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#1362273 - 01/31/10 01:33 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Kreisler]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I don't really get what the whole "powerplay" thing is about.


To be honest, I don't really get what is going on either. I've never encountered all this 'who is in power' stuff, and it still surprises me. I can only go by what I am reading here because I have never encountered it.

But still - I now put it on my list of things to think about and consider, for its obvious that does it exist.

I rather just study the music - but come the day that this power stuff takes precident over the music, for whatever reason(s) it may, I pack my bags and go elsewhere.

Life is difficult as it is without creating problems for one another.

_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1362311 - 01/31/10 02:21 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
I sure am curious to know how your "meet and greet" passes, Irenev.

I'm betting that you say, well they were so nice, so sweet, they seemed a bit intimidated to meet me, a piano teacher, I don't know why I was so nervous about this.

(And then the next time, next meet-n-greet, you'll be nervous all over again!)



Edited by landorrano (01/31/10 02:32 PM)

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#1362317 - 01/31/10 02:31 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: jotur
And, responding to the way I've interpreted some of these posts - piano teachers really aren't any more special than any other group smile They get the same kinds of comments from their students and those parents that - retail clerks get, or math teachers, or auto mechanics get, or accountants get, or preachers get, or golf pros get, or any of us get from colleagues and acquaintences at some time or another. To react to the "rudeness" or "disrepect" one gets from others as if it's somehow because one is a piano teacher to me distorts the situation, and sounds, again to me, like one is playing victim. It's just life. And, as several others have pointed out, it's not *always* disrepect.


Agree 100%.

And just to put things into perspective, my wife is a medical resident. She once got chewed out by a family member because a patient was discharged two hours late because another patient needed immediate attention and the paperwork was delayed. This was at the end of a sleepless 30-hour shift.

If anything, piano teachers have it easy. We can't be sued for malpractice, and no matter how badly we might screw up, nobody's going to die.

I think Betty was right about the "sole-proprietor" thing being part of the problem, though. We are often our own boss and our own employee. We have long-term one-on-one relationships with our clients. Every student we have represents a significant investment of our time and energy, and every student generates a significant part of our revenue.

But if my wife can't expect someone to understand "Take Care of Dying People Before Doing Paperwork For Healthy Ones," I don't think piano teachers have much hope.
_________________________
"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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#1362345 - 01/31/10 02:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: jotur
And, responding to the way I've interpreted some of these posts - piano teachers really aren't any more special than any other group smile They get the same kinds of comments from their students and those parents that - retail clerks get, or math teachers, or auto mechanics get, or accountants get, or preachers get, or golf pros get, or any of us get from colleagues and acquaintences at some time or another. To react to the "rudeness" or "disrepect" one gets from others as if it's somehow because one is a piano teacher to me distorts the situation, and sounds, again to me, like one is playing victim. It's just life. And, as several others have pointed out, it's not *always* disrepect.
Cathy


I think in some ways a private piano teacher has it easier in terms of relationships with parents or students than say a public or private school math teacher. The math teacher doesn't have the choice, in most cases, to drop a student who's disprespectful or a problem in some other way. Same with an obnoxious parent.

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#1362353 - 01/31/10 02:59 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Jeff Clef]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"For every short-fused, personally affronted, outraged victim answer there are an equal or greater number of thoughtful, mature, intelligent, relationship-strengthening responses that allow everyone to "be respected.""

Thank you for that. What a scary discussion... for a person who is looking at finding a new piano teacher.



Yuppers - it is a scary discussion. I am looking for an instructor too.

I took lessons once upon a time and NEVER encountered any of this stuff. Now, in all fairness, I was a kid at the time, and no doubt, the adults involved considered certan issue not my concern. But I took lessons for 3 years, my teacher and my mother were always pleasant with one another.

But it is apparent that these issues do come to the table as they are here. I just don't want them interfering in the focus in my possible future lessons, which should always be on the music.

And the working relationship is what becomes supportive of the music.

But I still think that these issues are the exception rather than the norm. At least, I do hope. smile

So, I will put my surpirse on the back burner, and continue to read here.








