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#1759263 - 09/25/11 10:51 PM Question for teachers from a student
Danielsan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
So here's my situation:

I'm a music major, studying piano as my main instrument. Last semester, I had a teacher who wasn't the best. He was fairly lazy about teaching and consequently, I had to do a lot of studying on my own to really understand things. Then, he just left without informing me. Now I have a new teacher who seems really nice and probably pretty effective, though I've only had one lesson with him so far. The problem is that he teaches in a way that I've never heard of before. Some of the things he showed me are very interesting and seem pretty effective, but the problem is that I've developed practising habits that seem to be working pretty well. They're a bit more tradition and maybe they would cause an extreme amount of frustration and boredom in other people, but I'm a bit more of a patient person and I also learn things a bit faster on the piano that I rarely run into any problems.

I don't want to seem like one of those bratty arrogant students, but I take my piano very seriously since it's a borderline obsession for me, so I really want keep learning it the way I have been and not have to reform things to match someone else's teaching style. Now, I do want to give some of his methods a chance, but I also really want to keep things a bit more traditional because it's how I learn best. What should I do*?

*Getting a different teacher is not an option here. I'm not yet at a four year college.

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#1759289 - 09/25/11 11:43 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3177
What you should do is tell us some particulars and examples of what you are talking about. Spell out exactly what are the differences.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1759291 - 09/25/11 11:49 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5965
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Danielsan
The problem is that he teaches in a way that I've never heard of before. Some of the things he showed me are very interesting and seem pretty effective, but the problem is that I've developed practising habits that seem to be working pretty well. They're a bit more tradition and maybe they would cause an extreme amount of frustration and boredom in other people, but I'm a bit more of a patient person and I also learn things a bit faster on the piano that I rarely run into any problems.
I'd be interested to know exactly what methods you're talking about. I have some guesses, but they may be way off. smile
But in any case, why don't you discuss these things more with your teacher? He should be able to explain why he's approaching it the way he is, and what the benefits would be for you.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1759317 - 09/26/11 12:26 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Details please! We can't answer your inquiry unless we have more information ...

Does he make you stand on one foot and hop around the room singing Solfege?

Anything detailed like the above would help =)
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1759343 - 09/26/11 01:22 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Danielsan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
I should have included more, silly me.

His approach to scales is pretty interesting, I find. He breaks them into two sections, which is pretty good, which is actually pretty handy. Pressing the first three and then the other four notes and then playing the scale. I've been working on getting my harmonic and melodic minors in two octaves lately and I think that's going to help. I like that method a lot.

Now for the annoying part. He gave me this exercise of playing a typical I IV I V progression as fast as possible and then turning your back to the keyboard and pushing a key with a pencil, then guessing the note. It supposed to help with ear training, but I'm not exactly sure what it would accomplish. You're supposed to clear your mind and just guess any note without thinking about it. It's a very zen exercise, but I'm not very into that type of thing. I tried it, but I'm really more of a western logical thinking type of person. I'm still doing it while I practice, but I really feel kind of silly about it. I'd much rather stand on one foot and sing solfege.

Also, much of the lesson was spent going over intervals for some reason. I didn't really agree with that either since I spent a great amount dealing with them in other classes. It was just a good opportunity for me to embarrass by making mistakes due to nervousness. We didn't even get to go over the pieces I've been working on.

Anyway, I'm not so sure what I should since I actually do like the teacher, and I've heard his playing which is really good, but I'm just not that into the whole new age thing.

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#1759354 - 09/26/11 01:53 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
The reason you have gone to this school is to learn things you haven't learned before. So learn them! If you don't want to learn, then don't go to school.

Going back to your old ways means going backwards - unless of course you are already a successful concert artist who is going to school just for kicks. If you (as a young student) are totally set in your system, it means you are already as good as you're ever going to get, your lifetime career was at its peak last year, and it's all downhill from here.

Until the Christmas holiday, go along with exactly what the new teacher advises, especially making sure to take all his weirdest ideas literally. If after that time things are terrible, the during the holidays you can figure out what to do in the new year.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1759364 - 09/26/11 02:10 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: david_a]
Danielsan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
Originally Posted By: david_a
The reason you have gone to this school is to learn things you haven't learned before. So learn them! If you don't want to learn, then don't go to school.

Going back to your old ways means going backwards - unless of course you are already a successful concert artist who is going to school just for kicks. If you (as a young student) are totally set in your system, it means you are already as good as you're ever going to get, your lifetime career was at its peak last year, and it's all downhill from here.

Until the Christmas holiday, go along with exactly what the new teacher advises, especially making sure to take all his weirdest ideas literally. If after that time things are terrible, the during the holidays you can figure out what to do in the new year.


