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#1272231 - 09/21/09 05:18 PM Conservatory Politics!
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Note: I try to disguise my identity in all my posts so I change genders, ages, locations, often so plz no accusations that I lie or am a troll. Thx.

Any conservatory piano teachers here who can explain to me why my request for a new piano teacher at the conservatory for a child who is a major talent has descended into a major trauma for all involved? The teacher feels slandered although I told everyone it was just a chemistry problem and maybe he worked my child a little too hard. I feel slandered bc this teacher has told the others on the faculty that I'm the parent from he'll which I am not. And my child is afraid to go back to the conservatory bc he knows his old piano teacher is very upset with him.

The main problem is one of just chemistry. The man is an excellent teacher and I feel very badly that my child never clicked with him. I tried to point out his good qualities but it's hard to get a 9 year old to appreciate things like professional reputation, access, dedication, etc. Plus the man is not too warm-and-fuzzy with young kids and my child kinda needs that.

Plus problems never got resolved when I talked to the teacher. He refused to take no for an answer, or he made me feel stupid for questioning anything he did or how he acted. I thought he didn't understand young children well -- for instance, he once spent 45 straight minutes on the fingering for just measure of music alone with an 8 year old child. I took piano lessons at age 8, and I would have broken down and cried if my teacher did that.

So are we finished at the conservatory merely bc we bruised an important teacher's ego? I didn't tell him in person that we wanted to change teachers bc I didn't want to listen to him try to talk me out of it and I had already made up my mind (plus my child was adamant about not continuing lessons with him so I knew I had to make a change). I feel horribly guilty (and he made sure that I did feel this way too!)

This really takes the joy out of making music, and I think that's why my child wants to quit music for a year or two (he associates it with trauma and angst because of what this teacher put us though once he heard our request).


Edited by BusyMom (09/21/09 05:44 PM)

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#1272244 - 09/21/09 05:39 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
BusyMom,

Does your chameleon routine extend to having multiple identities at PW? If so, that is something that can lead to being banned from the forum. We value honest interchange and having multiple personalities is regarded as dishonest.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1272247 - 09/21/09 05:47 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Piano*Dad]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
I can't be truthful about my personal details bc it can lead to my identification and that will not allow me to speak openly about my child's music education. there are not too many conservatories in the USA and not too many children who play at my child's level. So the chances of one of his conservatory teachers reading this and figuring out his/her identity is relatively high. I don't have multiple identities. Thanks for the warning though.


Edited by BusyMom (09/21/09 05:53 PM)

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#1272250 - 09/21/09 05:49 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
No one wants to know your personal details. All we ask is that you have only one identity here. If you have multiple identities that is explicitly prohibited.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1272259 - 09/21/09 06:18 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
I can't be truthful about my personal details bc it can lead to my identification and that will not allow me to speak openly about my child's music education. there are not too many conservatories in the USA and not too many children who play at my child's level. So the chances of one of his conservatory teachers reading this and figuring out his/her identity is relatively high. I don't have multiple identities. Thanks for the warning though.


BM, while I can commiserate with your desire to remain anonymous, I would think that the particulars of your situation are so rather narrow that even with the information you've given, that if your kids teacher or someone else who is knowledgeable about the situation, was here on this forum, that they'd be able to suss out who you are. Certainly providing details such as:

"for instance, he once spent 45 straight minutes on the fingering for just measure of music alone with an 8 year old child."

would likely make it obvious if the teacher was reading this site, who you are.

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#1272264 - 09/21/09 06:26 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: bitWrangler]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Just out of curiosity, what IS your child's level?
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1272266 - 09/21/09 06:28 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Minniemay]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
?? I don't know the exact level.

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#1272271 - 09/21/09 06:35 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
How then can you say not many children play at your child's level if you don't know what it is? What do you have to compare it to?
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1272273 - 09/21/09 06:37 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Well, if you do live in a major US city, there are probably many well-qualified piano teachers to teach your child. Keep looking.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1272300 - 09/21/09 08:05 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
boo1234 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 512
I think you need to take a less "hands on" role in your child's piano lessons.

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#1272302 - 09/21/09 08:18 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: boo1234]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Originally Posted By: boo1234
I think you need to take a less "hands on" role in your child's piano lessons.


OMG you have no idea how much I want to get out of this music business and let my child handle it himself but he's too young to be running around the city on his own and I really am preparing him for a professional career in music. I just told my son now ... "I'm dropping you off at the front door and don't expect me to come inside and see these people!" It will kill me to go to the recitals and concerts but my child would be hurt if I did not show up. Before this, I loved this school and I was well regarded as a parent.

I have learned one valuable lesson from this and I will give this advice to all music parents: when you know you want to change teachers, say the problem is "just chemistry" and do not give your honest reasons! And when you audition for a new teacher also say "just chemistry" and do not tell the piano dept your real reasons either bc hatever you say will be twisted to make you look like the parent from he11.


Edited by BusyMom (09/21/09 10:04 PM)

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#1272303 - 09/21/09 08:21 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
What kinds of things is he playing?
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1272319 - 09/21/09 08:46 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Sandimar Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/04/08
Posts: 10
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
Note: I try to disguise my identity in all my posts so I change genders, ages, locations, often so plz no accusations that I lie or am a troll. Thx.

Any conservatory piano teachers here who can explain to me why my request for a new piano teacher at the conservatory for a child who is a major talent has descended into a major trauma for all involved? The teacher feels slandered although I told everyone it was just a chemistry problem and maybe he worked my child a little too hard. I feel slandered bc this teacher has told the others on the faculty that I'm the parent from he'll which I am not. And my child is afraid to go back to the conservatory bc he knows his old piano teacher is very upset with him.

The main problem is one of just chemistry. The man is an excellent teacher and I feel very badly that my child never clicked with him. I tried to point out his good qualities but it's hard to get a 9 year old to appreciate things like professional reputation, access, dedication, etc. Plus the man is not too warm-and-fuzzy with young kids and my child kinda needs that.

Plus problems never got resolved when I talked to the teacher. He refused to take no for an answer, or he made me feel stupid for questioning anything he did or how he acted. I thought he didn't understand young children well -- for instance, he once spent 45 straight minutes on the fingering for just measure of music alone with an 8 year old child. I took piano lessons at age 8, and I would have broken down and cried if my teacher did that.

So are we finished at the conservatory merely bc we bruised an important teacher's ego? I didn't tell him in person that we wanted to change teachers bc I didn't want to listen to him try to talk me out of it and I had already made up my mind (plus my child was adamant about not continuing lessons with him so I knew I had to make a change). I feel horribly guilty (and he made sure that I did feel this way too!)

This really takes the joy out of making music, and I think that's why my child wants to quit music for a year or two (he associates it with trauma and angst because of what this teacher put us though once he heard our request).


Is the child upset because the teacher spent 45 minutes on a passage or the parent upset? I notice that you said you couldn’t handle it at eight. I also noticed that you called the child a “major talent”.

I wasn’t surprised that the teacher spent that amount of time perfecting some difficult measures to play at the level that you suggested your child plays.

Do you think it would be different with another conservatory instructor? I don’t think children get special attention. in these schools. Good or bad I think a school expects a certain "product". I think more is expected. I don't think they get special treatment. If you feel the environment is bad for your child, remember they are a child first and only once, then maybe find a teacher from a music association or University.

Also, maybe the child is in a period where he or she doesn’t enjoy it quite as much or sometimes kids have bad days or weeks. They get sick of routine just like adults. It can be difficult for a teacher when a child goes through that.

Best wishes. Regardless. the resolution will be difficult.

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#1272327 - 09/21/09 09:01 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Sandimar]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Having a good communication with parents is extremely important to me being able to do my job well. Perhaps having your son with this teacher with whom you didn't along was a bad idea from the start. But please, do not disregard communicating with your son's new teacher, whoever it may be as a result of this. Not everyone is like that.

Interview your son's next teacher before signing up. Find someone who has the same goals as you do for your son. Since your son is upset about going back to the conservatory (and there are many in the US, btw), then look for a private independent teacher. Not every child flourishes in a high-stress and competitive environment that sometimes happens at these schools. I know it would have crushed me.

Go to www.mtna.org or www.getlessonsnow.com or some other online places and get a list of names. Then start calling, asking questions, and when you find some good possibilities, see if they will meet with you and your son in person first.

There's a perfect teacher out there for your son. Don't stop looking until you find them. smile


Edited by Morodiene (09/21/09 09:03 PM)
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1272357 - 09/21/09 10:10 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Yes, one of the problems was that this teacher was too busy to take the time to explain things well to me. When I interviewed new teachers, I learned some of the reasons for the annoying things he did and I learned that some of my child's complaints were not valid. Remember to stop the lesson early and take the time to communicate well to avoid these problems.

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#1272365 - 09/21/09 10:20 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
boo1234 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 512
Is your child the one who is complaining about the teacher or is it you watching what is going on and thinking it is too much or not right?

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#1272367 - 09/21/09 10:23 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Exactly what did you hope to accomplish here by your posting?

I can't imagine that your hysterics here are helpful to your child who as you say just 9 years old. When you said: "My child was adamant about not continuing lessons with him", could it be
your child was comfortable with his teacher and is now greatly embarrassed for his teacher to have been caught up in an argument involving his mother.

If your child hasn't expressed interest in changing teachers before your altercation with the teacher there is no reason to act upon it. If progress was being made and there was mutual respect between them they needed to keep that situation. If your child has not complained to you about anything occuring in the lesson you are in danger of destroying his self confidence and his future work.

No conservatory career has ever been helped by a parent making demands and accusation against a teacher.

Are you paying full tuition or is he a scholarship student?

I wonder if you have an idea of the conflicts you will create for your son if you don't learn how to talk to people when you need their assistance in creating a new scenario for your son?

This is serious stuff and when you say "trauma" and "angst" the only person whom I see showing those kinds of emotions to us is, unfortunately, you.

Your child and his talent is going to be undermined severely by things such as you've told us. I predict that your child will continue to be the middleman of a situation he has no control over. That alone would make him want to quit.

Actually I feel a little heartbroken at hearing this story.

It's a story where no body wins.

