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#1248862 - 08/14/09 12:03 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
[...] If you think about it for a minute, musicians are among the very few who are constantly asked to demonstrate non-teaching skills to validate their teaching abilities.

I've been mulling over this statement, for the most part to ponder what other kinds of teachers are in the "very few" this applies to—and whether it wouldn't be a good idea for such a demonstration of teachers' proficiency at non-teaching skills in their area of specialization to be de rigueur.

Isn't the fact that teachers generally are rarely called upon to stand and deliver themselves the reason for the old canard that "those who can, do; those who can't, teach"? Wouldn't knowing that a teacher can walk the walk as well as talk the talk go a long way to erasing such an unfortunate presumption?

I am very much reminded of my experience with foreign language teachers in secondary schools. I'm sure I'm not alone in recalling many who were not proficient in the languages they taught. Sometimes that meant that inaccuracies were taught, which may not have been of consequence to students who were only there to fulfill a requirement anyway. Those with more serious interest would certainly be impacted by, for example, terrible pronunciation, because some things (like unsound piano techniques) are so much harder to unlearn than to learn.

Steven
_________________________

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—Albert Schweitzer

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Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
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#1248944 - 08/14/09 07:42 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: rocket88]
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
What an amazing thread.

My first teacher, quite a few years ago, was of the do as I say, not as I do school of teaching. I never heard her play anything at all - and she was completely unable to motivate or inspire me. Over the years I have both taught people music and had numerous teachers. When working at ABRSM diploma level I engaged a teacher who talked a good game, and had excellent theory knowledge, but was unable to demonstrate the pieces or passages I was working on. He did not last long as I found a teacher who could sight read and play far better than me anything at all that I was working on or aspired to. She is a working concert pianist and her insight into music is inspirational. That is what we want from teachers - to be inspired. if that feeling does not emerge very early on - then the teacher is probably not for you.

I am astounded that there can be working teachers out there who cannot sight read level one pieces sufficiently well to impress a beginner. Quite astonishing.

I teach guitar to advanced students and if I were unable to play whatever it is they are working on, they would, quite rightly in my view, be entitled to regard me as less than inspirational.

Adrian
_________________________
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#1248972 - 08/14/09 09:15 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I cannot think of any redeeming value in making excuses for this person. I think you have received a loud and clear message from the person themselves that they are unprepared to teach you in a way that would help you meet your goals.
It's a bit soon to jump to that conclusion. Give the guy a chance to prove himself. He plays in the recitals and accompanies in duets, he must have something to offer.

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
What you should really be asking is for references and go listen to students of this teacher to find out how they are doing. You are, after all hiring a teacher, and that is the skill you really want to confirm.
Precisely. Listening to his students is a far better indicator of his teaching abilities.



Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Johnny-Boy
Of course; if the piano teacher has good teaching skills, one would think that they can back it up by playing well. Otherwise, it would be kind of like saying "do as I say, not as I do".
John smile

I know two teachers who are now incapacitated by strokes, who were fine performers. Students still flock to them, because of what they can offer. I think their primary teaching method is do as I say, not as I do.
Perfect examples. smile

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Of course, I do agree that teachers should be able to play, I just don't think it should be the over-riding consideration many of you do.

Exactly. You will get a much more accurate picture of what kind of teacher he is by hearing other students play, than you will by hearing him play. As many, many others have said, a player can't necessarily teach. There are wonderful teachers that are better at teaching than they are at playing. If I were choosing a teacher I would want to understand what he was teaching. Just because he can play it, doesn't mean he can get across to someone else HOW it should be played.
_________________________
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#1249011 - 08/14/09 10:25 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Kanadka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 34
Loc: Canada
wow, thank you everyone. Reading this actually helped me to understand what I was looking for - a teacher who still loves music and plays for the love of music. This person undoubtedly will be able to play a piece they love. But let's say in case they were taking a summer of playing and don't have anything in memory, I'd still expect them to pick up a level 1 book and sight read something from there.

