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#1707811 - 07/05/11 01:56 PM Private male piano teachers?
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
I will graduate with a master of arts in music in a few years, and the idea of private teaching is becoming increasingly appealing. This presents some confusion for me though. My own private teacher was a woman, and when I began working with her again in preparation to apply for a master's program, she cautioned me that the only possible route for me was to get a job teaching at an institution. She had told me that it's not acceptable for men to teach privately out of their homes, as she does. Is this true, and why?

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#1707819 - 07/05/11 02:11 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Because you'll be a threat to all those "Aunt Sallies" who've had a few years of lessons and are now "teaching" for some extra cash.

Welcome to the forum - glad to have you here.

Seriously, I teach out of my home simply because the added cost of renting retail space would price lessons out of the range of 95% of all students.

There are a number of issues we men have to face, and one of the most annoying is the constant threat of "molestation" charges. I video my lessons and send the video home with the student.

If I were just starting out, I'd look for a small house, located on a main thoroughfare, which I could rent with option to buy and convert it to a studio. You might give this some thought. As time passes, you can complete ownership and then have a nice piece of real estate to convert into retirement funds.
_________________________
"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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#1707833 - 07/05/11 02:43 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
That certainly hasn't been my experience. I haven't had anyone distrust me - not that I would blame them if they did. I show them my "Working with Children" certification (that's an Aussie thing) and they sit in on the lessons for the first few times at least. I really can't say being a male teacher has affected me in the slightest. Probably depends where you are though. I don't think she has any business saying it is "unacceptable" for a male teacher to have his own studio. It may be unacceptable to some potential clients, but it's not morally wrong to want to teach in your own home because you are male. The implication that males are untrustworthy but all females are safe is quite offensive, in fact.

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#1707840 - 07/05/11 02:58 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
She had told me that it's not acceptable for men to teach privately out of their homes, as she does. Is this true, and why?

Such a nonsensical statement! I am teaching in both situations, at an institution and privately. You can teach in whatever situation you choose to.

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

There are a number of issues we men have to face, and one of the most annoying is the constant threat of "molestation" charges.


I am extremely cautious when it comes to that. As teachers, we are bound to touch our students, either on their hands/arms to correct their positions and technique, and also shoulders to make sure they are relaxed. Please do NOT teach behind closed door. Always leave the door open; or at least have a door with glass window. Always have an open door policy where the parents can come in whenever they like to sit. This is serious matter and you need to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Personally I do not like teaching out from home. I prefer another location, where the setting is little more "professional". There are some music shops that will allow you to rent by hours, or by days. Look into that eventually. You may want to start from home to save money and migrate out later. I find parents and students are too relaxed when they come to my home. I have had parents laying/sleeping on my couch, turning on my tv set and start watching without my consent, siblings ruining my furniture (a prized Wassily chair! Ouch!), broken stuff, food on the carpet and everywhere, etc. etc...
So, good luck in your studies and teaching.
_________________________
JN

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#1707846 - 07/05/11 03:08 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
lechuan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 180
Thank you for raising this question. I have been wondering the same thing.

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

There are a number of issues we men have to face, and one of the most annoying is the constant threat of "molestation" charges. I video my lessons and send the video home with the student.


John, How do you usually explain the concept of video-taped lessons to parents? Is this for all young children? Or all female students (regardless of age)?

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#1707848 - 07/05/11 03:09 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Thanks for the feedback! I assumed what she was referring to was in some way related to child molestation, but I couldn't (and still can't) believe it. I don't know why men are seen as inherently less trustworthy. In any case, it doesn't seem like it's as cold-cut as I was lead to believe. The recording is a great idea-I tape myself regularly to scrutinize my own practice, so not only would it keep your "bases" covered for students, but it would be beneficial for them as well.

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#1707863 - 07/05/11 03:46 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Because you'll be a threat to all those "Aunt Sallies" who've had a few years of lessons and are now "teaching" for some extra cash.

You made me smile. smile

There are some "Uncle Jims" out there too!

Seriously, there are problems teaching in a studio, and there are problems teaching elsewhere. However, the idea that it is OK for women to teach in a studio, but not men, almost seems to me like a kind of reverse discrimination!


Edited by Gary D. (07/05/11 03:46 PM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1707867 - 07/05/11 03:50 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I love John's idea of renting or purchasing a small house to turn into a studio. Then you could also hire additional teachers down the road and have a "Music School."

There are three male teachers in my local MTNA group, and there has been no gossip or problems. One is a Suzuki teacher, who ask that parents attend the lesson anyway.

_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1707871 - 07/05/11 04:00 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: lechuan]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: lechuan
Thank you for raising this question. I have been wondering the same thing.

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

There are a number of issues we men have to face, and one of the most annoying is the constant threat of "molestation" charges. I video my lessons and send the video home with the student.


John, How do you usually explain the concept of video-taped lessons to parents? Is this for all young children? Or all female students (regardless of age)?

I highlight the recording as an offering my studio has which most do not - and it gives the student/parent an opportunity to look back at the lesson to answer questions without waiting until the next lesson.

Video is for 100% of students, whether parent is present or not.
_________________________
"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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#1707886 - 07/05/11 04:33 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
kissyana Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Northeast Illinois
Wow. My first piano teacher was a man who taught out of his house. My mother is no dummy and wouldn't trust just anyone with her children. Although he closed the door during lessons, you could hear pretty well what was happening if you were sitting in the waiting area. I enjoyed the lessons very much. I had another male teacher during high school then another one again for my first three years of college. None of them were creepers.

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#1707888 - 07/05/11 04:34 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2465
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: lechuan
Thank you for raising this question. I have been wondering the same thing.

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

There are a number of issues we men have to face, and one of the most annoying is the constant threat of "molestation" charges. I video my lessons and send the video home with the student.


John, How do you usually explain the concept of video-taped lessons to parents? Is this for all young children? Or all female students (regardless of age)?

I highlight the recording as an offering my studio has which most do not - and it gives the student/parent an opportunity to look back at the lesson to answer questions without waiting until the next lesson.

Video is for 100% of students, whether parent is present or not.


Highlighting your studio's recording could also be of interest to other pianists who occasionally want to have their piece recorded. When I participated in my first ABF recital, I paid a modest fee to be recorded for the recital. I didn't have the equipment, and didn't want to take the time to figure that out because I was new to all of this. It was worth it to me to pay someone else to record me in their facility, and I could simply concentrate on giving my best for the performance!
_________________________
Carl


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#1707892 - 07/05/11 04:39 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1420
Loc: under monsoon clouds
My middle-aged male teacher teaches out of his home, and he's totally non-creepy. I don't think it's ever been an issue for him to teach at home, nor for other male teachers I've known.

