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#924711 - 03/03/08 02:25 AM K.O.
1phantom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 4
Question for all you teachers out there. I have been taking lessons for some time now. Along my path I have come across some pieces I just can not stand to play. To say it is killing my desire is an understatement. Almost to the point of K.O. Never will I quit as I adore to play. My question is, is my teacher teaching me disicipline? OR would it be OK to quit and move on? I like my teacher as I feel she is a good teacher, but some of the music she has given me plain sucks.
_________________________
"The Ghost Who Plays."

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#924712 - 03/03/08 03:44 AM Re: K.O.
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
You'll find plenty of answers here re: Oh When the Saints.
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/32/6039.html

Here's a quote:
 Quote:
 Quote:
Originally posted by mullyman:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Startulip:

ahhhhh, but if the flipping is done hastily, then when she lands on "when the saints go marching in" and asks if I've played this and I say I haven't because I don't like the music, she replies, "Well, that's OK, do it. It's just for learning." [/b]
Unfortunately I have to side with her on this one. [/b]
I'm with you Startulip. You can't tell me out of the trillion or so pieces out there she can't find something you like?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#924713 - 03/03/08 05:18 AM Re: K.O.
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
It would seem a bit drastic to quit lessons because of repertoire choice. Have you let your teacher know if a piece really turns you off?

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#924714 - 03/03/08 05:43 AM Re: K.O.
1phantom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 4
I would choose to quit because I can not stand the music assigned. It is not just one piece. I want something else assigned she said,"too bad." I have put up with playing music I do not like for a while now. It is not every piece. But every now and then. I put up with it for a while thinking I will get more out of lessons this way. However I do not practice like I do with pieces I enjoy, and find it hard to even goto my piano with pieces I do not like. Not sure as my teacher has taught me many things, and is really great otherwise, just a stickler to what is "next" in the book. IF I were a teacher, I would assign a piece in place of, to make it more enjoyable for a student. I do not understand why it would have to be this piece, IF for some reason I want to be a concert pianist, I would not agree to play a piece in concert I did not personally enjoy. IF the people who hire me want me to play something I do not like, I simply say, "No, I will not play that." end of discussion.

I think I just need an explanation of why? Why make someone practice a piece they do not like if you can just as easily assign a piece the student would like and practice?
_________________________
"The Ghost Who Plays."

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#924715 - 03/03/08 09:55 AM Re: K.O.
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7348
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
1phantom - hi

Since you're asking on the teacher's forum, let me explain the process from a teachers perspective. Some of us teach beginning adults with an asortment of pieces culled from different sources, with the object of leading you from simple 5 finger, closed hand position, pieces to complex pieces which demand use of both hands simultaneously, in open position.

Most of us teachers use a "Methods" book, where the authors have essentially done this research and collection for us. Of course, there are at least 50 method books available, so even using a method requires a lot of research adn preparation on the part of the teacher. The method must present topics in a way the teacher is comfortable with; the method needs to be learned by the teacher. Every publication has printing errors, and teachers need to know these. Most methods also omit topics which teachers want to stress, so that needs to be accounted for as well. Also, most teachers have supplimental material to augment the basic method.

Finding an assortment of pieces which progress in difficulty and present each pedagological concept necessary, without under difficulties is a major challenge. Add to it the requirement that each piece be loved by the student, and you're asking for an impossibility.

You provided us few clues. You've been taking lessons for some time now. When I hear a student say that, I think, oh, 6 - 10 years. But a student might be thinking 6 - 10 months. How long have you been studying and what level have you advanced to?

Is your teacher using a method book with you or providing sheet music as you progress?

The answers to these two questions will help us evaluate your situation better.

John
_________________________
"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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#924716 - 03/03/08 10:57 AM Re: K.O.
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
I have come to a stage as a student where I would be unhappy if my teacher chose repertoire on the basis of it conforming to my tastes and likes. When I begin working on a new piece, my first question is "What will this teach me?" There has been a shift in my perspective.

