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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: 5510
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.
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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: 7393
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: 7393
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: 5510
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.
_________________________
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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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
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: 5510
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?"
_________________________
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#1238303 - 07/27/09 04:33 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
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: 7393
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: 5510
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: 7393
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?
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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: 13797
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: 5510
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: 7393
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: 7393
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 Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5559
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: 5510
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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#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: 17786
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
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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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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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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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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
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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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Registered: 04/08/07
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 Online   blank
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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
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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
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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
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
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
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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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#1239157 - 07/28/09 07:24 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: jotur]
EDWARDIAN Offline
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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.
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#1239159 - 07/28/09 07:25 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Ken S Offline
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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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#1239170 - 07/28/09 07:58 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

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....
...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.


OMG OMG OMG

3hearts thumb

Can I quote you in my sig line?????


"I'm the point"

PERFECT
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#1239190 - 07/28/09 08:39 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
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
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.


The thing is ... someday, maybe I will. I have no clue. I can't predict the future. If I do, I do.

But I'm not going to aim for it or assume that it's going to be part of my life, or define myself as a failure if I don't. In my experience, with some people, if I admit that I might someday want to do X, they will take it as an excuse to shove me in that direction and justify it with, "Well, you SAID you would!"

The only thing I can do in that situation is put my foot down and make completely clear that the decision is mine and mine alone, and that if it happens, it happens, but I'm not going to try to control it. That's a bit zen for some people. :-)

Well, there's something else I can do in that situation, too. Avoid them. :-D But it really is just a matter of asserting ownership. If a teacher or anyone else suggests something that they can present as helpful or useful to me in my own quest, that's fine. That's what I want from an interaction with a teacher -- wholehearted creative assistance in getting me to where I want to go, and maybe some new possibilities along the way. To me, that is a "serious teacher."

But I don't want them to push their own agenda on me according to their definition of success, or to try any sneaky tactics to do it. With kids, this is also dangerous because they can sniff out when an adult is trying to wheedle them in about a millisecond. A kid that is on the obedient side will allow themselves to be shoved and molded and may well regret it later, and a kid that is more self-directed will kick back.

I guess that's just an argument for honesty, though. Be upfront with your students as to your own motivations, know thyself, and all that happy horsepoop ...

Again, the problem being that I don't know how much ownership a kid can assert or even should. Most of them are just so young to know where they may want to go, even if they think they do.


Edited by J Cortese (07/28/09 08:47 PM)
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#1239242 - 07/28/09 09:37 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
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.


Believe in this: Serious Teachers DO want Real Players in their studios. It's just that Real Players are in short supply. Let's face it, where I live, the great majority of piano students take lessons because other people are doing it. It's a game of "keeping up with the Joneses."
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#1239244 - 07/28/09 09:41 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Let's face it, where I live, the great majority of piano students take lessons because other people are doing it. It's a game of "keeping up with the Joneses."

Orange County huh? I was just up in Laguna Beach. Not one music store on the whole 101 strip near there. Love the OC!
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#1239246 - 07/28/09 09:43 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: J Cortese]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
If a teacher or anyone else suggests something that they can present as helpful or useful to me in my own quest, that's fine. That's what I want from an interaction with a teacher -- wholehearted creative assistance in getting me to where I want to go, and maybe some new possibilities along the way. To me, that is a "serious teacher."


I agree with this part; however, how many young students are self-directed enough to be in their own quest? I've had students who wanted to play this piece or that piece, but they have no idea how much work is required to get there, and how much self-discipline is involved.
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#1239249 - 07/28/09 09:49 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: eweiss]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Orange County huh? I was just up in Laguna Beach. Not one music store on the whole 101 strip near there. Love the OC!


Not sure what you are implying. Please clarify.
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#1239250 - 07/28/09 09:52 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
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Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Pretty sure he means there are no sheet music stores in the OC. I can only think of one that only sells sheet music.
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#1239274 - 07/28/09 10:29 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think we're over-thinking things a bit. In my opinion, there is only one thing that makes piano teachers serious:

Their students can play the piano well.

