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#931037 - 06/03/08 04:08 PM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
KS..
exactly why I posted here.. To see if some other teachers can clue me on how to address this.. I have already tried the simple spontaneous way and gotten responses similar to what you anticipated in your post.

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#931038 - 06/03/08 04:17 PM Re: Teacher problems
miaeih Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 267
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I guess it depends what the goal of the "talk" is. I took it as a way to get the teacher to be softer (am I saying the right thing here?) so that the OP can then start conversing with the teacher during regular lessons. Then, during the lessons, she can ask questions like, why can't I chew gum and what/how exactly should I be practicing to be effective.

As a teacher, I actively seek feedback from my students and even stop to ask if they understand WHY I am asking them to do something. When the student understands the why, they are more likely do to as told. At times, they are even able to suggest an alternative. I believe that as long as the parties are able to communicate, the rest will eventually work out.

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#931039 - 06/03/08 04:31 PM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
guys.. I am so.. beyond caring about the gum.. I just do not want him constantly hovering , loud and stormy if I trip on something or if I am not 100% memorized etc.. it is just too intense and I am not a fan of the "method" of longer assignments and exercises if my performance is not perfect .. I am sounding like an idiot again.. it si not that I don't want to learn. I want to learn differently

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#931040 - 06/03/08 04:48 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Elise - I'm not a teacher. I'm a serious adult student with a son who went on to music studies in university so I was putting myself into those kinds of shoes. I didn't mean to misrepresent myself.

I would think, though, that this teacher's priority is for you to become a proficient pianist as well as a musician. You should know first of all whether these are your priorities. If you don't know what your priorities are, that is normal, and your teacher may even find that to be normal. If you think at all that these might be your priorities, or that you would like to give it a shot, then you and your teacher immediately have common ground.

Something like: I would like to do this but it's not working for me. I'm intimidated in lessons and that is making me hard to do well.
- Anything about practicing/preparing?

The fact that you are not performing up to snuff in his eyes is sure to come up. So why is that and what can be done about it? I almost suspect that your early bad start could have an impact on on what you are able to achieve in practicing. To be honest though, homework and all, an hour a day hardly sounds like anything if you are pursuing piano seriously. My perspective is as a student, and as the parent of a student who has gone on.

Is it possible that practicing is not enjoyable because of difficulties so that an hour is all you can manage? This could be the beginning of real working together with this teacher if he sees you really want to solve things. And if he does, he may soften and try to make it easier for you. It may be that he doesn't realize that he is intimidating you.

A serious teacher who is taking you as seriously as this one is wants you to be taking yourself and your musicianship equally seriously. When he sees that the atmosphere tends to change. You must be honest with yourself too.

You want to be listening to each other. I hope this occurs. I wish you all the best.

(It would be good to hear from teachers - who are probably waiting for the right moment).

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#931041 - 06/03/08 05:06 PM Re: Teacher problems
g#maj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 126
Loc: No. Va
There it is. You want to learn differently. And that is absolutely your prerogative. His method is stopping your progress, which you want to maintain. Maybe a different teaching approach is your headliner I recommended you develop on page 4.

You need a different way, and at this point in your life you know something about your learning style. If he can't offer it, then it's time for a another teacher.

As needed to back up your point, be ready to explain the effects his methods have on your playing and progress.

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#931042 - 06/03/08 05:20 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Elise_B:
guys.. I am so.. beyond caring about the gum.. I just do not want him constantly hovering , loud and stormy if I trip on something or if I am not 100% memorized etc.. it is just too intense and I am not a fan of the "method" of longer assignments and exercises if my performance is not perfect .. I am sounding like an idiot again.. it si not that I don't want to learn. I want to learn differently [/b]
Elise - student to student, now.

What you should address specifically is "loud and stormy". It is reasonable for a grown male teacher to understand that a young female student might be intimidated by "loud and stormy". This is something he may be willing to change.

For the other things I suggest that you change your perception of them, and USE them for your benefit. Let me explain:

"HOVER" - a hovering teacher is a teacher who is working very hard by being extremely attentive to every sound you make on your behalf. He is the opposite of a lazy teacher who does not care. You are fortunate. While he is hovering, he is picking up your mistakes. Change that perception: he is finding the places where you can become a superb pianist, by improving those areas. When he criticizes, see that as coins of wisdom that will make you grow. How will you use this criticism to your benefit?

