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#1237892 - 07/26/09 10:59 PM The Serious Piano Teacher
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
I was out all day today at a local piano competition. There were long periods of waiting time, so I got a chance to talk to some of my students' parents.

One of my semi-recent tranfer students had the opportunity to compete for the first time. Her mother thanked me for pushing her daughter. It was quite a new experience for their family, seeing so many serious piano students gathered at the same place. She wonders why her daughter's previous teacher never took the time to encourage students to compete.

I think the reason is quite obvious. I am a more serious piano teacher than her daughter's previous teacher. When you take piano seriously, you play better. It is that simple. When many of my transfer students see what serious piano studies can bring, they never look back.
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#1237904 - 07/26/09 11:21 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
I agree with you, AZN. There is a great need for the "serious piano teacher". I learned from several myself. But I was a serious student. Many are not. Students learn for a variety of reasons and bring all different personalities, wants, needs, desires, and ambitions (or lack thereof) to the table. The teacher-student relationship is full of give and take. The student will only be as good as his/her ambition will take them, regardless of who is teaching them.
There are also many students who want to learn the piano but do not wish to compete or have the time to do so. They may not fall into the serious category, but they love music and want to learn the piano.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1238115 - 07/27/09 11:52 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I tell my prospective parents up front that I am a serious teacher, and explain what that means. I do this forthrightly, because this is not what many, if not most, parents are looking for in a teacher. In this day and age, there is no reason for a student-teacher-parent mismatch. It still happens, but far less often.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238121 - 07/27/09 12:03 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I tell my prospective parents up front that I am a serious teacher, and explain what that means.


Can you explain what that means here John? I am curious to know what your definition is. Thanks.

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#1238185 - 07/27/09 01:28 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: verania5]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Probably the most complete answer can be gained by reading through my website.

Serious teachers have high expectations of students, expectations which can only be fulfilled with focused, daily practice. We expect parents to treat music study like they would sports practice - spending the money necessary for the right equipment, dedicating the time for daily practice, insuring that students are at all events (games in the sports vernacular).

Not all serious teachers focus on art music; not all serious teachers focus on the classical genre. But I think you'll find that serious teachers are really committed to their students and their progress in mastering the piano.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238208 - 07/27/09 01:47 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
She wonders why her daughter's previous teacher never took the time to encourage students to compete.

I think the reason is quite obvious. I am a more serious piano teacher than her daughter's previous teacher.


According to this, I am not a serious teacher, my kids don't join competitions.

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
When you take piano seriously, you play better. It is that simple. When many of my transfer students see what serious piano studies can bring, they never look back.

Absolutely agree with you smile

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Serious teachers have high expectations of students, expectations which can only be fulfilled with focused, daily practice. We expect parents to treat music study like they would sports practice - spending the money necessary for the right equipment, dedicating the time for daily practice, insuring that students are at all events (games in the sports vernacular).

...serious teachers are really committed to their students and their progress in mastering the piano.


According to this I am.

I guess like most other things in this forum, there is a mixture of all kinds of teachings and education, and we all fill the needs that we have at the moment smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1238236 - 07/27/09 02:26 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
E&I--

It doesn't have to be competitions. Public festivals and recitals that involve students from several studios also count.

My most recent transfer students never played in these events, and when they do, it is always an eye-opening experience for them.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1238242 - 07/27/09 02:33 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
E&I--It doesn't have to be competitions. Public festivals and recitals that involve students from several studios also count.


Yeah smile I'm "serious" then lol
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1238272 - 07/27/09 03:23 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
John, your definition of the serious teacher is interesting to me because I had gone through a succession of teachers in my youth. My first teacher was a pianist for the San Francisco Symphony, and he was amazing, however it only lasted a short while and I was matched with one teacher after another. The local music center where I took lessons was apparently a way-station for temporarily out-of-work musicians who needed to make ends meet so I had no real stability in my piano instruction. I wish I had a long-term instructor with your dedication when I was younger. Luckily today I have the benefit of continuous instruction from an excellent instructor and also the ability to control my musical direction. Your students are very lucky!

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#1238285 - 07/27/09 03:42 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Quote:
... and when they do, it is always an eye-opening experience for them.

How so, and in what way does it benefit them in their growth, if it's ok to ask?

The part that bothers me is the competitive part. I don't want to relate to an audience or to other musicians in that manner. I think that for me it would do something to the act of performing. Hearing others' interpretations, or even seeing where others might have difficulties and strengths is something that would be helpful I'd think. Is that the kind of thing you mean?

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#1238298 - 07/27/09 04:14 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: keystring]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Keystring:

It doesn't have to be competitive. When students see what they _can_ do with music, that's when they are more motivated to do well. It is also helpful to witness other students who struggle, but somehow manage to finish.

