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#1578518 - 12/17/10 03:24 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Last Sunday, I had a piano lesson with my teacher, and I mentioned about the Paul Barton guy in Youtube (should check his videos). I think he is very good in teaching how to play Chopin Preludes, Etudes etc. My teacher got defensive right away. Yet my teacher is a real concert pianist graduated from Moscow Conservatory, Juilliard, and won many competitions. I can imagine a less secure piano teacher must go nut if his or her student said Mrs. X told me that I did not play this correctly.

Yes, that is exactly what I experienced when I took my adjudication sheet to my teacher and described how the adjudicator was pretty harsh about my technique. My teacher was very defensive and said that we had been working on those technical issues already (we hadn't very much, most lessons are focused all on interpretation) and I was made to feel like it was my fault for not trying to fix things. I think a simple "he's right - we should work more on that" would have been a more graceful response.

Addressing the OP: that second teacher sounds like a con-artist. Advise your friend to drop him. Play only on the ends of the black keys - why?

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#1578649 - 12/17/10 09:47 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Frozenicicles]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles


Addressing the OP: that second teacher sounds like a con-artist. Advise your friend to drop him. Play only on the ends of the black keys - why?


So we can judge the other teacher based on what was said on this forum and not having been there, but we can't judge a student based on obvious errors we see in their playing? I sense a double-standard here.
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#1578655 - 12/17/10 09:54 AM 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
In countries with music examination cultures (where piano students take external assessments as a matter of course every year), teachers generally LOVE the feedback from the examiners!! So often students fail to take the teacher's advice seriously, and having the examiner say exactly the same things in the report that the teacher has been saying in the lesson can be tremendously helpful!

Of course, from time to time one might encounter a 'rogue' examiner, but this is very rare (most exam boards, in the UK at least, have rigourous annual training to make sure examiners are producing consistent markings as well as taking a consistent approach to comments).

As stated before, an assessment of a teacher's work simply cannot be made by looking at one student - if ALL the students presenting for exams return with the reports of the same technical deficiencies then the teacher should take a good hard look at what they are doing.

Beyond this, this whole discussion is based on the two elements of piano education: firstly, the completely unregulated nature of piano teaching (anyone can claim to be a piano teacher), and secondly, the vast ignorance in the general population as to what piano tuition should be. Combine a consumer population with little background knowledge with a service provision that is entirely unregulated and you have a situation in which students have no way of knowing who to believe.

And it is the issue of eroding trust that has most respondents criticising the 'teacher' who interferes. Without trust education simply cannot take place.
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#1578674 - 12/17/10 10:48 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Even in countries without musical examination cultures (like the US for the most part), students and teachers welcome feedback from the events in which they do participate. In the US I'm thinking about Guild and Federation auditions, master classes, and independent music auditions and competitions.

But these are organized events in which the feedback is expected and customary. There are also rules and customs for how criticism is given at these events. These are not situations in which the teacher is likely to feel that the outside examiner is either a crank or a threat to the trust inherent in a good student/teacher relationship. Yes, we are all familiar with bad judging (either in content or in tone). In these situations, a teacher needs to be able to communicate to the student what message to take away from the adjudication.

These situations are rather distinct from the uninvited interposition of another teacher between the student and their instructor.
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#1579176 - 12/18/10 02:25 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1493
Like most things, I think it depends on the situation.

I think upon first meeting and hearing somebody, it is COMPLETELY wrong to criticize their teacher for deficient playing. Several reasons:

1.) You have no idea how long or to what extent this person has been working with their teacher.

2.) As somebody mentioned earlier, some teachers may choose to focus on one aspect at at time, and it could just be that they "haven't gotten to this point yet."