Exploring this a bit further: When he criticizes, do you know what to do with it? Do you know how to fix what he wants you to fix? If you do not, you may ask him, "Could you explain to me what I need to do to improve this?"

Before you ask that question ....... make sure that you have practiced. Secondly, make sure that you have practiced *what* he told you to practice, and *how* he told you to practice. Teachers are too polite to roll their eyes. The answer to "What do I need to do to improve this" may be in the "what and how".

- You might even come into a lesson and say "I had difficult with xyz which you have been asking me to do. Can you help me find out what is wrong?" (depending how he is as a teacher) This is assuming that you have sincerely worked on it. This question will indicate to him that you have tried to benefit from his advice.

LONG ASSIGNMENT-PUNISHMENTS It's his method and you won't change it. Take the sting out of the punishment by turning it into an opportunity. Do the assignment well, to the best of your ability, FOR YOU. This assignment can turn you into a better musician: use it to your benefit. Get back at your teacher, if you will, be considering his punishment as a reward, and embracing the assignment. You'll end up working in harmony with him because you'll improve.

 Quote:
if I trip on something or if I am not 100% memorized etc
Why do you trip on it? Does he make you nervous by hovering and shouting? When you practice at home, do you play this flawlessly without tripping on it? If you have a "trip on" area - that's something you need to work on, or need help with. If you are not 100% memorized, why is that? Should you be? Can you? If not, why not? Do you have strategies for memorizing?

 Quote:
I want to learn differently
I can understand "learn" two ways. "Learn" can mean during lessons. Do you mean that you want to learn differently in lessons?

Or do you mean when you practice? The real learning does not happen during a lesson. It happens when you practice. How is your practicing? Do you want to learn differently during practicing time?

As a fellow student I have a suggestion. Make two lists. In one list write about your playing. Write down everything that you do well. Work hard to remember anything your teacher has told you that you do correctly or well. Also write down in what kinds of things you have difficulty, or you don't do well.

On another sheet write down everything that your teacher keeps reminding you to do. Pay attention ESPECIALLY to little piddly "unimportant" things. The little piddly unimprtant things that they annoyingly keep stressing tend to be the key to suddenly being able to play better. We think the "important" things should get our attention. Or we are so busy with the music that we don't have time for them so they never get done: posture, feet, legato, timing, tone....

If there are things he repeats a lot, how much time are you spending on these consciously while you practice? You mentioned "tone" - do you work specifically on tone when you practice, with the intention of bringing out tone, and only that, for any period of time in your practicing?

Does this lead you anywhere? (I have a thought)

P.S. I am also a former teacher who still teaches one on one, but not a music teacher. It is my belief that the greatest part of learning happens outside of the studio through your practicing - that is an empowering thing.

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#931043 - 06/03/08 05:23 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
There it is. You want to learn differently. That is your prerogative.
Define learn, and where it happens.

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#931044 - 06/03/08 05:38 PM Re: Teacher problems
g#maj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 126
Loc: No. Va
To gain mastery or knowledge, and it happens everywhere. What is your point?

Here, it's not happening much during lessons, and because of the emotional effects, the current method will lead to worse performance. So now it's un-learning.

Then there's spillover. After the lesson, the whole miserable experience of the last hour will stick in the mind while she's moving on and thinking about other things, like school assignments.

Then there's idle time. She wants to play better, but everytime she thinks of playing she thinks of the lesson and its effect. Where's the enjoyment? That needs to fit somewhere.

What becomes the point of enduring these lessons?

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#931045 - 06/03/08 05:49 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
To gain mastery or knowledge, and it happens everywhere. What is your point?
That is not the definition of learning. That is the definition of the results of learning.

Learning is an action. Elise wants to learn differently. A central issue to this situation is her "learning" - in lessons her teacher is not satisfied with what she has "learned" and that is provoking the tension (though he has a choice in how to respond).

My first reaction to "I want to learn differently" was puzzlement: I thought we were talking about lessons? That is because for me learning happens during practice time. What is the relationship between studio and home?

In the studio your teacher gives you indications of what to to and what to correct, and must ascertain that you have mastered it sufficiently so that you can acquire it and make it yours. You, in turn, must make certain that you can remember what you have been taught. It is part of "learning".

Learning in the studio is not passive: it is not a thing being received. If a student is complaining about her teacher's actions and says "I want to learn differently" she is saying "I want to be taught differently." The choice of words also reflects a perception of what learning is.