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#1272372 - 09/21/09 10:26 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
BusyMom, I don't know anything about conservatory politics. But I *am* struck, and concerned by, the juxtaposition of these two statements of yours:

Originally Posted By: BusyMom
This really takes the joy out of making music, and I think that's why my child wants to quit music for a year or two (he associates it with trauma and angst because of what this teacher put us though once he heard our request).


and

Originally Posted By: BusyMom
I really am preparing him for a professional career in music.



Two things are noteworthy here: One, you and your son do not appear to be in agreement regarding his career goals. (I won't even get into the issue of how seriously one can talk of career goals in a child of 8. Or 9.) Two, your phrasing in the second quote is curious: "I am preparing him for a career in music," rather than, say, "He tells me he wants a career in music" or "He is preparing for a career in music."

Just sayin'.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1272380 - 09/21/09 10:44 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Monica K.]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
As others have said, good communication on all sides, is essential, and I agree with Betty, that this seems to be a situation where nobody wins.

What really concerned me, however, was your statement:

"I just told my son now ... "I'm dropping you off at the front door and don't expect me to come inside and see these people!" It will kill me to go to the recitals and concerts but my child would be hurt if I did not show up."

This seems to be putting enormous pressure on a young child to be a go-between in a situation not of their making.
I would not be at all suprised if your child wanted to quit under these circumstances.

Hopefully, there is still time to resolve the problem, before it gets worse.
_________________________
Rob

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#1272381 - 09/21/09 10:49 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Betty Patnude]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Well that's why I plan to drop him off at the front door and not even get involved with his teachers anymore! I will tell them to write things down for him and to make things real clear for him and to call me and leave messages about anything real important like "he has a recital on this date" but don't expect me to do more than that. This way I figure I'll have no more conflicts with any teachers.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Exactly what did you hope to accomplish here by your posting?

I can't imagine that your hysterics here are helpful to your child who as you say just 9 years old. When you said: "My child was adamant about not continuing lessons with him", could it be
your child was comfortable with his teacher and is now greatly embarrassed for his teacher to have been caught up in an argument involving his mother.

If your child hasn't expressed interest in changing teachers before your altercation with the teacher there is no reason to act upon it. If progress was being made and there was mutual respect between them they needed to keep that situation. If your child has not complained to you about anything occuring in the lesson you are in danger of destroying his self confidence and his future work.

No conservatory career has ever been helped by a parent making demands and accusation against a teacher.

Are you paying full tuition or is he a scholarship student?

I wonder if you have an idea of the conflicts you will create for your son if you don't learn how to talk to people when you need their assistance in creating a new scenario for your son?

This is serious stuff and when you say "trauma" and "angst" the only person whom I see showing those kinds of emotions to us is, unfortunately, you.

Your child and his talent is going to be undermined severely by things such as you've told us. I predict that your child will continue to be the middleman of a situation he has no control over. That alone would make him want to quit.

Actually I feel a little heartbroken at hearing this story.

It's a story where no body wins.



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#1272388 - 09/21/09 11:04 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Behave like the loving mother your son needs. You are not behaving very responsibly if you really want for your son to thrive musically and spiritually.

That is the only thing I can think to say to you.



The conflict you are having in your mind, I believe, is about you. You are taking out some aggression on people in your son's like who are there to give him the finest instruction he is capable of receiving. He has a lot to live up to in a conservatory environment and he will not be able to enjoy his path to musicianship with the baggage of having a mother who is creating some very unpleasant circumstances for him.

Can you stop yourself in mid-track here? Now? Before it's too late?

When this is all said and done and he's about 18 years old, is he going to consider you his ally or his archenemy? Actually, he might be on his way to thinking those things much sooner if you can't cease and desist from making everything a confrontation between you and the teacher(s) or administration.

Approach them respectfully with your requests. Your son is going to need a lot of mentors and guides to help him get to his music career so don't close any doors now in your haste. These kinds of things will come back to bite you in the a.. if he gets that far.

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#1272404 - 09/21/09 11:43 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Betty Patnude]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Thank you Betty. I will try to put the conflict aside for the sake of my son's hapiness. He does not see me as his adversary -- he's shocked at what they did to me because he was there and he never heard me bad mouth his old teacher.

I have learned a very valuable lesson:

1. NEVER critisize a conservatory teacher! They are too self-inflated to take criticism well. Always use the "poor chemistry" excuse and leave it at that.

2. Let your child voice their own complaints to their own teachers and do not get involved. If the teacher is too mean for the child to approach, then have him talk to the Director on his own.

3. Smile and pretend like this teacher did not screw me.


Edited by BusyMom (09/21/09 11:53 PM)

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#1272496 - 09/22/09 06:21 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Busymom, I dont claim to know the world about the parent student relationship, all I have is the collected experience of others as well as my own. I am a teenager and I get along with my mum really really well, if anything we are almost like friends.

First off, you seem to be quite aggitated by the teacher that you describe. From what you say his behaviour of calling you the 'parent from hell' seems harsh. You should not have heard that and its not at all nice to say. With that said, many on the board have questioned your 'behaviour'. I don't know you personally so I won't evaluate but I will say that you evaluate the need to take an active role as a parent without being 'annoying'. Perhaps it is time to think about what might agitate a teacher as a parent. Telling a teacher how to teach is sometimes likened to a person without children telling another person how to raise their children. My mother tended to 'side'with my teacher and as a result I didn't like my teacher. With saying that my mum is completely musically illiterate and she wasn't informed of her need to support my journey as a growing musiciain. What was essential was communication at the time and it is something that others have repeated over this thread.

As a parent, your concern over your son and your care is evident as you choose to send him to a conservatory teacher. I am not a teacher... I am mearely a student but you seemed to have want to 'change'or make the teacher aware of how to teach children. I understand that from your own experience the teacher is perhaps not suited to your eight year old. I can see agitations and I might share an experience of mine, I was agitated once at my former teacher as I thought his lessons lacked depth and substance. I too did speak of setting goals and having him 'change' his method of teaching, it didn't work, after much discussion he stuck to his ways. I am not saying that people are rigid, I am saying that you either stay with this teacher and accept his way of teaching or change teachers.

With that said, you would be best to talk to your own son. See if he is even interested in playing the piano or studying music. Some parents make the 'wrong diagnosis', piano is almost a generic instrument and some kids are more interested in saxophone, cello or violin. See with your son, thinking of pursuing a career is really a big thought. My teacher expressed to me that we never even really make that decision we just study and find that we'd love to do this for the rest of our lives.

I must congradulate you for taking a keen interest in your sons education, my mum and I get along really well. At this stage she does not attend all my performances, she'll go to the ones with the songs she likes. She also doesn't correspond with my taecher much, she might talk to my piano teacher occasionally or my school music teacher ... why do I tell you this? What you are doing now is by all means correct, but see who's motivation it is to take lessons. All to many times you see the pushy parent who takes their kids to competitions and lives vicariously through their kids. I am not saying that you are like this... my real concern is over the fact that you speak of making your son a proffessional or having a career.

Some things to think about it. It seems it is appropriate to find another teacher after this experience with a conservatory teacher but think about your role as a parent, your son's wishes and what you BOTH (and later on what you all want including the teacher) out of lesson.

Just some food for thought, I hope that helped.
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1272534 - 09/22/09 08:30 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
My children's music teachers are my employees. If I don't like them, I'll fire them and employ others. Unless he has a talent as precocious as Mozarts, there are any number of teachers who will be able to make a decent job of teaching piano to an 8-year old. An 18-year-old might be slightly different, of course.

I can see absolutely no reason to get involved in an emotional entanglement over the piano tuition of an 8-year-old, even a very capable one. If you don't like your kid's teachers -- for any reason at all -- you're absolutely entitled to tell them to go to the hot place and get new ones.

Just my $0.02, of course.



Edited by kevinb (09/22/09 08:33 AM)

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#1272550 - 09/22/09 08:56 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Hi Rebekah,

thanks you for the food for thought. my son is the one who wants a career in music as an adult, and he has the talent and drive for it (although he temporarily lost his drive due to the fallout after asking for a new teacher). personally, i know many super talented musicians who can't find well paying jobs in the music industry because they did not have good music teachers in their youth. so that's why i'm going through all this to get a conservatory education for my son.

how old are you? i ask you this because i'm wondering when my son will be old enough for me to sit back and "just do the driving" instead of playing personal secretary to his music studies.


Edited by BusyMom (09/22/09 09:18 AM)

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#1272559 - 09/22/09 09:20 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: kevinb]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
To some extent, I think conservatory politics are impossible to avoid. Every city I've lived in has some sort of situation where Good Student started with Teacher X, quit, went to Teacher Y, and now Teacher X accuses Teacher Y of stealing students, Teacher Y refuses to talk to Teacher X because he's crazy, Teachers Z, W, and P start to get caught in the middle and are pressured to take sides, Teacher X's other students' parents take his side and talk bad about Teacher Y, Teacher Y's students' parents take her side and talk bad about Teacher X. Meanwhile, both Teacher X and Teacher Y's students are the ones who win the competitions and play better than Teacher Z, W, and P's students, so if you want to be with one of the "best" teachers, you have to choose between X and Y because Z, W, and P don't seem interested or able to get the kind of results the parent of Student J wants.

From what I hear, it tends to be the same at the upper levels of any competitive endeavor, be it gymnastics, mathematics teams, or spelling bees. People get focused on results and competitions, and they drive themselves (and others) crazy trying to scramble their way to the top.

My advice would simply be to consider what you want the end result to be. I'm going to take a wild guess and assume you're interested in competitive piano activities. (These kinds of politics seem most heated in competitive circles.) If that's the case, then you should give some serious thought to how important competitive piano is and whether or not it really advances your goal of preparing your son for a career in music. I'm not saying competitive piano is a bad thing - competitions can be very worthwhile, but I can easily name as many pianists with happy careers in music who never did well in competitions as I can competition winners whose careers stalled, failed, or never got off the ground after they outgrew competitions and found themselves not knowing what to do next.

I would also ignore any advice regarding your parenting skills given 6 paragraphs on an internet forum. I can't imagine any of us have a clear idea of what you're like as a parent, and who's to say any of us are any better? (Unless one of us is Jon Nakamatsu's mom, in which case please speak up and tell us how you pulled that one off!)

