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#930754 - 02/13/09 09:12 PM Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
If you gave an adult beginner a piece of music to learn, and they told you that they just didn't like it and didn't want to invest any time in learning it, would you be mad or upset?

Obviously there is something in the piece that my teacher wants me to learn, but I just don't like it, there is bound to be something else that will fill the gap that I might enjoy, right?

I want to make it clear that I am taking lessons and learning piano simply for personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Is there any reason I shouldn't refuse to work a piece I don't enjoy at all?

I personally think it is the difference between being a kid and having to do whatever your teacher assigns because you don't have a choice, and being an adult who says, I have no desire to play this piece of music and find it a waste of my time because it bores me and makes me want to avoid the piano.

Thoughts from teachers?

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#930755 - 02/13/09 09:51 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by BarbVA:
Is there any reason I shouldn't refuse to work a piece I don't enjoy at all?[/b]
Your choice of words ("refuse") comes across as being a little confrontational - I wouldn't think it would come to that with any of my adult students. We'd be able to talk about it and arrive at some compromise.

If this is a one-off, there's room for a bit of give and take, possibly on both sides. If most of the pieces your teacher sets are hateful to you, then there's a problem which needs to be addressed. Similarly, if a student of mine hates most of the pieces I set, then there's a problem which needs to be addressed, from my point of view too.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#930756 - 02/13/09 10:07 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
You are correct currowong, I probably did use harsher language to get my point across for this post than I would with my teacher. So let's bring it down a notch. If I said, "I don't like this piece, can you give me something else to teach me what this piece is supposed to teach me", would that be acceptable?

And yes, MOST of the pieces she has given me I have really enjoyed, I guess that's why I'm thinking I just don't want to do this one piece.

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#930757 - 02/13/09 10:22 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Yes, I'm one of the teachers who would probably be annoyed at that. You didn't say how long you've been studying with her. That might make a difference if you have respect for each other and can work things out together.

A blatant "No, I'm not going to do that" would really get my curiosity up, and I would ask "Why?" and listen.

With what you have said about this situation, I would then think, of my word, this gal has a "pocket of resistance" going and we're going to be facing issues like this a lot. So, then, I'll question the value of my teaching and how that fits with your preference.

Usually, I can do compromises with you win some, I win some. But I feel there are certain times I really want the adulte student to work through a particular piece because it will be very helpful in the long run of learning.

But, a real, definite "No!" with the look that you might vote with your feet if you can't have your way without considering mine, I think I would let you "win" and remind you on the way out the door that you signed a contract to give me 30-days notice of termination, and if you quit abruptly now, you will not be receiving any money back, and in fact will owe me a payment to cover that term.

If my promising you that something spectacular is going to happen to you because of this piece, it wouldn't matter to you is what you are saying.

The other thing I would think about you would be that there is a control issue going on and I'm being manipulated.

If I asked you to please follow my lead and you said "Absolutely not!" That would be it.

So now I've said it....you won't like it, any adult student reading this will not like it either. So I'll be in the soup for saying the way I feel it is between teacher and student.

My last try at communication would be that usually (like 99% of the time) perfection, emotions, and fear bring these kinds of "stand offs" into place. They can be handled and worked through. The outcome is usually a learning tool to both of us.

I really try to meet my students requests when they ask to play certain things, as long as they have the ability to handle is well at this level in their life. I don't feed into letting the student set the pace and my job is not trying to make her happy all of the time - that would be unethical of me to ditch my teaching ethics and give in too easily.

Students who change teachers a lot because of issues like this are called "teacher hoppers". One of the characteristics of such a person is someone who is ready to walk at the least provocation. It's really sad when that happens. And, it's quite dramatic as it's occuring.

I'm not standing here with my arms crossed and my toe tapping, there is no anger on my part. But imagining if I were in this situation makes me not want to cave in because I think it's important for a student to listen to their teacher's point of view especially when it might be a very important issue to the teacher, too.

By the way, what is the piece in question?

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#930758 - 02/13/09 10:52 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
Thank you Betty, that was exactly the teacher's point of view I was looking for.

And the piece is The Masked Rider, I just don't like it. She has given me so many more pieces that I DO enjoy, and when time to practice is minimal (I too am a professional that works in excess of 50 hours per week, homeschools three children, leads a Girl Scout troop on top of everything else). I really want to spend my time learning pieces that I enjoy, knowing that there is something to be gained from each piece she assigns, but don't want to offend the teacher who I respect fully.

But on the other side, there is this voice that says "don't make me buy lemons when I really want oranges", kwim?

Yes, the teacher is the teacher, but the student is also the consumer, and should they not have some say in the product/service they are consuming?

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#930759 - 02/14/09 12:48 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
I don't know how long it would take you to learn the piece, but for shorter pieces, I'll ask the student to learn it despite not caring for it for some particular technique... once I think they've learned that from the song, we move on. For longer pieces, I don't even ask unless they like it. (However, if I notice somebody keeps choosing the same style of songs, I'll try to push other styles on them so they at least know HOW to play them.)