For us students, typically pieces are music, complete entities with character that evoke our passions, and possibly those of our audience. Our purpose for having lessons may be so that we can play these pieces. Our teachers are teaching us to play these pieces. Therefore substituting one piece for another doesn't seem to be such a big deal. As long as two pieces are at the same "level of difficulty", what's the big deal?

A good teacher, however, is not there to teach you pieces, but to give you skills and musical knowledge that must be balanced out, and often are interdependant. He or she has to balance out your strengths and weaknesses as these develop in the process.

I am wildly guessing in what I will write next since I have not taken piano lessons, but: supposing that you need to develop the ability to contrast staccato and legato touch, get a basic sense of meter, and delve in the rhealm of modulating from one key to another. Supposing that you are a student who progresses best when you go from the known to the unknown. So your teacher finds a piece that has this contrast, you have learned to play in C and G major as well as their minor counterparts, and this piece modulates from C to G, is within your rhealm of difficulty but can push your skills up a notch. Perfect. Then you come along and say that it's not to your taste. You prefer (insert style, mood). Your teacher would have to find another piece that still has these attributes, and again risk your not liking the piece. Or this teacher compromises what she and the piece can teach you, and gives in to your wishes.

I would not want my teacher to compromise in this way. I see enough discussions on the net (fortunately not yet here) in which the teachers tell each other "Give the adult student what he wants. It doesn't really matter." They get happy students ... on the short run, because if you are not given the skills, eventually you will run into obstacles and probably believe you "are not talented".

To have a meaningful discussion about repertoire with your teacher, if you still insist on it, you must be able to see this side of things, otherwise the two of you are talking about separate things and never meet. Your teacher does not have time to tell you of music pedagogy, and so is stuck with saying "It's what comes next in the book. This is for your own good." which seems pedantic.

At the same time you can begin changing your perception of music learning. You can go from wanting to learn this piece, to wanting to learn these skills. The technique does not become the vehicle for the piece: the piece becomes the vehicle for acquiring the technique (interpretation skills etc.). At the end of the day, when you finish your studies, you will have the technique, which then will indeed be the vehicle for the piece you want to learn. Currently you are acquiring a tool box: a set of paints, paint brushes, courses on perspective, anatomy, and texture, were this an art course.

If you manage to shift your perspectives, then the nature of the piece will no longer have the same impact on you. You will be less your own listener. Initialy some of the magic goes away when you zero in on the skills. I remember trying to relax with some new age mood music, and I was lulling into that lovely zone when I was suddenly jerked awake to the thought "Why is the cello using open strings here?" I don't even play the cello! You get into a different way of thinking that is more technical, hopefully without losing the music, but you also end up deriving a different kind of pleasure which more than makes up for it. You begin hearing things even in music played by others, including other instruments, with a delight that is new. The state in which music transports us or makes us want to quit is essentially the passive state of the listener, rather than the active state of the creator.

Having said that, if you do manage to meet your teacher in this understanding, then it may be that she will also have more leeway for you on the occasional piece. You will also probably be meeting her skills-goals for you, because as you shift your focus, those skills will improve faster. As they do change, your teacher can be more flexible in assignments because hey, you you can do it now. (whatever "it" is)

 Quote:
IF for some reason I want to be a concert pianist, I would not agree to play a piece in concert I did not personally enjoy. IF the people who hire me want me to play something I do not like, I simply say, "No, I will not play that." end of discussion.
If you were a concert pianist, you would need to have a public for whom you play, a hall in which to play which will engage you, possibly an agent who will manage your affairs. If you were a very great artist you might have some leeway in the matter.

You would also need to have a large repertoire under your belt, so that when the need arises for a particular piece you are able to provide it.

Artists and concert houses are regularly confronted by this conflict. They would like to play less known works of a sophistication that the average patron may not understand, and they are stuck to some measure to patrons' tastes - money is involved. They must be capable of playing music that they don't particularly care for, and make that music transport the audience.

Fortunately we amateurs don't need to discipline ourselves that way. However, we do need to discpline ourselves to the needs of another patron: the piece that will give us the skills we need, and of course the teacher who chooses that piece.