It doesn't matter when, how often, where, or what they play. A serious piano teacher knows how to get their students to play well, and that includes recruiting and dismissing students that you are unable to work with effectively.

Some people will argue that last point, saying it's easy to look like a good teacher if you kick all the bad students out. But there are a lot of teachers who, if they kicked all their bad students out, wouldn't have any students left at all.

There's also a popular quote that I think applies:

"The enemy of great is good."

In other words, being great is about not settling for "good enough." The minute a teacher decides that their students are "good enough" and that their last recital "wasn't bad," they are not serious about being great.
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#1239278 - 07/28/09 10:34 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Orange County huh? I was just up in Laguna Beach. Not one music store on the whole 101 strip near there. Love the OC!


Not sure what you are implying. Please clarify.

Ya, I meant I didn't see any sheet music stores or stores that sell pianos or other instruments. I hope there are some. I just didn't see any.
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#1239285 - 07/28/09 10:45 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
beccaY Offline
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Registered: 06/06/09
Posts: 23
I have been teaching for about 8 years, but started when I was in college. I do not put my students in competitions or anything that includes students from other studios. We have 2 recitals through out the year. Once a month my students come to my house and they all play a piece from that week or a piece in progress. So I feel my kids get plenty of "stage" time. Does that mean I am not a serious teacher? I take teaching very seriously and I care tremendously about the progress of my students. In my area it takes a lot of money and time to enter kids in competitions. I have to be apart of several organizations which would cost me hundreds of dollars. That is something I am not able to do at this time. My prices are on the low side and I will be raising them this fall. Hopefully this will attract more serious students. How do I get my studio together with others to do a joint recital? I don't know any teachers in my area. How are you guys involved in the community as a music teacher and how do you get your students involved?

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#1239290 - 07/28/09 10:48 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Kreisler]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
In other words, being great is about not settling for "good enough." The minute a teacher decides that their students are "good enough" and that their last recital "wasn't bad," they are not serious about being great.



Thank you for that humbling insight.
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#1239297 - 07/28/09 10:54 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: beccaY]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: beccaY
How do I get my studio together with others to do a joint recital? I don't know any teachers in my area. How are you guys involved in the community as a music teacher and how do you get your students involved?


You should join MTNA or other professional organizations that offer programs, even if you think it's too expensive. Frankly, if I didn't join my state's MTA and allowed my students to participate in its many programs, I would feel like I'm cheating my students.

If you join a popular branch, then you have many opportunities to work with other piano teachers in your area, and more chances for joint recitals and other ventures. Best of luck to you!
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#1239323 - 07/28/09 11:22 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I agree with this part; however, how many young students are self-directed enough to be in their own quest? I've had students who wanted to play this piece or that piece, but they have no idea how much work is required to get there, and how much self-discipline is involved.


I agree totally, which is why I added:

"Again, the problem being that I don't know how much ownership a kid can assert or even should. Most of them are just so young to know where they may want to go, even if they think they do."

To some extent, a youngster does have to just trust the teacher, and the teacher has to understand that their chiefest function is to fill the student's toolbox so they can go on to build anything they want later -- when they know what they want. Which may take decades.

And even if the teacher explicitly tells them this, they may simply not be at the maturity level to understand it. It took me a looooong time.

Teaching kids is HARD ...


Edited by J Cortese (07/28/09 11:25 PM)
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#1239325 - 07/28/09 11:28 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Kreisler]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
There's also a popular quote that I think applies:

"The enemy of great is good."

In other words, being great is about not settling for "good enough." The minute a teacher decides that their students are "good enough" and that their last recital "wasn't bad," they are not serious about being great.


Maybe it's a matter of semantics. I'm not sure I agree with the implication that there is always "greatness" to be pursued, and that it's a linear progression. Perhaps I'd simply say the same thing, but only phrase it as: "Good enough doesn't mean there isn't more fun stuff out there to learn, try, and do." I think the enemy of great is boredom.

I don't think that if I do manage to develop something to reflect a messa di voce that it will make me more "great." But I do think that it will be fun, and I'm sure that if I keep attentive in life, there will be something else fun to learn and contemplate around the next corner. One should never stop exploring.