_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1362477 - 01/31/10 05:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think in some ways a private piano teacher has it easier in terms of relationships with parents or students than say a public or private school math teacher. The math teacher doesn't have the choice, in most cases, to drop a student who's disprespectful or a problem in some other way. Same with an obnoxious parent.
Very true, in my experience with teaching in both situations. (but not maths, of course! smile )
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
When someone thinks Elissa or I are "angry" they are completely wrong about that: we are representing ourselves and what we know to be true in a calm and calculated voice. The problem is that no one is listening to our viewpoints only using our viewpoints to continue to aggravate us about having a viewpoint which contrasts to theirs. I would, at this point, having been immersed in enough of it here in PWF, call this "bullying" teachers.
You may think you are representing yourself in a "calm and calculated voice", but as the one who heard anger in the post, I only have the actual written words to go on. If people like me are seeing what you didn't intend, you might consider the possibility that I'm not "bullying" but trying to work out what you actually mean.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1362483 - 01/31/10 05:36 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: landorrano]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1021
Loc: NJ
lol. I'm sure they wouldn't have admitted that they ruled in such a tyranical fashion!

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#1362506 - 01/31/10 06:10 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Jeff Clef]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I'm operating in a different time zone to most participants in this discussion, so I've just caught up on the discussion.

This forum seems to have many participants who are adults who are returning to or just commencing piano lessons, and in this sense there's not much point piano teachers discussing the challenges they face with that readership participating in the conversation. On the other hand, there are young or new teachers (maybe too young to realistically expect they would have already completed a degree in piano pedagogy) who would love to have some experienced advice as to how to approach their teaching.

The truth is that young teachers do struggle to assert themselves as do many older teachers, for a myriad of reasons.

I've met so many teachers whose teaching has deteriorated as they chop and change according to the latest whim of the parent or student; whose sense of self-esteem has been battered by parents demanding discounts or blaming the teacher for the student's lack of progress (when the student has simply not been practicing). So, yeah, I'm protective of this group of dedicated group of music educators who warmly welcome people into their own homes so that they can share the skills they've developed.

Back on the responses TheJourney made to that list of questions, yes, I realise that my late-night posting was somewhat opaque: I agree that the TheJourney suggested responses to students' questions is/can be seen as/could be passive aggressive, and it is this aspect of these responses that had me acknowledging their devastating effectiveness - in the short term. From my experience I have found that that same student will return the next week with some new extraordinary assertion or questioning of the teacher's abilities. When the teacher takes on the actual words of the student's question (TheJourney's suggestion) but not the spirit of the enquiry one doesn't make genuine progress.

I'm in COMPLETE agreement with the content and spirit of Betty's post. (thank you Betty for those comments).

The OP was asking about what that first interview is good for, and this discussion has spiralled out of an observation (made long before I joined in) that the first interview is partially about the teacher reassuring the parent that the teacher knows what they are doing - as a teacher (not necessarily as a performer). Communicating a sense of plan and purpose in that first interview can pre-empt ongoing toxic challenges to the teacher's expertise.

And that's what this sideline 'scary' discussion is about: how does a teacher work effectively as an educator when their expertise is being called into question? And it's not appropriate to compare education to other kinds of professional services.

A teacher is a guide, and a guide relies on those being guided to follow their guidance. Imagine trekking through a wilderness with a guide you have hired. At each fork in the road you suggest the map they are using is inappropriate. At each river you question why you need to cross it. At each rock-face you suggest the guide has blundered. And you complain about the weight of the pack on your back, announcing on a daily basis that you wish you didn't have to carry it.

In addition, you complain that others you've known have managed this track much faster. Part way along the journey you announce that you've decided to short-change the guide when it comes time to pay them.

Meantime, the guide goes about their business every day, trying to ignore the carping, the irrelevant commentary, and not wanting to have the trek delayed by lengthy debates about reimbursement. The guide is so excited about the views from the summit, and the amazing plant-life that can be seen in the valleys, they can hardly wait to share what they've experienced with those they are guiding.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362524 - 01/31/10 06:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
This forum seems to have many participants who are adults who are returning to or just commencing piano lessons, and in this sense there's not much point piano teachers discussing the challenges they face with that readership participating in the conversation.
It's true that not only teachers post here. There have been long discussions in the past over this, and the upshot was that anyone can post, but when offering advice non-teachers should indicate that. Because this is a public forum it can't be a private teachers' lounge. But I think we can still discuss these things, as long as we expect a little protest from someone if we generalise too much or typecast adult students for example (these have been the problem areas in the past).
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
On the other hand, there are young or new teachers (maybe too young to realistically expect they would have already completed a degree in piano pedagogy) who would love to have some experienced advice as to how to approach their teaching.
Absolutely, and that's a large part of what this is all about.