-Just another take.

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#930760 - 02/14/09 05:12 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
GreenRain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Yes, I'm one of the teachers who would probably be annoyed at that. You didn't say how long you've been studying with her. That might make a difference if you have respect for each other and can work things out together.

A blatant "No, I'm not going to do that" would really get my curiosity up, and I would ask "Why?" and listen.

With what you have said about this situation, I would then think, of my word, this gal has a "pocket of resistance" going and we're going to be facing issues like this a lot. So, then, I'll question the value of my teaching and how that fits with your preference.

Usually, I can do compromises with you win some, I win some. But I feel there are certain times I really want the adulte student to work through a particular piece because it will be very helpful in the long run of learning.

But, a real, definite "No!" with the look that you might vote with your feet if you can't have your way without considering mine, I think I would let you "win" and remind you on the way out the door that you signed a contract to give me 30-days notice of termination, and if you quit abruptly now, you will not be receiving any money back, and in fact will owe me a payment to cover that term.

If my promising you that something spectacular is going to happen to you because of this piece, it wouldn't matter to you is what you are saying.

The other thing I would think about you would be that there is a control issue going on and I'm being manipulated.

If I asked you to please follow my lead and you said "Absolutely not!" That would be it.

So now I've said it....you won't like it, any adult student reading this will not like it either. So I'll be in the soup for saying the way I feel it is between teacher and student.

My last try at communication would be that usually (like 99% of the time) perfection, emotions, and fear bring these kinds of "stand offs" into place. They can be handled and worked through. The outcome is usually a learning tool to both of us.

I really try to meet my students requests when they ask to play certain things, as long as they have the ability to handle is well at this level in their life. I don't feed into letting the student set the pace and my job is not trying to make her happy all of the time - that would be unethical of me to ditch my teaching ethics and give in too easily.

Students who change teachers a lot because of issues like this are called "teacher hoppers". One of the characteristics of such a person is someone who is ready to walk at the least provocation. It's really sad when that happens. And, it's quite dramatic as it's occuring.

I'm not standing here with my arms crossed and my toe tapping, there is no anger on my part. But imagining if I were in this situation makes me not want to cave in because I think it's important for a student to listen to their teacher's point of view especially when it might be a very important issue to the teacher, too.

By the way, what is the piece in question? [/b]
Wow, you are forcing your students to play pieces that they don't like?

And there is no need for an essay. It's a simple question. \:\)

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#930761 - 02/14/09 05:44 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
IngridT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Netherlands
Ha. I told my teacher more then once that I didn't like a certain piece at all. We would have a friendly chat about it. What it would teach me, if we could replaci it by something else. if I could just focus on the technical 'challenge' of the pieceinstead of being able to play it perfectly from the 1st to the last bar.

Absolutely no uneasy feelings on both sides (but dutch people are known for and used to straightforward communication)

Ingrid

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#930762 - 02/14/09 07:03 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
 Quote:
Originally posted by GreenRain:

And there is no need for an essay. It's a simple question. \:\) [/b]
...and there's no need for this rude remark either, especially when directed at one of these forums most repected and valued contributors, who has helped many of us and whose views are highly regarded by those of us who appreciate a comprehensive reply to our questions. For me, that includes Betty's reply to the op's question in this thread too, as she - the op - herself acknowledged!

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#930763 - 02/14/09 09:11 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
what is the "masked rider" piece? what kind of music? who composed it? This is tangential to the question but I am curious.
In my student experience, my teacher does not like to be questioned about music choice. ALthough I was asked about my likes /dislikes in my first meeting. So the majority of the pieces I get are reasonable but I have ploughed through some boring ones. Eventually you get into it and we move on quikly as it becomes obvious to the teacher that I am not loving the piece..

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#930764 - 02/14/09 09:43 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
GreenRain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
 Quote:
Originally posted by cruiser:
 Quote:
Originally posted by GreenRain:

And there is no need for an essay. It's a simple question. \:\) [/b]
...and there's no need for this rude remark either, especially when directed at one of these forums most repected and valued contributors, who has helped many of us and whose views are highly regarded by those of us who appreciate a comprehensive reply to our questions. For me, that includes Betty's reply to the op's question in this thread too, as she - the op - herself acknowledged! [/b]
I apologise.

But i still insist that teacher should not be annoyed in case like this. I will always refuse piece that i hate (Which does happen only once or twice per year)

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#930765 - 02/14/09 10:14 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
 Quote:
Originally posted by GreenRain:
I will always refuse piece that i hate (Which does happen only once or twice per year) [/b]
I agree with you on this. My teacher suggests pieces for me to learn and then, between us, we usually find one which fits her/my pedagogical requirements and which I also happen to love ('like' is not good enough) \:\)

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#930766 - 02/14/09 10:48 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11558
Loc: Canada
There are some additional perspectives to this. Hopefully, the teachers task is to give us skills (technique) for playing the piano, and knowledge (theory) to be able to play the music. Eventually that gives us independence, because when we have those two things we can play whatever we want.

