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#1239009 - 07/28/09 03:56 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: eweiss]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17771
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Just today I read an article in the British Journal of Psychology on the "social context of musical success." It was a longitudinal study of 257 children who started music lessons, identifying the factors that predicted which children stuck with music and who quit. (Full citation: 2003, 94, pp. 529-549). Lots of fascinating data here, but the most relevant for this thread is that children were more likely to stick with music lessons if their first teacher was perceived as being friendlier, less "pushy", and technically LESS able. Interestingly, additional analyses focusing on the group of children who went on to become professional musicians showed that a "pushy" teacher was associated with later professional status. (The most important predictor, however, was the number of recital/concert opportunities engaged in.)

What this means to me is that if you want a child to stick with music, you're better off with a laid-back teacher... unless you're dead-set on having your kid become a professional musician, in which case a pushy teacher is better, though you run the risk of burning the kid out and dropping music entirely.

Incidentally, Ed, I know you'll find this other result very interesting: another significant predictor of who went on to become a professional musician was the extent to which the student in later years engaged in improvisation and "playing around for fun." More improv/fun ---> more likely to become a professional. thumb


Edited by Monica K. (07/28/09 03:59 PM)
Edit Reason: clarified one finding
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#1239010 - 07/28/09 03:57 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
DL33 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 27
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
BTW - AZN, at least some teachers have in-studio recitals. But from what I can glean, at least half of them have no recitals at all!


eek

That is frightening! What's the point, then, of playing the piano? No sharing of music??


Can I interject something from my own experience here please? I was a PAINFULLY SHY child but I LOVED the piano. My teacher insisted that I play in her recitals. I did once and it was a horrible experience for me even though I played well. I just could not handle it emotionally, so from then on I purposely made mistakes when I had lessons so that she'd think I was too awful to play in the recital (which she constantly kept reminding me about) and in doing this, I really held myself back. It was like walking a tightrope -- trying to learn and do well but not so well that I qualified for a recital. It even got to the point where I quit lessons over this demand of hers and we fought for months (she was a neighbor) about my coming back. She finally agreed to let me take lessons without having to be in the recital and I felt free again to try to excel because the pressure was almost entirely off except that she kept speaking of how this or that student was going to play such and such in "the recital." I guess she was trying to get me to change my mind. As for my parents, my mother understood and told me I was free to do whatever I wanted.

I understand the importance of getting used to playing before others as early as a child can, especially if the child has talent and may go far, but as a teacher I will NEVER force anyone to do this. I don't want any student of mine vomiting before lessons, etc. like I did. To "encourage" a student is one thing, to "slightly pressure" a student who is on the fence is one thing, but to say "do it or I won't teach you anymore" I think is unreasonable. That's what my teacher told me and she was definitely a "serious" teacher!

Why learn if you don't play in public? For the love of music, the love of the piano! For creativity, for a sense of accomplishment, to gain self-confidence, to go into new territory and find something exhilarating! I want to see a child SMILE with pride when they master a piece and we will go outside and release balloons and celebrate! And I will ask them if they want to play in a recital. I will leave the decision up to them and try to work with how the child feels and try to help them overcome any obstacles in a gentle, nonpressured manner and I will still teach them no matter what they decide.

Perhaps the pressure of an upcoming recital makes a student more serious about practicing but I never want my students concentrating on the dreaded recital to the point where it affects their joy in playing and learning. I feel this will give me a better idea of how serious the student is and THAT is what I will concentrate on trying to foster as well as confidence building so the students will WANT to be in a recital.

My own personal measure of my worth as a teacher will not be sought in how many students played difficult material in a recital but how many lives my teaching has enriched and how much joy I have brought to anyone who studies under me; and concerning this, I intend to be absolutely serious!!! I feel this manner of teaching will make a student WANT to excel and WANT to perform for others. This will be explained to the parents before I ever begin to teach their child in case they have different expectations.
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#1239011 - 07/28/09 03:59 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: trillingadventurer]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
But I don’t believe I attained my expertise and virtuosity from those things. Rather it has been the pieces and experiences that have pushed me. Those experiences were like the supplementary music pieces to my studies but certainly not the focus.


