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#1271416 - 09/20/09 04:20 AM Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
I recently took on a few transfer students from some "music schools" in my area. Here are my observations:

1) These students have had a revolving door of piano teachers. For one kid, I'm his seventh piano teacher in 4 years. This "merry-go-round" education is detrimental toward the development of good technique and musicality.

2) One hour of piano lesson does NOT equal 30 minutes at the piano and 30 minutes doing "computer lab." These computer programs don't teach theory, or much of anything else.

3) In an effort to “diversify” the student population, these “music schools” actually discourage anything longer than a 30-minute lesson, so they can schedule in more students in the hours of operation, and they can facilitate make-up lessons (with a different teacher, no less). It’s like a factory.

4) As a result of many years of 30-minute lessons, these students don’t progress very far. Of course, progress is not the name of the game; it is keeping these kids studying piano for as long as possible. These “music schools” would purchase the method books in bulk (at half price) and charge the parents full price for the books. Way to make more money!

5) In the “music schools,” students have lessons on substandard upright pianos or digital keyboards. Each building would have 5-6 offices right next to each other. You can imagine the sound leak that takes place during lessons. It is unbearable. How can anyone learn in this environment??

Thank you, "music schools," for making my job so much harder.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1271443 - 09/20/09 08:05 AM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: AZNpiano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Parents need educating about the kinds of music teaching services available for their children.

For some reason, a music storefront gives parents confidence that this is where quality music is happening. In some areas of the US it might be true that there is a strong music program in place for all instruments taught. I would believe that of a community music school associated with a university or college. I would not believe it automatically of a retail store.

Parents have to become knowledgable consumers of music services or they will unknowingly invest lots of money into a no guarantees situation.

The kinds of things AZN speaks of are very visible lackings that exists in the piano teaching market. Some of those conditions are exploitive and shoddy and damaging.

At the same time, there are very competent teachers doing a very good job with their clients. One has to be discerning to know the differences in quality music education. If the objective is the development of a musician, superios music education is imperative.

Caveat emptor.

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#1271925 - 09/21/09 04:14 AM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
I work for a music school that is exactly like what you have described, and it disgusts me. I got my foot in the door to teaching piano there and used a bunch of their students as guinea pigs to figure out how to teach piano (like all the teachers who work in those places do, only some don't take the initiative to read any pedegogy books or even get tips from anyone it seems and just wing it for years because they can) and now have another job earning full pay in a primary school.

I keep thinking god I really ought to quit this as the pay isn't worth it and I hate being an employee for such a bunch of con artists, only I don't because I feel really sorry for the kids. Their parents are getting completely ripped off, and the students are never going to reach their full potential because they've gone through a string of substandard piano teachers. The rooms are tiny cubby holes all lined up next to each other with inadequate (no?) sound insulation, the pianos are shoddy, and the kids I've picked up from other teachers there play with flat fingers and can't even play legato despite having had a few years lessons. They don't know italian words for dynamics or tempo, can't recognise any music symbols, can't really do anything. It's horrifying and it makes me SO angry.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1272001 - 09/21/09 09:31 AM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: ToriAnais]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10733
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Wow, those poor students!! I'm glad that we don't have one of those here. The music conservatory in our area attempts to turn out quality students, as does the one other teacher that has a storefront studio. She has two other teachers who rent space from her, but they are all good teachers.

I cannot imagine dealing with a transfer student from this place. It would take the parents being 100% on board to help encourage the student to stick with it for the first few uncomfortable months of what may seem like stepping backward. It sounds like the teachers lose as well in this scenario, as mitts off pointed out.

It's charlatans like this that make me want to speak out against them. I know that "professional ethics" do not allow speaking badly about another "professional" (and I use that term loosely here), but when I encounter a teacher who really does not know what they are doing my hackles raise. New teachers are learning, yes, and they have to start somewhere. I know that many are like me who hungered to learn as much as they could so that they would do a good job at teaching. But those who don't bother to enrich their own knowledge, and actually teach poor technique when there is so much information available in this day and age, there is just no excuse.
_________________________
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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#1272203 - 09/21/09 04:28 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: Morodiene]
PianoKitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
I have had quite a few transfer students this year from one of the local music schools as well...so much so, that the music school called me to try to get me to teach there, because they heard their students were leaving and coming to my studio!

It's really quite sad that after a month with me, the parents consistently tell me that their child has learned more in one month than they ever did in a year of going to the music school. They are usually shocked and wish they had made the change a long time ago. I also hear the same things about the tiny rooms, loud music bleeding in from other rooms, and constant stream of teachers who don't really know what they are doing.

