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Topic Options
#930947 - 05/22/08 12:58 PM Re: Teacher problems
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Those who are encouraging Elise to stick with this teacher should re-read her first post where she says that she "detests" lessons. That's not a way to build a life-long love for and expertise in music. I don't care how technically competent this guy is, if his style is making Elise hate lessons, he is, imo, by definition a bad teacher for her.
[/b]
It is possible that this teacher is not that bad really. I teach a few 14 year olds who detest everything. They tend to exaggerate and nothing is ever fair. I wouldn't go as far as to say Elise is like this. I don't know her and she does seem quite mature and articulate for a 14 year old. Even so, I remember being 14 and feeling like the whole world was against me.

I am not a particularly strict or harsh teacher. Sometimes I wish I could be harder because some students do respond better that way (Elise said she would not dare turn up unprepared). It just isn't my personality though and you can't pretend to be something you are not. I have to use other methods to get results. I guess that the same goes for this teacher. It sounds like he is of the old school. A leopard can't change its spots. It also sounds like Elise does not have much choice in the matter at the moment. My advice would be to keep working as hard as possible. That way she can avoid the scoldings as well as improve her playing.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#930948 - 05/22/08 01:01 PM Re: Teacher problems
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Being from a basketball-obsessed state, I can't help but make the analogy to basketball coaching. Too many coaches today scream and curse at the kids, and they say they do that because they "have to" in order to get good performance from them. To them I would just say "What about John Wooden?" He never screamed at his players and he coached them to 10 national championships.

Those who are encouraging Elise to stick with this teacher should re-read her first post where she says that she "detests" lessons. That's not a way to build a life-long love for and expertise in music. I don't care how technically competent this guy is, if his style is making Elise hate lessons, he is, imo, by definition a bad teacher for her.

My bottom line:

(a) You don't have to mistreat people to inspire them or teach them.

(b) You can still have high standards for excellence while treating people kindly. [/b]
Monica:

I'm hesitant to use the sports analogy. If a player misses practice or becomes uncooperative toward the coach, the coach can bench the player. That's a huge punishment, especially for a starting player!! Plus, on a team, there is peer pressure to comply with the coach and do your absolute best. I was on a competitive team in high school, and when the coach benched me for not getting along with my teammates, it was a huge blow to my ego!

Piano is simply in a different realm. I've had teachers who are too strict and teachers who are way too easy (including my professor). I have to say I learned more from the strict teachers than the loosey-goosey ones. So, logically, I became one of those strict teachers with ridiculously-high standards because I care deeply about my students and want them to do their best.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#930949 - 05/22/08 01:12 PM Re: Teacher problems
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Coolkid70:
On average, I spend two to three hours each night :3hearts: (on top of any homework or classes I need to attend to). Sometimes I even cut out homework or classes from the day so that I can get some reasonable practise in. [/b]
What!?? Dude, I wish all my students would do that. You don't go to Northwood or Uni, do you? I once taught a Northwood kid who almost quit his junior year, but stuck it out with me and got a bunch of awards his senior year (because almost everybody else quits--it does pay to "go all the way").

Since I grew up valuing education (I'm a public-school teacher myself), I would actually put schoolwork first before piano practice. The problem with high-ranked schools in California is they give a ton of homework, so I have to be realistic in how much practice time I expect from my high-achievers. One hour is the absolute max I can expect from them per day. I'm also "competing" against a string of other extracurricular activities, so sometimes I just have to pick my battles and make the most out of each lesson hour.

My best student practices one hour per day, and slightly more right before competitions. He wins most of the time.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#930950 - 05/22/08 01:34 PM Re: Teacher problems
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
It is possible that this teacher is not that bad really. I teach a few 14 year olds who detest everything. [/b]
Granted... it is possible that I am reading too much into Elise's first post (occupational hazard, sorry about that). I saw her post as being more than the usual teenage complaints, however, in part because her situation is so distressing to her that she sought out and read this forum and then posted. That's more than just idle complaining in my view.