Many teachers begin with these two things: technique & theory. Now they have to bring them to us gradually in stages. Not only do we need to understand, we also need to physically master these things. The pieces are the things this teacher uses to bring them across.

If a teacher wants to bring technique and theory to us via pieces, she first has to find the ideal piece. It has to contain the things we are to learn, and it can't contain anything we cannot yet do which would trip us up. Unless she is depending entirely on a method book, the teacher has probably spent time collecting the must suitable pieces.

The teacher has probably spent more time analyzing the piece, so that she can present it to us. At this point we come along and want something else, because we don't "like" this particular piece. If a teacher works this way, then having the piece rejected can be annoying, I imagine.

Other teachers might be more flexible. They might know generally what kinds of skills they want to teach in which order, and will apply those things to any piece that fits reasonably with what we are able to do at a given point.

Then finally there may be teachers whose aim is to help us play particular pieces. They will give us what we need for that piece, then the next and the next. If some technique tends to develop in a certain order, is this ideal?

Of course the other possibility is the teacher who is not yet complete in his/her own development, and only has a limited repertoire of what they can teach.

Personally, because of certain experiences, I would not want a teacher to entirely give me the choice. As students we should know what our purpose for lessons is. I do think that if you really hate a piece of music and can't get over it, that a teacher might be flexible.

KS

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#930767 - 02/14/09 10:49 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
This has come up before. With more music available than you could play in a single life time there will be plenty that you like which also fit the pedagogical purpose.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#930768 - 02/14/09 10:52 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11558
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
This has come up before. With more music available than you could play in a single life time there will be plenty that you like which also fit the pedagogical purpose. [/b]
Wouldn't that mean that generally speaking teachers *can* afford to be flexible (within reason)?

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#930769 - 02/14/09 11:07 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Knabe26 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/06
Posts: 221
Loc: Northern California
I'm with kbk. Life is too short to spend time working on something that isn't enjoyable -- especially for my adults taking lessons for personal pleasure/growth. I can't imagine it would be a big deal, and I certainly don't feel that the need to think about or bring up the 30 day notice in the contract would be any part of this.
_________________________

www.cameronparkpiano.com
Full-Time Private Piano Instructor

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#930770 - 02/14/09 11:44 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'm so impressed with the posting in this topic.

I'm seeing intelligence, maturity, and purpose posted here.

The teacher having "veto" power to wanting to assign a particular piece NOW, is usually part of a well planned, logical choice of music that the teacher feels is important to the student's development at this time.

An adult student over exerting on a "No" without supporting it with other information is thinking as a consumer of pleasure and catering to emotional needs (his/her choice or opinion ranks high).

If the student explains/justifies their reason for "NO!" and it becomes important to agree with the student that this would not be a good choice...(BarbVA gave good reasons from her point of view in a later post, but I would still want for her to construct and play this piece of my choosing.

It is to my detriment that I don't think I know the piece she mentioned, unless it's a piece I know by another name:lots of 1/8 notes and aggressiveness, fast tempo, key of A minor, long phrases, but I'm guessing here. Who is the composer of the piece you are telling us about?

Cruiser :2hearts: not "destroying" it.

I'm of the thought that you and she will work it out - maybe by both giving a little bit to the center - a negotiation - an adjustment. That is between you and she.

So many student quit over conflicts like this - it is sad to see it happen. Disagreement actually presents opportunity to discuss and understand that which might otherwise become a crisis ending the relationship.

I also believe the students satisfaction and enjoyment rank high in delivered goods and that is important to achieve. At the same time, there are other things we do that rank high in purpose and acquiring skills, but don't immediately produce satisfaction that you can bank.

And, for GreenRain, another ;\) "epic"!

Betty

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#930771 - 02/14/09 11:51 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
And where's my ?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#930772 - 02/14/09 12:16 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
And where's my ? [/b]
:2hearts:

.....[/b] ;\)

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#930773 - 02/14/09 12:32 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hmmm... curious!

To the teachers out there, wouldn't you want to know if a student seriously dislikes a piece?

My own experience has been - pieces that I love, I absorb incredibly quickly. Pieces that I love (or like a whole lot!) draw me in, and make me want to practice more - I end up sending alot of time on them, just because I enjoy hearing them and playing them.

Pieces that I'm just "ok" with - I work hard on, but it's a conscious choice to work hard and prepare.

Pieces that I don't like - I really struggle with. It's always odd to me - because even when they're noticeably *easier* to play, I struggle - they just don't get imprinted on my brain the same way. And, though I do NOT do it on purpose, I end up spending less time on them. I really try to be diligent, but because I don't like them, the internal reinforcement is not there - they are truly "work" (whereas pieces I like don't feel like work, they feel like fun, even if they are much harder and take a lot more "work" to get right - it's "fun work!")

Given all that, I would imagine a teacher would want to know. It seems like the easiest way to create motivation would be to focus on pieces that really speak to the student, and the quickest way to kill all the joy of playing is to assign pieces that the student doesn't enjoy.

