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#2002586 - 12/21/12 10:37 AM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The OP asks two questions:

Originally Posted By: pianogirl1978
Why do they sign up for piano lessons in the first place?

How do you all differ in your teaching with older students?


And asks for some advice:

Originally Posted By: pianogirl1978
Okay, give me some pointers here on how you structure the lesson with adults.

In rereading through all the replies, only one or two peripherally address the OP's questions. Most put the onus on the teacher to solve the adult student's problem. IMO, this is backwards. If the student is unsure, they should be asking the questions. Such as, Ms. Teacher, I've always desired to play the piano. Could you take a few minutes and tell me what is necessary for a student, such as myself, to learn and become proficient at playing? Thanks. And if the student is uncomfortable raising the question, there are plenty of internet resources available spelling out the effort required.
_________________________
"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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#2002607 - 12/21/12 11:13 AM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
John, I think the issue may be that the students often don't know enough to be able to ask the question. The whole piano/music thing is a mystery to them. They know only that there's something about playing the piano that is appealing. They come to their lessons wanting to be taught, and they don't know exactly what that entails. The teacher needs to frame it in some way that makes sense.

Perhaps in this case, the OP's distate for this student is being communicated in some way and it's making her uncomfortable. (I know it would make me uncomfortable!) Maybe it is a personality clash that can't be bridged, but I think it's the teacher's job to at least try to solve these kinds of problems, and maybe have a little compassion or empathy for the student as a human being.
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#2002641 - 12/21/12 12:19 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: John v.d.Brook]
A Rebours Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 221
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I now use prescreening to discourage adults from taking lessons, unless they are dead serious and in the real world, few seem to be.

I like to bring students to mastery, from start to finish, or if they are transfer students, from where they are to mastery.



Hi, John,

I am curious to know what pre-screening things you do to identify adult students who are serious (or not serious) about learning the piano and what things you do to discourage adults.

How do you know for sure if you are passing up some adult who really is serous about learning but who might not articulate clearly to you what they see as their goals?

I alluded to what you are saying about bringing students to mastery of the piano in my previous post when I stated that my teacher wants to create independent musicians who can play well for a lifetime. And this can be done with adults just as much as with kids.

Even though the ratio of adults who want to go down this path vs. the fly-by-night types is small, how do we serious adults communicate to you serious teachers that we do want to start the long journey? It would be a shame for adults to be relegated to the not so good teachers with whom a serious adult would find frustrating.

What about adults who might start out kind of flaky and who take to things slowly at first but then blossom?

How many kids are just as flaky as the flaky adults? Kids with conflicting schedules where piano is last on their list?

These last questions aren't directed at John, just thrown out there for anyone to comment upon.

A R
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#2002659 - 12/21/12 12:58 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: John v.d.Brook]
A Rebours Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 221
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook


If the student is unsure, they should be asking the questions. Such as, Ms. Teacher, I've always desired to play the piano. Could you take a few minutes and tell me what is necessary for a student, such as myself, to learn and become proficient at playing? Thanks. And if the student is uncomfortable raising the question, there are plenty of internet resources available spelling out the effort required.


True beginners may not know the questions to ask at the beginning. Only after they have been in lessons do they see how much is involved in learning to play the piano.

I come from this as an college instructor of Introduction to Art History and the majority of my students had no background in art whatsoever. But they always wanted to learn about art. But for everyone to have the same starting point we all had to do the basics of learning the language of the visual arts etc. At first, only a few students are comfortable in answering questions as they are acquiring the knowledge of the visual means an artist uses to communicate visually. But after they get the basics (usually things click in around week 3) they understand basic concepts and can ask informed questions. My students have ranged from right out of high school freshmen to returning to college adults in their 30s - 40s.