It's just a preference in phrasing, though.


Edited by J Cortese (07/28/09 11:29 PM)
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#1239329 - 07/28/09 11:37 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Kreisler]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
May I propose the following:
Student: We are in a state of becoming and teachers are developing us - or better said, helping us develop.

Teacher: A serious teacher is dedicated to doing a good job. He'll make sure that he has the necessary abilities which I imagine is knowledge of the instrument, how to play it, and how to teach. If he's weak in any of these, he'll be seeking to improve them. He'll know what kinds of goals to set for his students, and what to do to reach them. That reaching is the job of both teacher and student so he'll be planning how to guide the student for his part too.

Whether or not there are competitions or recitals depends on whether they are needed for the student to ultimately achieve. If students need performance opportunities in order to grow properly as musicians, then if they're missing there's a problem - otherwise not. What are the goals? In general, are you reaching your milestones, is there improvement?

To some degree you also need to appear to be serious teachers. Certificates are visible proof of self-improvement, while you could also be growing professionally without getting a piece of paper for it - but who will know? A student doing well in recitals is something tangible that can be seen of your work. I would differentiate, though. Certificates could be collected as a kind of promotion. Students could be honed for recitals while the less interesting skills they need to acquire get neglected for the sake of looking good.

Is it possible that the most important achievements of a serious teacher are the ones that are least obvious?

I take issue with the idea that if performance is not taking place, the teacher is automatically not serious - and I would especially take issue if this means competitions. Again, what is the goal and is it necessary for the student's growth? It's not about how you appear, but how we develop. What if the student's circumstance is such that performance is not indicated at that time? I would think that the teacher who pushes something that is unnecessary or even counter-indicated is not serious and might even be irresponsible. Isn't the serious teacher the one who acts to benefit the growth of each student, and knows how to do so?

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#1239491 - 07/29/09 08:58 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: keystring]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: keystring
Isn't the serious teacher the one who acts to benefit the growth of each student, and knows how to do so?

KS that is perfect. Not to say no one else had good points, there are many in this thread.
I believe that in order to be "serious" one needs to realize that there is no set "curriculum" if you will, and each student, whether 5, 15 or 50 will come with his own set of challenges, wants and ultimate goals.

It IS different with children. Sometimes they do need to be "pushed" to do things, becuase they haven't had enough life to decide what they like yet. There are kids that I will push into doing recitals. I would never push an adult into one.

There was a poster awhile back that had an elderly lady, 70 I think, and she came in knowing what she wanted to do. She wanted to play. That's all. Not learn theory, do competions, etc...did that teacher become less of a teacher for allowing that? In my opinion, NO! She became MORE of a teacher becuase she was open to see what her student wanted.

I think we can all agree that it is challenging, but very rewarding, to teach piano (or any instrument). Unlike most teachers, we don't have a set age for our students.
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#1239548 - 07/29/09 10:44 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: beccaY]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: beccaY
How do I get my studio together with others to do a joint recital? I don't know any teachers in my area. How are you guys involved in the community as a music teacher and how do you get your students involved?


You don't tell us where you live - it may be on a ranch in central Montana. But assuming you live in a somewhat populated area, chances are, there are other piano teachers. If so, see if there's an MTNA chapter. You can use the web to find out. If necessary, email your state chapter and ask. If there isn't why not start one?

Is there a music store? If there is, I'll bet they know at least some of the other teachers.

Recitals don't have to be with just piano teachers. We combine voice, strings and piano (strangely, none of the wind teachers choose to join in).

Keep your eyes open. When you see a kid head for the piano and actually play something (in church, in a store, or where ever) ask them who their teacher is.

Just a few starter ideas for you.
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#1239561 - 07/29/09 11:19 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Kreisler]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I think we're over-thinking things a bit. In my opinion, there is only one thing that makes piano teachers serious:

Their students can play the piano well.

It doesn't matter when, how often, where, or what they play. A serious piano teacher knows how to get their students to play well, and that includes recruiting and dismissing students that you are unable to work with effectively.