It also seems useful. If I'm struggling with a piece, it seems like we'd approach the difficulties differently if they were technical, for example, versus personal issues with the music itself...

For me, I usually try to give my teacher the benefit of the doubt and to put in a good effort (though as I said, it's hard and slow for me!) and after a few weeks of feeling stalled out, we'll move on.

I've had a couple pieces that I didn't like much at first, but really ended up enjoying. And, oddly, some that I loved listening to - but really didn't enjoy playing at all!

Good luck with it.

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#930774 - 02/14/09 12:41 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I show students what's great or fantastic about a work. The only thing I can remember having to discard was a Lutoslawski invention.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#930775 - 02/14/09 12:51 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
When I was teaching, I would always let the student choose. I'd pick out several pieces that would be suitable, play each one for the student, and let them choose. If they didn't like any of them, we would look through the book for other ones. Eventually, we'd find something that the student liked and that would teach the student whatever technical point needed to be taught. There's a lot of music out there.

I think that teachers often forget just how long it takes a beginner student to learn a piece. When you assign something like "Twinkle Twinkle", what it means to the student is that they are going to be playing and listening to "Twinkle Twinkle" for hours on end. Their family is going to be listening to "Twinkle Twinkle" for hours on end. I think it would be cruel to assign a piece the student really doesn't like and expect them to spend an hour a day with it.

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#930776 - 02/14/09 01:42 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
If a teacher explained that there was reason for doing any particular piece, whether technical or musical, I'd accept that even if I didn't like it.

If I thought the teacher was insisting out of form, never give in and lose a power struggle, that kind of thing, I'd be resistant.

I'd probably ask questions to figure that out. Some teachers might get defensive at that point, judging from Betty's posts. (probably not her, I'm extrapolating)

My guess is most students go the passive-aggressive route instead. They keep plugging away at the piece they hate, somehow never getting any better, until the teacher gives up and moves on.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#930777 - 02/14/09 04:25 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Teachers are typically going to teach only what's
in their repertoire, or at least what they're
familiar with. At this point in your development,
the teacher might have only one piece
that he's familiar with that fits the bill.

The classical repertoire is vast, and of
course another piece of the same level
could be substituted, but then the teacher
would have to learn it, which is a lot
of overtime work with no pay. Thus, the
teacher's reluctance to teach you anything
but this piece at this point.

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#930778 - 02/14/09 04:39 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by cruiser:
 Quote:
Originally posted by GreenRain:
I will always refuse piece that i hate (Which does happen only once or twice per year) [/b]
I agree with you on this. My teacher suggests pieces for me to learn and then, between us, we usually find one which fits her/my pedagogical requirements and which I also happen to love ('like' is not good enough) \:\) [/b]
This is what I do. A student has to really want to learn a piece for them to play it well.

Come on teachers... are you going to invest your time in learning a piece you don't like?!!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#930779 - 02/14/09 04:46 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
... of course another piece of the same level
could be substituted, but then the teacher
would have to learn it, which is a lot
of overtime work with no pay. [/b]
Um, we're talking beginner pieces here, Gyro. \:\)
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#930780 - 02/14/09 06:08 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
... of course another piece of the same level
could be substituted, but then the teacher
would have to learn it, which is a lot
of overtime work with no pay. [/b]
Um, we're talking beginner pieces here, Gyro. \:\) [/b]
Yeah, that's what I thought. Generally, I can sightread a five-finger beginner piece at "performance level". I would even say that someone who can't probably shouldn't be teaching.

But even if we're talking intermediate-level pieces, I think that the teacher should go for the "overtime work with no pay" and learn the piece anyway. I did, quite frequently. As a teacher, I owe it to my students to make their piano-learning experiences as pleasant, positive, and wonderful as I can possibly make them. While it's true that I don't get paid for the time I put in learning a piece, I could say that I get paid indirectly - by the student's not quitting.

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#930781 - 02/15/09 01:46 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Pianobuff:
 Quote:
"Come on teachers... are you going to invest your time in learning a piece you don't like?!!"
Actually, this happens all the time. That is because the reverse of the OP's post is also true...I have had students want to learn a particular piece of music, some of which I do not like, but I learn that music or play it if I already know it anyways so I can teach it.

(I am so sick of "Fur Elise" that I could scream!...but two of my students are working on it right now \:D )

Additionally, many piano teachers (such as myself) augment their income, and enjoy, playing out. If you do so as a church pianist, or play in a band, do weddings, etc, some of the music you will play you will not necessarily like.

Saying "no" is not an option if I want to keep those jobs.

But as far as the OP, if someone is simply learning piano for enjoyment, yes, they should be able to say no.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930782 - 02/16/09 12:42 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Pianobuff asked: "Teachers, Are you going to invest your time in learning a piece you don't like?!!"

I sightread really well so playing a new piece of music is not hard for me, I can play most things through and get a good enough result to understand what the piece contains, and I analyze it as I'm playing.