I used to do the same, after a few years of teaching in music stores, and would never want to go back to a store studio.

Eventually, as my mother ages, I'll probably move my acupuncture practice to my home, although that would present greater difficulties. I miss working at home. There are a few disadvantages, but many advantages.

Good luck with your teaching career!

Elene
_________________________
Semi-Pro Musica

Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
Website: http://elenelistens.com






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#1707904 - 07/05/11 05:04 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
I hope you don't let this foolish 'advice' deprive your potential students of the benefit your teaching could give them. Personally, I've had fine teachers of both genders.

All teachers, no matter what the setting, have to be aware of their own reputation these days--- and they always have been. It is not a new thing. Open doors, parent participation, electronic recordings, lessons in somewhat public spaces; all are pretty good ideas and can help in a lot of ways.

The ladies seem to have their share of unfavorable press these days regarding sexual improprieties with students. Not that I'm glad to see it, but the guys don't have a lock on the market.

A female teacher I know got into some pretty bad trouble when she broke up a fight in a public school class. So sex isn't the only bear trap out there for teachers.

When you speak of being attracted to private teaching, it would be interesting to know what you find attractive about it. Teaching takes a special gift; it is not an easy job, at best. I always remember how hard my teachers worked to move me along--- they really worked for their money, and God bless them for it.
_________________________
Clef


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#1707945 - 07/05/11 06:11 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Jeff Clef]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jeff, having taught in both situations, I cannot imagine ever voluntarily returning to a classroom situation. It is so delightful to watch each student progress, from week to week, lesson to lesson. Their music making skills constantly improving. What could possibly be more rewarding?
_________________________
"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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#1707964 - 07/05/11 07:10 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
My husband and I go for the solution in teaching in a public place, mostly at the church he is music director at. And all our (I say "our" because we team-teach some students, or at least the other is asked to assist occasionally, like I'm good with the electronic stuff (audio, video recording, ear training, and music theory on the laptop) and he's good with playing most of the piano parts for my clarinet students and helping my more advanced clarinet students with their ear training requirements. (usually from Level 6 upwards) Actually we use the former somewhat more than the latter.)) students and parents know both of us, and are totally welcome to stay, though most don't. And my husband and I are required to have police checks since we are regularly at the church, and he's worked with elementary school kids in both private and school settings.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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#1707990 - 07/05/11 07:52 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
pianoeagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 218
Loc: Texas
I know male teachers in my area, and they haven't dealt with this issue. I have studied in my male professor's home for a while without any thought regarding this.

I think there are a few ways to counter this potential issue, including encouraging parents to attend lessons, teaching in an open area (preferably with lots of natural light), offering references, or passing a background check (and letting any parents know). As long as you don't act like you're trying to hide anything, and you invite the parent to be as involved as possible, you should be OK.
_________________________
Children's piano instructor
Member NGPT, MTNA/TMTA/PMTA, NFMC/SJFMC

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#1707993 - 07/05/11 07:56 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
When you speak of being attracted to private teaching, it would be interesting to know what you find attractive about it. Teaching takes a special gift; it is not an easy job, at best. I always remember how hard my teachers worked to move me along--- they really worked for their money, and God bless them for it.


What appeals to me about the private atmosphere (paticularly operating from your own residence, at least initially) are many things that have already been pointed out—cheaper for you, so cheaper for students, and the ability to work continually with a small group of students, and be able to develop close artistic relationships with them as you watch them grow, both physically and musically. Also, I've always been somewhat of an independent personality that likes to develop my own approach, so dealing with the politics, quirks, and constraints of an institution is definitely not on my wish list. From a practical standpoint, for at least the first few years after I graduate I fully anticipate having to work a second part-time job to be able to pay the bills, so teaching privately out of my home or flat would be a wonderful way for me to start out building a student base, which can then become a full-time source of livelihood eventually. That being said, I'm certainly not interested in private teaching for the "money."

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#1708016 - 07/05/11 08:31 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1208
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
However, the idea that it is OK for women to teach in a studio, but not men, almost seems to me like a kind of reverse discrimination!


Why "reverse"? Is there an assumption that discrimination is always in the favour of men?

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#1708025 - 07/05/11 08:47 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
We had a situation in our town several years ago where a male piano teacher was convicted of molesting some preteen/teen boys. I think male teachers do need to take extra precautions when setting up their studios.

The easiest thing I think would be to require the parent to sit in on each lesson. Your homeowners/renters insurance rates may even be determined by whether kids are being dropped off at your location or if they're attending with a parent.

You can also drive to students' homes, as my teacher did. There's a big demand for lessons taught in-home and you can charge some decent fees.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1708028 - 07/05/11 08:52 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
I don't know why men are seen as inherently less trustworthy.


Although I don't have the numbers at my fingertips, I would hazard a guess that the bulk of molestation episodes are initiated by men. Profiling is not irrational. It's a simple application of probability. If you want to fight the statistics, you must proactively demonstrate your trustworthiness. Hence John's videotaping, as one example. Keeping parents present at the lessons is another.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1708032 - 07/05/11 08:58 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
You can also drive to students' homes, as my teacher did. There's a big demand for lessons taught in-home and you can charge some decent fees.

That's an interesting idea that I hadn't really thought about, so thank you for pointing it out. I would imagine any relatively intermediate or advanced student would want to make use of my grand, but especially for very young students this might be a good option for some.

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#1708037 - 07/05/11 09:06 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"It is so delightful to watch each student progress, from week to week, lesson to lesson. Their music making skills constantly improving. What could possibly be more rewarding?"

I didn't mean to suggest otherwise, John. It is good to hear the view from the other side of the piano bench.

My last two teachers--- both very fine--- seemed to be like ships in a storm at sea, dashing themselves on the rocks of my slowness, practice though I might. I actually, finally, consulted a doctor to see if something was going wrong with my brain. But no; nothing worse than old age. Younger minds are far more plastic. But, I've still continued to do my lessons and I do enjoy the very modest progress I've achieved with their help and sweat.

Vasilievich, there's nothing wrong with making a good income from your work. As the saying goes, "Never say anything bad about money--- it might hear you." But you do seem to have some good reasons and some empathy for your vocation, and... well, like John said.

