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#2135224 - 08/19/13 08:20 AM Teacher vs Online courses?
Milesmiles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/24/13
Posts: 3
I just started playing piano a couple of months ago and Im getting a bit frustrated because of my teacher. I've been practising scales, and learned some jazz standards with arpeggiating my left hand and playing melody and 3rd + 7th with my right hand.

I've learned around 15 tunes this way and my teacher keeps just giving me new tunes to practise like this. Those tunes don't sound good when Im arpeggiating all the time and I don't know how I should add some variety in my playing. I'd like to also know how to use 9s, 11s and 13s to get those tunes to sound even remotely jazzy. I tried to ask my teacher about them and he answered "you just to have to try them and use the ones that sound good, use whatever fits your style". I know there's definitely some kind of logic when to use and how to use them. Trying to figure out this stuff by myself just feels like reinventing the wheel. And I don't even have my own style yet, I just started! I'd like to learn some basic stuff first. I actually had to watch a pedal tutorial from youtube to learn the basics of using them, since my teacher said something along the lines "there are many preferences, there's no right way to do it. You just have to use pedals the way it suits your playing".

I love playing piano and Im not quitting. Im just wondering if I should change the teacher or maybe take an online course since they seem to be much cheaper than local teachers here.

Can you recommend good studying resources?
I've been thinking of Sudnow Method or Bill Hilton's book, but Im not sure where I should start. I know how chords are formed and basic theory, but Im lost when I should apply that stuff with piano.

Jazz/Ragtime/Blues/Cocktail piano is basically what Im interested in when it comes to genres. Mostly solo piano.

Thanks!

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#2135237 - 08/19/13 08:53 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 984
Loc: Italy
Hi Milesmiles, one of the members of this forum has cocktail piano videos, check http://www.learnpianowithelssa.com - not really for beginners but very interesting stuff.
_________________________
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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#2135239 - 08/19/13 08:55 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11908
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I'm saying this based on the limited information you have provided, but it sounds to me like this teacher is not a good fit for you. I know you say you've asked him about things you want to learn and he gives replies that are very non-specific and wishy-washy. To me, this sounds like he doesn't know how to teach, he just does what he does and thinks everyone else can do the same. Personally, I would discontinue lessons with this teacher and begin looking for a new one. If he asks why, simply tell him that you don't feel that his teaching style suits what you need. Be sure to give this teacher notice according to his policy (if he has one) and if not, give him a month's notice that you will be discontinuing.

I can't recommend any online courses as I don't know how valuable they really are. I would definitely try to find someone else before doing an online tutorial. A good teacher will gear the lessons towards your specific needs, whereas a tutorial will try to cover lots of things and may not address what you need.

Perhaps try searching online for a teacher or go to your local music store and see if they can recommend anyone. Now that you've had a teacher, you have a better idea of what you need to learn. Ask the prospective teachers these specific things that you want to accomplish and what you feel you are lacking right now. You can even ask them what they would do to help you learn a new skill like pedaling. Their response would be very telling and would help you decide if they are the right fit.
_________________________
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2135423 - 08/19/13 01:34 PM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1304
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
"Try it out, and use whatever works" isn't enough guidance for most people. So you have my sympathy.

Jazz may be an "oral tradition", but it does have a history, and specific techniques that are "proven".

Take a look at the three books by Tim Richards -- "Improvising Blues Piano" and "Exploring Jazz Piano" (two volumes). The first one is a well-designed course on blues piano techniques, from simple to complicated.
I haven't gotten into the "Jazz" books, yet, but they build on the "Blues" book.

There are lots of others that give a "guided tour" through jazz styles, some from the Berklee Music School curriculum.

You should get some ideas from them.

IMHO, a good teacher is better than an "interactive course". But an "interactive course" might be better than a bad teacher.<G>

Some teachers are using Skype for lessons -- that's an interesting idea. I think there are threads about that in the "Piano Teaching" forum, here.

. Charles

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#2135648 - 08/19/13 08:59 PM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Morodiene]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 967
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
A good teacher will gear the lessons towards your specific needs, whereas a tutorial will try to cover lots of things and may not address what you need.
This is going to be true for any class vs. private teacher argument. For a class, whether in person or through a tutorial, you have to cover all things and plan for the person with the least amount of knowledge. Private lessons will be more customized towards you (at least that's what you hope). Without being in your lesson and knowing for sure, it seems like you're getting very little specific instruction, sort of the kind of advice you'd get from a tutorial. There's definitely a "most commonly used" starting point when it comes to piano (even jazz piano). And there are definite ways to apply that knowledge to the piano keys.