3.) Lastly - and the biggest issue I feel - is that every student learns at a different rate. After spending six years in two major conservatories, I can say with confidence that a person's playing does not - by and large - reflect the quality of the teacher. Sometimes a teacher may be describing as patiently, clearly, and as eloquently as possible something that needs to be fixed, but the student just hasn't "gotten" it - yet. I consider myself proof of this. For many years (and still, to a degree), I have always played with a lot of tension. I have been told, and told how, time and again, that I need to "relax", but whenever I tried to do it (and believe me, I tried), I would just feel awkward and clumsy. In retrospect, I've seen that learning to play truly relaxed and with economical movements is a VERY slow process, often taking many many years and is often directly proportional to your growth in other musical and psychological aspects. Any teacher who saw me playing with raised shoulders would have found out for themselves how difficult it was for me to put them down if they spent a few lessons trying to teach me themselves.

A recent interview with Evgeny Kissin comes to mind. He is asked what piece of advice he would give up and coming pianists. His response :

"If anyone who is not familiar with your personality, your mentality, and your problems tries to give you advice - send them straight to hell!"

All that being said, I think that if you are on a more familiar basis with somebody (A friend, or a student you don't teach but know quite well), and you are aware of what situation they are in, it is ok (and arguably almost morally obligatory), to SUBTLY and GENTLY suggest that MAYBE there are certain issues in their playing that need to be addressed and could possibly be done so by another teacher - if you do notice recurring, serious problems in their playing.

It's all about the context of the situation....

[i][/i]


Edited by Opus_Maximus (12/18/10 02:40 AM)

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#1579192 - 12/18/10 03:21 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teach [Re: Morodiene]
Frozenicicles Offline
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Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles


Addressing the OP: that second teacher sounds like a con-artist. Advise your friend to drop him. Play only on the ends of the black keys - why?


So we can judge the other teacher based on what was said on this forum and not having been there, but we can't judge a student based on obvious errors we see in their playing? I sense a double-standard here.

You're right - my statement was too absolute. We only know one side of the story, from a second hand account.

By the way, I thought that the question was whether we can judge a teacher based on their students' playing. Of course we can, but a sample size of one has a wide margin of error. It is also tricky to bring these things up tactfully. Most students are pretty attached to their current teachers.

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#1579193 - 12/18/10 03:22 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
For many years (and still, to a degree), I have always played with a lot of tension. I have been told, and told how, time and again, that I need to "relax", but whenever I tried to do it (and believe me, I tried), I would just feel awkward and clumsy.


Have you given Taubman a thought? It solved my tension problems.
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#1579198 - 12/18/10 03:34 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Opus you seem to wish it both ways, so I suppose the answer to the OP is yes with discretion.
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#1579202 - 12/18/10 04:02 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Elissa Milne]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
So often students fail to take the teacher's advice seriously, and having the examiner say exactly the same things in the report that the teacher has been saying in the lesson can be tremendously helpful!

I often have the opposite experience. Most examiners (or "evaluators," as we call them on this shore of the Pacific) are too nice. They overpraise students with scintillating comments and give ludicrously high marks! My colleague and I did some study within our branch: if 75% of the students who applied for honors got honors, what's so honorable about that???
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#1579302 - 12/18/10 08:32 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11706
Loc: Canada
First off, I'd like to change the question. The answer to whether a teacher should be judged is clear - no, never - because it is not about judging someone. This whole idea of figuring if someone is "good" is idiotic because it is useless. All it does is affect egos. What is the purpose of commenting on the quality of a teacher, except to get the student to change teachers, or boost one's own ego?

The preferred question imho: If a teacher or advanced musician is sure that he perceives a major possibly harmful flaw in how someone is playing, should he say something? There is a two-word answer to that: "IT DEPENDS".

I'd like to narrow the question down further. We're hearing from advanced players possibly on a career path or already in a career, where the critique involves fine points of interpretation, and the student probably has a half decent teacher in the least. Piano*Dad's story springs to mind. This is a parent who had lessons himself in youth and so knows how to guide his child including assessing teachers and goals. I'm excluding this kind of scenario to keep it from being too broad, narrowing it down as below.

