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#1577266 - 12/15/10 03:18 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Morodiene,

How often do you walk up to students you do not know in order to criticize their playing? Yes, "criticize their playing" might not be the way you would put it. You might say, "offer your two cents," or something even milder and with a more positive spin.

Seriously, is this something you might do frequently? Or once in a blue moon if you observe something akin to a musical suicide in process?

Where do you draw the line between helpful suggestions and being an interfering busybody? Isn't this sometimes in the eye of the beholder? I think most people are reticent about walking up to a stranger to offer their own ideas about how to do things, and for good reason. Sometimes we can receive a very hostile reaction, even if we think we are well-intentioned.

And for every student who is "attached to their teacher" there may be others whose confidence is well and truly undermined. This is a point made by other teachers here.

Whenever you deliberately walk into another student teacher relationship you create a potential cascade of effects, many of which are hard to predict.

Most of the arguments I have heard here for active intervention are based on "trust me" judgments. "I'm a good person, and I only have the good of the other student at heart. Trust me to do the right thing, even if I cannot tell you any clear criteria for and against intervening." Unfortunately, things don't always work out well in these "trust me" cases.

I'm not an absolutist. I can envision circumstances in which intervention would seem the best course of action. But I wrap a lot of ifs, ands, and buts around that judgment. My first instinct tells me that it is rarely the best policy to circumvent the other teacher and approach the family (or student) directly.
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#1577285 - 12/15/10 03:54 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I was talking to a student today - do you know why his teacher has him play a grade 8 piece by Clara Schumann instead of Bach? Because Bach has no dynamics so it'll be hard to impress the examiner. Advice P*Dad?
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#1577288 - 12/15/10 03:59 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Now, let's make sure we have this straight. You walked into the music store, this student, a total stranger to you, was playing Clara Schumann, and you struck up a conversation on why the student wasn't playing Bach?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1577291 - 12/15/10 04:01 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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No, he was playing from his grade book and I asked why he hadn't chosen the Bach piece.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1577306 - 12/15/10 04:18 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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And where was he playing from his grade book? How did you come across this student?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1577314 - 12/15/10 04:22 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Not saying.
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#1577315 - 12/15/10 04:22 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: keyboardklutz]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
No, he was playing from his grade book and I asked why he hadn't chosen the Bach piece.


Bach is not for everyone. Some kids play everything beautifully--except Bach. I'd also be more impressed with Clara Schumann, probably because her music is not frequently played.

No dynamics in Bach?? Hmm...
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#1577317 - 12/15/10 04:25 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Piano*Dad Offline
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One of these days, KBK is going to tell us about the cracked jaw he just experienced at the hands of a fifteen year old who got tired of saying, "bug off." grin
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#1577321 - 12/15/10 04:28 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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He was also breaking in every nail joint. Guess what that did for his Beethoven Rondo!
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#1577372 - 12/15/10 05:33 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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The appears, KBK, is that you're attempting to equivocate two different situations - easy to do on a forum like this, but I strongly suspect the situations were quite different.

A lot of perfectly fine teachers have old notions; it doesn't make them bad teachers. What it means is that if you're going in to the serious study of Baroque literature, you need to look at orchestra, choral, and solo music to get a better handle on real performance practices.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1577414 - 12/15/10 06:27 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: keyboardklutz]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I was talking to a student today - do you know why his teacher has him play a grade 8 piece by Clara Schumann instead of Bach? Because Bach has no dynamics so it'll be hard to impress the examiner.
How did you come to be talking to him?

Student may have given (intentionally or unintentionally) inaccurate information about what his teacher said.

Teacher may have been (intentionally) not telling the student the true reason for not playing that piece (e.g. his teacher knows from experience that this student will not have any chance right now of doing a good job of that piece, etc).

And, kbk, you care so deeply about some random child's choice of piano pieces because... ???

Either set yourself up as a registered charity and put your piano on a street corner downtown, or go back to teaching the students who actually signed up to study with you.