So, I'm saying it is no extra effort for me to preview a piece I'm going to teach. If I can't play it competently and learn what it consists of and how it fits a student, I would really be at a loss of knowing what to teach and how to teach.

Every piece should be played through at some time before teaching it. Even simple elementary pieces, you want to know how the student is going to feel playing this one, and if there are any hidden difficulty factors in it.

I usually write out a schema of the teaching points when I preview a new piece and place it in my lesson plan file.

Over the years, this preparation has prepared me to make quick diagnosis, and to write out only the most complicated things as notes, the other pertinent things are captured by my mind and hands as I played through it.

Being able to sight read and do analysis leads to quick preparation of a finished piece, and memorization.

Pianobuff also says: "A student has to really want to learn a piece for them to play it well."

I would try encouraging the student by saying let's see how long it really takes you to play this one....you really can't tell if you like it or not until you've been able to play it through.
You might be missing something important that this piece would really help you with. Sometimes the things we don't like to do are the missing pieces to doing something well. Challenges are good for you!

Nothing turns me off more than a reluctant learner who resists something the teacher is choosing as a good learning piece.

We really have trouble developing musicianship and moving toward success when the student will play only what they choose. A student needs the stimulation of going outside their own preferences...it usually results in laving a good experience after all.

Like a dress hanging on the rack in the clothing store, you can't tell how it will look on you until you try it on. Isn't that true? It applies to suitable music too.

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#930783 - 02/16/09 01:31 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
chihuahua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 391
Loc: An Oligarchy
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
[QUOTE]I am so sick of "Fur Elise" that I could scream!...but two of my students are working on it right now \:D [/b]
Sick? Elise wouldn't come down with the cold if she was Fur-ry.

Warmer that way.
_________________________
Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.

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#930784 - 02/16/09 07:43 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
To the young musicians, mostly the girls, Fuer Elise is a desired piece - one reason being that it is played on many music boxes - and is the epitome of "classical" music. Most ask to learn to play it long before they are ready for the 8 pages of development, not just the theme. Parents and grandparents swoon when it is accomplished and played well.

It's the vehicle of choice for so many young ladies.

Now the task is to play it well, and to understand the different sections of the piece, and to take it on the total composition as written by Beethoven, not an arrangement or short theme.

It is chock full of good technique learning opportunities, the study of form is very interesting as it captures the students attention as to how analyzing really prepares your mind and hands to meet the playing requirements. Most students feel the huge progress they make from having studied this piece.

I feel a student has to be ready for this mindbender full of content, and must possess graceful playing ability with touch and dynamics, or it will not sound good. Technique rates high on this piece as a study and exercise.

I do use the A section occasionally as a reward to a student who really wants to do it, and who has been making good progress toward being ready.

It's also important, I think, that the student be able to pivot on LH finger 2 to reach the 5 and 1 fingered octaves, and the RH must be able to play 7ths and 8ths. So student overall size is important, too.

It a piece that has many teaching levels to it, so it isn't exactly easy over all.

It takes a person who is a studied musician to do it justice. This might be the musical vehicle that takes them to that accomplishment.

It can also be one problematic piece if assigned to the wrong person, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, or with the wrong attitude toward it.

Such is life.

Betty

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#930785 - 02/16/09 08:03 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I never complain about a piece assigned. If I don't like it I consider it a technical piece and a challenge. Most often my teacher will ask if I like a piece (he'll play it for me) before assigning it. Of course after several years, he generally knows what pieces I like anyway. And if we've been working on it for a long time :rolleyes: he'll ask me if I'm sick of it and reassure me of the value in continuing to study it.

Occasionally he'll assign a piece and after a couple of weeks we'll leave it because it proved to be too difficult. I may continue on my own if I love it and bring it back later but I trust his judgement and generally am happy with anything assigned.

I think it's important to have several pieces of varying levels on the go at any given time.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#930786 - 02/16/09 07:19 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Betty..I agree it is a great learning piece, its just that I really am tired of hearing it.

I was in a piano store some time back and there was a small sign on the wall that said, "no Fur Elise"...they were joking, of course, but the sales person rolled his eyes when I mentioned the piece.

Along the same lines, I saw a sign in a guitar music store that said, "No Stairway to Heaven or Smoke on the Water", both vastly overplayed rock songs that the staff was very tired of.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930787 - 02/16/09 07:23 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:


Nothing turns me off more than a reluctant learner who resists something the teacher is choosing as a good learning piece.

We really have trouble developing musicianship and moving toward success when the student will play only what they choose. A student needs the stimulation of going outside their own preferences...it usually results in laving a good experience after all.

[/b]
Thats exactly what I wanted to say, but you said it best.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930788 - 02/16/09 07:45 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I don't know; I still think the teacher needs to convince the student to like the piece rather than just assign it over the student's protests. A person's musical development will happen when it happens. There's no need to push unnecessarily.

When I was a teenager, I only wanted to play Chopin. My teacher was not very happy about that, and kept throwing Prokofiev and Shostakovich at me. I did not like Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I played the pieces she assigned, but without enthusiasm and as badly as I could get away with playing. In secret, on my own, I worked on Chopin. I worked on those pieces without guidance, but I tried my best to put my soul into the playing.

