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#1918143 - 06/24/12 04:06 PM Can passion be "taught?"
CebuKid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1176
Hi Teachers,

I didn't know where else to turn, but I'm at my wit's end with my 9-year old. She started out so passionate about piano 3 years ago. She practiced all the time on her own and made very rapid progress. After about a year, she's lost interest and just kind of has been "plodding along" with level 2, level 3 repertoire. I've told her that she could've been at a much higher level if she practiced on her own.

Don't get me wrong. As a parent (who's also a player), I've gone into streaks where I'd oversee her practice, but then as all of you other parents here know, "life happens." Often times, I can't supervise the practice, and then she falls back into patterns of not practicing on her own...or at all. Lately, in her practice she just sounds like she's "going through the motions", and not even trying to play the piece musically.

Now....her current teacher is about to start college so we'll probably be looking for another teacher soon. Her teacher has been great - herself, a competition pianist - and gave her great fundamentals. But...is there something that's missing?? She's just a kid and not trained in piano pedagogy. Is there an element of teaching where the student can "learn" how to be passionate, and want to practice on their own? Again, I know all about this, because I used to be just like my daughter...no passion. I've quit at things Like any parent, I don't want her making the same mistakes and having the same regrets.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are welcome. smile Thanks in advanced.
_________________________
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Music washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach



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#1918144 - 06/24/12 04:18 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I'm pushing 50 and I still don't like to practice. It's work.

However, I love to play, so therefore, I practice.

Your daughter doesn't yet have this maturity, so she needs some structure and some encouragement.

Part of her current problem may have to do with the teacher, but I cannot say this for certain. In looking for a new teacher, it's important to consider some of the following ideas (I'm sure others will chime in):

- Find someone who clicks with your daughter's personality
- Find someone who has demonstrated success at working with students this age
- Find someone who has the knowledge and background to structure your child's curriculum help her be successful in her practice. Success breeds success.

This means you will have to interview with several teachers. Start with your local music teachers association. You don't say where you live, but you can find links at www.mtna.org or, in California, www.mtac.org

Good luck.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1918186 - 06/24/12 06:20 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Hi CebuKid,

Here are my thoughts about whether passion can be taught.

I found out that "passion" is from the Ancient Greek verb pashkho meaning "to suffer". laugh Passion can be defined as an intense emotion, compelling feeling, enthusiasm or desire for something. In other words, something you're willing to suffer for.

No doubt that passion is intrinsic. But what could be external motivators? Someone may know how to practice playing an instrument, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are motivated to do it. Feeling satisfied and fulfilled with something builds passion for it. To some extent a teacher can influence how much fun student is having playing music.

We could also compare passion for piano to falling in love. You can't MAKE yourself fall in love. Sometimes everything clicks and it's love at first sight. It's just there. (But it will take effort to keep the passion alive.) OTOH, by arranging a situation in which 2 people meet regularly and do enjoyable things together, love may develop between them.

Just my 2 cents.

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#1918198 - 06/24/12 06:56 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
I think it's important to do a few things in this situation:

#1 -- Stop worrying. Kids at age 9 are going through lots of changes in their lives and she may just be going through a lull. I've found in 18 yrs of teaching that ages 9-13 are the toughest.

#2 -- You didn't say much about "what" she's studying, but maybe you need to find a teacher that can help her explore some new musical genres. Perhaps your daughter just needs some varied repertoire. I hated to practice, but if I liked the music then I enjoyed playing. As the poster above stated there is a *big* difference between "practice" and "playing"

I find that usually a highly varied repertoire that intermingles current music with more technical pieces is a good way to keep a students interest during these tough preteen years. Now you just have to find a teacher who can do it all!
_________________________
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#1918274 - 06/24/12 10:00 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
No need to be at your wits end about this situation. I'd guess that most 9 year old kids need a parent to remind them to practice. And kids lose interest as pieces get too difficult for them...and level 3 has a lot more demands than primer and level 1.

Instead of setting your heart on your child feeling passionate about piano, perhaps you can both be happy is she has a mild interest and will practice daily with parent reminders.

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#1918303 - 06/24/12 11:10 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I remember that after winning 7 gold medals Mark Spitz commenting that he never wanted to step into a pool again.

I think passion is linked to a ' love ' for something....maybe it's the way the music makes you feel, maybe it's how people feel if they hear you play and are highly encouraging.....maybe it's something you were born to do.

So many parents want for their children what they missed [ for instance staying with the piano]but even if you are able to push your child they will make their own choices when they can.

I hope she is able to play pieces she likes and that encouragment keeps her interest....

rada

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#1918315 - 06/24/12 11:50 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Overexposed]
CebuKid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1176
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
No need to be at your wits end about this situation. I'd guess that most 9 year old kids need a parent to remind them to practice. And kids lose interest as pieces get too difficult for them...and level 3 has a lot more demands than primer and level 1.

