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#933759 - 05/03/08 12:33 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Until this topic, I hadn't thought about how teachers might feel about their students performing in other recitals. I've been thinking a lot about my own opportunity to perform in one. I'm having second thoughts and will certainly ask my teacher how he feels about it before I decide.
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#933760 - 05/03/08 10:27 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Wombat66 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/05
Posts: 262
Loc: Cornwall UK
I am completely speechless,,,,,as I sit here eating a doughnut not wanting to spit crumbs over the screen, and I’ve no one to talk to anyway.
Hey guys isn’t it a little dark up there inside your colons?
Time to crawl out of your ********* and take a little breath of reality.
A child plays at a family friend’s piano recital for his own pleasure and the pleasure of the other people attending. He is rewarded for his efforts with a DVD of his performance – and is proud enough of it to share it with you.
Suddenly you’re all talking about codes of ethics, piano recitals as “advertisements” possible legal action and getting pupils to sign contracts.
You seem to have forgotten that you are teaching little children to play a musical instrument (something that in many cases the child in question finds unbelievably tedious). You are NOT managing Elton Bloody John.
You are all so far up there that you cannot take pride that you have helped produce someone who actually enjoys his instrument and is capable of performing in front of others for both party’s enjoyment. You have absolutely no rights over what he plays or where he performs no matter how insignificant or otherwise the role you took in the learning process. None of you has any right to make your pupils parade up and down the main street wearing a sandwich board with the name of their piano teacher on or make them tattoo their chest with the name of your favourite composer. I find the thought that you somehow feel you have an artistic ownership over your pupils rights to public performance just as repulsive.
The pupil in question clearly saw nothing wrong with their actions and were proud of their performance or they wouldn’t have shown you the DVD.
They were presumably hoping for praise, encouragement and constructive critique. Instead I suspect they learnt a lesson in jealousy and paranoia. I doubt very much if you’ll need to get rid of this student as some equally jealous and paranoid posters suggest, since if their parents have any sense they’ll do it for you.

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#933761 - 05/03/08 12:14 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Dear Wombat 66,

1) Ouch!
2) What kind of donut are you eating?
3) Your profile says "Doctor". Are you also an adult student or a teacher? I don't believe I've "met" you before in PWF.
4) Good morning to you!

Betty

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#933762 - 05/03/08 03:03 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5263
Loc: Europe
Wombat66: Ouch indeed! There are SO many different ways for one to express himself and yet you had to pick the most insulting! Well done!
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#933763 - 05/03/08 04:26 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Greg Howlett Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 79
Loc: Monroe, GA
What an interesting thread. As a teacher and a student for thirty years, I am speechless.

First, I would be careful about throwing around the unethical label and making other comments that seem very judgmental and off base.

Second, I think it is fine to think what we do is important, but we also need to be realistic about what we really are doing--teaching average musicians a skill.

I remember when I was 16 and took from a classical teacher. Every year, I also participated in a sacred contest through my school. I never went over the music for that contest with my teacher. I remember that she found out about it and got offended. I simply wanted to keep the focus during the lesson on classical music and did not want to bother her with my sacred music. I now know at least why she got offended.

On the other hand, a student of mine recently partipated in another recital. I never once considered the ethics or wondered if I should get credit in the program.

The point is that there are many people who just do these things and never think twice about it. Getting upset and calling them unethical is not wise.

Also, I cannot say how unappetizing I find the idea that a student has to get permission from a teacher before performing or cannot take from multiple teachers at once. There are good reasons why someone might study with multiple teachers at the same time.

Teaching is not supposed to be about us. It is supposed to be about others. So, I am a little disturbed by all the self focus here.
_________________________
Free downloads, arrangements, piano lessons and tips for pianists at http://www.greghowlett.com/freechristianpianomusic.aspx

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#933764 - 05/03/08 04:49 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
.