You really, really, really don't want your students to end up like the above. Because not all of them will be as dedicated to the piano as I was. Some of them might hate the pieces you assign and decide that what they really want to do is play the guitar, and start practicing that in secret.

I outgrew my only-Chopin phase, by the way, just like I outgrew my numerous other phases. Teenagers go through a lot of phases, and then they're done with them. There was no need for my teacher to have worried so much about my musical development. But I wish that she'd respected my desires and wishes more, and let me play what I wanted to play and grow at my own pace.

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#930789 - 02/16/09 08:12 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Larisa, not everyone is like you. From your previous posts, you are a hard-working person who somehow survived an onslaught of very abusive teachers.

Unfortunately, some students are lazy. I have had numerous teenagers who absolutely refuse to play anything that is even slightly above their level, and thus accept only the easy pieces. There is no growth in that.

Also, I have had students refuse the first piece I suggest, then the second, then the third, and so on, to the point that the entire lesson is a series of my playing, and their refusal.

So at some point, the teacher has to have some authority in the teaching process, or else people who are lazy, or who have control and authority issues will derail the process.

Having said that, I do allow students to refuse pieces, up to a point. If a student who is progressing, and has a history of working and practicing, then fine. I certainly can understand not liking a particular piece.

But when a student responds as I described above, he or she has become the leader in the studio, and I have lost the ability to effectively teach them.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930790 - 02/16/09 10:56 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I do see your point, but the only reason you do not call me "lazy" is because you are hearing my side of the story - not my teacher's side. If you heard my teacher (or my parents), you'd hear about a very lazy student who refused to work hard.

As a teenager, I did not believe I had any power to control my learning process or my teacher's demands on me. My only avenue of resistance was passive resistance - refusing to practice the assigned pieces I was supposed to play. It came off as "laziness". Trust me - "lazy" was the adjective most frequently applied to me as a child and as a teen, and the reason it was so frequently applied to me was because I was so frequently forced, in the name of "learning", to do things I did not want to do.

So why is your "lazy" student lazy? Why is he only playing easy pieces? Is he afraid that he'll screw up the hard piece you're assigning? Is he worried that learning that piece will take up a lot of time? Is he secretly hating piano lessons and just passing the time until his parents finally pull the plug? Find out why and tailor your explanations accordingly, and then you're in control of the lesson without sacrificing your student's autonomy quite so much.

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#930791 - 02/16/09 11:12 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Larisa, did you really read my post?

I did not say I had "a" lazy student...I said "some students are lazy".

You are correct...there is a variety of reasons for that laziness, some of which you mentioned.

For your information, I try very hard to find the reasons why someone is "lazy", and overcome them. Wish I were more successful in that!

After almost 10 years of near full time teaching, I have had literally hundreds of students; Therefore, my remarks are in general, and thus do not sacrifice anyone's autonomy at all.

I would never do that!
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930792 - 02/17/09 12:04 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
I really appreciate all the different views, it gives me a lot to think about. For the record this isn't the only piece she has assigned, but it is the only one that I just can't find any connection to.

I currently have 8 pieces assigned in addition to my work in the Alfred's AIO course. So I'm thinking if I say, I just don't like this one, it shouldn't be a big deal, but I wanted to make sure I could weigh a teacher(s) opinion to not jeopardize what I feel is a good working relationship between us.

It may help too that me and my teacher are both Homeschool moms, so we generally have a slightly different view of the learning process from most traditional educators. Thanks all!

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#930793 - 02/17/09 08:54 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:


Unfortunately, some students are lazy. [/b]
Probably so, but so rare most people never meet one.

It is more useful to talk about what a student DOES than what he IS.

The same student who practices piano ten minutes a day may play video games four hours a day, and have developed an almost unimaginable level of skill at Ghost Recon or whatever the fad is now.

Is it useful to call him/her lazy? Nah.

And he's clearly not; he'll go without food or sleep perfecting a skill at one activity, just not the one you want. There's nothing lazy about that.

Has anyone ever increased their practice time because somebody told them they were lazy? Nah.

The term serves no useful function and is in general not descriptive. In addition, it is judgemental and antagonistic. All in all, I'd just remove it from the dictionary.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#930794 - 02/17/09 09:55 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:


Unfortunately, some students are lazy. [/b]
Has anyone ever increased their practice time because somebody told them they were lazy? Nah.[/b]
Tim, please do not put words in my mouth. I did not say I told students they were lazy because I have never done that to anyone.

I was simply making an observation about some students' lack of desire to move forward in their music, for whatever reason(s), all in reference to the OP about students rejecting new music to play, in this case, rejecting music that is slightly more difficult.

Perhaps "lazy" was too vague a term...
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#930795 - 02/17/09 10:29 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Lazy might be somewhat present, but organized, motivated, sincerely interested, may not be present yet. Many students don't know where to start when they look at a piano piece, they don't know what it feels like to be productive in preparing a lesson. For some, piano lessons are a perplexing activity that they have no idea how to construct when they get home.

