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#1249379 - 08/14/09 07:56 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3191
Originally Posted By: Barb860
A student's mom brought in a J.S. Bach prelude and fugue, set it on my piano desk, and asked me to play it. I had not studied that one and was not able to sightread it. I told her exactly that, and offered to play her another from the WTC instead. She was not interested.


If that happened to me, I would be glad that I was warned in advance, and thus spared the certain agony of having to deal with such a parent.
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#1249393 - 08/14/09 08:10 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: rocket88]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Barb860
A student's mom brought in a J.S. Bach prelude and fugue, set it on my piano desk, and asked me to play it. I had not studied that one and was not able to sightread it. I told her exactly that, and offered to play her another from the WTC instead. She was not interested.


If that happened to me, I would be glad that I was warned in advance, and thus spared the certain agony of having to deal with such a parent.


It would have been sweet to pop something from the WTC on the desk, and invited the parent to sit down and play. :-)
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#1249418 - 08/14/09 09:03 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kreisler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7418
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I thought we had established that the piece in question was something from a Level 1 method book or syllabus suggestion.


I believe that K. said the teacher started to play something, then realized he needed the notes and went and got them, but blew the performance. Then K. said he would have been satisfied if the teacher had just played the rendition of 'Entertainer' from the end of the book.

Not exactly what many here are assuming.

Of course, the teacher probably could have played that piece perfectly, but most likely wanted to play something a bit more dazzling, and botched it. Of course, this has never, ever happened to any of us! laugh
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#1249425 - 08/14/09 09:13 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Thank you for cutting this teacher some slack-- Perhaps this is what happened. Have any of you been in a situation where someone just put music in front of you that you were not able to play, because it was too hard and/or hadn't learned that particular piece? A student's mom brought in a J.S. Bach prelude and fugue, set it on my piano desk, and asked me to play it. I had not studied that one and was not able to sightread it. I told her exactly that, and offered to play her another from the WTC instead. She was not interested.


With respect, perhaps she was not looking at it from the point of view of wanting you to 'prove' your skills to her? Perhaps she just wanted to hear what that particular piece sounded like when being played (but possibly did not appreciate the difficulty- how many amateurs or non-musicians really understand just how difficult a fugue is)? I wouldn't necessarily treat it as being 'tested' and feel that you have to make a compensation by playing something else. If they were simply interested in the specific piece, you can see why they might not be so interested in hearing another piece (even if most people would probably have been polite enough to go along with it). Perhaps they were just being a complete arse. You can never rule that out- but it's easy to misinterpret what is intended from such requests.

I've had a couple of students ask me to play through a few things from Final Fantasy games, in particular. Most have been relatively easy to fake my way through at sight, but I was recently asked to attempt one that was practically like Prokofiev, in the way the textures were written. I scraped my way through some, but in the end I was simply honest and said that it was too tricky to do any justice first glance. I don't think it's necessarily anything to be ashamed of, when something is beyond what you can manage. I think it's better to simply be honest about the fact that you can't just do absolutely everything without preparation, rather than feel you have to prove yourself by looking to demonstrate what you can do elsewhere.

I even had one student who wanted me to try and play through La Campanella. I tried a few passages, most of which were pitifully faked indeed, but I didn't mind. I felt no sense that he was judging me, but merely that he was enthusiastic and wanted to hear me simply 'having a go', even if I obviously couldn't offer the real deal. Poor as it was, he seemed to genuinely appreciate the fact I tried a few passages of a piece that personally interested him. If you approach it that way, rather than as a test of what you can do, I really don't think that many people are particularly judgemental.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/14/09 09:46 PM)
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#1249459 - 08/14/09 10:10 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12227
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Barb860
[quote=Morodiene]In all fairness to the teacher in question, perhaps he made a bad judgment call in choosing his piece to perform. We do not know what he played, only that he was not prepared to play it and he played it poorly. Perhaps he simply chose a piece that was technically too demanding to be able to play well without preparation, and he can in fact play quite well?
(end quote)



Thank you for cutting this teacher some slack-- Perhaps this is what happened. Have any of you been in a situation where someone just put music in front of you that you were not able to play, because it was too hard and/or hadn't learned that particular piece? A student's mom brought in a J.S. Bach prelude and fugue, set it on my piano desk, and asked me to play it. I had not studied that one and was not able to sightread it. I told her exactly that, and offered to play her another from the WTC instead. She was not interested.


