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#1360358 - 01/28/10 05:11 PM when a parent requests an interview
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Hi, I have a meet and greet with a potential new student (I work for a store) and wondered how other teachers felt about being interviewed. I can udnerstand a parent's desire to find the right fit for their child, but on the other hand, I really feel unnerved about being interviewed to determine my qualifications. I tend to get a little unglued when I'm being observed (hated performing in public!), so I'm not very optimistic aobut this. My students/parents are very pleased with me, but I'm just a bit appprehensive. Thanks for your input.

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#1360374 - 01/28/10 05:53 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
In interviews I have never been asked to play anything. Folks have asked me how long I have been teaching, what my goals are, if we do recitals, competitions, guild, etc. They ask what I charge and for references, if they don't already have any. Most of my students are referrals.

Did the parent/student coming to meet you specifically ask for you to play something?


Edited by Barb860 (01/28/10 05:55 PM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1360383 - 01/28/10 06:06 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Barb860]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I've now learned that first time meetings are essential in starting things off on the right foot. It gives me some time to observe the child before I decided to take them on as students. Especially in the 5-6 year old range. They may not be ready yet. I always play a couple of my favorite pieces.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1360391 - 01/28/10 06:19 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: trillingadventurer]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Barb, thanks for the reply. I havern't met them yet, and I'm not sure if they would ask me to play something. I would expect a series of questions from them, much as the ones you've outlined. I still don't really feel comfortable about it, especially since all the teachers' bios are posted for parents to read.

trilling, thanks as well. What type of pieces to you play for parents?

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#1360410 - 01/28/10 06:46 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You should be in charge of this meeting, not the parent.

Have a plan and stick to it. Have your printed policy ready. You have the parent go over it while you work with the student.

I also have the parents fill out an enrollment questionnaire.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1360417 - 01/28/10 06:54 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You should be in charge of this meeting, not the parent.

Have a plan and stick to it. Have your printed policy ready. You have the parent go over it while you work with the student.

I also have the parents fill out an enrollment questionnaire.

Is there a time within this plan that the parent can ask the questions that they need to ask? I think that I might need a good 20 minutes.

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#1360422 - 01/28/10 07:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Absolutely. I always allow for that, but they need to know that I run the show.

I entertain questions after I am finished working with the student and ask the parent any questions I have about the child or their situation. AND, I always ask the child if the he or she has anything to ask.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1360426 - 01/28/10 07:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Irenev
Hi, I have a meet and greet with a potential new student (I work for a store) and wondered how other teachers felt about being interviewed. I can understand a parent's desire to find the right fit for their child, but on the other hand, I really feel unnerved about being interviewed to determine my qualifications. I tend to get a little unglued when I'm being observed (hated performing in public!), so I'm not very optimistic about this. My students/parents are very pleased with me, but I'm just a bit apprehensive. Thanks for your input.


Well, as you gain experience, you'll turn the tables. You become the interviewer and the family the interviewees.

When I'm first contacted, I always suggest, politely of course, that we meet to insure compatibility and also so we can learn about their desires and they can learn about me.

I have a little booklet prepared which tells all about me, my background, the operation, etc. Even though you work in a store, surely you have policies which students must abide. You could possible make an attractive tri-fold to hand out when approached.

But the bottom line is that you need the confidence to change the question from, Are you good enough to teach my student? to Are you good enough to become my student?
_________________________
"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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#1360428 - 01/28/10 07:10 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
The first lesson I give is in effect an interview. I wouldn't expect a parent to commit all that time and effort and money, and leave their child in a one on one teaching situation, without checking me and my studio out. Often new people know a lot about me through other families or teachers. But where a new family doesn't know much I make it very clear that they sit and watch at least one lesson to make sure they are comfortable with everything.

I can't imagine committing my own child to lessons after only reading a paragraph or 2. I'd surely want to know more than that. So don't worry too much about performing, what they really want to know is if you can teach and whether you are a good match for their child.

I ask questions, give some information, and the rest of the time I teach a first lesson, giving an idea of where the activities might lead. As a demonstration I include as many of the different types of activities as will be later encountered (even if in a regular lesson you wouldn't always do them all).

An example fresh in my memory: In a first lesson yesterday we did some aural (higher and lower), introducing the feel of 4/4 and 3/4 with body movement (clapping on various counts in 4/4 and 3/4 (a game - hilarious laugh ), keyboard geography (groups of 2s and 3s, finding D...), music writing (drawing and naming 1/2 1/4 and 1/8 notes, followed by rhthmic dictation in 4/4), singing and playing (learnt a short piece by rote where you sing one part and play the other (counterpoint, hehe!), performance ("ok Mum! Introducing the first ever performance.... etc" bowing to audience).

After all that there is not much time for me to perform! I can't remember if I've ever been asked to perform in that first interview-lesson, but I'd oblige. I think I would choose something that the kid might be able to play within 2 years, play it with great pizazz and enjoyment, and then tell them "you'll be able to do that in X amount of time, Wow, how about that!". I think they would enjoy that more than Bach or Chopin. I think I'd play Inspector Gadget or Groovy Movie.

I hope that gives you some ideas of how to approach this. Good luck with it.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1360437 - 01/28/10 07:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Canonie]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Irenev,

I too think it is really helpful to have your policy ready. You greet them, explain how you go about teaching, go over the policy line by line and see if they have questions.

About 6 months ago at an initial meeting with a 5 year old and her parents, I offered to play something for the family (they didn't ask). I suppose I felt I should prove myself. I played "Play It Again" by Christopher Norton. But I froze up and goofed...I thought it was awful, but I decided not to say "Oh, I messed up" or something along those lines of apologizing. I just finished and said nothing. The mother said "I just admire how you can play both hands at the same time." LOL! So it's not a guaranteed end of the relationship if you goof up. But I'll be better prepared next time...plus I'm not offering to play...I'll play if they ask. (What also helped in this case is they got my name from a co-worker whose child takes lessons from me.)
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1360451 - 01/28/10 07:59 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
But the bottom line is that you need the confidence to change the question from, Are you good enough to teach my student? to Are you good enough to become my student?


As a slight alternative to this, how about instead of "changing" the question from one to the other, but rather ensure that both questions are answered to both parties mutual satisfaction. I know that if I felt that the teacher was getting a bit too one sided that that fact alone wouldn't leave me with a good impression. I have a feeling that that is really what you are saying, I just want to make sure that the OP doesn't get toooo carried away with the whole "turning the tables" thing wink

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#1360479 - 01/28/10 08:43 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: bitWrangler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes, thank you.
_________________________
"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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#1360482 - 01/28/10 08:43 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
It isn't nor should be a one-sided process.
_________________________
"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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#1360490 - 01/28/10 08:59 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Yet another reason I'm glad I only teach adults.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1360504 - 01/28/10 09:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: eweiss]
danGIMP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/09
Posts: 44
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Yet another reason I'm glad I only teach adults.


You don't interview potential students before you take them on?

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#1360527 - 01/28/10 10:08 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: danGIMP]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I always think of the initial meeting as a two-way interview. I always have a free-of-charge face-to-face first meeting with anyone interested in lessons with me.

I always start out by asking questions of the student (and/or parent). I need to know what their wants and expectations are. Then I give a little spiel about my method, how I conduct lessons, etc. Then I ask if they have any questions. They usually don't because I have a really comprehensive website that they have already looked through. Sometimes, a child will ask me to play something. In that case I play something very short and sweet (like from Scenes from Childhood or a Chopin Waltz). Usually, they will find that impressive enough! If they want more, I tell them to watch my videos online. wink

It's a mutual getting-to-know-each-other thing. Nothing to be scared about. I think it's good policy to do it with everyone. If I were a parent, I would insist on this kind of meeting too!
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1360721 - 01/29/10 08:25 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: bitWrangler]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
It's one of those times that I feel especially as though I had beamed in from another planet. wink "'Are you good enough to teach my child?' vs 'Are you good enough to become my student?' " or "establishing who runs the show". I had not imagined interviews (first lessons) involving anything remotely similar.

First time round we knew nothing about lessons. I observed the lesson, and listened to what this teacher had to say. I watched how he was teaching, and watched my son who seemed to be able to follow and seemed comfortable. The teacher seemed to know what he was doing, had a plan, and also told me my role. I don't think that "good enough" conveys the same concerns. It is more along the lines of "Can this person teach? Can my child follow? Does he know where he is going?"

These days I would be less complacent about assuming a teacher's goals. If he didn't mention them I might ask, including for clarification of what I don't understand.

Third, I would want to know about my child's practicing, my role as a parent, and care of the instrument. I might wonder about some of what I saw and want to ask about it. Finally, once home parent and child would be sharing impressions, and some questions might come out of that.

Once all that is cleared the decision would be made whether to go ahead with this teacher, as well as having a general idea of what to expect and what is expected.

That is my reality, though I cannot speak for others. In terms of "who runs the show": my concern is that the teacher be able to run the show. If she knows how to teach, the child seems able to follow, and has a plan or goals then that ability would be there. The teacher teaches. Who else?

Quote:
'Are you good enough to become my student?'

Depending how that is meant, this makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Does it mean that you only want prodigy material, that the student has to show signs of talent? What does "being good enough" mean?

I would not want my child to have such an attitude. I do not want him to think of himself as a prodigy, or talented because I suspect it will get in the way. Conversely, needing to "be good enough" can engender paralyzing anxiety. What does self-image have to do with it at all? Besides, if he is a novice, how will he know how well he will be able to play eventually? Obviously a beginner who has never played knows squat about how to play.

In my mind, the student wants to learn to play the instrument. He asks "What do I need to do to bring this about, and can this teacher teach this to me?" Isn't the question "Will you work with me?" rather than "Are you good enough?" smile

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#1360732 - 01/29/10 09:12 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Generally parents ask for one of two things. They ask to "meet me" or they ask for a "trial lesson." I do not charge to meet me; I do charge for a trial lesson. The trial lessons usually come with transfer students who already have books.

At a "meet", we talk the whole time. They review my policies, ask questions. I also ask questions of the child (What music they like, how they feel about the idea of practicing, why they want to take piano lessons). We discuss the parents' musical background as well, as I find that is helpful to know in terms of their realistic ideas of what it takes to learn an instrument, and what kind of help or support the child will get at home.

At most, I might introduce the student to a "map" of the keyboard - showing them the pattern of keys, and finding the "doghouse."

When we set this meeting up, I explain to the parent that it is a chance to make sure we are both on the same page. I've only ever had one student I discouraged from pursuing lessons. He was too young, and couldn't sit still or follow directions. I didn't say an outright no, just expressed my concerns. The parent opted to postpone lessons.

Once a parent asked to sit in on another student's lesson, which I had no problem with. I had another student the same age as the potential student, who loves to perform, so she had no problem with an extra audience.

I am not shy, and a bit bossy, so I don't have any trouble with these meetings. But it came with age. I would have had more trouble when I was younger, dealing with parents who were much older than me.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1360737 - 01/29/10 09:19 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
KS, one of the biggest problems for young teachers is that they are dealing with parents who have a whole lot more world experience than they have. If you don't think that parents sense this and take advantage of this, you do indeed live on another planet (okay, just kidding). In my early days of teaching, I had parents walking all over me, until I learned how to manage the balance better.

We have several young teachers on this forum who are experiencing a number of the problems which come from being young and inexperienced. Ideally, parents would sense this, and compensate by not taking advantage of them, but when parents come up with 1001 excuses for missing lessons, then not paying the teacher for the time foregone, you quickly learn that parents are no better (or no worse) than anyone else.

Another reality is that many people like buying things and services which have a sense of exclusivity. The teacher has to present an aura which combines both that and acceptance at the same time. No small feat.

Quote:
In my mind, the student wants to learn to play the instrument. He asks "What do I need to do to bring this about, and can this teacher teach this to me?" Isn't the question "Will you work with me?" rather than "Are you good enough?"

I have never met a child who was mature or sufficiently erudite to think this, let alone ask this.

Quote:
Third, I would want to know about my child's practicing, my role as a parent, and care of the instrument. I might wonder about some of what I saw and want to ask about it. Finally, once home parent and child would be sharing impressions, and some questions might come out of that.

This is precisely the type of material my studio policies cover and which every independent teacher should include in their policies. During the interview, I present it, rather than wait for the parent to ask. This insures the topic is covered.

The young teacher needs to move out of the defensive crouch into one of partnership and leadership. If the parent comes with the attitude of "Are you good enough for my student?" which is what the OP stated was the problem, then the teacher needs to have the confidence to turn the tables.
_________________________
"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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#1360797 - 01/29/10 10:39 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: eweiss]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Yet another reason I'm glad I only teach adults.


Why is there an assumption that this topic is only applicable to kids? When my wife decided to start taking lessons again, she called and had phone "interviews"/conversations with the teachers on her short list before she even bothered to go and have an initial get-together with them (combo initial lesson, getting to know you meeting). And this is with teachers that were either recommended to us by folks we trust (as in trust to know not just trust in general) and/or teachers we already were familiar with by reputation.

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#1360799 - 01/29/10 10:41 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: bitWrangler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Because the topic is: When a parent requests an interview?
_________________________
"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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#1360805 - 01/29/10 10:54 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I do interview a lot like Lollipop does!

The teacher needs to have a comfort level that reflects the way she behaves during lessons and whenever in the company of her students. It's almost like the "piano teacher persona". This helps you be consistent in appearance each time the student and family see you in the future.

You have to have a purpose of your own with which to conduct (you are in charge) the interview. What do you want to know about the student and his family before accepting him.

What do you want them to know about you?

Talk purposely. Socialize only enough to be welcoming. The inquiry-interview is a business procedure actually, not a social event. You can enjoy this event, but it does/can have a purpose other than seeing each others faces and shaking hands. Having each of you make the decision to work together is a good start in a relationship - you each agree to be there - and working together on a project toward musicianship. You set up the agreement and announce the partnership and the players so to speak. Sounds like business to me.

Good luck in getting comfortable with this process however you choose to do it.

Betty

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#1360826 - 01/29/10 11:17 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
John, I've been thinking about what you wrote. It sounds as if you are proposing a counter-move in those cases where parents are doing a power play, where they try to deliberately intimidate and control the teacher.

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#1360836 - 01/29/10 11:28 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Had a parent who wanted telephone numbers of parents who's children I was already teaching!!!

After interviewing the parents, he did hire me to teach his three girls!

Guesss I passed the test! grin
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1360848 - 01/29/10 11:43 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Because the topic is: When a parent requests an interview?


Yes I realize that smile That's why I specifically said "topic" not "thread" since Ed's reply implied that the general topic (customer interviews) was not relevant to those not teaching kids.

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#1360850 - 01/29/10 11:46 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Diane...]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Diane - Did you get permission from the parents to hand out their numbers? Just wondering, as it's never happened to me. Maybe it would be a good idea to ask a couple parents in advance if it would be okay to use them for references, just in case it ever comes up. Another way to handle that would be to take the prospective student's number, and and ask a few of your other parents if they would be willing to call on your behalf.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1360859 - 01/29/10 11:53 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Lollipop]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Diane - Did you get permission from the parents to hand out their numbers? Just wondering, as it's never happened to me. Maybe it would be a good idea to ask a couple parents in advance if it would be okay to use them for references, just in case it ever comes up. Another way to handle that would be to take the prospective student's number, and and ask a few of your other parents if they would be willing to call on your behalf.


Well, I gave the parent's business numbers! And not their home telephone numbers.