Also, don't think you're alone. I read your post thinking "hmm...I wonder if I can figure out who she's talking about," but truth be told, I can think of situations that match the one you described in *every* competitive piano community I've had some experience with. (And some are worse - I've met people who haven't spoken to each other in decades because of a single incident with a student quitting. It's NUTS.)
_________________________
"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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#1272560 - 09/22/09 09:20 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Excuse me Mom-from-hell, but are you saying your son is 9 years old and knows what he wants to be?
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#1272561 - 09/22/09 09:20 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Betty Patnude]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Exactly what did you hope to accomplish here by your posting?

I can't imagine that your hysterics here are helpful to your child who as you say just 9 years old. When you said: "My child was adamant about not continuing lessons with him", could it be
your child was comfortable with his teacher and is now greatly embarrassed for his teacher to have been caught up in an argument involving his mother.

If your child hasn't expressed interest in changing teachers before your altercation with the teacher there is no reason to act upon it. If progress was being made and there was mutual respect between them they needed to keep that situation. If your child has not complained to you about anything occuring in the lesson you are in danger of destroying his self confidence and his future work.

No conservatory career has ever been helped by a parent making demands and accusation against a teacher.

Are you paying full tuition or is he a scholarship student?

I wonder if you have an idea of the conflicts you will create for your son if you don't learn how to talk to people when you need their assistance in creating a new scenario for your son?

This is serious stuff and when you say "trauma" and "angst" the only person whom I see showing those kinds of emotions to us is, unfortunately, you.

Your child and his talent is going to be undermined severely by things such as you've told us. I predict that your child will continue to be the middleman of a situation he has no control over. That alone would make him want to quit.

Actually I feel a little heartbroken at hearing this story.

It's a story where no body wins.



Wow Betty, how insightful! I guess I always tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, in this case, the OP. But now that you point out these things, coupled with the seeming over-reaction by the OP by not wanting to be "found out" in case someone at that school comes on this forum really sheds new light on the subject.
_________________________
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#1272570 - 09/22/09 09:34 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: kevinb]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: kevinb
My children's music teachers are my employees. If I don't like them, I'll fire them and employ others.


Really? You pay their FICA, Federal, State, and unemployment taxes for them? Do you offer benefits as well? Pensions? And are you still hiring? Sounds like a dream job to me!

They are not employees, they are independent contractors. They run their business however they feel is best, be that good or bad, and you pay them for their services. When you "fire" a teacher, you are the one leaving, not them leaving the business.

A teacher, like when you hire someone to build you a house, is the supposed professional in this. In an employer/employee relationship, the employer knows how to run the business and what the employee should be doing. You can tell your contractor what features you'd like your house to have, but you shouldn't tell him how to hang drywall or how to tile, because he's the expert.

This contractor scenario is more analogous to a teacher/student relationship then employer/employee. If you think you are a teacher's employer, then you also think you have the right to tell them how to do their job. But how do you know what is the best way to teach technique, what order of pieces should be learned, what aspects of music they need to know for a lifetime of fulfilling music-making?

I think perhaps this is the problem the OP had - an incorrect concept of who the teacher is. Ask questions? Sure. Communication is key. Let the teacher know if your child is having trouble, or if there are things that they want to learn (like how to play "Smoke on the Water" or whatever). We're happy to oblige. But there is a fine line between that and telling the teacher how to teach. What exactly are you paying them for if you're telling them how to do their job? Something to think about.


Edited by Morodiene (09/22/09 09:36 AM)
_________________________
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#1272575 - 09/22/09 09:49 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
BusyMom -

My experience is that children change their mind about their adult "careers" many times. So right now we know your child has had an unpleasant experience with a piano teacher, and both of you are experiencing some distress about it. Your son indicates he doesn't know if he wants to continue lessons - who would! Too much emotion to be fun.

Everyone needs to take a step back.

There is nothing magic or special about teachers at the community/prep schools associated with conservatories. These teachers may or may not be on the "real" faculty and may or may not be the best teachers in a given community. Without knowing your location, it is hard to say. The are certainly NOT the ONLY good teachers in the community. Many teachers on these faculties teach in several venues.

If I was selecting a teacher for a student who was interested in competitions, I would look not only at teachers affiliated with conservatories, but also those who regularly place students in such events.

As a parent though, my advice to you would be to find a teacher who loved teaching children to play the piano and who was VERY good at it. By which I mean the children practice and love their lessons and their teacher (well most of the time). A teacher who had high expectations but tempered them based on the age and temperment of the child. A teacher who will take your phone call and explain what they are doing. A teacher who doesn't set your nerves on edge. While I don't think teachers like having their every lesson second guessed, neither can they do their best work if you are just a "drive by" parent.

Another piece of advice - try to have (preliminary) interviews with teachers and any discussions where you might be perceived as questionning the teacher out of earshot of the child. As a parent, I've learned through experience that that's the quickest way to get twisted into an unpleasant triangle. It sounds like your emotions are high - mine might be too in this situation - and I don't think your son needs more emotionality around his lessons. It doesn't always make the child feel supported.

I hope your interviews go well.

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#1272602 - 09/22/09 10:24 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: kevinb]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: kevinb
My children's music teachers are my employees. If I don't like them, I'll fire them and employ others. Unless he has a talent as precocious as Mozarts, there are any number of teachers who will be able to make a decent job of teaching piano to an 8-year old. An 18-year-old might be slightly different, of course.


I would disagree with both parts of this post. First, unless you really do own some type of music school, music teachers are not employees, at best they are contractors, all are service providers. While it's true that as a consumer, you are free to walk (within the stipulations of any contract that was signed or agreed to), that is another thing entirely than being an employer.

As to the second part, it may be true in a large metropolitan area, but if the OP's 8yo is as talented as they mention, then there can be precious few teachers who can bring the student along in a manner that is far better than simply "decent". Even in my neck of the woods, while not NY or LA, is a pretty decent sized city, I can count on one hand the number of teachers that are considered cream of the crop for someone of that age. AAMOF, I would conjecture that the situation is the opposite, as you get older, then you can find more high level teachers as many of them won't take students below a certain age. Not to mention the fact that many of these top tier teachers tend to have full studios (though I would hazard to guess that if the student was of sufficient talent, that room can be made).

So while I agree with your overall statement, it's your money and time (and your kids), use them to your advantage, I disagree that given a sufficiently advanced student that it really is "that simple".

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#1272604 - 09/22/09 10:29 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Hi Busymom,

Glad you liked to read the post. I am 17 years old, turning 18 in 2 months so I am about to graduate. I started to do most of the 'driving' when I was 14 but my teachers say that it's a bit unusual to start to be autonomous at my age. The fact that my mum is completley musically illiterate drove me to find my own teachers and interview them myself. I'm planning to study at a conservarium next year to study music performance so I guess that is the next step to becoming a proffessional. What you say about the right teacher is correct. The history/ experiences of the teacher I see surpasses my goals as a musician but without him I don't think I'd be able to study music at a university level. Without going into that much detail, he makes a living as a concert pianist, teacher, lecturer and accompanist. He works part time at some of the best conservatoriums here. His experiences in music studies is very useful since I am looking to study music after I finish school.

It is worthwhile to find a good teacher but I think that this stage of your sons development it would help to find someone who studied music education. I say that because music education specialists also study psychology and understand development. There are teachers I know that choose to take up proffessionals and pre-proffessionals, some teachers aren't that well versed in pedagogy and teaching younger children. I could be wrong but it sounds like the case in your sons experience.

Does your son need a conservatory teacher though? Would a teacher with a relevant degree and performing career suffice? It does in my case, I dont see a conservatory teacher.

I dont mean to give any parenting advice at this point. These are just some ideas that I have evaluated and collected over gifted and prodigy children. Some parents go to the extreme of banning their children from certain activities (ice skating, cricket, etc) in the belief that it would 'spoil their hands'. THis might sound silly but its true, other parents exclude their children from other areas of study... I've seen parents exclude sports and even a general education - arithmatic and literature. I doubt that you do go to extremes, lets not forget that you have a nine year old in your hands, he might change his mind and find something different, you never know.

My mum never pushed me in any direction, she just supported and encouraged me all the way whenever I took an interest in something. As I result, there is so much in the world that I feel so honoured to be acquainted with. I really enjoy immersing myself in language, literature is an interest of mine. I also like history and mathematics... I can get carried away here but you get my drift. I am not advising you, just stating that there is a trap that many parents of prodigies fall into.
_________________________
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#1272611 - 09/22/09 10:47 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
Well said, Rebekah.
_________________________
Clef


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#1272645 - 09/22/09 11:30 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Busy Mom,

I don’t see that you asked a question in your post. It looks as if you vented about a frustration. Instead, I would suggest you post a specific question.

Several teachers here asked what level your son is playing. You never answered (unless I missed it) The reason we ask is because talent will take your son a long way. You appear to be putting your of sons future success into the hands of one teacher. It is not realistic.

Again, ANOTHER analogy about my own kids; (I do that often here) My son plays very competitive baseball. For two years he has played on a traveling team. Several parents were unhappy with the coach. Parents felt the coach wasn’t qualified enough and was jeopardizing their children’s baseball future. They campaigned to oust him. These kids are 10 years old and this whole mess started when they were 8!

A meeting was called with the head of the baseball organization. He sided with the coach. He reported that of the hundreds of kids he has seem come through this competitive baseball association, four went on to play professional ball, four went to prison, and four are dead (car accidents etc).

In the end, these “parents from hell” caused a lot problems. My son was very discouraged when the coach had enough and quite. The parents and kids who supported the coach were the kids with the strongest averages and stats and the parents themselves played competitive ball. The problem parents had little competitive experience and naively expected their child’s baseball success to be determined at age 10.

I think what everyone here is advising you to do is relax. We don’t know all the details of your story but what many of us do know is that your son’s musical future is not dependent on this one experience. He is only eight.

If you live in a community that has a conservatory then you should easily find a very qualified teacher. It may be that the conservatory has very high expectations and the teacher you had is part of that school of thought. It may be that the atmosphere of the conservatory is not a match for you child. Or you may have burned your bridges. We don’t know.

