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#1199282 - 05/14/09 06:31 PM Mean teachers
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
There is a thread going in the Corner about a student who had a nasty teacher in her past, and how such lessons with this person affected her.
This prompted me to start a thread over here about Mean Teachers. Were you brought to tears at lessons yourselves?
Have you said something that you know caused your student to cry? How have your own teachers taught you how to teach: are you patient,when that kid simply cannot count 3/4 meter after the 85th try?
I had a teacher who told students ahead of each lesson that she would bring them to tears. She did.
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#1199308 - 05/14/09 07:33 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4783
Loc: South Florida
One of my 3rd grade boys almost cried today. I feel cranky today, and my voice got a little sharp.

I asked him if I sounded angry at him. He said, "Yes."

Well, I felt like a real jerk, because this is a really cool, cooperative kid. So I kept on teaching but totally stressed the fact that even though one little thing was wrong, and that happens to everyone, his work was good. And I REALLY stressed how much I like him, which is true.

And he left with a smile. Whenever a student leaves very upset, I feel as though I have handled something very badly—except in very unusual circumstances.

Anyone with a strong personality *could* bring just about any student to tears, but not only do I think it is wrong, I think such a teacher has a serious mental health problem.
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#1199319 - 05/14/09 07:50 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I remember my first teacher as being brutal! I still have a scar on the back of my hand where the metal edge of the ruler cut into the back of my hand.

My brother had a hard time with a section of Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" and to this day I see the red ink scrawled across that part " FORGET IT STEVE!". I wonder how he would feel if he knew his writings had such a negative impact.

I have had kids "tear up" a few times. But like Gary said, I always make sure it's all good before they leave. Sometimes it's because I "barked" that them, but usually it's the same few, and they are just really touchy.

Originally Posted By: Barb860
I had a teacher who told students ahead of each lesson that she would bring them to tears. She did.
Why would she do that? Power probably...? I think that we probably all have the "power" to do that, but why would we want to?

Originally Posted By: Barb860
There is a thread going in the Corner

Okay, what/where is that?
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#1199321 - 05/14/09 07:53 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
There are teachers who take pride in having the reputation of making students cry. Some say that this means the lessons are truly meaningful due to the intensity. Of course I think this is ridiculous but it does happen.
A friend of mine in high school studied with such a teacher for many years, even into the college level, as this teacher taught at a university. My friend cried at every single lesson she had.
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#1199323 - 05/14/09 07:54 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
"nervous at lessons" by cherry coke
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#1199324 - 05/14/09 07:55 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Quote:
I remember my first teacher as being brutal! I still have a scar on the back of my hand where the metal edge of the ruler cut into the back of my hand.


You're not the only one with rulers in your past. No physical scars, though!
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#1199507 - 05/15/09 12:01 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4783
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
[quote]
You're not the only one with rulers in your past. No physical scars, though!

Was this a private teacher?

How do these monsters get away with it???

<shaking head>
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#1199539 - 05/15/09 01:29 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
One of my 3rd grade boys almost cried today. I feel cranky today, and my voice got a little sharp.
In inner-city class teaching one can easily become an ogre. Years ago I found myself shouting at a boy 'sit down' as he came walking toward me - until the point of shouting in his face! It had no effect (he was special needs). At that point I realized there's just no point to that abuse - I've not raised my voice to an individual since. Nor, in one-to-one, had one even mildly upset - my heart just isn't in it.
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#1199616 - 05/15/09 07:14 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Gary, this was the early 1960s. Nobody ever told the six year old me that the joke about some RC nuns using rulers as ...... uh ..... encouragement, wasn't a joke.

