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#1497735 - 08/17/10 09:15 AM My First Lesson with a New Teacher
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
So I had my first lesson with my new teacher who is an active concert pianist, here's how it went:

I show up at 8:10 with lessons to start at 8:15 and knock on the door. No answer, so I knock again, no answer (trying to tell me something I guess).
8:15 and I knock again and she answers and apologizes and says she didn’t recognize me (I told her what I looked like in a prior email so go figure. I guess I'll stop describing my self as a Tom Cruiz look-a-like).

I go in and take off my shoes at her request to preserve her carpets which I am fine with but had to listen very carefully because her accent is very russian and energetic. I give her my music background that I have had lessons for approx. 4 years with different teachers and what I believe my strengths and weaknesses are.

She tells me that she wants to set me up with a group of adults who perform for each other once a month with skill lvls ranging from advanced to the winner of the Amateur Van Cliburn Competition and also includes the music critic for the Dallas morning news. I am thinking "WOW! Those are some pretty top notch performers and reviewers". She tells me that she wants to set me up with another person for piano duets.

Then she asks me to play (should have asked that before setting me up with performing groups and partners - ha!). I play through the Beethoven Op 14 No 1 piece I had been working on over the past several months with a few slips, mainly due to me not being familiar with her piano and new to playing infront of her. The piece closes and she says: "You survived" (wow I give it a month before I am thrown out on my ear). She points out a few areas that she noticed I needed to work on and asked why I played it the way I did (basically it was 'why did you play it so musically poor?').

She explains what she wants to hear at the beginning of the piece and asks me to play again. I play the first note, "STOP!" comes her sharp reply "Just because it says 'p' for soft doesn’t mean to whisper, it still needs to project to across the room for the audience, that's what 'Beehoven' *Beethoven* intended go again." Her smile quickly turns dry and to a stern composure and I wonder if her smiles are more for satire effect. I play the first note "Good!" I play the second note "STOP! Your not taking me the listener to where I need to go with this we are talking 4 measures here David this is not a 14 measure Rachmaninoff theme its 4 measures." I begin to collect my things and head for the door *just kidding*. We review a few more areas in a similar fashion and I ask her if she would prefer me to scrap the Beethoven for a different piece perhaps and she says no, I have the piece down I just need to work on those areas she described.

She says "David we have a lot of work to do and 1 hour a week is not going to be enough *what a sales person* we need to do more."

The evening closes out with her describing that she knows that she is strict but is not apologetic for it and that people who are looking for constant praise should get it from friends and family. "If something sounds good I tell you it sounds good and if it sounds bad I tell you it is bad." I am assigned study number 3 from Clementi's Gradus ad Parnassum and told that no lessons next week she is going on vacation (I guess she needed one after putting up with me for 1 evening).

All in all I like her a lot.

*edit: I like her alot because I prefer teachers who are very honest about my playing, Id rather hear it from my teacher than from my audience. She was very knowledgeable about what she was talking about and seemed to care very much about what I was doing. I still found it amusing to be subjected to the Russian method of teaching for the first time.


Edited by D4v3 (08/17/10 10:07 AM)
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#1497805 - 08/17/10 11:24 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17771
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks, D4v3, for your very humorous and entertaining post. I especially liked the part about where you contemplated getting up and walking out the door. laugh You must have a more resilient self-esteem than I do. But I'm glad you like her approach. I'll be interested to hear what you think of your lessons after a month or two.
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#1497842 - 08/17/10 12:33 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Monica K.]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Thanks, D4v3, for your very humorous and entertaining post. I especially liked the part about where you contemplated getting up and walking out the door. laugh You must have a more resilient self-esteem than I do. But I'm glad you like her approach. I'll be interested to hear what you think of your lessons after a month or two.


+1 I too hope you tell us more!
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#1497855 - 08/17/10 12:51 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5240
Loc: Europe
LOL! A great post David! Good luck with your new teacher!
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#1497864 - 08/17/10 12:58 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Nikolas]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4937
Loc: Italy
Fun post! I don't think I could have dealt with her style, but to each his own!

Good luck and I hope you enjoy your following lessons every bit as much!
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
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#1498165 - 08/17/10 07:50 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: casinitaly]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
Haha, you have a knack for storytelling. That was entertaining.
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#1498309 - 08/18/10 12:43 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: ToriAnais]
SpecialKeysCereal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 35
That was really amusing to read. I can just imagine being there!