If I'm reading your post correctly, we agree on this point: playing in recitals and participating in MTA events contribute greatly to the student's progress in piano.
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#1239018 - 07/28/09 04:08 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I've encountered this in several communities where we lived and taught. These teachers seldom take the effort to improve themselves, offer lessons at cut rate prices to gullible families.


John--

There are also teachers who charge the standard rate or higher, and their students are less than stellar. I got several transfer students from this kind of teacher. These teachers send their students to MTA events, but never do anything to help out.


Absolutely!
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#1239019 - 07/28/09 04:09 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: DL33]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: DL33
Why learn if you don't play in public? For the love of music, the love of the piano! For creativity, for a sense of accomplishment, to gain self-confidence, to go into new territory and find something exhilarating!

Bingo! What is more important ... feeling the joy music making can bring or performing classical pieces and getting it right? While I understand the whole point of the classical curriculum, I often wonder why students bother. My hunch is pressure from parents and (gulp) music teachers.
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#1239020 - 07/28/09 04:10 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: DL33]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: DL33
And I will ask them if they want to play in a recital. I will leave the decision up to them and try to work with how the child feels and try to help them overcome any obstacles in a gentle, nonpressured manner and I will still teach them no matter what they decide.


You are serious because you at least offer the opportunity to perform. Some studios don't even offer that opportunity to their students.

I think we've been using extremes to demonstrate a point. Clearly, we all exist somewhere in the spectrum. And in many cases we do have the same goal.
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#1239023 - 07/28/09 04:13 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: DL33]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I don't want to hijack the thread, but I'm curious. Did you teacher have only one big recital at the end of the year, or did you play with and in front of other students continually?

Teachers always have the dilemma of having to decide whether to encourage a student to participate, in the hopes that once they've encountered success, they will want to taste more, or to let them hang back until they are emotionally ready to surge forward.
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#1239031 - 07/28/09 04:19 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
I'm not a teacher, but I forced myself to perform at my instructor's studio recitals even though I was petrified - I knew I had to get over my debilitating nerves when performing in front of people. I used to stop playing the moment anyone came within earshot. Participating in semi-annual recitals has greatly helped me relax and even enjoy playing for others now. It still makes my throat tighten and my hands shake but much less - hopefully in time it will improve even more. I actually asked my instructor to add a few more performances throughout the year so I can get more performance experience. I think it is important for every piano student to share their playing and build up their performance management.

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#1239047 - 07/28/09 04:34 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
It's all semantics "serious vs. semi-serious vs. not-serious"

My calling in life and goal as a teacher and a writer is to spread the joy of music to my students and give them a skill that they can enjoy for a lifetime.


How do you figure that it's semantics?
That was a good question posted by AZN with many good points brought up by others.

Just because someone can play, does NOT mean they can, or should teach.
Just because you want to "spread the joy of music" doesn't make you qualified to teach.
I'm not saying you personally are not qualified to teach.
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#1239063 - 07/28/09 04:48 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
How do you figure that it's semantics?


The word "serious" in this context can be construed a variety of ways. What is "serious" for me might not be "serious" to you or other posters in this thread. Unfortunately, some people feel that--if they don't fit another person's definition of "serious"--they are not being taken seriously for their work. This is because "serious" carries such positive connotations.

For example, as much as I have always disagreed with Ed's posts and his continual bombardment on classical piano teachers, I will not attack him for what he does with his job. It is his choice and we should at least respect that.
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#1239067 - 07/28/09 04:50 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Ebony,

I don't know what your personal beef with me is -- but my question is just as valid.

I think we are all serious teachers in our own right -- we wouldn't be sitting here on a forum with other teachers debating the point and the attributes of dedication and seriousness if we weren't.


Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
It's all semantics "serious vs. semi-serious vs. not-serious"

My calling in life and goal as a teacher and a writer is to spread the joy of music to my students and give them a skill that they can enjoy for a lifetime.


How do you figure that it's semantics?
That was a good question posted by AZN with many good points brought up by others.

Just because someone can play, does NOT mean they can, or should teach.
Just because you want to "spread the joy of music" doesn't make you qualified to teach.
I'm not saying you personally are not qualified to teach.