And you make good points! Need to be careful I'd think!
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1360865 - 01/29/10 12:01 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
John, I've been thinking about what you wrote. It sounds as if you are proposing a counter-move in those cases where parents are doing a power play, where they try to deliberately intimidate and control the teacher.


I don't think it's deliberate so much as human nature. As Betty reminds us, we're in a business, and we cannot remain afloat if we give the customer what they truly want: unlimited lessons for free. It's a transaction and we need to remain mindful of that. The teacher needs to remember that they are offering a valuable service, deserve appropriate remuneration, and if they wish to build a good long-term reputation, must offer both an excellent product and be careful about who they sell it to.
_________________________
"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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#1360891 - 01/29/10 12:50 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: bitWrangler]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There are two points of view that need to be addressed in an interview:

1) The Parents need to be comfortable with letting their child spend 45 minutes in a room alone with another adult they do not know, or they need to know that it's acceptable for them to sit in and observe lessons, either to ensure the child's safety or to be an active part in their child's musical education.

2) The Teacher is being asked to teach someone to play the piano. However, the teacher alone cannot bear this responsibility, the student/parent must be willing and able to do their share. (Otherwise it's just really expensive babysitting that could potentially damage the teacher's reputation.)

I'm a little sensitive to the first because my mother supervised a child abuse/neglect unit for many years before she retired. I also have a friend who was the victim of abuse as a child. Most cases of sexual abuse arise from situations where the child is alone with an adult, usually someone they know. My mother saw cases involving relatives, coaches, teachers (including music teachers) and even youth ministers. This is why the door to my house and the windows in my studio stay open during lessons. I tell parents they are welcome to walk in unannounced at any time.
_________________________
"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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#1360898 - 01/29/10 01:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Kreisler]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Sorry for the off-topic here, but Kreisler's comment made me think of this:

I'm curious if any female piano teachers have any feelings concerning teaching adult males? I have taught a father/daughter duo without any problems. But I was recently contacted for lessons by another man (about my age), and wasn't comfortable with the idea. As it turned out, he was looking for irregular lessons, preferably on weekends, as he traveled a lot. I turned him down because I don't teach on weekends, but I was relieved to have a "good" reason. Is that silly? Prudent?
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1360954 - 01/29/10 02:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.
_________________________
"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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#1360956 - 01/29/10 02:09 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Lollipop]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
I'm curious if any female piano teachers have any feelings concerning teaching adult males? I have taught a father/daughter duo without any problems. But I was recently contacted for lessons by another man (about my age), and wasn't comfortable with the idea. As it turned out, he was looking for irregular lessons, preferably on weekends, as he traveled a lot. I turned him down because I don't teach on weekends, but I was relieved to have a "good" reason. Is that silly? Prudent?


If I didn't teach young to middle-aged men, I'd lose a third of my students! A couple of times it has crossed my mind that I am putting myself in a position of vulnerability, but I refuse to live my life fearing what might happen. As it is, all my students (including the 15 or so men I've worked with in the last few years) have been nothing but kind and respectful.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1361040 - 01/29/10 03:59 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.

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#1361049 - 01/29/10 04:08 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Rachel J]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Rachel J


If I didn't teach young to middle-aged men, I'd lose a third of my students! A couple of times it has crossed my mind that I am putting myself in a position of vulnerability, but I refuse to live my life fearing what might happen. As it is, all my students (including the 15 or so men I've worked with in the last few years) have been nothing but kind and respectful.


Didn't Son of Sam play piano? (No, just kidding!)

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#1361050 - 01/29/10 04:10 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: keystring
John, I've been thinking about what you wrote. It sounds as if you are proposing a counter-move in those cases where parents are doing a power play, where they try to deliberately intimidate and control the teacher.


I don't think it's deliberate so much as human nature.


I don't think you understand what I am trying to say. I am thinking that you are proposing this strategy in those cases where that kind of power play is going on for the purpose of countering this power play. I do not think that you would want to make a student feel inferior to you and worry about not being good enough for you as a relationship to be established between teacher and student. I would feel better if you confirmed this, because I suspect this is true.

When I wrote of a student asking "What do I need to do to reach this." then I am thinking that this is the attitude that you want to induce in the student and in the parent, rather than "Am I good enough?" By worrying about their abilities, and comparing themselves to others, people cripple themselves.

I cannot picture what that means (still) if you seriously propose this question to be more than a device to stop the parent from saying "You are not good enough for my child." It is an impossible question. If you are "not good enough" for something, that means you don't have the attributes needed to do it. So a 6 year old child who has never had lessons before, how on earth can he be "not good enough" for you to teach him? What would cause you to say "Sorry, I can't teach you because you are not good enough." That's where it leads, and it is absurd. You cannot be saying this. It would be "Sorry, I cannot teach you because you won't do the work."

It gets serious, however, if you are talking about an older student because of the fear of "not having enough talent" (not being good enough) and that as soon as the teacher discovers they "are not good enough" he will kick them out. That creates debilitating anxiety. In fact, in the ABF there is an eight year old who is afraid of meeting the new teacher because he is afraid he is not good enough. This only makes sense to me if you mean it as a counter to a parental attitude of "You are not good enough to teach me child."

Would you say that how the new people are approached also depends on the attitude they present?


Edited by keystring (01/29/10 04:11 PM)

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#1361051 - 01/29/10 04:13 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.


I don't keep them at all. They are sent home with the student. Then they are erased at the next lesson and recorded over.
_________________________
"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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#1361055 - 01/29/10 04:18 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
You're correct, I don't understand what you're trying to say. And I think that you're reading stuff into my posts that isn't implied by me. Perhaps my poor writing skills are to blame.

We're talking about dealing with parents "with attitude" here. The OP was feeling intimidated by some parents during the interview process. I was suggesting a strategy to work around this. Sort of like visualizing your audience naked so you don't have the stage jitters.

That's all; nothing more.
_________________________
"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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#1361058 - 01/29/10 04:23 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
MomOfBeginners Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 114
Loc: California, USA
I realize you were looking for fellow-teacher support for an unnerving experience. I wanted to offer a parent's perspective.

I wish to give my child a music experience on a personal level, so the character of a music teacher plays an enormous role. I am trusting the music teacher to guide my child using his/her perspectives and values which do come out on regular one-on-one sessions. Before my child is old enough to solidify her opinions, every adult is "right" in their eyes.

Music qualifications, teaching qualifications, and teaching philosophies go without saying. By the time I get to the stage of wanting to talk to the teacher, I already know the qualifications. Education, experience, musicianship, recital opportunities, etc. I don't believe a teacher would lie about it or that I have to test the teacher for it.

In meeting the teacher, I am looking for other things: (Just to make the text less crowded, I'll call the teacher a 'he' and my child a 'she'.)

- Is the teacher interested in my child and me? Has he already formed an opinion about us based on little information? Or is the teacher interested in interacting with my child and myself to find out more about us? In other words, is the teacher a good listener and open?

- Does the teacher have the right balance of pushing and backing off? By "right", I really mean is it compatible with my view. Even if I didn't agree in the first place, I may still give it a few months and give the teacher the benefit of the doubt that he knows better.

- Does the teacher have the right balance of moving forward versus persistence of polishing a piece?

- Does the teacher have the right balance of drawing from experience to overcome problems versus discovering new ways of teaching? I value both.

- Does the teacher have a passion for improvisation and analysis that can spill over to my child, or are those abilities merely an item on a checklist to achieve teaching qualifications?

- Does the teacher have a passion for understanding the composer, and can express to my child that every piece has a composer's character and a performer's character?

I hope this makes you feel at ease that meeting a teacher is not about checking if your certificate on your wall is legitimate. It's really checking to see if the compatibility factor is there.


Edited by MomOfBeginners (01/29/10 04:39 PM)
Edit Reason: Added extra spaces between lines for readability
_________________________
Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners

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#1361061 - 01/29/10 04:29 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You should be in charge of this meeting, not the parent.

Have a plan and stick to it. Have your printed policy ready. You have the parent go over it while you work with the student.

I also have the parents fill out an enrollment questionnaire.

Is there a time within this plan that the parent can ask the questions that they need to ask? I think that I might need a good 20 minutes.


Might I ask what your questions would be?

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#1361069 - 01/29/10 04:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
I got the impression the OP isn't intimidated by these parents (OP hasn't met them yet) but is intimidated by the idea of being interviewed and coming 'unglued' in such a situation. Taking control and being confident in your teaching skills would seem to be good advice, and hopefully the parents are the kind that care a lot about their child and his/her development and comfort.

Keystring, there are teachers who will conduct an interview-test of the potential student and reject some on the basis of e.g. natural aural ability (beginners), or lack of reading (in non-beginners). I mentioned once before of a teacher who took one sister but rejected the other on basis of poor reading. This teacher is the competition-winner type.

There are also plenty of teachers (like me) who will accept a student based on my ability to make a big difference in their life through music. So that means I take everyone who wants to learn piano smile. I probably shouldn't take those where the parent is really keen but the child has no interest, but I have taken a few of these too. Often they stop lessons by the end of about 8 weeks.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1361085 - 01/29/10 04:54 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Canonie]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the generous time everyone's taken to reply to my question. I would respond to each of you but must prepare a philosophy/policy for the upcoming meetings. You're correct in that I should have one even though I work for a studio.

I supposed my insecurity stems from being beaten down by a former teacher during my college years. I entered college with a slight confidence in my musical ability and graduated feeling like I had absolutely no musical ability. That was their method of teaching. Now, some ten years later, while playing various pieces in a classroom, a well respected string teacher commented that I sounded fantastic and that when she heard the music, she had to see who it was. I floated out of the building! I think my lack of confidence as a musician is at the root of all this. I have been a manager for many years, and know my students are very happy with me (including adults and transfers!) but still I worry because I've observed some real unrealistic expectations of parents, not only in piano, but in sports, etc.

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#1361102 - 01/29/10 05:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Irenev
I entered college with a slight confidence in my musical ability and graduated feeling like I had absolutely no musical ability. That was their method of teaching.


You should'v asked them about their method of teaching!

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#1361103 - 01/29/10 05:16 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Teachers and Parents, thank you so much for all of your input and perspectives. It's been a tremendous help. I also wanted to clarify that I do have a degree in Music Ed, but do not feel nearly prepared to teach all different levels, I am constantly questioning, reading, and trying to absorb all that encompasses being the best teacher I can be. But I do bring a real love and enthusiasm for music to the studio, and I think my students feel that and respond with heartwarming progress and excitement about learning the piano.

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#1361139 - 01/29/10 06:16 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
This is what I use in my studio. Please understand if the formatting is off.

Betty Patnude Piano Studio
South Hill - Puyallup, Washington

Student Information Form
Please answer the following questions on this form and return the form to me.
The information you provide prior to the interview helps me prepare a more effective and appropriate interview.

Which is best time to schedule an interview for you?
Interview Date: _________________________
__ Friday after school
__ Saturday Mornings
__ Wednesday Afternoons - Puyallup School District Early Dismissal
__ Or, is there a different time that works better for you? _____________________________


Student’s Name: __________________________________________________________________________
Student’s: Age ____ Birthday ____/____/____
__ Child __ Teen __ Adult __ New Beginner __ Transfer __ Advanced
Today’s Date: ____/___/____

Who may I thank for this referral? __________________________________________________
Adult’s Name __________________________________________________
E-mail Address __________________________________________________________
Phone: Home __________________________ Cell: __________________
Home Address __________________________________________________
IF student is a child: Siblings Names____________________________________________________
School __________________________ District __________________________ Grade ____
Activities, Hobbies or Sports _________________________________________________
__________________________
Has the student had previous Music Study? Yes? No?
Piano Teachers Names __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Piano Teachers Name __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Piano Teachers Name __________________________ Length of Study __________________________
Do you have a goal for taking piano lessons?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
Do other family members have previous musical training? Yes? No?
Do you have an instrument at home? Yes? No?
When do you expect to get started in piano study?
__ Soon __ Summer __ September __ January __ Some future date

Is there anything you would like to tell me?

Do you have questions at this time you would like to ask? ________________________________________

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#1361145 - 01/29/10 06:24 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
Quote:
We're talking about dealing with parents "with attitude" here. The OP was feeling intimidated by some parents during the interview process. I was suggesting a strategy to work around this. Sort of like visualizing your audience naked so you don't have the stage jitters.

Thank you, John. Now I understand.

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#1361200 - 01/29/10 07:56 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Absolutely. I always allow for that, but they need to know that I run the show.

I entertain questions after I am finished working with the student and ask the parent any questions I have about the child or their situation. AND, I always ask the child if the he or she has anything to ask.


Considering the parent is considering hiring you, I think this a strange way to approach an interview. IMO it shouldn't be about who's in charge but mutually trying to find out if the teacher-student match is good.

If a parent asks for an inteview, I think that puts them in position of a potential employer interviewing a potential employee.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/10 08:12 PM)

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#1361214 - 01/29/10 08:24 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Really? Then they should be paying our FICA/Social Security taxes, right?

It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

Haydn was hired; Beethoven provided a service. Solieri was a hired hand of the Arch Duke; Mozart contracted out his services.

Perhaps it's a subtle difference, but it's real, none-the-less.
_________________________
"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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#1361246 - 01/29/10 09:05 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Really? Then they should be paying our FICA/Social Security taxes, right?

It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

Haydn was hired; Beethoven provided a service. Solieri was a hired hand of the Arch Duke; Mozart contracted out his services.

Perhaps it's a subtle difference, but it's real, none-the-less.


You can call it what you want but I see no difference in terms of what the interview should be like. If a parent starts acting like a boss with a piano teacher, the piano teacher can stop giving the lessons. The teacher isn't the boss and neither is the parent.

If you want to find a doctor to do an important operation you couldn't meet with them first to decide if you wanted them to do it? If you want someone to replace a fence, you can't do the same thing??

It shouldn't about someone taking charge, it should be about both parties finding out if the teacher-student relationship looks like a good idea.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/29/10 09:06 PM)

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#1361284 - 01/29/10 10:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
L, we have discussed this before, but many years ago, so this is probably a good time to resurrect the subject. In re Kreisler's comment: this is one very powerful reason for all teachers, not just males, to make a video record of each and every lesson.


This is a very good idea, actually, but I wonder about the logistics of it. First is to get permission from the parents (or adult students) to record them. It must be uncomfortable to ask, and what if permission is not given? But I can see that if you make this part of your policy then it should be OK. The bigger concern is how long you keep these video tapes for? Surely you don't want to tape over an old lesson that was just last week. But if you keep them around long enough (which is a question in itself, how long is long enough?), you may end up with a lot of video tapes and the cost of too many tapes may be prohibitive.


I don't keep them at all. They are sent home with the student. Then they are erased at the next lesson and recorded over.


Oh, I see. That makes a lot of sense. By doing this, you remove the awkwardness about the reason for videotaping because the main reason is to give the parent or child a chance to review the lesson afterward at home if desired. But it also serves to show that you're all up and up when teaching the lesson and there's nothing to hide even if the parent is not present nearby.

The only reason I was thinking about keeping records of the tapes yourself is in case there is ever any false allegation about misconduct on the teacher's side a few lessons later, you have previous tapes to prove your case. But I think your approach of giving the tape to parents after each lesson and reuse it in the next lesson is good enough, and solves the problem of needing too many tapes.

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#1361301 - 01/29/10 10:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, they would certainly have a hard time explaining to a judge why they got rid of evidence!
_________________________
"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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#1361304 - 01/29/10 10:43 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7311
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
You said:
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If a parent asks for an interview, I think that puts them in position of a potential employer interviewing a potential employee.