When you have an adult who is unfamiliar with music study, or maybe even such a person as parent finding lessons for his child, it's a different situation. It is more likely that this person won't know what to look for in a teacher, or what goals should be behind his goals. (Your goal isn't to play X piece well, but to get at technique and aspects that will make you play this piece and other pieces well.) Even if he is told about timing or other details, he may not know what that means or how to practice it. It is also more possible that the teacher will not give him foundations, or not much of it - this can happen for a number of reasons - and he won't know that anything is missing. This is John's "cart before the horse in order to not lose the student" scenario. Except with some teachers, the horse never is put where it belongs.

In this scenario, a student might be straining because he has never been told about posture and an effective form to his playing, so he doesn't aim for it and never will (he doesn't know about it). He might have been told, but hasn't grasped that it's significant to his playing well (not knowing what to pay attention to in lessons). He may be trying very hard to play the piece well, polish passages, master a trill .... but never get at underlying things that are impeding him. In the right circumstances, if a stranger points out what he sees about posture or form or uneven timing, this student may be aware of it for the first time in his life. If so, he can aim for it, ask his teacher about it, or discover the significance of what his teacher has been telling him. This can make an incredible difference if he welcomes this information and decides to pursue it. "Pursuing it" includes asking one's teacher, and listening to the answer in an open-minded intelligent manner.

There is an incredible number of variants: it has to be "it depends". This includes the moment in time, the student, the teacher, and the observer.

I had two friends who learned of things they then asked their teacher about, which in turn shifted what the teacher felt free to teach them. A third friend had not grasped that her teacher's "incidental comments" were actually the important part. Part of a situation of adult students is that when teachers try to give what they think is necessary, they lose the student, so the next adult student is less likely to have such things presented ... leaving that particular hole ... etc. The other part is that we are more likely to listen for the wrong things, and pay scan attention to the right things, because we won't know what matters.

I disagree with the idea of never saying anything. But if something is said, it should be prudent with the right motivation, and lead the student to take it further. The student also has a role: being very cautious about such things. Not jumping at advice as the "holy grail of instant success".

I don't think that any answer that says there is only one answer is correct. If in doubt, keep quiet, maybe.

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#1579314 - 12/18/10 08:53 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: AZNpiano]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1200
Loc: Berkeley, California
I often disagree with examiners, and feel very frustrated by some of their decisions and comments, and obviously I can't register anything according to MTAC codes of behavior. One examiner spent two paragraphs telling my student to bow correctly which drove me up the walls. Others have made reasonably helpful remarks that have helped me and my students.. The other thing that really perplexes me, and it may be slightly off topic, is that judges have been picked to adjudicate students who are members of a local branch, and frankly, I think that is just not a good idea.

Shirley K
http://arioso7.wordpress.com
blogging today about technique, warm-ups with my 10 year old student demonstrating.
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#1579425 - 12/18/10 01:09 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
keystring, as always, I love hearing your perspective....

AZNpiano and music32, in exam systems such as ABRSM, Trinity College London, AMEB and so forth (I can't speak for the Canadian system) examiners are rigorously trained (especially the UK exam boards) and the comments they are allowed to make are quite clearly defined. The UK has had more than a decade of accrediting educational bodies, and the ABRSM and Trinity exams now make available quite detailed information regarding assessment, marking systems, comments and so forth.

Australian teachers will probably agree that marking in the AMEB can vary from one examiner to the next to a larger than useful degree, but the comments are usually pretty fabulous feedback.

Obviously, not the case with some of the US piano performance assessment products.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
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#1579470 - 12/18/10 02:20 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4416
Loc: San Jose, CA
I suppose my own teacher might be harshly criticized if someone heard me play. Ah--- but they should have heard me before. It is not an easy job for him, but he has made a difference. And, as well as my playing, he has opened doors for me into the worlds of theory, music history, the local performance scene, where the better music stores are, recordings and U-Tube vids that would be helpful to my studies, applied lessons in today's recording and producing technology...