At the beginning with my students I ask questions to draw the students out. Once they have the basics we can communicate back and forth on a higher level. Most students coming to art history are totally clueless as to how much they really have to work in an introductory course. They think it is an easy 5 credits. Some drop the class, some who now find that it isn't easy still stick with the class and have ended up be my top students. Some are gung ho and do well and others are in the middle but doing better than their own expectations.

In my return to piano as an adult I always ask questions when I don't understand things. Make notes to let my teacher know where I keep having a problem etc. And I look things up on the internet, too. But coming from my background this just seems natural to me.

One last thing regarding the questions John hopes a student to ask. Your explanation of what it takes may not be fully taken in by the student until they have started the real work themselves. It is still an abstract concept until they are actively engaged in the process. If they come to find out that the real work is much harder than their understanding of the explanation they will be frustrated anyway. You could then come back and say that you said it wouldn't be easy and have the student think about what they want to do next. With my art history students I gave them a choice - drop the class or I would be willing to help them IF they put in the work. The ones who took me up on putting in the work with some extra help came through on their end of the bargain and would ask questions when they got stuck. But they knew ahead of time that I was ready and able to help them get themselves redirected. Sometimes it meant just asking them questions so they could figure things out for themselves. Other times I would direct them to the sources where they could find the materials to find the answers for themselves.

A R
_________________________
Sauter 122 Masterclass (M-Line)

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#2002661 - 12/21/12 01:03 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: A Rebours]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Originally Posted By: A Rebours

Even though the ratio of adults who want to go down this path vs. the fly-by-night types is small, how do we serious adults communicate to you serious teachers that we do want to start the long journey? It would be a shame for adults to be relegated to the not so good teachers with whom a serious adult would find frustrating.


First, I don't think many adults know upfront that it will be a long journey.

Which perhaps is why adults typically say, "I just want to play a few songs for fun."

The adults I have that have stuck with it typically only wanted to just play a bit, and then they got the bug, and wanted to actually play well. So we had to basically go backwards and re-introduce the heavy lifting (Theory, Technique studies, more balanced repertoire, etc) that they at first rejected, and that I did not push too hard back then because that sort of work causes them to flee.

Bottom line is that communication is absolutely necessary...if the student cannot for whatever reason formulate the question "What does it take to play well," it is up to the teacher to give some information.

However, I say "some" information, because if most people knew how hard and long the slog will be to achieve the ability to play decently, I believe that many if not most leave.

As for demonstrating to the teacher that you are serious, your deeds speak much louder than words. Practice, work hard, show up on time for lessons, give advance notice when you can't come, don't reject much of the teacher's repertoire suggestions and instead constantly bring in pieces that typically are beyond you, or if pop music, virtually unplayable as written, etc, etc.
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#2002662 - 12/21/12 01:06 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
Opus_Maximus Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1489
Interesting... I'll agree that most adults are unrealistic and frustrating to teach - especially males in their 20's, and 30's.., BUT when you get a really good adult, (and I've been lucky to have quite a few since I teach at a store specializing in adults)...they can be fantastic. (Usually women in their 50's). Excuse the demographics....but it does seem to be what I've overwhelmingly picked up.

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#2002675 - 12/21/12 01:31 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
I'd be happy just playing cocktail piano in a resturant/club or in a trio..I'm retired
so it'd be more a fun thing..

I knew of a local band that played for 30yrs up and down the east coast mostly in Atlatic City clubs/casinos, did they ever "make it"? answer..no! just as living..

maybe some of these adult students have fantasies of being on some tv show like
these talent shows we see of late?


Edited by Bob Newbie (12/21/12 02:18 PM)

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#2002679 - 12/21/12 01:39 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Opus_Maximus]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2537
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
...they can be fantastic. (Usually women in their 50's).


smile

Seeing "fantastic" in the same line as "women in their 50s" is going to make me happy all day! Maybe all week!
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2002682 - 12/21/12 01:40 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Bob Newbie]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
I'd be happy just playing cocktail piano in a resturant/club or in a trio..I'm retired
so it'd be more a fun thing..