I would have said, "Certainly! But you first..."
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#1249995 - 08/15/09 08:03 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Kanadka
Hi,
Am I too picky? Is it normal? I absolutely don't expect my teacher to be a concert pianist. I'll be just fine if he would've played "The entertainer" from the back of my book. Is it a realistic expectation that a teacher will be able to play any piece from level 1 book without preparation? After 15 years of teaching experience?


My old teacher told me that he knew many concert pianists who could not sight read music to save their lives. Not everyone could sight read well, but we are talking about advance music, not baby stuff. Every one should be able to sight-read several levels below their abilities. Even with my very modest abilities after only 4 to 5 years of lessons and being away from the piano for 20+ years, I could still sight-read level 1 music like "The Entertainer" like falling off a tree. Let's face it, it's in the key of C-major, tempo is moderato, and there are almost no ledger lines! I find that hard to believe.
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#1250011 - 08/15/09 08:46 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: 4evrBeginR]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: 4evrBeginR
Not everyone could sight read well, but we are talking about advance music, not baby stuff. Every one should be able to sight-read several levels below their abilities. Even with my very modest abilities after only 4 to 5 years of lessons and being away from the piano for 20+ years, I could still sight-read level 1 music like "The Entertainer" like falling off a tree. Let's face it, it's in the key of C-major, tempo is moderato, and there are almost no ledger lines! I find that hard to believe.
So do I, and I'm not excusing any teacher who couldn't do it. But as has been pointed out before, I think, the teacher in question didn't attempt The Entertainer and fail to sight-read it. He picked something else and stuffed it up. The OP did not say the teacher couldn't sight-read a level 1 piece. What he said was that he would have been satisfied if that had been what the teacher had chosen to play.
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#1254209 - 08/22/09 07:11 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: currawong]
Surendipity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 129
Would you ask a famous senior ballet dancer to dance for you?
I don't think so, infact, I'm pretty sure you'd be shown the door.
As for piano, yes one can generally study and continue to play well into their senior years. As a teacher of piano being asked to play, one may need some preperation time, sometimes not. If a piece is placed infront of me, I would not play it directly because I am a teacher, I would firstly pull it apart, because that's what I do. Certainly I could just sight read it and present it note for rote.
But I must examine it first. And I would ask the student questions along the way.
Then I would play it. If I stumble and fall I would just continue, as I would expect a student to. If they wanted to hear anything else I would play a favorite piece of mine from memory or from the music. I may even play one I'm working on and ask questions to the student about certain areas to get them involved, if it's a beginner student I could ask them to try a couple of notes. I would also try a duet, simple and fun easy to teach on the fly. I would play something composed on the spot explaining a story or showing the cord changes, describing the dynamics.
I was faced with one prospective student who wished me to play a Bach on the spot.
To which I said, I do not know this particular one, I would need time to sort out the voicing. To which they were very unimpressed and they did not take me on as a teacher. Which is fine, I wished them well and hoped that maybe their next choice knew this particular Bach. I didn't feel insulted as much as I felt their ignorance.
I would hope if I go to the doctor he/she would look and test all the symptoms instead of just saying "oh, not feeling well, mm, I'll just cut off your left arm and you'll feel better in the morning"

If you want to ask a teacher to play for your enjoyment, state as such and ask them to play something they love to play. You'll get more inspiration if you hear their best not a test.

Most famous pianists also have their own repertoire and genre that they master and follow. Depending on the piece many music lovers will prefer one over another for certain pieces and genres. Glen Gould for Bach, Louis Lortie for Ravel, Murray Perahia for Schubert, Dick Hyman or Jelly Roll Morton for Honkey Tonk Ragtime and stride (The Finger Breaker) its just so hot!


Edited by Surendipity (08/22/09 07:17 PM)

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