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#546776 - 12/21/05 02:02 PM "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I've heard a lot of comments in the thread on what age everyone started and here and there on other threads of "bad" teachers students have had. I was wondering what kinds of things constitute a "bad" teacher? What kinds of things didn't you like about the teachers you've had or what made them a less than desirable teacher?

I have had mostly mediocre teachers growing up and in some ways feel like I taught myself a lot. I had a rude awakening in college with a lot like theory, ear-training, technique, etc. . . . things I should have learned that I didn't in 5 or 6 years of lessons.

Now as a teacher, most of what I do in teaching is an attempt to include what I thought was lacking in my own instruction. I don't want anyone to move on in life placing me in the "bad" teacher category. What can I do as a teacher to prevent such a label? It would really help me tremendously as a teacher to know what to avoid and what to include that others felt was also lacking in their learning process.

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#546777 - 12/21/05 02:12 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
LWpianistin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 500
Loc: VA/MD/England...long story...
a bad teacher is one that makes a child cry. at least, that's what i remember about my first teacher. i'll ask my parents and see why they thought he was bad.
_________________________
That's right...I have the same birthday as Mozart. If only it meant something and I could have one thousandth of his genius...in my dreams, i suppose.

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#546778 - 12/21/05 02:19 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
My girlfriend took 12 years of lessons with a concert pianist/teacher. In that time she learned very little theory and very little about music in general. She memorized very hard pieces meticously note by note and forgot them all after she stopped playing. She apparently did so many exercises and techinical studies that as soon as she could quit piano (1st year of college) she never went back.

I think she had a bad teacher but it could also be the fact that she was FORCED to play piano. I can't imagine what that's like because my parents never forced me to do anything but go to school and stay out of trouble.

I think a good teacher will cultivate an interest in music in general. Be open-minded to different genres of music and approach muscial education in a way that is all encompassing. I think of piano education as a trinity of AURAL, TECHNICAL and THEORHETICAL skills. A teacher than can successfully deliver in all three of those areas is certainly a good teacher in my book.

Oh yeah, teaching piano is no different than teaching anything else: people all learn differently. Some teachers are completely manical about "THE ONE TRUE WAY TO LEARN(tm)", in piano it's especially easy to fall for the anecdotal fallacy "SUSIE (A FINE PIANIST) WAS TAUGHT BY X THEREFORE X's TEACHING METHODS MUST BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD". So a teacher that can be structured yet also adapt to different students needs would be a good teacher IMO.


DISCLAIMER: I am only a lowly adult beginner (shrinks back into the AB forum).

~pianocliff

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#546779 - 12/21/05 02:19 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
yellowville Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/05
Posts: 246
Loc: Ithaca, NY
When I first tried taking piano lessons years ago I had a teacher who was, in retrospect, laughably bad. She was a young eastern European woman who looked like Dracula and who hit my hands when I did something wrong. But the real problem was that she made me feel like an idiot for not already knowing how to play.

One kind of bad teacher uses shame and humiliation as pedagogical techniques. Another kind of bad teacher is the indifferent one.
_________________________
That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. - H. D. Thoreau

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#546780 - 12/21/05 02:21 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i have a friend who told me about her 1st piano teacher long time ago. her teacher was a sort of 'old school' teacher, professional and perfectionist, and would pick on every bad detail in her playing during lessons, and they would go through a bar of music and work on it half hour as she (teacher) insisted to get the dynamic of it right. my friend said that that teacher pretty much crashed her desire of learning and even the love for music. she quit her after about 1.5 year.

so, i'd say such a teacher to her is a 'bad' teacher even though that teacher had such a desire to make my friend a good pianist, but failed anyway.

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#546781 - 12/21/05 03:43 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
computerpro3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/04
Posts: 375
Loc: Connecticut/Cincinnati
well while I'd say that the teacher in that case may have been bad, it is not because they made the student focus for a half hour on a single bar. I can easily spend 45min getting the phrasing right with a more difficult bar of chopin, something with really intricate detail, but the difference is with my teacher, I enjoy lessons throughouly.

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#546782 - 12/21/05 04:11 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 864
Loc: Scotland
1. who says first lesson "you played that like a pig!" (pretend mid-european accent to sound classy and humourous - right)

2. who tells you what to do but not how to do it.