There is a huge amount of practice and skill required to "just" play cocktail piano or in a trio in a club.

In today's economy, all such gigs are scarce, and club owners are hiring you to do one thing and one thing only: sell booze and food.

It came as a shock to me, a music lover, that I was just a beer salesman!

And you have to be good enough for people to not only stay and listen, but actually want to come back when you play there again.

Translation: not amateur level playing for fun, at least not for the most part. It takes years to get there. I only have one adult who could possibly do it, and then only for about 15 minutes, certainly not 3 hours which is the typical gig length.
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#2002688 - 12/21/12 01:51 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

In rereading through all the replies, only one or two peripherally address the OP's questions. Most put the onus on the teacher to solve the adult student's problem. IMO, this is backwards. If the student is unsure, they should be asking the questions. Such as, Ms. Teacher, I've always desired to play the piano. Could you take a few minutes and tell me what is necessary for a student, such as myself, to learn and become proficient at playing? Thanks. And if the student is uncomfortable raising the question, there are plenty of internet resources available spelling out the effort required.

John, I thought that I had addressed the questions, directly and in detail. Maybe it wasn't as clear as I thought. I see now that your focus is on the student's responsibility, with this highlighted question that would come at the start of lessons. In fact, that brings us to the same place, if you can bear with me. Again I want to explore various angles, because you'll have different scenarios since there are many teachers, students, and styles coming into the mix.

- When I started lessons the first time, I took for granted that the purpose was to learn how to play. My teacher would tell me what to do, and this gives "what is necessary for a student..." If I do what I'm told over a number of years all will fall into place. I think students come with assumptions, and this doesn't happen. There's one hiccup.

- We're also caught in a loop. Because of the wishes of some adults, there is a "teaching adults style": skim grades superficially, focus on beloved pieces, etc. This doesn't work for anyone of any age wanting to really learn to play. A student may not know this is happening, so when they follow what they're told they don't know why they get stuck at some point. That is the loop. Meanwhile any teacher writing in may be going along this path. If they are, then this has to be looked at.

- I have been stressing to students: a) tell a teacher that you want to learn how to play the piano, and will do what it takes b) follow through. I.e. an adult student cannot assume that if he signs up for lessons, that the focus will be on skills. That is because of the above loop. Hence the "tell a teacher".

Quote:
there are plenty of internet resources available spelling out the effort required.

I've seen the fundamental idea that it takes many years of lessons, uninterrupted attendance, and consistent practice. Beyond that, the information is insufficient for knowing how to work with a teacher, or how to define goals. Generally the sites advise students to tell teachers what kind of music they like to play - imho, that misses the point.

- Beginners of any age are ignorant as in "lacking knowledge". They need guidance. You expect this of a small child taking lessons. Do you expect it of an adult? Should this adult "know better"? Will the adult get the kind of guidance that the child gets in terms of what to do, how to practice? In fact, some of the things adults learned about being "good students" in school don't work for music. For example, your math paper should be handed in error-free. Practised pieces are not error-free; the student's skills are a work in progress, and if the teacher finds things to improve, this is GOOD and not bad. If your inexperienced student doesn't know that, he will become anxious at his "mistakes" with all kinds of fallout from that.The idea of a student needing guidance does not negate the responsibility of a student. If I am new to something, the fact is that I will be ignorant and have wrong ideas: ignorance is a fact of new students.
Quote:
Most put the onus on the teacher to solve the adult student's problem.

As a teacher, which I am, I expect my student to work with me, and to prepare my assignments at home. Mostly in recent years I have tutored students with problems. Often these students don't know how to work, how to plan, and in working with me they timidly try to guess what I want to hear. What else can I do as a teacher than guide them, to learn how to be effective students. This is teaching, is it not? How will a student learn how to learn, if he is not taught? I then EXPECT the student to follow through with what I have taught.