I only wish I could see my first piano teacher again, so she could see that it really did make a difference in my life.
_________________________
Clef


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#1708066 - 07/05/11 09:39 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2465
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
You can also drive to students' homes, as my teacher did. There's a big demand for lessons taught in-home and you can charge some decent fees.

That's an interesting idea that I hadn't really thought about, so thank you for pointing it out. I would imagine any relatively intermediate or advanced student would want to make use of my grand, but especially for very young students this might be a good option for some.


You should look at another post in the Teachers forum in which home visits are discussed for some differing view points. Check out the post about "dropping students b/c of parents."
_________________________
Carl


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#1708118 - 07/05/11 10:53 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: griffin2417]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: griffin2417
You should look at another post in the Teachers forum in which home visits are discussed for some differing view points. Check out the post about "dropping students b/c of parents."


Thanks for the tip- that was very informational. I agree with those who said traveling to student's home is not the best of circumstances, but it still is something to keep in mind.

What sort of education level is normal/expected for private teachers? Is a master's degree a sufficient and valid credential? Is there anything that parents (or the students themselves) are specifically looking for?

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#1708121 - 07/05/11 10:56 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 269
My son used to take private lessons out of a male teacher's home. He was a high demand teacher too. He now take lessons from another male teacher at a large music school. I don't see why that would be a problem at all. I'd be welcoming to parents sitting in and taking notes if they want to, but really, I don't see the problem.
_________________________
Amateur musician, piano and violin parent

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#1708152 - 07/05/11 11:48 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
However, the idea that it is OK for women to teach in a studio, but not men, almost seems to me like a kind of reverse discrimination!


Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Why "reverse"? Is there an assumption that discrimination is always in the favour of men?

"Is there an assumption?" Or did *I* make an assumption, in your eyes?

If someone, for any reason, is discouraged against doing ANYTHING, for reasons of gender, then there is prejudice. And the idea that certain "work" is mainly for "men" or for "women" is hardly novel.

In the past, it was assumed that "school teachers" would be women, doctors would be men, nurses would be women, etc.

This thread started out with a male beging told by a female not to do the same work, in the same environment, that *she* did.

Call it what you like: it does not assume equality in the profession I have been in for decades.

Or do you have another point?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1708229 - 07/06/11 02:30 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
However, the idea that it is OK for women to teach in a studio, but not men, almost seems to me like a kind of reverse discrimination!


Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Why "reverse"? Is there an assumption that discrimination is always in the favour of men?

"Is there an assumption?" Or did *I* make an assumption, in your eyes?

If someone, for any reason, is discouraged against doing ANYTHING, for reasons of gender, then there is prejudice...

Or do you have another point?


Gary,

I think Wombat was just wondering why you called it "reverse discrimination" instead of just "discrimination". I think he is in agreement with you when you say that any gender prejudice, in either direction, is discriminatory. Hence why the need for the "reverse".

(On the other hand, since historically, and certainly today, most discrimination in the world is against women, it's pretty common (and, I think, not so terrible) to refer to discrimination against men as "reverse".)

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#1708232 - 07/06/11 02:46 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
What sort of education level is normal/expected for private teachers? Is a master's degree a sufficient and valid credential? Is there anything that parents (or the students themselves) are specifically looking for?


Any degree will do! In fact, my MTAC branch has quite a few teachers who don't even have a music degree!

The great majority of piano students--let's face it--don't need conservatory-level training, and over half of the kids who take up piano don't even make their way out of the method books.

Unless you want to teach the "serious" students only, but then you'd have quite a bit of competition from older, more established and experienced teachers. And you'd have far fewer students.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1708238 - 07/06/11 02:57 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
John Bell Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Minnesota, USA
I began piano lessons when I was 13 and my first teacher was male. My parents didn't sit in nor did they even stay at the studio. I think that because neither my parents nor I did not fear anything, my teacher did not have to worry about fixing my hands or something that a teacher may fear doing. I think that is just human nature (perhaps especially in America) we just want to believe that everyone is a predator.

In my personal experience, anyone who has gone through the process of getting a degree in music and building their whole career on performing and teaching would have more sense than risking everything by molesting a child.

Actually after my first piano teacher said that he couldn't teach me anymore after one year (he only taught very beginning piano) I had a female teacher who was probably less comfortable fixing my posture/hands than my first piano teacher was.

I guess video taping lessons would be a good review material to improve your teaching as well as a legal precaution.
_________________________
http://www.jbpianotuning.com

Just starting the profession of piano tuning, hoping to learn a lot about fixing/tuning pianos, and get a good education in business.

Student at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I'm majoring in Music and Business.

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#1708240 - 07/06/11 03:13 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I don't videotape lessons, but I will record audio if requested. I also don't engage in any physical contact with students. I don't want any misunderstandings of any kind. I disagree with the notion that it's unavoidable that you have to put your hands on your student to correct certain problems. I think you just need to be creative with your words. I don't want any child going home to his/her parents saying, "my teacher touched me here or held this". If it can't be done with words, it's not important enough to do.

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#1708242 - 07/06/11 03:15 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Nikolas Offline
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Loc: Europe
just need to report that I teach privately over the home of my students, or at my own studio. It's up to them, although I charge more to go out to their place! I've had absolutely no trouble getting in the houses, or working with young males or females, or older ones. Absolutely no issue whatsoever!

And, yes, I'm a male!
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#1708259 - 07/06/11 04:07 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
kevinb Offline
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I know many men who teach privately in their own homes. It's not just music -- there are plenty of men teaching math, or French, or whatever, to high-school kids of both genders.

Maybe it's a cultural thing -- where I live I don't think it would occur to anybody to think that this was inappropriate in any way.

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#1708261 - 07/06/11 04:41 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
fleetfingers Offline
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Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Arizona, USA
It's a sad reality that men have to be careful about these kinds of things and that some people have become so hyper-sensitive. You should be able to touch the fingers and hands of students as you teach, and it is not inappropriate to do so! Unfortunately, some people might think that it is. Just be careful and aware.

My first teacher (when I was six) was male and I adored him (I'm female).

As a parent, I seek out male teachers because I have boys and they prefer "boy" teachers.

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#1708276 - 07/06/11 06:13 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Slowdown Offline
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Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Ah, that's a coincidence fleetfingers; I was just going to add that, while I have a fairly even spread of male and female students, I think that quite a few parents of boys have actually chosen me as a teacher because I am male.

I do some teaching from my home. And I'm obviously completely flexible about parents sitting in on lessons etc.