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#933765 - 05/03/08 09:14 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Until now, I thought the Rev. Wright was the best demagogue around. I stand corrected!
_________________________
"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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#933766 - 05/03/08 09:51 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1257
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
I agree that it is actually none of the teachers business where and when a student plays unless the student chooses to share the information.

When I was taking lessons as a teenager I played in numerous contexts - accompanied other students, played for singalongs at the Kiwanis club once a week, participated in a string trio, played for a male glee club and other things. I never once thought of telling my teacher or not telling her. It was my fingers, my talent (such as it was)and my business. I also took additional lessons from a teacher who was willing to teach me improvisation (she would only teach classics).

I honestly have no idea to this day if she knew any of this was going on. It wasn't a secret, I just never considered telling her.

She gave me some valuable guidance once a week but all the effort, achievement and practicing was mine.
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#933767 - 05/03/08 10:26 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:

In a recital, the audience is judging each student AND the teacher. What was unfair about Diane's situation, whether intended or not, was the lack of recognition by the host teacher that there were students presenting not her own. [/b]
Exactly John, thank you!

A recital is really your "report card". Report cards should only have your marks in it, not anyone else's marks!
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#933768 - 05/03/08 10:31 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Roger, most teachers are thrilled when students get out and perform. And they don't ask that the student post the name of the teacher every time they do so. That, of course, is not what we were talking about. We were discussing a specific situation where one teacher was presenting a student at an annual recital - for several years, without indicating that the student was not her's but was being taught by another teacher. It is a form of false advertising, because the parents attending are given expectations that their student will achieve the same level, if they continue on with the teacher in question.

There's a world of difference between the two.
_________________________
"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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#933769 - 05/03/08 11:29 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hi everyone,

I've been following this thread, and found it really interesting. I have to admit, as a student - my first reaction was pretty much in line with the other students who have posted, a bit incredulous!

I think there are a couple things being missed on both sides - everyone is coming at it from a different context.

From the context of the posting students - I think most of us (certainly me!) read most of the original comments as saying that students should not perform anywhere, anytime without getting permission from their teachers. But - as John clarified - that's not really what you guys are saying, right? You're really talking very specifically about performing in another teachers recital, which has a very specific implication that the performers are students of the teacher hosting the recital, unless otherwise noted.

For the teachers - a couple thoughts, if you don't mind...

- I noticed on page 1, Diane said that "This other piano teacher was his piano teacher before me, but he transerred to me 4 years ago." -- NOBODY had mentioned that... does it make a difference? I've read several times here about how critical one's first teacher is, and how they set up all your foundations - does it change the situation at all that this teacher DID teach him, at one point, so he was her student and might attribute some of his skills to what he learned from her (this is NOT at all meant to discount that Diane has taught him for the last four years, which is a significant period of time.)

- I think there are issues of context here - what I mean is - it felt like to me, that maybe the teachers here were a bit offended by the students posting, or at least surprised that the students didn't see/understand why this is a big deal.

But - we are in very different contexts. I don't teach music (or anything else!), I don't run my own business, I think there's alot of "behind the scenes" stuff that you know, and maybe it's so obvious when you're immersed in it that you forget that not everyone knows that!

For example - one of the points that was raised was a recital ALSO acts as a type of advertisement for the teacher.

Honestly, that thought never would have crossed my mind. I think it's something that's just basic, accepted knowledge to music teachers, but maybe those of us not in the industry wouldn't even consider when we read the scenario.

I also wonder about how that works! When I watch the students at my teachers recital - again - it has simply never occurred to me to judge my teacher by their performance. More often, I am thinking - either that they must be a beginner (between the nerves and the piece!) or possibly evaluating them ("wow, he's awesome, he must practice alot! i bet he's been taking lessons forever!") But I am honestly (sorry, but true) usually evaluating the student in terms of their hard work, their practice, their nerves - not thinking of the student as a reflection of the teacher (sorry, but this is an honest reflection of my thinking.)

Perhaps because I already know the teacher, it doesn't enter into the equation, but... I don't know if I saw someone elses' recital whether or not I'd evaluate the teacher based on performances.