Quote:
....they should be asking the questions.

I don't know if you can put yourself in this place. We are in an unfamiliar world. We don't have the words. We don't know how to formulate the question. We don't know what the question is. I've been there, and it is a very helpless feeling. That is why when an adult comes and writes a rambling paragraph, I try to extract things, because I see the searching.

I remember when I was in that place; several times I either confused my teacher, or insulted him, while hunting. So most of the time I stayed silent, did my best, and tried to guess. We are adults with adult intellect in adult bodies, so you do not expect this of us.

I want to stress that the OP's question was what a teacher might do. So it seemed appropriate to look at what teachers might do and what they might work with. That's what I went after the first time around. This is why I am puzzled when you say that the OP's questions were only addressed peripherally.

Is ANYTHING in what I wrote possibly useful?

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#2002691 - 12/21/12 01:56 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1349
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted By: pianogirl1978
She is my only student so far at the music studio I just started teaching at. So I honestly dread having to drive there just for her lesson....It feels very institutional.


I'm sure this malaise gets communicated to the adult student - i.e., to the lady who appears so dreary and is assumed will quit piano lessons soon. Some of the problems in this vignette may have nothing to do with teaching adults.


Edited by Peter K. Mose (12/21/12 02:03 PM)

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#2002699 - 12/21/12 02:10 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: rocket88]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5529
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: rocket88
There is a huge amount of practice and skill required to "just" play cocktail piano or in a trio in a club.


Amen. There's a lot of skill involved just to do it well at retirement/assisted living/nursing homes. The better I get the more I wonder how I got away with it even a year ago.

The seniors I play for dance and sing to what I play, and I have about 2 hours worth of repertoire, but there's no way I could take requests on the spot, or interact with the audience while I play. Much less guarantee an enjoyable (tho not flawless) play on every tune.

It's a big job, and those who are good enough to do it professionally are highly skilled, and I have a lot of respect for them.

Cathy
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#2002704 - 12/21/12 02:21 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1007
Loc: Irvine, CA
For adult and teenager, I have a " FFAT" program for them.

It is "flexible, floating, adult, teenager program"
After the first free interview, I put them into this category right away. This means: they are not obligate to the one month tuition fee, they are not responsible to come to piano lesson every week or every other week. They do not have a permanent fixed schedule such as every Friday at 5pm etc....

They only schedule online on my website when they "like" to come to piano lesson. They will pay cash when they arrive only for that lesson, no future commitment.

This is how I pre-screen the adult, I pre-screen them every single lesson, not only at the first free interview. If they are not practice, they won't go online to sign up for one single lesson.

I am pretty happy with this method for now, I have about 10 adults and teenagers that are doing this, some come to piano lesson every week, some every month, some every three months and some once a year. It is totally up to them and I make sure that they know whenever they need me, I am here waiting for them. I also make sure that they know I do not want their money if they do not prepare for the lesson.

Of course, I will not include these piano tuition in my total budget when operating my business.

Also, I think, yes, paying tuition upfront for the whole year will make adult students come to piano lesson and make them commit to a year of lesson, but what is the motivation? Are they motivated by money or motivated by desire to learn?


Edited by ezpiano.org (12/21/12 02:29 PM)
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#2002708 - 12/21/12 02:27 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: TimR]
pianogirl1978 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/11
Posts: 104
Loc: Nebraska

Originally Posted By: TimR
Possibly few though have given much thought to how an adult learner is different and how to customize instruction for one. Adults learn more slowly and with different mechanisms.

I think that should be emphasized. No matter how dedicated the student and skilled the teacher, adult progress will be slower. There are probably exceptions, I haven't seen any though. Both must expect this and not get frustrated.