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#1239075 - 07/28/09 05:06 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: verania5]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: verania5
I actually asked my instructor to add a few more performances throughout the year so I can get more performance experience. I think it is important for every piano student to share their playing and build up their performance management.


Has he done this for you? Most, if not all, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities amongst others, love for people to come in and play. You can do this on your own without other students or your teacher. Just pop in and start playing, you will have a crowd in no time! If you're too nervous to go alone, grab someone to go with you and start with some duets smile
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#1239079 - 07/28/09 05:13 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
Ebony,I don't know what your personal beef with me is -- but my question is just as valid.
No beef. Sorry, I did not see a question in your post.


Just so you wouldn't think it was personal, I said:
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
I'm not saying you personally are not qualified to teach.


Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
I think we are all serious teachers in our own right
That is what we are discussing.
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#1239083 - 07/28/09 05:17 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
O.K. so if I am understanding the whole point of this thread, it's to define "serious piano teacher" and how taking lessons from such a teacher is better than taking lessons from someone who is "not serious".
We each are going to have our own opinions here and I really hope we can continue this thread without a bunch of posturing and insults because it's a really good thread IMO. I think John summed it up quite well in an earlier post, about how we as teachers can and need to improve ourselves to offer the very best we can to our students.
We need to offer them various opportunities to play and/or compete. I don't understand the arguments that have followed crazy
Don't you think it's a matter of standards in our studios?
A list of expectations and goals from a teacher who is qualified to teach?
As John also said in another thread, there is no reason these days to not have a good fit for student and teacher.
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#1239086 - 07/28/09 05:20 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [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: verania5
I actually asked my instructor to add a few more performances throughout the year so I can get more performance experience. I think it is important for every piano student to share their playing and build up their performance management.


Has he done this for you? Most, if not all, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities amongst others, love for people to come in and play. You can do this on your own without other students or your teacher. Just pop in and start playing, you will have a crowd in no time! If you're too nervous to go alone, grab someone to go with you and start with some duets smile


Great ideas.
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#1239090 - 07/28/09 05:32 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: DL33]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: DL33


I understand the importance of getting used to playing before others as early as a child can, especially if the child has talent and may go far, but as a teacher I will NEVER force anyone to do this. I don't want any student of mine vomiting before lessons, etc. like I did. To "encourage" a student is one thing, to "slightly pressure" a student who is on the fence is one thing, but to say "do it or I won't teach you anymore" I think is unreasonable. That's what my teacher told me and she was definitely a "serious" teacher!


It must take extra vigilance on your part to teach piano and offer recitals without unconsciously passing on to students that performing is traumatic and to be feared. My mother-in-law is scared to death of water and can't swim. She managed to pass that fear on to my husband, just by him seeing how nervous she was at the pool or lake. His brother, who went to a boarding school and was taught to swim there, never picked up that fear. (my husband did overcome it to a great extent after years of effort but I, who never had a fear of water even as a tiny child, have a hard time grasping how difficult it must be).

I had a couple of mediocre piano teachers as a child. The first retired before I ever got to the point of playing in a recital, but the second had issues with memorization herself. She always told us that "she wouldn't make us memorize" and that we could have the music on the piano "if we wanted to". So of course we all did. Just from her comments I though memorization must be some big mystical thing and that performing without music was "scary." I never really learned to memorize until I was in my mid-40's, despite moving on to better teachers (none of which knew how to teach memorization, unfortunately).

More in line with the original intent of this thread...anyone who spends any time in the Adult Beginners' forum know that a whole lot of adult amateurs have some pretty high goals and "dream pieces". In my not-so-humble opinion, people who want to reach a high standard of playing are much better served by "serious teachers". My definition of a serious teacher is someone with high standards and experience in helping multiple students to reach advanced levels of playing. This is about pianistic and pedagogical skills and experience...not about how "nice" they are or whether they "push" their students. A "serious" student would want a teacher who can help them attain their goals. Whatever those goals are.