And, I'm sorry if this is offensive... I don't mean it to be, or if it overly discounts what teachers do. But as an adult student, I don't know how comfortable I am with someone listening to me play and saying, "wow you must have an awesome teacher" - as opposed to recognizing my hard work and studies and hours of practicing! I don't want to discount teachers at all - my teacher is brilliant, but at the end of the day, his brilliance is useless if *I* don't actually ask questions, clarify things, study, practice, and do the "learning".

Finally - I do wonder if this information (the fact that, at least for adult students, it's surprising and to some offensive, that a teacher would be hurt/offended/upset by us performing without them knowing) - can be at all useful? What I mean is, it's not just one or two people being mildly surprised, it's quite a few people being pretty vocal - rather than defend the position, maybe it's good to be aware of it, so you know what to expect (i.e. so you don't expect your students will automatically know that this is upsetting to you). Does that make sense? Just from an information point - if it's something you as a teacher take for granted that common decency or loyalty would prevent your students from doing this, but you can see that your students might not actually know that you think that or understand you might be upset - you may be setting yourself up for needless upset ;\)

Anyway, just some thoughts.

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#933770 - 05/03/08 11:49 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
I must say that for quite a few years it never dawned on me that a teacher would be judged by his student's performances. but now, if I were to imagine changing teachers or trying a new instrument I probably would attend recitals to get a feeling for how he teaches. If every single student has the same problem, or the same unusual skill, that probably has to do with the teacher.

But it first dawned on me the year I was part of two choirs, and we also performed in conjunction with another choir. In intermission you would hear people talk, and they would be criticizing the choirmaster for the performance of his choir. We were amateurs and could be forgiven. But he was a professional and was expected to have skills and judgement, and he was judged on that by the audience, and by the other choirs.

It came to me that with the way we are still unstable and unpredictable as students, presenting a formal recital as opposed to directing trained musicians must feel a bit like juggling live grenades, wondering when one is going to go off. Who is more nervous - the student or the teacher? Sometimes I wonder.

HOWEVER - teachers - when I sit in intermission munching goodies with the audience of family members and guest, their interest is NOT in how well the students perform. They are concerned about the well-being of the performers. Do they feel safe? Do they look stressed? Are they scared? Is this too much for them? The audeince in the recitals were I have been form a cohesive protective blanket around each and every performer, encouraging them, wishing them well. You can feel the warmth. They do not expect professional entertainment. The judgement of a teacher who made a student feel uncomfortable would be harsher than if a student played badly, which would be seen as nerves and inexperience. This is what I have seen in my neck of the woods, anyway.

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#933771 - 05/03/08 11:52 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Greg Howlett Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 79
Loc: Monroe, GA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Diane...:
Exactly John, thank you!

A recital is really your "report card". Report cards should only have your marks in it, not anyone else's marks! [/b]
I think this is what sort of bothers me. A teacher that sees a recital as their report card. Just seems like the focus is a bit too much on yourself. At best, a teacher can take only part of the credit for a student's success and should take only part of the blame for a failure.

From a business perspective (because I am primarily a business owner), I am even more bothered. Students are customers, and some of the rhetoric here just does not seem very customer friendly.
_________________________
Free downloads, arrangements, piano lessons and tips for pianists at http://www.greghowlett.com/freechristianpianomusic.aspx

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#933772 - 05/03/08 11:56 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
As saerra stated:

 Quote:
And, I'm sorry if this is offensive... I don't mean it to be, or if it overly discounts what teachers do. But as an adult student, I don't know how comfortable I am with someone listening to me play and saying, "wow you must have an awesome teacher" - as opposed to recognizing my hard work and studies and hours of practicing! I don't want to discount teachers at all - my teacher is brilliant, but at the end of the day, his brilliance is useless if *I* don't actually ask questions, clarify things, study, practice, and do the "learning".
It's not offensive at all. It's not an either/or proposition. In serious music circles, students do evaluate teachers by how other students do. It's a given that students are working hard.[/b] The edge goes to the students with the best teachers. Adult students may not be aware of this, but I assure you, serious music students are very much in tune with the quality of various teachers. Students pick music schools and conservatories based solely on the teachers there. Parents of young students check all the time. Most of my referals start out, "We're new to town, and when we were asking around, you're name came up - do you have any openings? Can you audition our child?"