3. who has you thinking you're playing in a certain way, while you're in fact doing something very different.

4. who thinks the reason they're good is because they are special and that music can't really be taught.

5. maria jaoa(?) perez who humiliated a student almost to tears, on a program about juillard, by insisting they give a response she knew they couldn't give honestly and having brow-beaten them to give the answer refused to accept it as sincere.

6. who teaches you only two useful things in three years of lessons, but you kept going because he was "the teacher to have".


Not all of the above happened to me. Will maybe post more as I think of any.

John
_________________________
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#546783 - 12/21/05 04:52 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Contrapunctus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/05
Posts: 808
Loc: Whittier, California
How about what makes a good teacher? I think a good teacher is one who can be very exacting and still make you feel great!
_________________________
I don't know what the meaning of life is- I'm too busy to figure it out.

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#546784 - 12/21/05 05:07 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
I think the short answer to "who is a good teacher" is: A good teacher is one who makes you feel stronger at piano and music. [I am applying a great lesson from a teacher in another field, who advised, "Strength is the test and the measure."]

My take on a bad teacher:

- The teacher fails to inspire you to love music even more and to practice a lot.

- The teacher cannot (or will not) sight-read the pieces you are playing.

- The teacher treats you disrespectfully at any time: any form of abusive behavior.

- The teacher fails to recognize and accept *your* reasons and motivations for studying piano and music ... imposing her own reasons upon you.

- The teacher puts her own interests ahead of yours. [For example, cutting the lesson short or talking excessively on the phone during the lesson.]

- The teacher spends too much time at the piano during your lessons, instead of demonstrating briefly when appropriate and then working with you as you play passages.

- The teacher significantly overcharges, cancels frequently, shows up late or often isn't ready when you appear.

*** Really, it boils down to: (a) Am I improving? (b) Do I enjoy the process most of the time? and (c) Do I like spending time with the teacher?
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pianodevo

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#546785 - 12/21/05 07:06 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
In my experiences my first teacher read the lesson page to me, had me play it and told me to work on it at home. Next lesson we started the next pages without going over the ones from the prior week. And my second teacher showed off alot. I was never impressed with her playing.She also kept telling me not to move my body when I played. I felt that was taking alot of the feeling out of playing. Now I have a Jazz teacher and encourages me to feel the music. And come up with my own fingering for the music. I enjoy the freedom.

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#546786 - 12/21/05 07:37 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1524
 Quote:
Originally posted by sarabande:
What kinds of things didn't you like about the teachers you've had or what made them a less than desirable teacher?
[/b]
When, after 4 years of being with that teacher, you go to play for another teacher and when she asks you to play a a C major scale you have no idea what the hell she's talking about.

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#546787 - 12/21/05 09:47 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
drcha Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 129
I had one who would occasionally laugh at me (not with me). She would also sometimes interrupt my playing to ask what key I was in.

Another would grimace when I played some things.

A great teacher, in my opinion:

1. Believes in you
2. Pushes you
3. Explains in words how to do what they think you need to be doing.

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#546788 - 12/22/05 09:59 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Joyce B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 75
Loc: North Eastern USA
The good teachers'students play well. The bad teachers' students don't. It's not a lot more complicated than that.
Some teachers spend a lot of time inspiring "love of music," and they never get around to teaching piano.

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#546789 - 12/22/05 01:16 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
A good teacher inspires and encourages as well as critiques the student at the same time.

Two of my teachers did that; one did not initially. The one that did not encourage and inspire only belittled me, and treated me like an idiot initially, but changed over time. She never had a kind word to say about anything. My brother was also studying at the time, and he quit because of her.

As the years went by, she changed and became a great teacher after all. I think a lot of this came from her in-experience. She was very young, and very defensive all the time like she had to show herself to be above the student. It's funny how people do change and mature. In the end she turned out to be a great teacher because she eased up on herself and her students.

There are unfortunately those teachers that really ignore the progress of the student, and are actually nothing more than money-vacuums. In my area there are a few like that. Here are a couple of them that come to mind. One does the dishes, or pays the bills while the student plays. Periodically she calls out "That's great".