The White Knight costume must get heavy after a while. smile

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#1577450 - 12/15/10 07:21 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Canonie Offline
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Loc: Australia
So... the teacher of this grade 8 student has recommended that the student play to his strengths for the exam itself. The student is better at bringing out dynamics in Schuman than dealing with the performance practice of Bach. It doesn't tell you how much or little Bach the student has studied, it tells you about one alternative as part of one exam. What was the rest of the students program? What has he studied in the past year or two?
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#1577463 - 12/15/10 07:32 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Everybody seems to be quizzing KBK with the idea that this will back him into a corner. Dream on! smile

This is a mindset issue. Some think it's their bounden duty to assist the world's musically oppressed (as they define it) and others tread with more caution around the autonomy of that individual and his or her relationship with a teacher.
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#1577484 - 12/15/10 08:16 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Canonie Offline
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Loc: Australia
haha of course! a leap sideways to nail joint! But still 'not saying' is interesting... Kbk you are always enigmatic as well as fast moving wink
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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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#1577486 - 12/15/10 08:21 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Everybody seems to be quizzing KBK with the idea that this will back him into a corner. Dream on! smile

This is a mindset issue. Some think it's their bounden duty to assist the world's musically oppressed (as they define it) and others tread with more caution around the autonomy of that individual and his or her relationship with a teacher.

Yes, we know better, but it's still fun to see if we can!
_________________________
"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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#1577501 - 12/15/10 08:36 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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smile
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#1577508 - 12/15/10 08:44 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
If I'd seen a Grade 8 student working on the Clara Schumann I would have been intrigued as well - the Bach Capriccio in the 2011-12 ABRSM Grade 8 book is SO FABULOUS, and the Clara Schumann Prelude and Fugue so technically demanding, that I would be really, really fascinated to know what drew the student to that choice!

It wouldn't be about telling them they should be learning the Bach, at all!! It's just a really unusual repertoire choice. And I wouldn't be the least surprised if, at the end of the 2011-12 period, ABRSM discovers only 5% of Grade 8 students selected the Clara Schumann.

I'd have been equally interested in why they didn't select the Trygve Madsen Prelude and Fugue, which is really cool!

And if the student had said "Because my teacher thinks it's hard to impress the examiner without dynamics" or some such, I would have laughed.

I wouldn't have said anything bad about the teacher (because who knows what the real story is?!), but I would have been intrigued at the rationale for selecting the Clara Schumann which seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the piece itself!!

I might have then asked, and are you enjoying learning this Romantic Prelude and Fugue? Is this the first Clara Schumann piece you've ever learned? Are you enjoying the challenge of mastering a fugue?

Talking to someone else's student should be about conversation, not instruction.
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#1577651 - 12/16/10 01:44 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I was surprised there was a Clara Schumann piece on offer - it's not very good though and is quite a challenge to bring out. When you think, as you say Elissa, he was put off the Capriccio an amazing piece! And all because Bach has no dynamics! (I can tell the teacher actually said this). Not a lot of advice here apart from Elissa's - I'll have to have a gander at Trygve Madsen. A bunch of personal stuff is the best you can do? As for the 'cracked jaw' remark - I'm highly respected where I go, thank you very much.
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#1577653 - 12/16/10 01:50 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Canonie]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: Canonie
haha of course! a leap sideways to nail joint! But still 'not saying' is interesting...
Not sure what that means. The kid breaks in all his nail joints - to be ignored? In Beethoven?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1577891 - 12/16/10 10:46 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Morodiene,

How often do you walk up to students you do not know in order to criticize their playing? Yes, "criticize their playing" might not be the way you would put it. You might say, "offer your two cents," or something even milder and with a more positive spin.

Seriously, is this something you might do frequently? Or once in a blue moon if you observe something akin to a musical suicide in process?

Where do you draw the line between helpful suggestions and being an interfering busybody? Isn't this sometimes in the eye of the beholder? I think most people are reticent about walking up to a stranger to offer their own ideas about how to do things, and for good reason. Sometimes we can receive a very hostile reaction, even if we think we are well-intentioned.

And for every student who is "attached to their teacher" there may be others whose confidence is well and truly undermined. This is a point made by other teachers here.