Instead of setting your heart on your child feeling passionate about piano, perhaps you can both be happy is she has a mild interest and will practice daily with parent reminders.



Thanks for the advice, and I agree with what you say. I'm at my wit's end because I hate to see her "throw away her talent" away, and again, she *does* practice, but doesn't practice well unless I'm supervising her. She often just goes through the motions. Again, I'm a player too, so I know what exactly what her teacher has her working on and I know what she needs to accomplish with her pieces and practice routine.

I guess it would help to give you guys some perspective and background. She breezed through the level 1 primer (Alfred's) in less than a month and in month 3, played a beginner level version of "The Entertainer"...not a child beginner's piece - especially at age 6. I'm not saying she's a prodigy, but she definitely exhibits natural ability - more so than I had at age 9.

Currently, she can play "The Happy Farmer" by Schumann, which I'm very proud of. smile She can also do most of the Hanon exercises which most kids her age can't do. I guess I'm frustrated because I know she can do better, and yes, frustrated because she doesn't "love piano" and tends to go through the motions.

I've given her speeches and lectures about how she has a talent, and that how piano sets her apart from her peers, and also how she needs to start practicing on her own. I also know she's got a tendency to not try hard at something unless she loves it. I also understand that it's typical "kid behavior."

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Yes, I admit I want much more for her, and don't want her making the same mistake I made. What parent doesn't?! We will find another teacher for her soon, so this may change her work habits. Her current teacher is quite lax (because she herself is a kid), so I'm guessing that there isn't that "fear factor" of disappointing the teacher.

Thanks again, everyone.
_________________________
YouTube Channel
Scott Joplin Repertoire


Music washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach



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#1918320 - 06/25/12 12:15 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Minniemay]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4811
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I'm pushing 50 and I still don't like to practice. It's work.

However, I love to play, so therefore, I practice.

Your daughter doesn't yet have this maturity, so she needs some structure and some encouragement.

I hate mindless repetition. "Practice" can easily become that, and I think it's a mind-killer. I spend so much time teaching, the only thing that can motivate me to push myself is absolutely fascination with something. If I want to play something, and I can't yet play it, if the PROCESS of working to master this "new thing" is interesting, sometimes pulling apart the new thing, deciding how to master it, making a strategy, and perhaps having a race or competition with myself (can I learn this faster than I have ever learning things in the past) all goes together to make the process fun.

But even if the "work" is also fun, great fun, it is also HARD. Concentrating that deeply, even for a short time, is quite exhausting.

Question: how much of "passion" comes AFTER a good degree of success?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1918353 - 06/25/12 02:40 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5506
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: CebuKid
Is there an element of teaching where the student can "learn" how to be passionate, and want to practice on their own?

Well, there's intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Some kids are super-motivated by medals, ribbons, trophies, and all sorts of mementos given out at festivals and competitions. For some kids, really cool stickers will do the trick. Some kids (yes, I know they exist!) play piano because they are GETTING PAID to practice. I am not making this up. This actually happened.

For intrinsic motivation, there's really not much anybody can do to help. You can be extra encouraging and get your daughter's peers to partake in piano (good luck with that one!), but at the end of the day intrinsic motivation is something that the kid has to find in herself. You can open up channels like recommending certain Youtube videos or taking her to some concerts, but that will only go so far.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1918354 - 06/25/12 02:43 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

I've given her speeches and lectures about how she has a talent, and that how piano sets her apart from her peers,



Ah. Is that wise?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


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

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#1918357 - 06/25/12 02:49 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5280
Loc: Europe
AZN: Kids getting paid to practice?!?!? Yikes! I mean really WOW! My sons are getting stickers from a teacher to do some homework and I have to say that I REALLY don't like it, since it takes away the whole idea of 'studying in order to get better' or either way 'study because you have to'... There's no stickers in real life! But getting paid!??! This is beyond reason!

passion cannot be taught, I think, but it can easily be shown, displayed and have the kid be jealous! ha. It could very well be that your kid is missing the link between practising, doing something good and then receiving the results (playing nicely in a recital, moving ahead to new works, etc).
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1918358 - 06/25/12 02:51 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: CebuKid


I've given her speeches and lectures about how she has a talent, and that how piano sets her apart from her peers,


I am afraid to say, I think that that is not an encouraging approach for a kid your daughter's age. Not the "speeches and lectures" part, but the "setting her apart from her peers" part. Kids don't want to be set apart from their peers.

I believe that passion can be taught, or transmitted. But that demands a veritable passion on your part, and generosity and availability that are never exhausted and that continue through the highs and the lows.