I hate the idea that people would assume that I am more likely to abuse children because of my gender - but I have to admit that I am extremely careful never to touch a student when I'm demonstrating hand position or a phrasing gesture or whatever.

But I think the notion that you can't be a private piano teacher because you are male is silly and sexist - and inaccurate!
-Paul
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#1708291 - 07/06/11 07:40 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1208
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
However, the idea that it is OK for women to teach in a studio, but not men, almost seems to me like a kind of reverse discrimination!


Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Why "reverse"? Is there an assumption that discrimination is always in the favour of men?

"Is there an assumption?" Or did *I* make an assumption, in your eyes?

If someone, for any reason, is discouraged against doing ANYTHING, for reasons of gender, then there is prejudice. And the idea that certain "work" is mainly for "men" or for "women" is hardly novel.

In the past, it was assumed that "school teachers" would be women, doctors would be men, nurses would be women, etc.

This thread started out with a male beging told by a female not to do the same work, in the same environment, that *she* did.

Call it what you like: it does not assume equality in the profession I have been in for decades.

Or do you have another point?


I think I made my point very clearly! Yes, it is discrimination. Why is it REVERSE discrimination?

As for the sex of teachers, it depends how far in the past you look!

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#1708292 - 07/06/11 07:46 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Loc: London UK
Here in the UK, we have just been informed by our Health & Safety Executive (a government body that advises on exactly what it sounds like it would) that we should all stop being stupidly cautious and accept that zero-risk is unattainable. It's probably really all about cost-cutting, but it's sensible advice too!

With any luck this will be followed by a reminder that contact with a pupil is not automatically against the law, there is no reason not to photograph or film school events ....

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#1708302 - 07/06/11 08:19 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
...there is no reason not to photograph or film school events ....


Sigh -- we can but hope. I was pleased to hear that the Information Commissioner's Office has issued a circular to schools asking them to desist immediately from blaming information protection law for these stupid policies. Still, I guess they'll find other stupid pseudo-justifications if they want.

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#1708330 - 07/06/11 10:06 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
The problem with trying to explain something as subtle as hand posture or other bodily positions is that it's, well, very difficult - both to describe and to understand. I truly think it helps student if they can actually feel what correct form is, as opposed to trying to figure out what you meant, move their wrists up a little, and hope you applaud. Another key is to teach by example and play demonstrating what good technique looks like (not there is just one "good" technique, however). Again though, not every student will be able or willing to pay close attention to the subtleties of your playing.

The problem comes when one student misinterprets your efforts to improve their playing. The only personal experience I've had with this was actually sexual harassment against me from a student. When I taught a few students for volunteer work hours back in high school, one student misinterpreted my hand touching as a sexual advance, and tried to initiate a sexual encounter. I threw the kid out. But then again, this was an individual that I had a bad feeling about, and went against my better judgement taking them on as a student in the first place. Which is probably another valid point - in many cases you can tell which individuals will be "problem" students or parents right from the get-go. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid them like the plague, but for those cases extra precaution is in order.

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#1708366 - 07/06/11 10:53 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The problem you will face is that here in the USA, the public schools drill students that adult touching, of any kind, is wrong. It's drilled in and constantly reinforced from K on up. I find that with transfer students, especially high school students, I simply have to tell them that to illustrate the point, I'm going to have to touch their hands and wrists, and I will move around to their left side, so the camcorder can capture the lesson, and ask them to review it carefully when they get home. And if they have any problem with it, let me know now, otherwise, I will proceed.

You will also want to invest in liability insurance to protect you from lawsuits, if it ever comes to that.
_________________________
"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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#1708378 - 07/06/11 11:09 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2465
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The problem you will face is that here in the USA, the public schools drill students that adult touching, of any kind, is wrong. It's drilled in and constantly reinforced from K on up. I find that with transfer students, especially high school students, I simply have to tell them that to illustrate the point, I'm going to have to touch their hands and wrists, and I will move around to their left side, so the camcorder can capture the lesson, and ask them to review it carefully when they get home. And if they have any problem with it, let me know now, otherwise, I will proceed.

You will also want to invest in liability insurance to protect you from lawsuits, if it ever comes to that.


Excellent advice! I don't think this should at all discourage the OP from becoming a teacher. It's just being realistic and taking the proper precautions. This subject has been about male teachers. However I think John's advice is applicable to everyone.
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#1708407 - 07/06/11 11:55 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"I agree with those who said traveling to student's home is not the best of circumstances, but it still is something to keep in mind."

My last teacher came to my home, and it worked out well. There was a modest additional charge (I could have gone to his place). The previous teacher taught in her home studio, and the 30-mile commute got to be a bit much, plus, starting the lesson 'cold' was not the best. My own piano is not only familiar, but better than many I have played in studio settings (and my teacher loved it). And, for me less exposure to germs, etc. during flu season.

"What sort of education level is normal/expected for private teachers? Is a master's degree a sufficient and valid credential?

You might think of courses in pedagogy, or a teaching credential. Knowing how to play is not exactly the same thing as knowing how to teach. Still, listening to my teachers play was very motivating, and watching them demonstrate sometimes said more than a big pile of words could.

Is there anything that parents (or the students themselves) are specifically looking for?"

This is the big question, isn't it. It's what you have to find out by talking to them, drawing them out, getting them to show you: what is that little spark of love for music that you will fan into a toasty fire, which will warm them for the rest of their lives? By your own knowledge of the field, you may be able to give them bigger goals, but if the stove is out to begin with you can fan it all you want, and in vain.

The best teachers are able to see the light in a student when they don't know about it themselves. The best teachers help us to experience our own light.
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#1708456 - 07/06/11 01:23 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Jeff Clef]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2465
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef


The best teachers are able to see the light in a student when they don't know about it themselves. The best teachers help us to experience our own light.


I'm lucky enough to have had such a teacher!
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#1708508 - 07/06/11 02:58 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Nikolas]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
just need to report that I teach privately over the home of my students, or at my own studio. It's up to them, although I charge more to go out to their place! I've had absolutely no trouble getting in the houses, or working with young males or females, or older ones. Absolutely no issue whatsoever!

And, yes, I'm a male!

For home teaching it is a matter of distance, time, gas. Some people live in small towns, and students live close.

And some people are willing to pay a lot of money to have people come to them. There are other reasons to go to homes. I taught a fine student for several years, preparing him to major in piano performance, and his piano was better than mine. It was logical to go there, and his family treated me with complete respect.

But they only live about 10 minutes away, lessons were a MINIMUM of an hour, sometimes they fed me!