I said:
Quote:
It seems to me they're purchasing a service, not hiring us. Just as when you see the doctor or dentist or lawyer, you're purchasing a service. If you want to hire them, the relationship changes.

You replied:
Quote:
You can call it what you want but I see no difference in terms of what the interview should be like. If a parent starts acting like a boss with a piano teacher, the piano teacher can stop giving the lessons. The teacher isn't the boss and neither is the parent.

You subtly changed the terms of the discussion here. It was you who brought up employer-employee relationship, no one else, as I recall. And while the term boss is generally a pejorative word these days, the fact remains that the teacher owns and runs their studio or teaching business, not the parent. As many have pointed out already, the interview should be an open, two-way street. If it's dominated by the teacher, the parent will not sign up; if it's dominated by the parent, the inexperienced teacher may find themselves in an untenable position. Recall that the OP was feeling a bit intimidated, and we're all trying her cope with what could be a bad situation.

I hope this clarifies.
_________________________
"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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#1361314 - 01/29/10 10:58 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

I enter a business arrangement with a contract with the parents of my students, or adult student, where it specifies what we are agreeing to do together in giving/receiving piano lessons.

It is a contract that can be terminated with 30 days notice by the purchaser of the services. The contract is in force from the time it is signed until the termination is received.

I am in music education and I provide services. The other party buys my year around services as specified in my tuition fees and studio policy. I have a one lesson introduction that can be purchased as the interview/first lesson, and then I have a 10 lesson introduction that can be a trial period before entering yer round lessons.

Someone who thinks they are "hiring" me is not going to like this. This contract allows me to find and keep students who are very serious about their music education. If I didn't define the agreement I would be a the beck and call of someone who constantly wanted to change the parameters of our relationship to his/her liking. I refuse to teach music without being the leader of the triangle of student-parent-teacher. I listen and cooperate with my clients but I don't allow them to run my business not tell me how to teach.

My contract is legal should there ever be any difficulty with my receiving my payments for services rendered.

No one hires me, no one fires me. We work together with a plan in agreement and we agree to work to resolve any difficulties or problems or concern that arise. We agree to communicate.

Actually both the parent and myself are a support system to the child in piano study with the purpose of making progress in musicianship.

"My piano lessons are free. It's my time and expertise you pay for." Students do not hire as you do not follow the rules of having employees as per regulations of the IRS. I'm the person accountable to the IRS. I'm self-employed and many piano teachers are in that category.

A note to teachers: studio policies, interviews before accepting and contracts protect us from being misunderstood and mistreated. Without structure to your business and to your teaching you are leaving yourself wide open to situations you would rather not be involved in. The nonpayments, the missed lessons with no notice, difficult or negative customers, and those very trying situations which rob us of our spirit and energy. You can establish a standard of behavior in your studio and you can get what you want and need in your professional life working with students and their families. We do have to teach people how to treat their place in our studios with respect. This is your life and profession to establish.


Betty Patnude

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#1361317 - 01/29/10 11:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
^^^ I agree with John above. If anybody who's the boss, the teachers are their own bosses (well, at least private teachers who run their own business, anyway). They decide the policies, the fees, who they accept, who they drop, their schedule/availability, etc. And they can change any of this at will because they're their own bosses. Parents and students are just the clients.

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#1361339 - 01/29/10 11:56 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Volusiano]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
My comments about running the show were meant to imply that the OP should feel empowered. She should not be cowed by the parents.

They are, in fact, coming to my business. I wouldn't dream of going into someone else's business and telling them how to conduct it. If I don't like the way they do business, I go somewhere else.

However, when a family comes for an interview, I must be in charge if I am to learn anything about the child and his or her readiness for study and for the child to understand that when they walk in the studio, I am the authority figure, not the parent. There have been, in times past, occasions when parents have interrupted lessons to either direct a child's behavior or suggest what I should be doing. Ultimately, that undermines my authority. If they are bringing their child to me, they have to trust I know what I'm doing and let me do it. If I'm not "running the show", the authority I demonstrate is negligible and leaves me open for abuse.

Been there, done that, don't want the t-shirt.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1361415 - 01/30/10 03:18 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I think it is also possible that some style of teachers and teaching studio policies match different kinds of students and styles of learning and lesson taking.

A teacher who makes his or her living exclusively from teaching beginners hour after hour day in and day out must put together a very school-like and strict policy about scheduling, payments, cancellations, etc. and even be quite bossy and inflexible. Otherwise, people will treat them like "just the piano teacher" and when schedule conflicts arise they will not show up for piano because it is "just the piano". It's not like they are letting a team down or a school reputation and chance at state or bleachers filled with spectators like in school sports.

A teacher who is perhaps a professional musician with an unpredictable performance schedule would feel unnecessarily constrained by an inflexible and full roster of John Thompsoners and is very happy to find (young) adults who may also work full time or also have irregular lives whom he or she coaches or to teach advanced amateurs as a second line of income on a basis of "you pay and we make the next appointment at the end of each lesson, whenever those lessons take place".

It is of course not a black & white issue and there is a continuum of situations in between these two extremes. The idea of an interview is a very smart one and in a good interview both the parent and/or prospective student and the teacher will be "in control": in control of knowing what they want and what their objectives are, what they can offer the other party, what they are looking for in a student / teacher, what constraints they are each operating under and both committed to determining jointly in a pleasant but efficient manner if there is a basis to even give a relationship a trial run.

IMHO an effective piano teaching relationship is a very intimate relationship built on respect, mutual trust and empathy. Successful piano lessons must be designed with the student's motivations as their point of departure. If a teacher in an interview starts all sentences with "I" and "My" and doesn't try to understand what the student needs and wants while being able to explain extemporaneously how their approach either fits or will be tailored to those needs, politely end the interview and call the next teacher on the list. You will be surprised how many teachers are out there and the best ones never advertise. The gift of learning to play the piano is too important and also too fragile to be entrusted to the wrong teacher.

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#1361447 - 01/30/10 06:05 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
A teacher is an expert hired by a client to provide a service which he plans, designs, and implements. While the client may know what he wants, the expert will know the best way to reach it, and may also suggest changes to his original plans when they would not work well, because he knows a lot about this thing. The parent is "boss" in that his wishes that his child learn to play the piano must be respected, and the teacher can't decide that it would be more fun to do guitar. The teacher is "boss" in knowing what goals are realistic, and what child and parent need to do to bring these about.

Employment or not has nothing to do with it. A company that employees engineers or welders will make a mess if they don't allow their experts to make decisions based on their expertise. The difference is that the work and roles have already been planned out, and the structure is rather rigid. In freelancing, expert and client first define what needs to be done, what supportive role the client needs to play so that the thing can be done, and of course also hours and remuneration on the practical business side. All that is predefined in employment, including public school teaching.

The interview or trial lesson is a way for the client to assess whether he wants to hire this person. It's like sending a sample to a prospective client, which is unnerving since the worth of your work is being judged. It's all the more precarious since the client probably has no expertise and may judge based on peculiar criteria. So you are also guiding the client, letting them understand something of the process without seeming defensive. Some of us parents would find such guidance reassuring because we're nervous too, and this is actually the "leadership" John mentioned earlier.

If the client does hire you, then the trial lesson also establishes what everyone will be doing, gets questions out of the way, because all three people play a role. A parent interacts both with teacher and student and may have to act as a go-between between the teacher and student, and ditto of teacher for student and parent. A teacher cannot do a proper job if child and parent don't cooperate, so it's not about being boss but being able to get you to where you want to go.

Isn't that what it's about, rather than who is the boss of whom, or whether the hiring party pays into the pension plan?

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#1361467 - 01/30/10 07:22 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
A teacher is an expert hired by a client to provide a service which he plans, designs, and implements. While the client may know what he wants, the expert will know the best way to reach it, and may also suggest changes to his original plans when they would not work well, because he knows a lot about this thing. The parent is "boss" in that his wishes that his child learn to play the piano must be respected, and the teacher can't decide that it would be more fun to do guitar. The teacher is "boss" in knowing what goals are realistic, and what child and parent need to do to bring these about.

Employment or not has nothing to do with it. A company that employees engineers or welders will make a mess if they don't allow their experts to make decisions based on their expertise. The difference is that the work and roles have already been planned out, and the structure is rather rigid. In freelancing, expert and client first define what needs to be done, what supportive role the client needs to play so that the thing can be done, and of course also hours and remuneration on the practical business side. All that is predefined in employment, including public school teaching.

The interview or trial lesson is a way for the client to assess whether he wants to hire this person. It's like sending a sample to a prospective client, which is unnerving since the worth of your work is being judged. It's all the more precarious since the client probably has no expertise and may judge based on peculiar criteria. So you are also guiding the client, letting them understand something of the process without seeming defensive. Some of us parents would find such guidance reassuring because we're nervous too, and this is actually the "leadership" John mentioned earlier.

If the client does hire you, then the trial lesson also establishes what everyone will be doing, gets questions out of the way, because all three people play a role. A parent interacts both with teacher and student and may have to act as a go-between between the teacher and student, and ditto of teacher for student and parent. A teacher cannot do a proper job if child and parent don't cooperate, so it's not about being boss but being able to get you to where you want to go.

Isn't that what it's about, rather than who is the boss of whom, or whether the hiring party pays into the pension plan?
I agree.

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#1361572 - 01/30/10 11:52 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: chasingrainbows]
lilylady Offline
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Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
My initial response before I have read one comment...

I interview the student and parents, not the other way around.
The interview is about learning about each other and what is offered and expected. I want to learn about the student, the parents goals and explain my expectations of the student and parent. The parent wants to know a little about my personality and what is important about what I teach and how I teach. It is a give and take of sharing ideas and seeing how things fit.

I play something as an inspiration, but do not feel the need to show off. Music is to share and I hope that whatever I play, shows my feeling about sharing music.

Just a few positive suggestions!

EDIT - now that I have read your responses, there are some great suggestions and ideas being shared here.

LL


Edited by lilylady (01/30/10 12:06 PM)
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1361600 - 01/30/10 12:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
All I can say is WOW! Things sure have changed since I took lessons!

I would hand my teacher payment, which was due at the end of the month - (or was it the beginning? You know, I can't recall as I was kid and such matters were not my concern.) - sit myself down at the grand piano and for the next hour, we would have a fine time.

My teacher was a gentle mannered soul, which was good for me as I was the shy, quiet type - we got along great. I never, never thought of him as 'just' the piano teacher. I had a great deal of respect (at times even awe) for his abilities (he played a number of instruments). He would always go out of his way to give me a very well rounded education.

As an adult, I now recognize and appreciate the quality of his instructions that I never recognized as a young child. If I could only turn the clocks back. . . . .

We were friends and I never dreamed of showing him the kind of disrespect and/or inconsideration that has been talked about here. It just wasn't 'there'. My mother never treated him as someone who was just there to occupy my time when I was bored - he was not, by any means, the glorified baby sitter.

Sure - on initial meeting there is the tendency to size each other up. After all, when one purchases a service, one wants the best bang for their buck And sure, no teacher in their right mind wants to be treated like someone who is there to entertain a kid on a rainy day, or like the 'hired help'. . . .

Some of the feelings expressed here have saddened me - saddened me that posters feel the need to 'lay down the law'.

I would sincerely hope that if I was ever lucky enough to begin formal instruction again, that my future instructor would regard me as an individual and have an open mind about what our future relationship may be like. I sincerely hope that s/he would not regard me as someone they have to protect themselves from because of the possibility of how I may treat them due to past bad experience with others.

I would further hope that thoughts of who is running the show and who is boss would be the furthest thing from our minds. Music is such a joy, and I wouldn't want those other matters to get in the way. I wouldn't want our relationship to be a tug of war, a play for 'power', each party feeling that they have to protect themselves and their interest in it.

Maybe I'm a dreamer or stuck in the past.

But like I said - all I can say is WOW!
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1361606 - 01/30/10 12:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Those of us who talk about "running the show" are not monsters. We've just been taken advantage of before and treated with disrepsect. We learned our lessons. The problems are not with the children, they are with the parents, people who are often just looking for the best bargain they can get.

It's a shame that these things get in the way, but I find that conducting myself in a business-like manner allows me to have the joy of music-making with the students. I have a highly successful full studio of children who are amazing to work with and parents who respect me and how I run my business.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1361638 - 01/30/10 01:47 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA

Minniemay: "Those of us who talk about "running the show" are not monsters."

Interesting - I don't recall saying that you were.

I did write this:

"no teacher in their right mind wants to be treated like someone who is there to entertain a kid on a rainy day, or like the 'hired help'. . . ."

and:

"Some of the feelings expressed here have saddened me - saddened me that posters feel the need to 'lay down the law'." (You did see that word 'need' I wrote, did you not?)

and:


"I sincerely hope that s/he would not regard me as someone they have to protect themselves from because of the possibility of how I may treat them due to past bad experience with others."

Since you seemed to have missed it, I was saying that teachers feel a need to institute these policies as they have been treated badly in the past. That's sad. BUT I was also saying that it is my sincere hope that if I were lucky enough (I did say lucky, yes? ) to take lessons again, that such negative experiences would not adversely shade my relationship with this future instructor.

For the record, I don't think taking lessons with a 'monster' is a lucky thing (I did say lucky, didn't I?) - nor do I regard instructors who institute studio policies as monsters. My teacher had studio policies - it wasn't exactly a free for all.

I was making comment on how sad these changes in our times are and expressing my surprise. I was unaware that things had gotten this bad.

And I was expressing my hopes that such changes would not adversely influence any future teacher/student relationship that I may be lucky enough to have.

I am neither a child nor a parent. But I am an adult. I don't know how that fits into the grand scheme of things, but I think it is safe to assume that an adult student/teacher relationship is somewhat different than a parent or child student/teacher relationship.

And yes - I will continue to look for the best deal that money can buy as I, as a consumer, would be a fool not to. You, on the other hand, would be a fool to tolerate a client that does not give you the respect that you deserve.

I hope this makes my position clear on the matter.


Edited by DancinDigits (01/30/10 02:46 PM)
Edit Reason: typos, typos
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1361688 - 01/30/10 03:07 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
That first interview is a must: and maybe there can be comfort taken in research that demonstrates that people figure out most of what they need to know simply from the way the other person enters the room (or piano teacher interview equivalent).

It's only natural to feel as if you don't really know someone purely from emails or telephone calls!

For the parent they need to feel confident they are entrusting their child to a competent adult/expert.

The teacher, on the other hand, needs to know what kind of interpersonal dynamic is going on between parent and child. This dynamic is the foundation for the practice that goes on between lessons, and it makes a world of difference when the teacher is aware of the pressures involved in that parent-child relationship.

In my experience parents don't care about your pianistic proficiency anywhere near as much as they care about how you and the child will get on, and whether the experience of taking piano lessons will be a joyous one in the life of their child.

And in terms of this 'who-has-the-power' question: that is something for you to determine! If you teach following the expert guidance of the parent ("I bought these books for my child to learn from this semester") you are a different kind of teacher than one whose pedagogical expertise is the touchstone for how things proceed.
_________________________
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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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#1361700 - 01/30/10 03:33 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
DancinDigits Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne


In my experience parents don't care about your pianistic proficiency anywhere near as much as they care about how you and the child will get on, and whether the experience of taking piano lessons will be a joyous one in the life of their child.


As a potential adult student who has taken lessons before, I am in a different situation than a parent or a child student. Perhaps this issue belongs in a different thread as I feel that we may be drifting OT?