I still think that if we have a situation where a student (a) loves piano but (b) detests his or her lessons, there's a problem here that involves the teacher-student dyad and not just the student.

Elise, if you're still out there, you may want to show your parents this thread. They may benefit from your explaining your dissatisfaction so calmly as well as seeing the reactions of other teachers/students to your situation.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#930951 - 05/22/08 01:41 PM Re: Teacher problems
disneymusicdreamer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 18
Loc: Florida
I say "go with your gut". Don't let anyone do your deciding for you. If you find the teacher to be unrealistic and punitive then you don't need that teacher. Piano shouldn't be about suffering for a cause - it should be about creating music. I say some of the advice you have gotten is good - but will restate:

Talk to another adult to help you confide in your parents (or the teacher). If you know another teacher that you might like to have, do some leg work and then you have a solution to the problem. You can present that alternative teacher and say "I think I can do better under Teacher XYZ because....." and my current teacher doesn't offer these things. This way it is solution oriented and not seen as just complaining.
_________________________
A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz. ~Humphrey Bogart

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#930952 - 05/22/08 02:01 PM Re: Teacher problems
Coolkid70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 378
Loc: Irvine, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
What!?? Dude, I wish all my students would do that. You don't go to Northwood or Uni, do you? I once taught a Northwood kid who almost quit his junior year, but stuck it out with me and got a bunch of awards his senior year (because almost everybody else quits--it does pay to "go all the way").
I'm actually a first-year (with Junior standing) math major at UCI.

All of my experience in math says that I should master the fundamentals quickly, because they will be indispensable later on. So I spend a lot of time working on scales and the pieces my teacher gives me. I've also made it a goal to read one new piece out of my book (Easy Classics to Moderns, Denes Agay) each day, since I started up again about four months ago and my reading is not good.

So it does add up to about two or three hours each day, and it doesn't really bother me at all. The quick mastery of the basics is most important to me. Plus, I have a huge appreciation for music - I love doing this stuff, even if I am bad.
_________________________
Kawai K-3 (2008)

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#930953 - 05/22/08 02:36 PM Re: Teacher problems
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Elise, if you're still out there, you may want to show your parents this thread. They may benefit from your explaining your dissatisfaction so calmly as well as seeing the reactions of other teachers/students to your situation. [/b]
I think that would be a very, very good idea.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#930954 - 05/22/08 04:59 PM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Thanks for responding. I did not think many people would care about this. It made me think about some things that I never did before.
But I still don’t know what to think or what/how to do..
I want to add that I take a whole bunch of courses at school including AP and I get a ton of homework, loads of reports, essays and similar bla bla and of course the parents and the regular teachers want As on all of it all the time…So putting in good pp every night is not easy and you never get to do anything fun or go out with your friends this way..
As for the teacher, well he is a stickler for detail at all times: posture, nails, bracelets, wrists, “DO NOT FIDGET”, in addition to dynamics, phrasing and the rest of it..The thing is even if you prepare super well, ace the technique, the metronome, his favorite fingering, arch and weight drop, you still can’t make him happy.. The big thing this year is TOOONE, tone that is. It has to sound beautiful to his ears and they are very very picky. And he gets all mad and he yells at you about every second measure.. I already walk in with a big gulp and sometimes I kind of freeze at the bench especially if he is in a bad mood already. Also because of everybody’s schedule, I get dropped off at his studio a half hour before my lesson and so I get to go to the back room warming up with arpeggios and their friends .. worse is they don’t come to pick me up on time after the lesson so then he also parks me there on the clunky upright doing Czerny if I was not so good and stupid Hanon if it was bad .. and he can listen to you even if other students are playing and he will get more mad if you slow down or vary the exercise a little.. then you get to go home with a load of sheets to prepare for the next session, feeling totally like a looser.. Oh and sometimes he will drag me back on Saturday to do usually technical stuff. He thinks that you can never ever be perfect enough technically and that is the secret for making a beautiful tone.
Ok the only good thing about him is that he is a really really good pianist and everybody wants to sign up for his master classes. And his playing makes your heart melt. In fact I sometimes try to do things such that he gets to play during the lesson..he has an amazing untouchable Steinway next to the less amazing boston for the students.
As for talking to him, well I can hardly maintain eye contact with him and sometimes I don’t get to say anything beyond Yes No for the whole hour. He hates “chat” during the lesson (except for him talking stuff that is) and he thinks any movement I make means that I am talking back.
And I have already nagged my parents .. I think, like my friend said, they are kind of star struck with the teacher. They think he is awesome and that I should be ever so lucky to have him etc.. and my brother freaks out when I mention that I might then just bolt.. My biggest problem right now is an upcoming recital in august. The lessons will be twice a week when school is out and extras for the reictal, and I have terrible stage fright and.. well a history of no show.. and doing it is "not up for discussion' and and I don’t know how it will work out.
wow I wrote a whole essay.. sorry. this must be boring you to pieces