Originally Posted By: CebuKid
also how she needs to start practicing on her own.


Don't forget: she's only 9 years old, she needs you.


Edited by landorrano (06/25/12 03:07 AM)

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#1918365 - 06/25/12 03:36 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
I wonder if she would be more passionate if she were getting ready to perform the pieces. Lots of little recitals/sharing times can be set up.

For Sunday afternoon family time
For grandparents
For shcool
For friends
For community
For church

One need not wait until there is a yearly piano recital!

Having goals gives more excitement to practicing.

And no payments please, I agree.
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1918371 - 06/25/12 04:25 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks Ann in Kentucky for the education on Greek origin of “passion” meaning “to suffer” (ouch!) ...not exactly the right snake-medicine to entice kiddy-winks to play the piano.

But why do some loving Mums imagine that they are authors of the latest Mozart?

Heck ... a 9 year old is likely to be battling to memorize the keyboard piece at hand, and dreading the thought of having to tackle a new work ... it’s the name of the game ... sight-reading acumen takes a lifetime (not for the faint-hearted) ... as some so rightly say ... it’s only when the mind-blowing labour of diligent practice is welcomed (albeit grinding one’s teeth) that passion bears fruit (mostly in adults).

A 9-year old wants fun ... riding a bike or kicking a ball ... piano at that age can so easily degenerate into a drudge and get put on the back-burner.

Any adult persistence to stay with lessons (lots of hang in there gusto!) can so easily miscarry and result in a positive hatred for the piano ... beware Madam!!

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#1918407 - 06/25/12 07:27 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
Cebukid, in telling of what your child has learned in lessons, you have listed pieces and studies. I'm getting no picture of what she has been taught other than the external pieces and studies which in the beginning she whizzed through.

Music has depth to it. If you have natural ability then it is easy to whiz through at the surface because everything is easy. My path is a bit different because I had no teacher until well into adulthood, but there may be clues. I learned easily. Without anyone to guide me, I did a lot of exploring. Later I discovered that I picked up music theory without names for anything. I created things (improvised - by ear composing) using what I found, and it helped me see things in music. These were interesting and motivating things, and with an unimaginative teacher I might have missed this. One possible clue?

Second: I had lessons on a new instrument as an adult. I advanced rapidly like your child and was soon playing advanced music. But because I didn't need basic things like studying intervals, meter, and a dozen other things, I also didn't get them. Increasingly as I advanced in grades I was losing motivation - missing something. There was no depth in what we were doing: it was just harder and harder music. There were two problems with this. 1. It's the foundations gotten in a real way that allow you to put something into advanced music. 2. The things that fascinated me were the things being left out because supposedly they "bored" students. Eventually I learned of them, of course.

When I put these two things together, I wonder whether your child rode the surface of music and didn't get the depth, which leads to exploration and creativity. Again, you have listed pieces and studies, but not what was happening in them, or what kinds of things your child actually learned and did. Could this be a clue?

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#1918409 - 06/25/12 07:32 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: ten left thumbs]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: CebuKid

I've given her speeches and lectures about how she has a talent, and that how piano sets her apart from her peers,



Ah. Is that wise?


I'd also question that approach. Everyone, sooner or later, will find out that some other people are better than they are in a particular field of study. If the passion is based on the hope to set oneself apart from others, it won't last long anyways.

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#1918442 - 06/25/12 09:08 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: btb]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Originally Posted By: btb
Thanks Ann in Kentucky for the education on Greek origin of “passion” meaning “to suffer” (ouch!) ...not exactly the right snake-medicine to entice kiddy-winks to play the piano



You're welcome. laugh
I got a kick out of the origin of the word. But also it seems that "passion" is the new buzz word. I think it's overused and the depth of the meaning is glossed over. It reminds me of how the word "awesome" is overused. As in "I'm attending the event on Sunday." and the response is "Awesome!". (Ugh!) So that's why I added the origin.

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#1918494 - 06/25/12 11:40 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Overexposed]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 268
I have an 11 year old that plays the piano. I'm not a teacher FTR! smile If it makes you feel any better, I still sit down and practice with my 11 year old most of the time (or maybe it will make you feel worse!). His teacher encourages that for as long as a kid needs it to stay on task and for many kids that will go on until age 14 or 15. I'm sure some piano teachers would think that is crazy, but that's the age many kids get proficient at managing their own school work and taking decent notes at school. I'm sure there are highly motivated kids that take that all on sooner, but personally I think it's fine for an interested and enthusiastic parent to be involved for a while.

My 11 year old was similarly precocious early on. I think he played Happy Farmer at age 6/7. He's gone in waves of interest, but we keep chugging away at it. Personally, we use a very experienced teacher w/a PhD and college teaching experience. I don't think a less experienced and invested teacher would have worked for my own kid. If you really are using a high school kid as a teacher, that's the first thing I would consider changing. Our teacher teaches in a well rounded way and lays out very clear objectives and goals.