The time zone thing can be a nuisance, can't it. smile I log on in the mornings and it takes ages to catch up with what people have been saying overnight (from my perspective).
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1362558 - 01/31/10 07:26 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
This forum seems to have many participants who are adults who are returning to or just commencing piano lessons, and in this sense there's not much point piano teachers discussing the challenges they face with that readership participating in the conversation.
You're not interested in the pupils' or parents' point of view?

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#1362566 - 01/31/10 07:33 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think it's important to understand that pupils, parents, and teachers do not have "a" point of view.

We're all individuals with our own points of view, which may or may not be similar to others'.
_________________________
"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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#1362568 - 01/31/10 07:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Kreisler]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I think it's important to understand that pupils, parents, and teachers do not have "a" point of view.

We're all individuals with our own points of view, which may or may not be similar to others'.

Perhaps it would lead to less dispute if people phrased things as "I have an adult student with this attitude, what should I do about it?" Rather than "adult students have this attitude, what should we teachers do about it?"

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#1362590 - 01/31/10 08:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Frozenicicles]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles

Perhaps it would lead to less dispute if people phrased things as "I have an adult student with this attitude, what should I do about it?" Rather than "adult students have this attitude, what should we teachers do about it?"


Frozenicicles, you might have identified part of the problem in this discussion.

No one ever said "Adult students have this attitude..."

What we have been saying is that a few adult students or parents have attitudes...

Just a few. Not all.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1362603 - 01/31/10 08:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: rocket88]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Well one thing is for sure -

Adult students and piano teachers are all adults. Thus, we are all part of the same kettle of fish.

In light of this . . . .uhm. . . . conversation??, that strikes me as hilarious.

And yea - parents get tossed into this adult salad too.
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1362607 - 01/31/10 08:20 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: rocket88]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: rocket88
[quote=Frozenicicles]What we have been saying is that a few adult students or parents have attitudes...

Just a few. Not all.
As long as we're clear about that. It actually does need to be said.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1362629 - 01/31/10 08:36 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
This forum seems to have many participants who are adults who are returning to or just commencing piano lessons, and in this sense there's not much point piano teachers discussing the challenges they face with that readership participating in the conversation. On the other hand, there are young or new teachers (maybe too young to realistically expect they would have already completed a degree in piano pedagogy) who would love to have some experienced advice as to how to approach their teaching.


And many of us who are not *piano* teachers are or have been teachers of other subjects, so we're not entirely, IMO, irrelevant. Tho there are those who think we are smile And I will reiterate what I said before - piano teachers are not the only ones who have the kinds of experiences, whether with initial interviews or later, discussed in this thread, so perhaps we aren't irrelevant in that regard either. Just a thought -

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I've met so many teachers whose teaching has deteriorated as they chop and change according to the latest whim of the parent or student; whose sense of self-esteem has been battered by parents demanding discounts or blaming the teacher for the student's lack of progress (when the student has simply not been practicing).


See above about piano teachers not being the only people with this experience. Kreisler's post with the example of his wife is illustrative. I will have to say that some of my clients, to their fiscal detriment, do similar things. It's a human thing. In my case sometimes it's even illegal smile


Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
The OP was asking about what that first interview is good for, and this discussion has spiralled out of an observation (made long before I joined in) that the first interview is partially about the teacher reassuring the parent that the teacher knows what they are doing - as a teacher (not necessarily as a performer). Communicating a sense of plan and purpose in that first interview can pre-empt ongoing toxic challenges to the teacher's expertise.

And that's what this sideline 'scary' discussion is about: how does a teacher work effectively as an educator when their expertise is being called into question?


I think it's the use of the word "toxic" that's scary. I've had students who do these kinds of things in the past. But when I approach teaching, thank goodness, toxic isn't the first word that comes to mind. About students or teachers.

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
And it's not appropriate to compare education to other kinds of professional services.


I disagree. These are human interactions. I've taught a lot. I'm not God, I'm a person, as are students.

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
A teacher is a guide, and a guide relies on those being guided to follow their guidance. Imagine trekking through a wilderness with a guide you have hired... And you complain In addition, you complain ... Part way along the journey you announce that you've decided to short-change the guide when it comes time to pay them.


