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#1202474 - 05/19/09 10:29 PM Your Best Teacher and Why
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
O.K. so the mean teacher thing deserves a new post IMO.
So much discussion on the negative: yelling, ruler-rapping, put-downs. All of this has got me thinking about who your BEST teachers were and why. Not your favorite teachers personality-wise, just the ones who really got through to you so that you learned a lot.
My question is:
Think of the best piano teacher you've studied with. HOW did that person get YOU on your way?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1202484 - 05/19/09 10:54 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Barb860]
musiccr8r Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 268
Loc: Denver
My best teacher was when I was in high school. What made him unique in my eyes is that every single thing he ever said or taught was with a deliberate and carefully constructed purpose. I did not start with him so I didn't get the full benefit of his beginner techniques, but I do recall that even the way he taught counting was his own method, involving certain words (as opposed to, say, "one raspberry two raspberry" or even "ta ti-ti ta", none of which are wrong or bad of course), which were intended to promote musical playing. (i.e. 6/8 would be counted, "One, now hear two," etc., to encourage the player to move phrases ahead to the next beat in a musical fashion). He had exercise pieces for every skill under the sun, he taught some cool techniques that I use 20 years later for, say, increasing speed, and he even thought through the showmanship aspect of performing. For example, when we went to adjudications, there would be a moment when you could try out the piano before you began your first piece. Instead of just playing a scale or the first few bars of your performance piece, he'd actually sketch out a little 4-6 bar exercise, related closely to the style of what you'd be playing, but not the same piece, so you could warm up with something similar, yet not play your performance piece before you were ready, and it sounded very professional.

I would gladly have interviewed and compiled his thoughts and tried to get them published for him before he passed, but sadly, he was too modest (or too tired, at that time) to try to do that. frown

I know that there are many teachers out there who do their utmost to personalize instruction and encourage the maximum musicianship so I don't list these attributes as if no-one on this board or other places is already doing them. They just were unique to me in comparison with the few teachers I've interacted closely with and in contrast with the teacher I started with as an elementay student.

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#1202553 - 05/20/09 01:46 AM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: musiccr8r]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5459
Loc: Orange County, CA
The best teacher I've ever had was the "Baroque expert" on the faculty of my university. My teacher knew she couldn't teach those Baroque pieces to me, so she sent me to her colleague. Good heavens! This professor was SO SMART! She has never seen the pieces before, but she could generate mental pictures of people dancing, with all their elaborate outfits and intricate dance steps. She made the pieces come alive for me. Before I went to her, I've already learned all the notes and gotten everything memorized, but somehow the style was not correct. That professor fixed everything. Too bad she doesn't teach anything past CPE Bach.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1202650 - 05/20/09 09:25 AM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: AZNpiano]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11761
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This is a tough one! I've had such great teachers all around that gave me exactly what I needed at that time.

My first teacher had me for my first 10 years(I had a teacher previous to this one but one for a few lessons before he decided I was too young). She was always smiling, encouraging, and enthusiastic about piano. She tolerated my lack of practicing and my anxiety of lessons. My anxiety wasn't from being afraid of her, but I was very insecure. She gave me a wonderful foundation despite being a "turtle" in her studio.

My next teacher was after another 10 year hiatus from lessons, though I continued to play. She brought me from the late intermediate into early advanced repertoire and corrected some of my bad habits I learned on my own. She also encouraged me to go into teaching piano and to get my master's in piano pedagogy.

Then I had two teachers at the university in the master's program. One was an excellent technician and the other was great at interpretive ideas as well as technique. Both were very helpful in the short time I was with them.

Now I'm studying with a teacher I've been with for a couple of years (I've recently returned after a 6 month break) and she has a lot of knowledge in how to address both technical and interpretive issues. She is a colleague and a partner, and while she is encouraging, she also has that "next level" whenever some particular task is accomplished.

I think the running thread in all of these is 1) encouraging, can-do attitudes and 2)expertise in the craft of piano playing.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1202667 - 05/20/09 09:52 AM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Morodiene]
cjp_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 202
Loc: Cincinnati OH
It's funny because I don't remember ONE specific thing that my best teacher did. What I do remember is that she cared about me personally, supported my choices, and somehow made me love listening to and playing music.
_________________________
MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, Piano
Instructor of Music Theory, Accompanist
Member: MTNA, OhioMTA, SW District OhioMTA
www.mtna.org
www.ohiomta.org
www.swomta.org

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#1202992 - 05/20/09 07:24 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Morodiene]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
This is a tough one! I've had such great teachers all around that gave me exactly what I needed at that time.

My first teacher had me for my first 10 years(I had a teacher previous to this one but one for a few lessons before he decided I was too young). She was always smiling, encouraging, and enthusiastic about piano. She tolerated my lack of practicing and my anxiety of lessons. My anxiety wasn't from being afraid of her, but I was very insecure. She gave me a wonderful foundation despite being a "turtle" in her studio.

My next teacher was after another 10 year hiatus from lessons, though I continued to play. She brought me from the late intermediate into early advanced repertoire and corrected some of my bad habits I learned on my own. She also encouraged me to go into teaching piano and to get my master's in piano pedagogy.

Then I had two teachers at the university in the master's program. One was an excellent technician and the other was great at interpretive ideas as well as technique. Both were very helpful in the short time I was with them.

Now I'm studying with a teacher I've been with for a couple of years (I've recently returned after a 6 month break) and she has a lot of knowledge in how to address both technical and interpretive issues. She is a colleague and a partner, and while she is encouraging, she also has that "next level" whenever some particular task is accomplished.