I feel like at this stage, my son is building foundational skills for LIFE and not just piano. He's learning to work at something incrementally, learning to work with a mentor, learning to come back to something day after day even when it's hard. If he wants to do more with piano specifically when he's older, that's going to be up to him to decide. He needs to decide where his greatest interests lie (and he has many). Childhood is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm not a huge fan of the word "passion" either.
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Amateur musician, piano and violin parent

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#1918659 - 06/25/12 09:40 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: kck]
CebuKid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1176
Originally Posted By: kck
I have an 11 year old that plays the piano. I'm not a teacher FTR! smile If it makes you feel any better, I still sit down and practice with my 11 year old most of the time (or maybe it will make you feel worse!). His teacher encourages that for as long as a kid needs it to stay on task and for many kids that will go on until age 14 or 15. I'm sure some piano teachers would think that is crazy, but that's the age many kids get proficient at managing their own school work and taking decent notes at school. I'm sure there are highly motivated kids that take that all on sooner, but personally I think it's fine for an interested and enthusiastic parent to be involved for a while.

My 11 year old was similarly precocious early on. I think he played Happy Farmer at age 6/7. He's gone in waves of interest, but we keep chugging away at it. Personally, we use a very experienced teacher w/a PhD and college teaching experience. I don't think a less experienced and invested teacher would have worked for my own kid. If you really are using a high school kid as a teacher, that's the first thing I would consider changing. Our teacher teaches in a well rounded way and lays out very clear objectives and goals.

I feel like at this stage, my son is building foundational skills for LIFE and not just piano. He's learning to work at something incrementally, learning to work with a mentor, learning to come back to something day after day even when it's hard. If he wants to do more with piano specifically when he's older, that's going to be up to him to decide. He needs to decide where his greatest interests lie (and he has many). Childhood is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm not a huge fan of the word "passion" either.


Thanks KCK. This is the best, "non-judgmental" advice given yet. I do think you're right about her teacher. The intent with this teacher was to give her (and my younger daughter) a "foundation" and go through the beginner books for 2-3 years. Her teacher didn't expect her to advance either as quickly as she did. She's been great for these past 3 years, but I think you're right...a teacher trained in pedogogy would be more ideal at this point. Also, a teacher who teaches the "depth" of the music (as Keystrings put it) would help. I personally don't think a 6-year old understands this, but maybe a highly qualified teacher can teach that. smile

As I said earlier, I do supervise her practice, but just can't do it all the time - which is why I do wish she had passion. I don't care, but I'll continue to use that word. It's passion that makes people love to practice - young or old. My daughter was like that when she first started. Practice can't be looked upon as drudgery, and neither should the desire to accomplish a goal (ie playing a piece). Once one loses the desire for both, they lose their passion.

And for you guys who think that it's wrong that I'm teaching my daughter to set herself apart from her peers, I say this: is it really wrong that I want my daughter to be better than the average pre-teen who goes on playdates, talks on the phone, plays video and computer games, doesn't play an instrument, but participates in non-value added activities like soccer, for example?? Yes, I mention soccer because it's an over-rated "sport" which is known to give kids 10th place trophies, and one that many parents force their non-athletic kids into to "make them feel like winners."

I don't want her to be *that kid*. Really, what is so wrong about wanting her to be better than average, and then teaching this value to her??!!! By the way, I'm Asian, and this same message is preached in many an Asian household, and I was brought up the same way. We encourage our kids to take up musical instruments because it adds value to their brain and helps them excel in academics. And I think the ability to play piano and play it well does set one apart from others - young or old. For us adults, isn't it great to have such an enriching activity in life, instead of going to the bar, watching TV, eating bon-bons, etc? I think piano sets even us apart from our "average" peers.

PS-this thread's been brought up before, but you guys need to read "Tiger Mom". She takes Asian parenting to another level, and brought her kids up the same way - to be better than average, excel at music, and set themselves apart from other kids. I am actually extremely Western compared to her.

PPS- This is all I'm going to write about my way of parenting. I know some of you will get offended and post some type of retort, and I will not answer any of these.
_________________________
YouTube Channel
Scott Joplin Repertoire


Music washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach



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#1918733 - 06/26/12 01:38 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: CebuKid
We encourage our kids to take up musical instruments because it adds value to their brain and helps them excel in academics.


Originally Posted By: CebuKid
For us adults, isn't it great to have such an enriching activity in life, instead of going to the bar, watching TV, eating bon-bons, etc? I think piano sets even us apart from our "average" peers.