In general, here in South Florida we live in a megapolis. It takes forever to get anywhere, long distances. So with traffic and the very high cost of gas, there are extra difficulties. I don't like to drive, and I don't have the energy I once had when I was younger!. smile
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#1708551 - 07/06/11 04:13 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Jeff Clef]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef

The best teachers are able to see the light in a student when they don't know about it themselves. The best teachers help us to experience our own light.

Wise words. I would add to that another idea: often I have worked with students who did not seem to have any "talent", were not "natural players", did not seem especially motivated. But some of these students stuck with me a long time, and in the end I think they achieved far more than most simply because something in them made them keep going. And I should add that some of these people totally surprised me by turning to HAVE something special in them that I did not see at first, something special that made them far better han average players.


Edited by Gary D. (07/06/11 04:13 PM)
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#1708586 - 07/06/11 05:07 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich


The problem comes when one student misinterprets your efforts to improve their playing. The only personal experience I've had with this was actually sexual harassment against me from a student. When I taught a few students for volunteer work hours back in high school, one student misinterpreted my hand touching as a sexual advance, and tried to initiate a sexual encounter. I threw the kid out. But then again, this was an individual that I had a bad feeling about, and went against my better judgement taking them on as a student in the first place. Which is probably another valid point - in many cases you can tell which individuals will be "problem" students or parents right from the get-go. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid them like the plague, but for those cases extra precaution is in order.


You've exactly described why it's important to be able to get your message across without touching. I disagree that it's essential to touch sometimes. It's just a limitation to your ability to use words if you believe this. I have never had a problem getting a message across in words in 20 years of teaching. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right analogy. If you touch somebody, there's no guarantee that they are actually taking notice of what you are doing. To some, it can take their focus right off what you are teaching them because it's odd for you to suddenly have physically contact with them. I strongly advise you to think of ways to avoid using touching as a teaching method.

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#1708633 - 07/06/11 06:33 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: ando

You've exactly described why it's important to be able to get your message across without touching. I disagree that it's essential to touch sometimes. It's just a limitation to your ability to use words if you believe this. I have never had a problem getting a message across in words in 20 years of teaching. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right analogy. If you touch somebody, there's no guarantee that they are actually taking notice of what you are doing. To some, it can take their focus right off what you are teaching them because it's odd for you to suddenly have physically contact with them. I strongly advise you to think of ways to avoid using touching as a teaching method.

I agree that it is important to get messages across without touching.

I do not believe that ONLY words is ALWAYS the fastest way to get things across. A small big of physical guidance often saves a huge amount of time, but it always has to balanced against possible "complications".
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#1708642 - 07/06/11 06:48 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
+1 Helping the student position arm/hand/wrist can be a time saver, and there are times when words don't cut it. The old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words is applicable. Of course, we're talking about the 2% of the time when words are inadequate; 98% of the time, words are more than adequate. But why eliminate an important teaching tool when some common sense and precautions can eliminate any misinterpretation?
_________________________
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#1708644 - 07/06/11 06:52 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
But why eliminate an important teaching tool when some common sense and precautions can eliminate any misinterpretation?

Exactly! smile
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#1708725 - 07/06/11 09:40 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
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Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
This reminds me of once when my teacher asked me. "do you mind if I touch your arm?" and even then he used a pencil to hold a finger in place...... It's necessary I suppose but a little sad somehow.
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#1708785 - 07/06/11 11:36 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: ando

You've exactly described why it's important to be able to get your message across without touching. I disagree that it's essential to touch sometimes. It's just a limitation to your ability to use words if you believe this. I have never had a problem getting a message across in words in 20 years of teaching. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right analogy. If you touch somebody, there's no guarantee that they are actually taking notice of what you are doing. To some, it can take their focus right off what you are teaching them because it's odd for you to suddenly have physically contact with them. I strongly advise you to think of ways to avoid using touching as a teaching method.

I agree that it is important to get messages across without touching.

I do not believe that ONLY words is ALWAYS the fastest way to get things across. A small big of physical guidance often saves a huge amount of time, but it always has to balanced against possible "complications".


I never said it was always the fastest way. Only that it is possible to do it with words - and yes, words work 100% of the time for me.

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#1708793 - 07/06/11 11:56 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
keystring Offline
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Might you say: words and also being able to demonstrate, Ando? With this, your student can both see and hear you as well as getting your explanations. smile

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#1708798 - 07/07/11 12:01 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: ando

I never said it was always the fastest way. Only that it is possible to do it with words - and yes, words work 100% of the time for me.


What levels of playing are your piano students at? I suspect this might have something to do with that as well. My teacher sometimes has to demonstrate something to me if its an advanced concept (the various different kinds of touch required is a case in point (esp for pieces like the Chopin etudes), its difficult to explain it in words without any demo whatsoever. The teacher needs to demonstrate to the student that the right touch employed produces the desired sound, etc). What repertoire do you teach your students? I believe these are all pertinent questions.

Also, my teacher has to touch me to correct my posture many times because sometimes I'm just not aware that something suboptimal is happening, so it would take a long time to explain it to me with just words.. some amount of touching is necessary IMO. If one had all the time in the world during lessons, we could all possibly make do with just words if we really wanted to. Unfortunately that's not the case and so there is the issue of what's the fastest way to get across a concept.


Edited by liszt85 (07/07/11 12:03 AM)
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#1708811 - 07/07/11 12:44 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Keystring:
Oh absolutely, demonstration is a cornerstone of teaching. I wasn't trying to say that I teach only through verbal description. There's heaps of demonstrating going on! We seemed to be in a Words vs Touching debate and I was referring to this idea that you must touch a student to correct hand or body position. It can all be done without touching. I have ways of getting students into ideal posture through a series of steps starting with how they sit down in the first place. I get them to follow and copy my movements and be aware of how things feel along the way. I actually believe this offers some extra benefits - it helps to get them more connected with their own physiology. When trying to find the ideal positioning, I'll have them alternately tensing things. relaxing things - even shaking things about! By the time they are aware of different parts of their body and what they are contributing to their posture and position, they are well on their way to being free of problems. I attach terminology to these events as we go, so after a while, I just have to mention a word or two to attain the desired correction if something needs to be changed. I have experience with Alexander Technique which is designed to find optimal posture and I employ many of its principles. A lot of the problem with piano technique comes down to people just not understanding their own bodies. Once you clue them into some of the basic fundamentals of anatomy and muscles, the issues start to disappear.

