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#2300165 - 07/09/14 09:06 AM Teacher issue
piccione Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 11
My teacher doesn't like scales, exercises or method books, and he always had difficulty selecting me a piece of my level. When I asked about fingering he said he just figure them out like a nerd. He had seen how poorly my sight reading was, but he said no foundation is needed to play higher level pieces, just need to know how to practice. He always explain things with "just like jazz", but when I asked what does he likes about jazz cause I know nothing about it, he said I was off topic... He blamed me on not having a clear goal to direct his approach to teaching.

I just always worried about not having a good foundation or bad habits, so I told him I was changing teacher. But now he's ignoring my request for refunding remaining lessons ($100) nor is he finishing up the lessons.

Just no response - it doesn't seem right. I knew him through his university. Should I tell the school about this or something? Or am I just not understanding piano lessons?

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#2300173 - 07/09/14 09:23 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11703
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Does this teacher have a policy? What is his cancellation policy? If he has neither of these things, then he needs to either give you the money back or give you those remaining lessons.


If you have not paid the university for the lessons, then I'm afraid going to them won't do any good. If you do pay the university for lessons, then contact them and let them know the situation - that you wish to discontinue lessons, but he is refusing to either refund or schedule lessons you have paid for.

Otherwise, if you have exhausted all other attempts a contacting him (email, phone, etc.), write him a letter explaining that you would like either, and he needs to respond by a week from receiving the letter to arrange for lessons or to get the refund out, or you will seek legal counsel. If you get no response in the allotted time, then have a lawyer draft a letter. His/hers will pretty much say the same thing, but a letter from a lawyer often carries more weight.

Teachers like this make me cringe.
_________________________
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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#2300185 - 07/09/14 09:40 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
In the very least, he owes you the lessons that were prepaid. That's a legal thing, and if it was done through the university you might take it up with the university at that level. Do not go into the quality of his teaching, because you'd be seen as unqualified to judge and they might get their backs up. But on this one point -- you paid for lessons, you have given notice, but the prepaid lessons are not being honoured - that's an administrative matter that the university can deal with.

We only have your side of the story and we weren't there, but judging from what you've written, it doesn't give a good impression.

Before you look for the next teacher, have an idea of what it is you would like to have in lessons: I'm guessing, to get skills and knowledge needed in playing, and then ask teachers what their goals are and what they expect of their students.

Quote:
He blamed me on not having a clear goal to direct his approach to teaching.

For some teachers, "goals" equates "What piece do you want to learn to play." Imho, for beginners, the teacher should have the goals and shouldn't have to be told. We need to get fundamental skills in physical playing, in reading music, in understanding things of music such as basic chords and keys. No teacher should have to be told this, and a teacher also ought to have some idea of how he will bring it about.

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#2300188 - 07/09/14 09:49 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Morodiene]
piccione Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 11
I started off taking lessons paying the University's Community Lessons. When the semester ended, he said I can just pay him to continue lessons. The lessons continued in the school (not supposed to) for awhile and then moved to his new home studio.

He never provided any policy. I had two rounds of payments, one check, one cash.

He also teaches in a reputable store and the University's Continuing Education Program. I thought he would be better than this...

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#2300189 - 07/09/14 09:51 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11703
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
If a student doesn't have any set goal, then I teach them the things that I feel they should know in order to equip them to play whatever they want as their taste defines itself.

It sounds as though you had a goal: you wanted to learn sight reading, technical exercises, and good fingering - none of which he was willing (or able?) to teach you.

Regardless, these are things that if I felt my student had no "goals" I would be teaching them. I would also be selecting appropriate repertoire for them of varying styles, exposing them to different composers of different time periods as well as different genres to help them determine what they like best, and also to give them a well-rounded education. This is basic pedagogy.
_________________________
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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#2300276 - 07/09/14 02:01 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
TX-Bluebonnet Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/15/14
Posts: 183
Loc: Central Texas
Hey piccione, sorry to hear about your experience with that teacher. If the last payment was by cash then I'm not sure there's much you can do about it unless you have a receipt. If you paid by check or you do have a receipt then small claims court may be an option if you can't get it resolved another way. Good luck with this and with your next teacher.
_________________________
Linda

Started my piano journey June 2014 at age 54.
My digital piano: Casio Privia PX-850.
Working on "Alfred's Adult All-In-One Course" Book 1

XXXV

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#2300419 - 07/09/14 08:26 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Morodiene]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5294
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Does this teacher have a policy? What is his cancellation policy? If he has neither of these things, then he needs to either give you the money back or give you those remaining lessons.


If you have not paid the university for the lessons, then I'm afraid going to them won't do any good. If you do pay the university for lessons, then contact them and let them know the situation - that you wish to discontinue lessons, but he is refusing to either refund or schedule lessons you have paid for.

Otherwise, if you have exhausted all other attempts a contacting him (email, phone, etc.), write him a letter explaining that you would like either, and he needs to respond by a week from receiving the letter to arrange for lessons or to get the refund out, or you will seek legal counsel. If you get no response in the allotted time, then have a lawyer draft a letter. His/hers will pretty much say the same thing, but a letter from a lawyer often carries more weight.