I know you're not going to agree, but I'll say it anyway - this is not unique to teachers. Anyone in what's thought of as a "helping" profession - health care, pastors, counselors, parole officers, you name it - has run into it. Whether or not you want to believe it, it pains me to have clients who want to do things that are illegal - they think a little bit is ok, or they won't get caught. Until they lose their jobs.

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Meantime, the guide goes about their business every day, trying to ignore the carping, the irrelevant commentary, and not wanting to have the trek delayed by lengthy debates about reimbursement. The guide is so excited about the views from the summit, and the amazing plant-life that can be seen in the valleys, they can hardly wait to share what they've experienced with those they are guiding.


This is not unique to piano teachers. I'm self-employed. People who own other kinds of small businesses know whereof you speak. You may think teachers, and piano teachers in particular, are somehow a cut above the local auto mechanic, but in my experience my auto mechanic cares every bit as passionately about his business as you do about yours. And his can even save lives. (Not that piano teachers can't do that, too. Music certainly has done that for me.)

It's obvious Betty and Elissa think that no opinions except experienced piano teachers should be expressed in these forums, and that only experienced piano teachers know how to deal with initial interviews with potential students, or difficult attitudes later, but I do disagree. Piano teachers may well know some things specific to piano teaching - where your elbows go, or 10 ways to teach ledger lines - but human interactions are human interactions, and many people will have relevant observations and experience.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1362635 - 01/31/10 08:45 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA

Elissa, I find it difficult to understand why you would respond to a topic about "lack of respect" with a comment like, "Honestly, get over it, non-piano teachers!!" I found the comment(s) upsetting and polarizing.

It sounds like you are frustrated at things that we ALL have to deal with. I get "questioned" and second guessed at my job as well, despite having a graduate degree and several years of experience.

And, yes, I DO question my doctors, teachers, etc. I feel that I have a responsibility to do so, rather than to blindly accept anything.

As an example, a couple of years ago, I began having very serious hand pain. I saw a doctor, associated with an excellent local university, who took 5 minutes to diagnose me with carpal tunnel syndrom. This was devasting, not only b/c I wanted to play piano, but I work with computers... and feared for my career.

Luckily, she was WRONG. I saw two physical therapists after that, both tested me and said, "Nope, not carpal tunnel - not sure what it is, but definitely not carpal tunnel."

The massage therapist that I worked with shortly after that said she frequently saw people misdiagnosed with carpal tunnel who did NOT GET A SECOND OPINION. They ended up having surgery, which did not fix the problem, and left them with weaker hands than before - yikes.

So, yes, I believe we have a responsibility to question people who are "guiding" us - for our own safety and so that we fully understand what's going on with ourselves.

At the end of the day, I guess I feel that my health, or my learning (in the case of piano) - is ultimately MY responsibility. This means I need to ask questions when things are unclear, get second opinions from time to time, and try to carefully evaluate whether my teacher is effectively guiding me towards better musicianship.

Finally - questions CAN be a sign of RESPECT. I recently asked my teacher "why are you steering me away from scales? Everyone on PW seems to do them, and thinks they are really important!" (very similar to some of the example questions you listed).

The truth is, if I did NOT respect him, I wouldn't bother asking, I would assume he doesn't know what he's doing and quit. (In that case, asking would be a waste of time.)

But, because I DO think he is a competent, intelligent teacher, and thus that there is likely a good reason for his choices, I want to get my concern out in the open so we can talk about it and so I can understand the disconnect (that most people think scales are important, but he doesn't seem eager to have me work on them.)

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#1362651 - 01/31/10 09:11 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
To Jotur especially, but to anyone reading this thread, about what I think the difference in other professional services compared to piano teaching are:

In piano teaching, we are in the brains and body of the person on our piano bench giving instruction as to how to read, interpret, use the body, think, execute within the forward motion of a stead beat at a keyboard instrument which is complex just in it's graphic layout and the pianists ability to bring sounds forth by how the piano was touched.

We do not give only advice or work in the way that any other teacher of any subject or other instrument in music work. We work with the whole human being and his capacity to learn to duplicate what making music is all about.

Developmental stages, attitudes, cooperation, understanding, creating paths of musical progress is what we are all about.

Learning to play piano is very similar to the work of the computer programmer - in our case the computer is the student's brain and being.