If students do nothing but in-studio recitals in which everyone plays poorly, then the bar is set low and there is no expectation to play well. Then it becomes "what's the point?"
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1238303 - 07/27/09 04:33 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Thank you, AZN. Now I understand.
KS

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#1238336 - 07/27/09 05:27 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: AZNpiano
E&I--It doesn't have to be competitions. Public festivals and recitals that involve students from several studios also count.


Yeah smile I'm "serious" then lol


Me, too, as well!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1238337 - 07/27/09 05:28 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Apropos AZN's comment: I had a mom come up to me at some event last year and tell me she never knew students could play that well. And she plays the piano a bit herself.

When parents have an opportunity to hear/see what their student's peers are doing, it often changes the home equation. For the better!

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!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238338 - 07/27/09 05:30 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Many piano teachers and other music teachers as well, in my community, do not have any type of recitals at all for their students. They do group lessons and ensemble playing but that's it.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1238397 - 07/27/09 06:50 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
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??
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1238431 - 07/27/09 07:41 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, would you call these "serious" teachers?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238448 - 07/27/09 08:01 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I wouldn't say they are not serious just because they don't hold public performances. After all, language teachers don't take their students to practice the languages either, but they are still serious about teaching the language.

However, the students would get better at speaking it if they could hear others doing it too.

I can definitely see where not holding any performances could hinder a student. Some kids just won't push themselves until they know they are going to be on stage. If they were never to do that, there are some that would never be motivated to perfect a few pieces.

But like John said, does it make them less serious as a teacher? I think that's an answer that is going to have a lot of differing opinions.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1238475 - 07/27/09 08:41 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
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??


Do you have parents of your students who do not understand the importance of sharing music? Some parents of my students have actually begged me not to push their children to play publicly, in recitals or anything similar. While respecting their concerns and requests, I explain why recitals are an important part of piano study. What I'm suggesting here is that it's not always the teacher's fault if students are not performing. Do you have this issue in your studio and if so, how do you handle it?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1238485 - 07/27/09 09:01 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
After all, language teachers don't take their students to practice the languages either, but they are still serious about teaching the language.


Not any of the ones I know. Every language teacher I've known has strongly encouraged their students to get firsthand experience with the language, be it studying abroad or organizing a weekly Kaffeeklatsch where they can use the language, preferably with native speakers.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1238493 - 07/27/09 09:13 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860
What I'm suggesting here is that it's not always the teacher's fault if students are not performing. Do you have this issue in your studio and if so, how do you handle it?
I'm not sure if that question is for AZN or all of us, but I have come across that a couple times. No matter how hard I tried to convince a parent that it would be good for the student, they just wouldn't have any part of it. Aside from refusing the student (which I wouldn't do), I don't see how there is a lot I can do about it. I just keep trying smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1238515 - 07/27/09 09:43 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
I have seen these students before, but not parents. I've never worked for parents who don't want their kids to play at recitals, etc. I've had students who don't want to play in recitals. I let them play in "non-threatening" situations before they dive into recitals.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1238790 - 07/28/09 10:29 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
But like John said, does it make them less serious as a teacher? I think that's an answer that is going to have a lot of differing opinions.


My sense is that while many of these teachers may be sincere, they are not necessarily serious. Accepting the old adage that you cannot judge a book by its cover, there are still some indicators worth checking:

- Are they certified or are they pursuing certification?

- Do the engage in self-improvement, through conferences, classes etc.?

- Are they engaged in the community's arts program in one way or another?

- Do they perform periodically?

Just a few of the more obvious indicators.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238925 - 07/28/09 01:59 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
This is what I’m serious about as a Piano Teacher:

Student led musical interests
Encouraging but not forcing
Proper technique, hand positions and posture
Teaching by ear as well as notes
Promoting creativity and song writing
Consistent practicing habits.
Getting excited about getting better.


As a students I competed in Sonatina Festivals, Composer Festivals and Certificate of Merit to the highest level.

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.

Here is where my own personal advancement came from:

It was my three months in France playing piano and violin duets with the violinist upstairs.

It was the summer in Germany when I fell in love with Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (First Movement) and also watched a Poetry/John Cage/Bach performance at an old Castle in the mountains.

And of course as always and currently: being at home and sipping short little espressos while practicing for hours because I enjoy it and I have a passionate and loving relationship with my instrument.

I have always been motivated by my heart. Not by ribbons and trophies. This is what I am trying to pass onto my students. Whether this makes me a serious teacher I don’t know. But I know that I am very serious about what I do.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1238990 - 07/28/09 03:25 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: trillingadventurer]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
AMEN to all of this Trillingadventurer! 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.

Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
This is what I’m serious about as a Piano Teacher:

Student led musical interests
Encouraging but not forcing
Proper technique, hand positions and posture
Teaching by ear as well as notes
Promoting creativity and song writing
Consistent practicing habits.
Getting excited about getting better.


As a students I competed in Sonatina Festivals, Composer Festivals and Certificate of Merit to the highest level.

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.

Here is where my own personal advancement came from:

It was my three months in France playing piano and violin duets with the violinist upstairs.

It was the summer in Germany when I fell in love with Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (First Movement) and also watched a Poetry/John Cage/Bach performance at an old Castle in the mountains.

And of course as always and currently: being at home and sipping short little espressos while practicing for hours because I enjoy it and I have a passionate and loving relationship with my instrument.

I have always been motivated by my heart. Not by ribbons and trophies. This is what I am trying to pass onto my students. Whether this makes me a serious teacher I don’t know. But I know that I am very serious about what I do.


Edited by Jennifer Eklund (07/28/09 03:26 PM)
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#1238995 - 07/28/09 03:36 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jennifer, with all due respect, it's not all semantics. We have teachers in our town who are teaching students just to earn pocket money. They can play, but not well. Their students progress very slowly - I know - occasionally I get some as transfers and your heart goes out to them. I'll be willing to bet you have quite a few in southern California as well.

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.

My guess is that few if any teachers active on this forum would be classed "not serious."
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1238998 - 07/28/09 03:40 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
AMEN to all of this Trillingadventurer! 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.

I couldn't agree more! To spend years learning how to play something "correctly" just doesn't jibe with me. Much more important to actually experience the joy of music making right from the beginning.

I could go into detail about all of this. I could, but I won't.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1239002 - 07/28/09 03:46 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The serious piano teacher has a strong sense of pride, purpose and ethics in their teaching business. Besides that, having a vast reservoir of practiced literature and knowing the teaching points of any piece under construction, this teacher has to be very capable and prepared to communicate with the piano student and their family. With enthusiasm and energy and passion, the teacher takes the student through the universe of making music - a fun adventure and personal journey of development of the student's musical ability and their enjoyment and satifaction, as well as the relationship cultivated by teacher and student together being one of promise and mutual respect. The serious piano teacher needs to be secure in the process of teaching and show through leadership and determination the results of having chosen a good and thorough piano program to enroll in.

The fun of it is long term after everyone has earned their badges of being a good student, and being a good teacher, and being a supportive parent. The fun exists from the beginning when you are so fortunate to have found an experienced teacher who can act as a tour guide throughout your music study.

That's the possibility of it when there are serious contenders on the piano bench along side a serious and dedicated piano teacher.

Anything less than giving your all is equivalent to undermining the potential that students bring to us. If the student doesn't have a lot of potential in the beginning, why not teach him some potential. Motivation is one of the things we work with and when lacking in the individual learner, it needs to be heaped in by the wheelbarrow, just as though you have a serious garden project full of potential flowers in the future, but with a few weeds to deal with first.

The role of a serious piano teacher is yours if you want it!

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#1239006 - 07/28/09 03:50 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: trillingadventurer]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5529
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
This is what I’m serious about as a Piano Teacher:

Student led musical interests
Encouraging but not forcing
Proper technique, hand positions and posture
Teaching by ear as well as notes
Promoting creativity and song writing
Consistent practicing habits.
Getting excited about getting better.


As a students I competed in Sonatina Festivals, Composer Festivals and Certificate of Merit to the highest level.

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.

Here is where my own personal advancement came from:

It was my three months in France playing piano and violin duets with the violinist upstairs.

It was the summer in Germany when I fell in love with Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (First Movement) and also watched a Poetry/John Cage/Bach performance at an old Castle in the mountains.

And of course as always and currently: being at home and sipping short little espressos while practicing for hours because I enjoy it and I have a passionate and loving relationship with my instrument.

I have always been motivated by my heart. Not by ribbons and trophies. This is what I am trying to pass onto my students. Whether this makes me a serious teacher I don’t know. But I know that I am very serious about what I do.


+1

Cathy
_________________________

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#1239007 - 07/28/09 03:54 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
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.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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New Topics - Multiple Forums
Has anyone tried out wireless USB hubs (low-latency)?
by Allan W.
09/19/14 02:34 AM
What books do you use for teaching beginners?
by Daffodil
09/19/14 12:54 AM
Help buying digital piano for my son
by roomservicetaco
09/18/14 11:54 PM
Headphone impedance for DP90se
by lunobili
09/18/14 10:29 PM
A Simulation Investigating the Source of Inharmonicity
by PaintedPostDave
09/18/14 10:18 PM
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