Find another solution. I wish you luck.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1272652 - 09/22/09 11:42 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Jeff Clef]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm not sure what you mean by
"a conservatory" for 9 yr. olds in
the US, but some of the basic facts
sound very familiar: teachers
with big egos; overworked child wanting
to quit; lack of chemistry between student
and teacher; parent becoming overly
involved in the lesson process;
etc. We hear such things all the
time on the forums, and the solution
is difficult and involves many
complex issues.

For example, if a child shows
marvelous talent, the natural
tendency is to put him with the
teachers with the biggest reputations.
Unfortunately, a big reputation
almost invariably goes hand and
hand with a big ego. That is,
such a teacher will be interested
first and foremost in promoting
himself and only secondarily in
teaching. Nevertheless, a parent
might resist pulling a child out
of such a situation, because of
the prestige factor.

As for the lack of chemistry issue,
the solution would seem to be to find
a teacher with good chemistry.
But it's not so simple as that.
First, the parent might resist
removing the child from such
a prestigious school. And the
school might resist a teacher switch
if the current teacher objects to it.

Furthermore, if the child were
to switch to a teacher with good
chemistry, either in the school or
outside of it, that might in turn create
even more serious problems. A
parent can come to resent, at the
very deepest level, a situation where
there is a special bond between a
teacher and his child. In such
a situation the parent will invariably
switch the child to another teacher.

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#1272655 - 09/22/09 11:45 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Mrs.A]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Why can't a teacher just accept the "just bad chemistry" excuse (which was honest and 75% of the reason why my child wants to switch teachers)? I'm not sure why the teacher forced me to also give him an itemized list of complaints so the mud slinging could begin! I never wanted this to get ugly, and the ugliness is scaring my child away from music and the conservatory! Luckily there is another activity at this school that he loves (chamber music) and the head of that dept is both parent and child friendly! I'm hoping she restores my childs trust in this school. No 9 year old child should feel like he has made an enemy in the music business just bc he told his school "I don't click with that teacher. Can I have someone different?".

Also, I get the impression that top conservatories have a "take a hike" attitude towards anyone who complains. Is this universal? I know that these schools are esteemed institutions and they don't have to put up with a lot of crap from parents to keep students, but to put a parent and child thru a major trauma just for asking for a new teacher is not acceptable, IMO. policies should be put in place to limit the inevitable mud slinging that takes place so children do not associate angst with music and possibly quit music studies altogether.

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#1272662 - 09/22/09 11:51 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
Quote:
just bc he told his school "I don't click with that teacher. Can I have someone different?"...

The child told the school that? Was the child able to explain in what way he believed he didn't "click"?

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#1272665 - 09/22/09 12:00 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
Why can't a teacher just accept the "just bad chemistry" excuse (which was honest and 75% of the reason why my child wants to switch teachers)? I'm not sure why the teacher forced me to also give him an itemized list of complaints so the mud slinging could begin! I never wanted this to get ugly, and the ugliness is scaring my child away from music and the conservatory! Luckily there is another activity at this school that he loves (chamber music) and the head of that dept is both parent and child friendly! I'm hoping she restores my childs trust in this school. No 9 year old child should feel like he has made an enemy in the music business just bc he told his school "I don't click with that teacher. Can I have someone different?".

Also, I get the impression that top conservatories have a "take a hike" attitude towards anyone who complains. Is this universal? I know that these schools are esteemed institutions and they don't have to put up with a lot of crap from parents to keep students, but to put a parent and child thru a major trauma just for asking for a new teacher is not acceptable, IMO. policies should be put in place to limit the inevitable mud slinging that takes place so children do not associate angst with music and possibly quit music studies altogether.

While you cannot control the "mud slinging" that is happening, this is a great moment to show your son how to be gracious and how to handle this like an adult. Perhaps you need to have a talk with this teacher and set things straight. Be the bigger person and apologize for whatever part you played in this getting out of hand, and let him know you would like to leave his studio on good terms, or even better, that you would like to try and find a solution.

You first stated that the complaint about the teacher was your complaint, and now you state your son was complaining. So which is it? Was the bad chemistry on the part of you and the teacher and not your son and the teacher? Is your son no longer interested in lessons as a result of things blowing up like this, or as a result of how his teaching was? You know the answers to these questions, and I think they will be very telling. In any case, the whole "dropping him off at the door" and refusing to talk with the teacher is a very passive-aggressive response that only creates further discomfort for your son.

Get things out in the open with this teacher in a respectful way. If the teacher continues to be disrespectful to you, however, then you can feel free to go and your son will see that you handled it better than he did. Chances are, this is a misunderstanding, and by being willing to hear his side of things, you might be able to come to an agreement on your son's future lessons with him. Everyone wins in that case.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1272680 - 09/22/09 12:14 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Excellent post, Morodiene. I agree completely.

BusyMom, it sounds like you want your son to remain at the Conservatory. If that is correct, then my advice would be to take whatever steps are necessary to put your family back on good terms with the teachers and administrators. Apologize for whatever role you played in escalating the conflict and assert clearly your desire to be on good terms with the Conservatory. Stress that both sides are working toward the same goal: facilitating your son's advancement in piano. Engage in behaviors that will support a conciliatory point of view, i.e., attending events, going inside, smiling and speaking nicely to the teachers, volunteering, helping out with fundraising, etc. etc.

Whether you were justified in your initial complaints is to a certain degree not really relevant here; the question is what is the best way, from this point on, to ensure a positive learning environment for your son. Your son has obviously picked up on the tension surrounding his training. If you are convinced that the Conservatory is the proper environment for him, for his own good, swallow your resentments and do what it takes to unruffle those ruffled feathers. A little bit of groveling can go a long way. wink

Pyrrhic victories are victories in name only.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1272681 - 09/22/09 12:14 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
BusyMom -

It seems from your posts about this time last year, that you complained about the way this conservatory was treating your daughter - similar complaints in fact - that the atmosphere was too strict, and not what you thought of as developmentally appropriate. And both of your children wish music as their career?

Do both of your children have the same teacher? Has this problem been festering for more than a year?

Perhaps you need to have a discussion with the dean, or director about what the school's expectations are in general before deciding whether to continue to enroll your children.

I suspect your child will follow your attitude. I don't think most children know what the music business is, never mind worry about enemies in it. Children do however, pick up on the attitudes parents have about their children's teachers.

Find a teacher/situation about which you can be positive and your child will do just fine

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#1272682 - 09/22/09 12:15 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
Why can't a teacher just accept the "just bad chemistry" excuse?


Because teachers have egos and feelings like everybody else.

"Just bad chemistry" is never satisfactory. Not when your girlfriend breaks up with you. Not when you get laid off your job.

"Just bad chemistry" isn't satisfactory because it shuts the door for improvement. If you're told the chemistry is bad, that means there's nothing you can do to fix things - you are completely trapped. It's uncomfortable and leads to bad feelings.

I do believe that sometimes the chemistry just isn't right, but expecting people to accept that with no hurt feelings or awkwardness ignores basic psychology. Nobody likes a severed relationship, no matter what the reasons or circumstances.
_________________________
"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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#1272716 - 09/22/09 01:02 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Kreisler]
Michael Darnton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 243
Loc: Chicago
It appears that a bunch of teachers were not the right people to ask this question of!

The teacher IS your employee: you pay him, his social security, retirement, the whole wad, indirectly. If, for ANY reason, the relationship is not working out, you have the right to go elsewhere, and should.

Whether you're doing the right thing by your kid is a different question.
_________________________
http://darntonviolins.com and http://darntonhersh.com

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#1272734 - 09/22/09 01:33 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Michael Darnton]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Michael Darnton
It appears that a bunch of teachers were not the right people to ask this question of!

The teacher IS your employee: you pay him, his social security, retirement, the whole wad, indirectly. If, for ANY reason, the relationship is not working out, you have the right to go elsewhere, and should.

Whether you're doing the right thing by your kid is a different question.


Actually, en employer pays half of FICA out of their own pocket. It is not a deduction from the employee's salary. Same with unemployment. Insurance is usually paid for in part by the employer and employee, so again, that is money above and beyond what the employer pays for time worked. These are the costs associated with having employees. A contractor, however, has these costs all to themselves. They can pass the cost along to their customers in their rates, but in teaching music, which is often seen as a commodity, one has to be careful not to price themselves out of the market. If I considered my taxes and insurance costs when figuring my rates, I'd most likely be charging double what I do now, and also likely, not have many students.

Of course customers have the right to choose to do business elsewhere, which is why it makes good business sense to do one's best to make the customer happy. But if that means sacrificing your own ethics and beliefs in what you teach and how you teach, then it is probably best for everyone to let that student go.

I don't think anyone is saying that the OP has to stay with any teacher. However, there are inconsistencies in what has been said to leave some doubt as to whether or not that *is* the best course of action to take. All we can do is react to the information we've been given here.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1272737 - 09/22/09 01:38 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
If it's so riddled with politics and you feel uncomfortable just walk away. "Conservatory" is just a title -- do the legwork to find a teacher that your son does click with.

Also, don't assume he has his life as a professional musician all planned out at the ripe old age of 9 -- this has BURNOUT written all over it.

~Jennifer Eklund
_________________________
FREE 90-page eBook of sheet music: www.pianopronto.com/specialoffer

Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

BA in Piano/MA Musicology



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#1272742 - 09/22/09 01:44 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Michael Darnton]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Michael Darnton
It appears that a bunch of teachers were not the right people to ask this question of!

The teacher IS your employee: you pay him, his social security, retirement, the whole wad, indirectly. If, for ANY reason, the relationship is not working out, you have the right to go elsewhere, and should.

Whether you're doing the right thing by your kid is a different question.

Yo, Mr. Teacher-Basher:
STOP assaulting piano teachers with your "I'm the employer" attitude. It is REALLY getting old. Why don't you post something more useful instead?

_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1272749 - 09/22/09 01:50 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Michael Darnton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 243
Loc: Chicago
Originally Posted By: Morodiene


Actually, en employer pays half of FICA out of their own pocket. It is not a deduction from the employee's salary. Same with unemployment. Insurance is usually paid for in part by the employer and employee, so again, that is money above and beyond what the employer pays for time worked.


Actually, actually. no matter how you cut it the money comes from the customer, one way or another unless the teacher is independently wealthy and uses another source of income to pay those things.