You can be a crappy teacher and a poor pianist and still be demanding and unpleasant. wink
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#1239093 - 07/28/09 05:35 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Barb860]
Ken S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/01/09
Posts: 41
Loc: San Diego, CA
Of the thousands upon thousands of children who've played their recitals at our facility, we've only seen a tiny fraction who were past middle-school age. The kids hit eighth grade, and it's like a spigot being turned off.
I've taught adults exclusively for many years, and those who studied piano in their youth also report discontinuing lessons between ages 11 and 13.
Any comments on this phenomenon?
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#1239102 - 07/28/09 05:52 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ken S]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Ya. I've got a comment. The kids who quit probably never wanted to learn piano in the first place. They reach adolescence and other "more important things" come to the fore.

Or, they just lose interest. It happens. I played the saxophone at a very early age. Was even in the school orchestra as first chair. But, I lost interest in the sax when I found the guitar.

Things change.
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#1239112 - 07/28/09 06:11 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ken S]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Ken S
Of the thousands upon thousands of children who've played their recitals at our facility, we've only seen a tiny fraction who were past middle-school age. The kids hit eighth grade, and it's like a spigot being turned off.
I've taught adults exclusively for many years, and those who studied piano in their youth also report discontinuing lessons between ages 11 and 13.
Any comments on this phenomenon?


You could start a new thread with this wink

I think eweiss is right on. By that age, most of them are spread so thin that piano is one of the first things to go. Not always, but especially with the boys. Like she said, they also frequently find they like other things more. They don't necessarily leave music, just move from piano to something else.
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#1239117 - 07/28/09 06:19 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: eweiss]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Ken, I think we all have these students. I know that as they grow and mature, their interests are going to expand. Perhaps 1 in 5 will continue beyond 8th grade. Just an overall estimate on my part.

Many, as I see signs of wavering interest, I begin to talk with them about other musical activities and opportunities. Quite a few of my students have expanded into either band instruments or string programs. That's great. They're still involved in music, and they don't have a negative feeling about piano. And hopefully, they will end up with a piano some day and introduce their children to music via the piano.

A great many of these students will go on and enter the professions and become supporters of community arts programs. We need them! And perhaps some experience later, in college perhaps, will rekindle a dying ember of interest in piano, and they will become great devotees of the instrument.

All of this is the reason we should, as teachers, have a comprehensive curriculum which will get students to a real level of competency before they finish 8th grade. A level where they can continue to play on their own for their own enjoyment, without the constant feel of struggle.
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#1239121 - 07/28/09 06:22 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: eweiss]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Ya. I've got a comment. The kids who quit probably never wanted to learn piano in the first place. They reach adolescence and other "more important things" come to the fore.

Or, they just lose interest. It happens. I played the saxophone at a very early age. Was even in the school orchestra as first chair. But, I lost interest in the sax when I found the guitar.

Things change.


I think a lot of times at this age they want to play music that they hear on the radio and let's face it a lot of <dare I say "serious"> teachers either won't allow it or aren't flexible/knowledgable enough to take them down that road.

In most cases it's the lack of repertoire that they find interesting that leads kids this age towards quitting. I think as well that the teacher-student connection at this age is important. In my experience if they regard you as "just another nagging" entity in their life they are more likely to pull away from you (much like most teenagers do with their own parents). However if you make the effort to stay involved and interested in what's going on in their lives (especially outside of piano) and stay committed to customizing their lesson experience so it is enjoyable they will be motivated and committed.

~Jennifer Eklund
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#1239125 - 07/28/09 06:30 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
DL33: "Why learn if you don't play in public?"

Argh. This is something I've been fighting with a bit since seriously considering getting back into music and piano.

I want to. No other reason. That's possibly the best thing about going back into it as an adult myself is that I don't have a chorus of adults asking me to justify every little damn thing anymore. "Because I just want to" is all anyone else needs to know. I want to sit in front of the thing and work out stuff I've heard. I want to have it there to mess around on when I hear a new opera. I want to see what sorts of ways you can mimic the effect of a messa di voce on a piano. I just want to.

I feel like such a curmudgeon anymore about this. I can go as fast or as slow as I want, in any direction I want, and I don't ever have to listen to someone demand a justification for it. I don't have to listen to anyone trying to tell me about how this will Impact The Rest Of My Life Forever if I perform, don't perform, learn one way or one composer over another, and play at the one big recital, plus overcome my own childhood shyness at the same time. That's rather a lot of stuff to dump on small shoulders, before a kid even knows who they are yet.