I can see how someone could be a better teacher then they are a musician, but don't forget we are taking about beginning level here. I need not only theory, I also need some inspiration. Sure I can listen to Yundi Li on YouTube. But with a teacher - wouldn't you want to be inspired to be able to play "like this" some time - the pieces on your level!!! to make them sound beautiful. How the heck can it be explained in words if the teacher cannot play.

On the advanced level it might work, thus teachers who cannot play themselves, or hockey coaches who do not play. But not at the beginner level I think.

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#1249017 - 08/14/09 10:34 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: rocket88]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

I'm sure there are perfectly fine teachers out there who could introduce a beginner to the wonders of the keyboard, yet who cannot play the techniques that they teach.


Good Grief! How on earth can it be "perfectly fine" for a "teacher" to be unable to play the techniques of beginner music?

I am Flabbergasted.


I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that it would be fine if the teacher couldn't play the beginner techniques s(he) was teaching. But if the teacher could not play at an advanced level that would not be the kiss of death for their ability to teach and to motivate beginners.

As John has noted (again), the ability to play at the highest level is often oversold as an absolute necessity for being a good teacher, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels.
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#1249019 - 08/14/09 10:36 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: sotto voce]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Steven, I believe you're quite correct in your observations.

What I find unsettling is the mindless belief by parents that hearing you play is somehow an indicator of your teaching skills. What ever you do, don't look on the wall at photos of my students who have won national competitions and awards, never mind the list of students who have gone on to major conservatories and become topnotch artists. Pay no attention to the certifications I've earned. Rather, base your decision on how inspiring my interpretation of Maple Leaf Rag is.

Speaking of demonstrations, I wonder how the AFT and NEA would react if communities demanded open houses where teachers would demonstrate, on an annual basis, mastery of their subject matter. Could be an interesting event!
_________________________
"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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#1249022 - 08/14/09 10:41 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Kadadka,

From an adult student to another adult student: take your time to find someone you can trust. Adult students sometimes don't take themselves seriously--we are not learning to become concert pianists, right? So why do we need a first-rate teacher? Well, the fact is the overwhelming majority of kid students also don't learn to become concert pianists, they also learn just for fun. And to have fun, it's useful to learn it well. When I looked for my first teacher, my attitude was "well, pretty much any piano teacher can teach me". Soon I found that my first teacher wasn't a good match for me, I stuck around for a while because he was a nice guy and it was hard for me to tell him that I wanted to leave. So take your time to look around, educate yourself about what qualities a good teacher should have, and take yourself seriously.

In terms of sight-reading, again, as an adult student and the parent of a kid student, I think anyone who can't read level 1 pieces really shouldn't be teaching.

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#1249023 - 08/14/09 10:43 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Just a side thought - in another thread, which is discussing pianos vs electronic keyboards for students, brought to mind that a criteria which should be at least as important as the teacher's playing ability is the quality of the studio's instruments. I don't believe we've discussed this much, if 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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#1249024 - 08/14/09 10:43 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Kanadka
Thanks for all your replies. It's very helpful.

Of course I didn't demand he'd prove himself. I honestly just wanted to enjoy a nice piece of music. I wanted to be inspired. I didn't ask for any specific piece. I think it was more in the lines of "could you please play something for me, maybe your favourite piece, or anything you like". He did mentioned that he plays himself in the recitals he organizes for his students and often plays duets.

verania5: I'm an absolute beginer. Don't you think the teacher should be able to sight read and play smoothly any piece form level 1 book?


Perhaps I am missing something here. Did you ask this teacher to play something from the level 1 book?
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#1249034 - 08/14/09 11:07 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Steven, I believe you're quite correct in your observations.

What I find unsettling is the mindless belief by parents that hearing you play is somehow an indicator of your teaching skills. What ever you do, don't look on the wall at photos of my students who have won national competitions and awards, never mind the list of students who have gone on to major conservatories and become topnotch artists. Pay no attention to the certifications I've earned. Rather, base your decision on how inspiring my interpretation of Maple Leaf Rag is.

Speaking of demonstrations, I wonder how the AFT and NEA would react if communities demanded open houses where teachers would demonstrate, on an annual basis, mastery of their subject matter. Could be an interesting event!