The true learning can only happen at home during practicing. 1 hour/day = 7 hours vs. 1 hour lesson. 3 hours/day = 21 hours vs. 1 hour lesson. How those hours practicing are spent is crucial.

How effective your practicing is depends on what you have absorbed from your lesson, how you apply it, WHAT you choose to apply (hence my question about the piddlies).

What your teacher is able to teach you depends on what you have "learned" during practicing. During practicing at home, you are not applying what you "learned" in the studio. You are learning.

The difficulties hover around this as much as they do around behaviour.

One of the possible outcomes is that the lessons will improve and change in their nature because the teacher will change his behaviour. However part of the key to his behaviour has to do with the performance and abilities of the student. The two things interrelate. The key to a teacher is also a student's willingness to learn, I would think. Obviously intimidation is not a good way of making that willingness to learn happen. ;\)

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#931046 - 06/03/08 06:16 PM Re: Teacher problems
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
Vow, this thread has become really interesting.. \:\)

I'd like to point out a couple of things as I, very subjectively, see them:

1) I did not read anywhere from Elise that the man is anyway inappropriate. Still, I must read that it is implied that he is "abusive", or similar things. This is unfair and probably a projection on the poor man of bad experiences someone had with a teacher (actually all of us had at some time, I suppose). Let's stick by the facts: the man does not tolerate shorts, chewing gum, bad preparation of lesson, and would like that his students do as he says, and says so.

2) This man sends the students to a separate practice room before lesson begins; gives them a Boston to practice; is extremely attentive during lesson and insists on technique in every detail; is obviously a perfectionist and much in love with his work, the contrary of the frustrated old woman unable to retire described above; he is so good at what he does and so passionate about his job, that he even checks what a student does in the adjacent piano practice after the lesson's end: does it get more committed than that! He is very professional in his relationship with his students: no shorts please, no chewing gum - which, beside being dangerous, is not very respectful -, attention to important things like posture, etc. I find this very correct, and very commendable.

3)Then, being a human being, this man is not perfect; apparently he is a bit harsh at times, but hey, the student tend to be not entirely prepared, to begrudge having to give away chewing gum, to not understand the importance of posture, technique, little details etc.; again: he will have his own shortcomings as everyone has, but from what I read it seems to me that he wants a certain level of commitment, and does not get it; and when you are committed enough that you listen at how your students play Hanon in the other room boy, *that* must be frustrating....

4) If the man is half the perfectionist and professional man that I think he is, I'd say he is suffering as much as you are and when your father speaks to him he will jump at the occasion and happily dump you, which by what I gather he would much like to do but for the friendly relationship between your respective families.

Frankly this is the advice that I would give to your father, and to him: let's put an end to it, probably it is no one's "fault", it's juts that two worlds have met here which have different rules. This is not your chosen profession from what I gather, so what's the fuss, life's too short for such unnecessary worries; farewell and amen, again I think he will be relieved as much as you so there will be winners only.

Don't get me wrong, I do think (from what you say) that he is an excellent teacher and a blessing. But hey, you are 14 and have the age and the right to make your own choices (and in case, as life will be, mistakes...) if you really want; again it is not like dropping from college, tell your father you should be considered mature enough to make your own choices and run your own risks, even of doing something wrong....

My forecast is that the immediate, understandable relief will be probably followed by disappointment at the next teachers, who might in my eyes *easily* not have the same level of competence, dedication, professionalism.
Still, even in that case it will have been a valuable lesson, learned at an age when mistakes are not irreparable.

Wish you all the best, but frankly I would be delighted (at 42, pretty stubborn, proud more than I should and not at all inclined to be bullied) to have him as my teacher myself and I'd consider it a mark of honour and a reflection on me as a student.
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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#931047 - 06/03/08 06:33 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
My forecast is that the immediate, understandable relief will be probably followed by disappointment at the next teachers, who might in my eyes *easily* not have the same level of competence, dedication, professionalism.
... Which is precisely what I would like to see avoided. I think it can be avoided. The answer may well be in the "piddlies" of my question, and what can be done with it next.

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#931048 - 06/03/08 06:41 PM Re: Teacher problems
g#maj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 126
Loc: No. Va
Key:

What I'm rather fixated on here is the effects of the lesson, particularly on outside-the-studio learning and enjoyment generally. I won't get pedantic about this.

She said she wants to learn differently. I took this to mean simply that the lessons she receives now are thoroughly disagreeable, because of her explanations of her experience with them. I didn't think for a moment that she thought all or most of her learning happens in that weekly one hour lesson. If you thought she felt that way, I don't know why.

