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#1257918 - 08/28/09 01:21 PM An adult
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I have never taught an adult before in my life. She is 28, she's a nurse. She enjoyed playing trumpet for 7 years through grade school and now she wants to try out the piano and see if she likes it. With younger kids I find it's easier to guide them and just feed them what they need and let them run with it. With an older student, they usually already posess the skills to teach themselves so I am not quite sure where I fit in. Any ideas?!?

Cheeze...

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#1257924 - 08/28/09 01:34 PM Re: An adult [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Quote:
they usually already posess the skills to teach themselves


They need a teacher the way some of us need gyms or personal trainers or weight watchers to do what we could do ourselves! Teachers provide motivation, weekly check-ups, accountability, someone to point out that your rhythm or your notes or your posture ... is not correct.

I think teaching adults is harder. It is a different kind of "authority." I can't intimidate them. smile There is more negotiation, less submissiveness.

First, you need to find out what your student wants to gain from lessons. Most of my adult students just want to "play stuff." (The Faber website talks a little about this.) Some are not interested in my recitals (although some are!) And I find I have to work the theory in via back doors, teaching it via actual pieces, rather than in a separate book. My adult students also have a lot harder time with memorization.

I don't enjoy teaching adults as much as I enjoy children, but my adult students have morphed into some of my dearest friends.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1257943 - 08/28/09 02:05 PM Re: An adult [Re: Lollipop]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
They need a teacher the way some of us need gyms or personal trainers or weight watchers to do what we could do ourselves! Teachers provide motivation, weekly check-ups, accountability, someone to point out that your rhythm or your notes or your posture ... is not correct.


This is the best description of teaching adults I've seen.
_________________________
"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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#1258104 - 08/28/09 05:21 PM Re: An adult [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Regarding "how you fit in", I think Lollipop answered this perfectly.
In my limited experience teaching adults ( 5-6 students in my 19 years teaching), they were not committed to lessons. They had so much going on in their lives and were constantly cancelling lessons and not practicing. I did have one adult student who was committed, however. She is a good friend of mine and was taking college classes, working towards a degree. She needed my help with her music theory class and also wanted to learn piano. Perhaps someone here with more success in teaching adults could expand on what Lollipop had to say.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1258253 - 08/28/09 09:54 PM Re: An adult [Re: Barb860]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I happen to love working with adult beginners. In my experience they are extremely enthusiastic. The important thing is, yes, act more like a trainer or coach than a teacher. Also, use a method that isn't too infantile.

You will find that an adult learns much more quickly than a child at first. The reading concepts just make sense to them intellectually. I only really see kids start to do better than adults 2 or 3 years into lessons. That's the period when kids start to really pick up speed and adults tend to slow down.

My adults have always seemed fascinated by musical form and theory. I do work it in with the pieces I teach. So, the first time they play a piece with one sharp, I start to explain the theory behind the different major and minor keys, and I teach them the G major and E minor scales, for example. Also, working in a little music history is good... like telling them what you know about the composer of the piece they are playing and how he fit into the repertoire.

Hope these ideas help. Hit me up with more specific questions if you like. Like I said, I really like teaching adults and have done a lot of it. I think it's something in the Brooklyn water. Tons of adults starting lessons here all the time. smile
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1258286 - 08/28/09 10:56 PM Re: An adult [Re: Kreisler]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
They need a teacher the way some of us need gyms or personal trainers or weight watchers to do what we could do ourselves! Teachers provide motivation, weekly check-ups, accountability, someone to point out that your rhythm or your notes or your posture ... is not correct.


This is the best description of teaching adults I've seen.

Kreisler, are you saying that we adults can gain proficiency and musicianship with such an approach?

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#1258521 - 08/29/09 12:59 PM Re: An adult [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Teens and adults come to piano lessons needing different things.

Some are self starting in nature, maybe because of their career choices and leadership in their work. They have quite a bit of confidence and problem solving abilities. They are used to being independent.