After that introduction to piano, which my mother wisely (and angrily) interrupted as soon as she discovered what was happening, it took almost three years before I would agree to trying another teacher. Fortunately, that kind-hearted gentleman was able to bring me back to the table of music. Unfortunately, I think starting at age nine is a bit too late. Oh well, in another life.
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#1199618 - 05/15/09 07:20 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I've had some experiences with crying at lessons.. with some very wonderful teachers, who were just encouraging me to do my best, a bit puzzled at why I was having problems with something, and my own frustration just got in the way and I'd cry.. frown

OTOH, the last teacher I had in my teens was so mean, negative and stern, that he made me quit. I never remember him having anything positive to say about my playing, and I finally gave up and quit. I remember him standing in the crook of the piano, smoking, with that mean screwed up face, as I must have butchered another run in a Beethoven sonata, and sneering, "This is NOT difficult!"...well, obviously, it was for me... When I returned to the piano as an adult, my teachers were all so positive, I just couldn't believe there were people like that out there.. OMG!

I guess this thread really could be reversed. How many of your students

bring YOU to tears???

I vowed to be a positive reinforcement type of teacher, but I've brought a student close to tears already. It appears to me that she has ADD or something, but she constantly interrupts (I've posted about her on this forum before) me, and distracts my flow. One day I simply stopped teaching and asked her "Why don't you listen to me?"..I know this wasn't the best thing to say, but believe me when I tell you, I simply asked... I didn't bark this question, or yell or anything. I just was so frustrated with her interruptions. She stopped, and hung her head. I figured the tears were coming, but they didn't fall. I continued, "I can tell you love to play the piano, but I can't teach you if you're not quiet when I speak." She said, "sometimes I don't understand". I felt horrible. But then,
I said, "If you don't understand, you can always just ask me.."
We did end the lesson on a good note (excuse the pun), but wow, I still feel badly about it.

BevP



Edited by BSP (05/15/09 07:22 AM)

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#1199643 - 05/15/09 08:38 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: BSP]
Morodiene Offline
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
BevP,
Obviously those words had to be said. Tears and conflict aren't always a bad thing. It is how they learn that what they are doing affects others. It is also how we grow as teachers. With my very frustrating ADD student (see the ADD thread) I've gotten to the point where whenever he is playing while I'm talking I don't speak, I say "SHH" really loudly. It saves my voice, and it's something different than my speaking voice so he pays attention to it. I think in your case, this needed to come out so that she knew to ask questions when she didn't understand, rather than distracting you. smile

I don't think I've ever made a student cry. I've had a few perfectionists who cried, but I teach them the same as I did others. One had a serious issue and cried at every little wrong note, even when I told her they weren't bad and that we could learn to be better from them. We soon stopped lessons, though, and I'm glad for that. I told her parents she needs counseling or it would only get worse. As for the other one that comes to mind, he started out being very nervous and upset about mistakes. He still seems to get nervous at lessons, but he's gotten much better about the mistakes. Again, it's nothing that I've said or done, it's the pressure they put on themselves.
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#1199665 - 05/15/09 09:16 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Perhaps I should add this to the "unsolicited advice" for new teachers post.

The old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," applies to teaching as well.

Always, always, always find two or three items about a student's playing to praise, before you start working on the deficiencies.
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#1199682 - 05/15/09 09:38 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I've made students cry roughly... 3-4 times in my short career so far. Here are the cases:

1. New student. Ran diagnostics on him. He was nervous, but was doing well so far. Got out some staff paper, quickly drew some notes, asked him to grab a pencil and name them. After a few minutes of shuffling he began crying because he couldn't name notes. Verdict: not my fault.

2. New student. Ran diagnostics on her. She was 4 at the time, and I warned the parent that it was unlikely she'd begin. Before the door even closed, I asked her, "Do you know your ABCs?" She nodded yes. "Could you show me please?" Cue screwing up of the face and bursting into tears. Verdict: not my fault.

3. New-ish student with a history of being squirmy and flighty on the bench. Spoiled rotten, always got his way - except in my studio. He gets on the bench, plays his song in an agonizingly slow time with no rhythm and many wrong notes. After he finishes, he looks at me and says, "Do I pass?" I tell him no. He turns on the waterworks. "But all - all my other t-t-t-teachers they - they pass me when I p-p-play!" I tell him I only pass if the piece is up to the standards of both student and teacher. More sniveling and crying ensues until I calmly put my foot down: keep whining, and the lesson is over immediately, or stop whining, and I will work with him to make the piece better. He shuts up. Verdict: not my fault.