Well, personally I can take pleasure in lots of different activities, including socialising and thoughtful engagement with televisual media as well as playing several musical intruments.

I'm interested to know if people see the the instrumentalism (forgive me) of a 'value-added' approach (something you do to improve academic performance rather than something done for its own sake) as antithetical to producing a life-long love of music. I'm conflicted.
_________________________
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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#1918750 - 06/26/12 03:34 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

As I said earlier, I do supervise her practice, but just can't do it all the time - which is why I do wish she had passion. I don't care, but I'll continue to use that word. It's passion that makes people love to practice - young or old. My daughter was like that when she first started. Practice can't be looked upon as drudgery, and neither should the desire to accomplish a goal (ie playing a piece). Once one loses the desire for both, they lose their passion.


OK, well, if you insist. Passion cannot be taught. It is either there or it isn't.

(Unlike discipline, which can be instilled by parents).
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


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

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#1918804 - 06/26/12 08:04 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
There is nothing wrong with wishing your child had passion for piano. The question is how do you deal with the disappointment when you see she does not have that passion.

BTW, I did not intend to sound judgmental. I just like playing around with words and had fun looking up the origin of the word passion. I think you are taking an interest in your child's education and want the best for her. Nothing wrong with that. smile

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#1918808 - 06/26/12 08:29 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
"The passion for piano" and "the passion for setting oneself apart/being better than average" are different, I guess most people who answered were answering to the former.

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#1919307 - 06/27/12 07:37 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
MaggieGirl Offline
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Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 485
I think piano sounds relegated to the same level as homework for your daughter. It's hard to be passionate about homework. I do think passion can be encouraged. But I don't think it can be forced.

My daughter has a sport that parents invest a lot of money and time into. Sometimes the child no longer wants to suffer for the sport (they suffer; it's painful, requires dedication, skipping the things other girls do after school and weekends and 5am wake up calls). What happens when parents push because passion is lost are mental blocks, loss of confidence and injuries.

Make piano fun again and she will probably rediscover why she wanted to play in the first place. Help her determine HER goals with piano without making them YOUR goals. The Happy Farmer makes you proud, but maybe it means very little to your daughter.

I am finding being a more relaxed parent (also an Asian household) is more freeing. For my older child I was much more of a pressure parent and it led to a lot of issues where his identity was tied to success. I wish I had learned to step back without heartache lessons.

Oddly, by stepping back with my daughter, she has also excelled - but she doesn't identify herself as being a success or failure based on grades or piano level or her sport level. There is joy in the process - practice, effort, energy.

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#1919314 - 06/27/12 07:48 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Ben Crosland Offline
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Personally, I don't think passion can be taught. At all.

I do, however, like to think that it can be inspired. In fact, I would say that much of what I try do accomplish as a teacher is to light that spark in my students, and to fan the flames on a constant basis..
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#1919316 - 06/27/12 07:54 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
keystring Online   content
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Passion can also be killed.

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#1919332 - 06/27/12 08:30 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: childofparadise2002]
Overexposed Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Originally Posted By: childofparadise2002
"The passion for piano" and "the passion for setting oneself apart/being better than average" are different

Many parents want their kids to be above average. Promoting competition in sports gets general approval.

I think American parents have no problem with doing everything they can to help their kid excel at sports. But somehow when it comes to competing intellectually, they back off and say it's crude to try to be better than your peers. For example, those who want their kids to get into math magnet schools, take action to promote their kids math skills, but they don't freely admit it.

We accept parents orchestrating promotion of physicality, but see it as inappropriate intervening to promote intellect and artistry.

Double standard.

Other than that, there are just differences in what parents value. If a person's choices are working for them, then so be it. If the parent choices are causing family conflict, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate priorities/values.

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#1919360 - 06/27/12 09:35 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
keystring Online   content
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Competition in academics can be as deadly to real learning as it is in music. It can also kill passion for the subject. As I wrote before, passion can be killed if it was there originally. A number of things can do that.

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#1919393 - 06/27/12 10:39 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Overexposed]
childofparadise2002 Offline
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Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
What I was implying in my previous post were: 1) one can do well in many areas, but it’s not necessary to do well in EVERY area. Life is short, putting time and effort in a certain area means putting less time and effort in other areas. The point is to find the area that one wants to excel in (where the passion is), then work hard. 2) Piano study will be most fruitful if the passion is for piano and music, not simply using piano as a means to distinguish oneself. Many people have a burning desire to distinguish themselves, but when it comes to actual work, few can actually endure the hard work that is required for years and years. It’s because the passion is not for the particular type of work, but only for the status that the work will lead them to.