Teachers like this make me cringe.

I'm with you on this!!!!!!!!

If you can't afford a lawyer, another option is to post an op-ed in the local and/or university newspapers blasting the teacher (and by association, the university). Then, send him a copy of the paper to make sure he got it. It's a really high-profile approach, so make sure you're comfortable with doing it first... but I'm sure you'll hear from him.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2300452 - 07/09/14 09:34 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1946
Loc: Philadelphia area
You're doing the right thing by moving on. I've always felt that the students' comfort level and ability to interact with the teacher is much more important than the teachers credentials.

The bottom line is that music achieves many goals. The one major clear cut goal is to have fun and it appears that this teacher ignores this. I would ask this teacher to state their clear cut goals and if they thinks they are achieving them.

Yes I would present this, in writing, to the head (Dean) of the music department, and Cc the proper person in the administration office.

In the mean time, please keep playing. It's rewarding on many levels and it can be a lot of fun. Don't worry about 'bad' habits. Simply focus on developing the habit of playing and enjoying your piano.

I'm sure you'll find a teacher you get along with soon. I always suggest getting the scoop from other students before selecting or approaching a teacher.


Enjoy

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#2300575 - 07/10/14 04:36 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1335
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
It's always messy when you want to leave a piano teacher with remaining lessons involved. No teacher likes to return money. But no teacher likes teaching remaining lessons to a student who has basically made it clear that he or she is moving on in search of a better teacher.

I would just accept the loss of $100 for now. Find a new teacher. Then figure out how to develop a better rapport with the next teacher.

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#2300608 - 07/10/14 08:21 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11703
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
No teacher likes to return money. But no teacher likes teaching remaining lessons to a student who has basically made it clear that he or she is moving on in search of a better teacher.



I agree, but as a business owner, I am obligated to do the remaining lessons. I have in my policy a 30-day cancellation notice. This means they pay for the last month of lessons and I give them. It allows me time to find another student to fill that slot and also time to end things positively with the student - and in some cases, try to resolve whatever issue there is if it's got to do with me. Sometimes people don't tell you something is wrong, and you are not even aware there is an issue, then suddenly "I'm stopping lessons tomorrow" comes up. So for me, honoring those last lessons is really important.

To the OP: when you search for your next teacher, make sure they have a written policy and it's one that seems fair and businesslike. Do an in-person interview with the teacher (some don't charge for this) to talk with them about your goals and weaknesses in piano. A good teacher can come up with a plan right on the spot to fit your goals and tell you briefly what that plan is, so ask them. If they come up with a vague response, then that may be a sign this isn't the teacher for you.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2300630 - 07/10/14 09:12 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Morodiene]
BrianDX Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 515
Loc: Lewes DE
My first teacher 25 years ago had two small children. They were always in the house, but her husband kept them under wraps so as not to interrupt my lesson.

I'll bet a super majority of teachers do the same thing under the same circumstances. Although one time during a rather intense moment when I was struggling to play a certain passage right, her 5 year old comes over and stares at me for a minute. I finally look up and say "Hi". She replies, "Hi yourself" and walks away. smile

That broke the ice and I really nailed the piece after that.

Before we chose our current teacher 11 months ago, we interviewed three others in their homes. My wife and I got a real good sense of their philosophy, attitude, and their physical setup. Although this method is not perfect in any way, it gave us all the information we needed to make the right choice for us.

_________________________
Groucho Marx: "Now we're getting somewhere"
2013 Yamaha C2X | 2001 Yamaha M500-F .


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#2300716 - 07/10/14 12:29 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
piccione Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 11
Thank you for all your replies! No worries now, I just got the refund in the mail upon my second inquiry.

Now I'm disappointed not getting to try out those funny ideas of Derulux and Dave B! :P

Morodiene - I'm with you on everything! I wish I'm in Florida and I'll come join your lessons! laugh

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#2300729 - 07/10/14 01:12 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Purkoy Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/14
Posts: 38
Loc: United Kingdom
It's good to see this has been resolved at last. As a tyro myself, very new to piano, I'd hope this kind of experience isn't too common. Morodiene's counsel that "A good teacher can come up with a plan right on the spot" is just how it happened for me at my first lesson session, and I see now how astutely she was working out what I could do and what I wanted to do, and the exercise plans she had put in place by the second lesson to guide me there. She also guided me into areas I didn't know I needed to know (if that doesn't sound too cryptic), and has incorporated those into her tuition scheme. It would be good to think that that's the norm, not the exception.
_________________________


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#2300745 - 07/10/14 01:54 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
EM Deeka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/13
Posts: 148
Originally Posted By: piccione
Thank you for all your replies! No worries now, I just got the refund in the mail upon my second inquiry.