You'll always learn faster with a teacher showing you things and evaluating you along the way. But you have to be sure the teacher is giving you what you need. Unless there is another more specific part to your lessons, I'm not sure you're getting enough direction. Also, don't be afraid to ask a teacher how they plan to teach you. Any good teacher should be able to map out their method and tell you what you should expect, at least in the near future. If they aren't very specific, you might be dealing with an ineffective teacher. Unfortunately there are many of them.
_________________________
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2135689 - 08/19/13 11:00 PM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
If you work well with the video teaching format, it seems to me that Willie Myette's website might contain some program that fits your stylistic tastes.

http://www.jazzedge.com/

There's a lot of different sub-specialties and and sub-genres, so explore deeply. They sell DVDs if you like that format, or else you can get a paid subscription to watch the videos online.

At least when I was checking it out, you could sign up for a trial period, in exchange for giving them your email addy. They hardly spam your address at all though (maybe for a yearly sale or new program announcement).

A good quality, aboveboard family run business -- jazz-style.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2135782 - 08/20/13 05:52 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Milesmiles, I have read your post, here:

re Teacher vs Online courses?
I just started playing piano a couple of months ago and Im getting a bit frustrated because of my teacher.#2135224 - Yesterday at 08:20 AM Teacher vs Online courses? I've been practising scales, and learned some jazz standards with arpeggiating my left hand and playing melody and 3rd + 7th with my right hand.

I've learned around 15 tunes this way and my teacher keeps just giving me new tunes to practise like this. Those tunes don't sound good when Im arpeggiating all the time and I don't know how I should add some variety in my playing. I'd like to also know how to use 9s, 11s and 13s to get those tunes to sound even remotely jazzy. I tried to ask my teacher about them and he answered "you just to have to try them and use the ones that sound good, use whatever fits your style". I know there's definitely some kind of logic when to use and how to use them. Trying to figure out this stuff by myself just feels like reinventing the wheel. And I don't even have my own style yet, I just started! I'd like to learn some basic stuff first. I actually had to watch a pedal tutorial from youtube to learn the basics of using them, since my teacher said something along the lines "there are many preferences, there's no right way to do it. You just have to use pedals the way it suits your playing".

I love playing piano and Im not quitting. Im just wondering if I should change the teacher or maybe take an online course since they seem to be much cheaper than local teachers here.

Can you recommend good studying resources?
I've been thinking of Sudnow Method or Bill Hilton's book, but Im not sure where I should start. I know how chords are formed and basic theory, but Im lost when I should apply that stuff with piano.

Jazz/Ragtime/Blues/Cocktail piano is basically what Im interested in when it comes to genres. Mostly solo piano.

Thanks!
______________________________________________________________________________________________

As I understand your post, as a beginner piano player, I suggest that you think about what it means to play the piano. To me as a beginner piano player, it means I look at the notes of the music and say the names of the notes as I play them. I only look at the music and never look at my hands unless I am having to shift to a new hand position or having to do a jump or a leap.

Milesmiles, when you say I just started playing piano a couple of months ago and I am getting a bit frustrated because of my teacher. I've been practising scales, and learned some jazz standards with arpeggiating my left hand and playing melody and 3rd + 7th with my right hand.

As a beginner piano player, I suggest that you think about why you are frustrated because of your teacher. Because as a beginner piano player, I suggest that it is not logical to be practicing scales, and learning jazz standards with arpeggiating my left hand and playing melody and 3rd and 7th with my right hand as a beginner piano player. You will, of course, be guided by the suggestions of advance piano players.

Milesmiles, when you say I've learned around 15 tunes this way and my teacher keeps just giving me new tunes to practise like this. Those tunes don't sound good when Im arpeggiating all the time and I don't know how I should add some variety in my playing. I'd like to also know how to use 9s, 11s and 13s to get those tunes to sound even remotely jazzy. I tried to ask my teacher about them and he answered "you just to have to try them and use the ones that sound good, use whatever fits your style". I know there's definitely some kind of logic when to use and how to use them. Trying to figure out this stuff by myself just feels like reinventing the wheel. And I don't even have my own style yet, I just started! I'd like to learn some basic stuff first. I actually had to watch a pedal tutorial from youtube to learn the basics of using them, since my teacher said something along the lines "there are many preferences, there's no right way to do it. You just have to use pedals the way it suits your playing".

As a beginner piano player, if you look at any method books ever printed, I suggest, no method book has ever had a beginner piano player arpeggiating 9s, 11s, and 13s to get those tunes to sound even remotely jazzy. But again, I suggest that you be guided by advanced piano players.

milesmiles when you say: I love playing piano and Im not quitting. Im just wondering if I should change the teacher or maybe take an online course since they seem to be much cheaper than local teachers here.

As a beginner piano player, I suggest that you take a moment to look at a series of books that you can find at a local music store called "Piano Town". I suggest to you, Milesmiles, that this series of books going from 1 to 5 are awesome and something that you might also consider awesome if you look at the whole of the picture you are facing. I say that though as a beginner piano player. Again, I suggest you be guided not by what I say, but by the suggestions of what advanced piano players suggest in response to your post.