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#930955 - 05/22/08 05:54 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11848
Loc: Canada
Elise, I assure you, nobody is bored. Everyone here is either a student presently, or a musician who was a student, or a teacher who has students and was a student. Each one of us is reliving his own experiences while reading yours, and since music is such a personal thing, we probably all have feelings about our own experiences - meaning hearts are going out to you as fellow students or former students.

Hang in there. It is not easy to be a student, or to be a teacher.

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#930956 - 05/22/08 06:12 PM Re: Teacher problems
faucon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Missouri USA
Hi Elise,

I'm not bored at all. I just hope we can help a little. A teacher who can never be pleased, no matter what you do, is a sure way to kill motivation and joy in music. I've seen videos of Daniel Barenboim giving master classes. He has very high standards, but he doesn't yell at his students---nor does he need to.

Some teachers may be demanding because they really care about their students, but even in these cases, I can't see a first-rate teacher repeatedly yelling or bullying. I suspect that some teachers are demanding not primarily because they care about their students, but because they mainly care about their own reputations as teachers who turn out very accomplished pianists.

Maybe, instead of nagging your parents, you could tell them that you know that Mr. X is a great pianist, but you're really unhappy with his lessons and you'd like to look into other highly regarded teachers to see if there is a better match for you. Your parents might be dazzled by this teacher's reputation, but if you can convey how really unhappy you are and how miserable you are before every lesson, they might listen to alternatives.

I think that your stage fright could be related to your teacher's anger and constant criticism. It may be scary for you to perform because you naturally imagine that everybody is as critical and hard to please as your teacher is---but I promise you this isn't the case. Anyone's stomach would be tied up in knots if they had an irritable, super-critical person yelling at them every couple of bars. I'm not sure what you can work out with your parents, but please don't let this one teacher ruin your enjoyment of music. Remember that, sooner or later, you will have other teachers that will be a joy for you to work with!

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#930957 - 05/22/08 06:20 PM Re: Teacher problems
Musictuary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Elise_B

You have received very good advice from many of the posters. I really hope you will be able to speak with a trusted adult as well as your parents in a calm manner so everyone involved can reach the best decision.

I am an adult who had piano lessons as a child from ages 7 to 13 from two piano teachers. I dreaded piano lessons from the second piano teacher. She was a bit like your teacher but not quite as bad. She wasn't afraid of scolding or shouting at you or even hitting your hands with a ruler if you weren't playing properly. Those were the good old days of piano teaching. \:D

I remember hating piano lessons and despising the teacher because piano lessons were bordering on torture. I was nowhere near the level you are at so what did I have to lose by dropping piano lessons? Nothing - I wasn't going to have a career in music so what was the big deal about lessons? I did complain to my parents about the teacher but I continued going reluctantly to this teacher for lessons. I remember my mother saying to me that piano lessons would make me a more well-rounded person and I would probably regret dropping piano lessons. Anyway my break came when the teacher became ill and could no longer teach. It was with great joy that I stopped lessons at 13.