In my 25 years in the music business, I have met a lot of players and teachers who were jerks, just as in the general population. A teacher who makes kids cry and hate playing the piano should be doing something else other than torturing children.

Sure, we don't have the full story, here, but I certainly do see a pack mentality here in leaping to blaming the mom.

AZN, as the church lady would say, you are SO SPECIAL! Thanks for proving my point.


Edited by Michael Darnton (09/22/09 01:54 PM)
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#1272754 - 09/22/09 01:56 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2246
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
Yes, one of the problems was that this teacher was too busy to take the time to explain things well to me. When I interviewed new teachers, I learned some of the reasons for the annoying things he did and I learned that some of my child's complaints were not valid. Remember to stop the lesson early and take the time to communicate well to avoid these problems.


I think I'll hop on the "apologize and make peace" bandwagon myself. Especially because of what you've stated above. You'll feel better and your child will feel better.

I've always felt that learning music should be a labor of love. If it becomes stressful or burdensome then something is wrong somewhere...

Ken
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#1272757 - 09/22/09 02:05 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Michael Darnton]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2246
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Michael Darnton
It appears that a bunch of teachers were not the right people to ask this question of!

The teacher IS your employee: you pay him, his social security, retirement, the whole wad, indirectly. If, for ANY reason, the relationship is not working out, you have the right to go elsewhere, and should.

Whether you're doing the right thing by your kid is a different question.


I really don't think this school of thought (no pun intended) adds value to the matter at hand. I fear it will only create a wrong attitude about the relationship between teacher/student/parent. Wouldn't it be much more constructive to think of the relationship as being partners?

Ken
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#1272763 - 09/22/09 02:18 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Ken Knapp]
BusyMom Offline
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Thank you for all the help you have provided. This is a great board with some really nice helpful people. even the people who called me the mom-from-h*ll helped me : ) i know i can get very intense and this is just how i am. i burn out just as quickly and then mellow.

So what I take from your feedback is ....

don't take all this music education stuff so seriously. the most important thing is my son's happiness.

make sure his life is well rounded (it is).

be supportive but not hovering -- no more sitting in the room during lessons or being my son's music secretary! the teacher can call me on my cell phone if she/he needs me in the room for anything.

take him out of the conservatory for the programs that are too demanding for him (ie. piano studies). there are some great small music schools in my city with excellent teachers and they are more accommodating to students who need more flexibility.

i'm not going to change this institution, so just live with it. there are a lot of wonderful things about this school so just focus on the positives.

did i leave anything out?

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#1272767 - 09/22/09 02:21 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Michael Darnton]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Michael Darnton

Actually, actually. no matter how you cut it the money comes from the customer, one way or another unless the teacher is independently wealthy and uses another source of income to pay those things.

But the customer is not therefore the EMPLOYER. You do not employ the people who work for Walmart, even if you buy items there. If you don't believe me, try firing one of them. They'll just look at you funny and get on with their work. Getting back to my point, you can hire a contractor, but again, you shouldn't tell them how to do work for you, because they have the experience and expertise that you supposedly hired them for! If a student or parent starts telling me that I'm not teaching them correctly, or that I need to teach them to play Sonatas before they learn to play hands together, then I will remind them that they are paying me to use my knowledge to help them be the best pianist they can. If they choose to ignore, or worse, contradict what I say in all matters piano, then there's a problem.

Quote:
In my 25 years in the music business, I have met a lot of players and teachers who were jerks, just as in the general population. A teacher who makes kids cry and hate playing the piano should be doing something else other than torturing children.

Sure, we don't have the full story, here, but I certainly do see a pack mentality here in leaping to blaming the mom.


I know jerks in all walks of life, not just the music industry, so I don't see how that has anything to do with anything. She didn't say that the teacher made her child cry or that he made him hate playing the piano. Although I do think he may start to hate it from this whole experience. So again, that comment doesn't seem to have a place in this discussion.

I would appreciate if you did more than make two posts before you start accusing the regulars here of "pack mentality." I did not see anyone saying anything unnecessary to the OP, or anything unwarranted. Her reason for posting was not made clear, and so we were left to respond as we could. From her behavior, of which many of us have experienced first hand from parents, there have been questions raised that she has not answered. The behavior she displayed did not show resolution, but continued discomfort for her son to continue lessons. This whole thing is enough to cause a child to want to quit piano, just so that his mother isn't "tortured" by having to attend his recitals and do her very best to "avoid" the teacher. This is not healthy.

As many of the teachers on this forum are conscientious professionals, we cringe when we see such negative behavior taint what should be a wonderful experience for this child. So of course, we're going to speak out against it.
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#1272774 - 09/22/09 02:28 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Michael Darnton
It appears that a bunch of teachers were not the right people to ask this question of!

The teacher IS your employee: you pay him, his social security, retirement, the whole wad, indirectly. If, for ANY reason, the relationship is not working out, you have the right to go elsewhere, and should.

Whether you're doing the right thing by your kid is a different question.

Yo, Mr. Teacher-Basher:
STOP assaulting piano teachers with your "I'm the employer" attitude. It is REALLY getting old. Why don't you post something more useful instead?




I understand what M Darnton is saying. If you are not happy, go someplace else.

But I also want to say that as teachers we stay clear of parents who think we are an employee.

I am self employed. I sell a product. It is called piano instruction. My students do not tell me how much I make, when I get a raise or how to do my job. They don’t “fire” me, give me performance reviews or pay my FICA. If my customers don’t like my product price or quality, they can buy from another shop.
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#1272777 - 09/22/09 02:33 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Michael Darnton]
Kreisler Offline


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Posts: 13797
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I can agree partly with the idea that the teacher is the employee and the parent is the employer.

But it's a lot like saying the dentist is the employee and the patient is the employer. You can fire them if you don't like how they do it, but you really should conduct an interview first, and employing them doesn't mean you can tell them how to do their job.

I'm also in agreement with Darnton's last statement. I'm a little shocked that people are assuming this person is an overbearing stage mom trying to force her child to do something against his will.

There's something to be said for setting a high standard and approaching piano lessons with tenacity. Some of my best students are the ones who were not allowed to quit when the going got rough.

I realize there's a fine line, but why are we so willing to assume this person has crossed it? I never see people get this upset when a parent appears to be doing too little, and that's every bit as harmful. Doing too little means never pushing your kid so they end up quitting piano at age 14 thinking their a total loser because they never put any real work into it. They still can't get through an A Major scale and it takes them 8 months just to learn something with a title like "Jazz Cat Boogie Time" that has a cartoon cover designed for 6 year olds.

laugh
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#1272792 - 09/22/09 02:54 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Kreisler]
Morodiene Offline
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Kreisler, I think it has to do with more of the reaction to whatever happened, rather than the actual event itself. It places her son in a difficult position between teacher and student, and that is not healthy for anyone in the scenario, but most importantly not healthy for the son.

I do not consider her the mom from "H-E-double hockey sticks" I think there are some misunderstandings that need to be cleared up, and done in a mature way.
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#1272793 - 09/22/09 02:56 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Kreisler]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I'm a little shocked that people are assuming this person is an overbearing stage mom trying to force her child to do something against his will.

There's something to be said for setting a high standard and approaching piano lessons with tenacity. Some of my best students are the ones who were not allowed to quit when the going got rough.

I realize there's a fine line, but why are we so willing to assume this person has crossed it? I never see people get this upset when a parent appears to be doing too little, and that's every bit as harmful. Doing too little means never pushing your kid so they end up quitting piano at age 14 thinking their a total loser because they never put any real work into it.


Yes, I think that is a fair appraisal.

On the other hand, perhaps the tone of BusyMom's OP laid the groundwork for some of the more negative aspects of the discussion that followed. Calling one's young child a major talent sets that stage for many skeptical responses.
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#1272802 - 09/22/09 03:11 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Piano*Dad]
BusyMom Offline
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Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
the teachers say he's a major talent. i didn't invent that.


Edited by BusyMom (09/22/09 03:15 PM)

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#1272816 - 09/22/09 03:33 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Betty Patnude Offline
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I think many teachers think of their students and families as "clients". Since I have to do IRS and other accountings in the operation and management of MY business, I do not consider myself to be employed by others. I am self-employed by definition and my "clients" sign "contracts" with me. I am also in control of what happens in my studio both in music education, behavior, progress and the stipulations of my studio policy and tuition fees.

I respect the clients and do everything I can to make their time with me comfortable and focused on doing my job which is to provide services that lead to producing a learning musician. My clients stay with me for long terms because they are satisfied. We "talk" to teach other appropriately about things that concern us, things to address to provide the support the student needs, and things to celebrate.

Being cooperative and invested in the student, no one has to raise their voice, protest, or confront an issue. Concerns are addressed when they are evident and the solutions are a contribution of each person involved - parents - student - teacher.

I responded to the OP as I did because of her statements about several PW identities and the way she protests in a music education system of high regard - any conservatory. When the student is identified as major talent it is more than ever needed that the parent behave intelligently and diplomatically with the administration and the teacher working with the student.

My take has completely been that the parent is creating obstacles. One clue was "trauma" and "drama". I am basically treating this whole topic as a "scenario" rather than a real inquiry as to what teachers would suggest. The OP (in my mind) wants to rant and be powerful over teachers opinions and I think that is continuing to happen.

If the son is a major talent this situation needs to be remedied before he is emotionally injured by the obstacles we are hearing about. Attitude is everything in negotiations and settling differences.

It would be wonderful to see kids supported by the team of parent and teacher. When that is brought to the argument stage no one is a winner - and the biggest loser is going to be the talented kid who is a major talent.

I wonder who we in the Piano Teachers Forum involved so far in this topic are tending to care most about?

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#1272820 - 09/22/09 03:39 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Betty Patnude]
AZNpiano Offline
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Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I wonder who we in the Piano Teachers Forum involved so far in this topic are tending to care most about?


The student!
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#1272835 - 09/22/09 03:56 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
eweiss Offline
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Could be another David Helfgott in the making.