Some people will argue that last point, saying it's easy to look like a good teacher if you kick all the bad students out. But there are a lot of teachers who, if they kicked all their bad students out, wouldn't have any students left at all.

There's also a popular quote that I think applies:

"The enemy of great is good."

In other words, being great is about not settling for "good enough." The minute a teacher decides that their students are "good enough" and that their last recital "wasn't bad," they are not serious about being great.


The above post is very thought-provoking for me. I have been teaching beginners since 1991 and considered myself to be a "good teacher". This thread, along with a book I'm half-way through, "A Piano Teachers's Legacy" by Richard Chronister (teachings of Frances Clark), and this post in particular, make me realize I have lots of work to do to ever be a good teacher. I have 15 students in my studio and 10 are little boys under age 10. They don't practice enough, parents don't monitor their progress at home, and they don't play well. Ugh. I have work to do. Thanks for the insight here everyone.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1239615 - 07/29/09 12:51 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Barb, thanks for you post. We're not here to criticize teachers, but each of us are learning from each other. Unfortunately, some are too quick to take offense when none is intended.

In my original post on this subject, I mentioned something about my expectations, as a teacher, of the student and the support from the family. I suspect that if you peel away the varnish, you'll find every serious teacher has spoken or unspoken expectations which they insist on from student and family. Thus, they get results. This doesn't mean dictatorial methods, hitting students' fingers with rulers, etc. (we all know the horror stories). When expectations are high, results generally follow.

It appears that you've suddenly just become a more serious teacher. Congratulations!
_________________________
"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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#1239651 - 07/29/09 01:24 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
No offense taken, and none intended. I'm a newbie here, so perhaps my questions and comments will show a bit of chutzpah on my part. By some of the definitions here I am not a serious piano teacher. I'm okay with that, but I sense the implication that peope like me should just go away. Can I take a stand for the little guy?

I teach only beginners, many of them difficult or non-traditional students. I have taught intellectually and/or emotionally challenged students, I have plenty of students who come from non-musical homes and backgrounds where they get limited support and only mild interest, I have taught adults who are working on their bucket lists. I have more than my share of students who squeeze piano in among soccer, Girl Scouts, Day Care, etc. None of my students would pass the smell test of "playing the piano well." (At least according to MY definition of well.) But my students are not an end result - they're in progress.

I have taught merely a couple students who I felt had a true combination of talent, intelligence, and work ethic.

The reason I am comfortable with this variety of students is because I believe there is something in making music that should be available to everyone, not just the stars. I think we are losing hoards of children to 2-chord rock music and monotone songs because they see anything beyond rhythm and volume as "too hard." I think we give up on kids too soon. Not everyone gets it the first time, and I love being there when that light bulb finally goes on!

My goal is not to put a student on the stage as much as it is to put them in the audience - loving and understanding the sounds, and feeling part of it, and responding to it. If they do end up on stage, I'd like to believe I had a part in sparking the passion.

I DO appreciate the "serious" (or ambitious, or strict, or "master") music teachers who are able to take students to great heights. Two of my three children are pursuing music performance careers (the other was an "Outstanding Performer" on piano, but ended up as a government economist...Can't win 'em all.) They wouldn't be there without the teachers who knew when and how to push. But with my kids, those teachers didn't come till later. They started out with beloved encouragers, hand-holders, people who saw them as individuals, not products or paychecks, and gently coaxed the music out of them.

I think I'm serious. I'm just maybe serious about different things?

Anyway, I appreciate the discussion, and it's offered plenty to think about.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1239739 - 07/29/09 03:20 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
No offense taken ..... but I sense the implication that people like me should just go away.


Hummmm....sounds to me like you might be offended just a wee, little bit. shocked

Anyway, what makes this forum fun for me, at least, is the wide ranging perspectives that teachers (and some students, lest we forget) offer up.
_________________________
"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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#1239752 - 07/29/09 03:34 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Lollipop]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
I did not "compete" as a kid, but did participate in what we called "state music contest" and "auditions" (where students are judged but not ranked). As a returning adult, I have not yet found this type of venue in which to participate but would consider it if it were an option.