4. Current student, has been mine for well over a year. Both of us were touchy that day, it seems; I get up in his business over a misunderstanding (for which I apologized profusely), he is unusually sassy. Working through a section, he gets frustrated with counting. I take down the difficulty, I encourage him, we're making slow progress until he just quits. "I can't do it!" he wails, and then starts whining about how hard it is. I calmly tell him that I understand, and I'm here to help, let's work through it slowly a little bit at a time. There's no need for whining. "But I WANT to whine!" he continues. I give him a stern look and tell him pointedly that I do not tolerate whining in my studio, and he can feel free to get out if he wants to keep up with his behavior. "I'm going to whine!"

"Okay, lesson's over, get out." His dad sighs. My student's eyes start to fill up with tears once he realizes I am not joking. Eventually I pass him a tissue and tell him that I won't ever give him a challenge he is absolutely unable to complete, and that I am here to help, support, and encourage him to improve. Lesson is definitely over, though. Verdict: kind of my fault.

Other than that, my students haven't cried. Myself, I've cried in enough lessons just because I've been too hard on myself (well, once a professor of mine told another professor within earshot of me that I was hopeless and my playing was going to give her a heart attack and kill her, and that caused me to cry, which then caused her to tell me not to cry, it's her that should be crying because of my playing).


Edited by Minaku (05/15/09 09:38 AM)
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#1199684 - 05/15/09 09:39 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Perhaps I should add this to the "unsolicited advice" for new teachers post.

The old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," applies to teaching as well.

Always, always, always find two or three items about a student's playing to praise, before you start working on the deficiencies.


This is something I constantly have to remind myself because I get so worked up about finding solutions to problems that I forget to congratulate them on what they do well. I'll say something like "good" or "ok" after they play, but then I go right onto the problem areas. There's always something to work on wink
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#1199752 - 05/15/09 11:07 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Morodiene]
R0B Offline
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Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
As a child, I was often brought to tears by my teacher, (she was a ruler rapping type) but she was also an aquaintance of my mother's, so any complaining, and my mother would have backed her up.
My music teacher in school, for whom I have, and always will have, the greatest respect, had a habit of smashing old wax 78 records over the heads of pupils who were slacking.
Thankfully, I didn't suffer this.

I have one student ( a 12 year old girl) who sometimes tears up, more from her frustration at getting something wrong, than my approach.
Puberty is a difficult time for all young teens, with hormones raging all over the place.
I try to diffuse the situation, by totally changing the subject, and trying to lighten the conversation.
It seems to work.

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#1199857 - 05/15/09 01:22 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: R0B]
keyboardklutz Offline
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An interesting aside is that classes of children are very much an emotional barometer. If you teach 30 at a go, 5 or 6 times a day they are pretty much always the same. You go into work feeling much as always and bang! You start reacting adversely. Then, as the dust settles you realize you must be ill, didn't sleep or have a big problem on your mind. If you're not 100% in health, they'll take no prisoners.
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#1200154 - 05/15/09 10:50 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
At that point I realized there's just no point to that abuse - I've not raised my voice to an individual since. Nor, in one-to-one, had one even mildly upset - my heart just isn't in it.

I feel about the same, but even an edge in the voice can be too much for the wrong person at the wrong time. smile
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#1200159 - 05/15/09 10:54 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4783
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Gary, this was the early 1960s. Nobody ever told the six year old me that the joke about some RC nuns using rulers as ...... uh ..... encouragement, wasn't a joke.

After that introduction to piano, which my mother wisely (and angrily) interrupted as soon as she discovered what was happening, it took almost three years before I would agree to trying another teacher. Fortunately, that kind-hearted gentleman was able to bring me back to the table of music. Unfortunately, I think starting at age nine is a bit too late. Oh well, in another life.

I think the biggest problem is going back at age nine. I was eight and a half when I started. There was not doubt as soon as I started that I could have begun years ago.