Quote:
And in terms of this 'who-has-the-power' question: that is something for you to determine! If you teach following the expert guidance of the parent ("I bought these books for my child to learn from this semester") you are a different kind of teacher than one whose pedagogical expertise is the touchstone for how things proceed.


That's the problem. 'Who has the power' is something that never even entered my head until I started reading the PW forums. It really surprised me. It may not be intended to be so, but it comes across as a tug of war in the written word.

To me, it was and still is, essentially all about the music and the joy of it.

Like I said, perhaps I am a dreamer with nostalgic memories, but I always thought that mutual respect should be a given. Its a sad commentary to me that it is something that has to be enforced on either side of the issue - and using the word 'side' is a poor choice of words on my part for as I see it, it should be a relationship and not a us vs. them thing.

What I've been reading here has given me cause to adjust my thinking.
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1361710 - 01/30/10 03:54 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Dancin'Digits:

I wasn't responding directly to you, just to the discussion in general.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1361714 - 01/30/10 04:02 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: DancinDigits]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

Quote:
And in terms of this 'who-has-the-power' question: that is something for you to determine! If you teach following the expert guidance of the parent ("I bought these books for my child to learn from this semester") you are a different kind of teacher than one whose pedagogical expertise is the touchstone for how things proceed.


That's the problem. 'Who has the power' is something that never even entered my head until I started reading the PW forums. It really surprised me. It may not be intended to be so, but it comes across as a tug of war in the written word.

To me, it was and still is, essentially all about the music and the joy of it.


It should always be about the music.

However, the "who has the power" thing comes into the equation when a parent or student (usually here an adult) is a manipulative controlling person.

People who are not manipulative or controlling recognize that the teacher is the leader/authority figure, hopefully with an open door policy regarding feedback from the student or parent. This allows the proper relationship dynamic to exist and flourish.

But there are always control-freak-type people who for whatever reasons will not or cannot allow others to be in their rightful places of authority, such as allowing piano teachers to be in control of their studios, the teaching curriculum, etc.

I have had a few parents or adult students like that, and things never worked out. Instead, it was always a constant and unpleasant power struggle.

Therefore, I consider that type of behavior to be an important factor to notice when a teacher is about to enter into what could be a long-term position of authority in the other person's life.

This does not mean such people are to be turned away wholesale...but it is something to be aware of.

Originally Posted By: DancinDigits
Like I said, perhaps I am a dreamer with nostalgic memories, but I always thought that mutual respect should be a given. Its a sad commentary to me that it is something that has to be enforced on either side of the issue - and using the word 'side' is a poor choice of words on my part for as I see it, it should be a relationship and not a us vs. them thing.


Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. It should be a relationship of mutual respect, but some people will not allow that type of relationship in their lives.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1361730 - 01/30/10 04:31 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: rocket88]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: rocket88
People who are not manipulative or controlling recognize that the teacher is the leader/authority figure, hopefully with an open door policy regarding feedback from the student or parent. This allows the proper relationship dynamic to exist and flourish.

But there are always control-freak-type people who for whatever reasons will not or cannot allow others to be in their rightful places of authority, such as allowing piano teachers to be in control of their studios, the teaching curriculum, etc.


Not everybody feels as you do, Rocket88. I view the teacher-adult student relationship as a partnership. Of course piano teachers have the right to be in control of their studios, as well as to choose which students to enroll in their studio. But I think adult students *also* have the right to enter into a teaching relationship with a teacher who is compatible with their learning goals. I would not take lessons from a teacher who insisted on doing things only his or her way and teaching the standard classical curriculum, without allowing me any input into what pieces I'd be working on. Does that make me manipulative or a control freak? No--merely honest about what my goals for piano and what I am looking for in a teaching relationship. Maybe you didn't intend your post to come across as all-or-none as it did, or maybe I'm just overly sensitive to this issue.

Getting back to the O.P.'s topic, I agree that the initial interview is important. I also do not think it is unreasonable for parents to ask the prospective teacher to play something. The teacher should then feel free to demur, though I must be honest and say that would give me pause. One of my goals for lessons, either for myself or my children, is to teach students to enjoy be comfortable performing music in informal and formal settings. I would hope that the music teacher could model and facilitate such an attitude.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1361737 - 01/30/10 04:48 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Monica K.]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: rocket88
People who are not manipulative or controlling recognize that the teacher is the leader/authority figure, hopefully with an open door policy regarding feedback from the student or parent. This allows the proper relationship dynamic to exist and flourish.

But there are always control-freak-type people who for whatever reasons will not or cannot allow others to be in their rightful places of authority, such as allowing piano teachers to be in control of their studios, the teaching curriculum, etc.


Not everybody feels as you do, Rocket88. I view the teacher-adult student relationship as a partnership. Of course piano teachers have the right to be in control of their studios, as well as to choose which students to enroll in their studio. But I think adult students *also* have the right to enter into a teaching relationship with a teacher who is compatible with their learning goals. I would not take lessons from a teacher who insisted on doing things only his or her way and teaching the standard classical curriculum, without allowing me any input into what pieces I'd be working on. Does that make me manipulative or a control freak? No--merely honest about what my goals for piano and what I am looking for in a teaching relationship. Maybe you didn't intend your post to come across as all-or-none as it did, or maybe I'm just overly sensitive to this issue.


Monica, I don't know if you are overly sensitive, but I did not intend my post to come off as you describe, which is why I put this in:

hopefully with an open door policy regarding feedback from the student or parent. This allows the proper relationship dynamic to exist and flourish.

Also, you wrote:

I view the teacher-adult student relationship as a partnership.

But I am referring to both teacher-adult student relationships, and parents of children - teacher relationships.

Regarding the parents of children, most know nothing about anything vis-a-vis teaching piano. Yet even so, feedback from them is always welcome with me.

Regarding adults, I have several adult students who "partner" with me vis-a-vis their goals and how they can achieve them. None of whom want to go pro, except one maybe, most just want to play for pleasure, and they typically play a variety of music...check my signature...I teach much more than classical...everything except Jazz.

And I tell all my students, young and older, that if they really do not like a suggested piece, there are others from which to choose.

Thus, a student sharing with the teacher one's goals, one's curriculum likes and dislikes, etc, does not make that a person a control freak in my view...it makes them a wise student.

But if the adult student or parent is a true control freak, or has some other type of issue, such as an inability to accept leadership, then there is no partnership...instead there is a power struggle.

That is what I am trying to say...such people do exist, and you cannot have a healthy working relationship with them as piano teacher/student.

In other words, true hard-core control freaks are a whole different ballgame than students sharing and communicating goals, etc.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1361770 - 01/30/10 05:49 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: rocket88]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks, Rocket. I think I *was* being overly sensitive, because I let your "control freak" reference overwhelm the "open door policy regarding feedback" part of your post. Sorry! I do agree with the substance of both your posts.

The initial interview is an excellent opportunity for BOTH halves of the teacher-student relationship to make sure they have found a reasonable partner in the learning journey and not the control freak that you describe, which I also agree do exist--on both sides. wink
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1361931 - 01/30/10 10:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Rachel J]
KrAYZEE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 83
Loc: Los Angeles


Ms. Jimenez,

What a wonderful alternative you are to some of the other viewpoints expressed here. I'm fortunate that all of my former teachers on four different instruments have shown viewpoints closer to yours or I would despair for the fate of music education.

When any aspect of music is stripped of it's humanity or its magic and is reduced to pure commerce, it dies.

The following, written by a recorder player and teacher named Drora Bruck illustrates this.

Why studying music crucial in our lives - especially today.
I know this heading for a blog entry seems a little fancy, and maybe somewhat pretentious…but coming home after teaching quite a few hours everyday, to different people, in different manners, I remain, still and always in awe, when i see the impact good music has on people.

Being a recorder teacher and player I have the chance to work with very young children at a very basic stage. Usually I get this fantastic opportunity to make, with them, their first steps in this fascinating world, walking hand in hand with them on this new road leading to infinity.

We live in a strange world today - in which everything comes fast and goes away fast. Our food cooks within seconds, we get to places kilometers away from our house in a very short time (ok, not at rush hour), we move from one activity to the other in no time, we drown in information that is thrown at us from every direction…and life is becoming quick and in a way worthless..since everything comes and goes. And if everything is of such short value - maybe us too?

So, when we teach music, we allow little children to meet a world which has it’s own time - because music is an art form which relys upon time, needs time, is coherent only if you listen and allow the piece to unfold infront of you…one cannot hasten music - one cannot look quickly at the last page to know what was the conclusion…music is not about the ending - music is about the process…

I find myself playing for these internet oriented children, little people who were born into this world of instanity - or, if I may, insanity - and I see how every muscle in their body relaxes, how their eyes are fixed upon me, and their ears seek the next sound…

I cannot help feeling that music, and complex music, the one that operates the senses, the passions and the brain, reunites us, reunites them with what this fast world makes us yearn for - stability, solidity, lastingness, balance…

so, studying music is crucial for our inner need of feeling that something out there is worth waiting for - and giving time to - and if there is, maybe it is us?

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#1362015 - 01/31/10 02:52 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: KrAYZEE]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Hey there, adult students who are being all distressed at the idea that teaching the piano is not always an experience of mutual joy and celebration of the beauty and meaning that music can bring:

The attitude you have to learning the piano is not necessarily shared by all the children and parents of the world.

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and ask "I've been learning the piano as long as my friend - why can they play better than me? Is it because you are holding me back?"?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "My mum used to learn from this book when she was a piano student, and this is the only book I want to learn from."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I've been learning for 12 months now, I think it's time you gave me a loyalty discount."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I know you asked me to practice it this way, but my grandma plays the piano and she told me that I should do it like this."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "My boss thinks I should learn different pieces to the ones we are preparing."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I didn't do the practice you assigned because I think you are wrong."?

Or any number of RIDICULOUS suggestions which imply that the student and/or parent of the student has decided to disrespect you as a teacher.

The difference in one's ability to actually teach when students and parents deeply respect your expertise and integrity (as compared to when students and parents are constantly second guessing you) is phenomenal.

Maybe you are uncomfortable with the idea that piano teachers experience manipulation and disrespect - well, hello, piano teachers feel the same way.

Don't start me on the disrespect that piano teachers are shown - and the very real and deep need for piano teachers to value themselves enough to refuse to be treated with that (or any other) kind of disrespect.




Edited by Elissa Milne (01/31/10 02:53 AM)
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#1362021 - 01/31/10 03:18 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Reading this last post, one can't help but come to the conclusion that perhaps the problem is that piano teachers are too much of loners with underdeveloped interpersonal skills and are too insecure? Or, perhaps they are too little schooled in pedagogical concepts that are based on the hard science that learning can only proceed from the motivation and involvement of the student? Or perhaps they should have been born 150 years ago in Russia or Germany when people and culture was very different indeed than today and they could have lain down the law demanding silence and issuing corporal punishment?

If your judgement of questions that parents and students DARE to ask is that they are RIDICULOUS and DISRESPECTFUL!!! of you as a teacher, then perhaps the problem is not with the parent/student but with YOU?

If you think you have it tough being a piano teacher, think about being a physician or a business consultant in the internet/google age when everyone can (attempt to) educate themselves, second guess you and "play doctor." However, ask yourself, is it really such a bad thing when people try to educate themselves, think for themselves and want to take an active role in their learning process? If you are diagnosed with cancer and you try to educate yourself on your options, can you imagine your oncologist having a tizzy fit because you had the gall to ask him questions based on your own process of becoming aware?

Perhaps instead of having a negative emotional reaction and playing the role of victim, you could use these personal interactions as learning moments to better understand your clients and as opporunities to educate your students and/or parent customers?

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#1362026 - 01/31/10 03:39 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: theJourney]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
HAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Yeah, I think the "but grandma says it's like this not the way you said" kind of sums it up re how much the child/parent thinks the teacher knows what they are doing.

I also think that NO ONE would suggest to a doctor that after using their services for a while that they be given a discount!

As compared to the professionals you list, many piano teachers work in their own homes, and having someone come into your place of residence with an aggressive attitude can be somewhat more daunting than in an official place of work. And somehow the parents of students can be terribly more aggressive in the piano teachers home than they ever would be in a school environment.

Honestly, get over it, non-piano teachers!! The range of attitudes parents respond in relation to piano lessons is amazing. Some parents genuinely want their child to prosper as a human being and music/piano education is part of that prospering. Other parents, on the other hand, expect the child to become a competitive performer from day one. Other parents are only providing piano lessons for the child because they 'don't want to feel they didn't give them a little music', and these parents have no interest in supporting the practice required for the child to make progress. Some parents only get involved when they realise some other child at school is more advanced in piano than their child is.

Freak out all you want about piano teachers discussing how to maintain an appropriate authority in the piano lesson. It's not your line of business, so you honestly have not had the experiences the lead to teachers having these kinds of discussions. It doesn't change the fact that it is important for piano teachers to understand how to communicate with confidence, especially when faced with belligerent determination to not follow the instructions of the teacher.

To piano teachers: If someone doesn't want your instruction, let them cease lessons. If someone does want your instruction, let them engage with you on respectful terms. There are no other alternatives.

To TheJourney: are you serious? Are you saying that is acceptable for students to say "I didn't practice the way you asked me to because you are wrong"? I like your comparison between piano teachers and oncologists, but I don't think you've taken each question I posted and thought about it in a cancer setting.

Do you really think a cancer patient would say to their doctor "I want to use the method they used on my mum when she had cancer thirtyfive years ago"?

Or, "I've had cancer longer than my friend, and she's getting better while I'm not - are you keeping me sick deliberately?"

I'm fascinated to hear your response! (And yes, piano teachers are very isolated, and that's why they need encouragement to respect themselves).
_________________________
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#1362028 - 01/31/10 03:40 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
And TheJourney - nice try suggesting the problem might be with me. Not buying into that kind of interpersonal powerplay!
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#1362031 - 01/31/10 03:50 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Frozenicicles Offline
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Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I also think that NO ONE would suggest to a doctor that after using their services for a while that they be given a discount!...Do you really think a cancer patient would say to their doctor "I want to use the method they used on my mum when she had cancer thirtyfive years ago"?

Or, "I've had cancer longer than my friend, and she's getting better while I'm not - are you keeping me sick deliberately?"


You'd be surprised. There are people who are that bad and worse. They simply don't know any better, and I believe it's wrong to take immediate offense to their ignorance.

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#1362032 - 01/31/10 03:53 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Unfortunately, the definition of "respect" changes from country to country, from culture to culture, from situation to situation. I almost hesitate to use that word because it's so loaded with connotations.

For example, in my own culture, because I'm younger than the parents of my students, I'm not supposed to get any "respect" from them. However, there's this other cultural norm to "respect" all teachers, so I am being treated like god by some of these parents. Seriously. Like god. As you can imagine, the most respectful parents produce the best piano students.

I'm currently working with students from another culture whose definition of "respect" is not found in the dictionary next to the word "respect." What do I do with them? I don't bother to use the word "respect." I have to use words that they can understand and terms they can relate to. "Respect" is not one of them.
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#1362034 - 01/31/10 04:05 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and ask "I've been learning the piano as long as my friend - why can they play better than me? Is it because you are holding me back?"?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "My mum used to learn from this book when she was a piano student, and this is the only book I want to learn from."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I've been learning for 12 months now, I think it's time you gave me a loyalty discount."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I know you asked me to practice it this way, but my grandma plays the piano and she told me that I should do it like this."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "My boss thinks I should learn different pieces to the ones we are preparing."?

Would you ever turn up to a piano lesson and say "I didn't do the practice you assigned because I think you are wrong."?