Tim R, In my experience, adults actually can learn faster than children, it is just that I find they are unmotivated or don't have the time needed or an parent making them practice. As far as finger dexterity, learning the staff, I think they actually learn this part faster than children. So if they would put the practice time in, they would be surprised how well they could play in a short amount of time. I guess that is what frustrates me the most is that they are capable, but don't apply themselves and then get discouraged. A lot of my past adult students were child students who took lessons for one year, barely learned anything and now want to try it again, but I think they expect the same outcome they had the first time and set themselves up to fail. I wasn't a psychology major, but it make sense. Not sure if I am making any sense to anyone. smile


Edited by pianogirl1978 (12/21/12 02:29 PM)
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#2002733 - 12/21/12 03:20 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
I guess that we've got a couple of different things. There are adults who want to work seriously, and adults who haven't thought things through and are going on a vague impulse. There are adults who want to work seriously but don't know what that means. There are teachers who have different approaches and attitudes toward teaching adults.

Imho, these should get sorted out at the start of lessons and maybe ongoing from time to time afterward. So now how is this brought about, and what is each person's role?

Quote:
In my experience, adults actually can learn faster than children, it is just that I find they are unmotivated or don't have the time needed or an parent making them practice. As far as finger dexterity, learning the staff, I think they actually learn this part faster than children.

Yes and no. We can get concepts intellectually faster than children, but we can tend to be "in our heads" too much - the direct connection isn't there in terms of getting raw experience. I was given a huge insight a few years ago that learning can and maybe should start in the body and senses, and then to the brain, but we do the reverse.

Quote:
I guess that is what frustrates me the most is that they are capable, but don't apply themselves and then get discouraged. A lot of my past adult students were child students who took lessons for one year, barely learned anything and now want to try it again, but I think they expect the same outcome they had the first time and set themselves up to fail.

They will also have a set pattern of "how we work with a teacher - how we approach pieces - how we practice" and so will tend to do the same as before. How do you break through that.

Another thing is that when we do math homework we are supposed to bring in a perfect paper, and mistakes are signs of "failure". Learning to play music involves skills that must be developed, and a teacher looks for things to be developed. So while the teacher says to herself, "Aha, more wrist motion - we can work with that - fantastic!" the student thinks, "I failed at wrist motion." Knowing that weaknesses and even mistakes are ok and even part of the process can be a huge breakthrough.

Almost a decade ago when studying another instrument I "buddied" with a student overseas. She was trying to play beautifully, and was so anxious to do it right that it fell apart in front of her teacher, and then she stayed fallen apart. One day we learned that if a teacher is teaching "playing the right notes with right fingering", then this is what the teacher is looking for, and the piece is only a vehicle for that. My friend went "Is that all?" In the next lesson she focused on that "one thing" her teacher was looking for, and her playing stayed solid. Sometimes it can be a small thing like that.

But I agree with everyone that attitude is attitude. If it's not there, then this is the student's responsibility.

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#2002735 - 12/21/12 03:29 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Piano Again]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
John, I think the issue may be that the students often don't know enough to be able to ask the question. The whole piano/music thing is a mystery to them. They know only that there's something about playing the piano that is appealing. They come to their lessons wanting to be taught, and they don't know exactly what that entails. The teacher needs to frame it in some way that makes sense.
I'm sure you're correct. But that doesn't negate the student's responsibility for finding out. But, FWIW, I've noticed this attitude in many aspects of society, and it seems to be growing (the buyer not knowing, and apparently, not caring enough to be concerned before becoming engaged). There's a show on HGTV (for non-USA forum members, Home and Garden Television, it's a separate channel). They do a show where a couple or individual is moving to a new location and is house hunting. This is both in the USA and Canada, and a separate show, for couples/families relocating from one country to another. My wife & I watch this fairly regularly, because we enjoy seeing the architecture, but we are totally blown away by the immature, shallow approach of the buyers. "Oh, I don't like this house, the ceilings are too high/low, the bathroom is the wrong color, etc., etc. Never once have they examined the foundation, checked the construction quality, asked substantive questions about covenants, local restrictions, etc. I could go on. Everything is cosmetic. I bring up this example because a prudent person, if they're about to commit to $300,000 in principle, and another $300,000 in interest over the mortgage's life, should certainly be concerned with fundamentals first and foremost. Call me old school, but not to think through any major commitment seems rather juvenile, not adult, to me.
_________________________
"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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#2002738 - 12/21/12 03:37 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: A Rebours]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: A Rebours
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I now use prescreening to discourage adults from taking lessons, unless they are dead serious and in the real world, few seem to be.