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#1498402 - 08/18/10 05:46 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: SpecialKeysCereal]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Great story! Hmmm I think I would not be quite relaxed enough to study with, I mean under, a teacher like this. YOu are a brave man wink Post chapter 2 if you feel like it anytime, I'd love to read more.
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#1506700 - 08/31/10 03:59 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Canonie]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I will put another lesson posting tonight or tomorrow.

My goal this evening is to get fewer "Stop!"s than I did at my last lesson. I think she was only expecting me to have the first line of the Clementi Gradus ad Parnassum #3 learned but I went ahead and learned the whole thing (allbeit at a slower tempo for accurate technique and dynamics) and I was asked to play Grieg's Notturno for her too we'll see how that goes.

Here is a couple of videos of her performing at the Local Steinway center. Not sure if this is for a recital with students or a part of their on going mini concerts.



Chopin Sonata in B Minor IV mvt.



Edited by D4v3 (08/31/10 04:24 PM)
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#1506816 - 08/31/10 07:57 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Pam T Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/10
Posts: 16
Loc: North Georgia
Great post! She sounds a little brutal for me, but then I took from a Hungarian former pianist once - she had a reputation for being brutal but I loved her! Best teacher I ever had!
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#1506877 - 08/31/10 09:55 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Pam T]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
I think you are overstepping your bounds in putting up her name and video of her playing. She might say "stop" before your first note next week. I think your story was funny if things are anonymous. However, once we know her identity, it's a breach of trust and her privacy to tell the story AND show the video IMHO.

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#1506880 - 08/31/10 10:07 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Candywoman]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
All I can say is ... wow. I won't go into what I really think about this (since most of you at PW already know) but if you like her teaching style, go for it.

As far as posting the video, it's fair game since it's on YouTube. If she didn't want it to be shown, she could have set it to private. smile
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#1506884 - 08/31/10 10:15 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: eweiss]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
she plays with great confidence.
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#1506890 - 08/31/10 10:31 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: apple*]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
I had a teacher like that when I was coming up. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I went to her to learn how to play the piano better than the teachers before me had taught. I did not go for any other reason...not to be praised for mediocrity in that I could actually stumble through a piece, not for a pleasant social time, but simply to learn from a master pianist and teacher.

She was fierce, and I am glad today that she did not lollycoddle me, because everything she said was true.

If I played something unmusical or wrong, she did not sugar-coat her correction. I took that as a sign of her respecting my maturity and inner strength, and the potential she saw in me.

If I wanted an hour of feel-good atta-boys, I would have attended a self-esteem meeting.
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#1506961 - 09/01/10 12:09 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Candywoman]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
I think you are overstepping your bounds in putting up her name and video of her playing. She might say "stop" before your first note next week. I think your story was funny if things are anonymous. However, once we know her identity, it's a breach of trust and her privacy to tell the story AND show the video IMHO.

It is tricky business to write about a teacher, or to write about a student, and anonymity is probably the best choice.

However, I would tend to see this as advertisement for the teacher, not something to her detriment. This teacher seems to take her students seriously and make demands, even of adults. That was refreshing to read about. None of us wants to be abused or intimidated, but serious work, whatever form it takes, is something that some of us want.

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#1507056 - 09/01/10 05:02 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: D4v3
I will put another lesson posting tonight or tomorrow.





So, how did it go ?

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#1507060 - 09/01/10 05:29 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19710
Loc: New York
I agree that you do a great job telling the story.
But similarly to what was said in some other posts, she's not my style either, and frankly I was surprised that you ended the post positively. I was expecting the reverse.

And, regarding her playing......I figured, OK, I don't like her personal style, but I'm sure she at least plays very well. But.....she doesn't. Granted, this is just a couple of pieces, and the Haydn is "OK" and arguably good; the Chopin is embarrassingly not. Aside from the obvious slips and glitches, let's talk tempo and character. Take a look at the opening indication (Presto non tanto). Does this have either the speed or flavor of that? And, is the tempo sustained consistently? Where it isn't, are the changes meaningful? This might be the most problematic recording of this movement on youtube; it's certainly the least capable one I've ever seen on there, and it's nothing that someone should want to display. If I didn't know that this was a performer, I'd guess it was an upper level intermediate student, ill-advisedly playing a piece that is beyond her ability.

Of course none of that means she won't be a great teacher for you. But in view of this kind of playing, I'm even angrier about some of what she said to you than I was when I first read it, which already was quite a bit. And I personally would never allow myself to be too influenced musically by someone who shows the kind of musicianship to play like that, and the personal and musical judgment to allow it to be put and kept online -- unless maybe if she were at least more modest and gentle with her input.

