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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: 17773
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.]
Overexposed Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
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: Overexposed]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
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 Online   content

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4972
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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#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: 11661
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: 19742
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
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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: 19742
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
500 Post Club Member

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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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
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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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
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#1507737 - 09/02/10 12:01 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Morodiene]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
....having a student who won the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition.....

I think that's probably false. I know all the winners (there are only a few), and I don't think any of them are associated with her. I could be wrong, but I'd guess that at most they mean a person who made the finals and got one of the lesser prizes (which BTW would still be darn good).

edit: I see that our guy clarified it himself. But I'm still doubting that it really means exactly what is being said, as opposed to something more like the above.
As for your initial misunderstanding: I had understood it exactly as you did but thought it was somewhat false.


Edited by Mark_C (09/02/10 12:19 PM)
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#1507738 - 09/02/10 12:02 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Mark_C]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
....having a student who won the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition.....

I think that's probably false. I know all the winners, and I don't think any of them are associated with her. I could be wrong, but I'd guess that at most one of the people made the finals and got one of the lesser prizes (which BTW would still be darn good).


Ya, I think Dave clarified that for me. wink
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#1507744 - 09/02/10 12:13 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Morodiene]
Mark_C Offline
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(see my edit.....I think it might not be exactly right even as clarified, but what the hey.....) smile
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#1507753 - 09/02/10 12:19 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Mark_C]
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On a side Note Mark I did like your Amateur Van Cliburn submission of Scriabin's Black Mass
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#1507764 - 09/02/10 12:29 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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#1508580 - 09/03/10 04:48 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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My teacher is a concert pianist from Russia too (he is Russian Jew), he competed at Tschaikovsky, Van Cliburn, Sidney etc. He always says that I need weekly lesson.

I never want to take weekly lesson, unless I have missed a lesson. I want to be fair with him. I found a very good excuse. I just told him "I cannot afford weekly lesson.". If I give other excuses, I know he will keep bothering me.

At first, I thought he just wants my money. But after taking lesson for 3 years with him, never once did he wasted my money in any lesson that he gave. Even when I came unprepared. He can make the lesson so useful. I am so grateful that he was even willing to take me as a student.

I know somebody who came from Russia, but hates Russian teachers. I cannot say a lot because I only had 3 of them. They are ranges from pretty good to excellent. The first one was a young guy who just escaped from Russia in 1991, he is a pretty good pianist, but has no desire to teach. I took lesson from him for about 8 months. Then I stopped taking lesson for 12 years. After that I took several lessons with a lady graduated from Lenningrad Conservatory, she is not an excellent pianist, but very good teacher for beginner. I had to quit because I had to move to different city. She is the first person who could teach me how to relax my hands, arms etc. Finally, three years ago, I found my current piano teacher.



Edited by RonaldSteinway (09/03/10 04:49 PM)

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#1508667 - 09/03/10 07:48 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: RonaldSteinway]
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway

At first, I thought he just wants my money. But after taking lesson for 3 years with him, never once did he wasted my money in any lesson that he gave. Even when I came unprepared. He can make the lesson so useful. I am so grateful that he was even willing to take me as a student.



I really like this. Not to hijack this thread, but how many times have we been asked to reschedule/cancel a lesson by the student because they didn't practice, only to be told that coming to a lesson when you haven't practiced is probably the best way to get back on the saddle again! Good teachers can always make lemonade out of lemons smile
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#1508803 - 09/04/10 01:24 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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The issue isn't whether it was a harsh critique. It wasn't, btw. However, it wasn't just your experience you're relating, but rather your and her experience, a piano lesson. Maybe she doesn't mind at all. But my point is, you should check with her first. Some people would want to study with her more after reading your story, and others less. She has a right to her privacy as a teacher.

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#1508847 - 09/04/10 06:57 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
keystring Online   content
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What I am understanding is that the piano lesson is a private affair between a teacher and a student. As soon as the identity of the teacher is known, then this private interaction is out in the open, putting a known person under scrutiny. Do I understand your point correctly, Candywoman?

Thinking about this: There are times we need feedback in order to get perspective on a situation. That is why students sometimes describe aspects of lessons. It is also why teachers describe interaction with a given student. We students would not want to be identified, though, and the same the other way around.

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#1509018 - 09/04/10 03:27 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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Seeing as how it was not a negative post, and the person giving the description was the student, I don't see any problem or any need to get "permission". I want my students to talk about me, that's how I get word of mouth advertising. If it were negative, then it could be seen as slanderous if the anonymity of the teacher was not maintained. Several people have contacted the OP because they are interested in studying with her from this post, so really there's no issue.