As for learning being an action, of course it is. That should have been evident from the brief definition I provided.

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#931049 - 06/03/08 07:02 PM Re: Teacher problems
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'm going to take a risk here and just say what is on my mind after reading this very long thread and some of the postings.

It is where I am at the moment with Elise's situation and it probably is something I would direct to Elise's parents.

This is beginning to appear to be a "toxic" situation and I would recommend that you consider releasing your daughter from this situation and seek a new, hopeful, refreshing teacher to partner your efforts as parents, and piano student with.

Any teaching worth happening does not risk someone's suffering because of the differences in what is acceptable. I believe in rules, but those are administered with concern and to prevent an unpleasant outcome, not to undermine the person's self image.

I think some of the posting to Elise might be reevaluated as in my mind, if the relationship is not working, neither is anything else.

Betty

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#931050 - 06/03/08 07:25 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Because at this very moment student and teacher are talking for the first time, a call to abandon ship leaves me uneasy. That ship may have to be abandoned, but should we not see what the talking will bring?

I see a situation come to a head, and being dealt with at this very moment. It is a hopeful thing. Were it to remain not addressed, that would be toxic. I see a teacher who is intensely dedicated to his student. I see misunderstanding between student and teacher because they have never talked. I have seen and been involved in miracles that occurred simply when a student's perception was changed. This is not a "pep talk" kind of perception. It involves getting deeper into matters of learning, understanding of goals.

The first key is for a student to understand where a teacher is coming from, what his priorities are for her, and what her role is in her own growth. This is the meeting point where student and teacher can communicate. If this first meeting point is established, the teacher also begins hearing the student.

The answer to relationships often is not within the rhealm of relationships, psychologogy, "good and bad matches" - the relationships often sour because the roles and purposes are not understood. When a student learns how to relate to what is being taught and how to apply it in practicing, all the other problems can disappear. If it remains at the level of power struggles in which either party tries to influence the behaviour of the other nothing at all is gained. If the teacher does the behaviour-changing he might get a passively obedient student achieving things but never at her true level. A modified teacher may care less than he did.

The relationship is not working because the practicing and learning part is not working. I had a very good reason to ask for the list and the identification of "piddly" things because I believe a key lies in this. When we teach we do not create relationships - we impart knowledge which is sought as much as it is imparted. When this works, the relationship takes care of itself. The frustration of the knowledge not coming across can be the "relationship problem".

Time and again I have seen "impossible relationships" turn around as soon as the understanding of learning matters became clear. The change was palpable though it took time for it to grow.

Several people have said the same thing, including respected teacher - if this teacher is left, and the underlying things are not solved, then there is a loss. What is it that this teacher is trying so desperately to bring across that he believes this student needs? Shall she go to another teacher who will leave her alone and leave her without this thing?

When you address an issue for the very first time, you do not give in immediately. AT least give it a chance - they are talking. What will come out of this talk?

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#931051 - 06/03/08 08:06 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
.

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#931052 - 06/03/08 08:17 PM Re: Teacher problems
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
There is something I don't think anyone has asked about...
Elise, you said your brother had lessons with this guy, loved him, and learned alot. You imply that you find the teacher wayyy more intimidating (to the point where it's affecting your playing during lessons) than your brother did.

I also somehow got the idea that your brother was more advanced at your age than you are (or, at least, the teacher was happier with him).

How many hours a day did your brother practice? Did he also have the homework hours you do?

Did your brother start with this teacher at an earlier age?

Do you know other students of this teacher? Do the guys generally get along better with him than the girls? Or the more gifted students of either gender?
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#931053 - 06/03/08 08:29 PM Re: Teacher problems
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Poor Elise's head must be spinning.

Personally, I find the discussion fascinating, and I certainly don't mean to damper the enthusiasm shown here and the very generous contributions, but I feel the need to point out that she said early today that this conversation is "way above her head" and jokingly begged for "more scolding" in its place.

Let's not push her aside. I suggest trying to keep the conversation simple and to the point, if that's at all possible. \:\)

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#931054 - 06/03/08 08:32 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Good point, Akira. I've edited my longy into a "."

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#931055 - 06/03/08 10:27 PM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
So it did not go so great..
I am still trying to digest all that was said.
may be more later..
Thanks

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#931056 - 06/03/08 10:36 PM Re: Teacher problems
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
Elise, hang in there. We're with you.