Liszt85, no, your teacher thinks he/she has to touch you and you believe it to be necessary. I accept that your situation is working happily for you, but there are alternatives. It can all be done through a series of steps using verbal guidance and demonstration. Yes, some teachers use touching but it's not the only way. It depends on whether you teach posture and position in a holistic way. In my experience touching to correct something sometimes comes from not having put all the elements of good posture in place from the start (not saying that applies to you and your teacher, of course. Just speaking generally). Sometimes teachers are tinkering around the edges and getting somebody to concentrate on not doing something or doing something specific. I try to get good posture instilled in such a way that it becomes natural and there is inherent balance and self-correcting instincts. If that is successfully installed, the problems are not ongoing. I haven't had to think about correcting my own posture in many years. My body goes to its ideal position automatically because it has retained a memory of it's ideal balance points. It takes practice but it can be done. There's no doubt, there are times when touching would be slightly faster but if you choose your words carefully and point in the right places, you can avoid touching. The main reason I avoid touching is to eliminate any element of risk in a teaching arrangement. We live in a world full of litigation and misunderstandings and I don't want there to be any of that. It's a shame that our world is like that, but I have to accept that.

As regards to the level I teach. I don't teach virtuosic repertoire on piano, however I do refer my advanced students to two top-level teachers and one thing that both have commented on to me is that all of my student referrals have virtually no posture/position problems. They are always very pleased to accept my students because they don't have to reteach all their physical habits. That is something I wear with pride. I teach very advanced guitar repertoire also (my main instrument), and the process is not as different as you might think. In fact, the approach is the same, it's just adjusting the angles for a different apparatus.

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#1708815 - 07/07/11 12:52 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Gary D.]
Theme&Variations Offline
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Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
When I first started teaching at the school I'm at eight years ago (I teach private lessons during the school day) I was told I wasn't allowed to touch the students at all - and I found it really difficult (especially coming from a background gymnastics coaching, where you are literally touching the students all the time). I remember how utterly awkward and panicked I felt the first time a student hugged me (out of the blue) and I felt like I shouldn't hug them back! And what to do if a student was upset during their lesson (not caused by me!)?

Over time I became much more lax about it, and most students I would now touch their hands or their shoulders at least once or twice during their lesson to correct posture. It feels like a much more natural way of teaching to me.

The other time I made a real effort not to touch students was during the swine flu epidemic - I made an effort to sit further behind the students than usual (I usually sit very slightly behind and to the right) - it really brough home how close I *usually* sit to the students these days (and how often I touch the students' hands and the piano during lessons). I think I have settled back into touching the students hands and adjusting their posture, but I do it less than I did a few years ago now.

Interesting food for thought, anyway.

For the record, I am a young-looking woman, so I am sure this affects my teaching style as well as the expectations around physicality and touching. I am sure it is much more difficult for men to navigate.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
But why eliminate an important teaching tool when some common sense and precautions can eliminate any misinterpretation?

Exactly! smile
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Member:
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#1708818 - 07/07/11 12:55 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
Theme&Variations Offline
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Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for sharing this, Ando - I love to get my students to tense and relax their muscles (lift up their shoulders and then drop them down, etc) so they can feel the difference for themselves. You've just put it into a wonderfully coherent context. smile

Originally Posted By: ando
I have ways of getting students into ideal posture through a series of steps starting with how they sit down in the first place. I get them to follow and copy my movements and be aware of how things feel along the way. I actually believe this offers some extra benefits - it helps to get them more connected with their own physiology. When trying to find the ideal positioning, I'll have them alternately tensing things. relaxing things - even shaking things about!
_________________________
Private piano teacher since 2003
Member:
ASME (Australian Society for Music Education),
ANZCA (Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts),
KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

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#1708820 - 07/07/11 01:00 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1510
Originally Posted By: ando
I think you just need to be creative with your words. I don't want any child going home to his/her parents saying, "my teacher touched me here or held this". If it can't be done with words, it's not important enough to do.


IMPOSSIBLE to just use words. Certain things cannot be explained by words alone. Many times, especially with the beginners, they do not even understand piano jargon yet. If you had learned piano properly, you would have known that giving example by touching is needed sometimes. That is why one of the reasons to let the parent watch the lesson is to eradicate all these worries about touching improperly. In addition, the parents can see and witness if the progress of the kids is not as good as the expectation. More over, the parent will learn too, and will be able to help.

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#1708826 - 07/07/11 01:11 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: RonaldSteinway]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Originally Posted By: ando
I think you just need to be creative with your words. I don't want any child going home to his/her parents saying, "my teacher touched me here or held this". If it can't be done with words, it's not important enough to do.


IMPOSSIBLE to just use words. Certain things cannot be explained by words alone. Many times, especially with the beginners, they do not even understand piano jargon yet. If you had learned piano properly, you would have known that giving example by touching is needed sometimes. That is why one of the reasons to let the parent watch the lesson is to eradicate all these worries about touching improperly. In addition, the parents can see and witness if the progress of the kids is not as good as the expectation. More over, the parent will learn too, and will be able to help.



No, just impossible for you, Ronald. Sure, it might be easier at times with touching, but it can be done. Don't saddle me with your own limitations. Some parents do sit in on lessons, but I still don't need to use touching. In fact if you can instil a message without touching, they will retain it better. They remember what you said and the reasoning behind it. If you only use touching, once they go home there's no one there to touch them back into shape. Touching might give an indication of where things should be, but it doesn't explain how they get there and how you keep them there.

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#1708842 - 07/07/11 02:06 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
fleetfingers Offline
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Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Arizona, USA
[/quote]

In fact if you can instil a message without touching, they will retain it better. They remember what you said and the reasoning behind it. If you only use touching, once they go home there's no one there to touch them back into shape. Touching might give an indication of where things should be, but it doesn't explain how they get there and how you keep them there. [/quote]

I would argue against your point that students will retain a message better if it is delivered only through words. That depends upon the message you're sending and the student to whom you're sending it. You mention posture, but that is not the only thing to be corrected in a pupil. Besides, people internalize concepts in different ways. For me, personally, vocal messages do not stick and I have a hard time processing information that way. I am very visual and when I see something in print, I rarely forget it. Some people are kinesthetic and respond well to physical actions and touch.

I remember when my teacher tried and tried to explain to me how to use the weight of my arm rather than banging down on the keys with my tense fingers. She talked to me about it, demonstrated on the piano, talked some more, and I was confused about what she wanted me to do. Then, she took my arm and "played the piano" on my arm, pushing hard with her fingers; then, she dropped her hand onto my arm using her arm weight and I finally understood the difference. That was 15 years ago, and I can still remember how the two different touches felt. In contrast, I can't tell you a single word she said to me about the subject.