Edited by Morodiene (09/04/10 03:28 PM)
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#1509133 - 09/04/10 08:00 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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A few comments:

1. I did think the first post was quite negative so not really appropriate. Virtually the same thing could be accomplished without posting a video to identify the teacher. Even if posting performances on Youtube gives others the right to link these performances at PW, doesn't mean one should do this.

2. I do not understand how some teachers can apparently take the same approach with all students. I think teachers should always gear their teaching towards the age, knowledge, talent, and goals of the student. Would she talk that way to a 10 year old beginner? Does she just teach everyone the way her teachers at some Russian conservatory taught her? What's the point in talking so negatively to a student of almost any kind but especially to one who is not intending a professional career?

3. I've seen a lot of Russian teachers give master classes in some tiny studios at Mannes. Sometimes there are only a few people observing the classes, so I don't think the teacher really changes anything in their teaching style. Observers are also constantly walking in and out of the master classes. All but one teacher has been far more positive even though they are usually dealing with aspiring professionals. Even the ones who tend to stop students frequently do it in a less demeaning way than what was described in the OP.

4. I think you should ask her why her performance of the last movement of Chopin's Sonata is amazingly slow. Same for her Bach Siloti Prelude in D. I'm a complete amateur, but I think my Minute Waltz is about on her level.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/04/10 08:15 PM)

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#1509135 - 09/04/10 08:05 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Morodiene]
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

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.
Even if she did teach a student who won the VC Amateur Competition(which apparently is not the case), I think this only would say something about her ability to teach one particular student of a particular level.

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#1509149 - 09/04/10 08:34 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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D4V3

this thread has made a bit uncomfortable. While entertaining, i thought about how I'd feel if someone posted a video of my playing and solicited comments.. i think i'd be furious. it just doesn't seem right. Wonder if she reads this forum? this is a forum for teachers after all.. perhaps it would be more appropriate in the adult beginners or pianist corner areas.

I am glad you like her. I'd love the opportunity to study under a pianist of her stature and i do wish you luck. kind of jealous cause I haven't had lessons for about 2 years now.
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#1509155 - 09/04/10 08:50 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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Traditionally, student-teacher confidentiality only goes one way (same as patient-physician confidentiality). That's why websites like ratemyteacher and ratemyprofessor can exist. You are walking on thin ice by identifying yourself so clearly and your teacher may get upset if she comes upon this thread. I see nothing wrong with what you'd written, youtube video included, but she may feel differently.

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#1509387 - 09/05/10 11:41 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: pianoloverus]
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Quote:
I do not understand how some teachers can apparently take the same approach with all students. I think teachers should always gear their teaching towards the age, knowledge, talent, and goals of the student. Would she talk that way to a 10 year old beginner? Does she just teach everyone the way her teachers at some Russian conservatory taught her? What's the point in talking so negatively to a student of almost any kind but especially to one who is not intending a professional career?

The post is about the teaching of ONE student, so the reference to the teacher taking the same approach to all students is puzzling. Nothing has been written about how other students are taught.

Was this teacher talking negatively? She seemed to point out specific things: for example that "piano" should still project. As a student I would want to know something like that.

What you really seem to be saying is that a student who is not going for a professional career should not be taught toward the same standards, and not given the same skills. What if such a student wants those things? This amounts to shutting somebody out of what he or she can learn, because of who they are. If your message is that we students do not want to be taught to those standards, then it is a disservice to those of us who do. For me it means getting solid basics rather than playing fancy pieces flamboyantly, because of where I am, but that is essentially the same thing.

I have no way of judging the quality of this person's playing either for interpretation or technique. This is only about an attitude of taking students seriously, regardless of who they are.

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#1509654 - 09/05/10 07:46 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
I do not understand how some teachers can apparently take the same approach with all students. I think teachers should always gear their teaching towards the age, knowledge, talent, and goals of the student. Would she talk that way to a 10 year old beginner? Does she just teach everyone the way her teachers at some Russian conservatory taught her? What's the point in talking so negatively to a student of almost any kind but especially to one who is not intending a professional career?

The post is about the teaching of ONE student, so the reference to the teacher taking the same approach to all students is puzzling. Nothing has been written about how other students are taught.

Was this teacher talking negatively? She seemed to point out specific things: for example that "piano" should still project. As a student I would want to know something like that.

What you really seem to be saying is that a student who is not going for a professional career should not be taught toward the same standards, and not given the same skills. What if such a student wants those things? This amounts to shutting somebody out of what he or she can learn, because of who they are. If your message is that we students do not want to be taught to those standards, then it is a disservice to those of us who do. For me it means getting solid basics rather than playing fancy pieces flamboyantly, because of where I am, but that is essentially the same thing.