Strangely, it reminds me a bit of some of the needling I get over something far more trivial: my hair. I've got it very, very long. I just like it. And if I wear it down (which I nearly never do since it's too long to leave down easily and I like putting it up), I can guarantee you someone will inform me that There's No Point To Having It if I don't wear it down -- meaning, there's no point to my having something THEY like if THEY can't enjoy it.

Like hell. I like it. I'm the point.

Studying music can turn everyone around you into a back-seat driver in your life, informing you in a million contradictory ways of what it means, what they want out of it, where you should go, what you should play, and when.

I wonder what sort of statistics there are on kids that get back to it as adults. And which category I'd be in at this point: the kids that didn't stick with it, or the kids that did?

And to you teachers: don't forget that many of your young students who disappeared when they turned 15 or whatever may be on something like this board in 30 or 40 years saying, "I want to get back to music." Sometimes with kids, it's like planting a tree from a seed. You may not live to see it grow, but 50 years later, someone else may be basking in the shade. Life isn't linear.


Edited by J Cortese (07/28/09 06:31 PM)
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#1239128 - 07/28/09 06:36 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
I agree with trillingadventurer and Jennifer. I do not do recitals for my students. They have the opportunity to participate in NYSSMA Festivals each year, if they and their parents are on board, and most achieve the highest scores from Level One through Six. If they want to perform for their schools, I am willing to prepare them for that.

I find that children now are so busy with their academics, sports, and social activities, that to add another item to their list would do more harm than good. My job as a "serious" piano teacher is to give them the knowledge and skills to make them the best player they can be as trillingadventurer listed so well. They can use that ability as they are comfortable doing either to perform in public, for their friends & family, or for themselves.

Joan
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#1239129 - 07/28/09 06:36 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5497
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
J. Cortese - grin grin grin grin

Great post.

Cathy
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#1239133 - 07/28/09 06:48 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
DL33: "Why learn if you don't play in public?"

Argh. This is something I've been fighting with a bit since seriously considering getting back into music and piano.

I want to. No other reason. That's possibly the best thing about going back into it as an adult myself is that I don't have a chorus of adults asking me to justify every little damn thing anymore. "Because I just want to" is all anyone else needs to know. I want to sit in front of the thing and work out stuff I've heard. I want to have it there to mess around on when I hear a new opera. I want to see what sorts of ways you can mimic the effect of a messa di voce on a piano. I just want to.

I feel like such a curmudgeon anymore about this. I can go as fast or as slow as I want, in any direction I want, and I don't ever have to listen to someone demand a justification for it. I don't have to listen to anyone trying to tell me about how this will Impact The Rest Of My Life Forever if I perform, don't perform, learn one way or one composer over another, and play at the one big recital, plus overcome my own childhood shyness at the same time. That's rather a lot of stuff to dump on small shoulders, before a kid even knows who they are yet.

Strangely, it reminds me a bit of some of the needling I get over something far more trivial: my hair. I've got it very, very long. I just like it. And if I wear it down (which I nearly never do since it's too long to leave down easily and I like putting it up), I can guarantee you someone will inform me that There's No Point To Having It if I don't wear it down -- meaning, there's no point to my having something THEY like if THEY can't enjoy it.

Like hell. I like it. I'm the point.

Studying music can turn everyone around you into a back-seat driver in your life, informing you in a million contradictory ways of what it means, what they want out of it, where you should go, what you should play, and when.

I wonder what sort of statistics there are on kids that get back to it as adults. And which category I'd be in at this point: the kids that didn't stick with it, or the kids that did?

And to you teachers: don't forget that many of your young students who disappeared when they turned 15 or whatever may be on something like this board in 30 or 40 years saying, "I want to get back to music." Sometimes with kids, it's like planting a tree from a seed. You may not live to see it grow, but 50 years later, someone else may be basking in the shade. Life isn't linear.


yippie

For the record, I do have yearly recitals that are entirely optional. Most of my students participate and get really motivated after seeing their peers play -- although a lot of them tell me that dessert afterwards is the highlight of the afternoon! thumb
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#1239142 - 07/28/09 07:01 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
It might be a good thing for you to supplement the yearly recital (assuming you don't already) with small work-groups among students of similar ability. They all come with a piece they're working on, or you give them the same piece and let them all come back and compare how they are doing together and make suggestions for one another. Some kids might benefit more from it than others, but an occasional work-group approach might be a nice way to supplement one-student-one-teacher-plus-recital-at-end-of-year.