Wow! This just amazes me. I'm way too short-tempered to accept any of this.
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#1362051 - 01/31/10 05:27 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: AZNpiano]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Well I've just reread the thread and I have to say I'm puzzled as to where all of Elissa's anger is coming from. Have those things actually been said to her? Or are they just made-up examples of the sort of questions teachers shouldn't tolerate? Maybe my mind is a bit foggy tonight but I just don't get it. I don't see any of the non-teachers on this thread expressing anything of the sort.
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#1362062 - 01/31/10 06:05 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: AZNpiano]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Judging from a number of the "chip on the shoulder" posts from teachers, I am sure you are not alone.

However, the question that you might want to ask yourself is:

How might a mature professional respond to reality and react to these questions?

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."

"I've been learning the piano as long as my friend - why can they play better than me? Is it because you are holding me back?"

Do you feel you are being held back? How?

At the end of the day you are the one who will determine how fast and how far you go, I can only help you with that process. Shallwe discuss together potential ways for how you can be making faster progress?

Comparing yourself to someone else is a sure way to disappointment. Even a professional basketball player or concert pianist can point to someone else who plays better. Sometimes it is more effective to focus on you and your own playing rather than trying to make a competition out of it.

Have you talked to your friend about how he or she is practicing? Perhaps you might pick up some good tips. I bet they would also really appreciate it if you were to compliment them on their playing., You could also ask them for help to understand how they are achieving it. The practice room is usually where the biggest gains can be made. Most people are very willing to help someone when they ask for help.

"My mum used to learn from this book when she was a piano student, and this is the only book I want to learn from."?

How wonderful that your Mum also has taken piano lessons. I am sure she is quite proud of you for following in her footsteps. Let's take a look at this book together and see if we can find a piece to work on together right away that she might recognize -- I bet your Mum would be pleased! Would you like that?

Followed up by a call later to Mum to discuss.

"I've been learning for 12 months now, I think it's time you gave me a loyalty discount."?

Are you having trouble coming up with the tuition amount?Perhaps we can arrange shorter lessons or lessons less frequently to help you through your financial difficulties? I have several people on waiting list who would be delighted to hear there might be some lesson times freeing up.

OR

I only start giving loyalty discounts after 10 years, doing so earlier wouldn't be fair to the other students.

OR

I would be very happy to give you a loyalty discount which I always relate to loyalty for the coming year! By paying a full year's tuition in advance now I will provide you with x extra lessons for free which you can plan in at different times during the year, for example in the weeks leading up to exams.

"I know you asked me to practice it this way, but my grandma plays the piano and she told me that I should do it like this."

How wonderful that your grandmother also plays piano. What a wonderful legacy of music your family enjoys. You are so lucky to have family members who love you and encourage your piano learning. Why don't you show me exactly what your grandmother showed you and then have you compare it to what you remember me showing you and how you practiced last week. Perhaps we can both learn something! Or, perhaps the two methods are not so different after all. Let's take a look together!

"My boss thinks I should learn different pieces to the ones we are preparing."?

(joking) Gosh, is he your boss from work or your boss for everything?
What do you think about your bosses advice?
What kind of music would you ultimately like to be able to play well?


I didn't do the practice you assigned because I think you are wrong."

Perhaps the assignment was the wrong assignment for you right now. I thought you were ready for it, but I might have been wrong. This practice is after all more for the bigger boys. Maybe we need to go back a step.

OR

You might be right. After all, no one is perfect.
However, you need to help me understand you.
What is wrong about it?
(silence, get specifics)

OR

What did you do this week on the piano? Can you show me?

OR

(Personal Story time) When I was your age I thought the same thing as you at one point. But you know what I found out? Simply not doing the practice and telling my teacher she was "wrong" didn't help me and it didn't help her either. By not doing anything that week it just made me lose a week of practice. However, if I came back and gave here specific feedback about what worked, what didn't work and asking for her help worked better for both of us. Perhaps you can keep a notebook that you write in during and after each practice session so you can remember your thoughts to discuss them with me here. Don't be afraid to be honest and tell me whatever you see as being a block.

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#1362070 - 01/31/10 06:39 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: theJourney]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
(Edited because I wasn't enthusiastic enough about TheJourney's responses above!!!)

These are GREAT suggestions for responses to each of these points, TheJourney. In fact, they are a PERFECT guide to teachers who feel they don't know how to manage the powerplays that go on in lessons.... Every single one of your answers does all the right things to get the ball back into the teacher's court: acknowledge the question/statement being made by the parent/student, tackle the issues implicit in it right up front, move on to suggestions to move forward. Brilliant. And I would say, make this list mandatory reading for any new teacher as a guide to handling these moments.

My point was not that appropriate responses are impossible, simply that each of these types of question presupposes the teacher has not given thought to the lesson in the first place, or for some reason does not have the interest of the student at heart (i.e. they are disrespectful). This is very confronting for inexperienced teachers especially, who really do have an enormous desire to do good with their teaching, to impact positively on the lives of their students, and so forth - but then they are made to feel (by some parents) that their expertise, their research, their planning is irrelevant.

Maybe this is a cultural issue: most of the parents I deal with come from certain cultural backgrounds where teachers are treated with high respect, a few parents I deal with simply treat teachers with common decency. A few parents along the way have behaved abominably (my favourite in this category was the suggestion that because I was single and childless I should charge less for tuition than if I were raising children).

Currawong, not angry (sorry if anyone felt scorched by wrath). I've posted in amazement at the self-righteous responses from those who are not teachers to the idea that a piano teacher needs to be careful as to how power relationships play out. I suspected that maybe these people had no idea the kinds of things that are said to teachers which very much go against the vibe of "isn't music wonderful". I have heard so many stories from piano teachers around various (non-North American) parts of the world, and many many teachers struggle with these issues in their day-to-day teaching. Lots of teachers just love the piano and want to share that, but are not quite up to the stress of students actively doubting their ability to teach, or parents announcing that the curriculum needs to be changed.

I don't think that finding these things hard to handle proves that piano teachers are dysfunctional, TheJourney. I think it proves that one-on-one aggression can be hard to handle, especially if the teacher is somewhat inexperienced, and the lessons are occurring in the teacher's home.


Edited by Elissa Milne (01/31/10 06:52 AM)
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#1362071 - 01/31/10 06:44 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Meantime: "chip on the shoulder piano teachers": well, that's one way to interpret teachers being honest about the issues they face (frequently without collegiate support of any kind).

It's not a particularly understanding judgement on the struggles being discussed in this forum, but there you go.
_________________________
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#1362141 - 01/31/10 10:53 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
MomOfBeginners Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 114
Loc: California, USA
Presumably, not all your parents feel like they have to tell you how to teach. Out of curiosity, how many parents ask you "My boss thinks I should learn different pieces..." type of questions versus the parents who have total trust in your decisions?

Of course, the way you've worded these questions ("my grandma plays the piano this way...") is humourous and offensive at the same time. All questions probably lie in some range within the tactfulness spectrum.

Really, what would your recommendations be for a parent who feels that something isn't being covered? Maybe it's that you don't feel it's the appropriate time for that material to be covered. I think the parent can be put at ease with that proper explanation. It's not necessarily the parent second-guessing your decision, but just that the parent wants to know you've already thought about it.



Added afterwards: By "offensive", I did not mean that I am offended. I meant that I can see the teacher feeling offended.


Edited by MomOfBeginners (01/31/10 12:24 PM)
Edit Reason: Added for clarity
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#1362151 - 01/31/10 11:04 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
There are thousands of people with umpteen background reading this thread in myriad ways. Some may be (prospective) parents or students identifying with the same, read the frustration and anger and feel it will be directed at them. One can't have a proper picture unless "walking in someone's shoes" (though sometimes maybe we can have an idea). While there are pitfalls to the staff room coming into the open, this is also a chance where we can learn from each other. It may be that someone having read and understood some of what has been posted here can approach a teacher with more understanding and less chance of miscommunication. Or vice versa.

There is a chance that we can harbour preconceptions about the role, the person, or the process - teacher, student, or both - never get past those preconceptions, see things through the lense of those preconceptions, and continue to miss each other. If a dent can be made in this where it exists, that would be a good thing.

I realize that this is condensed to the point of barely being comprehensible. I have written way too much in the past two years and am not convinced that I made sense during my own journey of coming to grips with some of these things. So it stays condensed. At best maybe it makes a bit of sense.


Edited by keystring (01/31/10 11:06 AM)
Edit Reason: (added "or vice versa")

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#1362175 - 01/31/10 11:23 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I am not a piano teacher but I do not find Elissa's experience too peculiar. The questions she listed probably reflect genuine ignorance, with a dash of mean-spiritidness and distrust. This is not all that uncommon and I find that it more commonly targets women professionals.
But such inquiries should not be taken personally , nor should they be allowed to undermine the teacher's self confidence. That is a bigger problem than the silly discourteous questions.
By the way, I find Journey's repsonses to be too passive aggressive and sometimes frankly mean. smile. Not always a good strategy. Even ignoramuses will pick on that..
In my profession, I get questioned a lot because I do not fit the stereotype in people's minds. I get interrogated about my training, I receive advice as to how to do my job and people do not hesitate at the end of a 30 minute discussion to ask me again if I am really the "only" person they are supposed to meet.All this and they are meeting me in a very professional place where I would not stand a chance to be if I were not properly credentialed and high performing..
So take heart..

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#1362178 - 01/31/10 11:26 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: MomOfBeginners]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: MomOfBeginners

Really, what would your recommendations be for a parent who feels that something isn't being covered?

Two words as both someone who has taught one-on-one, and who freelances (and is/was a student)

Client education.

The trouble with "what isn't being covered" is that there is also an underlying idea of what should be covered, how you will see that it is being covered - a concept of the educational process itself. I am thinking both as a teacher and as student / parent of student (now grown).

As teacher I once brought a girl labeled as LD up several levels in reading by addressing where her problems actually lay. It had something to do with timing, trying to see everything at once, and fear. We did some unconventional things, and in the third month the girl came skipping up the stairs, saying she had tried reading every book in the classroom and saw that she could read them all. Her mother was disturbed because learning should be tedious, not fun. The child was withdrawn and placed in a program that used workbooks because it "looked like education".

As student & parent it was not always clear that we were being taught because some things can come in subliminally through the back door. You may be asked to do something that seems trivial or senseless, and not know that while you are doing it you are acquiring an understanding of some aspect of theory which later you might learn formally. It may be that the teacher next door who seems a fount of efficiency is actually teaching less deeply. (or not)

Another word: Trust

This one is tricky, because there are teachers who know how to teach, others who don't, and some who do it so-so. If something doesn't seem to be going well, maybe it isn't. Or maybe we just have the wrong expectation of what should be happening. On the other hand, take the "transfer student" we read about who comes in playing three or four pieces impressively with every hand motion choreographed and numbers written in the sheet music, but who cannot read music, interpret music, or have any of the basic skills that teachers say this student should have after several years of study. Has that former teacher cynically (or naively) taught toward parent expectation and abandoned what is necessary in the way of tools - because those tools are uninteresting and not readily understood?

You must entrust yourself to the teacher and work with that teacher, doing what they suggest, how they suggest it, for it to work. But some teachers are not trustworthy and how can we tell? Our "four piece virtuoso" who has the next teacher pulling out her hair was convinced he was progressing.

What do we need? To educate ourselves?

(Dang - verbose after all)

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#1362198 - 01/31/10 11:47 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5450
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I'm one of the non-piano teachers who read this thread and got the impression that some of the teachers here are angry, defensive, and that they think piano teachers are a group apart smile I've gotten that impression from other threads. I don't think *all* of the teachers are, but many in this thread sound that way to me.

My thoughts -

Yes, this is often like a teachers lounge. But it's - public. So, if one uses a name by which one can be identified it's probably a good idea to respond to this thread with that in mind. If you would only normally say these things in a teachers-only-it-goes-no-further-than-here teachers lounge, then it probably shouldn't be said here. At least not in some of the ways it's said in this thread. Just a caution.

The internet is a written medium. So it is in many ways easier to read something differently than the writer thinks they mean. We have no body language to help interpret the words. Sometimes we have some history, here on this forum, with a poster, that influences the way we interpret them. Sometimes not. So it takes more thought about how a post is going to be received than, again, talking with other teachers in a teachers lounge.

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.

Just some thoughts.

Cathy
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#1362209 - 01/31/10 12:06 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne


These are GREAT suggestions for responses to each of these points, TheJourney. In fact, they are a PERFECT guide to teachers who feel they don't know how to manage the powerplays that go on in lessons....


Why does one have to think of them as "powerplays"? I don't think Journey's responses sounded like they were being interpreted that way.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/31/10 12:06 PM)

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#1362226 - 01/31/10 12:25 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I don't really get what the whole "powerplay" thing is about. Sometimes parents have questions and concerns, so they voice them. Sometimes I have questions and concerns, so I voice them.

I had a difficult situation a few years ago, so I talked to the parent about it. She was upset, and though I was not at fault, she decided to discontinue lessons. That's her prerogative. I felt bad for a few days, but I got over it.

This, by the way, is another reason I hold two recitals each year and have students enter festivals. My students' performance success is the proof in the pudding. It's the feedback I need to know I'm doing a good job, and it's the feed back parents need to know they're getting quality lessons for their kids.

If my students played a recital and they all crashed and burned, had memory slips and didn't sound any better than they did 6 months ago, then I would be very worried indeed.

I'm about to get another report card next Sunday. Our state auditions are next Sunday, and I have 90% of my students entered. (I usually don't enter first year beginners. I think it's too early for an adjudicated event.) We'll see what the judge's comments say. Then we'll get back to work for our next performance, and my next report card, at our spring recital in May.
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#1362243 - 01/31/10 12:49 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Elissa is very clearly to me, an experieced piano teacher with huge talents. I say this just from her postings in the piano teachers forum, not from the reputation she holds in the world of music which I am just beginning to learn about.

Elissa is savvy and reality oriented. I find myself almost completely in alignment with her views. I'm sure she knows pedagogy and teaching to the max and has many, many things that work in her teaching, she is responsive, she is organized, structure, thinks, walks and talks like an educated and aware piano teach with lots of experience and a fine reputation. When someone things 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.

What is not being understood in this topic by people who are not piano teachers is that 1) we teach, many of us in our homes, and 2)we conduct a self-employed business according where we are the sole proprietors.

These two things are separate entities. Both of these things require a strong sense of values and operations. Our intentions are to accomplish your goals and to teach to the best of our abilities within the framework we have devised for ourselves. It is not debatable in our private studios, it stands as policy and method of operation.

We have to be well prepared and well disciplined in both areas.

In both areas we are operating from our professional level of what we deem important and necessary to conduct both the teaching and the business enterprise.

We are not open to every person who would ask us to make changes for them, nor are we open to allowing a difficult, negative, or undermining person into our enterprise. The minute there is true disrespect or someone making waves they need to be dealt with and perhaps removed from our enterprise. We do not have to suffer fools.

The music pathway is precious to all of us as musicians and as teachers. It is a challenging and adventurous path to want to become a musician and it is a seriousness of purpose both on the part of the teacher, the student and the parent who supports everyone in this endeavor.

We need to base our experiences together on trust, building a working relationship with each other, communicating to understand each other and to resolve issues or problems when they occur. We more forward with purpose.

What the adults and non-teachers do not understand about us is that we have a purpose, a passion, a lifetime dedication to bringing musical accomplishments to people who only dreamed about it.