I don't agree. Everyone learns their own way and there are some learning styles that just don't work well for some people. I'm just trying to weed out the things that I don't feel will help me in the long run, and maybe find out if anyone else uses these methods and maybe there is some reasoning behind them. I'm fairly shy and not very good at questioning teachers so I decided to take it to the internet instead, but I feel like questioning is a big part of learning something and I feel like I should have a say in my education, especially since I'm the one paying for it. As you can tell, there are things I like about my teacher's methods, not just not everything.

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#1759367 - 09/26/11 02:20 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Of course you don't agree, that's why you asked. I took that for granted.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1759481 - 09/26/11 08:07 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 763
Loc: South Carolina
Sometimes I don't begin to understand the learning style of a particular student until the 3rd lesson or so, and it could be that your new teacher hasn't yet latched on to the proper strategies for you.

Nonetheless, please do not discount the methods he is using. Just because they seem obtuse and inappropriate now, I bet they will not seem that way in the future as you grow and develop. The catch is that we cannot predict when that future "aha!" moment will arrive - could be weeks, months, even a year or two from now.

At the same time, as currawong states above, it's extremely important that you talk with him.

I wish that I had a dollar (okay, ten dollars) for every time a former student has called me up with similar gripes concerning their new teacher: It's part of our job to knock you out of your comfort zone a bit. We've all been out there - it's strange at first - but that's how we grow. And remember that a really good teacher will not leave you out there to fend for yourself as you flail your arms around screaming for help.

Well, not for long, anyway....... wink


Edited by Gerard12 (09/26/11 08:10 AM)
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#1759485 - 09/26/11 08:29 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12147
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Danielsan
Originally Posted By: david_a
The reason you have gone to this school is to learn things you haven't learned before. So learn them! If you don't want to learn, then don't go to school.

Going back to your old ways means going backwards - unless of course you are already a successful concert artist who is going to school just for kicks. If you (as a young student) are totally set in your system, it means you are already as good as you're ever going to get, your lifetime career was at its peak last year, and it's all downhill from here.

Until the Christmas holiday, go along with exactly what the new teacher advises, especially making sure to take all his weirdest ideas literally. If after that time things are terrible, the during the holidays you can figure out what to do in the new year.


I don't agree. Everyone learns their own way and there are some learning styles that just don't work well for some people. I'm just trying to weed out the things that I don't feel will help me in the long run, and maybe find out if anyone else uses these methods and maybe there is some reasoning behind them. I'm fairly shy and not very good at questioning teachers so I decided to take it to the internet instead, but I feel like questioning is a big part of learning something and I feel like I should have a say in my education, especially since I'm the one paying for it. As you can tell, there are things I like about my teacher's methods, not just not everything.


You have had ONE lesson with the teacher. To me, that doesn't sound like you can make any informed decision about it.

How does this teacher sound when he plays? Is he any good? How do his students sound? If he and his students sound good, then there might be something there and worth looking into.

I have my students try out lessons with me for 8 weeks before deciding if we should continue. I think you should do the same, as long as you actually *do* what the teacher tells you. Have some faith in them if they are worth having faith in, and that you can only tell by what sounds come out of the studio. If the students sound good, then you should want that for yourself and be willing to try what he's teaching even if you don't understand what it's purpose is.

Do you have a say in your education? Of course. But to what extent? It seems highly illogical to tell a teacher, "I'm going to pay you to teach me, but I don't want you to teach me in the way that you feel is best for me. I want you to teach me in the manner that I am accustomed to learning. Teach me what I'm doing already." What's the point?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1759519 - 09/26/11 09:32 AM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Doesn't sound like any eclectic zen method by having you turn your back and name a note. The object of the lesson obviously isn't 'guess' the note, but to use the progressions you just played to use relative pitch and figure out the note pressed based off the chord progression you played.

God forbid your teacher pushes you out of your comfort zone wink

With joking aside though, I think you should give him a chance. After a few lessons, perhaps you could politely say that you like to improve interval recognition but also spend time on your pieces as well.
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1759619 - 09/26/11 12:16 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11809
Loc: Canada
(In case it's helpful: having dealt with this.)

I've encountered several different teaching styles, and in one case, a teacher who believed what I'd been taught before was "all wrong". It was actually different sides of a same coin and I worried needlessly.

Piano is my second instrument. I am working with a teacher who often comes at music from angles that are unfamiliar to me. I already have ways of seeing music and this can make it a foreign landscape. I'm advised to be open to new angles, watch for positive changes, but that this does not mean that I have to abandon things from before when they work. You can find that your "before" gets richer - like before you had 2-dimensional drawing and now you see 3D.