I think the running thread in all of these is 1) encouraging, can-do attitudes and 2)expertise in the craft of piano playing.


You are fortunate to have had so many good teachers, seemingly just right for you at the time, each one. I think timing can be a significant issue: at what point during the teacher's career do you happen to have her as your own teacher. My college piano professor, no doubt, was quite good, as she turned out some really fine musicians over her 30 years as a piano prof. I happened to begin studying with her during her very first year as a piano professor at that school. She was away a good part of the time, I remember not having many lessons with her. She was doing a lot of performing, then, as well. I think she may have been pulled in too many directions at the time. But once she settled in to her piano prof. job, she became a "better" teacher perhaps.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1247314 - 08/11/09 01:49 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Barb860]
Mike in Illinois Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/09
Posts: 6
My best teacher was my last one-- George (Gyorgy) Bonhalmi. He was a graduate of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. He made some recordings on the Vox label. He also composed among other things 24 Preludes. He told me (late 1970s) that he was composing music for Japanese cartoons. In 1986 he took students to a piano competition in Michigan, suffered a heart attack there, and died. He was only in his 50s. What a tragic loss.

He taught me the importance of fingering. He said that the best fingering was the easiest fingering. When learning a work, play it through once. Then work out the fingering to be used so that the same fingering was employed each time the piece was played. It facilitated the memorization. This was reinforced when I saw pictures of Wanda Landowska's "working manuscripts." She had written the fingering for nearly every note.

Incidently, George Bonhalmi was included in Jan Holcolm's "The Honor Roll of Recorded Chopin" which was printed in an issue of Hi Fidelity in the 1960s. Holcolm listened to numerous recordings of Chopin compositions and selected the best performances in his opinion. Bonhalmi made the list for his recording of the Prelude Op. 45.

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#1247432 - 08/11/09 06:02 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Mike in Illinois]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I only ever had one piano teacher, and never studied music in a school setting. I don't think I can make a comparison from one data point. :-)

My best teachers otherwise (my first two years of college math and one graduate quantum mechanics teacher) were the best to me because they were extremely smart, extremely clear, and moved fast enough to keep me from being bored. They put a brick on the accelerator and expected me to keep up -- and more importantly, they were such good, clear teachers that they enabled me to do so. Nothing beats a teacher that makes you move as fast as you can and gives you the tools you need to do precisely that.
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#1247440 - 08/11/09 06:25 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: J Cortese]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
My best teacher was so wonderful because he was so excited about LIFE. He was the most passionate, enthusiastic person I have ever met and ever expect to meet. He was my teacher from 3-18, and by the end of my time learning from him was in his late 70s, but still loved to ride his bike, go bushwalking, travel (a few years ago he went on a trip to antarctica!), learn new skills on his computer, etc. I went and visited him recently and he bounded around excitedly chattering about different CDs he's come across lately and the different things he can achieve with his new digital piano. No-one would ever guess his age, and he has a joy of life that is rediculously rare in anyone over 25.

On top of that he was a wonderful teacher as well. My favourite thing about his teaching method was that he had two grand pianos side by side and a large part of his lessons was playing along together. It was magical and taught me far more about interpretation than my current unversity level lessons where my teacher tries to explain in words what she wants me to do.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1247530 - 08/11/09 09:26 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: ToriAnais]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Man, my teacher is a MOSTER pianist and educator(jazz). Literally the most brilliant person I have ever met. He is my piano prof at my university. I've been studying with him for only a year and I cannot believe the difference it has made in me. Simply by observing my playing over the past year he can tell me how much I practise, how I understand and conceptualize music, he can tell me when I am going to peek and when i'll be on the downswing, he knows how my ears work, he knows my taste. Every lesson I go into I come out raving to other students about what i've learned. It's stuff that I have never even thought about! He is a mastermind on the stage, he knows exactly what to contribute to the music around him at the perfect time. When the students at my university first heard he was coming on faculty, everybody made a huge deal of him and I was like "okay, this is gonna wear off", but it hasn't! He is just as big of a deal as everyone made him out to be!

Not only is he a great musician and teacher, but I could go into a lesson and tell him anything about my life and he would have insight for me. He cares hugely about people. Ugh, so much more than a teacher. He teaches with his life.

Favorite thing about my prof: He teaches me how to teach myself.

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#1247876 - 08/12/09 11:03 AM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
I was lucky enough to have a wonderful teacher who taught me the importance of good fingering - like Mike in Illinois" teacher - and lit up the room when he entered - much like Mitts Off's enthusiastic instructor. I find that most of the teachers in my life that have made the biggest impact on my education are the ones that bring great spirit and enthusiasm to their work along with their knowledge and experience. I think most students respond positively to a teacher that brings the human element into play, and puts the student first, the subject next.

This is what I try to bring to my own teaching, and I find it works like a charm.

Joan
_________________________
Joan Edward

Private piano teacher, 20+ years
EDWARDIAN45@hotmail.com

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#1248027 - 08/12/09 04:25 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: EDWARDIAN]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
My "best" teacher was my high school band director. Because he took no guff from ANYONE, he demanded respect, and he pushed everyone to their own personal limits.

He taught me that I could do a lot more that what I thought I could. No more batting my eyes to get out of something lol.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1248056 - 08/12/09 05:11 PM Re: Your Best Teacher and Why [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
My best teacher is actually an art teacher - Michelle Cassou. She taught me the importance of process over product. Greatly influenced the entire way I teach and play the piano!
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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