All the other "crap" we get is about people's ego's and wanting to be heard, or to actually be incontrol of what happens during their piano lesson. Well, shop for that and find it if you can if that is your main criteria for having lessons. Recreation would be a good name for that. It is a different kind of teaching than giving someone a music education.

But, when you see a tried and true blue piano teacher, don't think that you get to decimate our chosen work, our attitudes, our philosophies, based on our long term experiences in music, which is usually from our childhood forward to today's present moment, with idle chatter and somewhat limited experiences and attitudes to music education.

I don't think people such as the one's we are hearing from really belong in our studio's - they need the alternative in music. So if we accept only the students who present their best foot forward to us, we don't really have to under take trying to educate the lesson common denominators who would only cause us flare and discontent.

It's easy enough to spot positives and negatives in interviews, don't you think, teachers? And, it's easy enough to spot them here on the forum. We don't owe one more word to defending ourselves to anyone. And, unfortunately, it's getting to be almost daily around here!

Betty Patnude

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#1362260 - 01/31/10 01:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
DancinDigits Offline
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Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
As you pointed out, jotur, we only have the written word to go by around here. It has its limitations and through them, its problems. I am at an added disadvantage for I am new here and don't have the benefit of 'knowing' the other posters.

On a separate issue and addressing some points in general:

We live in a world of all types, and as such, all of us are going to encounter them in just about every walk of life. No one group of people is made up of the nice guys. You are going to find the pains just about everywhere you go no matter who you are and what your profession/line of work is in life.

The trick here is to not allow the bad experiences to shade other relationships, esp. those relationships that are new and have yet to develop. And I think that that is part of the problem that I am seeing here - some people have 'had enough' and so they are taking the 'never again' stance. While this is understandable, defensiveness, suspicion and the need to take control so that it doesn't happen again can negatively impact a relationship.

I have no problems with being regarded with a certain amount of questioning and uncertainty when I am a new acquintance. We are new to one another and there is a 'getting to know' you period.

OTOH, I do have a problem with being regarded with suspicion and with the attitude of 'if I don't lay down the law NOW, this new student will take advantage of me so I better let them know from the start who is in charge here' type thinking. It is an insult to me to judge me by either 1. the bad behavior of others in general or 2. by the bad behavior of those who may, in some way, be associated with me (such as the bad behavior of adult students). It would be the same as if I walked into the studio of a new teacher, and because I had a bad experience with a past teacher or teachers, I must now protect myself from this new teacher who just may behave as badly.

Teachers can indeed behave just as badly as students and/or parents. Like I said - there are pains in every walk of life.

Distrust above and beyond a certain degree, suspicion and defensiveness does a new acquaintence an injustice and is not supportive of a good working relationship. If that relationship is to work, there must to a certain degree trust and respect coming from both sides.

The 'my way or the highway' attitude doesn't work any better then the 'you are the hired help, I am your boss' attitude. Both are obnoxious. I, personally, want to participate in none of it. Its my hope that such attitudes are the exception to the rule rather than the norm. Otherwise I'd give up on the hope of ever taking lessons again.

Minniemay - If I misread your post, my apologies.
_________________________
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#1362265 - 01/31/10 01:23 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"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. Maybe, at that, it does cast some light on the behavior of my most recent piano teacher, if this is the way people behave toward teachers these days. I cast it, after a period of reflection, as "bitter divorcee syndrome," and maybe I was not so far off, if not quite in the bulls-eye; the two are kissing cousins. Whatever. I want no part of it.

I came up in a time and place where one would never speak disrespectfully to a teacher--- and indeed, my teachers (as a rule) met their responsibilities and were worthy of my respect. They were also respectful of, and patient and persevering with me as a young student. Of course, more is known about pedagogy now, thanks to research and better pedagogical education. Reading back on the state of the technology a hundred or a hundred-and-fifty years ago, it is clear that things have come a long way. Maybe the word hasn't reached everyone.

So, what is this mud-wrestling match? It is hard to see anyone who comes out a winner, and the one ends up as covered with mud as the other.

It is no great news flash that kids (and dogs; and in fact, most of us) do better when there is structure. Nor is it news that professional teachers operate a business according to a stated contract and within standards of conduct that apply to all--- at least, it isn't to me. A person could get thrown out of any hash-house if they went in and started a food-fight. But anyone who sets boundaries, no matter how healthy or beneficial, can expect to have them challenged and probed; that is how their location is defined and discovered.

Part of the expected ethical conduct of a private teacher is not to accept money by admitting students who are unable to benefit, just as the old saying about 'teaching a pig to sing' reminds us (if we could interview a pig). But every protest or delinquency is not about dissing the teacher, and those 'example questions' that get to the root of what the problem really is, are brilliant. They would work. They express the actual 'leading out' dynamic of real education; you could say they actually express 'leading beyond.'

Doesn't it beat the stuffing out of taking a snit and having a meltdown because your 'authority is challenged'? A real authority in a teacher would keep ahead of such a situation and divert this energy into a more productive direction before it came to this.


Edited by Jeff Clef (01/31/10 05:46 PM)
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#1362273 - 01/31/10 01:33 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Kreisler]
DancinDigits Offline
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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
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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
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#1362345 - 01/31/10 02:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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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
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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: 5903
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.
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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
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
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
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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
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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: 5903
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 Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
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
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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
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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
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
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.
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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 Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5450
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
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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
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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.
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#1362661 - 01/31/10 09:23 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
currawong Offline
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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)
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#1362665 - 01/31/10 09:29 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
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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.
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#1362669 - 01/31/10 09:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
currawong Offline
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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.
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#1362671 - 01/31/10 09:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Betty Patnude]
Elissa Milne Offline
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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!!!
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#1362673 - 01/31/10 09:36 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
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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'?
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#1362674 - 01/31/10 09:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
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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 Online   blank
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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
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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
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#1362681 - 01/31/10 09:47 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
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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
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#1362688 - 01/31/10 09:55 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Elissa Milne Offline
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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).
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#1362697 - 01/31/10 10:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
MsAdrienne Offline
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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.
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#1362712 - 01/31/10 10:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
jotur Online   blank
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
...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).


For me, some understanding that, among others, teachers of other subjects have also dealt with these issues, would go a long ways toward *some* piano teachers not appearing to think piano teachers are so uniquely burdened, or so uniquely situated in the human condition smile

I will, oh dear, reiterate - the internet is a written means of communication. Largely, it is communication among relative strangers to each other. It seems to me to be important to qualify one's assertions, as currawong has pointed out. It is important, because there are no other cues besides the written word, to say "some" students are or can be problems, rather than approaching one's answers in a thread as if they apply universally, or even that you yourself apply them to every situation with your students.

I think one of the questions asked earlier, which I haven't seen addressed, is also important - are the views of students and their parents important? If so, it seems to me that many of the posters in this thread have relevant viewpoints for that very reason, so statements about how their participation makes it impossible to discuss the issue seem silly to me.

And I will say, once again (I can be really repetitive) - anything you say here that can be found by, oh, say, a potential student, probably will be. This is a public, in a really big way, forum. As Betty has found out, one need only Google one's user name to find that one's comments on PW come up pretty fast smile So if some of us have thought your comments might be a little abrasive, some of your potential students may also find them that way.

Of course, it is entirely possible that you and Betty don't want those students any way laugh None of us is a perfect fit for everyone.

Cathy
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#1362715 - 01/31/10 10:18 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
jotur Online   blank
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Originally Posted By: MsAdrienne
or while hoisting an intake manifold from a pickup truck).


Thank you, MsAdrienne. I just have an enormous respect for the job my auto mechanic does, and the amount of knowledge it takes to do it. And he's great on the business end, too smile

Cathy
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#1362716 - 01/31/10 10:21 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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I heard that a good mechanic is worth their weight in gold. I agree. smile
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#1362725 - 01/31/10 10:32 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
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Loc: northern California
"Are the views of students and their parents important?" asked by Cathy.
Yes! Why would the interviewing process not be a 2-way street?
A student and parent come to a teacher for an interview. The goal is to determine if this is a good fit for student and teacher. The teacher must be straight-forward in presenting what she has to offer. Student and/or parent must express what they are looking for and what their needs are. How else can the interview really be effective?
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#1362732 - 01/31/10 10:40 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Barb860]
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Barb860
"Are the views of students and their parents important?" asked by Cathy.
Yes! Why would the interviewing process not be a 2-way street?
A student and parent come to a teacher for an interview. The goal is to determine if this is a good fit for student and teacher. The teacher must be straight-forward in presenting what she has to offer. Student and/or parent must express what they are looking for and what their needs are. How else can the interview really be effective?


+1, Barb!

This seems so obvious to me that I am truly perplexed at the amount of disagreement that is going on in this thread. confused
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#1362830 - 02/01/10 12:48 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
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Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
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.


Well, I've worked for several "plastic" people whose tone and body language are well controlled. So I do have to read between the lines, so to speak.

They imply; I infer.
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#1362835 - 02/01/10 12:52 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
saerra Offline
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Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: currawong
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.


Thanks Currawong. I was thinking about that too - I specifically remember a thread (that I can't find now - argh!) where teachers were lamenting, "why do students stay so long with bad teachers"?

For someone that knows nothing about piano, it can be extremely difficult/impossible to know if your teacher is actually "good". You have no way to evaluate that (especially when this is your first teacher - how can you possibly judge?)

And, you hit on part of what bugs me - there are teachers who give the impression that it's disrespectful to question your teacher, or even consider they may not be excellent. But, we clearly see that NOT all teachers are excellent, or even competent. And, there's no magic way to determine which is which.

Elissa - I don't think you're getting it. The irony is that you are complaining about the lack of respect you get, yet you continue to engage people here in the same manner.

Your response to me starts with "Oh brother" and continues later with (again) "Get over it." Do you honestly not see how ironic that is?

Do you not see how, if you were interested in the slightest in coming to a mutual understanding with the non-teachers here, you might possibly choose less dismissive language? I mean, how would you react if you were trying to discuss something with a student, and they rolled their eyes and muttered, "Oh brother"?

At any rate, I've said my peace. I'm very grateful for the teachers here that are helpful, and have taken the time to explain things, calmly, to use about how their lives work - like Currawong and Kreisler. Thanks guys 3hearts

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#1362838 - 02/01/10 12:54 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Barb860]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Student and/or parent must express what they are looking for and what their needs are.


Ah, here lies the problem!

1) Parents who flip-flop on their stated goals.
2) Parents who promise to help, but never do.
3) Parents whose piano goals are not the same as their kids' goals.
4) Parents who just want to keep up with the Joneses in the piano department.
5) Parents with unrealistic goals and crazy expectations.
6) Parents who flake out.
7) Parents who are too afraid to talk to you, so they have their kid make the phone calls to reschedule lessons

I can list 80 more problems. From the first three years of teaching piano, I've seen it all.
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#1362873 - 02/01/10 01:38 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11582
Loc: Canada
I was asked why I had deleted my post. Frankly, because it seemed useless. But I'll try to reconstitute it.
Quote:
There are ... new teachers ...who would love to have some experienced advice as to how to approach their teaching.

This was put forth two years ago when we discussed participation in the Teacher Forum. When a teacher asks her peers for advice, then her colleagues need room to be heard as they are in lesser numbers. By and large this has been respected. Side issues tend to pop up at a later time. In this thread a newish teacher was facing the prospect of an impending interview with trepidation, so that was the case.

If a question is asked involving parents, and if parents can give feedback on what they actually do find important, then surely that is a useful thing to have. There was concern of being judged, and some non-teachers wrote in to say that they were not looking to judge or control: perhaps that can be a reassuring thing?

Quote:
... 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.

Roughly this is also what some of us would find important: that the teacher knows what she is doing. When John used the word "leadership" this is what I pictured.
Quote:
How does a teacher work effectively as an educator when their expertise is being called into question?

This is the key to where it went funny. Some teachers were addressing the scenario of an interview where the teacher is being challenged, while the reader was picturing the scenario of an interview with a reasonable parent - in that light some attitudes seemed kilter. It only makes sense if you have a matching parental attitude. The actual situation did not involve hostile parents, only the fear that there might be.

On the other hand, here (below) we are no longer talking about an interview, are we?

Quote:
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.


Does the interview fit into this? Can it help prevent some of this from happening? Anything else?

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#1362909 - 02/01/10 02:23 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Anybody done any short posts I can read?
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#1362918 - 02/01/10 02:31 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: saerra]
Elissa Milne Offline
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No one is suggesting that students shouldn't ask questions. Students who don't ask questions don't tend to learn all that much, as it turns out. Parents who ask questions are fantastic too!! There is nothing I love more. The interview at the start should be the start of a relationship of exchange of ideas and reflections.

That first interview creates the framework from which both teacher and student can build a relationship of mutual respect. If the teacher stops respecting the student for some reason (maybe the student fails to make any effort) or if the student stops respecting the teacher then the relationship ceases to be productive.

It's obviously a revelation to some participants in this forum that not every student is the ideal and that not every parent is a joy with whom to work. I note that there is a thread in another forum discussing whether or not smoking marijuana enhances one's practice. That was a revelation to me today, and I learned a lot from that discussion thread. As I know nothing about smoking marijuana I didn't contribute to the discussion.
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#1362919 - 02/01/10 02:33 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: AZNpiano]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Student and/or parent must express what they are looking for and what their needs are.


Ah, here lies the problem!

1) Parents who flip-flop on their stated goals.
2) Parents who promise to help, but never do.
3) Parents whose piano goals are not the same as their kids' goals.
4) Parents who just want to keep up with the Joneses in the piano department.
5) Parents with unrealistic goals and crazy expectations.
6) Parents who flake out.
7) Parents who are too afraid to talk to you, so they have their kid make the phone calls to reschedule lessons

I can list 80 more problems. From the first three years of teaching piano, I've seen it all.


Great start to a list of challenges piano teachers face. But I think you've summed up the most common reasons for problems in on-going progress in the learning process.
_________________________
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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#1363174 - 02/01/10 11:41 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keyboardklutz]
DancinDigits Offline
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Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Anybody done any short posts I can read?


LOL!!!!!
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#1363226 - 02/01/10 12:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
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Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Student and/or parent must express what they are looking for and what their needs are.


Ah, here lies the problem!

1) Parents who flip-flop on their stated goals.
2) Parents who promise to help, but never do.
3) Parents whose piano goals are not the same as their kids' goals.
4) Parents who just want to keep up with the Joneses in the piano department.
5) Parents with unrealistic goals and crazy expectations.
6) Parents who flake out.
7) Parents who are too afraid to talk to you, so they have their kid make the phone calls to reschedule lessons

I can list 80 more problems. From the first three years of teaching piano, I've seen it all.


ARGHH!!!! The above mentioned things happen which drive us teachers crazy.
But none of it can be predicted at an initial interview, right?
We come to an agreement and begin instruction. Whether or not all hell breaks loose after the interview is another story.
Then we part ways or sit down to regroup.
As John calls it, "the cat and dog thing in the studio" in my opinion can be difficult, if not impossible, to predict.
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#1363265 - 02/01/10 01:21 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
There are ... new teachers ...who would love to have some experienced advice as to how to approach their teaching.

This was put forth two years ago when we discussed participation in the Teacher Forum. When a teacher asks her peers for advice, then her colleagues need room to be heard as they are in lesser numbers. By and large this has been respected. Side issues tend to pop up at a later time. In this thread a newish teacher was facing the prospect of an impending interview with trepidation, so that was the case.


Speaking only for myself, I participate on this forum to share lessons learned over 30 years of trials and tribulations with other teachers, especially those who are relatively new to the teaching profession. I don't view this as a debating society where we can practice our skills in that department.

