring no effort, does no correction, is practising neglect which can be considered a form of abuse too. One remains unskilled and unable to handle difficulties in music, while probably believing in a personal lack of ability. That leads to a kind of helplesness. I don't know if a teacher has to be "mean", though.

The abusive teacher is the one who does not care foremost about the student's progress, but is on a power trip, or likes to feel superior by making the student feel small. Or is hiding inadequacies. What about the tales of teachers who cannot make a concept clear, and when the student struggles, rants and raves, i.e. has a temper tantrum? Others will denigrate not only their student, but every other teacher and maybe most performers, which will make themselves appear superior - that cannot be for the sake of the student. That's on the abuse side, imho.

Quote:
Look at hippido for example. Here we have a 6 year old boy playing intermediate pieces. There is no doubt the lad is doing well. So his teacher can be tough. Is that really so bad? I would think twice before switching to someone else.


I would first want to know whether this child is also being taught how to play the piano, rather than just being given difficult pieces. In another thread the parent was trying to figure out what tempo it should be --- which made me wonder why the teacher had not provided that. Additionally the practising instructions consisted of "play it through every day for an hour about 25 times." Is the child also being taught how to play the piano and how to approach a piece? When a bunch of little kids play advanced pieces in a recital, that makes the teacher look good and the audience is impressed with the teacher. If what has gone into the preparation of those pieces is to the benefit of the student, then I imagine it is a good thing. Can such a thing be to the detriment of a student in other cases?

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#1201969 - 05/19/09 07:27 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keystring]
joehempel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/04/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
As someone who had a teacher for guitar a VERY long time ago, I came away with a bad taste for all teachers, and in reading about experiences, I've decided the only teachers I need are myself, and the internet forums.

Most teachers I've come across want to teach their way, and any questions about the method are frowned upon, and you are then told why you will never be a good player.

I also keep hearing about a certain age being too late to start, and I think that's BS, you're never too old to start playing, if you enjoy music, only good can come of playing no matter what age.
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#1201995 - 05/19/09 08:19 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: chihuahua]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: chihuahua
She is a good teacher -

she knows a lot and has great experience -

but I'm starting to DREAD every lesson because of my experience with her.

In my last lesson, I was close to a depressive episode -


Why would you think she's a "good teacher"? Lots of folks "know a lot" but that doesn't mean they are good teachers. Just asking...
If you were to see these things on referrals, would you still have chosen her?
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It is better to be kind than to be right.

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#1202207 - 05/19/09 02:35 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
You take the rough with the smooth. Or as my mum says, take it from whence it came.

You take a lot if you don't stand up and fight for yourself.
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Piano Teacher

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#1202272 - 05/19/09 04:03 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
You take the rough with the smooth. Or as my mum says, take it from whence it came.

You take a lot if you don't stand up and fight for yourself.
No, if you know why a teacher is poorly behaved you don't therefore have to take it personal (even if they mean it personally). But if they have little to give anyway, don't hang around.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1202274 - 05/19/09 04:08 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Here's a picture of one of my early piano teachers. She always used the ruler on me and spanked me into submission. thumb



Just kidding! Actually, I wouldn't mind having a teacher like this!
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Play New Age Piano
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#1202409 - 05/19/09 08:36 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Chris H.


Someone asked why these seemingly abusive teachers have so much success. I would say it's obvious. Fear can be a great motivating factor. I bet their students would not dare turn up to a lesson unprepared.


There is a big difference between a good teacher with high standards who lets you know when you didn't perform up to your best...and an abusive teacher who guts a student's confidence and makes them feel like an untalented hack when they have worked hard.

In some cases it is a case of "the emperor's new clothes"...no one wants to be the one who stands up and says, "This teacher is on a power trip and not a good teacher" because everyone else is so impressed because they are so famous or won such-and-such competition or who taught so-and-so who is so famous now. And in a case where the school's reputation stands to suffer if it comes out that the teacher is an abusive jerk, it's no surprise that they don't want to hear complaints.

The post on the other forum ("Nerves About Lessons" in Pianist Corner) that the OP of this thread referred to, was by a student who had been a very successful student until (if I remember right) undergrad, where s/he had a teacher who said such hateful things to him/her that now (in grad school...at Indiana I think) the student still has no confidence.


Edited by ProdigalPianist (05/19/09 08:41 PM)
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