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#1647081 - 03/24/11 09:44 AM Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable?
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I wonder, as teachers out there, what is your opinion if a student asked you to teach a certain way, or to teach something a little bit different to what you are accustomed to. I don't want to change roles or take the lead in any way. I did take lessons with a teacher many many years ago when I was in my early teens, it came to the point where I felt like I wasn't getting much substance out of lessons, I wanted to be a good musician, not a person who could just play 6 pieces on the piano and a few scales - I wanted to know music history, I wanted to know the reasons why and how we trill certain ways in certain points in history,... my teacher did everything for me, he put phrase marks in the music and told me to pause on them, he told me where to put dynamics in, where to pedal and he never let my own ears do the work ... and I never understood the need for breaks in music until I starting singing lessons and realised what phrasing really meant. My teacher at that time frustrated me, I came to lessons asking him to teach me some theory and history, I know I could have just grabbed a book myself and done all the work but I couldn't understand the applications it had to learning repertoire. Anyways, I asked my teacher if he could teach me how to accompany, how to compose, how to perform - the processes what should happen before and after and during, how to apply theory ... the need for certain technical exercises. He sort of never got to it, I did ask, discuss and he seemed to have gotten offended, he was quite old and he sort of was stuck in his ways, I don't think any of his other students complained... I did re-evaluate things and eventually I left him. I'm very happy with the teacher I'm with now.

I just wonder ... can I ask him to teach me a skill, I'm not talking about a certain request to learn repertoire ... I'm talking about an approach. My sight reading is not as great as it could be on the piano, I know the importance of that skill and I do want to be better at it, my teacher has always told me accompanying and just reading with a friend, since I study at a music institution is one of the best ways to do it. Since I am also a singer, I do love being at both ends of the music stand ... I love playing through my own accompaniments ... and I wonder if I devise a sort of sight reading/accompanying program where I learn up a piece in the week, every week, a very short one 2 - 3 pages ... have my teacher play the vocal line an octave above, but with some mistakes, sometimes out of time ...I just worked with a pianist recently and I did that just to mess with his head, LOL no actually it was so he would follow me and he did eventually! Maybe this is a stupid idea, you teachers out there, would be ok with students asking or requesting an approach?
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#1647291 - 03/24/11 04:12 PM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
you can ask certainly ask your teacher to provide more guidance about how to practice sight reading,
in fact, there are some very good sight-reading books out there including this series: Four Star http://www.the-music-store.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=650

you can start incorporating sight reading into your daily piano practice. i often tell my students to sight-read a few measures every day of pieces in their book that we haven't studied yet. don't try the whole piece - just go slow and attempt to get EVERYTHING correct on the first try (or first few tries). Ideally, you should practice sight-reading with material that is roughly 1 level below your current level.

hope that helps!
_________________________
Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com

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#1647434 - 03/24/11 08:43 PM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Thanks MC ... I have asked and we have sort talked about approaches and spending time everyday to practice sight reading, I do have quite a few books but I work through them rapidly. Anyways, I really want to accompany and I know that it assists sightreading very much... and I think that skill is important accompanying, would be fun to incorporate that somehow but I dont know if my teacher would be ok with that.
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1647603 - 03/25/11 04:14 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
I can totally relate to what you are asking here. I had a very similar scenario. When I started with my instructor she said she wanted me to be open with her and if I had any comments or questions about how the lessons were going I should feel free to bring it up with her. Well, around the two year mark I did. I was never particularly fond of doing the same old scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. day in and day out. So I asked her if I could do a etude every month or so instead. Also, the pieces she assigned me to learn would take upwards of 3 months to learn, and even then I would be only able to play them mediocrely. I asked her if I could learn simpler pieces, and via successive approximations proceed to more difficult pieces. This was met with much disapproval, she told me if I did this that I would never improve.

Since then we have had other arguments (I wanted to do more sight-reading, and I also wanted to use the Hanon book since it would provide more variation to my basic set of chords, scales, arpeggios, etc.) and now I don't think she really likes me anymore. She used to tell me that she enjoyed teaching me most of all, now she tells me that I am a very difficult student to teach and that I exhaust her.

I guess my story is a cautionary tale.

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#1647610 - 03/25/11 04:38 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3588
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I have no problem with students asking me for a certain approach. I will offer my thoughts on what I think the pros and cons are of various approaches. Once I am certain they understand what they're signing up for, I'm happy to proceed in the way they prefer. Even if it is a little left of centre, I can always find ways of making sure the important stuff is addressed. There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat - personally, I enjoy the variety.

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#1647622 - 03/25/11 05:16 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: polyphasicpianist]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist

Since then we have had other arguments (I wanted to do more sight-reading, and I also wanted to use the Hanon book since it would provide more variation to my basic set of chords, scales, arpeggios, etc.) and now I don't think she really likes me anymore. She used to tell me that she enjoyed teaching me most of all, now she tells me that I am a very difficult student to teach and that I exhaust her.


I can't think of any good reason why an adult student and adult teacher should ever argue. Having professional differences is one thing, arguments something else.

As a teacher you're at liberty to point out that you believe what a students wants will be unproductive. In fact, you've probably got a duty to. And of course you're at liberty not to teach a particular person (subject to whatever contractual arrangement you might have).

But arguing, and complaining that your students wear you out? Sounds all wrong to me. In a professional setting, the issue whether the teacher 'likes' the student, or vice versa, should really be a non-issue. I appreciate, of course, that things aren't always that straightforward.