Many ways that we approach music are direct and to the point. You learn the notes in this phrase, and a good way of moving your fingers to make it smooth - that's direct. There are other kinds of instructions that are indirect and counter-intuitive. They don't seem to have any purpose and don't seem to "do" anything for your music. But if you do them for a while without worrying "what for" - kind of like a little kid will try things for the heck of it - one day you find you have something that you didn't have before, or perceive things you wouldn't have imagined. What your teacher is having you do seems to be one of these things.

I'm writing as a student who has encountered these things in recent years, so maybe that is helpful. The teachers here will have a better sense of what you are actually being asked to do. The one thing that I learned almost too late is that teachers do need feedback after we tried things for long enough.

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#1759722 - 09/26/11 02:49 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Dustin Sanders]
Danielsan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
Doesn't sound like any eclectic zen method by having you turn your back and name a note. The object of the lesson obviously isn't 'guess' the note, but to use the progressions you just played to use relative pitch and figure out the note pressed based off the chord progression you played.


It's definitely not that way at all. For this you're not supposed to try and think about it, you're just supposed to guess any random notes before you can think. But anyway, I have aural skills class for that.

But anyway, I'm going to try and do it his way, but still work on some things my way as well. It's just difficult for me to handle drastic changes. Especially on something as important as piano. I've just worked really hard and I get nervous about setbacks and changes. I'm going to talk to him about incorporating a lot of the things I've learned prior as well, maybe come up with a list and see what he thinks. I do think he's probably be a good teacher in the long run and he does have amazing chops. But change is just not something eay for me.

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#1759751 - 09/26/11 03:27 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Danielsan


It's definitely not that way at all. For this you're not supposed to try and think about it, you're just supposed to guess any random notes before you can think. But anyway, I have aural skills class for that.




Your teacher may have been assessing you, finding out if you have perfect pitch. Not that this matters, but it can be interesing...
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1759758 - 09/26/11 03:38 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: ten left thumbs]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: Danielsan
It's definitely not that way at all. For this you're not supposed to try and think about it, you're just supposed to guess any random notes before you can think. But anyway, I have aural skills class for that.

Your teacher may have been assessing you, finding out if you have perfect pitch. Not that this matters, but it can be interesing...



I was going to say that... bah
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1759773 - 09/26/11 03:49 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Danielsan
But change is just not something easy for me.
Just as it was the literal "bottom line" of your post, it's also the bottom line for your situation; excessive resistance to change is (especially for a student) a major crippling problem that you need to get over immediately. Nobody would expect you to want all change all at once in your life, of course - but expecting the new teacher to be the same as the old one is a really bad sign for your future, unless you are extremely successful already. Try something new. See where it goes. You're a student; take the best advantage of this great time in your life by actually doing what your teachers recommend (at least most of it!) - otherwise, why waste time in school when you could be out there earning a living & having a great career with what you already know?
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1759787 - 09/26/11 04:01 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: AZNpiano]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano


I was going to say that... bah


We're clearly both correct. And clever. smile


Edited by ten left thumbs (09/26/11 04:01 PM)
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1759819 - 09/26/11 04:38 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: david_a]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: david_a
Just as it was the literal "bottom line" of your post, it's also the bottom line for your situation; excessive resistance to change is (especially for a student) a major crippling problem that you need to get over immediately. Nobody would expect you to want all change all at once in your life, of course - but expecting the new teacher to be the same as the old one is a really bad sign for your future, unless you are extremely successful already. Try something new. See where it goes. You're a student; take the best advantage of this great time in your life by actually doing what your teachers recommend (at least most of it!) - otherwise, why waste time in school when you could be out there earning a living & having a great career with what you already know?

Usually I agree with you. This time I don't, and in fact I find what you are writing here potentially destructive.

Your assumption is that the OP is extremely rigid and that the teacher is giving wise instruction. That may be true. But it may not.

The OP may also be wary for good reasons.

As I have said elsewhere:

1) As a TEACHER I have watched students with wrong ideas continue with those wrong ideas, knowing full well that later they will terribly regret choices.

2) As a STUDENT *I* listened with both respect and trust to TWO teachers who didn't know their ***es from a hole in the ground.


Edited by Gary D. (09/26/11 04:40 PM)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1759834 - 09/26/11 05:00 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11809
Loc: Canada
I deleted a longer post that went in that direction. While I wrote before about being open to new things, it is a judgment call. I've been harmed by following things that I shouldn't have. The Catch-22 is that new things that ultimately are better may feel strange and awkward at first, but they may also feel wrong because they are wrong. It is hard for anyone to tell anything at a distance.