There is another teacher who has a slew of students that come out of lessons learning absolutely nothing at all. These poor kids have had years of lessons, but in the end they can not even read beyond the first year level if at all.

The problem with these really low-class teachers is that they tend to lead the students along from lesson to lesson even though no progress is being made. In the end, the students and parents, think that because the kid has been studying for 5 or more years that they are really great since their teacher told them so. The reality comes when they switch teachers, and have to undo the many years of non-learning and bad habits.

John
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#546790 - 12/22/05 01:26 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
neciebuggs Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 620
Loc: Chula Vista
I had a wonderful teacher in HS. She wound up pregnant my senior year, so I stopped lessons. It is really HARD for me to connect with a teacher and if I dont connect, i dont do very well with that person. Unfortunately after HS, I stopped playing. I went back after 15 years and immediately found a wonderful teacher at the community college! She inspired me so much, taught a lot of theory while I learned so that the peices started to make sense. She was approachable, understanding, and very well versed.

I am now a student at SDSU as a piano/music ed major. I was unable to connect with my prof in the fall. There were a lot of issues... BUT SHE WAS/IS a fantastic teacher, just rescheduled a lot, and assumed i knew more about cadences and theory than I do. The reschedules killed me though. I opted to request a different prof in the spring. I already sense a connection with her... so I really hope things are different in the spring.

My daughter had a russian teacher for her first teacher... this woman made her cry EVERY lesson. I helped my daughter at home, and she told me to stop helping her, or she wouldnt teach her. From what I understand she was a phenomenal teacher, however.... she was intimidateing. My daughter had a second teacher who was much more patient and she made it through the primer in about 2 months.

Its so subjective and a lot of things need to be taken into account... but first and foremost... the teacher needs to BELIEVE in your abilities no matter how limitted. Not every student will be a concert pianist or progress beyond a few months of lessons.
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Denise

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#546791 - 12/22/05 04:55 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Contrapunctus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/05
Posts: 808
Loc: Whittier, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by MaryC:


A great teacher, in my opinion:

1. Believes in you
2. Pushes you
3. Explains in words how to do what they think you need to be doing. [/b]
I think that that is a great summary! A good teacher should push a lot. If they don't, then the students just don't seem to be as good.
As some one mentioned, certain teachers do stress love of music over cultivating good pianists. Glenn Gould's teacher comes to mind here. None of his students ever went anywhere except Gould, and he would have been great if he was taught by the neighbor lady. Appearently, he spent a lot of time in his lessons having his students listen to music(and not necessarily piano) like he did not know what a Music Appreciation class is. Also, he kept changing techniques. Maybe he was nice, but I'd rather have the Russian taskmaster any day.
_________________________
I don't know what the meaning of life is- I'm too busy to figure it out.

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#546792 - 12/25/05 12:25 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
CHAS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/03
Posts: 521
Loc: Ski Country of Colorado
My childhood teacher was so bad that it took me fifty years before I could play again. She had no business being around children.
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Mason & Hamlin A

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#546793 - 12/25/05 12:36 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
pianoanne Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/02/04
Posts: 650
Loc: Pacific NW

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#546794 - 12/25/05 01:52 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Anonymous
Unregistered


any "good" teacher (no matter what the subject) remembers that they are not teaching piano (or math, or reading, etc) but that they are teaching students.

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#546795 - 12/25/05 04:16 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
neciebuggs Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 620
Loc: Chula Vista
Apianonne

My prof takes phone calls. Many other things... but I have a new prof in the spring. I remember you writing about your prof ordering lingere. My old prof ripped me apart after 2 weeks of no lessons due to her reschedule. I didnt have direction and it was close to jury. Wound up feeling inadequate and wanted to quit. She rescheduled nearly half of our lessons. Possibly more... i lost track. I spoke to the dean early in the semester and to her... and it didnt get any better. I am not a performance major and felt like she was totally biased agaisnt me. I barely passed Jury. Got a C for the semester. Used to getting A's in applied piano!
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Denise

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#546796 - 12/26/05 06:51 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1350
Loc: Maine, U.S.
Fortunately, in 17 years of study, I never had a bad teacher. But I would say that a bad teacher would be one who emphasizes pianism to the neglect of musicianship. Both aspects are needed for artistry.