That critical person should listen to him play, and they would get an idea of what I am aspiring to. They might consider the value of encouragement and example. The short audition of a student's playing is like seeing the freeboard of the great iceberg at sea, without knowing of the existence of the 7/8 which supports it, below the waterline.
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#1579743 - 12/18/10 11:35 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Jeff Clef]
RaindropPrelude Offline
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Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 73
I've been taught by 3 different teachers in total, one for violin and 2 for piano, and I've realized that all teachers focus on different things. What one teacher thinks is important, another might not consider necessary. My first piano teacher was very very into how you looked when you were playing, your wrists and arms and back and feet...you mouth aha. If my elbow was to in or too out he would stop me over and over. My current teacher doesn't focus on that as much as he did at all. She often says how its unnecessary because each student has different needs and plays differently. My violin teacher was only concerned with the sound being produced and VERY into theory.
I don't think teachers should criticize, because they all have different methods. In the end, what matters is for the teacher to find the methods and techniques that best suit the student.
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#1579797 - 12/19/10 02:23 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: RaindropPrelude]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: RaindropPrelude
My current teacher doesn't focus on that as much as he did at all. She often says how its unnecessary because each student has different needs and plays differently.
Often a pretty lame excuse for someone who doesn't know what their doing. If you'd never had your first teacher would you be playing as well?
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#1580024 - 12/19/10 01:18 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5270
Loc: Europe
Ok.

A little story here...

I had a concert with my 5 (a couple more who just joined in were not able to take part yet) students! It went... not bad. I wanted a very casual event and so it happend.

But there was a point (which I didn't noticed right away) which is pissing me off to NO END! Grandmother of a student, a piano teacher (quite old though and I have never heard her play), decided to bad mouth the performance of another student RIGHT WHEN SHE WAS PERFORMING! The student, a lovely 15 year old, was performing a Chopin Mazurka (can't remember opus right now) and she lost it at some point. Ok, not a crime, not brilliant either and there are excuses! Her parents made her be extremely late! I asked the parents to bring in the kids at 17:00 (the recital was due at 18:00) and they showed up at 18:15! And not only that, but for their younger daugher (aged 7) they hadn't brought her books with them, so I had to flee for 5 minutes in my studio to make her the score.

Anyhow, when the poor student lost it, the grandmother moaned "undispicable" (or something to that extend...). Loud enough for the student to hear it (but not me :(). Result was that both the pieces that the girl were playing did not go very well, the girl was crying all night (as I heard from her parents), and I still haven't been able to get in touch with them!

Honestly I'm frustrated to the highest degree right now!

* Can I call the student (we have an excellent relationship) and discuss things with her on the phone, or wait for Wed instead (her lesson day)?
* Should I talk to the parents of the student with the grandmother about this? This might result to a conflict I feel (incidently if you recall a student who doesn't like lessons, and didn't like classic era sonatas that's her).

I think I know the answers in general (be cool, not insult anyone, wait a few days for me to cool off, talk to the student who was a reck afterwards as soon as possible, but preferably in person, talk to the paretns of the other child). And of course find a way to NOT invite the grandmother again to any of my students recitals or find a way to clearly tell her to shut up when MY students are performing!

But just wanted to vent off here (once again I think... heh).

Thanks for reading.
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#1580032 - 12/19/10 01:27 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I'd kick 'granny' to the curb asap. You're not going to change her behavior by talking to her that's for sure.
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#1580046 - 12/19/10 01:47 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
Yeah, Granny is probably unchangeable. Actually, anyone who would choose to behave that way in public is probably unchangeable. smile
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#1580227 - 12/19/10 06:49 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3204
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Yeah, Granny is probably unchangeable. Actually, anyone who would choose to behave that way in public is probably unchangeable. smile


While the behavior was horrible, calling it choice requires information not available.