I completely understand teachers who avoid physical contact to protect themselves, but to argue that it is not helpful to effective teaching is limiting oneself, imo.

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#1708849 - 07/07/11 02:29 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: fleetfingers]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Fleetfingers, as I described above, it's not just words. It's a series of guided exercises that gets you to your ideal posture/hand position. I agree that words aren't enough, that's why there is demonstration and the exercises. They get you in tune with what your body wants and needs. It works for both posture and position of the hands. When I said that my students go home with the words I gave them, I also include their memory of the exercises to obtain the right position. It's not difficult to remember, and I also write down some things to remind them. Once we've done it a few times in lessons, the message usually gets through. If it doesn't we do it again next week and the week after. But in that sense, it's no different to the "touching" approach. That doesn't have instant corrective results either. From what I've heard, those who use touch as their primary corrective device spend a lot longer trying to correct problems than I do. Depends on the teacher though. I'm not claiming that my way is the only way, I'm just saying to those who claim that it's not possible to teach properly without touching that that is not true. I do it every day.

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#1708856 - 07/07/11 02:43 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
fleetfingers Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Arizona, USA
ando, fair enough. It sounds like you have found ways of teaching without contact that work well for you and your students, which is wonderful. I will agree that many times patience and a thorough explanation is the best approach.

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#1708867 - 07/07/11 03:19 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: ando
I'm not claiming that my way is the only way, I'm just saying to those who claim that it's not possible to teach properly without touching that that is not true. I do it every day.


The question is not about whether it is possible. The question is this: what is the most effective way?

I don't think any of us are saying that physical guidance should be the primary way of teaching. And I don't think anyone is disputing that you get results.

But I can't help feeling that you are implying that the rest of us who do use even *some* physical guidance, even now and then, only do what *we* do because we don't know as much as *you*; that if only we took the time to learn the things you know, we would be more effective teachers.

For the record, to make myself clear to others: in general I do depend almost entirely on demonstration and words for adults AND teens, and I am very conservative about touching for kids roughly middle-school age. I use physical guidance a bit more for those still in elementary school, and even a bit more for very young children. But even with young children I depend more on demonstration and words.

An example of "touching" would be for teaching pedal. With adults and teens I always ask permission and make sure they are confortable before doing what I do. I gently put my toe on their toe the first time they begin pedaling while doing something to remind them to keep the hand down until the pedal is lifted and redepressed. Sometimes I will use the eraser of a pencil, barely touch the top of the hand, while gently moving my foot over theirs. Usually it takes just a few repetitions before I ease my foot away, and I only retouch the hands if the hands come up with the foot. And this is just for the very first time they are pedaling.

Sure, I could use a ton of words, but it takes much longer, and the result is not reached quicker, nor is it better understood because of all the words.

Am I saying you can't reach the same result with your method of teaching? No, I am not. I have not seen you teach. But you have not seen me teach either, nor have you seen many other teachers here in action, and I think that if you could find a way of expressing how you teach without also hinting at the fact that those of us who do not teach exactly as you do are somehow less knowledgeable, all of us would be more open to your ideas.

At least I would be.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1708879 - 07/07/11 04:10 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I was quite clear in stating my reasons for avoiding touching. I was also clear in saying that it might not always be the fastest easiest way in all situations. I do it because I have heard of cases where touching led to misunderstandings and problems/accusations against the teacher. I found an alternative way. It works efficiently overall. I do see some problems with using touch, but of course they can be avoided with a solid and well-rounded approach. There are no assumptions on the teaching of others on this forum from me at all. If you read the posts, there were a few accusations directed my way and I elucidated my approach to address those. I have no comments on your teaching at all. I choose this way because it minimises my risk and it's also effective. In an ideal world, I might use some limited amount of touching, but the world is not ideal, and I can do without it. There's nothing deeper in it than that. You shouldn't read any more into my posts than that.

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#1708893 - 07/07/11 05:24 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11848
Loc: Canada
Ando, some of what you said about touching could be understood several ways and I suspect that has happened. This in particular:

In my experience touching to correct something sometimes comes from not having put all the elements of good posture in place from the start (not saying that applies to you and your teacher, of course. Just speaking generally). Sometimes teachers are tinkering around the edges and getting somebody to concentrate on not doing something or doing something specific.

Despite the disclaimer ("not saying") there can be a general impression of a suspicion that teachers who use touch do so because they don't have better ways at their disposal, and this seems to relate almost exclusively to teaching posture (and proper form?). If it is read that way, then teachers using touch as an effective tool among their arsenal might feel slighted. I am thinking at this moment as both student and teacher. There were a few times when a touch told me exactly what I needed to know when all else failed. As teacher I am aware that people use different senses, and sometimes the sense of touch is simply the way to go. We use what works under that circumstance with that student.

You explained that the social times is one major reason for you not to use touch in your teaching. But it has gotten mixed up with these other statements I think.

I very much liked your explanation of teaching through experiences, where you have student do certain things such as tensing and relaxing shoulders or shrugging them so that they know what "relax" feels like, after which the word has meaning and leads to a response. I think that without such experiences words can be dangerous, because as students we can imagine that they mean something different, and then we do the wrong thing. That has happened to me more than once, and not with good results.

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#1708894 - 07/07/11 05:28 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
wuxia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/11
Posts: 106
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student


Edited by wuxia (07/07/11 05:30 AM)
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#1708896 - 07/07/11 05:41 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: wuxia]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: wuxia
I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student


....which is why there are problems in this area wink If touching people was completely neutral, like saying 'hello', discussions like this would not even need to take place.

There does seem to be an increasing level of paranoia in this area. The kind of touching that is often necessary, or at least useful, in instruction (in sport as well as music) can be difficult to distinguish from inappropriate behaviour. Yet to institute a policy of no touching anything, ever, for any reason seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's jolly difficult to demonstrate many martial arts techniques without touching your students -- and Heaven knows I've tried.

In the days when I taught kids karate I would have preferred if their parents had hung around so that there could have been no allegations of improper behaviour. But they found it all too boring smirk

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#1708901 - 07/07/11 06:12 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: keystring]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: keystring
Ando, some of what you said about touching could be understood several ways and I suspect that has happened. This in particular:

In my experience touching to correct something sometimes comes from not having put all the elements of good posture in place from the start (not saying that applies to you and your teacher, of course. Just speaking generally). Sometimes teachers are tinkering around the edges and getting somebody to concentrate on not doing something or doing something specific.