As to the contrast between “American” and “Asian” parenting stereotypes… As an Asian parent myself with kids who have great passion for learning (including piano) and are learning the work ethics to develop their passion and talent, I have to say that the stereotypes are really just stereotypes. The reality and the types of parenting both in America and in Asia are much, much more complex. I know, for example, many American parents who are no less fierce than stereotypical Asian parents when it comes to academics and arts. The stereotypes arise from specific economic, cultural and social circumstances, have their own strengths and shortcomings, and if carried out to the extreme, are detrimental to the children.

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#1919442 - 06/27/12 11:45 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Overexposed Offline
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I agree with what you say childofparadise.

I'm just commenting on an attitude that I think is prevalent. All the talk of "There is no 'I' in the word team" etc. It's seems taboo to say the word "I". In sports the individual can hide behind working hard for the team. But the artist/intellectual is seen as flying solo and therefore as being selfish.

That's my impression of attitudes here in the U.S. I'd say many folks view great parental attention to promoting intellect and artistry in their kid as being un-Christian. No approval for those who try to set themselves apart/excel at anything that is not physical. Again with sports all is OK. And with attempts to improve physical appearance (all the boob jobs and other enhancements) are just fine.

Of course I am exaggerating a bit for fun. smile

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#1919479 - 06/27/12 12:25 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
MaggieGirl Offline
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Edited by MaggieGirl (06/27/12 12:27 PM)

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#1919482 - 06/27/12 12:31 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
ClsscLib Online   content

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Originally Posted By: CebuKid

Really, what is so wrong about wanting her to be better than average, and then teaching this value to her??!!! By the way, I'm Asian, and this same message is preached in many an Asian household, and I was brought up the same way. We encourage our kids to take up musical instruments because it adds value to their brain and helps them excel in academics. And I think the ability to play piano and play it well does set one apart from others - young or old. For us adults, isn't it great to have such an enriching activity in life, instead of going to the bar, watching TV, eating bon-bons, etc? I think piano sets even us apart from our "average" peers.



I thought it was only in Lake Woebegone that all of the children are above average. smile

Seriously, while I don't think passion can be taught, I do think it can be *caught* -- or inspired, as noted above. How to manage that is way beyond my knowledge, though.

But while I don't believe passion can be taught, I do agree with others that it can be quashed, and that has to be the greatest challenge for any parent or teacher -- how to provide a situation where passion has the best chance of developing without pushing so hard as to kill it.


Edited by ClsscLib (06/27/12 12:45 PM)
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#1919507 - 06/27/12 01:09 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Overexposed]
childofparadise2002 Offline
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Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
All the talk of "There is no 'I' in the word team" etc. It's seems taboo to say the word "I". In sports the individual can hide behind working hard for the team. But the artist/intellectual is seen as flying solo and therefore as being selfish.


This is also the hallmark (one of them) of Asian culture. Many Asian people would think that the American society is the home of individualism.

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#1919520 - 06/27/12 01:23 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: MaggieGirl]
Overexposed Offline
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Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl




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#1919530 - 06/27/12 01:35 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: keystring]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Passion can also be killed.


And quite easily.

A popular example:

Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.
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#1919563 - 06/27/12 02:32 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
Copake Offline
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Posts: 256
Loc: Columbia/Westchester Counties ...
I don't think so.

I don't have any evidence for this. Only anecdotal evidence -- specifically about my son.

He played both piano and violin while growing up. We took him to symphony concerts, piano recitals, and the opera. He heard me playing the piano and listening to music in the home. But once he went off to college he stopped playing his instruments and rarely listens to music. I don't think it is that important to him whereas I can't live without it.

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#1919569 - 06/27/12 02:37 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Kreisler]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: keystring
Passion can also be killed.


And quite easily.

A popular example:

Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.

This also depends on how the teacher tries to transmit those skills. The above example can actually be done effectively and intelligently, if the teacher is able to balance things well. Such teachers are rare.

Another example is:
Student loves music. Teacher let's student 'advance' quickly without giving skills, and also criticizes student's "mistakes". Student's efforts yield few results because of the missing skills, making student feel like a failure.

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#1919575 - 06/27/12 02:57 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
jc111 Offline
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Registered: 11/15/11
Posts: 34
I'll offer my own experience since that was the age I quit piano and I still have vivid memory like it was only yesterday.

I started learning piano since I was 5 or 6 and stopped around 3rd grade. My piano teacher was my music teacher at school so we had lessons in school pretty often. I remeber that day I was having my lesson and one of my classmate poked her head in and asked me "What you doing here? We are all playing outside." Right then I started to doubt about learning piano. Couple weeks later I told my mom that I want to stopped piano lesson and that was it.

If you ask me if I regret quitting it, honestly I would say yes. But if I can go back in time, I would still make the same decision. Because at that time, learning piano did set me "apart" from my friends and I didn't want that. However I am grateful that I had a good foundation so I am able to appreciate music and pick it up again after all these years.