I have no way of judging the quality of this person's playing either for interpretation or technique. This is only about an attitude of taking students seriously, regardless of who they are.


Did you listen to the videos posted? That's the way one can judge the quality of their playing.

I objected to the tone of what the teacher said.

I also don't think students of all levels of talent and knowledge should be taught the same way or told the same things. A person at a certain level can only understand things based on where they are at that time. It's not a question of short changing someone; it's a question of choosing an appropriate standard for where the student is in terms of their development. As a student's level increases, the standards and ideas expressed by the teacher would be higher. I don't think first graders should be taught the same way or same things as eighth graders, do you?

To constantly interrupt someone playing a relatively easy Beethoven Sonata and especially someone who has no intentions of being a professional is very bad teaching IMO. My strong suspicion is that a teacher who does this with one student would do it with many others and perhaps all their students.

There's a saying about teachers something like "A poor teacher doesn't know what to tell a student, an average teacher thionk they should tell the student everything they know about a topic, a good teacher tells the student what's appropriate."

In summary, I think it's a question of tone and appropriateness.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/05/10 07:48 PM)

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#1509920 - 09/06/10 08:26 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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Pianoloverus, the one thing that seems to come across is a kind of picture of a student who is at earlier stages and/or does not want to go all too far far. When I looked, this is a person who has played piano for 15 years and hopes to reach the level of concert pianist if at all possible.

The tone, I agree, is not bedside manner, and many of us would not like it. The OP, however, was not bothered. If the student is comfortable, is it wrong? Perhaps there is an intent and attitude that sends out the right vibes nonetheless.

In terms of what kinds of expectations are appropriate for this student, only the teacher can know. I think that we also have to distinguish between what we would like for ourselves, or how we would teach, and what another student may like, and how someone else teaches. Teaching is not an exact science.

I don't know enough about piano to assess the playing or what it might imply about teaching, if it does. I'd be uncomfortable doing so in any case.


Edited by keystring (09/06/10 10:25 AM)
Edit Reason: fixed 1st sentence, added last paragraph.

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#1510018 - 09/06/10 11:24 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Pianoloverus, the one thing that seems to come across is a kind of picture of a student who is at earlier stages and/or does not want to go all too far far. When I looked, this is a person who has played piano for 15 years and hopes to reach the level of concert pianist if at all possible.

The tone, I agree, is not bedside manner, and many of us would not like it. The OP, however, was not bothered. If the student is comfortable, is it wrong? Perhaps there is an intent and attitude that sends out the right vibes nonetheless.

In terms of what kinds of expectations are appropriate for this student, only the teacher can know. I think that we also have to distinguish between what we would like for ourselves, or how we would teach, and what another student may like, and how someone else teaches. Teaching is not an exact science.


The OP is an adult who is studying one of the easier Beethoven Sonatas. So I can't imagine they're intending to reach concert pianist level. But even if this were the case, I think the teacher should tell them what is appropriate for their level as it is now.

It's good that the OP doesn't seem bothered by the teacher's style. I do think saying too much on the teacher's part can be harmful and confusing.

I think it's true that only the teacher can potentially be the best judge of what's best for a particular student, but unfortunately that doesn't always mean the teacher is the best or even a good judge of what's best.

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#1510084 - 09/06/10 12:52 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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It sounds like the student's level is being extrapolated by how complicated the piece is.

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#1510086 - 09/06/10 12:55 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
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Originally Posted By: keystring
It sounds like the student's level is being extrapolated by how complicated the piece is.


Help!...I don't understand that sentence. frown
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#1510100 - 09/06/10 01:08 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:

Keystring: It sounds like the student's level is being extrapolated by how complicated the piece is.

Rocket: Help!...I don't understand that sentence.


Pianoloverus stated that the piece is an easier Beethoven sonata. It may be that PL sees that the fact that the sonata is "easy" means that the student is at a lower level or still has less skills. The choice of piece = level and ability of student. That is what my sentence meant.

When my son came home from university he was preparing a study he had done years before at a grade level he had passed long before. Although it was a top university that students auditioned for, all students had this assignment. They had to play with utmost accuracy to build their technique to a higher level, and they were given lower level material so that they could concentrate on technique to a professional level.

This taught me that the level of a piece may not reflect the level of a student's skill. I don't know if it's the same for piano.


Edited by keystring (09/06/10 01:10 PM)

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#1510114 - 09/06/10 01:33 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
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Thanks!
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#1510193 - 09/06/10 04:08 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:

Keystring: It sounds like the student's level is being extrapolated by how complicated the piece is.