The good thing about high standards and the above type of "competition" (I would not be so enthused about an actual competition where there were winners and rankings) is that it gets students from a variety of teachers to "bring their A game". That's good if the other students can listen and be inspired and believe that if they work at it they can play that well too.

It's not so good if the other students are completely discouraged. I have had my share of teachers who didn't know How to help a student reach an A game, or to play at anywhere near the best of their ability. In fact, it wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that the quality of teaching mattered. My parents, who knew nothing about music lessons, really thought that if I was "any good" that I'd just be able to sit down at a piano (any piano) and play well. Having a competent teacher and an instrument that wasn't junk shouldn't matter.

By some definitions of the term, a "serious" teacher is someone who would be, by the standards of most teachers on this board, simply competent to teach piano. Sadly, in some places that's a big deal and hard to find. For others a "serious" teacher is someone who can help them get into a top conservatory or win the Van Cliburn.

I think there are many good and valid types of "serious". But what we should all be able to agree on is that *incompetent* teachers do damage to students and other teachers alike.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1239786 - 07/29/09 04:18 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: ProdigalPianist]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
I think there are many good and valid types of "serious". But what we should all be able to agree on is that *incompetent* teachers do damage to students and other teachers alike.


And that each student may need a different type of "serious" teacher. One might be shy enough that a recital would kill their desire to learn. One might need the push and benefit from it. One might be competitive and enjoy it. One might work well with a teacher that provides a VERY structured framework, and one might work better with someone who is a bit freer and improvisational.

I think perhaps a "serious" teacher is one that understands this and realizes that there isn't one way to teach piano, although there are commonalities. Maria Callas once said that a singer should be able to sing anything; she made the comment that no one would permit a pianist to say something like, "I'm sorry, I don't do trills." Teaching is the same thing; you've got to have multiple tools in YOUR box as well instead of just one way of doing it. And you've got to pursue different techniques in teaching with as much eagerness and enthusiasm as you would like your students to pursue new techniques and discoveries in their playing.
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#1239789 - 07/29/09 04:19 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
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Barb, thanks for you post. We're not here to criticize teachers, but each of us are learning from each other. Unfortunately, some are too quick to take offense when none is intended.

In my original post on this subject, I mentioned something about my expectations, as a teacher, of the student and the support from the family. I suspect that if you peel away the varnish, you'll find every serious teacher has spoken or unspoken expectations which they insist on from student and family. Thus, they get results. This doesn't mean dictatorial methods, hitting students' fingers with rulers, etc. (we all know the horror stories). When expectations are high, results generally follow.

It appears that you've suddenly just become a more serious teacher. Congratulations!


Yes, perhaps I'm a "serious" and "not good" piano teacher, at least in my mind crazy So that means a "serious no good piano teacher" laugh
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1239850 - 07/29/09 05:17 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Barb860]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Anyone who takes the job seriously is a serious piano teacher.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1239870 - 07/29/09 05:29 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
"serious no good piano teacher" laugh


Are you a "serious no good piano teacher" or a

"Serious? No? Good! Piano teacher" or maybe it's just

"Serious! No good piano, teacher!"
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1239919 - 07/29/09 06:46 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
There are so many posts in this thread, my head is spinning. I agree that there is a certain standard that needs to be set, an expectation that should never be lowered in order to get our students to fulfill the potential we see in them.

It blows my mind that there are teachers that do not do recitals. My studio has a minimum of two studio recitals a year, as well as festival competitions. I'm slowly getting into Guild, and it's possible that some of my students would be interested in participating in the ABRSM exams. I find that without a recital, practice goes down. Nothing makes practice more streamlined and efficient than last-minute panic, eh? Also: recitals are NOT optional in my studio. Everyone must go. They may not be able to make one or two, but at some point everyone will play in a recital, and not just one piece, either. Two pieces must be played.

There are people who play because they love to play and not perform. When it comes to kids, these types are very rare. The impetus for performance, self-discipline, logical thinking, and self-scrutiny must come from the teacher.
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#1240148 - 07/30/09 02:30 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Minaku]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
For the record!