Let's hope not. But he did turn out allright in the end.
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#1272850 - 09/22/09 04:24 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: eweiss]
-Frycek Offline
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I did some reading up afterwards. Helfgott has bipolar disorder and a mild form of schizophrenia. The movie was a bit harder on his Dad than it needed to be.
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#1272859 - 09/22/09 04:37 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: -Frycek]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
There are loads of politics involved in these places. I fell foul of them myself when I decided to change teachers half way through my post grad course. My old teacher took it badly and made things as awkward as he could for me in my final year. Imagine my surprise when he turned up on the exam panel for my final recital!

Most of the big Conservatoires in the UK have junior departments which I guess are the kind of thing talked about here. Entry is by audition and the standard and expectaton is very high with many students hoping to follow a career in performance. It's little wonder that the teachers are tough and I am surprised that anyone would expect any different. What you get is hard work and strict discipline which is what it takes to make it in this business. There's no time for having fun and playing games. You can't enrol your child in one of these programs and then complain that the teacher is mean and is working them too hard. If playing for fun is the main objective then find a local teacher who offers a more laid back approach. But then don't complain when your child is way off the pace a few years down the line.
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#1272872 - 09/22/09 04:52 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Chris H.]
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Chris H.
If playing for fun is the main objective then find a local teacher who offers a more laid back approach. But then don't complain when your child is way off the pace a few years down the line.


Hey, who says your local piano teacher can't be as competitive and enterprising as your conservatory professors??? Some of the best piano teachers in my area are not affiliated with any college, unversity, conservatory, or music school prgrams.

I'm just saying...
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#1272875 - 09/22/09 04:55 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
AZNpiano Offline
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Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
the teachers say he's a major talent. i didn't invent that.


Nevertheless, when a mother says that about her own child, it does come across in ways you did not intend. The problem is, there are so many "major talents" out there, just hop on Youtube and you'd find dozens of young pianists who are outstanding--and that's just the ones who put their videos on Youtube! When you get involved in piano competitions, you are going to be shocked by the level of playing today.
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#1272892 - 09/22/09 05:13 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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After four years of such events, almost nothing could shock me any more.
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#1272895 - 09/22/09 05:16 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
the teachers say he's a major talent. i didn't invent that.


The conservatory faculty said it, or his first teachers (the ones who prompted you to send him to the conservatory)? And, if it was the conservatory faculty, was it something more along the lines of 'he has the *potential* to be a major talent'? Cause I'm guessing they'd hedge their bets.

To be blunt, I'm guessing the attitudes of the conservatory faculty is that their job is preparing future artists, not hand-holding parents who don't understand the situation...which is...it is patently ridiculous to bring your child to the high pressure and high expectations of a conservatory environment and then complain about it.

The chances of even 'major talents' of age 9 eventually making a career as a performer are small enough that relatively few teachers are going to devote major amounts of time and energy to high maintenance *parents* (as opposed to actually teaching students). And trying to tell a conservatory teacher they are expecting too much is the fast track to no longer being in the conservatory. That's what you're there for. That's what it takes (in the opinion of the teacher and conservatory).

If you want to stay in the conservatory, what you need is a crash course in what it means to be a conservatory student and conservatory parent. I would suggest you ask someone in the administrative offices if they could recommend an experienced parent as sort of a 'native guide' to the conservatory experience. Explain that you feel you have stepped on toes through your lack of understanding (plead ignorance) and you deeply regret it, and want to do what it takes to correct the situation. You know this is high stakes and are very nervous about doing the right thing for your child etc.

Conservatory faculty are no doubt quite used to weeding out those who are "gifted" but not willing to buckle down and do the work. When little Johnnie whines that it's "too hard" and "not as fun as Miss Nice who hugged him a lot and didn't expect him to practice so much and told him he was wonderful" little Johnnie's teacher is not likely to be enthused if the parents tell him to 'be nicer' and 'not so tough.' If 'nicer' and 'not so tough' is what is important, then you need to go back to Miss Nice.

Edited to add: I could be completely wrong but I'm guessing that a lot of what's going on with your kid (whichever gender it turns out to be) is that all of a sudden s/he is not the biggest duck in the little pond. S/he is expected to work harder than s/he ever did before...and is beginning to be very afraid s/he is not really quite as good as s/he thought s/he was (or the old teachers said). Quitting is easier than trying and failing, and a lot better on the ego.


Edited by ProdigalPianist (09/22/09 05:27 PM)
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#1272896 - 09/22/09 05:17 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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When you think of the riches life holds for a 9 year old, someone who as yet knows nothing of its wonders and possibilities. You'd need to be a __________ (fill in your pejorative term here) person to turn that tap off. Though to be fair me, I'm still p*ssed off at Leopold Mozart for not letting his kid go to Uni!
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#1272981 - 09/22/09 07:26 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I wonder who we in the Piano Teachers Forum involved so far in this topic are tending to care most about?


The student!


i am advocating for the student on his behalf.


Edited by BusyMom (09/22/09 08:43 PM)

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#1273024 - 09/22/09 08:41 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
BusyMom Offline
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Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Yes, I do need a parent mentor to explain all this to me. Thanks Prodigal for the great advice. My child could also use a teen mentor to explain to him why he needs a more mature attitude.


Edited by BusyMom (09/22/09 08:45 PM)

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#1273059 - 09/22/09 09:41 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: BusyMom
Yes, I do need a parent mentor to explain all this to me. Thanks Prodigal for the great advice. My child could also use a teen mentor to explain to him why he needs a more mature attitude.

That will come with time, and everyone's different. I didn't get more serious about things until I was much older and learned to appreciate the gift I had (not that I'm uber talented or anything). Encouraging him and making it positive is the best thing you can do for him, with a gentle nudge every once in a while if he slacks off smile.
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#1273144 - 09/23/09 01:02 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Loc: San Jose, CA
I'm pretty sure Prodigal Pianist was exaggerating for effect. There are some great teachers to be found among the private ones... who specialize in teaching gifted children of your son's age. High school + private instruction will help... because conservatory is college. He'll be ready by the time it happens.

Good luck to you both.
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#1273182 - 09/23/09 03:01 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: boo1234]
Candywoman Offline
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Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 850
To the OP: I think your main problem was not speaking directly to the teacher in question. The teacher's main problem was not accepting gracefully the turn of events. He should not have spoken ill of you before attaining further clarification from you.

I can relate to the OP in one respect. You sometimes hear teachers of any subject, not just piano, speak in ways that are far beyond their students' capacities. While they might be perfect for a teenager or adult, they don't have the gift of simplicity that they need for a beginner. To the OP, don't second-guess yourself now that you've experienced emotional upheaval. Go with your first impulse.


As a side note to one poster (Kreisler?), it is often declasse for a teacher to ask why he or she is being dropped. You can usually figure it out anyways by reviewing your exchanges with the parent. You can't assume you need to improve at all. Perhaps it's just a bad fit.

Likewise, it's declasse for a teacher to ask a parent why he or she dropped the teacher before you or even who that teacher was. These things usually become clear in time.

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#1273183 - 09/23/09 03:04 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Jeff Clef]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
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We can quibble about the definition of the term `employer' as much as we like -- it's pointless because, apart from anything else, the legal notion of employer will vary from one jurisdiction to another.

But the basic principle -- that as a parent I'm entitled to pursue my children's best interests by disbursing money to whom I see fit -- remains sound.

I don't know enough about music pedagogy to know whether my children are being taught in the most effective way, but I would certainly know if they were unhappy. I wouldn't attempt to tell their teachers how to teach music -- I wouldn't have a clue. But if they were consistently making my kids cry, I would think that the `employment' relationship (or whatever you choose to call it) would extent far enough for me to ask them to think about whether they could do things differently. If that makes me the parent from hell, then so be it.

One day, my children will be old enough to decide, if they wish, that they can put up with a certain amount of unhappiness in return for future benefits. But I'm not going to make a decision like that on behalf of an 8-year old.

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#1273266 - 09/23/09 07:57 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
If playing for fun is the main objective then find a local teacher who offers a more laid back approach. But then don't complain when your child is way off the pace a few years down the line.


Hey, who says your local piano teacher can't be as competitive and enterprising as your conservatory professors??? Some of the best piano teachers in my area are not affiliated with any college, unversity, conservatory, or music school prgrams.

I'm just saying...


I agree!

In the area where I live and teach I would say that I am one of the more competitive teachers and have high standards. There are plenty of other teachers who don't.
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#1273281 - 09/23/09 08:27 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Chris H.]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
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Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Busymom... some teenagers dont mature until they get into university. I didn't take up music studies seriously until I was 14, for the other time (8 -13 ... 6 years!) particually when I was 8 I was one hell of a pain. I never practiced and whenever I did I would make such a big deal out of it. I used to practice standing up so I could run to the clock! I don't think your son needs a teenage mentor, though, I think inspiring him by taking him to concerts (not just piano concerts) but concerts of different types could really motivate him.

I also think associations with students who are musical would be fun... it gets really fun in the teen years where people can fiddle and play on instruments together.

As you say, he has a balanced life already and kudos to you for making sure that happens. Being so career focused at his age is a bit of a concern, my mum never sent me to lessons so that I would be a concert pianist, she sent me because if I ever wanted to be a musician then it would be an OPTION. Infact my piano teacher goes by that principle, he has encouraged my talents in other areas and fields. As an adolescent I love to write, I am an English major. The intimacy in language that I have acquired has allowed me to appreciate some English Art Songs by Vaughan Williams and Gibbs.

There is so much that your son is yet to explore, concert pianist dream today, scientist ambition tomorrow, it should be a possibility, it should be an option, another avenue not a definate destination.

Sorry if that came across as condescending. If you are offended I didn't mean it.

All the best to you and your son, what are your plans now? Does he play a second instrument?
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#1273339 - 09/23/09 10:15 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: kevinb]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: kevinb
We can quibble about the definition of the term `employer' as much as we like -- it's pointless because, apart from anything else, the legal notion of employer will vary from one jurisdiction to another.

But the basic principle -- that as a parent I'm entitled to pursue my children's best interests by disbursing money to whom I see fit -- remains sound.

I don't know enough about music pedagogy to know whether my children are being taught in the most effective way, but I would certainly know if they were unhappy. I wouldn't attempt to tell their teachers how to teach music -- I wouldn't have a clue. But if they were consistently making my kids cry, I would think that the `employment' relationship (or whatever you choose to call it) would extent far enough for me to ask them to think about whether they could do things differently. If that makes me the parent from hell, then so be it.