..


maybe your teacher reads this forum smile

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#2300747 - 07/10/14 01:55 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Purkoy]
BrianDX Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 515
Loc: Lewes DE
Originally Posted By: Purkoy
It's good to see this has been resolved at last. As a tyro myself, very new to piano, I'd hope this kind of experience isn't too common. Morodiene's counsel that "A good teacher can come up with a plan right on the spot" is just how it happened for me at my first lesson session, and I see now how astutely she was working out what I could do and what I wanted to do, and the exercise plans she had put in place by the second lesson to guide me there. She also guided me into areas I didn't know I needed to know (if that doesn't sound too cryptic), and has incorporated those into her tuition scheme. It would be good to think that that's the norm, not the exception.

I'm hoping that is the norm.
_________________________
Groucho Marx: "Now we're getting somewhere"
2013 Yamaha C2X | 2001 Yamaha M500-F .


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#2300783 - 07/10/14 03:37 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 880
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Hey Peter! Morodiene!

Shouldn't you put I.A.N.A.A.B in your posts over here?

JK

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#2300788 - 07/10/14 03:50 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Peter K. Mose]
EM Deeka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/13
Posts: 148
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
..
Then figure out how to develop a better rapport with the next teacher.
...


In this case with the specifics as described by the OP it is not about developing a rapport. The teacher simply seems to be a dud.

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#2301014 - 07/11/14 08:32 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: EM Deeka]
Ragdoll Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 665
Loc: Illinois
thumb I wouldn't have lasted through the first lesson. ha
_________________________
Ragdoll

Never get directions from someone who hasn't been there.

Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.


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#2301035 - 07/11/14 09:35 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: KurtZ]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11703
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
Hey Peter! Morodiene!

Shouldn't you put I.A.N.A.A.B in your posts over here?

JK

Kurt


There are many who post here who aren't technically "Adult Beginners", and it's clear in my signature that I'm a teacher. But I consider myself a student of piano as I continue to learn and teach myself as an adult :P
_________________________
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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#2317948 - 08/20/14 11:54 PM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Morodiene]
piccione Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
If a student doesn't have any set goal, then I teach them the things that I feel they should know in order to equip them to play whatever they want as their taste defines itself.

It sounds as though you had a goal: you wanted to learn sight reading, technical exercises, and good fingering - none of which he was willing (or able?) to teach you.

Regardless, these are things that if I felt my student had no "goals" I would be teaching them. I would also be selecting appropriate repertoire for them of varying styles, exposing them to different composers of different time periods as well as different genres to help them determine what they like best, and also to give them a well-rounded education. This is basic pedagogy.


Sorry for this late reply. I saw you're from Wisconsin! Do you have any recommendations of teachers in the Madison area? I feel like I would click better with people like you.

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#2317959 - 08/21/14 12:39 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: Morodiene]
piccione Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/06/14
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
[quote=Peter K. Mose] Do an in-person interview with the teacher (some don't charge for this) to talk with them about your goals and weaknesses in piano.


Life is busy and still haven't gotten another teacher... I'm still not quite sure whether it's the problem of the previous teacher or if I'm just having culture shock. I didn't grow up here. What I remember about music lessons is growing up, seeing other kids taking piano lessons going through the ABRSM levels 1 through 8. And then my dad who played violin saying some teachers like to teach from pieces while others from technical exercises, my dad thinks it's important to do both and scales are must. Never did I notice that there's a need to set "goal". Or am I not understanding the concept of "goal" here?

Things just seem more standardized and less choices back then with ABRSM while here I'm offered the choice of doing whatever I want, improvising, to "just play" vs "performance level". I remember back then performance level only comes after ABRSM level 8 and music theory was prereq for level 5. I feel like back then, the teacher assesses the student and teach while here I have to teach some teacher what to teach...

Jazz was also not as big as here. I only knew it as a minority. There was pop music on TV and classical music in lessons. Here it seems quite frequent to hear about musicians being trained in classical music, then converted to jazz, pop, etc. Almost like a cultural shift. Not to mention the rap and hip hop.

I know I'm not the only one confused. Another foreign student from another teacher was surprised when she was asked what she wanted to play. She asked me, "Don't we have to learn the fundamentals first?" She basically jumped into the conclusion that her teacher doesn't know how to teach...


Edited by piccione (08/21/14 01:05 AM)

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#2318073 - 08/21/14 08:36 AM Re: Teacher issue [Re: piccione]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11703
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: piccione
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
If a student doesn't have any set goal, then I teach them the things that I feel they should know in order to equip them to play whatever they want as their taste defines itself.

It sounds as though you had a goal: you wanted to learn sight reading, technical exercises, and good fingering - none of which he was willing (or able?) to teach you.

Regardless, these are things that if I felt my student had no "goals" I would be teaching them. I would also be selecting appropriate repertoire for them of varying styles, exposing them to different composers of different time periods as well as different genres to help them determine what they like best, and also to give them a well-rounded education. This is basic pedagogy.


Sorry for this late reply. I saw you're from Wisconsin! Do you have any recommendations of teachers in the Madison area? I feel like I would click better with people like you.

I'm in Wausau only in the summers and Christmas, and unfortunately I don't know of any teachers in Madison. Have you checked your local MTNA/WMTA chapter? You can find teachers here: wmta.net/teacherLocator.php
_________________________
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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