And I know all those stories about nuns and rulers is not joke. I've heard SO many adults talk about it. The mother of one of my favorite little girls was hit that way. No arguments from the mom about my having a better way of teaching! smile
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#1200203 - 05/16/09 01:09 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
At that point I realized there's just no point to that abuse - I've not raised my voice to an individual since. Nor, in one-to-one, had one even mildly upset - my heart just isn't in it.

I feel about the same, but even an edge in the voice can be too much for the wrong person at the wrong time. smile
Yes. The teacher resides is an interesting emotional domain. The non-conscious pupil takes in all.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1200564 - 05/16/09 06:57 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
This teacher is currently a violin professor at a major university:
When I was 16 and just started driving to my violin lessons, which were 45 minutes each way, this teacher took pride in making her lessons tough enough to make her students cry. One Saturday afternoon during my lesson, she said, "You are sounding so pathetic that it's not worth my time to teach you. My ears cannot stand the sound of your disgusting playing. Let's end this lesson and oh, could you take me over to the dress store downtown so I can pick up my dress for the concert tonight that I'm soloing in? At least you will have then done something right for this day".
Granted, not a ruler rap but....verbal abuse, yes.
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#1200578 - 05/16/09 07:25 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860
This teacher is currently a violin professor at a major university:
When I was 16 and just started driving to my violin lessons, which were 45 minutes each way, this teacher took pride in making her lessons tough enough to make her students cry. One Saturday afternoon during my lesson, she said, "You are sounding so pathetic that it's not worth my time to teach you. My ears cannot stand the sound of your disgusting playing. Let's end this lesson and oh, could you take me over to the dress store downtown so I can pick up my dress for the concert tonight that I'm soloing in? At least you will have then done something right for this day".
Granted, not a ruler rap but....verbal abuse, yes.


Jeez, tell me you're kidding!!

And, you didn't actually drive here did you? I think I would have driven her off a cliff!
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#1200598 - 05/16/09 07:45 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: Barb860
This teacher is currently a violin professor at a major university:
When I was 16 and just started driving to my violin lessons, which were 45 minutes each way, this teacher took pride in making her lessons tough enough to make her students cry. One Saturday afternoon during my lesson, she said, "You are sounding so pathetic that it's not worth my time to teach you. My ears cannot stand the sound of your disgusting playing. Let's end this lesson and oh, could you take me over to the dress store downtown so I can pick up my dress for the concert tonight that I'm soloing in? At least you will have then done something right for this day".
Granted, not a ruler rap but....verbal abuse, yes.


Jeez, tell me you're kidding!!

And, you didn't actually drive here did you? I think I would have driven her off a cliff!


Yes, I did drive her to the store to get her dress!!!! keep in mind I was only 16 years old. I can still remember (I'm 48 now) sitting in my car outside the dress shop. I could see teacher in the front window of the store, trying on her gown and twirling around in it for the whole store to see. footnote to this story: oftentimes, parents would sit through this teacher's lessons, watching their kids cry and fall apart.
"But your teacher is so good and quite famous" was what they would tell their kids.
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#1200832 - 05/17/09 09:06 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Barb860]
BSP Offline
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Barb,

You know, I get the feeling that this particular teacher was taught by someone probably even more abusive than she turned out to be. Where else would she get such ideas? That's probably how she became so tough on herself.. Imagine having the teacher you could never please, then breaking your neck to try to please them, and in the process becoming an excellent pianist. Without having anyone else to compare to, you might begin to think that that's the only way to teach.

Alas, not all brilliant pianists are great teachers, though..

WRT the post I wrote earlier in this thread, my Mom has always
told me that I really improved during my time with the teacher I loathed so much.

And, then, Barb, for her to ask you to drive her somewhere is... outrageous! What a way to take advantage of someone..
*shudder*

BevP

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#1200878 - 05/17/09 11:28 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
razzigirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 65
Loc: Canada
Keyboardklutz,

How could you ever have remotely imagined that it would be okay to yell at a special needs child, especially in his face?

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#1200944 - 05/17/09 02:30 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: razzigirl]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
razzigirl, I don't know if you have ever been a classroom teacher in a tough school. I can tell you that dealing with groups of unruly teenagers drives you to act in ways which can be completely out of character. In fact some kids will make it their business to wind you up to the point where you will snap.