Some are followers and need more input, then to verify the input, also to add slowly to their musical knowledge base. They are cautious and will use repetition willingly to get it.

Then there are the learning styles that need to be considered to find the way to effective teaching.

Some adults look to the teacher who complete guidance. Others would go ahead and do whatever catches their eye and ear without "needing" the teacher.

A teacher has to adjust to the learner, I think, if it's going to be a winning situation. We teach to the strengths they already have, and we bring up their weaknesses accordingly to the progress they are working. There needs to be a balance of both.

Bottom line is probably cooperation, interest and respect for each other that keeps us moving along together. Progress is sometimes an elusive thing. Progress is also variable depending on the difficulty factor of the music. Progress depends on their doing the work and being prepared at lessons.

In self teaching, it's a good idea to check in with a teacher for a period of time to confirm that you are understanding and executing the music as it is written. Finding the "flaws" and "fixing" them would be very helpful, if there are any. Maybe getting a sense of direction and goal setting would be a good thing to have a teacher's advice on, as well as music selection with a purpose.

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#1258648 - 08/29/09 05:30 PM Re: An adult [Re: Betty Patnude]
Daniel M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 43
Loc: Fife, WA
Loved your post Betty.

I think you made a hugely important point, in that adults are going to need varied teaching approaches. With children, I assume teachers can, more often than not, just tell them what to do and expect them to do it.

I liked your thoughts on progress. I would like to add that the term 'progress' is subjective. An adult might want a teacher to set high expectations which demand a huge amount of practice, which would certainly lead to faster improvement. However, another person could want a more relaxed regimen. They won't improve as quickly, but they will be enjoying piano a lot more than if high demands are made of them.
_________________________
"Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love."

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#1258654 - 08/29/09 05:40 PM Re: An adult [Re: Daniel M]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Daniel M
An adult might want a teacher to set high expectations which demand a huge amount of practice, which would certainly lead to faster improvement. However, another person could want a more relaxed regimen. They won't improve as quickly, but they will be enjoying piano a lot more than if high demands are made of them.
I agree. That's why it's important to communicate so we know where each is coming from. I find myself teaching mostly adults these days, and I have some in both of these categories. And I like to keep re-evaluating goals, as ideas of what you may wish to achieve will change as you learn more. One of my oldest students was just starting lessons to check on his technique, ended up deciding to do an exam and did very well indeed.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1258667 - 08/29/09 06:12 PM Re: An adult [Re: currawong]
Daniel M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 43
Loc: Fife, WA
Communication is key, not just for teacher-student relationships, but for pretty much every other interaction one can think of. Funny how people don't seem to get that much of the time.

I, for example, am probably going to be fairly difficult, because I am going to want to find a balance between strict and easy going. I know I want to progress to be a decent player, but there is absolutely no way that will ever happen if I don't have someone expect something of me. One poster stated adults need teachers for the same reason we need personal trainers for fitness. It's very easy for a person to justify not meeting their own personal expectations and goals (one reason why those New Year's resolutions rarely work out)and another thing entirely to let someone else down.

Guilt can be a very good motivator for me wink.
_________________________
"Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love."

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#1258672 - 08/29/09 06:30 PM Re: An adult [Re: Daniel M]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Daniel,

I'm appreciative of your views as a student and I'm glad you are an effective communicator yourself! You should have no trouble making your needs known. The term I would use would be "collaborators" together between adult student and teacher.

Yes, young students very frequently just follow directions, however, there becomes a time when they need to transfer their communcation style to being more of a participant. Especially if they need to tell the teacher something and don't have experience speaking up for themselves.

When teachers ask questions of their students, I think it's because they really want to know from the student what is really going on inside and if there is a difference between what the teacher is hearing and seeing in the music making and how the student is feeling about it.

I also want to tell you that I met another Daniel M. from Germany today in the forum and you might like to check him out. I had to read his post and profile twice to avoid mistaking him for you.

I believe you both are fairly new to the forum.

Keep reading and posting as it's great for piano teachers to know what's up in the world of beginning adult students!

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