Fast forward thirty years later. Do I regret dropping piano lessons. Yes and No. Yes because I now realize that I really do love music - most kinds of music at least - and had I continued piano lessons I would have sooner acquired the skills to better express myself at the piano. And who knows maybe I would be participating in this forum not as an adult piano student but as a piano teacher! But I have no regrets with the choice that I made because the experience with my teacher taught me a very valuable life lesson. I was too young at the time to understand that the political, economic, and social upheaval in the country that I grew up in may have had a negative impact on this teacher. She had retired as a music teacher from a prominent high school and she probably had to teach private piano lessons to make ends meet as things started to get bad economically in the country. It's quite possible that she did not want to teach anymore at this stage of her life but had to because of financial reasons. It's quite possible that her demeanor was just a reflection of the frustration of her situation which unfortunately came through when teaching her students. The most important lesson that I learned from this experience and also had to relearn again on other occasions is that when a person is generally unpleasant and nasty towards you, if he/she is also that way to other people, the problem is with that person and not with you. You have to be in control of your emotions and behavior with that person and just allow that person the necessary space to deal with whatever issues he/she is facing but is having a hard time dealing with in a generally acceptable manner.

Another thing to bear in mind is if you become a successful concert pianist whether through this teacher or another teacher at some point in your career you will come across extremely difficult people who will take great joy at seeing you fail because of their own insecurities. It could be possible that your experiences with this teacher could be preparing you for what you may most likely experience in the concert pianist's world...

By the way I resumed piano lessons 30 years later. I have a wonderful teacher and I now enjoy lessons immensely!

Best regards,

Musictuary

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#930958 - 05/22/08 06:48 PM Re: Teacher problems
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
 Quote:
...well he is a stickler for detail at all times: posture, nails, bracelets, wrists, “DO NOT FIDGET”, in addition to dynamics, phrasing and the rest of it..The thing is even if you prepare super well, ace the technique, the metronome, his favorite fingering, arch and weight drop, you still can’t make him happy..
For all things, there is a reason.

You simply don't understand them. I think you're looking at it the wrong way. Rather than to criticize and call these things "picky," try to understand the underlying motivation behind them. If you don't, ask him, "Why?" Picky means that you don't completely agree, but begrudingly comply. I think the student-teacher relationship should be communicative and collaborative, rather than "I say, you do." Try to encourage this in your teacher and foster this type of relationship, rather than to shut down and simply obey. I think that without a firm understanding of the "why's,", his 'pickiness' will only fuel your already-negative feelings. Get things out in the open. It will take courage.

If you don't, there are only two scenarios I can picture for you.

1. You say and do nothing. Things will continue as is, and change will not magically occur, despite all the yelling and screaming you do outside your lessons. The serious question you must ask yourself is "Am I willing to live like this?"

2. You divorce yourself from the situation and find a new teacher. I can see this would be extremely difficult to do, given the nice things you have said about him and your desire to continue with him, despite your real or perceived shortcomings of him.

Of course, there is a third option. Talk to him. I've suggested this in my prior post, but you seem afraid to address the situation. I really think this is your best bet and something I would do. As with most things we fear, after all is said and done, we really discover there was nothing to fear in the first place.

If this teacher is worth having, he will listen to and address your concerns.

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#930959 - 05/22/08 07:25 PM Re: Teacher problems
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Elise - I think the gum-chewing and shorts discussion are more about the possible 'other reasons' that the teacher may have for some of his requests (orders) that perhaps you don't understand or he hasn't bothered to explain. On the gum - the multiple beats as well as choking issues could be valid. When I was studying at university, my teacher worked for many years to get rid of the tension that was in my fingers, then moved to the arms, shoulders and finally resided in my jaw. I think in my case, chewing gum could have exacerbated the problem. On the shorts, men and their hormones notwithstanding, perhaps he doesn't want sweaty thigh marks on his piano bench. I know when I play in shorts I leave a rather noticeable print on my own piano bench. If you're playing hard, you will be working up a sweat.