In a way, I think I've made some sort of shift in my own mentality toward being a Real Player, however you guys might define Serious Teacher. I think they work well together in some ways and are at loggerheads in others. Speaking as an ex-student, it concerns me that Serious Teacher can be interpreted as "I expect my students to make the piano the single overarching motivating force for their lives." That's a lot to ask of anyone, especially a youngster who has no clue WTH they want to do for a living or even who they really are.

As a Real Player, I think I'm making a mental shift to taking ownership of my ideas on music. Effectively, the next time I sit in front of a keyboard, I'm in charge. Period. Knowing me, I'll probably race ahead fairly quickly, because dropping a brick on the accelerator is the first thing I do when left to my own devices on something I love. But even if I find a teacher, that teacher had better be prepared to support me as the captain of that piano, not just as a skilled helmsman to steer the thing where they think it should go.

I'll take input of course, or else I wouldn't be retaining a teacher. But where their idea of themselves as a Serious Teacher conflicts with my idea of me as a Real Player, my idea will take precedence unless they can convince me otherwise.

And all of this back-and-forth is just not the sort of stuff that a kid is going to think about or even feel qualified to bring up to an adult. Taking ownership of oneself as a musician is a huge part of feeling comfortable performing or making it a career choice and can only really be done by an adult, yet music is something that generally requires that one start young. I guess that's why teaching kids is such hard work ...
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#1239143 - 07/28/09 07:03 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
If they regard you as "just another nagging" entity in their life they are more likely to pull away from you (much like most teenagers do with their own parents).


Now, why would any teacher become a nag? Especially with regards to high school students. If they're looking for me to nag them into doing the obvious, then they've come to the wrong place.
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#1239149 - 07/28/09 07:23 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
DL33: "Why learn if you don't play in public?"

Argh. This is something I've been fighting with a bit since seriously considering getting back into music and piano.
"Because I just want to" is all anyone else needs to know. I want to sit in front of the thing and work out stuff I've heard. I want to have it there to mess around on when I hear a new opera. I want to see what sorts of ways you can mimic the effect of a messa di voce on a piano. I just want to.


I love your whole post, but this part in particular. As a teacher, I believe that it IS my job to find this out before we begin and help you to get to where you want to be. I will not EVER force something on a student that they are not in the least bit interested in. I am not saying that I won't expose them to and offer them new things. That's entirely different.

If you don't want to play for other people, that is 100% your decision. No one has the right to tell you that you *have* to play for other people in order to get enjoyment from it, or be successful at it.

There are a few of us, but not as many that like to perform. I am not a performer either. I absolutely love to play. By myself. Alone. There is no way that anyone will ever convince me that I will love it more if I "play for other people". I love it now. Why do I need to change it if I already love it??

I hope you have a teacher that will teach you and help you get to where you want to be.
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Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1239157 - 07/28/09 07:24 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: jotur]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
Wow! What a great thread!

Since my post a couple minutes ago so many chimed in.

Thank you DL33. When I first began teaching I was asked about recitals - still am in fact. But so many children
would be terrified, I feel it would dissuade many from taking lessons. As a child I was also painfully shy, and to face a recital would have terrified me. I would have never continued for eight years of lessons. And BTW, I got over my shyness in my own way, in my own time and perform - acting that is - all the time.

You sound like a great teacher DL33. We all have our own paths. And our own guides along the way.
_________________________
Joan Edward

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

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#1239159 - 07/28/09 07:25 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Ken S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/01/09
Posts: 41
Loc: San Diego, CA
One of the perks of my job is listening in on more than 3000 student's recital performances each year. The recitals with the most enthusiastic smiling students and parents, shouting, and vigorous applause often share a couple of things in common:
An eclectic mix of music in many styles,
The teacher might accompany the students playing simpler pieces on a second piano,
The teacher or a guest artist plays something of a bravura or show-stopping nature,
An atmosphere where the student's accomplishments are being celebrated (no sense of hierarchy or competition)
Really good food afterward! smile
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