I wouldn't lightly trash the playing of someone that you think you like. But I believe you can only benefit from getting the fullest possible input about her before you start taking her criticisms and ideas too seriously.

Of course feel free to forget everything I have said. smile
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#1507100 - 09/01/10 07:58 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Pam T Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/10
Posts: 16
Loc: North Georgia
Oops I meant I took from a former "concert" pianist (not a former pianist!) in my previous reply. She does play well in the youtube video - give it a try, she may mellow out some once you get to know each other.
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#1507126 - 09/01/10 09:24 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
@ Candywoman

I appreciate your comments and if I thought in anyway that a light gesture of self-depreciating humor at my expense was in anyway a put down upon her I would never have posted her videos.

Although I have only had 2 lessons from her I like her very much as I said she has a tremendous amount of attention to detail.

@ Mark C

Yes time will tell and I may have selected a performance that came late in her show when she was a little exhausted her YouTube area has many pieces being performed at that location in that same outfit so I can only assume one of two things

1. She did alot of pieces that evening

-or-

2. She really likes that dress.

I am going to assume 1.


Again my original post was a first impression telling the story of a noobie pianist who is set infront of a very strict/professional teacher for the first time.
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#1507133 - 09/01/10 09:54 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
lilylady Offline
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Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Just be careful if she answers the door next time with a WHISTLE and RULER in her hand!

Enjoy lessons with her. She sounds like she will take you a long way.

LL
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#1507217 - 09/01/10 01:27 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19710
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: D4v3
....Yes time will tell and I may have selected a performance that came late in her show when she was a little exhausted....

Thanks for the answer -- and that could be, but I promise you that's not the whole story. I looked/listened a bit through several of her other youtube things, and as per what you said, indeed that one is the most problematic -- but the things I mentioned occur in everything. Her playing is an odd mixture of some good and interesting aspects, and aspects that are abominable for someone who purports to be at such a level. I think many people would say that she does indeed overreach in her choice of repertoire, and from her manner (both as described by you and from what we gather from her videos), IMO it's clear that her idea of herself exceeds the reality. She could still be a very good teacher for you, but that quality can be dangerous.
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#1507511 - 09/02/10 01:22 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Candywoman Offline
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Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
You may think it's harmless fun to connect her playing to her teaching of you. Have you asked her and sent her this link?

I would be most upset if a student described my teaching AND showed a video of my playing. When she goes on youtube, she leaves herself open to criticism of her playing, which is her choice. She did not consent to criticism of her teaching or whether her teaching reputation aligns with her performing ability. I seriously think you should desist.

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#1507516 - 09/02/10 01:46 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Candywoman]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19710
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
You may think it's harmless fun to connect her playing to her teaching of you. Have you asked her and sent her this link?.....She did not consent to criticism of her teaching or whether her teaching reputation aligns with her performing ability. I seriously think you should desist.

Admittedly speaking just as a student (and person) smile but not as a teacher -- but as a person who is highly concerned about privacy and confidentiality -- I don't agree. There's nothing out-of-line about what our guy did. Just about anything in anyone's personal experience is fair game for a discussion site, and a student's experience with a teacher is extremely fair game for here. No consent needed. As per some of what I said earlier, if a teacher doesn't want her video to be seen, she shouldn't have it on anything like YouTube. If D4v3 had taken some private video and posted it, that would be a different story -- but that's not what he did. Anything on youtube is totally public (as you noted).

Also let me note that he posted the videos because (apparently) he thought they were very good! And he still might.

I'll be interested to see what others think -- but I'll be fairly shocked if many people will buy what you're saying.
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#1507524 - 09/02/10 02:37 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Mark_C]
MikeN Offline
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Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
I have to say after listening to some thing I'm a little afraid. It seems that some things she does are highly eccentric and unbalanced. It also seems that sometimes she comes up short on technique to fulfill those eccentric ideas.

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#1507653 - 09/02/10 09:28 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Mark_C]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C

And, regarding her playing......I figured, OK, I don't like her personal style, but I'm sure she at least plays very well. But.....she doesn't. Granted, this is just a couple of pieces, and the Haydn is "OK" and arguably good; the Chopin is embarrassingly not. Aside from the obvious slips and glitches, let's talk tempo and character. Take a look at the opening indication (Presto non tanto). Does this have either the speed or flavor of that? And, is the tempo sustained consistently? Where it isn't, are the changes meaningful? This might be the most problematic recording of this movement on youtube; it's certainly the least capable one I've ever seen on there, and it's nothing that someone should want to display. If I didn't know that this was a performer, I'd guess it was an upper level intermediate student, ill-advisedly playing a piece that is beyond her ability.