Milesmiles when you say: Can you recommend good studying resources?
I've been thinking of Sudnow Method or Bill Hilton's book, but Im not sure where I should start. I know how chords are formed and basic theory, but Im lost when I should apply that stuff with piano.

Jazz/Ragtime/Blues/Cocktail piano is basically what Im interested in when it comes to genres. Mostly solo piano.

Thanks!

As a beginner piano player, I suggest that you look seriously at the Piano Town series of books
because they seem to teach the basic of the piano in a very nice way of learing.

As a beginner piano player, I have no knowledge of Sudnow Method or Bill hilton books

I suggest after looking at the Piano Town series of books, that you post back and let us know what impression you have gathered from looking the Piano Town books.

I wish you well in your adventure of finding a piano book or methods that help you learn the kind of piano playing that you wish to persue.



Edited by Michael_99 (08/20/13 05:57 AM)

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#2135806 - 08/20/13 07:47 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1582
Loc: Australia
I can sympathize but there may be a few things at play that are not immediately evident. When I first began lessons I asked my teacher about sight reading and later about pedaling. Both answers were not very helpful and left me wondering if my teacher was the right one for me. Apart from those couple of issues we get on great so I let them go. The truth is I was asking the questions far to soon into my journey and she knew that,she gave the best answer for the time. I would say your teacher is probably doing the same.

My opinion is that online courses are even more inflexible than a one of one with a teacher. The impatient person will just jump around in an online course and cherry pick what they want instead of getting the full benefit of the course. You may then find yourself jumping from course to course and getting very dissatisfied.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2135811 - 08/20/13 08:02 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
I won't answer about the teacher because it would be unfair not knowing more about how your lessons are going and what he brings you or not but why not trying to "supplement" your lessons instead of totally dropping them ?
This for example is relatively inexpensive and the quality is in my opinion very good and could give you some answers to start with http://www.quaverbox.com/ I think, unless you have very little time, you could work with your teacher and use this in parallel. If you get stuck with the videos at some point you could even discuss it with your teacher and he might be able to help you since he would then have a framework to work with.
If you are seriously considering jazz, the books by Tim Richards are very good and here too you could perfectly use them to supplement your teacher.
If your problem is really voicing related, a book like the one by Phil DeGreg, Jazz Keyboard Harmony could also help. The study of this book is a several years task (something you must be aware of, learning to play Jazz well is a long time task, the technique might arguably be easier than for classical, but the amount of theoretical knowledge - and automatism - you need is huge).
I currently do not have a teacher (the previous one moved away and was far from good) but if I had a choice, I would most certainly have a (good) one at least for the technical aspect of things (Depending of your personality, it can be very easy to learn the theory on your own) and to have a critical input on the quality of my playing. I have had a very bad experience with my previous teacher so believe me, my opinion is as unbiased as it gets smile
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2135831 - 08/20/13 08:55 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Jean-Luc]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11908
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jean-Luc

If you are seriously considering jazz, the books by Tim Richards are very good and here too you could perfectly use them to supplement your teacher.
If your problem is really voicing related, a book like the one by Phil DeGreg, Jazz Keyboard Harmony could also help. The study of this book is a several years task (something you must be aware of, learning to play Jazz well is a long time task, the technique might arguably be easier than for classical, but the amount of theoretical knowledge - and automatism - you need is huge).


This is an excellent book, but it assumes that you know a lot about how to play piano beforehand. Many jazz piano degrees I know expect the applicant to be able to play piano at an advanced classical level before teaching them jazz. While this is certainly overkill (and let's face it: those who are considered the fathers of jazz were not classically trained), I do think a foundation in the basics is important. Something to think about anyways.

Also, I agree that we can't really know what kind of teacher the OP has. All we can do is respond to the information available. If I had a student who wanted to know about 9s,11s,13s, etc., I wouldn't tell them to just go with my own style (or whatever the response was), I would tell them it's too advanced for them right now and tell them the steps they need to master before doing that. Maybe he's a decent teacher and had an off-moment. Maybe he wanted to test the OP and see what they could come up with on their own. I don't think any of us can say, so the OP will have to weigh all of those things.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2135905 - 08/20/13 10:53 AM Re: Teacher vs Online courses? [Re: Milesmiles]
Milesmiles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/24/13
Posts: 3
Thank you for your replies, they were very helpful!

I understand things don't happen fast and becoming a decent player at any instrument is a result of hard work.
When it comes to learning, I think that understanding what you are doing and why is important.
If you have no basic understanding of the subject and you go figuring out stuff by yourself, you usually end up with unwanted results.

I checked out Willie Myette's free trial courses and I have to say that this is basically the kind of teaching Im after. He explains the basic concepts very well and I actually had answers to most of my questions from his free videos. Sometimes he goes fast, but I have enough theory background to understand what he's teaching.
I'll start with this material and probably try to find a new teacher.

Thanks again!

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