From time to time, a problem posted by a parent or adult student reminds me of something one of my parents/students went through and if I have the time, I try to share with them.

Even though those were my original goals, and continue to be my primary goals, I have learned much listening to others on this forum, which is why I voted to keep the teacher's forum open to all.

Because this is a piano oriented forum, it attracts readership from many adult students, and many of them participate with opinions on teaching issues. Many of these suggestions are valuable, however, we should not forget that in the population at large, adult piano students represent less than 5% of all piano students, in fact, probably less than 1% (it's hard to get an accurate number). Most of us deal day in and day out with issues concerning our students' learning and these students are generally grades 2 to 8, with a severe drop off for high school aged students. Folks, primary school students learn differently than secondary school students who learn differently than adults. That's why the public school systems certify teachers for teaching at the different levels.

As we discuss issues, we teachers are primarily thinking of our 7 - 15 year old students, not the occasional adult student. This is not to minimize the importance of how to teach adults, it's just that's not where most of us are coming from.

There are also a number of parents who participate on this forum. Piano*Dad comes to mind as an individual who has provided insightful commentary time after time. Comments such as he provides are extremely valuable to teachers. Keep 'em coming!

Many of us teachers are full-time. We need a living income. Not only do we have on-going business expenses, such as maintaining our instruments (for my studio, 4 tunings a year times 3 pianos at $120 a pop), studio rental, etc., etc., etc. we need to have a living net income. While we can appreciate the Bohemian life-style which artists adore, it doesn't pay the bills. As someone once said, our business is built like a three-legged stool. Musicianship is one leg, teaching skills a second leg, and business acumen is the third leg. Regretfully, many of our music schools do not require any skill learning in either of these two legs, and as a result, we sometimes get less than effective teachers, and teachers who go under financially.

So now, I will climb down from my box. Thanks for listening!
_________________________
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#1363270 - 02/01/10 01:25 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: jotur]
DancinDigits Offline
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Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: jotur


And I will say, once again (I can be really repetitive) - anything you say here that can be found by, oh, say, a potential student, probably will be. This is a public, in a really big way, forum.
Cathy


It sure is!

I know that I use the internet as one of my search tools in trying to find a teacher. The web has fast become an advertising media for it has the ability to reach many, many people with only a click away.

I am very cautious about taking seriously what I find on the net, as anybody can put anything out there. I came across a cynic who proclaimed that only bad music teachers advertise on the net for they can't secure clients by any other means. I am sure that there are bad teachers who advertise on the net, but I would never go as far as to make that kind of sweeping generalization and say they 'all' are bad. That's ridiculous, I do think.

OTOH if someone puts something out there that expresses their own personal views, etc., I take it into serious consideration when forming any judgements as to whether this is the kind of person I wish to secure services from.

This is not a private lounge or restricted access forum. It's very public. It gives me lots of useful information. I, personally, love the 'exposure'.
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Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1363299 - 02/01/10 02:13 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
DancinDigits Offline
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Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 68
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
we should not forget that in the population at large, adult piano students represent less than 5% of all piano students, in fact, probably less than 1% (it's hard to get an accurate number).


Which, from my own personal situation, is part of the problem. I am finding that most stuido programs are designed for the 'bulk' of their clientele, which happens to be children. This makes perfect sense when one is operating a business. From the adult student's own personal and individual needs, it makes it very difficult for one to not only find instructors that accept adult students but that also have the proper skill set to teach them. I recognize that wasn't your point - but it does get a bit frustrating when I am told that I would benefit from professional instruction, but I can't find anyone to teach (much less someone that I can afford). Add to the situation that I live in rural America and well. . . . .

Sorry - don't want to derail this thread (which I think has already taken a huge detour!), but your comment triggered my thought.


Quote:
While we can appreciate the Bohemian life-style which artists adore, it doesn't pay the bills.



I am sure that if you had your druthers, what you would select to do as a musician could very well conflict with what you need to do as a business person - and what you need to do to keep your business healthy. I own my own business and its not always about what I want to do, but what I need to do.

I also observe that sweeping generalizations can and often do, do an injustice to the participants on both side of the issues. If I insult my clients, it won't be long before I don't have any.

There are people on both sides of the issue who have good working relationships with one another. I still believe, for the most part, that these issues that have been expressed in this thread and elsewhere on the board are not the driving force with most students/teachers.

FWIW, there is too much 'us versus them' going on, and that's really a shame.

I think we can be united in our love of music.

In closing, I wish to thank you for your willingness to listen to the non-teachers in the forums and to acknowledge that some of us have our valid points too. It not only makes good business sense, but its shows maturity and intelligence.
_________________________
Music is the voice of the heart.

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#1363322 - 02/01/10 02:45 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Earlier I started a post beginning with a response to Elissa's reference to not writing about smoking marijuana if you don't do so yourself. I wrote "What if marijuana could talk, and post what it is like to be smoked? We are the weed. Pun intentional."

Two years ago I was told in PMs by teachers that input from non-teachers provides valuable insight. Were it not for that I would have stopped posting here. It makes sense that there is some degree of dialogue since we have intermeshing roles and can learn from each other. What is played out here can have effects out there with individual teachers, parents, and students. Instead of guessing about each other, with each party huddled in their respective corners, maybe we can make some headway. It is also delicate and difficult. If the teacher-parent-student triangle is complex out there, it's doubly complex over here. Deciding when and how to post is not easy, and it is easy to step on one pair of toes while trying to avoid another. Perhaps we can be more forgiving?

In the present matter, a newish teacher was in trepidation at the thought of an impending interview with a parent. There are parents among the members. It is natural for some to want to say "No, I am not out to judge you. I want to see how well you get along with my child, and if you have a plan." It is meant to be reassuring and a gesture of goodwill, naive or not.

That being said, the feedback I got from teachers back then is that when a teacher is asking for advice, it is best to step back in order to not muddy the waters. I think must try to do that most of the time. It's a judgment call.

There are times when such a question also touches on relationships that non-teachers have with teachers, and often there are issues that ought to be addressed. We dealt with this two years ago and one idea was the creation of a sub-thread in such cases where those interested can discuss it. If communications can be ameliorated and some of the problems that teachers commonly experience can be addressed mutually so that "out there" changes start happening, isn't that worthwhile? This is one idea, in any case which might be of interest to newcomers who had not heard of it.

The encouragement to participate notwithstanding, I intend to sharply curtail my activities here in such matters. Fwiw, advice in the direction of letting parents / students know you have something to offer and know what you are doing would be for me the kind of "leadership" I would find reassuring. A leader is more than a boss and I think John used that word.

John, in light of the frustrations being aired, and on the topic of interviews, it struck me that your biannual review is a bit like a twice yearly "interview" which maybe helps everyone stay more on track. It is something that as student I would have liked (or parent), because in my experience one tends to "wonder" instead of asking. A lesson flits by so fast. I have been tempted to mention it.

Best of luck everyone. Irinev, we're all crossing our fingers and hoping it went well.

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#1363386 - 02/01/10 03:47 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
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Loc: San Jose, CA
"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."

This does sadden me a bit. It's true, there are people who behave like this on the forums. I hope you can hear the sincerity in the printed word when I say, "Agree or not, I do hear you."

I do have a list of people whom I've decided it's better not to hear from at all--- but it's short, and very select.

This has been a valuable discussion for an adult student who is about to look for a new teacher. Part of my own astonishment is because I really don't think along the lines that some people who have posted apparently do--- but since the issues are out there, it is better to, at least, understand what they are.
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#1363391 - 02/01/10 03:54 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Jeff Clef]
keystring Online   content
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Um - Jeff is quoting Betty and not me - right Jeff?

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#1363413 - 02/01/10 04:14 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Offline
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Speaking only for myself, I participate on this forum to share lessons learned over 30 years of trials and tribulations with other teachers, especially those who are relatively new to the teaching profession. I don't view this as a debating society where we can practice our skills in that department.


This type of conversation may be the ONLY way many teachers (and many students) improve their performance.

Some have talked about how public a job piano teaching is, but I have to say I see a different side to it.

The actual teaching process is one-on-one, in private. The opportunity to watch an experienced (or inexperienced) teacher work and learn from them, or the opportunity to have a mentor sit in on your lessons and critique how you do them would be vanishingly rare. Some may never have seen anybody teach except for their own teacher when they were a student.

This is true to some extent for other types of teachers, though classroom teachers do a student teaching placement, and their peers have a general awareness of what goes on in the building. Piano teaching is more solitary than that.

Seems to me sage advice from experienced teachers like john is a learning opportunity that can only come from a forum.

A few decades back I was a grad student in clinical psychology. That course in counseling techniques was mandatory. Of course we had the textbooks and some role play in the classroom, but most of the learning was from client sessions. Observed clients sessions! - sometimes you had another therapist in the room, sometimes watching through a mirror, but always with the tape recorder running. Listening to those tapes in class, and having them dissected by the teacher and classmates was one of the most stressful experiences I can remember. But it would be pretty hard to improve without it.
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#1363479 - 02/01/10 05:34 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: TimR]
Betty Patnude Offline
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This is a comment about the entire subject of interviews with teachers, parents, students:

If each person is operating from a place of honesty and integrity as to the conditions under which the child student will be taught, you have a team of support and vision working collaboratively together. You have a foundation.

If you have one of the people on this team who is not really interested, has little to offer, no values or guidelines as to how to accomplish our goals, you are working on a quick-sand base.

When people show us by their behavior or attitudes that there will be some problem areas in communication or mutual respect for each other, it may persuade the teacher that there is not enough positive in the situation to work with this student. This would be obvious to me when a base of operations would be non-existant. Mother has such a busy schedule something else takes priority over keeping the appointment, say a hair coloring appointment, son doesn't want to practice, someone shows a temper or a child answers back to the parent and a tug of war starts in my presence. Dysfunction enters the picture and rears it's ugly head again and again to sabotage what could have been a wonderful experience in music making.

I can only say, put your best foot forward when interviewing with a teacher. When too many warning signs show up in the interview, many piano teachers are going to think twice about accepting the student. We want fully vested clients who fit the profile of a piano student, not those who self-sabotage and self-destruct and take up copious time and energy in dealing with them.

As to how the interview goes with adults, same comments apply, just simplified by the fact that the principles are speaking face to face and the collaborative team is the two people.

Honesty and intregity will never get you in trouble as these things along with good communication and a willing piano student will get you where you hope to someday reach your musical goals.

If you have a dream in music, your teacher is the custodian of your dream. If you believe that you are going to have a good time in piano lessons, you are likely to to fulfill your destiny.

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#1364094 - 02/02/10 02:28 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Jeff Clef Offline
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"Um - Jeff is quoting Betty and not me - right Jeff?"

Yes, Keystring, quite right. 'Heard' you too, though.

I don't know why, but this discussion reminds me of something my mom said, years ago, about my granddad's wife: "I made up my mind," she remarked, "that I was not going to fight with my mother-in-law, no matter what kind of fool thing she said. It hasn't been easy, but I've stuck to it."

It was remarkably sensible, and I've tried to take a lesson... I admit, with limited success.
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#1364099 - 02/02/10 02:38 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Jeff Clef]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
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Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"Um - Jeff is quoting Betty and not me - right Jeff?"

Yes, Keystring, quite right. 'Heard' you too, though.

I don't know why, but this discussion reminds me of something my mom said, years ago, about my granddad's wife: "I made up my mind," she remarked, "that I was not going to fight with my mother-in-law, no matter what kind of fool thing she said. It hasn't been easy, but I've stuck to it."

It was remarkably sensible, and I've tried to take a lesson... I admit, with limited success.


Great quote!!!!
+1, Jeff!
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#1364764 - 02/03/10 12:07 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Betty Patnude]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

When people show us by their behavior or attitudes that there will be some problem areas in communication or mutual respect for each other, it may persuade the teacher that there is not enough positive in the situation to work with this student...

I can only say, put your best foot forward when interviewing with a teacher. When too many warning signs show up in the interview, many piano teachers are going to think twice about accepting the student. We want fully vested clients who fit the profile of a piano student, not those who self-sabotage and self-destruct and take up copious time and energy in dealing with them.
Written completely from the point of view of a teacher interviewing a student. I think one could switch the words "teacher" and "student" in these paragraphs and get an equally appropriate advice for teachers.

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#1364857 - 02/03/10 01:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: pianoloverus]
Elissa Milne Offline
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This is very true, pianoloverus.

On the other hand, piano students don't tend to have a lot of experience in choosing piano teachers, so they might not know how to recognise whether a piano teacher fits the profile of a piano teacher, let alone a piano teacher who will deliver the kinds of learning experience the student is keen to have. And on the whole piano teachers tend to have both vested interests, as well as professional expertise that assists them in not self-sabotaging the lessons (just as a mechanic has a vested interest in repairing a car so that it won't burst into flames upon leaving the garage). Students, by way of not knowing what path lies ahead, sometimes make the route a little more convoluted for themselves than it might otherwise be.

Further than that, when a teacher decides to not accept a student this makes a very marginal difference in the content of the teacher's week. They may have 36 students already, and one more does not even represent a 3% change in their working week, and due to the structure of taxes probably a 2% change in income. For a student, however, having a teacher decide to not go ahead means that they are still 100% searching for a teacher.

The situations are not commensurate, although of course, the interview is about both parties engaging in some due diligence before engaging in a course of tuition.
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#1365203 - 02/03/10 09:51 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
On the other hand, piano students don't tend to have a lot of experience in choosing piano teachers.

Not only experience, but also knowledge. I think that we need to become informed before even contacting a piano teacher. If this is true, how do we become informed enough to make intelligent decisions?

All kinds of people teach piano. Tales of transfer students tell us that the good car mechanic is not everywhere. The new teacher's discerning eye and ear will quickly see that the student playing a few pieces impressively is lacking major basic skills, but the parent will have been fooled for a long time because this looks like progress. A careful teacher might even be rejected because this other one seems to "progress faster" - glitzier pieces, fast climb through grades - how can we tell? And how fair is that to teachers who don't set out to impress but to teach? In that light I think we do need to become informed precisely for the reason you state.

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#1365209 - 02/03/10 10:19 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
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Our local teachers association has a referral service. They know the teachers and quite a bit about reputations and skills. They know those who specialize, who's new, who has years of experience, which ones have students winning competitions, etc. They will be able to filter for you based on what you are looking for.

Many local associations have something similar. There is also a publication available for parents from MTNA. www.mtna.org
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#1365225 - 02/03/10 10:34 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
.... which ones have students winning competitions, etc. They will be able to filter for you based on what you are looking for.


Perhaps this should be a new topic (?) but for now I am highlighting this part because it goes back to what I was writing about. I wrote that we parents/students need to be informed beforehand, and you are trying to answer this. In the above scenario maybe I am looking for a teacher whose students win competitions, and there is a place where I can find this. But should I be looking for such a teacher? Should winning competitions be my criterion? "Being informed" means having an idea of what the criteria probably should be, or something of that nature.

Supposing that I assume that winning competitions is a sign of a good teacher. Should I not first find out what learning piano is about, what good teaching might encompass? That is what I meant by being informed. In my previous example, a transfer student come in who play a few pieces very well - he might be a competition winner. But the new teacher quickly sees that this student has been given very few of the tools such as learning to read music. If I am an informed parent, I will know that note reading is important. If I am not informed, I can be taken in. I may very well look for competition winners and come upon that first teacher. I don't know if I'm being clear.


Edited by keystring (02/03/10 10:37 PM)

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#1365263 - 02/03/10 11:20 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Keystring, you are hitting on such an important aspect of the whole piano education process: how can parents without a background in music possibly know what to look for in a teacher or how to be of maximum assistance as the lessons proceed?