Hi, John,

I am curious to know what pre-screening things you do to identify adult students who are serious (or not serious) about learning the piano and what things you do to discourage adults.

How do you know for sure if you are passing up some adult who really is serous about learning but who might not articulate clearly to you what they see as their goals?

Short answer, I ask them leading questions, such as: Why do you want to learn? What is your estimate of the amount of time you'll have to commit? If I told you that you'll need to put in 5 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, for the next 6 to 8 years, do you honestly believe you could make that commitment to yourself and to me? Would you be willing now, before you begin lessons, to purchase a quality piano for use in your studies?

To answer your second question, I don't know. My suspicion is that if they're truly serious, they'll continue to badger teachers until they find one.
_________________________
"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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#2002741 - 12/21/12 03:45 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Bob Newbie]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
I'd be happy just playing cocktail piano in a restaurant/club or in a trio..I'm retired so it'd be more a fun thing..

I figure it takes a newbie between 1,500 and 2,000 hours of purposeful practice, with good instruction, of course, to become really fluid at playing off of lead sheets, with a decent accompaniment. Other teachers may have other experiences with this. Good luck with your endeavors.
_________________________
"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
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#2002744 - 12/21/12 03:51 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
KS, I was and am thinking in a different direction than you are, which is why I earlier stated that you made several good points. My impression, perhaps incorrectly, was that the OP was looking for more of, "I use this method, I teach in this order, etc." To me, it's a given that you'll coach students of any age, in practice techniques. How else would they learn? The other implication I got from the OP's questions were how to avoid the proverbial, "I bit off more than I can chew," we get too often from adult students. Thus the responses on how to avoid taking them as students in the first place. Make sense?
_________________________
"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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#2002748 - 12/21/12 03:59 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
I guess that we've got a couple of different things. There are adults who want to work seriously, and adults who haven't thought things through and are going on a vague impulse. There are adults who want to work seriously but don't know what that means. There are teachers who have different approaches and attitudes toward teaching adults.........

Great post. The adult students on this forum are, without a doubt, the type of adult student most of us crave. Unfortunately, most of us have to deal with the other 99%. And adults encompass a vast age range, which dictates motor skills and maturity. They also have a broad background of experiences - from complete beginner to those picking up where they left off after graduating HS or even college. Future, their repertoire expectations differ widely from that of most elementary students. A one solution fits all approach is not very useful. And from my personal observations, most full-time teachers have pretty much written off adult students because of the problems encountered.
_________________________
"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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#2002755 - 12/21/12 04:07 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: John v.d.Brook]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
To me, it's a given that you'll coach students of any age, in practice techniques.

It would be nice if all teachers thought as you did, but I received essentially no coaching in practice techniques at all during my 15 months of lessons.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2002762 - 12/21/12 04:35 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: PianoStudent88]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
To me, it's a given that you'll coach students of any age, in practice techniques.

It would be nice if all teachers thought as you did, but I received essentially no coaching in practice techniques at all during my 15 months of lessons.

Give 'em the boot.
_________________________
"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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#2002768 - 12/21/12 04:53 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: ezpiano.org]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
For adult and teenager, I have a " FFAT" program for them.

It is "flexible, floating, adult, teenager program"
After the first free interview, I put them into this category right away. This means: they are not obligate to the one month tuition fee, they are not responsible to come to piano lesson every week or every other week. They do not have a permanent fixed schedule such as every Friday at 5pm etc....