And it goes the same for my son. He told me that he doesn't like to talk about learning piano in his class because none of his classmates is interested. But he also told me that he enjoys chatting with another boy on the bus who also plays piano. So maybe you will be able to fuel your daughter's passion again if you can find her some companions.

Since you mentioned the Tiger Mom book, I would like to offer my own view. I don't think she meant the book to be a manual of bringing up children but rather a look back of her own parenting style. I am Aisian myself and was brought up the similar way. I suggest you take the book with a grain of salt. Not every child could be raised the same way even Chua adimitted in her book. You can read more about it on her own web site: http://amychua.com/


Edited by jc111 (06/27/12 02:59 PM)

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#1919788 - 06/27/12 10:22 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: jc111]
CebuKid Offline
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Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 1176
Originally Posted By: jc111
I'll offer my own experience since that was the age I quit piano and I still have vivid memory like it was only yesterday.

I started learning piano since I was 5 or 6 and stopped around 3rd grade. My piano teacher was my music teacher at school so we had lessons in school pretty often. I remeber that day I was having my lesson and one of my classmate poked her head in and asked me "What you doing here? We are all playing outside." Right then I started to doubt about learning piano. Couple weeks later I told my mom that I want to stopped piano lesson and that was it.

If you ask me if I regret quitting it, honestly I would say yes. But if I can go back in time, I would still make the same decision. Because at that time, learning piano did set me "apart" from my friends and I didn't want that. However I am grateful that I had a good foundation so I am able to appreciate music and pick it up again after all these years.

And it goes the same for my son. He told me that he doesn't like to talk about learning piano in his class because none of his classmates is interested. But he also told me that he enjoys chatting with another boy on the bus who also plays piano. So maybe you will be able to fuel your daughter's passion again if you can find her some companions.

Since you mentioned the Tiger Mom book, I would like to offer my own view. I don't think she meant the book to be a manual of bringing up children but rather a look back of her own parenting style. I am Aisian myself and was brought up the similar way. I suggest you take the book with a grain of salt. Not every child could be raised the same way even Chua adimitted in her book. You can read more about it on her own web site: http://amychua.com/


I read "Tiger Mom" cover-to-cover. I realize this wasn't a guideline but rather a memoir. Kudos to her, as she is an extremely devoted mother juggling a career as a professor at Yale, and forcing both her kids to practice even while on vacation. I was amazed at how a non-musician like her knew so much about music theory and how she herself would tell both of her daughters how to interpret music or how to play a phrase or a measure.

Let me tell you guys that I ain't no "Tiger-Dad" by any means, but I do expect my kids to "give it their all" when they practice. I didn't mention that my younger daughter is also a piano student, but more on the average side in terms of ability. But even though she has less natural ability than the 9-year-old, she works her tail off at her level 1 pieces, which she's been on for over a year now. Further, I let me daughters be normal also - they get to play computer games, watch movies, and have sleep-overs and playdates. I gave the 9 Y.O. the "speech" about setting herself apart because even she herself realizes that she's different than her classmates. She even told me that most of her classmates who are in piano lessons are still playing, what she calls, the "baby books." I also told her that if she considers herself a "pianist", then she better start practicing like one. This past week, she has stepped up her game, I'm happy to say, and has been practicing on her own...

Those of you who recommended a change of teachers are also probably correct. Maybe she needs a trained teacher who will bring out the best in her and make her want to try harder, and also teach her the depth to be found in piano pieces. I don't think the "passion" can come from her alone, so I do think it's possible that it can be taught! Yes, I change my stance on this, and I guess I was thinking too much about myself when I made the statement that passion can't be taught.. I'll admit, I've lost a little of my own passion because I've achieved what I wanted to with piano, and am sort of in a been-there-done-that mode. Believe me, I have no aspirations to play a Chopin etude, and am content with my current level. Alas, it is I who can't learn passion, but my daughter has her whole life ahead of her.

PS- For those that know me, I hang out mostly in the ABF, and am an adult "re-starter". I regretted quitting at age 12, and was happy to relearn piano on my own 4 years ago, and to play at my current level. Like jc111, I had an excellent childhood foundation to work from. However, I'm still not excellent at it, and if I hadn't quit, maybe I would've been excellent, so like any parent, I want my daughter to be excellent at something....again, to be better than average and to "set herself apart."

thanks for listening... smile
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#1919828 - 06/28/12 12:53 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Kreisler]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5506
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.


Been there, done that.

These students are also the ones who want to play Fur Elise by lesson 10 and refuse to practice more than 5 minutes per week.

They will also progress at a snail's pace and be frustrated by the fact that everyone else is flying way past them in terms of keyboard skills and level of repertoire. They'll be playing level 1 music after 5 years of painful lessons, while beginners who start with the same teacher will have played level 4 music by the end of year one.