My lawyer sat in a chair and gave me advice - that advice brought forth decisions and a plan. None of which affected my brain or being - it only affected the path to a legal settlement. He was the smart person, I was the person being guided to a planned conclusion. At all times he held the cards as to the success. That it took 5 years to arrive at the final award for an injury suit should not be my complaint. We got there finally, but at no time did anyone touch anyone's elbow or try to teach me a thing. It was all about strategy and using the facts to my advantage, and then, the horrible, horrible part of putting up with the final days when their attorney tried to minimize the reward, intimidate my witnessing in a 6 hour meeting where everything was on record. My role in this 5 year ordeal was as the victim of someone's irresponsible behavior which brought long term injury to my body.

I bring out this comparison of professional differences. At no time did it feel good to be in the attorneys office, the medical and physical therapy treatments, all the documents and case building. The expense of it, where my attorney actually earned more in fees than I received in award.

So, whether it's a minister or psychologist or lawyer giving counsel, their work may suggest helpfulness but it is in the role of piano teaching that at every lesson we give it is obvious as to whether or not we are good at our profession of teaching piano or not. It is obvious when we sit at the piano and play our favorite repertoires or sight read for the first time that we are displaying our talents and abilities. Other professions, including medicine, take a much longer time to show progress or resolution, some maybe never.

We are on display professionally every moment we are conducting a lesson or playing the piano. We either are effective and efficient piano teachers or we are not. It's evident constantly.

No tenure here unless we're doing good work. One on one private lessons and one one one relationships being built. I know of no other more intimate and intensive on-going activity that has this kind of scrutiny and accountability built into it.

It our teaching is to work, we must take full charge of what happens in our presence. Every minute is valuable and not to be wasted by anything unimportant or sidetracking us from our purpose. Those minutes we spend with a student are an investment of someone's money toward a purpose and as far as I'm concerned I'm on a "timer" at every lesson to fit in the most important thing, the priority of what will be worked on in each lesson.

It's called structure.

Betty

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#1362655 - 01/31/10 09:16 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
It's all in how questions are asked. It's pretty obvious that on an internet forum, you can't hear tone of voice or see body language.

It doesn't bother me when parents or students ask questions. That shows they are engaged. But questions can be asked in a confrontive, offensive way. That's where the problems are.

If you are coming to me for an interview and the way you asks questions implies you don't trust my experience and expertise, we will not work together. But that is, in part, why I feel I must lead the interview, not the other way around. I demonstrate, through the interview and how I conduct it, that I have experience and know what I'm doing. It is an opportunity for the parents to begin to put their trust in me.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1362661 - 01/31/10 09:23 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: saerra
At the end of the day, I guess I feel that my health, or my learning (in the case of piano) - is ultimately MY responsibility. This means I need to ask questions when things are unclear, get second opinions from time to time, and try to carefully evaluate whether my teacher is effectively guiding me towards better musicianship.
Well said, saerra. And I think it's interesting that a little while ago we had a thread about badly taught transfer students and how shameful it was that there were teachers around taking money who didn't know what they were doing. It's almost as if students are only supposed to question bad teachers - that is, not US.

edited to take note of Minniemay's comment - yes, I agree that the way questions are asked is important.


Edited by currawong (01/31/10 09:29 PM)
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1362665 - 01/31/10 09:29 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Oh brother.

Yes, 'get over it' is a blunt suggestion to those who are wide-eyed with amazement that teaching involves interpersonal to-ing and fro-ing regarding trust and respect (sometimes described by sociologists as powerplay).

Yes, teaching is similar to other kinds of professional services in that humans are interacting with each other. But as Betty said, other professional interactions operate on different assumptions to the assumptions made with educators. And then WAY more trust is required on the part of the parent when sending their child in for a one-on-one lesson than in other educational contexts.

A good example: in a medical environment 'getting a second opinion' is part of a good diagnostic process. When learning the piano having two separate teachers working on the same material is often quite counter-productive and confusing. Once a student has reached a certain point of mastery, on the other hand, having a masterclass with another teacher can produce brilliant insights and leaps in understanding. It's all about what is appropriate at different stages of development.

And I think that the 'I'm so shocked you mentioned 'power' in relation to piano lessons' response is completely valid from the many non-piano teacher participants in this conversation. Be shocked. But then get over it. Just like the rest of human existence (and detailed in posts above) in piano teaching there are 'clients' who don't behave well, and music being a beautiful thing doesn't seem to stop the minority from behaving badly.