Whenever you deliberately walk into another student teacher relationship you create a potential cascade of effects, many of which are hard to predict.

Most of the arguments I have heard here for active intervention are based on "trust me" judgments. "I'm a good person, and I only have the good of the other student at heart. Trust me to do the right thing, even if I cannot tell you any clear criteria for and against intervening." Unfortunately, things don't always work out well in these "trust me" cases.

I'm not an absolutist. I can envision circumstances in which intervention would seem the best course of action. But I wrap a lot of ifs, ands, and buts around that judgment. My first instinct tells me that it is rarely the best policy to circumvent the other teacher and approach the family (or student) directly.


I don't do this often, partially because there are a lot of very good piano teachers in this area that I trust do a good job. Singing, however, is another matter. This is where every and any technique is employed with disastrous results and without any knowledge of how the voice functions. People spend lots of money on lessons, many of them hoping to have a career in voice only to have their hopes dashed because they think they aren't talented enough, when in fact it is the teacher who cannot teach, and so they do not progress. Or worse, they develop vocal nodes due to poor instruction, often being taught the opposite of what must be done for healthy sound production.

Many of these teachers, I will grant, do this out of ignorance. They simply teach what their teacher taught, and their teacher had no clue either. However, I know for a fact that some of these teachers have been faced with the reality of their errors and walked away from learning a better way to teach because they were so entrenched in their old ways, regardless of the lack of results in their students. It is then that they become a charlatan. I am passionate about what I do, and when I know for a fact that a student is getting bad instruction (I have actually taken lessons from these teachers in mind), I can't just sit idly by and hide behind "professional courtesy". Those teachers do not deserve being treated professionally because they are taking money from students in exchange for ruining their voices.

Sorry for the rant, but this is where I'm coming from. Again, I don't encounter this much in piano in this community, but if I did, you can be sure I'd point it out should the opportunity present itself and the errors being made by the student warrant some unsolicited advice. So, I guess I have some "ifs" in there too. One has to take each case individually, and making blanket statements either way is not representative of what I do.
_________________________
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#1577914 - 12/16/10 11:16 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Quote:
I can't just sit idly by and hide behind "professional courtesy".

The crux of the issue. To me, and perhaps to others (based on their comments), this has absolutely nothing to due with rendering "professional courtesies" and everything to do with sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. The line between offering unsolicited advice and lending a helping hand is very fine indeed, and often difficult to distinguish. I tread this line with great care, erring on the side of silence. In the United States, at least, far too many people are self-appointed experts, and feel that they have a right to impose their opinion on you.

You are a wonderful voice teacher, with vast knowledge which could prove very helpful to students. The case in question, however, is of an individual who is both a tuner/tech and piano teacher. You can infer he is not a master of either, as he cannot earn a living from one or the other. It appears he was simply trolling for students, finding something suspect in their playing, then berating the teacher. It's an old sales trick.
_________________________
"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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#1577948 - 12/16/10 12:01 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Argerich5405 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/09
Posts: 172
I'd like to update you all on the situation. My friend met the tuner/tech piano teacher for a trial lesson. He said the lesson went well, with the teacher pointing out various ways of playing piano. For example, playing at the ends of the black keys only, evenness of touch, posture, proper hand position/height by the piano, etc... Then he went to his regular lesson with his first teacher. Again, he enjoyed his lesson - it was just a different emphasis on the playing, leaning more towards expressiveness, musical discussions, etc... He thinks he can learn something different from each teacher.

Well, the issue is that he'd have to do lessons every 2 weeks with each teacher...but isn't sure about how confusing that would be. Also he thinks that the first teacher might be hurt if he ever found out my friend had a second teacher. How can you keep that quiet for long?? What if my friend wants to take part in recitals and competitions...the first teacher might be ignored completely and only the tuner/tech piano teacher would be acknowledged. That is just wrong. I think eventually the teacher would know. In summary, the tuner/tech piano teacher knows the dilemna and says that he's ok doing lessons every 2 weeks...but my friend would be keeping his current teacher in the dark. Any recommendations?