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#1759846 - 09/26/11 05:18 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12147
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: keystring
I deleted a longer post that went in that direction. While I wrote before about being open to new things, it is a judgment call. I've been harmed by following things that I shouldn't have. The Catch-22 is that new things that ultimately are better may feel strange and awkward at first, but they may also feel wrong because they are wrong. It is hard for anyone to tell anything at a distance.
Exactly to both Keystring and Gary here. Which is why isn't so important to listen to the teacher *and* their students. If they get results and what they're asking you to do is not unethical or abusive, it's worth a try.

To the OP, I really don't think most teachers expect students to just throw away everything they've learned thus far unless its a technical flaw in your playing. I'm pretty sure he will be fine with you incorporating what he teaches into what you are already doing. If not, that might be a warning flag for you.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1759856 - 09/26/11 05:42 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
If a teacher is asking you to throw everything away and start again, that's extremely serious and IMO requires a second, third, and fourth opinion.

My distinct impression is that the OP is not in that kind of situation at all, but is trying to wriggle out of ever trying anything new or different.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1759877 - 09/26/11 06:12 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
I find the presumed 'perfect pitch' test strange.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1759886 - 09/26/11 06:30 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: david_a]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

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

My distinct impression is that the OP is not in that kind of situation at all, but is trying to wriggle out of ever trying anything new or different.

And that is possible, but supposing we are wrong?

Wouldn't it be best to address the possible topics? Playing scales in groups (say group of 3, group of 5), testing for pitch recognition, the importance of recognizing intervals when learning music--these would all be valid topics, and it would keep us from even the possibility of judging someone we do not yet know. smile
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Piano Teacher

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#1759899 - 09/26/11 07:07 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: david_a]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11809
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: david_a

My distinct impression is that the OP is not in that kind of situation at all, but is trying to wriggle out of ever trying anything new or different.

You cannot be sure. What you may not be aware of if you did not start as an adult student, is what great weight the words of an on-line teacher can have. This in particular:

... excessive resistance to change .... a major crippling problem that you need to get over immediately ....

You have not seen or heard this student, nor the teacher. There is nothing factual here. The words that I highlighted can engender fear, self-doubt, worry. If the OP actually does have a reason to be cautious because of what you can't see or hear, and forces himself to do things because he doesn't want to "cripple himself" then it may be a wrong choice. There is no way of anyone knowing.

Four words that I don't see often enough:

Talk to your teacher.

(Or consult a (live) teacher.)

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#1759919 - 09/26/11 07:36 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
I don't think the OP has enough data to make any conclusions about what sort of teacher he has now. I think I agree with those that say he is resistant to change.
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1759929 - 09/26/11 07:53 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Dustin Sanders]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
I don't think the OP has enough data to make any conclusions about what sort of teacher he has now. I think I agree with those that say he is resistant to change.

And *you* have enough "data" to draw conclusions about the OP?

<scratching head>
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1759934 - 09/26/11 08:18 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Danielsan]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I would be very happy to have it shown (by the original poster) how I am wrong about the whole thing. In fact, I was hoping that would already have happened - there's a distinct lack of information.

Until then, I have to stand by what I said earlier, since I have to suppose that the lack of information from the OP was intentional and he was merely looking for a quick & easy confirmation of his prejudices.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1759936 - 09/26/11 08:22 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
I don't think the OP has enough data to make any conclusions about what sort of teacher he has now. I think I agree with those that say he is resistant to change.

And *you* have enough "data" to draw conclusions about the OP?

<scratching head>
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1759981 - 09/26/11 09:44 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: Gary D.]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Dustin Sanders
I don't think the OP has enough data to make any conclusions about what sort of teacher he has now. I think I agree with those that say he is resistant to change.

And *you* have enough "data" to draw conclusions about the OP?

<scratching head>


Uhhhh, yes I do, actually. The OP has made it crystal clear that he enjoys 'western logical thinking' rather than that 'zen' type of stuff (whatever that means.)

He made it clear that he doesn't want to change and that he is afraid of trying out new stuff.

He hasn't made anything else very clear about his teachers methods and style.
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1759983 - 09/26/11 09:45 PM Re: Question for teachers from a student [Re: david_a]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: david_a
I would be very happy to have it shown (by the original poster) how I am wrong about the whole thing. In fact, I was hoping that would already have happened - there's a distinct lack of information.

Until then, I have to stand by what I said earlier, since I have to suppose that the lack of information from the OP was intentional and he was merely looking for a quick & easy confirmation of his prejudices.


Another good way of putting it ... I totally agree with you.

(Back to Gary and Azn scratching their heads further) laugh
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