I have two recitals a year in which all of my students are required to participate in. In some respects I view each lesson as a little mini step/rehearsal towards the recital. It's when we all step up on that stage and say, "Here I am." The piano (as it turns out) is a great ring master for a grand group performance.

At the last recital my 5 year old daughter danced to a Chopin Prelude while my husband improvised alongside on his electric guitar.

I want to bring more than just music into people's lives. I want to wake them and up, push them to look within and share with me what is there.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1240177 - 07/30/09 04:24 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: trillingadventurer]
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
What if it's the student who doesn't want to perform publicly? That'd make the teacher less serious? Or the student him/herself less commited?

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#1240818 - 07/31/09 09:00 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Boira]
beccaY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/09
Posts: 23
Thanks for the suggestions! I live in Edmond, OK, less than a mile away from University of Central Oklahoma. Our state has a MTNA chapter but it is so expensive and you have to join another organization in order to do the other. I got online and was going to join but could not bring my self to do it. The website is terrible first of all and very confusing. I did get in contact with the president and we emailed a few times, but I can never go to the meetings because they are during the day. I work during that time so... I do know one other teacher and she would not do a recital with me because she thought it would be too long. I have always wanted to add some variety to my recitals but don't know who to contact about that. I guess I just need to be more active in perusing this if I want it to happen.

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#1240861 - 07/31/09 10:33 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: beccaY]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, MTNA requires national level membership, state level, and your local chapter is optional, but is what you're really after. MTNA national dues is $65, and Oklahoma state is $25. Your local chapter, Central Oklahoma, is an additional $25, for a total of $115 per year. This is not expensive as professional organizations go, and you can get a lot out of this organization. Your state chapter has annual conferences, which include workshops for improving your teaching, for example, as well as publisher workshops to introduce you to new music. The MTNA national convention is this on a much larger scale.

The MTNA website doesn't seem confusing to me. I didn't look at your state level website. Why don't you join using MTNA's page. It's quite straight forward.
_________________________
"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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#1240875 - 07/31/09 10:59 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
beccaY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/09
Posts: 23
Thanks John. I will look on their website. I joined when I was in college because one of my professors required it, but I did not continue when I graduated. A professor who I hated with every fiber of my being, so I just always associated MTNA with this terrible person. I wanted to be a part of it, but did not want to have to see this person all the time. But now I need to just bite the bullet and do it for my own personal growth and for my students.

I must have been looking in all the wrong places, because when I was trying to add up everything for dues etc., it was over $300! That is expensive. I can handle $115.

Thanks for your input and help.

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#1241141 - 07/31/09 05:33 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: beccaY]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Make sure your local chapter has enough activities, seminars, and events to warrant the cost. My branch of MTA has many recitals, festivals, and competitions on top of CM, thus making my fees really worth every penny.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1241175 - 07/31/09 06:56 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
And if it doesn't, then BeccaY can become the leader, and start chapter activities which benefit her and her students. Oklahoma City is a big town, and I'm sure there are plenty of teachers who would be thrilled to see new or renewed activity.
_________________________
"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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#1241620 - 08/01/09 02:48 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: John v.d.Brook]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
You might also condier joining the American Federation of Musicians, especially if you want performing jobs. (they have chapters throughout North America).

Although I know I am a serious teacher, and I am generally happy with the students I mostly get.

A serious teacher is one whose students perform to a high standard, generally progress well, which can be shown in auditions, exams, and competitions, and understands psychological and physical techniques to make playing better.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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#1241741 - 08/01/09 06:46 PM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: musiclady]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Most of my students do not take exams or participate in competitions.

I also do not belong to any musical organizations.

I'll let the people who read my posts guess whether or not they think I am a "serious teacher". wink
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1241887 - 08/02/09 02:00 AM Re: The Serious Piano Teacher [Re: Gary D.]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I have to say, there's alot of self-righteousness assumptions and judgements going on in these here thread parts (said with a southern drawl)...10 pages on...good to hear everyone has found their absolutes to being a 'serious' teacher. lol grin





Edited by lotuscrystal (08/02/09 02:11 AM)

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