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#1577959 - 12/16/10 12:19 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Argerich5405
I'd like to update you all on the situation. My friend met the tuner/tech piano teacher for a trial lesson. He said the lesson went well, with the teacher pointing out various ways of playing piano. For example, playing at the ends of the black keys only, evenness of touch, posture, proper hand position/height by the piano, etc... Then he went to his regular lesson with his first teacher. Again, he enjoyed his lesson - it was just a different emphasis on the playing, leaning more towards expressiveness, musical discussions, etc... He thinks he can learn something different from each teacher.

Well, the issue is that he'd have to do lessons every 2 weeks with each teacher...but isn't sure about how confusing that would be. Also he thinks that the first teacher might be hurt if he ever found out my friend had a second teacher. How can you keep that quiet for long?? What if my friend wants to take part in recitals and competitions...the first teacher might be ignored completely and only the tuner/tech piano teacher would be acknowledged. That is just wrong. I think eventually the teacher would know. In summary, the tuner/tech piano teacher knows the dilemna and says that he's ok doing lessons every 2 weeks...but my friend would be keeping his current teacher in the dark. Any recommendations?


How do you hurt someone's feelings more, by telling them up front or by them finding out later on?

Your friend should have an open conversation with his current teacher. Any reasonable teacher would be open to the idea of trying it.
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#1577964 - 12/16/10 12:36 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Argerish5405
Any recommendations?

Same advice as previously. If the student is not satisfied with his current teacher, find a third teacher. Avoid the piano tech/teacher as he doesn't deserve any reward for his tactics.
_________________________
"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
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#1577968 - 12/16/10 12:43 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
What about saying to teacher A, "Can we work on technique?"
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#1577970 - 12/16/10 12:44 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Morodiene]
keystring Online   content
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Morodiene, I appreciate reading your post. You are an experienced teacher and I imagine that you would make the right judgment call in the right set of circumstances. This is NOT about the particular situation, but a general question for all kinds of circumstances. This is one side of it. The main thing that bothers me about this discussion is that there are many scenarios, many kinds of students, teaching, teachers, and observers. How can there be one single correct response?

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#1577976 - 12/16/10 12:54 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: danshure]
Argerich5405 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/09
Posts: 172
Originally Posted By: danshure

How do you hurt someone's feelings more, by telling them up front or by them finding out later on?


I think it's because he really likes his first teacher. I think they might even be "friends". How do you think the conversation would go without basically telling the teacher that he's inadequate and that's why a second teacher is needed? My friend was perfectly happy with this teacher until the second teacher made all those comments about his playing. I think he lost a little confidence in his teacher and that is the real issue. I wouldn't feel comfortable telling my teacher that he's not teaching me what he should...after all, he may have his own tactics for approaching certain techniques.

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#1577980 - 12/16/10 01:02 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Argerich5405
in the dark
Bad plan.
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#1577981 - 12/16/10 01:06 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: david_a]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
+1 Generally speaking, two teachers are a bad idea anyway. Each teacher, if they are half-way decent, will be following some kind of plan, and you can almost expect conflicts to arise very quickly. There are exceptions where a supplemental teacher is called in, as in master classes, and the primary teacher can evaluate the teaching in context of what the student is generally learning.
_________________________
"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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#1577997 - 12/16/10 01:34 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Quote:
I can't just sit idly by and hide behind "professional courtesy".

The crux of the issue. To me, and perhaps to others (based on their comments), this has absolutely nothing to due with rendering "professional courtesies" and everything to do with sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. The line between offering unsolicited advice and lending a helping hand is very fine indeed, and often difficult to distinguish. I tread this line with great care, erring on the side of silence. In the United States, at least, far too many people are self-appointed experts, and feel that they have a right to impose their opinion on you.

You are a wonderful voice teacher, with vast knowledge which could prove very helpful to students. The case in question, however, is of an individual who is both a tuner/tech and piano teacher. You can infer he is not a master of either, as he cannot earn a living from one or the other. It appears he was simply trolling for students, finding something suspect in their playing, then berating the teacher. It's an old sales trick.


I agree with the original situation in question. There are always those who are just looking for students any which way they can get them.
_________________________
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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