Despite the disclaimer ("not saying") there can be a general impression of a suspicion that teachers who use touch do so because they don't have better ways at their disposal, and this seems to relate almost exclusively to teaching posture (and proper form?). If it is read that way, then teachers using touch as an effective tool among their arsenal might feel slighted. I am thinking at this moment as both student and teacher. There were a few times when a touch told me exactly what I needed to know when all else failed. As teacher I am aware that people use different senses, and sometimes the sense of touch is simply the way to go. We use what works under that circumstance with that student.

You explained that the social times is one major reason for you not to use touch in your teaching. But it has gotten mixed up with these other statements I think.

I very much liked your explanation of teaching through experiences, where you have student do certain things such as tensing and relaxing shoulders or shrugging them so that they know what "relax" feels like, after which the word has meaning and leads to a response. I think that without such experiences words can be dangerous, because as students we can imagine that they mean something different, and then we do the wrong thing. That has happened to me more than once, and not with good results.


I had hoped that by repeatedly using the word "sometimes" it would have avoided anyone in particular from feeling insulted by what I wrote. I certainly don't mean to insult any of the teachers here. It seems you are right and some teachers do feel aggrieved by my comments but I certainly didn't intend to do that. I certainly felt a bit of heat from a few posts myself. My intention wasn't to say that touching in an appropriate way is wrong, but rather to say that it is wrong to say that there is no alternative or that I'm cheating my students out of a thorough education by not employing touch. I don't find it that hard. Once you take that option off the table other methods fill the void. There are a number of teachers who don't understand the physiology of the human body very well - and it was to those people I direct my "sometimes" remarks. I've had students come to me for rehabilitation of physical problems on the piano and guitar. They had been instructed by their previous teachers to hold themselves in certain shapes, but not in a natural way that really works with their body, and without a sound understanding of why. That's what I try very hard to solve. Eventually you want a position that is very natural and easy to apply without concentrating on a set of posture rules.

I should note that here in Australia, they specifically tell you in teacher-training not to put your hands on a child if you can at all help it. They feel that lessons can be taught without contact and that there is a risk element with touching students. I teach several teenage girls and it was explained to me that there is particular risk in that age-group as they are sexually aware but not very mature. Wires can get crossed. With mature adult students, I don't worry too much. If my words don't reach them, I wouldn't have a problem with touching them. I would warn them what I was about to do first though. I just don't find that I need to go down that road too often.

So, to anyone who felt that I was having a dig at them. I really wasn't! I'm sorry if anyone felt offended. I was just trying to explain and defend my own approach.

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#1708906 - 07/07/11 06:35 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: kevinb]
wuxia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/11
Posts: 106
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: wuxia
I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student


....which is why there are problems in this area wink If touching people was completely neutral, like saying 'hello', discussions like this would not even need to take place.

There does seem to be an increasing level of paranoia in this area. The kind of touching that is often necessary, or at least useful, in instruction (in sport as well as music) can be difficult to distinguish from inappropriate behaviour. Yet to institute a policy of no touching anything, ever, for any reason seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's jolly difficult to demonstrate many martial arts techniques without touching your students -- and Heaven knows I've tried.

In the days when I taught kids karate I would have preferred if their parents had hung around so that there could have been no allegations of improper behaviour. But they found it all too boring smirk


I just wanted to brag about how fortunate I am ;/
_________________________
https://soundcloud.com/pizhama

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#1708950 - 07/07/11 09:11 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
It's been shown that there are several different says that people learn. Some people learn best by hearing what they need to do. Some learn best by seeing what they need to do. Others learn best by experiencing what they need to do. And so thus, no one teaching strategy should be used for every student. This is part of why there is a growing education crisis in America- as class sizes get larger and larger, there is an increasing level of forced conformity across the learning spectrum.

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#1709155 - 07/07/11 03:22 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
It's been shown that there are several different says that people learn. Some people learn best by hearing what they need to do. Some learn best by seeing what they need to do. Others learn best by experiencing what they need to do. And so thus, no one teaching strategy should be used for every student. This is part of why there is a growing education crisis in America- as class sizes get larger and larger, there is an increasing level of forced conformity across the learning spectrum.

I could not agree more. That's what is so great about private teaching. We can do the opposite by doing everything in our power to adapt what we teach and how we teach it to each individual. smile
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Piano Teacher

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#1709185 - 07/07/11 03:57 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2398
Loc: SoCal
Quote:
This reminds me of once when my teacher asked me. "do you mind if I touch your arm?" and even then he used a pencil to hold a finger in place...... It's necessary I suppose but a little sad somehow.


Remember the McMartin Preschool witch hunt?

My problem is the opposite. I'm old enough to be my teacher's father. And an older father at that! We've been working together for a couple of years now, so there are no issues, but I'm careful to not do or say anything that might even possibly be taken the wrong way.
_________________________
Gary

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#1709194 - 07/07/11 04:30 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Plowboy]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3704
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Quote:
This reminds me of once when my teacher asked me. "do you mind if I touch your arm?" and even then he used a pencil to hold a finger in place...... It's necessary I suppose but a little sad somehow.


Remember the McMartin Preschool witch hunt?

My problem is the opposite. I'm old enough to be my teacher's father. And an older father at that! We've been working together for a couple of years now, so there are no issues, but I'm careful to not do or say anything that might even possibly be taken the wrong way.


Now that is irony!

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#1709220 - 07/07/11 05:11 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: ando

I had hoped that by repeatedly using the word "sometimes" it would have avoided anyone in particular from feeling insulted by what I wrote. I certainly don't mean to insult any of the teachers here. It seems you are right and some teachers do feel aggrieved by my comments but I certainly didn't intend to do that. I certainly felt a bit of heat from a few posts myself.

Ando, I mostly agreed with you from the start. I ESPECIALLY agree with you about the dangers (legal) of being accused of "inappropriate touching".

In addition, when in doubt, even in instances where I think I can get somewhere faster with a small bit of physical contact, I do exactly what you do: I play safe. I use music designed to teach the concepts I am working on. I demonstrate. I explain.

Saving a bit of time, even if it *could* work, is not worth at the least bad feelings and a the worst accusations of "being inappropriate".

HOWEVER: I teach kids as young as five and with parents working with me, and that atmosphere is very different from working with older kids or adults, alone.
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