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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: 3190
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: 3190
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: 3190
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.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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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.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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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.
_________________________
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: 7349
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I'm surprised she didn't give you Scarlatti and Handel.
_________________________
"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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