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#931057 - 06/03/08 10:48 PM Re: Teacher problems
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
+1 good luck Elise

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#931058 - 06/04/08 06:42 AM Re: Teacher problems
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7345
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall . . . .

I suspect all the teachers here are really pulling hard for you. Know I am.
_________________________
"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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#931059 - 06/04/08 09:48 AM Re: Teacher problems
Mechanical Doll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Garden State, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall . . . .

I suspect all the teachers here are really pulling hard for you. Know I am. [/b]
All the students are pulling for her too ;\)

I'm sorry to hear that it did not go so great, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.
_________________________
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter

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#931060 - 06/04/08 10:40 AM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
It started off with my dad saying he wanted to know how things were going, etc. T said that he thought I was progressing “fairly well” even though he would have wanted a faster pace especially that I am doing the theory course at school and he does not need to do too much of that during lesson time. But he knows about school work etc.. so he thinks that I would not have any problems making up for it during the summer session, if I am willing to work hard etc..
Sounded so regular..like all was fine, which was kind of shocking to me..
Then dad said something to the effect that I had expressed some concerns and he asked me to explain.
So I blurted out my 2 liner, which I do not recall too well, but basically that I was having a hard time focusing and performing during the lessons because I felt that things were too tense and I that I felt that he was not too satisfied with how I am doing ,which made me more anxious.. something like that. I could not really tell him he was a stormy mean machine, not with my dad sitting there anyway..
So he said that “this was the oldest excuse in piano history, and that if I was practicing more things would be just fine”.. (I thought he had said they WERE fine in the beginning, so I was now a bit confused).
So then he said something about “overlap in transitions” to a teen ager [insert him lecture about teen-age hood] and to a more advanced level in piano.. and that this is often a difficult period that can “make you or break you” and that is why he has been “PATIENT” (wha?).. so I got a little mad inside and I said that I did not think he was very patient and that I now do not look forward to his lessons and I did not “respond well” (that was a prepped word) to his method. SO he said that he thinks that I DO respond to his method!! And that his goal was to help me be more self-disciplined,. that he knew his assignments were too long but he wanted me to handle them regardless of other obligations.. this here became a little too crazy.. I was only hearing that I was being set up to not do well since he is overloading me with work on purpose, but he kept going on about discipline, how it is the most important element in all “we” do… Then my dad chimed in, and on they went trilling in german (I call it the “Heimat talk”).. It was as if I was no longer in the room. I tried to collect my thoughts and say something else but it did not feel like there was much else to say that could make a difference. SO I tried to get my dad’s attention to get back to the subject.. and they said that “let’s see how the summer session goes. You will have more free time to dedicate for your study.. there would be lots of activities etc.. Then as I was trying to come out with one more thing to say like how I hated how he treats me, the fact that I skipped a recital came up again and he went on and on about how unacceptable and undisciplined etc.. (I had heard that some few thousand times and mea culpa’ed out on it)..but it took my momentum away.. and then it was over.
I did explain more at home, that I basically did not want him as a teacher anymore, but I think my dad is not convinced that I should and he thought it is a good idea to see how the summer goes first.
Voila.. TOTALLY Unfair

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#931061 - 06/04/08 11:18 AM Re: Teacher problems
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7345
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Alles klar!
_________________________
"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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#931062 - 06/04/08 11:25 AM Re: Teacher problems
Elise_B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
what is clear??

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#931063 - 06/04/08 11:33 AM Re: Teacher problems
g#maj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 126
Loc: No. Va
I am very sorry to hear that. What concerns me now is whether you would begin losing interest in piano if this were your only possible teacher.

If that is a risk, a reprise (at summer's end?) will be in order.

If you are undecided about whether to major in piano in college or something else, now's a good time to ask piano majors about their school experience. That may clinch in your mind how important it is to continue studying piano at the pace you've got now. This teacher may be appropriate for prospective piano majors, but not so good for someone else? That's my thought.

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#931064 - 06/04/08 12:01 PM Re: Teacher problems
Coolkid70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 378
Loc: Irvine, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by g#maj:
I am very sorry to hear that. What concerns me now is whether you would begin losing interest in piano if this were your only possible teacher.

If that is a risk, a reprise (at summer's end?) will be in order.