 Quote:
- does it change the situation at all that this teacher DID teach him, at one point, so he was her student and might attribute some of his skills to what he learned from her (this is NOT at all meant to discount that Diane has taught him for the last four years, which is a significant period of time.)
Very much so - Four years in the life of a student is an eternity! Huge amounts of growth occure. Four years is the period students spend at the conservatory earning their degree!

I'll give you one example - a 9th grader who came to me 4 years ago playing only the allegro movement of a Clementi sonatina. His current repertoire includes the Haydn D major concerto (which he has performed in public), the complete Bach French Suite #5 in G; the Eb Impromtu by Schubert; the complete Kinderszenen by Schumann, two works by Debussy - the Arabesque and Golliwogg, and the Rustles of Spring by Sinding. He played the program (not the concerto) this afternoon for a small recital. I'm sure that whatever profession various adult students are in, you'd be livid if someone else was taking credit, real or implied, for you efforts.

Keystring wrote:

 Quote:
Who is more nervous - the student or the teacher? Sometimes I wonder.
Let me remove all doubts, students don't know half the nerves teachers face!

My edit was to add the Schubert, which I left out of his repertoire!
_________________________
"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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#933773 - 05/04/08 12:19 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Let me remove all doubts, students don't know half the nerves teachers face!
Would it be unnerving to say that some of us have guessed? ;\)

John, what you are saying is well understood by now. That is what the issue in this thread is about. Personally I consider it a courtesy to the teacher as well as to the audience to arrive at a recital well prepared; but the first is because of an awareness of this matter.

However, this thread has split into two issues. I believe the second should be completely understood. When it came to the suggestion of contracts forbidding students performing anything anywhere without prior permission, a different world was encroached upon. This world is far removed from such formalities. What that clause seemed to imply encroached upon every sense of privacy, freedom and spontaneity. It seemed to meean that at family gatherings, neighbourhood picnics, a student could not let go, be spontaneous, and play in front of others. The inhibition that this would engender would be counter-productive. Musicianship requires nerves, and you can't develop those if you have the feeling of being on an invisible leash all the time with no trust that you can take risks safely. Every performance is a risk, and we must learn to be judicious risk takers. People are reading into this the control of their lives to the smallest degree, for the simplest little performance, and the removal of all spontaneity. This is where the reaction is coming from.

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#933774 - 05/04/08 12:24 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Roger Ransom:
I agree that it is actually none of the teachers business where and when a student plays unless the student chooses to share the information. [/b]
That's what I thought when I was a naive 8th grader. I was playing Mozart's "Rondo alla Turka." I really liked the piece, but my teacher at that time didn't think I was ready for it. I practiced for hours and hours, listened to the recording dozens of times, and took copious notes in the score. I basically taught the piece to myself. I played it at the talent show without first telling my teacher. Then, after the concert, I told my teacher. At the time I thought I did well, and I told my teacher because I was looking for some reassuring, positive feedback. Boy, was I wrong. She was vastly disappointed and told me I shouldn't have done that.

At that time I didn't understand why. Now, as a piano teacher, I can see exactly why. Here are some reasons--

1) Whether you like it or not, every public performance is judged. Depending on the audience, some performances are judged more critically than others. If the student performs well, people tend to credit the teacher. If the student doesn't, people blame the teacher. This is especially true when you have parents in the audience who know a thing or two about music. They keep us teachers on our toes!!