They only schedule online on my website when they "like" to come to piano lesson. They will pay cash when they arrive only for that lesson, no future commitment.

This is how I pre-screen the adult, I pre-screen them every single lesson, not only at the first free interview. If they are not practice, they won't go online to sign up for one single lesson.

I am pretty happy with this method for now, I have about 10 adults and teenagers that are doing this, some come to piano lesson every week, some every month, some every three months and some once a year. It is totally up to them and I make sure that they know whenever they need me, I am here waiting for them. I also make sure that they know I do not want their money if they do not prepare for the lesson.

Of course, I will not include these piano tuition in my total budget when operating my business.

Also, I think, yes, paying tuition upfront for the whole year will make adult students come to piano lesson and make them commit to a year of lesson, but what is the motivation? Are they motivated by money or motivated by desire to learn?


I think this is a fantastic business model, ezpiano. thumb I suspect there are a large number of potential students who crave this flexibility, and as it is all "extra" tuition for you, I suspect you benefit just as much from offering that flexibility. If I lived near you I'd be signing up for some sessions myself. smile
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#2002778 - 12/21/12 05:18 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Give 'em the boot.

Well, I have, although not in quite those terms. I had started to look for a different teacher, when I stopped lessons independently of that for financial reasons. So now I don't have any teacher at all.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2002789 - 12/21/12 05:38 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Monica K.]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2429
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
For adult and teenager, I have a " FFAT" program for them.

It is "flexible, floating, adult, teenager program"
After the first free interview, I put them into this category right away. This means: they are not obligate to the one month tuition fee, they are not responsible to come to piano lesson every week or every other week. They do not have a permanent fixed schedule such as every Friday at 5pm etc....

They only schedule online on my website when they "like" to come to piano lesson. They will pay cash when they arrive only for that lesson, no future commitment.

This is how I pre-screen the adult, I pre-screen them every single lesson, not only at the first free interview. If they are not practice, they won't go online to sign up for one single lesson.

I am pretty happy with this method for now, I have about 10 adults and teenagers that are doing this, some come to piano lesson every week, some every month, some every three months and some once a year. It is totally up to them and I make sure that they know whenever they need me, I am here waiting for them. I also make sure that they know I do not want their money if they do not prepare for the lesson.

Of course, I will not include these piano tuition in my total budget when operating my business.

Also, I think, yes, paying tuition upfront for the whole year will make adult students come to piano lesson and make them commit to a year of lesson, but what is the motivation? Are they motivated by money or motivated by desire to learn?


I think this is a fantastic business model, ezpiano. thumb I suspect there are a large number of potential students who crave this flexibility, and as it is all "extra" tuition for you, I suspect you benefit just as much from offering that flexibility. If I lived near you I'd be signing up for some sessions myself. smile


+1 thumb

I am working with my teacher on this basis and it's worked out pretty well. I do make progress, despite not being able to schedule as often as I'd like. However, I know that it's only a matter of months before I will be retiring, and will be able to add much more time to my piano studies. smile
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Carl


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#2002800 - 12/21/12 06:23 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2537
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I love the international House Hunters show!! The first few times I watched for the scenery and architecture enjoyed seeing Ikea furnishings around the world, but now I tune in to be amazed by the overwhelming cluelessness and smallmindedness of the people.

What if HGTV did a show about piano lessons?!
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2002803 - 12/21/12 06:30 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2537
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
ezpiano, can students graduate out of FFAT and become regular students who practice regularly and follow instructions and show up weekly?
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2002808 - 12/21/12 06:43 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: John v.d.Brook]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The OP asks two questions:

[quote=pianogirl1978]Why do they sign up for piano lessons in the first place?

How do you all differ in your teaching with older students?



I always found the book by Howard Shanet to be absolutely no nonsense about it. On the back cover it said.

This book with teach you.