If you are undecided about whether to major in piano in college or something else, now's a good time to ask piano majors about their school experience. That may clinch in your mind how important it is to continue studying piano at the pace you've got now. This teacher may be appropriate for prospective piano majors, but not so good for someone else? That's my thought. [/b]
We have this, by Chris H.:

 Quote:
When I was at college I had a teacher like this. Most of his students would not last long. He would rant and rave, shout and swear and was generally horrible. The biggest complement he ever payed me was 'you are quite good'! I would not dare turn up to a lesson without having practiced enough. I did it once (early on). He told me that if I hadn't learned the ******* notes then I might as well **** off and come back next week. I rolled my eyes up to the ceiling. He said, 'I don't know why you are looking up there. There's no god who is going to help you'. Needless to say I didn't do it again.

By the end of my degree I scored 80% in my final recital and won a prize for the most outstanding progress in my year. After I had stopped lessons with this teacher I went to visit him. I told him how grateful I was for all that he had done for me (musically). I asked why he felt that other students did not stick with him. He said, 'What are good results compared to an easy ride?'.

You will not change your teacher's attitude and approach. You have to learn to live with it and accept that you will probably end up a better pianist or you have to go elsewhere. It doesn't sound like the latter is an option anyway. His methods might seem extreme (they might BE extreme) but I'm sure he has your best interests at heart.[/b]
From your post, Elise, it sounds to me that your teacher believes in you, so he expects much greater things. You have a great teacher. Maybe you don't like his methods, but underneath the surface, he really does care. I don't understand what more you want.

Your teacher has offered you a suggestion, that you practise a little more - especially during the summer. Why don't you try that before you quit?
_________________________
Kawai K-3 (2008)

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#931065 - 06/04/08 12:03 PM Re: Teacher problems
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Its too bad the meeting did not go as you had hoped.

Its really very difficult to make an accurate assessment of the situation without having witnessed the entire conversation. From the little bits and pieces you've stated, here is my advice.

Look deep within yourself and determine what you[/b] truly want (not your teacher or you Dad). Are you happy with being a casual player or do you really want to excel? I think its an important point. From what I can gather, your teacher seems to have it in his mind it is the latter. Maybe in your mind, its the former, in which case your goal and his goal do not align.

If you do have the drive and determination to excel, although you can't see it, I believe I can begin to understand your teacher's perspective and approach. Excel means that you must have the drive and determination to do what others (the average ones) cannot or are not willing to do. It goes beyond the mediocre or average effort and takes a lot of hard work. There is a price to paid, and a big one at that. That is why most people do not rise to the creme of the crop - they are not willing to pay the price. Your teacher seems be attempting to push you in that direction, referring to "discipline." In not so many words, he is telling you to stop bellyaching and "suck it up," if you have any desire to be better than the others.

I'm not sure what the summer will do. Did you feel the same way last summer, when you also had more time? I think you have to ask yourself the hard question:

"Even if you disagree with your teacher's approach, if it can bring you the results you desire[/b], are you willing to continue to bear the unpleasantness?" (i.e. pay the price)

And of course, the next question is...

"Do you believe his methods will produce the desired results?"

Again, I could be wrong, but that's what the situation looks like to me, based on incomplete information.

Maybe you can show your father this thread, so he can get a more comprehensive understanding of the situation and help to guide you accordingly.

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#931066 - 06/04/08 01:56 PM Re: Teacher problems
Mechanical Doll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Garden State, USA
Elise B, you have my sympathies.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Coolkid70:
... it sounds to me that your teacher believes in you, so he expects much greater things. You have a great teacher. Maybe you don't like his methods, but underneath the surface, he really does care. I don't understand what more you want. [/b]
I thought she was quite clear on what she wanted:
  • Not to feel like she's drowning in assigned work.
  • To have him not get all mad and yell about every second measure when she's not perfect
  • To walk out of lessons NOT feeling like a loser
  • His understanding that she has other academic requirements that require her attention and may not allow her to dedicate as much time to the piano as he would like


Honestly, she shouldn't have to ask for these things.[/b]

Coolkid70: I will give her teacher the benefit of the doubt and assume he's a good teacher. But the fact remains that she is unhappy.

I would have hoped a dialogue could have brought them to an understanding, but from the sounds of it, she tried to communicate her feelings, and the adults responded with we-know-better-than-you.

I've yet to meet a single person who learned more from a teacher they loathed, than from a teacher they loved. There are lots of other great teachers in NYC, so I'm sad that she's seemingly stuck with one that makes her learning experience miserable.
_________________________
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter

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