Something similar happened to my daughter, when singing a duet in church at a special service. Conditions were already against her. Both girls had a cold and couldn't hit the high notes, so at the last moment a different piece was selected; neither had a strong voice that morning and the microphone didn't pick up well, so the piano accompaniment was dropped and they would sing unaccompanied, literally a last second change.

But they were at the point of pulling it off fairly well, when an elderly gentleman in the audience recognized the piece and began singing along, in a different key. Train wreck. (though they did eventually pull it back together and struggle through to the end)

Thing was, he meant no harm. He has fairly advanced Alzheimer's. Even my daughter wasn't upset with him, though she was crushed at not doing a better job.
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#1580264 - 12/19/10 07:57 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
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Loc: San Jose, CA
The aftereffects of a stroke can disinhibit the brain's ability to shut the mouth up, and all kinds of things can come out that shouldn't. Add a hearing impairment to that, and it comes out loud.

I'm sorry the little girl's feelings were hurt.

It's nicer to believe that the family couldn't anticipate this... or maybe Grandma is just a mean member of a mean family, and they talk like this all the time.

Tell them you'll pull their tongues out if it happens again.
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#1580358 - 12/20/10 12:34 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Nikolas]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
... (incidently if you recall a student who doesn't like lessons, and didn't like classic era sonatas that's her)...


Err... I remember you posting about this girl. Not to go off on a tangent, but... is it possible that her possibly highly critical, not knowing when to keep her mouth shut, ex-piano-teaching grandmother might have something to do with her hating lessons?

With the description you gave, I can picture the grandmother being highly critical of the girl's playing... and pretty much killing any joy that she'd have.

Anyway - sorry to hear all this happened. Poor 15 year old! It might be a good time to explain to her that some people are not very nice, and often when we encounter these people, their comments have much more to do with THEM then US, even if they happen to be aiming at us wink

Good luck with it...

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#1580375 - 12/20/10 01:42 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5270
Loc: Europe
Thanks for all the comments.

The 15 year old is doing fine I think. I called her last night (Sunday, but who cares? ;)) and she sounded... rather fine. She did tell me that she wasn't well after the recital, but she changed her mind over the next day to something like this: "Instead of crying I decided to be stubborn, do better and carry my books with me at all times. If someone pulls something like this to me I'll hand over the books and call them on stage to perform it 'better'"! YAY for her!

And, of course, I believe that the granddaughter (2 "d"s?) is having troubles because of the granny. So I think that on Thursday (the time of HER lessons) it's time for a lengthy chat with parents and child... Oh boy this is going to be nice... brrrr...

In either way, if the comment was coming at me, for allowing the 15 year old to play and not give a perfrect performance, I can handle it perfectly! Only it didn't seem this way. (I'll check for her brain condition, while discussing thing btw...)

Again thank you for the comments! (It was my first recital as a teacher by the way).

Jeff: The granny's family is NOT like that! They are quite nice, and encouraging to the child. They are not mean by any chance and the rest of their children have turned up ok (I think).


Edited by Nikolas (12/20/10 01:43 AM)
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#1580541 - 12/20/10 10:47 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4416
Loc: San Jose, CA
"Jeff: The granny's family is NOT like that! They are quite nice, and encouraging to the child. They are not mean by any chance and the rest of their children have turned up ok (I think)."

And there goes our chance for the coolest recital ever, where we get to see someone's tongue pulled out for talking during the performance.
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#1580597 - 12/20/10 12:34 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Nikolas]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
(I'll check for her brain condition, while discussing thing btw...)


Personally I'd keep the "brain condition" thing out of it, best not to cloud the central issue, which is, that for whatever reason, her behaviour was unacceptable. If the family wants to offer up a medical condition as an explanation, fine. But even if that is the case, I don't think it's appropriate for her to behave in that manner during a kids recital.

After recently having an experience at a recital where some parents where behaving in a very "clueless" fashion and frankly ruining things for most of the other folks (and performers), I'm all for teachers being very explicit about the "rules for conduct" during these events. And to also be explicit about the fact that the parents are responsible for any guest also following these rules.

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