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#546797 - 12/26/05 08:42 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
musicsdarkangel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/05
Posts: 237
Loc: Chicago, IL
I don't know what I would define a bad teacher as,

but I know that a good teacher pays attention to solidity, phrasing, voicing, and tension.

Those are the big 4 IMO.

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#546798 - 12/28/05 01:33 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1171
Loc: Washington metro
My first teacher was a bad teacher. She basically crammed as many students as she could into her schedule, and she never had student recitals or provided any opportunities for her students to perform. Everything was very mechanical: scales, Hanon, and Berens x number of times at x metronome marking per day; theory exercises out of a kiddy book; pieces chosen at random that were often too hard and with no real guidance on how to work on them. She was a fun person who told jokes and laughed a lot, so lessons weren't unpleasant, but they were pretty worthless. Any connection between what I could do on the piano and getting on a stage and playing Beethoven sonatas from memory was a total mystery. I didn't really learn anything about music until I started playing the cello and had a real teacher.
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


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#546799 - 12/28/05 08:45 PM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category?
wolfindmist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 1478
Loc: In a state full of Volcanoes
Good thing keytops's second teacher didn't teach Ray Charles, Elton John, Jerry Lee Lewis or Stevie Wonder and so many other freely moving players how to play piano sitting stiff like a statue.

 Quote:
Originally posted by keytops:
She also kept telling me not to move my body when I played. I felt that was taking alot of the feeling out of playing. Now I have a Jazz teacher and encourages me to feel the music. And come up with my own fingering for the music. I enjoy the freedom. [/b]
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#2383267 - 02/07/15 01:18 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: sarabande]
MacMorrighan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/13
Posts: 36
Hello, there. I apologize for a reviving a very old thread, but I have returned to music after studying it for three years in a local community college (18 years hence). It took me that length of time because the reaction of the program's founder (who no longer works there, thank goodness!) and many other staff members made me feel as though I was unworthy to study music and as if nothing I did was ever good enough. They gave me huge emotional hurdles that I had to surmount! I am still convinced to this day that the program was founded by a small group of Jazz Ingenues (who lacked a degree in Music Education), merely to supplement their income when they were not gigging.

I should have known that something was amiss when there were no textbooks required/ to follow along with for the program. If you missed a class for any reason (even sickness or a death in the family) you were unable to make up the assignments--which was always played at the piano in front of the class--and you were prohibited from contacting the teacher to see what had been covered or any notes that could be gleaned. Students were terrified of missing a single day so they would pop Vit. C like PEZ! It was a very high stress environment. When I realized that I had begun to slip behind I searched everywhere that I could think of for some books on Music Theory, only to come up empty-handed: the campus bookstore, the campus library, the instrument/ music store that catered to the music program, the public library in the town, as well as Borders Books, and Barnes & Noble (this was before Amazon!).

Nor was it apparent to me until the second year that this program didn't offer an Associates degree in music, or a degree in music of any kind (I think it was just a certificate of some kind, if I recall correctly). Heck, it was well known among some of the more advanced students that have studied music elsewhere that the letter grade of a "C" in this program would automatically equate to an "A"+ at any other music program in the state or the country. (How am I expected to explain this to another institution without them laughing in my face?) But, I digress...

As far as my private lessons went, I thought they were great, because I had never had the opportunity to study the piano a day in my life (they were not offered at my public high school, nor could my parents afford private lessons for me). But, over the last few years as I began to read books on music theory--which I wish I had had access to back then!--and re-read some of my old assignments, I began notice that there was a LOT being left out of my education that SHOULD have been included!