I got out of the classroom because it made me miserable. I found the only way I could keep discipline was to be as mean as possible. But it just wasn't me and I could not put on an act. If I was mean and strict I would go home feeling horrible.

KBK did mention that shouting in that kids face was the wrong thing to do and is in fact pointless. But sometimes you find yourself shouting and screaming because that is what it does to you.
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#1200975 - 05/17/09 03:46 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Sorry, but I gotta go with Keyboardklutz and Chris on this one.
I'm fairly certain no one ever went to class with the intentions of getting in someone's face.

I work with SpEd kids and I can tell you there are no kids on the planet that can push buttons faster than these guys. Like someone said earlier, "lack of sleep", "feeling ill" etc... and it doesn't take much to push you to your limit some days.

As long as we apologize for outburst and let them know that we all have "bad days" we are also teaching these kids that we all have limits, we are not perfect either and it's okay. I'm not condoning yelling all the time, but it's good to let kids know the boundaries.



Edited by Ebony and Ivory (05/17/09 04:32 PM)
_________________________
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#1201017 - 05/17/09 05:08 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: razzigirl]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: razzigirl
Keyboardklutz,

How could you ever have remotely imagined that it would be okay to yell at a special needs child, especially in his face?
In those situations you don't exactly have the presence of mind to 'imagine' anything. Try it.
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#1201035 - 05/17/09 05:47 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Roxy Offline
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Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
Teachers can be firm without being mean. And if you have to make your student feel bad about their playing and musicality in order to make your playing and expertise seem better there is something wrong with that picture. Teachers need to remember there is other things going on in students lives also no matter their age or playing level and sometimes they have a hard time dealing with things so that when they come to a lesson perhaps they are not trying to be difficult but it is one more thing to handle and that day they are on overload so a little understanding can be in order to keep them on the right path or practicing the correct way so that they are not totally discouraged. And if one doesn't realize that a special needs child has to be taught from many different angles sometimes every single lesson and yelling isn't one of them then they need to not teach special needs children or find another method that will work because that one won't.

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#1201060 - 05/17/09 06:34 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Roxy]
razzigirl Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 65
Loc: Canada
I worked with mentally handicapped children for over 3 years, which is why I was a bit upset when I read Keyboardklutz's message. I also taught English in Asia to kids for 5 months. I know what it's like to want to scream my head off. During these moments though, I just took a deep breath and reminded myself that these children weren't intentionally trying to anger me.

I didn't mean to pass judgment on you Keyboardklutz. We all have our bad days and deal with things differently. When I was a kid, I used to scream at my little brother sometimes and not let him play with me. I really do regret that now.


Edited by razzigirl (05/17/09 06:40 PM)

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#1201250 - 05/18/09 12:37 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: razzigirl]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: razzigirl
I worked with mentally handicapped children for over 3 years, which is why I was a bit upset when I read Keyboardklutz's message. I also taught English in Asia to kids for 5 months. I know what it's like to want to scream my head off.
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.
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#1201363 - 05/18/09 08:56 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
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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
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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
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
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
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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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#1201818 - 05/18/09 10:51 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: chihuahua]
eweiss Offline
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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
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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
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Registered: 08/30/08
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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
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
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
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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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#1201875 - 05/19/09 12:50 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: chihuahua]
keyboardklutz Offline
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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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#1201878 - 05/19/09 01:00 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
eweiss Offline
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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.
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#1201887 - 05/19/09 01:22 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: eweiss]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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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
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You take the rough with the smooth. Or as my mum says, take it from whence it came.
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#1201932 - 05/19/09 04:16 AM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
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
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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
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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
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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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#1202207 - 05/19/09 02:35 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4783
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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#1202272 - 05/19/09 04:03 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Gary D.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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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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#1202274 - 05/19/09 04:08 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: keyboardklutz]
eweiss Offline
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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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#1202409 - 05/19/09 08:36 PM Re: Mean teachers [Re: Chris H.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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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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