That's not pleasing, it's not ideal, but it's the way it is. Get over it. And let's get on with coming up with some great suggestions for how to conduct that first interview so that the trust relationship is established well from the get-go.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362669 - 01/31/10 09:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5902
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: saerra
Elissa, I find it difficult to understand why you would respond to a topic about "lack of respect" with a comment like, "Honestly, get over it, non-piano teachers!!" I found the comment(s) upsetting and polarizing.
I too find the "get over it" line unhelpful at best.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1362671 - 01/31/10 09:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Betty Patnude]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


No tenure here unless we're doing good work. One on one private lessons and one one one relationships being built. I know of no other more intimate and intensive on-going activity that has this kind of scrutiny and accountability built into it.

It our teaching is to work, we must take full charge of what happens in our presence. Every minute is valuable and not to be wasted by anything unimportant or sidetracking us from our purpose. Those minutes we spend with a student are an investment of someone's money toward a purpose and as far as I'm concerned I'm on a "timer" at every lesson to fit in the most important thing, the priority of what will be worked on in each lesson.

Betty


Couldn't agree more!!!
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362673 - 01/31/10 09:36 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: saerra
Elissa, I find it difficult to understand why you would respond to a topic about "lack of respect" with a comment like, "Honestly, get over it, non-piano teachers!!" I found the comment(s) upsetting and polarizing.
I too find the "get over it" line unhelpful at best.


As in post above - yes, it is blunt advice.

How about 'stop being so naive'? Or, 'your self-righteousness is not assisting the debate'? Or 'can we move on from this unrealistic view of how piano lessons work'?
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362674 - 01/31/10 09:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

In piano teaching, we are in the brains and body of the person on our piano bench giving instruction as to how to read, interpret, use the body, think, execute within the forward motion of a stead beat at a keyboard instrument which is complex just in it's graphic layout and the pianists ability to bring sounds forth by how the piano was touched.


I'm not going to touch just how wrong I think that statement is, in so many ways.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
We work with the whole human being and his capacity to learn to duplicate what making music is all about.

Developmental stages, attitudes, cooperation, understanding, creating paths of musical progress is what we are all about.


If you actually think only piano teachers take those issues into account, you are, IMNSHO, vastly ignorant. Of other teaching, of other professions, of human beings.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Learning to play piano is very similar to the work of the computer programmer - in our case the computer is the student's brain and being.


I've been a computer programmer, too. Until very recently, when neural networks started being modeled, computers were in fact nothing like a human brain. (They still may not be, but neural networks are, I think, a vast improvement in the modeling.) Again, I find that analogy to be one made from ignorance. And I will refrain from commenting on other aspects of the above viewpoint that I find repugnant.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
My lawyer sat in a chair and gave me advice - that advice brought forth decisions and a plan. None of which affected my brain or being - it only affected the path to a legal settlement.


If you don't think your lawyer was taking into consideration human factors, including in dealing with you, not to mention the other side, it only attests to the skill of your lawyer.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
So, whether it's a minister or psychologist or lawyer giving counsel, their work may suggest helpfulness but it is in the role of piano teaching that at every lesson we give it is obvious as to whether or not we are good at our profession of teaching piano or not. It is obvious when we sit at the piano and play our favorite repertoires or sight read for the first time that we are displaying our talents and abilities. Other professions, including medicine, take a much longer time to show progress or resolution, some maybe never.


Excuse me. But at every session with your lawyer it was obvious whether or not your lawyer is good at his/her profession. Or should be smile The implication that somehow a piano teacher has a wider role than a minister or psychologist (or, in my opinion, a car mechanic), is, to me, laughable.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
We are on display professionally every moment we are conducting a lesson or playing the piano. We either are effective and efficient piano teachers or we are not. It's evident constantly.


As is true in my profession.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
No tenure here unless we're doing good work. One on one private lessons and one one one relationships being built. I know of no other more intimate and intensive on-going activity that has this kind of scrutiny and accountability built into it.


I was adjunct faculty when I taught at a college, so tenure wasn't an issue. Most colleges require many years of work, both teaching and research, before tenure is given. And, believe it or not, sometimes those with tenure are competent, and keep their job because of it smile Any one who has a job, period, may be fired for not doing good work. Piano teachers aren't the only ones. I've switched car mechanics, just to not switch examples here, because the first one was incompetent. Any independent contractor has to be up to snuff. You and other piano teachers don't have a corner on that market.

