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#2051424 - 03/20/13 03:21 PM finding a piano teacher
jonathan NJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Jersey City, NJ
A little background about myself - I am 36 years old. My parents forced me to play the piano for 4 years when I was little and then I stopped. Later in life, I came back to it and played on and off for many years. Recently, over the last 6 months or so, I have been practicing the piano on consistent basis for a few hours every day (and I hope to keep it that way).

I have been thinking about trying to learn with a teacher. I guess the idea is that things that I do not yet see/feel, the teacher may very well understand that and point it out to me, thus save me time and effort. But I was wondering how effective a teacher can really be? Can teachers educate/help about proper hand placement and improve technique? Or are these simply things that one learns while practicing for months and years?

I live in NJ near Manhattan. If someone have recommendation, I'll appreciate that. I did some searching and found someone I like thought haven't spoken to her yet. Her name is Hiromi Kasuga, and while it seems she is more jazz oriented, she does know classical, which is a lot of what I play and is important for me: hiromi kasuga (scroll down a bit for her ad)
Anybody has any expeirence with her or heard about her?

Any general pointers and tips about why and how to find the right teacher are appreciated.

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#2051434 - 03/20/13 03:47 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17829
Loc: Victoria, BC
Finding the right teacher is important, and not every teacher of piano is the right teacher for you.

You should be able to find a list of piano teachers in your area; here's a start :

New Jersey piano teachers

A good teacher can, indeed, be very helpful in assessing your strengths, recognizing your weaknesses and can teach you how to build on the one and improve on the other. A good teacher can help you select music that will respond to your likes and interests while building your skills and repertoire.

You can "practice for months and years" and be doing it wrong, resulting in poor technique, lack of progress and, yes, even injury. That is why it is important to find a good teacher.

You should, ultimately, interview several teachers before you commit yourself to studying with one particular one. Remember, too, that not all teachers can successfully teach adult students; some are better and more comfortable working with younger children.

Assert what your interests are, what your goals are, and ask how that teacher will help you achieve those goals. A paid-for "trial" lesson may also help you understand the teacher's teaching methods and help you decide whether the methods - and personality - of the teacher will work for you.

Sometimes, even after several lessons, some people find that the teacher and student relationship is not as positive as the student would like. In such cases it should be the adult student's responsibility to realize that a change may be necessary; there's little that is more disheartening than working with a teacher whom you cannot respect, either musically or personally.

The bottom line is - in reality - that you cannot pick a name out of a hat, or out of the Yellow Pages or out of a list of piano teachers and expect that that person will be your teacher. Know what you are looking for in a teacher, articulate clearly your goals and aspirations, and be prepared to spend some time finding the right person.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2051437 - 03/20/13 03:51 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
If you practice badly, you will ingrain bad habits. Without a teacher, is is very difficult to judge whether or not you are going about things the right way when you practice. Even if you seem to be getting better, you could unknowingly be setting yourself back quite a lot. If you are as interesting in playing the piano as you are and have the aptitude to practice as often as you do, you should absolutely get a teacher.

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#2051547 - 03/20/13 07:53 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: debrucey]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: debrucey
If you practice badly, you will ingrain bad habits.
Although I certainly agree, I'd just like to comment on this from my experience as a tennis teacher for 12 years. It was often much harder to teach someone who had played for a long time (but with flawed tennis strokes)compared to the fairly large number of close to beginner tennis pupils I taught where I didn't have to undo anything.

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#2051555 - 03/20/13 08:09 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
Gatsbee13 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/10
Posts: 486
Loc: So Cal
Interesting.. You always hear how hard it is to unlearn something. I get what your saying though.I'm an adult who took lessons as a kid and quit.. Kind of in the same position as OP. a couple of years ago, I took an intro lesson with a private teacher and played her the Rondo Alla Turca from Mozart and she found a minor error in the way I was performing it. She said if I wanted to continue beyond the first lesson, she didn't want me playing that piece anymore. Perhaps she thought the " habit" was ingrained in me. But I still practiced the piece and made the correction. Although I was playing it for a long time incorrectly, it didn't take me a long time to correct myself and play the correct notes in a section of the piece.

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#2051565 - 03/20/13 08:27 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
I often have to break the bad news to new students that the pieces they have brought to their first lesson are not going to be appropriate for them, at least for a while. There's often so much in them that needs unpicking that it's more helpful to start afresh with simpler pieces.


Edited by debrucey (03/20/13 08:32 PM)

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#2051572 - 03/20/13 08:34 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7508
Loc: New York City
I'd suggest looking at Manhattan teachers too, since I'd say there are a huge amount of them here to choose from.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2051932 - 03/21/13 12:44 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
You SHOULD look for and audition teachers. Debrucey's comment was spot on, and especially with regards to practice methods.

I really believe the proper way to practice is NOT intuitive. I've come to this realization at the age of 55 and 12+ years of lessons where practice methods were NOT taught.

I'm learning a completely different approach now, and while very difficult for this old dog, very satisfying at the same time.

Good luck, but you are already fortunate in that you live in both:

1. An area with a plethora of teachers
2. the internet age

Forrest
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2051933 - 03/21/13 12:45 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
(double post) sorry


Edited by woodog (03/21/13 05:21 PM)
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2052336 - 03/22/13 08:37 AM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
jonathan NJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Jersey City, NJ
Thank you all for your comments. They are pretty much in my line of thought. Acquiring bad/incorrect habits is a danger present in many aspect of life, particularly in repetitive activity, and mainly a physical one.