All that having been said, if you are only practicing an hour a day (yes, even during finals) in your fifth year of study, you are not doing nearly what you ought to in terms of time investment. If you really would like to go on to be an accomplished pianist you should be spending at least three hours a day. I was putting in five, and I never had dreams of a piano career! But to do all the things I knew needed doing, it took that long. Maybe - just maybe - you don't love playing the piano as much as you want to love it? Even if you are particularly gifted (which I, alas, am not), that part is in the head. Piano playing is also an athletic undertaking and you need to put in the hours on a regular basis to get the body to respond reliably and easily to what the head tells it to do. It's like a prima ballerina only wanting to dance an hour a day. That's barely time to get really warmed up!

You will make progress on less practice time, but not nearly what your teacher clearly believes you are capable of. You should consider that attitude a compliment. In my experience, the teachers and coaches (I'm also a figure skater so I have had to deal with lots of coaches - they're a lot like piano teachers!) who feel you have great potential are likely to be harder on you, whereas they will let the "lesser" students off with fewer demands. I found it really demoralizing if any of them would say something like "oh, that's nice, Sweetie," whereas if they said "That's TERRIBLE! You sound (or look) lik a ruptured duck! That's the most pathetic excuse of a cadenza (axel, lutz) I've heard (seen) in YEARS! Now sit down (get up) and do it again....and again...."

Now, I do try to be complimentary and supportive of my students and to acknowledge work well done, but many students don't want a cheerleader - they know when they've done it right, but if it isn't right, they might not realize on their own exactly what needs fixing. I personally favored teachers of my own who were pretty stingy with the praise but would fix everything they saw that needed fixing. I'm always a little surprised and embarrassed if one of them says something positive ;\)
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#930960 - 05/22/08 10:28 PM Re: Teacher problems
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by SantaFe_Player:
In my experience, the teachers ... who feel you have great potential are likely to be harder on you, whereas they will let the "lesser" students off with fewer demands. I found it really demoralizing if any of them would say something like "oh, that's nice, Sweetie," ...
Now, I do try to be complimentary and supportive of my students and to acknowledge work well done, but many students don't want a cheerleader - they know when they've done it right, but if it isn't right, they might not realize on their own exactly what needs fixing. I personally favored teachers of my own who were pretty stingy with the praise but would fix everything they saw that needed fixing. I'm always a little surprised and embarrassed if one of them says something positive ;\) [/b]
I have no problems with this, if this is in fact what's happening. Just because I object to the scolding/punishment method doesn't mean I want teachers to say "that's nice, Sweetie", or ignore things that need fixing. I also have no problem with the nails/gum/shorts rules, though there's a way to state rules that's respectful of the student and a way that's demeaning.

The OP said the teacher's method is "scolding and punishment" and further added that "And he gets all mad and he yells at you about every second measure.. I already walk in with a big gulp and sometimes I kind of freeze at the bench especially if he is in a bad mood already." If we take this at face value, then I maintain this teacher's method is at best offputting, and at worst, bullying. I don't think results justify treating people like this. Is Elise exaggerating? I don't know, and I don't really think we can know. I'm just giving my opinion based on what we were told.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#930961 - 05/22/08 11:23 PM Re: Teacher problems
faucon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Missouri USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
I have no problems with this, if this is in fact what's happening. Just because I object to the scolding/punishment method doesn't mean I want teachers to say "that's nice, Sweetie", or ignore things that need fixing. I also have no problem with the nails/gum/shorts rules, though there's a way to state rules that's respectful of the student and a way that's demeaning.