This book will not teach you.

In fact it reminds me of my time as an auditor. We clearly had on the audit report the T&C to shatter peoples' expectations of auditors.

Though TBH the suggestion of paying upfront for a year is simply untenable, 3 months maybe, but 12 months?

What happens when your teacher starts deteriorating like one of mine did?

TBH as above as a pianoworlder I'm rather addicted and know it is a long road. Even though I spend a lot of time at work. I always find time to play. I'm sure CASIO need to put a timer or an alarm clock on their next DP. I always think I'll just have a quick play 1-2 hours later realise I need to be up at 5pm the next day!

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#2002817 - 12/21/12 07:05 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: pianogirl1978]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...Most of them did not succeed. Did their teachers fail them? In some cases clearly yes. There are no skill requirements for teaching..."

Only too true. And, right there, your pre-paid one solid year of tuition is out the window, John. Besides that, there is the question of personal temperament--- a hard piece of information to pry out of a prospective teacher in an intake interview, yet it can be make-or-break--- not to mention teaching style, which is even harder to get the truth about. And besides that, if you think back not so very far, we have had letters from students who complained about fetid odors in the studio, man-haters, a teacher who taught next to a school toilet where conversations unfit for young ears were conducted, horrible out-of-tune pianos, teachers who gossip about the students (sometimes here), teachers who drink more than is good for them, or whose mind and memory are failing them... to pick only the lowest (and not even the ripest) of the low-hanging fruit.

There are many reasons a student might have a snoot-full of a new teacher, long before a whole year is consumed. The teacher is on probation, as much as any other new employee is. Complain as you wish about the term 'employee;' there is enough truth to it that it might be well to contemplate it.

If you can get a new student to fork it over and sign the contract--- but wait--- we haven't heard anyone say they have! Except, maybe, John.

I was willing to pay quarterly, with a clear contract. How many teachers even bother with a contract that states their terms and rules? Few, in my experience. Yet I would swear that I was not such a bottom-feeder. If I was, I was paying a lot of money for it.
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#2002833 - 12/21/12 07:45 PM Re: Frustrated with teaching adults! [Re: Jeff Clef]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
I have a few observations - maybe that's too strong a word, maybe just idle musings about adult students. I am one and will be in some fashion as long as I have left. <g>

There may be a problem of relationship expectations unrelated to pedagogy or the difficulty of the process. A child sees a teacher as an authority, not too distant from a parent. A teacher sees a child as a child; in terms of relationships, it is likely a parent-child relationship, modeled on the only parent child relationship most teachers have ever had, their own. An adult sees a teacher as an expert, one whose advice is to be paid for, valued, questioned, and occasionally checked with a second opinion, like he does with his doctor, accountant, and auto mechanic. These expectations are rarely explicit and can clash without the reason being apparent.

Then there are some characteristics of the older learner. Yes, conceptually they may learn some things faster than a child, particularly if they bring a musical context from other study. Physically is another story.

The standard wisdom about adults is that they 1) have declines in memory 2) have declines in the ability to multitask 3) have reduced speed of information input (not depth nor volume, but speed) and 4) have decrements in timing/rhythm (the reason senior golfers can't compete - alignment at impact is completely dependent on timing).

To the extent any of these are true for any given individual, teaching will have to adjust to accommodate it.

For example, skills that are often taught in a package to children may need to be separated and learned individually because of the multitasking problem. Due to the speed at which memory fades, practice at least daily is probably mandatory. The speed of information flow means the teacher has to always be aware when she feeds information too fast for understanding.

Or not, of course, I'm just thinking out loud. I haven't skipped a daily practice session in many years, so I'm trying to implement my theories. hee, hee. I try for three sessions, hope for two, but never skip that one session. And I work with a metronome regularly, plus one month a year I do an hour a day with it, trying to keep rhythm from fading as I complete my 5th decade. Big 60 in a couple of months.
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