I often wonder why teachers decide to teach at a music school instead of running their own studio...I would not want my reputation sullied by association with a few of the schools in my area, that's for sure! I'm sure there are some top-notch music schools, but some of the ones in this area are really sub-standard.
_________________________
Private Piano Instructor
Member, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

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#1272714 - 09/22/09 01:00 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: PianoKitty]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
I have a delightful student who came to me from a music school. She knew her elementary music - probably because Mom knows piano as well - but when I asked to see her music books at the first lesson, she had about 3 different primer books! Talk about overkill and making money off selling books! No wonder she was bored.

She's advancing very nicely now, both she and Mom are happy, and her little sister just started lessons with me.

Then there are the transfer students who come to you from another "teacher". One of mine was taught strictly by the "copy me" method. Couldn't read much at all, and was very stressed each time he was given a new piece - pieces which were way above his level due to her poor teaching method. He now reads very well, and his stress level has gone way down.

Last year I got several students by word of mouth from parents fed up with the creature who made their child cry after humiliating them in front of another student.

I have more stories, but there's just so many hours in the day.

Joan wink
_________________________
Joan Edward

Private piano teacher, 20+ years
EDWARDIAN45@hotmail.com

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#1272771 - 09/22/09 02:25 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: EDWARDIAN]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: EDWARDIAN
One of mine was taught strictly by the "copy me" method. Couldn't read much at all, and was very stressed each time he was given a new piece - pieces which were way above his level due to her poor teaching method. He now reads very well, and his stress level has gone way down.

This is precisely what I have observed. Your student is lucky that he overcame this problem. The "non-readers" are by far the hardest to re-train.

There is another problem: kids who can read, but can't match the right key with the note. They'd play in the wrong octaves, or take forever to find one key.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1272775 - 09/22/09 02:29 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: PianoKitty]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: PianoKitty
I often wonder why teachers decide to teach at a music school instead of running their own studio...I would not want my reputation sullied by association with a few of the schools in my area, that's for sure!


Well, I know several colleagues who HAVE to teach at these music schools because they live in apartments that don't allow piano-teaching. Another colleague lives too far away from the student population. These are good teachers. My main problem is with the management of these music schools and their "business model."
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1272827 - 09/22/09 03:50 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: AZNpiano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Being a tranfer student can be a huge adjustment regardless of the students' age, regardless of how well they were taught, and regardless of how good of a teacher you, the new teacher are.

This is a time of discovery about the student seen with new eyes and we are sure to see their assets as well as their debit side.

One of the most difficult things to overcome is when the student has learned to make excuses because of their piano lessons. It's an attempt to deny any problems and to act as though one is perfect. The student will say they are "bored" with the new teacher, or the new music. They aren't bored. If they were bored they would be able to play the music to expectation and THEN say they were bored. But, they don't. They use the "bored" word to circumvent the teacher and the parent and to place the focus outside of their lack of ability to play what is in front of them.

The kids get away with this and learn to be even more inventive about excuse making. We must not let this continue to occur.

I have found a book about "excuses" for children 4-8 that I can't wait to read by Wayne Dyer. He has written several children's book to empower children with strong characters and overcome obstacles in their thinking. I hope these books deliver what I'm thinking will be helpful to our piano students - I'm anxious to read them hoping they will be a resource to ending these kinds of problems by addressing them when they appear in piano lessons.

We are what we think.

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#1273014 - 09/22/09 08:21 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, I'm looking forward to your review. Please PM if you don't want to post it. Thanks.

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1273026 - 09/22/09 08:42 PM Re: Transitioning from Music Schools to Private Lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

You can google the book as I found it at Barnes & Noble and I'm sure Border's has it too. Not very expensive as things go. There were some reviews by mothers there that were interesting.

I need to get a copy and it's on my do soon list. I'll be happy to share with you what I learned.

Do you hear many excuses from your student's John? I try to make sure they know I consider mistakes a natural occurance in lessons and we simply notice them and correct them as there is no reason to get upset over a simple mistake. I say this in our beginning lessons until they know I mean it. Over time we get less and less error and more accuracy and they also learn if they slow the practice tempo down and think each step they can avoid making mistakes in the first place.

They make less excuses when they don't have to prove something to me on every song. I'd relish the day when I don't have to listen to excuses. I consider an explanation ok as long as it isn't a lame excuse.

Lame excuses limit their ability to make corrections as they are too busy covering mistakes and trying to pull the wool over the teachers eyes.

I remember hearing a long list of imaginative and even funny excuses that students gave teachers one year.

Betty


Edited by Betty Patnude (09/22/09 08:42 PM)

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