I had a student once whose family had no idea what I was referring to when I discussed 'practicing', and they smiled and nodded, and it took about four weeks of quite strange conversations and detailed demonstrations before they really understood what their daughter needed to do between lessons. And this was made all the more difficult because it seemed to the parents that this much effort was surely only required if you were taking music 'seriously'.

I think there is a big need for appropriate resources for parents to turn to for simple explanation of what piano lessons might involve, what they might deliver, what students need to be doing between lessons, what kinds of outcomes will be achieved with which kind of lessons, and so very much more. Teachers will agree that we rarely have problems with the children of families with a culture of learning musical instruments: everyone knows, understands and agrees on what needs to be done to make any progress (no matter what the goal). This doesn't mean that these children necessarily make the best progress, simply that there is a great deal of clarity in the communication process.

I'm not aware of any fabulous website or book to recommend, but the MTNA link sounds promising!
_________________________
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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#1365295 - 02/04/10 12:14 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
From the MTNA website:

Choosing a Music Teacher Brochure
This small brochure is packed with information about choosing an appropriate, qualified music teacher.
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#1367044 - 02/06/10 10:18 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
keystring Online   content
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Elissa, if I am so late in responding it is because this is so big and so important that one can get lost in it. But you have summarized it and given a teacher perspective.

Just so I don't mislead unintentionally: I'm not seeking advice personally as a parent considering music lessons for a child, but I am concerned and interested for various reasons. My son is a young adult who was a late starter on a different instrument and subsequently entered music studies, and we have since talked about these things on and off. I am an adult student who began lessons a few years after him, but had to break off lessons temporarily. I am also looking to the past in retrospect for when lessons are resumed in the future, so to say. But this thread is about parents and children. In that light, there are things that I wish I had known then. Communication is no. 1.


Edited by keystring (02/06/10 11:19 AM)

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#1367078 - 02/06/10 10:55 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Minniemay]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Minniemay
From the MTNA website:

Choosing a Music Teacher Brochure
This small brochure is packed with information about choosing an appropriate, qualified music teacher.

Thank you, Minniemay. That is indeed a good start.

Where I would like to see us better educated, so that we can choose a teacher and also work better with that teacher, I think would involve understanding generally what it is about. This would help us use what is in the Brochure as well. I will try to explain:

In the brochure it is advised that we ask about:

- professional & educational experience. Do I know which are relevant and necessary? It does tell me that this teacher is taking her work seriously enough to have made an effort. "Professional development" indicates the same.
- studio policy. This will help me comply with house rules.
- instructional material: Unless I have a background, I have no way of assessing the appropriateness of this.
- kinds of music: If my goal is a particular genre. yes
- technology - whether the teacher uses a computer, software. Um? I trust that the teacher will use those resources that he/she deems appropriate. I don't know what is necessary, so I cannot tell anything from that information.

Unless I know something about music study, getting answers to these questions doesn't tell me much. I'm thinking that we need to be informed at a stage before this. I should have an idea of what my goals are, and for that there should be an idea of what learning an instrument is about. Maybe have a rough idea of what it entails: note reading, technique, understanding elements of music, regular guided practice. Then I can listen intelligently and ask intelligent questions. Being informed doesn't mean that I believe that methodology X and approach Y will do it (the other danger) and then shop for a teacher who uses them. It means that I can recognize that the teacher is aiming toward well rounded growth, or similar things. How do we get there before booking any interview?

I'd be tempted to ask what the teacher's goals, philosophies, and expectations are, and then listen carefully. I might express my own goals and be prepared to have them tweaked. If I'm observing a lesson I might want to be able to ask about what I've seen. The teacher will be guiding both the child, and me in my guiding role. But if I know nothing it may be hard to even understand that part. Like Elissa describes. I need to be sufficiently informed that I can make head or tail of what is happening in that interview. I was really impressed when my son's teacher used the word "dynamics" - such a big music word - I doubt he had any idea of that impression. wink

Teachers: Are there things you would like us to be informed about before we come to an interview? Do you want us to put some research and thought into it before we show up? Or do you prefer that we don't, since it might get in the way? One obvious complaint I've seen is failure to read an on-line explanation by a teacher of her philosophy & policies. No research needed in that one.

This site has quite a few thoughts on the subject from all sides: parent responsibility, student responsibility, and teacher responsibility. Can this work in conjunction with the MTNA site? Does anything exist in Australia of this nature (MTNA or other), btw?

Martha Beth Lewis - Piano Home Page

(I'll shut up and lurk, now) blush

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#1367316 - 02/06/10 04:55 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Does anything exist in Australia of this nature (MTNA or other), btw?
Each state has its own music teachers' association. The one I'm familiar with holds workshops and seminars, offers scholarships, puts out a magazine and lists accredited teachers. There's also ASME (Aus society for music education) which is not just geared towards instrumental instruction.
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#1367352 - 02/06/10 05:43 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
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There's no national organisation here is Australia, and one state's music teachers' association might be amazing, while another's is quite low-key. There are great state level conferences held bi-annually in some states, and every two years there is an Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference.

But a big difference between North America and Australia is that Piano Pedagogy degrees from universities are a very recent development (and still not widely available), so most established piano teachers have qualifications from the Australian Music Examination Board or Trinity College London, or if they have migrated from somewhere else, from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music; university qualifications just weren't being offered last century.

In New Zealand there is a national organisation for music teachers that was set up by decree of the parliament, and my impression is that it is easier for parents with no background in music to hook up with 'good' teachers in that lightly regulated environment than in a culture where anyone who can play Piano Man or Fur Elise can set themselves up as a teacher......
_________________________
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#1367359 - 02/06/10 05:52 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
currawong Offline
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Even university degrees in performance are relatively new here. Even 40 years ago performance students went to a conservatorium and musicology/composition students to university. Performance courses at conservatoria had a pedagogy component though, I believe.

(where I am, anyway...)
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#1367432 - 02/06/10 07:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
keystring Online   content
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I think I should have phrased that last question differently. In view of the last thing currently being discussed, might there be some central place in some countries (incl. Australia) that would advise parents / prospective students so that they could approach teachers and interviews in an informed manner? The MTNA seems to do that to some degree in the U.S. which is why I grabbed at the name.

For the two years that I have been on PW, the frustrations between teachers and parents are frequently voiced. Some is attitude and motivation of course, but surely being informed is part of the equation. What kinds of expectations do we come in with, what have we pictured, etc?

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#1367443 - 02/06/10 07:50 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
currawong Offline
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I hear what you're saying, keystring. As Elissa says, there is no national registration for piano teachers here in Australia. There are, however, accreditation processes, mainly run by the aformentioned Music Teachers' Associations. (No adequate central one, however, as we tend to be a bit more state-oriented in some ways, probably because of issues like distance, different education systems in each state, etc.) Where I am people can get good information from the MTA - it isn't hard to find, if you know to even look!
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#1367556 - 02/06/10 10:19 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: currawong]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Yes, but I think keystring's point is well-made: how can parents better educate themselves about musical education?

And there's no one good place to turn.

Maybe I'll write a book?!
_________________________
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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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#1367562 - 02/06/10 10:34 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Yes, but I think keystring's point is well-made: how can parents better educate themselves about musical education?

And there's no one good place to turn.

Maybe I'll write a book?!


That would be great!
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#1367713 - 02/07/10 08:41 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: rocket88]
pianoloverus Offline
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If a parent doesn't request an interview, I think that would be inappropriate behavior on the part of the parent.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/07/10 08:41 AM)

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#1367731 - 02/07/10 09:14 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
Yes, but I think keystring's point is well-made: how can parents better educate themselves about musical education?


Parents are better at this sort of thing than you may think, because of course many parents have lots of experience in making such decisions and monitoring the outcome of these decisions.

If I take my own situation, my 8 year old daughter currently has piano lessons, has dancing lessons, goes to the Brownies and goes ice skating. She has also had swimming lessons in the past.

The dancing school she attends now is her 2nd one as the 1st one she attended wasn't great as the person running it did very little of the teaching herself and left it to young inexperienced helpers to do the teaching. In the dancing school she attends now, the person running it does all the teaching herself, has been running her dance school for approx. 30 years and watching my daughter's progress since moving and also the yearly dance shows, the difference is night and day.

The swimming lessons she used to have - she initially had 1-1 lessons in the Health Club I was a member of at the time. The young girl who taught her was an excellent teacher and my daughter was making really good progress. The girl left the Health Club and we continued 1-1 lessons with her in another location but unfortunately, despite her excellent instruction w.r.t. swimming, she became increasingly disorganised and unreliable and we finally gave up and ceased lessons. We then enrolled her in a group class, but although the instructor seemed to be very knowledgeable, the format of the class and the number of kids in the pool at once meant that the kids received very little of the teacher's time, improvement was minimal and my daughter didn't enjoy it. I now take her swimming myself, largely for enjoyment but I insist on 5 mins of actual swimming time. She normally brings her friend and she has a ball.

My daughter goes Ice Skating every week with her mum. She has never had any lessons, her mum has helped her learn to skate and she loves every second of it.

This year is her 1st year in the Brownies. There were a number of options about which Brownies group to join, but based on feedback of parents with older kids she joined the one closest to our home and it is proving to be a good decision so far as my daughter loves it. She goes away for a Fri-Mon long weekend camp next weekend and cannot wait. Mummy isn't so keen that her 8 year old baby will be away all weekend!! grin

Finally, Piano. After showing my daughter a few simple tunes she could play learned by rote, her first teacher was the teacher I was also with at the time. That didn't go too well and I stopped it after a period as it was becoming increasingly apparent to me, as someone with a decent musical background, that our teacher, while very pleasant and well meaning had next to no idea what they were doing. I then tried to teach her myself while also learning myself, perhaps confused with a false sense of confidence based on comparing my own knowledge and skill set with my previous teacher. That went reasonably well and she made some decent progress, but I was always uncomfortable at the back of my mind that there must be so much that I didn't know so how could I teach it.

We found another teacher and started with her this past October, a final year student at the RSAMD in Glasgow. She is an excellent teacher and confirmed that there were plenty of holes in my knowledge w.r.t playing & teaching Piano - massive great chasms!!

So now I am back in the role I am comfortable with i.e. supportive parent, with someone who actually knows what's what doing the teaching. We are both making very good progress.

But sadly, the draw back of starting with a final year student is she will graduate in the summer, and as she is not originally from Glasgow, she may be moving and therefore I'll have to find a new teacher.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be thankful for the time we do have together, learn as much as I can and continue to put off breaking the news to my daughter that the Piano teacher she loves will be moving on.

So in summary, if the parents are interested in their kids and the activities they choose to send them to, they will educate themselves and be able to make good decisions.

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#1367743 - 02/07/10 09:52 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
keystring Online   content
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A point, Gerry,
Quote:
.... it was becoming increasingly apparent to me, as someone with a decent musical background ....

You had that background. You were not in foreign territory.

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#1367754 - 02/07/10 10:08 AM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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I have no background in dancing, ice skating, swimming or Brownies but was equally able to make the correct decisions in these situations too.
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#1367866 - 02/07/10 12:58 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
keystring Online   content
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The other part you wrote was:
Quote:

So in summary, if the parents are interested in their kids and the activities they choose to send them to, they will educate themselves and be able to make good decisions.

That was the crux of the matter. We need to have information so that we can make those decisions. In essence we're agreeing.

Our circumstances were different and that may be part of it. I did not have a young child enrolled in various activities. I had a child who started music lessons at almost age 13 who four years later had to compete in auditions for university placement. He got in, btw. Still, there were things that I wish I would have known.

One thing that I learned late is the role of communication. There is a line between trying to order a teacher around, and following silently in a state of "wonder". You wonder what the teacher, or whether the teacher, or whether you could.... The teacher wonders about the student's thoughts. And while everyone is mystified wondrously, they are in each other's presence weekly and could actually say something. Just a side thought.

Knowing HOW to communicate something. How often in this forum does a student or parent come across as know-it-all, or cluelessly ignorant, because they can't put themselves in the context and speak the lingo? Or Elissa's observation of the parents who were mystified because they could not understand her instructions since it was a different world for them. How do you express something in a way that will not offend or create confusion?


Edited by keystring (02/07/10 02:02 PM)

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#1367888 - 02/07/10 01:42 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring

I had a child who started music lessons at almost age 13 who four years later had to compete in auditions for university placement. He got in, btw. Still, there were things that I wish I would have known.


Keystring, what do you mean to say, that when he started studying music at 13 it was already in view to audition for a music major 4 years later?

And what do you wish you had known?

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#1367902 - 02/07/10 02:00 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
[quote=keystring]

Keystring, what do you mean to say, that when he started studying music at 13 it was already in view to audition for a music major 4 years later?

And what do you wish you had known?


A 13 year old enters grade 9. High school finishes at the end of grade 12. University starts when gr. 12 ends. Auditions to get into a music program are held around March of the 12th grade, I think. Most students competing for placement will have started lessons when they were 4 or 5 years old, and so have 12 or more years of instruction. Hence, four years.

We did many things right, but above all I wish I had known about communicating.

What I meant to say is that under those circumstances being well informed were probably more crucial than in Gerry's tale. After all, his daughter seems to be doing well.


Edited by keystring (02/07/10 02:19 PM)

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#1367970 - 02/07/10 03:03 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring


We did many things right, but above all I wish I had known about communicating.


Well that is a frequent problem with people recently ariived on earth! Had it myself the first years!

Ha, just kidding!

But I am curious as to what you mean. What were the problems that never got put on the table?

Also, I still don't follow about your kid. He was decided to study music in college before he had ever started lessons? Is that what you mean?

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#1367990 - 02/07/10 03:30 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
Also, I still don't follow about your kid. He was decided to study music in college before he had ever started lessons? Is that what you mean?

He started lessons at age 12+ while in gr. 8. By the time he entered high school, he realized that he wanted to study music at university. He would need to be at a particular level by the time he auditioned for university placement. Most students who do that start at ages 4 - 6, not that late.

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#1368008 - 02/07/10 04:02 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
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Loc: France
Go on, go on, how did you proceed?

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#1368016 - 02/07/10 04:15 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: keystring]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
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Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: keystring
A point, Gerry,
Quote:
.... it was becoming increasingly apparent to me, as someone with a decent musical background ....

You had that background. You were not in foreign territory.


I would go further and say that once one knows how to acquire and develop skill on a musical instrument one then has an understanding of what constitutes good one-on-one teaching, and therefore how to assess the qualities that teachers in any other outside-of-school learning environment bring to the lessons, and how to communicate more-or-less effectively with those teachers and how to create a good learning environment at home for that skill-acquisition.

I have friends (who are parents of young children) with no great experience in learning skills outside of the classroom environment and while they are well-educated in an academic sense (Masters degrees) they are unfamiliar with the notion of 'practice'!! On the other hand, some of those friends have acquired several languages (either at university or in the field) and they are brilliantly proactive at setting up their children for success in language acquisition.

My mum knew exactly what she was doing with me as a child taking piano lessons, and was entirely unknowledgeable regarding acquiring a second language. She was a great mum, but she just didn't know anything about learning a second language.
_________________________
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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#1368033 - 02/07/10 04:40 PM Re: when a parent requests an interview [Re: Elissa Milne]
Minniemay Offline
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Loc: CA
There is a book some may find helpful. While it is written from a Christian perspective, there is much good information about guiding a child through private music study. It's called "Raising Musical Children" by Kavanaugh.
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