Actually I assumed from the majority of responses by teachers here that reality is quite the opposite, that the playing abilities of the teacher are rarely ever openly questioned. I know that out of the four serious piano teachers we've had that the teachers ability to play was never a factor in choosing them and that beyond simple accompaniment (and I mean 6yo first timer twinkle type stuff) we've only actually heard one teacher play.

I must say though that knowing our kids current piano teacher can play well and therefore can demonstrate her points, not just explain them, makes me feel a lot better. There have been countless times where we've said "play it for us" (or she's just simply played it herself) to get a better idea of a particular point. For our son who is still in the beginner stages it's not a big deal at all, but for our daughter it's hard to imagine making the same level of progress if that wasn't the case.

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#1249044 - 08/14/09 11:20 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: bitWrangler]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
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?

Also, John, to address your question about the quality of piano int the teacher's studio, I think this says a lot about the teacher. However, I know that some teachers in institutions get the bottom rung instrument because they are new to the school. In that case, I wouldn't judge the teacher by that (but I'd definitely address that issue with the director). Not every great teacher will have a Steinway grand, either. If they are new or run a smaller studio, they may not be able to afford an excellent piano. They should however, have a decent instrument in good repair and well-maintained (including tuned).
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#1249046 - 08/14/09 11:21 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I have been reading about piano teachers being good teachers but unable or unwilling to "perform" for an interviewee. Some think there are other indicators of success as a teacher (John had a long and thrilling list) and yes, these are excellent examples of a "professional" teaching environment.

However, I think what the interviewee is asking for is to hear and see an example of the teacher's musicianship for the enjoyment of it. It seems to me to be more of an enthusiasm that they are thinking, I can't wait to start lessons with this teacher! What does this beautiful piano sound like when played by a professional musician? :They are looking for a visual and aural and kinesthetic experience at their interview not just information about you and a business agreement. They want to hear the music because it would be a catalyst to them. They may need the emotional and musical experience to cement their decision.

You know in the movies how the music fits the scene and you hear something magnificent and appropriate at the high moments? That is the effect they are looking for. To not be willing to do this for them or to be unable to play well enough they may take two steps back from the "rapture" they were looking for in you.

I hope this makes a little sense. We know as teachers that we have to communicate to the student in their learning style in a language they easily understand, and that we can build from there to increase their knowledge. But, there has to be a connection with them so they feel, see, hear, verify that the decision to start lessons with us is going to work for them.

There are probably lots of adult students circling around studios out there uncertain of making a decision - maybe they have even have interviewed and still are uncertain as to getting started. Maybe for them this is the missing ingredient that didn't happen at the interview. Playing the piano for our interviews demonstrates our musicianship - we can tell people how great we are or we can show them. Which do you think is the better example that will make a difference to them? Of course, it would be a great sales tool to be able to demonstrate that we can teach them, tell them, and show them our capabilities and capacity.

Part of the interview IS a marketing situation, isn't it? There needs to be agreement and closure on the decision to move forward together. Being aloof is not going to cut it if you think of interviews as recruitment and confirmation ventures in our search for good students to work with. I think we need to strut our stuff in the interview so there is no doubt in their mind that we are who we say we are as teachers and musicians.

And, what do they say about the first impression being the strongest? Let's not forget there is a "psychology" to this, too. To me that means being social and easy to be with during the interview. One of our jobs is to remove and tame obstacles, I think. We can be our own worst obstacles in interviews if we don't understand the objectives and skills of conducting an interview.

There is certainly enough said here as food for thought if one will actually entertain the thoughts and not just quickly react to them and dismiss them. Stimulation is one of the things I enjoy most about participating in Piano World.

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#1249049 - 08/14/09 11:31 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Piano*Dad]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3187
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

I'm sure there are perfectly fine teachers out there who could introduce a beginner to the wonders of the keyboard, yet who cannot play the techniques that they teach.


Good Grief! How on earth can it be "perfectly fine" for a "teacher" to be unable to play the techniques of beginner music?