Trying a few teachers to get a sense of compatibility and enjoyment is a must and I will probably start doing so.
I will update this thread when I have more info so that other people might benefit from my experience.

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#2052754 - 03/22/13 11:16 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I love having a piano teacher. It's very nice having a close musical kinship with someone. You don't find the exact same kind of a rapport outside a student-teacher relationship. It is like my piano teacher is accompanying me as I make these different discoveries in music, and I can bounce my excitement and enjoyment of the music off of him and he appreciates it more than whoever else my audience would be if I didn't have a teacher.

It's good to know the limits of your own knowledge, and I guess to be humble about the fact that there are people out there who have worthwhile stuff to teach you. Sometimes there's little things I do without realizing it, and he sees it and points it out, and then I do realize it.

He's not really a master pianist, but he's very proficient at his craft and has had different musical experiences than me so he comes at things at a different angle. That's useful in itself.

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#2066452 - 04/18/13 09:24 AM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
jonathan NJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Jersey City, NJ
I have tried a trial/sample lesson with 3 teachers, out of which I liked two of them.

One teacher would like me to stop practicing for a while in order to unlearn certain bad habit. He would like me to do some exercises and proper hand positions for 20-30 minutes each day for 1-2 months and then progress with simple pieces to start with. Makes perfect sense to me. He instructs with the Taubman technique.

Another teacher has lots of experiences and she is Russian educated/trained. Seemed like she has more structured way of teaching. Saying there are pieces a student should learn in certain order, one built on top of another. She seemed to be one which disciplines the student more (student will be "afraid" of her) though I have very high discipline to begin with. While she definitely has more experience, she does seem much more rigid in her approach and might be a one size fits it all person. She also seemed to generally dismiss piano teachers who learned in America or Asia instead of Russia or Europe - a thing which I found to be distasteful.

I kind of have a hard time choosing between the two and am still thinking about it. Both teachers immediately noticed certain things in hand positioning and technique. The first teacher seemed to be more concerned with proper sitting and wrist/arm placement as well, though it was only the first lesson with any of them.

As a side note, an important thing is that just by a having a first lesson I've already realized due to teacher's input that I'm doing certain things wrong.


Edited by jonathan NJ (04/18/13 03:50 PM)

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#2066630 - 04/18/13 03:53 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 628
Loc: Leicester, UK
Jonathon, because you're in the NYC metro area, you really are within reach of a million fabulous, fabulous teachers. You could ask in local music stores, at concert and club venues, at local colleges and community colleges (Montclair State, Jersey City State, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Princeton, City College, Hunter, Julliard, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes, the New School, NYU.

Above all, take your time in choosing the RIGHT teacher. It's true that some teachers will want you to unlearn something or other that you've done previously. And it's true you'll find teachers from abroad (and from certain schools and styles in the US) who are critical of everything except their own methods! None of this is necessarily bad. Musicians can be eccentric. But on the other hand, time is short and being in a lessons with a "you-must-do-it-this-way-or-else!" personality isn't always the best. Because in truth there is NO one way!

Perhaps the real goal is to click with your teacher. To feel that they're helping you to do things you couldn't possibly have figured out on your own. But also to feel they're really interested in your musical growth and they want to build on top of whatever skills or understanding you already have so that you can really be you!

My advice: look intensively for a while and try a number of different approaches. If a particular teacher clicks for you, that's great and you've then found the one. If you think about it, if and when a teacher clicks, you're likely to be with them for quite a long time and they'll be able to take you through many different stages and hopefully styles. If you go with someone that doesn't feel quite right you might well want to change to a different teacher after a short time. Or, it's also possible that you might grow into and warm to that teacher's approach over time. Anything's possible ...


As you try different teachers you'll have a base to compare them to each other and to think about whether or not you like an exclusive or more inclusive approach ... they both have advantages and I've studied and learned from both types. But in the end, I always found the best teachers where those saw teaching as a collaborative rather than a dictator-like process. But tastes and needs vary ... so .... smile

Hope this helps!

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#2066690 - 04/18/13 06:14 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: jonathan NJ]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: jonathan NJ
She seemed to be one which disciplines the student more (student will be "afraid" of her)
I don't see any reason (educational, pianistic, musical or otherwise) why a teacher should need to make a student "afraid" of her.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2066886 - 04/19/13 03:39 AM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: currawong]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: jonathan NJ
She seemed to be one which disciplines the student more (student will be "afraid" of her)
I don't see any reason (educational, pianistic, musical or otherwise) why a teacher should need to make a student "afraid" of her.

In some parts of the world, fear = respect.

To the OP--go for the Taubman teacher. Because of your bad habits, you might ask for a complete re-training.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2067206 - 04/19/13 04:03 PM Re: finding a piano teacher [Re: AZNpiano]
jonathan NJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Jersey City, NJ
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: jonathan NJ
She seemed to be one which disciplines the student more (student will be "afraid" of her)
I don't see any reason (educational, pianistic, musical or otherwise) why a teacher should need to make a student "afraid" of her.

In some parts of the world, fear = respect.

To the OP--go for the Taubman teacher. Because of your bad habits, you might ask for a complete re-training.


That is likely what I'll do. I clicked with him best.

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