I believe that you know of no other "more intimate and intensive on-going activity that has this kind of scrutiny and accountability built into it." I don't believe that there *are* no other activities like that. It looks self-important, to me, to assign one's own profession such a high status. Perhaps you think if only we had more piano teachers with power there would be peace in the world?

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Those minutes we spend with a student are an investment of someone's money toward a purpose and as far as I'm concerned I'm on a "timer" at every lesson to fit in the most important thing, the priority of what will be worked on in each lesson.


I charge by the hour, too. I don't think it was piano teachers that came up with the maxim "time is money."

So I still disagree smile

Cathy
_________________________

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#1362676 - 01/31/10 09:40 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5448
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Or, 'your self-righteousness is not assisting the debate'?


The irony factor in this quote is quite high laugh

Cathy
_________________________

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#1362679 - 01/31/10 09:45 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Sometimes a parent asks to come see the studio and meet me, but I am usually the one who uses the word "interview" or sometimes "audition/interview." I generally explain it's a chance to meet and find out if we are a good parent-teacher-student "fit."

There have been a couple interviews in which one parent asks many questions and does a bit of comparing with prior teachers or the parents' childhood teachers, but in this case they seem genuinely curious and just want to have a better understand of what my music studio is "all about."

If I should feel defensive, it usually means I have not prepared well for the interview, and am caught off-guard by a perfectly reasonable question coming from a person who simply has a different background and may not carry around the same set of assumptions. It's some sort of paradigm shift for me, and not always a bad thing. It's helpful to begin to understand how my clients see piano lessons and music education in general.

I've never detected any condescension or animosity from a parent or adult student. I like to know the whole family, and get a sense of the dynamics among all of us, so that communication in the future will be free from misunderstandings or just plain old second-guessing.

Ah, I should have just quoted Minniemay and left it at that ... she said it best! smile
_________________________
Private piano teacher in Lexington, Kentucky
Member MTNA, NGPT Board of Adjudicators
http://www.pianolex.com
http://www.facebook.com/pianolex

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#1362681 - 01/31/10 09:47 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: jotur
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Or, 'your self-righteousness is not assisting the debate'?


The irony factor in this quote is quite high laugh

Cathy


laugh
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362688 - 01/31/10 09:55 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I'm attempting to be helpful to the young teachers, but this intention has been WILDLY subverted by a discussion about how horrible teachers are when they use words like 'power' when discussing some of the problems in lessons, and further subverted by my own indiscriminate use of blunt suggestions to those horrified by horrible teachers, of which I am clearly one. :-)

Clearly, this forum is not one for this kind of language (the word 'power' is obviously as unhelpful as the phrase 'get over it')..... Although I think there is a fundamental disconnect between the experiences of adult learners who have simply loved every minute of their lessons (much the way I did as a student) and those teachers who have had some 'interesting' experiences along the way, and have struggled to find ways to cope.

A little understanding in this discussion wouldn't go astray regarding the situation some teachers find themselves in with genuinely disrespectful students (and yes, I think all the teachers in this forum are capably of distinguishing between excited questioning and disrespectful questioning).
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1362697 - 01/31/10 10:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I will say, a piano teacher does tend to have a lot of "face-time" with the client (the student and often the parent as well). We're nearly always on-display, so Betty is right in that WYSIWYG, as should be evident from the first lesson.

Teaching private lessons is a lot like acting in a play (not on the screen, where down-time is plenty; husband's been on plenty of movie sets to see this). No daydreaming allowed during a lesson (or likewise during surgery, closing arguments, or while hoisting an intake manifold from a pickup truck).

Master classes are like second opinions. I love sending a student to a master class to hear what another teacher might say. Typically there is some difference in terms of interpretation, but when talking nuts-and-bolts (technique, posture, rhythm, steady tempo) the student finds that it's a lot like his or her weekly lesson. They even say that to their parents (who relay it back to me).

But this is an entirely different topic. Think I'll go for now. See you all tomorrow.
_________________________
Private piano teacher in Lexington, Kentucky
Member MTNA, NGPT Board of Adjudicators
http://www.pianolex.com
http://www.facebook.com/pianolex

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