I am Flabbergasted.


I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that it would be fine if the teacher couldn't play the beginner techniques s(he) was teaching. But if the teacher could not play at an advanced level that would not be the kiss of death for their ability to teach and to motivate beginners.


Thanks for clarifying that.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1249053 - 08/14/09 11:40 AM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

However, I think what the interviewee is asking for is to hear and see an example of the teacher's musicianship for the enjoyment of it. It seems to me to be more of an enthusiasm that they are thinking, I can't wait to start lessons with this teacher! What does this beautiful piano sound like when played by a professional musician? :They are looking for a visual and aural and kinesthetic experience at their interview not just information about you and a business agreement. They want to hear the music because it would be a catalyst to them. They may need the emotional and musical experience to cement their decision.


Very well stated! I agree that this is probably the dynamic that is going on when beginners ask the teacher to play for them.
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#1249075 - 08/14/09 12:06 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Monica K.]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
I used to teach cello. I don't remember anyone asking me to play before they signed up for lessons, but I certainly would have complied. I think it's a totally reasonable request.

It really bothers me how so many people decide they can earn a few bucks by teaching but don't really know how to either teach or play. Caveat emptor ...
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


Check out my blog !


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#1249125 - 08/14/09 01:11 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Kanadka
wow, thank you everyone. Reading this actually helped me to understand what I was looking for - a teacher who still loves music and plays for the love of music. This person undoubtedly will be able to play a piece they love. But let's say in case they were taking a summer of playing and don't have anything in memory, I'd still expect them to pick up a level 1 book and sight read something from there.

I can see how someone could be a better teacher then they are a musician, but don't forget we are taking about beginning level here. I need not only theory, I also need some inspiration. Sure I can listen to Yundi Li on YouTube. But with a teacher - wouldn't you want to be inspired to be able to play "like this" some time - the pieces on your level!!! to make them sound beautiful. How the heck can it be explained in words if the teacher cannot play.

On the advanced level it might work, thus teachers who cannot play themselves, or hockey coaches who do not play. But not at the beginner level I think.


As an adult student looking for a teacher, you're not necessarily searching for the same set of abilities in a teacher that a parent may be searching for. However, I suggest you seriously regard the import of teacher certification. A teacher with certification has demonstrated mastery - of playing and teaching. One without certification may be every bit as good, but you have no knowledgeable, independent corroboration of this. Even if you love his playing, you don't have anything to compare his teaching with. You may be progressing at one-half the speed you could have achieved with a better teacher. Certification is your starting point here. Teachers who have worked their butts off to earn certification are justifiably proud of their accomplishments, and you will find that certification posted prominently in the studio. If you don't see one, ask. You can also inquire where they studied, who they studied with, what degrees they earned, etc., You can also ask if they had a performance career, or if they play routinely in public. These are questions you should be asking teachers.

Just some suggestions to help you out here.
_________________________
"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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#1249155 - 08/14/09 01:45 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Betty Patnude]
Kanadka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 34
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
However, I think what the interviewee is asking for is to hear and see an example of the teacher's musicianship for the enjoyment of it. It seems to me to be more of an enthusiasm that they are thinking, I can't wait to start lessons with this teacher! What does this beautiful piano sound like when played by a professional musician? :They are looking for a visual and aural and kinesthetic experience at their interview not just information about you and a business agreement. They want to hear the music because it would be a catalyst to them. They may need the emotional and musical experience to cement their decision.


Betty, beautifully said. This is exactly what I was looking for. Wish I could study with you smile

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#1249156 - 08/14/09 01:47 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Kanadka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 34
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Just some suggestions to help you out here.


thank you, John, appreciate it

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#1249215 - 08/14/09 03:13 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Betty,
I agree with what you've said wholeheartedly. I wonder, though, do you insist on playing for every student you interview? Or do you only play if they ask?
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#1249243 - 08/14/09 03:48 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Morodiene]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I'd expect a teacher to be able to do both well, and can't fathom the polarization of the two skills. This is why teaching piano for a living is work. A brilliant performer may stink as a teacher; and if a teacher can't actually play, I'd shuck both of them. Why? Think about what it means.