Many piano teachers leave their student on their own as far as preparing them by giving attention to the habits and activities of becoming a capable, independant learner.

I suffered that experience at age 9, but my age 12 I had surpassed any ones expectations of me.

I won't go into the contributing factors that turned me around but I will say I was in "limbo" for a long time because I was truly lost in the explanations I received and the music I was assigned. Thank goodness that I stuck with it I wouldn't want to have missed my last 38 years of teaching for the world.

We have to em-power our students. We have to meet their needs. We have great responsibilities.
The students problems, if they have some, need our problem solving help and our support all the way until they are self-actualized.

Betty

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#930796 - 02/17/09 12:12 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I do think "lazy" is too vague a term, and in fact, too vague to be helpful. I prefer "unmotivated", because there is a very clear solution for that - motivate the kid (which can be done in a number of ways). What can you do for laziness? Nothing.

I do think that most kids can be motivated to work. It's just a matter of finding the right button to push.

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#930797 - 02/17/09 12:40 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I do think "lazy" is too vague a term, and in fact, too vague to be helpful. I prefer "unmotivated", because there is a very clear solution for that - motivate the kid (which can be done in a number of ways). What can you do for laziness? Nothing.

I do think that most kids can be motivated to work. It's just a matter of finding the right button to push. [/b]
Better, but it somewhat presumes you know what the cause of the problem is.

At least it avoids some of the "blame the student" mentality that accompanies calling them lazy.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#930798 - 02/17/09 12:48 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
Tim, please do not put words in my mouth. I did not say I told students they were lazy because I have never done that to anyone.

I was simply making an observation about some students' lack of desire to move forward in their music, for whatever reason(s), all in reference to the OP about students rejecting new music to play, in this case, rejecting music that is slightly more difficult.

Perhaps "lazy" was too vague a term... [/b]
But I didn't put words in your mouth. Nowhere in my post did I suggest you say that to a child.

I simply made the observation that calling a student lazy, whether to their face or internally, is neither precise nor useful.
Moreover, it is a value judgement, which by nature interferes with problem solving.

"Lack of desire to move forward in music" is far better, but it is still a deduction based on observation of behavior. And it tends to lead to value judgements as well. I'd rather deal with the objective behavior.

Perhaps the OP did mean resisting music that is more difficult, but I did not take it that way. I took it to mean music that for whatever reason just didn't appeal to them personally, causing them to ask for another selection of equal musical value and difficulty.

That seems a reasonable request to me; it may not always be possible but where it can be done why not? Now both teacher and student are actively involved in the process, and that tends to increase committment.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#930799 - 02/17/09 01:25 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by TimR:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
I do think "lazy" is too vague a term, and in fact, too vague to be helpful. I prefer "unmotivated", because there is a very clear solution for that - motivate the kid (which can be done in a number of ways). What can you do for laziness? Nothing.

I do think that most kids can be motivated to work. It's just a matter of finding the right button to push. [/b]
Better, but it somewhat presumes you know what the cause of the problem is.

At least it avoids some of the "blame the student" mentality that accompanies calling them lazy. [/b]
I'm not sure it does presume that - "unmotivated" is simply a descriptive term. The student who does not want to practice a particular piece lacks the motivation to play that piece. Why does he lack the motivation? I don't know. I can't know that without knowing more about the kid. But the lack of motivation is obvious on its face.

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#930800 - 02/17/09 01:30 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
TimR:
 Quote:
Perhaps the OP did mean resisting music that is more difficult, but I did not take it that way. I took it to mean music that for whatever reason just didn't appeal to them personally, causing them to ask for another selection of equal musical value and difficulty.
I agree that the OP meant students who resist music that they do not like.

I was adding to the conversation by noting another reason for rejecting music that teachers might face: that some students refuse music because they are content to stay at a particular level because the next (small) step looks too hard; so they reject it, and all other selections of that level.
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#930801 - 02/17/09 01:43 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Larisa:
 Quote:
I'm not sure it does presume that - "unmotivated" is simply a descriptive term. The student who does not want to practice a particular piece lacks the motivation to play that piece. Why does he lack the motivation? I don't know. I can't know that without knowing more about the kid. But the lack of motivation is obvious on its face.
"Lazy" is a symptom...but yes, too vague.

If you go to the doctor and say, "I don't feel well", that also is too vague, but it is a starting point for further investigation.

"Unmotivated" is closer, much closer, to the cause. Human nature is such that people find time and energy to do what they like...so if a student is not motivated, in some way he or she does not like the situation.

But as Larisa said, noting that someone is "unmotivated" (or "lazy") does not mean that you also know why they are unmotivated.

If it is simply the wrong choice of a piece of music to play, that is easy...real easy.

If it is a general disinterest, then what? Must the piano teacher become a private detective, therapist, psychologist, counseler, etc, to try to find the cause...?