One day, my children will be old enough to decide, if they wish, that they can put up with a certain amount of unhappiness in return for future benefits. But I'm not going to make a decision like that on behalf of an 8-year old.




I agree wholeheartedly. However, I do not see where the OP said the teacher made her son cry. She simply stated that if she were the student that had to work on one passage for the lesson *she* would have cried. The student in question wasn't even her son, and there was no indication that he was crying. I'm just making the point that we do not have any indication that the teacher made any student cry.

I have spent a good chunk of lesson time working with students on one passage. It has never brought tears. In fact, it's kind of fun the way we approach it.
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#1273340 - 09/23/09 10:15 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
BusyMom Offline
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Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
It would help if someone could put together an advice list for my son. ProdigalPianist hit on most of the points for parents to know, but my son might find her frank advice scary. My son is 10 actually, and his gift is in composition, although he plays piano well too (not competitively though). I will print out your advice and give it to him to read.

These are the things he needs to learn now, if you can phrase it in music parlance for him:

1. He must practice piano regularly instead of sporadically because the brain needs regular practice in order to build the muscular/neurological connections for skilled piano playing. This is different from composition studies where sporadic work is fine.

2. Conservatory teachers are serious professionals who are training the next generations of musicians/performers and they not interested in babying students or dealing with angry parents who don't understand the music education business.

3. He is very privileged to be at a conservatory and getting a partial scholarship. Focus on the positives (the talented teachers, the wonderful concerts) and not on the negatives (egos, competition, culture clash, etc).

4. If he seriously wants to reach his goal, he is at the right place, but he needs to do the work.

5. He must stop complaining about the work load or they will kick him out or cancel his scholarship. If it's too hard for him, he can quit or go to an easier music school (we will still love him and he can always change his mind).

6. He has to voice his own complaints to his teachers and leave me out of it. Teachers do not like hearing student's complaints from parents. If he needs help with a teacher, then he can ask the Director to help him (but leave mom out of it!)

7. Be super nice to everyone and do not bad mouth the last teacher or anyone else there. If anyone brings it up, just say "he was a great teacher but I wanted someone different for a change." He must limit the damage done by the change.

8. Do not be angry about the broo-ha-ha with the last teacher - it was caused by ignorance about the conservatory culture. Go up to him and apologize for hurting his feelings and tell him how much you appreciate everything he did for you.

9. Stay well rounded and do other fun activities.

did I leave anything out for my son?


Advice for parents:

1. Find a mentor at the school to advice me on conservatory matters and how to support my son.

2. Look in and say "Hi" to the teachers and let them know I am available for help if needed by cell phone, but do not hover or sit in the room during lessons.

3. Let all future teachers know that my new policy is "my son voices his own complaints directly to you and I will not act as a go between bc I don't understand music anyway. The Director is available to help resolve disagreements."

4. Do not bad mouth anyone there and do not talk about the old teacher or the broo-ha-ha with him.

5. Stay positive and supportive of the school (which I always was before this).

did I leave anything out for me?


Edited by BusyMom (09/23/09 11:23 AM)

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#1273342 - 09/23/09 10:19 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: CandyWoman
I can relate to the OP in one respect. You sometimes hear teachers of any subject, not just piano, speak in ways that are far beyond their students' capacities. While they might be perfect for a teenager or adult, they don't have the gift of simplicity that they need for a beginner.


That makes a lot of sense. We don't know if it applies in this case, but it may be a distinct possibility.


Originally Posted By: Rebekah.L
Busymom... some teenagers dont mature until they get into university. I didn't take up music studies seriously until I was 14, for the other time (8 -13 ... 6 years!) particually when I was 8 I was one hell of a pain. I never practiced and whenever I did I would make such a big deal out of it. I used to practice standing up so I could run to the clock!


Are you sure you want to admit that! grin

Competitiveness can become an obsession, especially when it gets mixed with concerns about career. That's stressful for a twenty-something. I wouldn't want to burden a really young one with any fears at all about the consequences of their practicing and playing. Children are pretty good at sensing fear and worry in their parents, even if they don't feel it directly themselves.

This may sound funny coming from me, I know. But the last thing I would ever want my own son to feel as he prepares for recitals and competitions is fear of consequences for 'losing' or for 'failing.' He knows quite well that preparation leads to better results. All I ever ask of him is that he prepare well. The actual outcome depends on so many intangibles that you cannot control. If he plays well and enjoys the process, he as accomplished everything of value. If he wins or places, so much the better. And none of this is related at all (at least not yet) to his future career.
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#1273344 - 09/23/09 10:22 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Morodiene Offline
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All he needs to do is what his teachers tell him. Keep working hard, that's all. Politics are everywhere in life, and the best thing to do is steer clear of them. Don't say bad things about people (which is good advice in any situation) so you don't burn any bridges.
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#1273362 - 09/23/09 10:47 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

I agree wholeheartedly. However, I do not see where the OP said the teacher made her son cry. She simply stated that if she were the student that had to work on one passage for the lesson *she* would have cried. The student in question wasn't even her son, and there was no indication that he was crying.


Yes, fair enough. That was just my hyperbole.

FWIW, For my part, I think it's OK for my kids' music teachers to irritate, nag, cajole, and criticise them. After all, that's no more than I do wink I don't think it's OK for their teachers to abuse them or treat them disrespectfully, and that's where the employer-employee relationship (or however one wishes to categorise it) comes into play.

The tricky thing is that children are not always able to distinguish criticism, cajoling, etc, from abuse, and I suspect that teachers are not always able to tell when children are not able to tell. It must be easy to cross that boundary without realising it from time to time. Which is why I think teachers of small children ought to be somewhat responsive to the parents' views. Of course that's harder to do in a group setting than when working one-to-one. If you've got one child who is easily upset or irritated by a particular teacher, and twenty others who have no problem, them I doubt there's an easy fix.

That's just by way of general remark. I'm not sure there's enough information in this thread to work out exactly what the problem is in the relationship between the various parties, which is none of my business anyway.

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#1273409 - 09/23/09 11:48 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Piano*Dad]
bitWrangler Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Competitiveness can become an obsession, especially when it gets mixed with concerns about career. That's stressful for a twenty-something. I wouldn't want to burden a really young one with any fears at all about the consequences of their practicing and playing. Children are pretty good at sensing fear and worry in their parents, even if they don't feel it directly themselves.


I just recently met a former Julliard attending pianist who could be a poster child for your statement. Apparently she was ultra competitive as a child, she did the whole competition circuit and did well, and that drive allowed her entrance into Julliard. However once she got to Julliard she started realizing that her quality of life pretty much sucked. It was consumed by nothing but stress caused by the need to compete and excel. It finally caught up to her and she dropped out and to this day doesn't even touch a piano (and seems perfectly happy in this decision). An extreme example perhaps, but a cautionary tale never the less.

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
This may sound funny coming from me, I know. But the last thing I would ever want my own son to feel as he prepares for recitals and competitions is fear of consequences for 'losing' or for 'failing.' He knows quite well that preparation leads to better results. All I ever ask of him is that he prepare well. The actual outcome depends on so many intangibles that you cannot control. If he plays well and enjoys the process, he as accomplished everything of value. If he wins or places, so much the better. And none of this is related at all (at least not yet) to his future career.


We do exactly the same with our daughter. We emphasize doing her best, and what it takes for her to do her best (prep, practice, etc). It's impossible to completely take the pressure of winning away, esp if your kid is actually good enough to do so, but as parents we can help mitigate it somewhat by praising effort vs simply results. Plus we always remind her that a competition is one persons opinion about one performance at one point in time. The person who comes in first isn't necessarily "better" simply because they came in first, that is the nature of these subjective competitions.

Stepping back a bit though, as a parent, the other thing I think of is this. A particular competition is simply one of many in our little burgh, which is one of many in our little state, which is one of many in our country. If you take all the winners of all these competitions and look at what they will be doing when they are 24, I would hazard to guess that a rather overwhelming percentage will not be making their primary living as pianists (like single digit or even less), though a higher percentage will be musicians and/or at least actively engaged in making music. So given that, in the end, what's it all about? What exactly is the point of spending significant hours of ones childhood practicing and competing and all the angst associated with this? I think as parents we need to keep this in mind, and help our kids with this perspective.

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#1273520 - 09/23/09 02:00 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: BusyMom
It would help if someone could put together an advice list for my son. ProdigalPianist hit on most of the points for parents to know, but my son might find her frank advice scary.


Grown-ups have occasionally told me they find me scary, cool but with kids it's all about how you deliver the information. They generally are quick to get the point that you are telling them the (age appropriate) truth and are paying them a compliment by being...direct. wink

Originally Posted By: BusyMom

5. He must stop complaining about the work load or they will kick him out or cancel his scholarship. If it's too hard for him, he can quit or go to an easier music school (we will still love him and he can always change his mind).


I don't know if I'd threaten him with being "kicked out" as much as I would tell him if the workload is too much for him or if he hates it that much he doesn't belong there anyway. The rest is good.

Originally Posted By: BusyMom

6. He has to voice his own complaints to his teachers and leave me out of it. Teachers do not like hearing student's complaints from parents. If he needs help with a teacher, then he can ask the Director to help him (but leave mom out of it!)


Teachers don't like hearing *complaints*, period.

Questions, requests for clarification...those are fine. Perhaps it's just your choice of words that is causing difficulty. What "complaints" does he have exactly? Too much work? Going to the director is not likely to earn him any goodwill from either party.

If it's worth going to the Director over - the teacher is actually doing something *inappropriate* (harsh, demeaning criticism, belittling) then the kid should not have to deal with it himself.

You don't go to Pizza Hut and then complain because they won't serve you a Big Mac and fries. You went to the conservatory, you're getting the conservatory experience (insofar as we can tell from your posts). If you don't want it, then go somewhere else for training.

Originally Posted By: BusyMom

8. Do not be angry about the broo-ha-ha with the last teacher - it was caused by ignorance about the conservatory culture. Go up to him and apologize for hurting his feelings and tell him how much you appreciate everything he did for you.