Wouldn't you want as a teacher someone who really likes to play? Someone who enjoys it, who tinkers with things, messes with their favorite pieces, HAS favorite pieces, sits down when they have some free time and just noodles around with something for a few hours on the weekend at least until they get it to their satisfaction? Hell, it's what I expect to do, and I work a ten-hour-a-day-job with two hours of commute time and need rather a lot of sleep.

If you asked someone to play something, and they had nothing to hand -- not even something casual, wouldn't that seem to indicate that, left to their own devices, the person you want to show you your way around this instrument just can't be arsed to do it themselves? I would expect someone who likes to play to actually do it and hence have a few things up their sleeve if you asked at any one time. I wouldn't treat them like an ipod, but if the guy wasn't prepared with anything, that means that he wasn't even bothering to sit at the thing and screw around in his own spare time.

How are you supposed to find your way around the thing if the person who is supposed to be showing you your way would apparently rather be spending their free time watching TV than playing?

And I don't have a problem expecting advanced skills in a beginner teacher, either. The teacher who started me out (and stayed with me the whole time) was extremely advanced but could also manage kids. What I expect is both sets of skills. This is rare and hard work, which is why every chump on the street isn't a piano teacher.


Edited by J Cortese (08/14/09 03:50 PM)
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#1249295 - 08/14/09 05:21 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: J Cortese]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
I'd expect a teacher to be able to do both well, and can't fathom the polarization of the two skills. This is why teaching piano for a living is work. A brilliant performer may stink as a teacher; and if a teacher can't actually play, I'd shuck both of them. Why? Think about what it means.


Yes, but are you willing to pay for the advanced mastery of these two skills? Don't expect to find said teacher at $25/hr!
_________________________
"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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#1249302 - 08/14/09 05:34 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Betty,
I agree with what you've said wholeheartedly. I wonder, though, do you insist on playing for every student you interview? Or do you only play if they ask?


You got it, Morodienne! I kind of insist I hope it comes across as just wanting to share sound and rhythms with them today because I believe we have to put our interview and first lesson into musical terms they can understand. It acts as a valid connection between us and I think it's pretty exciting for a new family to get a sample of their new teacher. I actually enjoy all parts of the interview and first lesson which takes about an hour. I try to give them every reason to choose me as their teacher....but I also say if they seem uncertain or reluctant, that it is very important to me that they choose the teacher who they feel most comfortable with and have the most confidence in.

We win some, we lose some.

Thanks for that question!

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#1249306 - 08/14/09 05:42 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Speaking of demonstrations, I wonder how the AFT and NEA would react if communities demanded open houses where teachers would demonstrate, on an annual basis, mastery of their subject matter. Could be an interesting event!


John, I wouldn't mind being known for my playing in public skills, or for a sightreading test, or giving a brief teaching class....it seems to be that could be a very exciting event....like a talent show.....or a competition to display competence. I would not recommend it being a "BONG" show though, remember that terrible tv show from years ago!

Your whole scenario has me amused. It would put many a teacher a twitter to be in the spotlight and having to answer up with a presentation to be proud of. Maybe that's just the extrovert in me!

We could also be performing one elegant or exciting piece in our own studio recital just to keep everyone informed that we can also sit on the bench and produce something marvelous on demand. The audience usually loves this part. Sometimes, I've started the program and ended the program with a piece just to make a statement without saying a word about where piano lessons can lead to for the long term student.

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#1249308 - 08/14/09 05:44 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: John v.d.Brook]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
I'd expect a teacher to be able to do both well, and can't fathom the polarization of the two skills. This is why teaching piano for a living is work. A brilliant performer may stink as a teacher; and if a teacher can't actually play, I'd shuck both of them. Why? Think about what it means.


Yes, but are you willing to pay for the advanced mastery of these two skills? Don't expect to find said teacher at $25/hr!


I can't recall what my parents paid, but we were not in possession of much disposable income. Whatever they paid my teacher, they got their money's worth.