The OP said the teacher's method is "scolding and punishment" and further added that "And he gets all mad and he yells at you about every second measure.. I already walk in with a big gulp and sometimes I kind of freeze at the bench especially if he is in a bad mood already." If we take this at face value, then I maintain this teacher's method is at best offputting, and at worst, bullying. I don't think results justify treating people like this. Is Elise exaggerating? I don't know, and I don't really think we can know. I'm just giving my opinion based on what we were told. [/b]

I agree, Currawong. There is something wrong with the approach of a teacher who strikes fear into his young students' hearts, 'especially if he is in a bad mood already'. No student should have to fear the emotional state her teacher might be in that day. It's not as if the only possible teaching methods are either ineffectual sweetness or intimidating harshness. There are ways to give very precise corrections that are respectful, calm, and effective.

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#930962 - 05/29/08 05:41 PM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
breaking news: My Dad will talk to the teach!!! (who has been on agitato con fuoco recently!!

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#930963 - 05/29/08 08:37 PM Re: Teacher problems
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
That's good to hear, Elise. Let us know how it goes.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#930964 - 05/29/08 08:53 PM Re: Teacher problems
faucon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Missouri USA
That's great, Elise. I hope it goes well and makes your lessons more comfortable for you, whether with this teacher or another.

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#930965 - 05/30/08 02:48 AM Re: Teacher problems
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
At first, Elise, I thought perhaps you were one of my students, trying the back door to get me to let up on you, since you're so loaded with talent, but come to lessons unprepared, week after week, but then, I never punish you with exercises or yell at you, so figured it just coincidence.

But your more recent posts tell me something about you that your first post did not. You're not in love with the piano! The weekly piano lesson is a chore on par with the daily math class or gym class, or what ever. It's a requirement of life, not a passion.

With your teacher, and most of us writing here, it's a passion. Our lives would be empty, incomplete, were we to have to give up our instrument.

What gave me the clue is that your teacher is discussing with you tone production on the piano, and your reaction is, "Okay, already." For you, playing on an electric keyboard would be just fine. You criticized the fact that the student instrument was a Boston grand. Most of the teachers and players here would give anything for a Boston grand, for ourselves, let alone our students. They are capable of wonderful sounds and tones - in the right hands, and your teacher cares enough about you, knowing that you have the ability, to help you achieve a beautiful tone at the instrument.

No teacher wants to see a student with great talent drop out, but if after 5 years of lessons, you haven't developed a real love of piano, then obviously, piano isn't your forte and it's not going to happen. The teacher is obviously a fine teacher, and your parents are making an amazing sacrifice for you to study with him, but the magic is not going to happen. If you love music generally, take up another instrument, join a choir, or use lesson money to attend recitals. In NYC, for heaven's sake, you've got such a selection the rest of us don't have.

It's will be interesting for us to learn the outcome of your dad's and teacher's discussion. Do they know that they have a world wide audience waiting in breathless anticipation?
_________________________
"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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#930966 - 05/30/08 03:46 AM Re: Teacher problems
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I think it is unfortunately, Elise, that you could not find the courage to have the talk directly with your teacher. Essentially, you have sent your father to do the dirty work for you and successfully avoided a potentially difficult situation. I'm not sure whether to congratulate you or not.

Showing some assertiveness may have resulted in a new-found respect in the eyes of your teacher, which in turn, may have had a profound effect on how he treated in you in the future. You'll find later in life, that dealing with difficult situations is something you'll (and everyone else) eventually have to face on your own.

Give it some thought.