* There was no attempt to assist me in constructing a daily practice regimen to keep my skills sharp, as well as to progress (in many ways I was a novice left to my own devices)
* A lot of basic data was omitted from my piano lessons (I was never told that a scale can be subdivided into two tetrachords or that the scales I was playing through now and again were in the Circle of Fifths order (no emphasis was ever placed on memorizing any piano scales, other than "C")
* I never learned recital pieces in more than a few keys, including "C", with any more than 3 incidentals
* No music theory was employed to underscore my recital pieces, which left me to memorizing each piece note-by-note and my hands/ finger positions in relation to the keyboard, so after a recital I forgot how to playa piece soon after
* Worse of all was that there were NO sight-reading exercises what-so-ever, which has hampered me to this day! Sight-reading has MANY benefits, I have come to learn over the past 3 years, such as: 1.) facilitating the speed with which a student learns a new piece, 2.) one may become more quickly affluent with a wider range of musical styles, rather than wasting precious minutes and hours studying a new piece of music locked in a rehearsal room, 3.) it assists one by imparting the necessary skills to make and play music at a moment’s notice while gigging in a group-setting, under pressure and with confidence, and 4.) sight-reading competency is a beneficial indicator of a student’s musical proficiency, as well as their understanding of music theory. However, it also made me very ill-equipped for applying to any other music program, many of which require sight-reading as a part of the audition/ examination test. The extreme stress from the program, as well as the fact that my piano lessons seemed to be geared towards merely "teaching the test", also in my view, hampered the learning process for acquiring new skills.
* I was also never told that I was playing, then, at a solid intermediate level, which would have seriously assisted my confidence level. All these years later I have since believed that I was a mere rank beginner. smirk

Perhaps I was also to blame in not asking enough questions; however, you have to remember that I was coming directly from High School in the late 1990s where we were taught not HOW to think, but WHAT to think. So, I assumed, my private instrument teachers must know best, and I did all the exercises and weekly assignments that were expected of me. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess I assumed that there was some sort of a "standard" in music programs in order for an institution to be an accredited school. I assumed wrong.

As a consequence of my excessively rough introduction to music, I have begun a blog as a safe space for me to vent my frustrations, to explain what I have endured, to offer advise to others who are or were in my shoes, and how I have been progressing since: http://intreblex.tumblr.com

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#2383271 - 02/07/15 01:51 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: MacMorrighan]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18707
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By MacMorrighan
[...]
As a consequence of my excessively rough introduction to music, I have begun a blog as a safe space for me to vent my frustrations, [...]


It seems to me you have done that here, and here although whether this space is a "safe" one for your venting remains to be seen.
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
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#2383293 - 02/07/15 03:27 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: sarabande]
phantomFive Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 2176
Loc: California
So......have you found a better teacher yet?
_________________________
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#2383307 - 02/07/15 05:26 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: sarabande]
Groove On Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 138
As an adult re-learner, I've been trying to educate myself so I know enough to ask the right questions and find a good teacher.

In Liszt's bio he mentions that technique all by itself isn't good enough, you have to develop the whole person. I really like that idea, I think a good teacher develops the student as a overall musician ... not just a piano player.

I notice today there are 3 camps
- technique/sight-reading
- play by ear
- music theory

Some teachers specialize in only one of those areas, and that's fine because many students only want to learn specific things. But a great teacher will bring all that to the table in every piece a student learns. That's the type of teacher I'd love to find. I'd love to approach each new piece being informed as to how to play it by ear, and then sight-read it, be informed about the pertinent music theory behind it and finally learn the technique to play it well.

Barring finding a teacher like that, I'll just have to dip my toes into each camp and try to integrate the information myself.
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#2383373 - 02/07/15 10:13 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: phantomFive]
MacMorrighan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/13
Posts: 36
@PhantomFive: No, looking for a teacher is not a priority at the moment, because I am scrimping and saving up to move half way across the country to the coast of the pacific northwest. Though, in looking at the fees some teachers charge, I found that during my private lessons at my former Comm. College we were charged much more per lesson than many local teachers charge, now; and that was 18 years ago! So, considering the market today, it's clear that we were overcharged substantially.

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#2383388 - 02/07/15 11:21 AM Re: "Bad" piano teachers - What puts them in this category? [Re: BruceD]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2680
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By BruceD
Originally Posted By MacMorrighan
[...]
As a consequence of my excessively rough introduction to music, I have begun a blog as a safe space for me to vent my frustrations, [...]


It seems to me you have done that here, and here although whether this space is a "safe" one for your venting remains to be seen.

MacMorrighan: If I were you I would put more energy into learning, practicing, and enjoying music than into venting. But that's just me.
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Imperfect Samples: Fazioli (Extreme)
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