ETA: Besides, paying bottom-dollar for a bad product isn't a bargain.


Edited by J Cortese (08/14/09 05:52 PM)
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#1249309 - 08/14/09 05:49 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Kanadka]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Kanadka

Betty, beautifully said. This is exactly what I was looking for. Wish I could study with you smile[/quote]

Aw, that's sweet of you, but you would want to go through the interview process and be sensible about your decision in every way. I'm glad you are finding something to think about from all the postings in this topic. It is certainly an interesting topic! I've enjoyed participating here.

I appreciate your comment to me very much, thank you!

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#1249332 - 08/14/09 06:44 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Betty Patnude]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think we make the mistake of putting all piano teachers in the same category. The truth is, piano teachers specialize like many other professions. I doubt many divorce lawyers could represent the state in a murder case, and I wouldn't want a dermatologist to remove my appendix.

The difference is we don't have names for piano teacher specialties. Some specialize in young beginners, some work with groups, some work with classical repertoire, others popular styles, some focus on competition preparation, others just want their students to have fun.

If I was shopping around for a teacher to help me work up a classical solo recital, I'd want someone who could play classical solo recitals. If I wanted to introduce my 4 year old to music, I'd opt for someone completely different. If I wanted advice on developing a concert career, I'd want someone who's been there. And if I want someone to teach the fundamentals, I need them to know how to introduce dotted quarter note rhythms to someone for the first time.

Asking if a piano teacher should be able to play well is like asking if a doctor should be able to treat MS. Not all doctors can treat MS, that's why they have specialized neurologists.

However, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a doctor to know how to handle a patient with a complaint that fits their specialty. If a student wants a piano teacher to help them develop enough technique to prepare a Mozart sonata, then that teacher absolutely needs to be able to prepare (but not necessarily sight-read) a Mozart sonata.

This is one of those debates that gets boiled down to moot nonsense on the internet because it's based on a very artificial question: "Should a teacher be able to play the piano?" What kind of "teacher" are we talking about? What do we mean by "play" the piano? What kind of music?

I think once the original poster gets to a point they can define exactly what they want to accomplish with their lessons, it will be much easier to pinpoint the abilities and skills they should look for in a teacher.
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"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)

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#1249333 - 08/14/09 06:45 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: J Cortese]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
I'd expect a teacher to be able to do both well, and can't fathom the polarization of the two skills. This is why teaching piano for a living is work. A brilliant performer may stink as a teacher; and if a teacher can't actually play, I'd shuck both of them. Why? Think about what it means.


Yes, but are you willing to pay for the advanced mastery of these two skills? Don't expect to find said teacher at $25/hr!


I can't recall what my parents paid, but we were not in possession of much disposable income. Whatever they paid my teacher, they got their money's worth.

ETA: Besides, paying bottom-dollar for a bad product isn't a bargain.


I find the topic amusing to a degree. My first teacher, whom I only heard play once, when she accompanied me on the Mendelssohn Concerto in the studio, sent several students to Juilliard. She also taught Irving Gilmore who eventually started the Gilmore Festival. Oh, another famous student she started was Thomas Schippers (probably before your time, but he ended up conducting the La Scala) The thought just never crossed our minds to ask for a playing demonstration. Perhaps it's a generational thing. Perhaps it's because actual live in concert piano playing is so rare these days.
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#1249361 - 08/14/09 07:36 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Morodiene]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
[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.
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#1249367 - 08/14/09 07:49 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
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.


That's just RUDE!! Wow, I've never had anything like that happen. I would be so embarrassed, especially if I wasn't *allowed* to redeem myself with another piece.
I'm so sorry! frown
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It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1249376 - 08/14/09 07:55 PM Re: Teacher played poorly [Re: Barb860]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
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?


I thought we had established that the piece in question was something from a Level 1 method book or syllabus suggestion.

I know I just wrote a big reply about how we shouldn't judge all teachers by the same standard, but asking a piano teacher to read a level 1 method piece is like asking a lawyer if he or she can use the word "legal" in a sentence. laugh
_________________________
"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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