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#930967 - 05/30/08 06:16 AM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
Wow!!more scolding in here!!
Well you know how people always talk about how difficult it is to communicate between teen agers and adults, this would be like the best example.. where do you get it that I don't love the piano? I love it and i always will and i am pretty good at it actually i think. I just want to study it my way or at least not the way i am studying it now. i am not stupid. i know it takes a lot of hard work and I have been doing it. you have no clue about schools in this place. I get home from school at 4 and I have everyday at least 4 or 5 hours of heavy homework before I can get to the piano. and i have no other afterschool activity AT ALL.
it is not that I am that unprepared when I show up.. it is just that it is always suboptimal in my teacher's view and his best positive thing he says is :that was OK.
and for the electric keyboard, Yikes.. that thing scratches your ears so bad.. and yes his Steinway sounds a lot more glorious than the boston piano even when he is the one playing. but I did not COMPLAIN about it. I just made an observation.
Akira, i tried talking to him but he is always so brief and not very encouraging to like have a discussion. he always says that I need to learn how to listen to him the same way I learnt how to listen to music. and that everything will be fine if I do that..whatever that means..
anyway whatever. we will see

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#930968 - 05/30/08 08:47 AM Re: Teacher problems
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Elise_B:
I get home from school at 4 and I have everyday at least 4 or 5 hours of heavy homework before I can get to the piano. and i have no other afterschool activity AT ALL. [/b]
As a mom of a middle-schooler (who has 2-3 hours of homework every night) and who has friends with high schoolers (who have heavier loads such as you describe), I am fully sympathetic with you on this issue.

I have to say I disagree with the posters on this thread who suggested you are not serious about piano if you are "only" practicing one hour a day and that you should be practicing 4-5 hours a day. Four or five hours a day may be appropriate if you were shooting for a career as an elite concert pianist, but nowhere have you indicated that you are doing so. One hour a day seems very appropriate, imo, for a high schooler who has heavy demands on her time with school work.

I think the question comes down to what are your goals for piano? And what is the best way to achieve those goals? My advice has been predicated on the assumption that your goal is to become an excellent pianist who plays for personal enjoyment, not as a career. If that is the case (and please correct me if I am wrong), then I think you need a teacher who will nurture that enjoyment rather than destroy it.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#930969 - 05/30/08 09:08 AM Re: Teacher problems
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
If you have 4-5 hours of homework there is a problem with the schools! I know of no evidence that suggests loading kids up with that kind of work (which is often as much busywork as it is anything else) contributes significantly to knowledge gain or to intellectual development.

My son is in 9th grade. Well, he's just about done with 9th grade as he often reminds me. They have a 4x4 block schedule, so a year's worth of course work is done in a semester. It can be pretty intense. But because their classes are over 90 minutes long, they have time for instruction as well as time to do some independent work, all in school. Yes, he has homework, but nothing like 4 hours per day. And much of that homework is reading lots of stuff, which he does with relish anyway.

He usually has time for 1.5 - 2 hours of piano per day on the school days, plus 45 minutes of horn practice. With that schedule he CAN participate in some extracurricular activities. One of them is band, which contributes to musical development AND social development (!). Another is our local youth orchestra, which contributes to ..... this is sounding redundant. ;\)

He has also been known to spend some quality time with an XBox. Ooops, I confessed.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#930970 - 05/30/08 09:40 AM Re: Teacher problems
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
If you have 4-5 hours of homework there is a problem with the schools! [/b]
I agree... and I know it sounds crazy, but there really are schools out there loading that much homework on kids. I've seen high school kids of my colleagues easily working that much every night, and these aren't slacker kids (one of them just started at Yale).

I find it excessive that my 3rd grader usually spent 1 to 1.5 hours a night on homework this year, and this is homework closely supervised by mom so I know he was not goofing off during that time.

What's ironic (and irritating) is that the educational psych literature shows little relationship between homework time and academic achievement (Harris Cooper has done a lot of good work on that question) ...but I guess this is a topic for another thread.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#930971 - 05/30/08 10:06 AM Re: Teacher problems
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
Elise, I hope your father will have a good talk with the teacher. Do your parents ever sit in on lessons? Maybe they could see what you're talking about and have some sympathy, or maybe if they didn't think the teacher's actions were so bad, they could offer some perspective.