Rocket: Help!...I don't understand that sentence.


Pianoloverus stated that the piece is an easier Beethoven sonata. It may be that PL sees that the fact that the sonata is "easy" means that the student is at a lower level or still has less skills. The choice of piece = level and ability of student. That is what my sentence meant.

When my son came home from university he was preparing a study he had done years before at a grade level he had passed long before. Although it was a top university that students auditioned for, all students had this assignment. They had to play with utmost accuracy to build their technique to a higher level, and they were given lower level material so that they could concentrate on technique to a professional level.

This taught me that the level of a piece may not reflect the level of a student's skill. I don't know if it's the same for piano.


I agree that one cannot make an assumption as to what the OP IS looking to do. He's only played piano for 4 years, and since he sought out a teacher of the "Russian school" perhaps he is very serious about his study. He obviously wants to improve and wants a teacher that won't complement him on something if he didn't really do it well.

Let's not assume that by studying Beethoven's 14/1 that a person is not a serious musician - either amateur or on the professional track.
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#1510215 - 09/06/10 04:41 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Morodiene]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I agree that one cannot make an assumption as to what the OP IS looking to do. He's only played piano for 4 years, and since he sought out a teacher of the "Russian school" perhaps he is very serious about his study. He obviously wants to improve and wants a teacher that won't complement him on something if he didn't really do it well.

Let's not assume that by studying Beethoven's 14/1 that a person is not a serious musician - either amateur or on the professional track.

According to his/her profile the student is a broker. I think this means an adult with a full time job.

I think there's a huge middle ground between being "complemented if he didn't do well" and being spoken to the way the OP described.

Based on of the difficulty of Op. 14 compared to other Beethoven Sonatas, I think it's quite reasonable to assume the OP isn't an extremely advanced pupil. If this is not the case, I'm sure he'll say so. This in no way implies he's not a very serious student or he doesn't want to improve. It just should imply, I think, that the teacher shouldn't be interrupting him with "Stop" every few measures. I've seen 100's of master classes at Mannes. Even though these involve conservatory level students and some of the teachers like to interrupt frequently, none of them have said "Stop". They've found more appropriate ways to stop the student.

Just like not many classroom teachers tell a student in their class to "Shut up" even when they behave poorly.

No matter how serious or desirous of improvement a pupil is, IMO they should be taught at a level appropriate to where they are. Just like I think even a highly gifted second grader shouldn't be taught, say English, like a high school senior.



Edited by pianoloverus (09/06/10 04:56 PM)

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#1510242 - 09/06/10 05:20 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
No matter how serious or desirous of improvement a pupil is, IMO they should be taught at a level appropriate to where they are.

Which neither you nor I have any way of knowing. The piece he chose to play, and the profession he happens to have at the moment, are no indication of this person's level, goals, or future. One would think that his teacher who has observed the playing has a much better idea and doesn't have to guess in the same way.

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#1510269 - 09/06/10 05:48 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
No matter how serious or desirous of improvement a pupil is, IMO they should be taught at a level appropriate to where they are.

Which neither you nor I have any way of knowing. The piece he chose to play, and the profession he happens to have at the moment, are no indication of this person's level, goals, or future. One would think that his teacher who has observed the playing has a much better idea and doesn't have to guess in the same way.
I didn't say I knew with 100% certainty, only that my assumptions about his level, goals, and future were reasonable. And that I'm sure he'll let us know if my assumptions are wrong.

Frankly, if he were a very advanced student, I doubt he'd have posted his teacher's performances thinking they were of high quality for a performing professional.

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#1510452 - 09/06/10 10:11 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: keystring]
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IMO the teacher's approach (the "tone" taken together with the specifics) wouldn't be very good for someone of any level -- especially when we see from the teacher's videos that the musicianship and/or judgment are perhaps questionable. If a teacher is going to take that kind of approach, which I personally wouldn't appreciate from anyone and wouldn't recommend to anyone, at least he/she should be at a level that justifies it.

Sorry if this is harsh. But as they say, we calls 'em as we sees 'em. smile
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#1510715 - 09/07/10 10:12 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Mark_C]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
IMO the teacher's approach (the "tone" taken together with the specifics) wouldn't be very good for someone of any level -- especially when we see from the teacher's videos that the musicianship and/or judgment are perhaps questionable. If a teacher is going to take that kind of approach, which I personally wouldn't appreciate from anyone and wouldn't recommend to anyone, at least he/she should be at a level that justifies it.