The only success I have had with people who lose interest is finding a different genre of music for them to play, but most who lose interest do so because they find that piano, and/or the work necessary to play well, is just not for them.
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#930802 - 02/17/09 01:49 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Beware of teachers who use too many words to express very little indeed. Cliches, strung-on "sentences", puffy fashion-words and lots of vague rah-rah, blah-blah can take many precious minutes away from an hour's lesson.

Most adults with lives of responsibility outside of piano lessons expect teachers to be efficient and to be able to effectively tailor lessons to the goals and learning style of the student.

If you are there to learn to play the piano and the teacher knows what they are doing, then there is a reason why they assigned you that piece... Ask them and they should be able to articulate this to you. If they can't, or their reason is one of unthinking habit, I see no reason why you shouldn't reject it out of hand.

On the other hand, if they have explained to you why they see this piece as a good choice for your development and you still don't want to do it, you might ask for an alternative piece that could achieve the same learning objective and that might have greater appeal to you musically. If they are professional and know their teaching repertoire, this should be no problem for them.

Or, you might decide that you don't want to learn what the teacher is teaching you, which is another great moment to have a little discussion about why you ARE there and if you two are well matched.

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#930803 - 02/17/09 08:19 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
Wow, is all I have to say. It almost sounds like some are accusing me of being lazy or unmotivated.

I heardly think that is the case at all, as I generally fit in an hour or more practice a day (despite the fact that my left hand is getting pins and needles from over use)and have gotten to page 75 in the Alfred's adult AIO course with only 3 lessons, plus have 6 individual pieces she has assigned down, working on one more. Have the scales of C, G, D, A, E & B down. C&G cadences I, IV & V. And just for fun, I've started working on the Alfred's Greatest Hits, Level 1.

I know that is all very beginner, but I think suggesting that I am lazy or unmotivated because I don't like ONE song she gave me(yet acknowledged there was most likely a lesson to be learned from sticking with it), is a little harsh.

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#930804 - 02/17/09 08:40 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
 Quote:
Originally posted by BarbVA:
Wow, is all I have to say. It almost sounds like some are accusing me of being lazy or unmotivated.... I don't like ONE song she gave me (yet acknowledged there was most likely a lesson to be learned from sticking with it), is a little harsh. [/b]
No, not true. No one is accusing you of being lazy or unmotivated.

Based on the subject of your original post, (students rejecting songs), folks took off on a sidetrack discussion about some students, primarily teens, who loosely fit the description of "unmotivated", (a better term it seems than "lazy"), and who may manifest their lack of motivation by rejecting songs that are a step further in difficulty.

It is common on this and other forums to take sidetracks once the initial topic has been addressed.

Again, I see no instance where anyone was referring to you as the lazy or unmotivated person.
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Music teacher and piano player.

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#930805 - 02/17/09 09:01 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
BarbVA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 166
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
 Quote:
Originally posted by BarbVA:
Wow, is all I have to say. It almost sounds like some are accusing me of being lazy or unmotivated.... I don't like ONE song she gave me (yet acknowledged there was most likely a lesson to be learned from sticking with it), is a little harsh. [/b]
No, not true. No one is accusing you of being lazy or unmotivated.

Based on the subject of your original post, (students rejecting songs), folks took off on a sidetrack discussion about some students, primarily teens, who loosely fit the description of "unmotivated", (a better term it seems than "lazy"), and who may manifest their lack of motivation by rejecting songs that are a step further in difficulty.

It is common on this and other forums to take sidetracks once the initial topic has been addressed.

Again, I see no instance where anyone was referring to you as the lazy or unmotivated person. [/b]
Thank you for clarifying that Rocket!!!!!!!!!

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#930806 - 02/18/09 12:05 AM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers
JazzPianoEducator Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 203
Loc: Denver, CO
In my opinion a student should enjoy the piece(s) he or she is learning in some way. It is up to the teacher to be able to incorporate the concepts they are trying to teach into a particular song.

If the student hates every song that's a different story and they probably don't really have a genuine interest in learning. My method has always been to keep the student playing things they enjoy. There is too much good music out there to be playing something you don't like.
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#1246903 - 08/10/09 06:45 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers [Re: chihuahua]
Mike in Illinois Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/06/09
Posts: 6
Though not exactly an adult beginner, when in college one of my piano teachers wanted me to study Bach. I told her that I didn't want to learn Bach as I didn't care much for his music. She seemed surprised at my response, but I was quite adamant. She did not insist, but rather acquiesced to my position. So I studied Haydn and Chopin with her. In later years I did study Bach. Had I been forced to study Bach I probably would have changed teachers or quit. At the time Bach wasn't for me. Later on I realized the discipline involved in playing Bach facilitated the finger dexterity in other composers. The teacher may know what is right for the student, but in some instances it is also necessary to wait for the right time.

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#1246911 - 08/10/09 07:08 PM Re: Question for adult beginner teachers [Re: Mike in Illinois]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I'm surprised she didn't give you Scarlatti and Handel.
_________________________
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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