This is an excellent idea but I think I'd say "upsetting him" rather than "hurting his feelings"...although, come to think of it, an apology for 'hurt feelings' (considering it's from a kid) might make a point to Mr. Big Ego.
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#1273629 - 09/23/09 05:06 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Morodiene]
Minniemay Offline
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Loc: CA
Well said, Morodiene!
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#1273699 - 09/23/09 07:48 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Minniemay]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
"Teachers don't like hearing *complaints*, period."

No doubt. But, would you rather hear the complaint to your face, in a private setting--- or read about it here? Or hear about it fifth-hand from someone else in your town or school?

Teachers--- sorry guys--- can suffer from arrogance and personality problems, or can simply be ineffective and trying to cover it up with bluff and bluster. And about as often as I've seen that, I've seen students who couldn't bother to show up for class, do the reading, finish the assignments--- and then blame their poor performance on the teacher, who "doesn't like me; I just don't know why."

I can't make out what the real story is, from the information we have. The only thing I'm quite sure about is that eight years old is probably way too young for conservatory life, and it seems to me the kid (and the mother) would do better with a well-qualified private teacher, who understands how to work with young learners and their parents.
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#1273795 - 09/23/09 10:08 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Jeff Clef]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Golly, to me the adversity we're hearing about here can be prevented I think.

When one thing comes to mind that needs to be discussed - discuss it by opening the door for understanding 1) why there is concern, and 2) negotiate to a decision by considering what can be done about it.

It is when one thing is added to another thing that "the ball of wax" starts forming to outrageous proportions never intended and totally unnecessary.

Self control and courtesy is a good starting point to conduct any important conversation.

We have to communicate effectively together in support of the student. Keeping an "open door" to hear these kinds of things helps it not get out of hand in the first place.

When questions and answers are at odds with each other and the "fur starts flying" and we make irretrievable comments that we might later "kick" ourselves for.

And, empowering students to speak up for themselves is something that I completely advocate. They very much need to be involved and consulted while the adults in their lives make big plans for them.

The student's well being is the most important part of the equation in my book.

Betty

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#1273814 - 09/23/09 10:46 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Betty Patnude]
BusyMom Offline
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Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
He's at the conservatory bc;

* he loves classical music
* he loves chamber music
* the local teachers could not teach him (he gave his first piano teacher panic attacks)
* he's dying to play in an orchestra
* he needs ensembles to play his compositions
* he meets other kids as smart as he is
* he works with teachers who really inspire him

he would be so sad if he lost all this. But changing piano teachers was so traumatic for us that he didn't want to go back until just now.


Edited by BusyMom (09/23/09 10:48 PM)

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#1273831 - 09/23/09 11:19 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
BusyMom Offline
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Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Betty, there is something else here too. A lot of the "chemistry problem" between my son and his last teacher was also a culture clash between the teacher's class/intellectual status and his parent's class/intellectual status. My son could not relate too well to the man bc his upper class manners/demeanor were so unfamiliar to him. My son is going to have to become comfortable with a class that is much higher than that of his parents if he is going to succeed at the conservatory (even the students there come from upper class intellectual homes). For example, a family friend sometimes took my son to the conservatory when I had to work and she almost caused a lot of trouble --- she told him his classmates were "nerds", and his teachers were "full of it", and that his classmates were "horrible musicians". she would moan all day "oh G-d, I hate classical music", and she would shout out at recitals "he's the best!" whenever my son played. My son found her antics absolutely hysterical and he was so bummed when we banned her from the conservatory!


Edited by BusyMom (09/23/09 11:29 PM)

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#1273844 - 09/23/09 11:58 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
birchy Offline
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Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
Regarding the ten year old child, she writes:

Originally Posted By: BusyMom
He's at the conservatory bc;

* the local teachers could not teach him (he gave his first piano teacher panic attacks)
...
* he needs ensembles to play his compositions



and

Originally Posted By: BusyMom
A lot of the "chemistry problem" between my son and his last teacher was also a culture clash between the teacher's class/intellectual status and his parent's class/intellectual status. My son could not relate too well to the man bc his upper class manners/demeanor were so unfamiliar to him...

For example, a family friend sometimes took my son to the conservatory when I had to work and she almost caused a lot of trouble --- she told him his classmates were "nerds", and his teachers were "full of it", and that his classmates were "horrible musicians". she would moan all day "oh G-d, I hate classical music", and she would shout out at recitals "he's the best!" whenever my son played. My son found her antics absolutely hysterical and he was so bummed when we banned her from the conservatory!


Wow. Not sure how to editorialize on it. Just - wow.

Sock? If so, hats off - well played.

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#1274088 - 09/24/09 11:33 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: birchy]
BusyMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 28
Loc: Major US City
Sounds like I did not explain things well. I'm not playing a joke on anyone here.

My son, like any young child, is going to find an adult acting like this funny (our friend who cracked jokes at the conservatory) even if he does not agree with her point of view, and as long as no one hears it or is hurt by it. We never predicted that she would act like this! She loves our son dearly. But we feared her jokes would spoil his enthusiam for the place, so we hired a grad student to replace her for babysitting.

I mentioned this friend's antics to illustrate the social barriers to succeeding in a conservatory environment (eg. class differences).

At first, we did laugh at the culture shock our friend was experiencing at the conservatory, until we realized why she was acting so strange: ten years ago, she was homeless and she had to live in a homeless shelter with her ten year old son for one year. I think it was very painful for her to walk the corridors of the conservatory and see ten year old kids who have never known such hardship.


Edited by BusyMom (09/24/09 11:38 AM)

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#1274104 - 09/24/09 11:53 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
I don't really understand much of what's being said on this thread, or how the various facts that are presented relate to one another. Sorry smirk

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#1274106 - 09/24/09 11:57 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: kevinb]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: kevinb
I don't really understand much of what's being said on this thread, or how the various facts that are presented relate to one another. Sorry smirk

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#1274132 - 09/24/09 12:29 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: BusyMom]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
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Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Sorry ma'm I think your handle needs to be "BusyBody" because your posts just look more and more trollish every day. As much as you'd like to convince us that the teachers are the problem, I'm not so sure anymore.
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#1274149 - 09/24/09 12:51 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
There is no reason for piano teachers to continue putting energy into this thread.

We have no ability to offer advice or to effect change when the OP is not listening to valid points that have been made.

The story gets more and more erratic as it goes on and I consider the entire topic to have been a hypothetical scenario from the beginning.

Let's stop being "had".

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#1274156 - 09/24/09 12:57 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: AZNpiano]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: kevinb
I don't really understand much of what's being said on this thread, or how the various facts that are presented relate to one another. Sorry smirk



Also agreed and I have yet to see the OP ask a question asked.
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#1274232 - 09/24/09 02:08 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Mrs.A]
C.Y. Offline
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Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 391
Originally Posted By: BusyMom

I really am preparing him for a professional career in music.

I am just a parent. Just wondering has your 8 years old son already decided he wants to be a pro musician? If not, is there a reason you want him to become one?

Did I read your posts right that your son takes lessons for piano, a second instrument for orchestra and composition at the conservatory? You also mentioned the students at conservatory come from upper class intellectual homes. That is kind of wired. Many of my friends kids take lessons at conservatories (we have 3 here). They are just middle class and not super rich either. The fee is about $65 or $70 for an hour lesson.

What kind of pieces he is learning currently? I think you need to give this information to the teachers here so they can better help you based on your son's level.

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#1274248 - 09/24/09 02:21 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: C.Y.]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I have to admit I'm lost, too.

We have no specific information and don't really know what the question is.

"Conservatory" can mean a lot of different things depending on where you are. It could be anything from Colburn or Peabody's prep department to a private community music school to a non-profit community arts school to a Suzuki academy or a group of teachers who work at a music store. The teacher(s) in question could be almost anyone, from concert pianists to full-time faculty to part-time grad students from the local college.

The discussion of social class seems completely bizarre and irrelevant.

Then we have completely off-the-wall statements like:

"My son is going to have to become comfortable with a class that is much higher than that of his parents."

Huh?? Wouldn't you be the parent of your own son? It sounds like there are three parents - BusyMom, her son's mom, and her son's dad. I'm completely confused. frown
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#1274270 - 09/24/09 02:57 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Kreisler]
Morodiene Offline
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I think we've asked enough questions and given enough advice. The rest (classes, stereotypes that only rich nerds are musicians) have no place here. Time to move on.
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#1274451 - 09/24/09 07:52 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 850
Social standing makes a huge difference to how you approach the piano, as well as how we as teachers approach our careers. In fact, that's one of the reasons I direct my marketing to wealthy professionals who like ongoing learning. I've enjoyed the blue collar students I've had, and in fact came from a blue collar family myself. (My brother once attended his son's music festival and actually asked the adjudicator if he--the adjudicator--could play a little something for the audience. I just about died of embarrassment.)

They bring a joie de vivre that is matchless. But they don't always have the correct support at home to study piano for many, many years. They do have to overcome barriers to fit in the conservatory culture.

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#1274759 - 09/25/09 09:01 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: Candywoman]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I can't believe how much collective energy has been expended on this thread. I suspect it's all for naught; anyone who hasn't checked the OP's posting history, or doesn't remember her handle from similar threads last year, should do so.

Steven
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#1274791 - 09/25/09 10:18 AM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: sotto voce]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
I can't believe how much collective energy has been expended on this thread. I suspect it's all for naught; anyone who hasn't checked the OP's posting history, or doesn't remember her handle from similar threads last year, should do so.

Steven


Wow. Thanks for the tip. I noticed on previous threads that teachers asked what level her children were playing. Even a list of accomplished pieces would help answers her questions but she was very evasive on that issue then as she is now.

The thread posted a year ago about the jealous parents and the public school music teacher who suggested BusyMom hide her sons talent so as no to discourage other students is very suspect. Either we are all being had as Betty Suggested or the OP’s perception is skewed.
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#1274914 - 09/25/09 01:35 PM Re: Conservatory Politics! [Re: sotto voce]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5943
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
I can't believe how much collective energy has been expended on this thread. I suspect it's all for naught; anyone who hasn't checked the OP's posting history, or doesn't remember her handle from similar threads last year, should do so.
I totally agree. And if you want to fritter away some more minutes of your life you'll never get back again, read Kimold's posts too - eerily similar...
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