Sorry if this is harsh. But as they say, we calls 'em as we sees 'em. smile


And I do agree. I woudl never dream of treating a student this way, but I don't have a Russian accent so I couldn't get away with it :P. Seriously, though, the student obviously liked this approach. I know of some phenomenal teachers who can be very harsh but to the point and certain students actually need/thrive on the kick in the pants attitude. It sounds like this teacher is what the OP was looking for. Ultimately, of course, it comes down to in the end if the student got better as a result of learning from this teacher.
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#1510767 - 09/07/10 11:57 AM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: D4v3]
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I dunno -- the lesson didn't sound that bad to me. She let him play through the whole piece at the beginning before she started working on it with him. I've had teachers that didn't even do that.

I think working on these small points actually can be very helpful, depending on what you want to accomplish. What's hard about the piano (at least one thing, anyway) is avoiding sounding mechanical and just plunking away at it, and also achieving good tone, which it seems like she was focusing on. Now, it would be interesting to know whether this teacher provided technical advice on how to achieve that. I hope the OP shares more of this with us.
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#1510770 - 09/07/10 12:04 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Piano Again]
Frozenicicles Offline
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Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
I dunno -- the lesson didn't sound that bad to me. She let him play through the whole piece at the beginning before she started working on it with him. I've had teachers that didn't even do that.

Me too - sometimes I would only get to play 4 bars of something for the whole lesson. The student before me sometimes ran out of the room in tears. Those were the days...

OP: I wonder whether this teacher was only going easy on you because it's the first lesson. Attitudes like this tend to escalate, from my experience. Do keep us updated! I'm sure many of us would be curious to see whether this style of teaching ends up helping you.

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#1510783 - 09/07/10 12:19 PM Re: My First Lesson with a New Teacher [Re: Frozenicicles]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19742
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
I dunno -- the lesson didn't sound that bad to me. She let him play through the whole piece at the beginning before she started working on it with him. I've had teachers that didn't even do that.
Me too - sometimes I would only get to play 4 bars of something for the whole lesson.

And me too.
But that in itself isn't the issue, and I don't think anybody here said it was.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1511478 - 09/08/10 12:24 PM 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
@ Apple* and Candywoman: Thankyou and going forward I will respect the anonymity of the other parties involved. I didnt think it would be an issue putting her video up when most of the reply posts prior were indicating that they liked the post and wanted to know more.

@ Pianoloverus and Keystring

I have asked my recent teacher before this current teacher, where he thought I was skill wise and all he would say is "advanced". I asked about the fact that some pieces he was having me learn seemed rather simple to which he would give me a look like and say something like "it's deceptively easy, but it needs to be performed with absolute musicality and there are certain elements of technique that we can work on with a piece that doesnt have many different things going at the same time." And "dont associate a piece's difficulty by how hard it is to sight read".

Not knowing how certain pieces are scored for difficulty its hard for me to say "This was the hardest thing for me to play or this was the most advanced piece". The last things I was playing before coming back to the piano were the Pathetique all three movements completed to teacher satisfaction; Several Prokofiev Visions and Fugitives (not just the simple ones); virtually all of Schumanns Kinderzehnen; Chopin's Berceuse (and recently the Fminor Etude); and finally Bach's Prelude 21. Score me as you may, you can look at my signature to see what Im working on currently.

Yes it is my wish to be a concert pianist someday and Im patient and am willing to go back and work on very basic pieces to develop my technique properly if needed which I think is what my current teachers are helping me with and are doing.

I am also realistic and dont think Ill be there over night but I would rather shoot for being a concert pianist some day and be close to that then settle for mediocrity and always wonder if I ever had it in me to be there.

~ Regarding recent lessons and added impressions ~

The first lesson seemed like she may be very strict at all times but she has been nothing but very pleasent to work with and I dont see those "stops!" as being critical but as a "stop right there because that's where a problem is and let's look at it before going on."

We are revisiting Grieg's Notturno because it is a good piece to look at some of the ways to pull the sound out of the piano.

I have played the piece more with finger movement and she is trying to show me to use more upper arm weight and wrist movements "wrist breathing" and immediate release of tension after playing the note because the sound has already been made and no constant downward pressure is needed other than to keep the note in place for its allotted duration.

We are doing some interesting things with scales and something new to me playing the scale's chords (4 notes in each hand to encompase the octave) through all its inversions multiple octaves using the arm weight drop technique. She gave the example of the Tchiakovsky Piano concerto and said that if you played those opening chords with out the arm weight drop technique youd be burned out after the first page or you run the risk of people not being able to hear you as you need to be heard.


Edited by D4v3 (09/08/10 12:31 PM)
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