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#1648108 - 03/25/11 11:51 PM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Hehehe, once the arguing happens, I'd leave. I made the decision when I realised my former teacher isn't really great ... in fact he was secluded and really aware of the other teachers in his area, or the new approaches and advances in music education... it was after I read about music history and pedagogical approaches, and after I went to a great deal of concerts, masterclasses, talked to other teachers and friends were I decided to make the leave. I don't intend to leave my teacher any time soon and I feel like he's a great teacher. Since I'm starting to teach, and since it's fresh and new for me, I like to approach things differently, not to reinvent the wheel, but to be innovative ... maybe because I'm young and very idealistic. My teacher seems to be open to change and different systems but he does sound very much like ando, he'll be honest if it works or doesn't work. Anyways, I'll talk to him.
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1648212 - 03/26/11 08:17 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Nannerle, you seem thoughtful, hardworking and have goals set that are attainable, practical, and possibly lucrative in a church setting... from my perspective.

I would save my teacher's time for technique and performance hints and exploring repertoire. Sight reading is a matter of exposure and work.. you have to do that.

I would certainly tell a teacher what my goals were. I'd find a different teacher if things were not working out.

while you are planning your future, It may be beneficial to consider studying organ. (in the states, it's great money) .. and then study choral conducting, or any conducting.

the voices of a choir are important, the voices of instruments are important and I think studying Bach best conveys independent melodies to the fingers. I'd work my way progressively thru Bach.. just playing the pieces you can comfortably read, and moving along quickly... (not practicing them to perfect, but rather to read).

Have a good foundation of arpeggios and scales and 'read' them while you practice. I would study a difficult piece in each key. It helps to analyze a piece before beginning. I go thru the arpeggios of chord progressions before beginning to work on a piece.. you can just then guess what the outer notes on the staves are and probably be right. .. if you were to play a b flat minor arpeggio starting in the deep bass it helps to know what the notes are. I mark the very low and high notes in pencil on my scores.

It helps to play fake music books with the chords written above the accompaniment.. you subliminally absord the chords as you play them.

I work with a woman who has a Doctorate in Choral Conducting.. she is an excellent pianist and pretty good organist. She has a fantastic job. I'm her accompanist and learn so much with my tasks on the organ and piano. too bad I can't sing. I make my money by playing funerals.. which is kind of sad in a way.

I am serious about throwing organ into the mix. There are techniques that help piano playing immensely and the mental exercise of separating voices onto 3 or more manuals (including the feet) is spatially rewarding... plus if you were to progressively work your way through jobs as you mature, it's a step along the way.

It seems many students study to perform and realistically many of them will not 'perform solo'... I am impressed with your goals.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1648221 - 03/26/11 08:34 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: apple*]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: apple*
I make my money by playing funerals.. which is kind of sad in a way.


Yes, but you're in great company. Bach did this, too.

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#1648239 - 03/26/11 09:31 AM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Thank you for the tips and advice apple... My sight reading isn't 100% horrible ... well it can be sometimes, it's getting better but it's not my strong point put it that way. I'd really love to do funeral work, sounds morbid but I think music does give people solace when they are grieving. It's hard to do as work ... atleast I think so, after losing somebody close to me not too long ago, the ideas I had over grief changed and I realised it's not that easy to pull off. Anyways, I'm quite good at analysis and I find that particularly helpful when reading music. It's starting to make sense to me now that I am doing my second year (my cousin who lives in the states put a term on it ... I can't remember what it was, anyways we call it uni, short of university). Organ seems really awesome and cool, slightly foreign to me and I'm not too interested in church work at least at this stage (never say never!), even though I do appreciate a lot of sacred music and I do enjoy singing Bach Cantatas and Oratorios. I'm just starting to learn how to read in figured bass, it's really fun, bit of a headache to do at first but rewarding when it sounds decent! Anyways, I've just contacted my teacher from kindergaten, I actually found her on facebook and thanked her for the impact she had on me since I'm now a music major ... and there is no longer a choir in that school as she left, so I've expressed interest in starting one. She's been quite helpful, allowed me to watch her colleague and learn some hints and tips.

I'd really like to do a few things... the goal is to finish with the Bachelor of Music degree, and to get into some music journalism - critiquing and writing program notes and articles, doing pre concert talks, radio, that kind of thing for a few years. Then to come back and do a post grad degree in research most probably in English art song or German Lieder. I really also want to teach/coach/conduct ensembles of choirs, local orchestras, chamber groups and do some chamber music myself ... and I'd love to teach of course - piano and voice ... I love performing in small and intimate spaces - hospitals, cafes, nursing homes, houses and I've started doing some performing in those spaces so I want to keep on going with that. Anyways, some big goals ... I know sight reading needs to be stronger for that mix to happen ... it's not terrible but it can be better. I'll give your ideas of sight reading a stab this week.. I do a lot of the work at home, but it can be fun when another musician is in the mix and when I sort of have the deadline and an extra challenge (somebody playing an upper part AND making a mistake).
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1648315 - 03/26/11 12:24 PM Re: Proposing a way of teaching to my teacher - acceptable? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
another thing you might try Nannerle is playing along with an ipod... buying the accompaniment and playing along with the singer.. I do that often when I play harder works for advanced singers.. lieder for instance, to prepare. I also play Bach along with my ipod.. it really accelerates learning. There are many opportunities to accompany.. but church work is so accessible, needed, and consistently paid.

(I actually love playing funerals in a way.. 2 hours including drive time and I'm done)
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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