John and other teachers will provide the teacher perspective on that. I can provide the perspective of an adult student, having found that a shift in thinking can bring about a change in what happens to progress. The kids drift into it naturally. Contrary to the prevalent idea of an adult's "limitations", we are capable of more, not less, as long as we don't trap ourselves in our own expectations.

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#924717 - 03/03/08 11:16 AM Re: K.O.
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Most of us teachers use a "Methods" book, where the authors have essentially done this research and collection for us.
I have a question about this. More and more I am finding that books written early in the last century seem to have much more to them. Are the modern books more prone to serving two masters: learning needs, and the needs to sell and be popular?

A subjective and uninformed impression is that more thinking is involved by the student, more knowledge assumed of the teacher, less is explained, and more happens during the doing, which must be done correctly or the effort is wasted. Am I off the mark?

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#924718 - 03/03/08 12:59 PM Re: K.O.
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
1phantom:
Why don't you ask your teacher to assign a piece for "fun" to do while you are working on the pieces that she thinks you need to work on? That way, you will get a little of what you want and a little of what you need. \:\)
_________________________
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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#924719 - 03/03/08 05:56 PM Re: K.O.
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hiya 1phantom -

I'm not a teacher either, but I find it an interesting question. Sorry if I missed it, but did you answer the question about how long you had been playing?

Also - just to clarify - are you taking lessons for fun? Are you planning to apply to music school and become a professional? Some other reason?

And... do you like type of music your studying? For example, is your teacher focusing on classical, when you really have a burning desire to study jazz (or whatever)?

Just curious, it seems like those things would affect what you're talking about.

You said: "However I do not practice like I do with pieces I enjoy, and find it hard to even goto my piano with pieces I do not like."

I can really relate to this! I think it's human nature, and makes sense - if you love a piece of music, practicing isn't "work" - it's fun, and you'll spend more time without even noticing trying to get it right and playing with it. If it's a piece you don't enjoy hearing or playing, it will definitely be "work" and you'll have to find some way to motivate yourself to learn it.

I'm still fairly early in my studies, and luckily I like almost all the music I get assigned \:\) but every once in awhile there will be something that I just don't care too much for.

Since those pieces are pretty rare - what I try to tell myself is - "work hard on this for this week, so you can play it well enough to move on to something newer and better next week" (ie. suck it up and work hard this week, so I don't drag the piece out over another week!).

But if it's happening to you alot, that might not help - I can't imagine how I would get through it if every week I had to think like that ("just get through this piece, and maybe next week will be better...")

I'm really curious how long you've been with THIS teacher, and how well you feel that you guys get along. It sounds like you've tried discussing it and that maybe they didn't quite get where you were coming from? I hope I don't offend anyone here... but have you thought about talking to some other teachers and maybe switching? I'm just wondering if it's just a mismatch between you guys, and someone else might be more in sync with your musical tastes, or be more helpful in finding pieces you love, and that will help you learn what you need to learn?

Just a thought, again, I'm not a teacher (and still pretty much a beginner!) so...

\:\) Good luck

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#924720 - 03/03/08 06:57 PM Re: K.O.
tickler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 373
Loc: Chicagoland
It sounds like you're working through a method book with your teacher. Right?

If so, you might find a different method that has music more to your liking. Maybe you should talk to your teacher about the type of music you want to play and finding a different book to learn from.


Mary
_________________________
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman. -- Beethoven
1911 Steinway A-II (2007 Rebuild)

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#924721 - 03/03/08 07:15 PM Re: K.O.
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
Phantom, if it's only the method I'd say if you like the teacher it is best to stick to the method. This is part of the fundament, hey it' snot exciting, but must be. I would bet my half pint that every other method is going to have the same crosses to bear.

If I were you, I would insist on a reward, a "dessert piece", for after you have done your work. This way you are motivated to learn and go through your exercises and have the best of both worlds.

It might also help if your teacher would explain to you more in detail what every exercise is for: this way you would sit in front of the piano with a very precise goal, you would know why you do it thus gaining in motivation and focus.
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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