I agree with your assessment of her playing. The Haydn seemed harsh, without any humor that you know must be in there. I am unfamiliar with this movement from the Chopin sonata and I was shocked when I heard it as it sounded so un-Chopinesque! Where's the rubato? Where are the dynamics and the voicing?

Anyways, I do think that not every great teacher is a great performer, and this is one of those cases. Apparently she's done well as a teacher, having a student who won the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition, etc., so I think that speaks louder than her own performances. Still, she has them out there in public domain (as anything on the internet is public domain whether you intend that or not), and so that means it's free game. She's obviously not ashamed of her performances since it's on her own youtube site. I don't see any problem connecting a name with this story, as the post was not negative. It was just a story told in a humorous way and ended positively. If it were bashing the teacher at all, then I may have a problem with it as it could be slanderous to the teacher.
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#1507658 - 09/02/10 09:35 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Morodiene Online   content
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Sorry for the double-post, but since I hadn't heard the Chopin before I decided to hear what another pianist would do with it and came across Katsaris' rendition. Absolutely amazing. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYY47zdi8So
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#1507663 - 09/02/10 09:47 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
D4v3 Offline
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Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
@ Morodiene

I did not say that the winner of the Amateur Van Cliburn competition was a student of hers only that the group of adults she wanted to set me up with were people which included that winner. You may have found that info by some other means maybe but I didnt state that.

@ Candywoman

I could see this being a harsh criticism if I berated her and said I didnt think she was worth very much but infact I stated now three times that I respect her tremendously and that my experience was just that, MINE. She is infact a very demanding teacher as I related in the retelling of my first experience with her.

As for her playing abilities, I am still an amateur so I dont really have that much of an ear for the apparent lacking in areas that some say exist. The videos were of pieces I like particularly and to say "Hey this is who I am taking from".

Again, Im no expert here, but as she said in my last lesson, there are different ways to produce different sounds at the key board and there is no "one correct way as far as technique is concerned" she believes that "sound" should flow through your upper arms to your hands and to the key board giving you proper arm weight and reducing hand tensions. Let me also note that she does not like to see exaggerated movements at the keyboard, minimal and efficient is what she likes.

I'll try this method and see what it does for me. If I am a better pianist for having taken from her then thats all I asked. She was a person who my last teacher who has a PhD in Piano performance recommended when he moved out of state and apparently he took private lessons from her too.

I'll give her a shot.

PS Candywoman I have had people who have read this post ask for her contact info to possibly take lessons. To each their own and they can decide if she is worth it or not but I dont think people would ask for contact info if this was a harsh critique as you are seeing it to be.


Edited by D4v3 (09/02/10 09:58 AM)
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#1507665 - 09/02/10 09:52 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Originally Posted By: D4v3
@ Morodiene

I did not say that the winner of the Amateur Van Cliburn competition was a student of hers only that the group of adults she wanted to set me up with were people which included that winner. You may have found that info by some other means maybe but I didnt state that.



OK, I guess it was just my misunderstanding, but I still don't get the distinction. So is this group you'd play with students of other teachers?


Edited by Morodiene (09/02/10 09:52 AM)
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#1507667 - 09/02/10 09:55 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
D4v3 Offline
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Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
@ Morodiene

First I did enjoy your Katsaris posting.

But that is the impression I got, this is a group of adults who are advanced to professional who play for each other in the Dallas Ft Worth Metroplex and are very relaxed and understanding if mistakes are made.

They get together once a month and if you have something prepared to play great! If not, go to listen to music and have fun.
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#1507692 - 09/02/10 10:40 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: D4v3
@ Morodiene

First I did enjoy your Katsaris posting.

But that is the impression I got, this is a group of adults who are advanced to professional who play for each other in the Dallas Ft Worth Metroplex and are very relaxed and understanding if mistakes are made.

They get together once a month and if you have something prepared to play great! If not, go to listen to music and have fun.


OK, now I understand. smile

And like I said before, being a great teacher does not mean one is a great performer, and the opposite is true. It sounds like this teacher will demand a lot from you, and it also sounds like that is exactly what you're looking for. Can't wait to hear part 2 of your adventures! smile
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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