IMO, of course.
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#1919836 - 06/28/12 01:14 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: AZNpiano]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1493
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.


Been there, done that.

These students are also the ones who want to play Fur Elise by lesson 10 and refuse to practice more than 5 minutes per week.

They will also progress at a snail's pace and be frustrated by the fact that everyone else is flying way past them in terms of keyboard skills and level of repertoire. They'll be playing level 1 music after 5 years of painful lessons, while beginners who start with the same teacher will have played level 4 music by the end of year one.

IMO, of course.


+ 1

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#1919922 - 06/28/12 07:11 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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


This past week, she has stepped up her game, I'm happy to say, and has been practicing on her own...

... Yes, I change my stance on this, and I guess I was thinking too much about myself when I made the statement that passion can't be taught.. I'll admit, I've lost a little of my own passion because I've achieved what I wanted to with piano, and am sort of in a been-there-done-that mode.


Hi CebuK, glad things are looking up. I hope they continue to do so. All learner (children and adults alike) go through spells of more enthusiasm and less enthusiasm and the trick is to have some sort of base-line of routine practice which continues even through the dull patches until passion is reignited. That's my take on it anyway.

The parents' job (and I include myself in this) is to tread the middle path between allowing practice to stop completely, and insisting on so much practice that the kid wants to give up.
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#1919953 - 06/28/12 08:05 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.


Been there, done that.

These students are also the ones who want to play Fur Elise by lesson 10 and refuse to practice more than 5 minutes per week..

My impression of Kreisler's post was that he was suggesting that a student who has this kind of passion should have that part of his desires accommodated rather than quashed or ignored completely. I did not have the impression that he was implying the student was a problem because of that kind of desire.

If a teacher believes strongly in reading, can the teacher also make room for the ability or desire to play by ear and improvise, or even bring this into reading?

Are there teachers out there who like to work specifically with this kind of student?

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#1919957 - 06/28/12 08:15 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: CebuKid]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2565
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I'll take joy over passion any day of the week.
Although if success is the goal, then I believe dedication to be more valuable.
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#1920048 - 06/28/12 11:12 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: keystring]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5506
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
If a teacher believes strongly in reading, can the teacher also make room for the ability or desire to play by ear and improvise, or even bring this into reading?
Ideally, students should be able to read and figure things out by ear. Ideally. Both are important skills.

It is the learning of one to the exclusion of the other that is a problem. Have you tried teaching note-reading to kids who were allowed to doodle around and "learn by ear"? The process is like pulling teeth.
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#1920061 - 06/28/12 11:31 AM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: AZNpiano]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

It is the learning of one to the exclusion of the other that is a problem. Have you tried teaching note-reading to kids who were allowed to doodle around and "learn by ear"? The process is like pulling teeth.

I have not taught instrumental lessons because I would like to be more qualified technically before I do. I have taught people who had holes in one area and ability in another so it's out of balance and tried to get at the holes. I myself had such holes and still have some. It's a w.i.p.

I was not thinking of someone who "doodles" and where you'd have to use quotation marks with "learn by ear". Someone who plays by ear should start having some foundations in theory because they would be using common chords and chord progressions. If working with a teacher who knows of this wish, the teacher could teach this strategically. I'm thinking that you can pull these two things together. A V7-I cadence by ear is also a visual V7-I cadence on paper.

How about the character in the infamous "Day in the Life of..." who comes in playing her newly invented ditties, and teacher wants to get her to follow the book - see, you wouldn't want anyone to play the ditties you invented wrong, would you? What about pointing out the structure in those ditties? Having her learn to write out what she invented, and come at reading from that angle? As well, or instead.

Obviously these are not "expert" thoughts by any means. And I have also ignored the various pressures that teachers face within their environments.

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#1920089 - 06/28/12 12:27 PM Re: Can passion be "taught?" [Re: Kreisler]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 427
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: Kreisler

A popular example:

Student loves music.
Student has a hard time reading music, but enjoys figuring things out by ear.
Teacher wants student to learn to read music.
Teacher spends 90% of the lesson time/energy on reading.
Student spends 90% of the lesson time frustrated.
Passion dies.


If you love a girl, you don't just say "I love you and see you next week same time". You want to be with the girl all week long.

Same applies to music. If a teacher has to spend 90% of the lesson time helping a student to read a couple pieces of music, the student has not been with the music much. Doesn't matter what he says, I just can't see the love there.

Teaching is a 2 way thing, it requires effort from both sides. In this case, the student has not done his part, the family has not done it's part, there is not much a teacher can do, the student will fail one way or the other.

Without actions, it is not passion.


Edited by The Monkeys (06/28/12 12:28 PM)

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