For two years I had a teacher as a child I hated, and though I liked learning how to play, I associated piano with her. I told my parents I still wanted lessons, but I wanted to change teachers. They told me that it would be my responsibility to find someone else and that I needed to be able to walk there. I asked around to my friends that took piano, found one of their teachers, and went and interviewed her myself! She was impressed by my intiative, and we had an excellent relationship for my remaining piano years. My parents had mercy on me and contacted the old teacher themselves to tell her I wouldn't be returning. I think they finally understood that, while it might be the high road to do it myself, I had done enough and they were willing to do that for me.

Changing teachers can make a big difference, and I hope you'll find some relief before the twice a week lessons start this summer.

Nancy
_________________________

Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#930972 - 05/30/08 11:03 AM Re: Teacher problems
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
 Quote:
Wow!!more scolding in here!!
Well you know how people always talk about how difficult it is to communicate between teen agers and adults, this would be like the best example.. where do you get it that I don't love the piano?
Elise, you thought our mild comments constituted a scolding? It will be totally traumatic for you when you actually receive a verbal scolding. Now my sympathies are totally with your teacher! I can see it now - your dad and teacher getting a good laugh out of this.

And an answer to your question, where did I get the idea you didn't love piano. Your words! Your words didn't express an abiding love of music and piano. I'm glad to clear this up. Now, put your activities in order. If music is your first love, make it first in your life, not the tail. If time is short in the day, take a hard look at how you're approaching your other activities.

I've given many of my teens a daily time chart, and have asked them to fill it out as they go through the week. Most have returned the following week with a very sheepish look on their face - discovering that they fritter away vasts amounts of time through the day. You might want to do a reality check on yourself and your activities.

You're on an adult forum, not MySpace, and the adults here communicate with each in an adult fashion. Thus, you need to expect a certain amount of directness and frankness. My guess is that your teacher, like many of us, talks to you directly, not child-like. You got good advice from many on the forum. Talk to your teacher, and if you get the feeling he's incredulous, then perhaps it's the nature of the question, which is the problem.

Keep us posted!
_________________________
"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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#930973 - 05/30/08 11:32 AM Re: Teacher problems
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
 Quote:
.... discovering that they fritter away vasts amounts of time through the day.
Word!


There is a certain amount of 'frittering' that is healthy. Chill time is valuable for teens. But as John notes, it can get out of hand. And many people (adults too) are quite unaware of just how much time is spent in stealth leisure or inefficient work. For many of us, this forum is ..... well, maybe I don't want to go there. ;\)
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#930974 - 05/30/08 11:40 AM Re: Teacher problems
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Probably not! \:D
_________________________
"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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#930975 - 05/30/08 12:08 PM Re: Teacher problems
Coolkid70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 378
Loc: Irvine, CA
I just got out fairly recently - almost two years ago. A lot of my friends would complain about having "four to five hours of homework". I remember having even a heavier schedule with approximately one hour worth of homework each night, if there was any at all.

In my experience, young students tend to exaggerate these things for some reason; in other words, they make it more work than it actually is - well, either that, or they really don't understand the course material.


To Elise,

I think it is an age-old claim that "adults don't understand me". Instead of screaming out for that, you should explain yourself clearly and precisely, or no one will "take you seriously", as you assert. This includes talking to your dad or teacher or whatever adult you choose you interact with. If you think your teacher is brushing you off, you should say so the moment he does it.

Communication is a very fine art that many people your age do not understand. Spend a little effort making sure it is right.
_________________________
Kawai K-3 (2008)

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#930976 - 05/30/08 01:08 PM Re: Teacher problems
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Hi Elise,
It sounds to me like your teacher is asking for respect (no gum, no cutoffs) and for commitment to practicing. These two would not be a problem for me. (I teach beginners, and I'm also a piano student). I think the problem is that working with your teacher is a joyless experience. It's not that you're asking for an easier teacher, but you want one who will share in your joy in learning. I think it's reasonable to ask your parents to allow you to find a competent teacher who encourages you and shares your joy in the learning process.

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