2) Teachers feel the moral/ethical/professional responsibility for the product of their studio. Obviously, when the student is not ready to be presented in front of an audience, the teacher needs to stop it before it happens. Then, the teacher should select something that the student can play well and guide the student toward that direction. I think all responsible teachers feel this way.

3) Worst case scenario--the student plays absolutely horribly at the public event. Some parents in the audience "pretend to congratulate" the student and ask who the teacher is. The student gives the information. Then, some negative word-of-mouth begin to spread about the teacher ("Oh, have you heard so-and-so's students? They are horrible!!!!"), and the teacher doesn't even know about it.

As a working piano teacher, I know it takes years to establish a good reputation. Good reputation draws good students. All it takes is one bad public performance to ruin that reputation. I know this sounds extreme, but it _can_ happen. All established piano teachers are wary of that possibility.

I used to teach a student who would play in front of others without telling me. He actually enjoyed playing in front of people, which should be a good thing. I've told him many many many times to stop performing pieces that are not ready. It's one thing to play for fun in front of his schoolmates; it's another thing to play absolutely terribly at a recital or public concert. He refused to follow my fingering indications, and his rhythm was all over the place. He also accompanies his school's chorus--and I teach other students from his school! Finally I had to cut him loose from my studio. I cannot be held responsible for his reckless public performances anymore.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#933775 - 05/04/08 12:46 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
keystring - needless to say, you are quite perceptive. But I gathered from a few recent posts that some still don't get it. I wanted to amplify a bit.

Actually, there is a hint of a 3rd issue here. For the most part, adult students come to piano lessons with a different agenda than students in school. Oh, yes, both are wanting to learn to play the piano. But it is my impression that parents are engaging piano lessons as part of their student's education, where as we adults, when we take classes, are more focused on skills. I'm not sure how to say this exactly, so please forgive my stumbling. When I took ski lessons, it was for the pleasure of being able to ski past the bunny runs, not to become an olympic athelete. When I took Italian classes, it was so I could order meals in Italy, not to become an Italian novelist, translator, etc.

I'm still not clearly stating what I'm getting at, but my sense is that most adult students treat piano lessons like a commodity, where as, parents of young children are investing in developing their children's minds.

The reaction of many adult students, "I paid for it, I can darn well play where I want" would be typical of any commodity you've purchased. Where as, if you sought out a specific individual to guide your development, such a thought would never cross your mind.

Does any of this make any sense?
_________________________
"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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#933776 - 05/04/08 01:42 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
I want to be careful not to confuse two issues, John. The commodity attitude comes across often enough, and its effect lingers like a discordant tone ringing in your ears when you hear reactions. How the "contract forbidding unauthorized performances" sounded would not seem to reflect the attitude of most teachers. The advice by teachers generally is to get performance experience as much as possible, and so people believe they are being responsible and doing something teachers would approve of by volunteering at hospitals etc. Would you care to confirm that most teachers would not object, or expect to be asked permission, for their student to play at grandmother's 80th birthday? People are envisioning this kind of thing as being included as a forbidden activity. There is an emotional, private, delicately personal aspect to some kinds of performances, and also relationships to family members. This is what seems invaded. I suspect that the outrage and concern is misplaced, because this would not be any teacher's intent. Am I correct?

Your issue # 3 is the source of personal frustration both for me, because some of us have different goals. I have edited this for brevity because I have written about this before. It is the reason why I advocate communication, because teachers cannot guess about their students' aspirations, especially those of adults.

 Quote:
But it is my impression that parents are engaging piano lessons as part of their student's education
This is an interesting idea. I raised my sons sort of along the John Holt idea (What Danny Boy was after.) and so I had self-actualized young people and I didn't really "form" their education that way, even though we homeschooled for close to a decade. My younger son and I both began music lessons - at different times (I was later) - for the same reasons. We each wanted to learn to play the instrument well. The experiences were different in some ways, because as a late starter at almost 13 he was under a time pressure that I was not. You must be in shape for auditioning by mid-grade 12. The clock started ticking for him before he had even finished his first year. I was a very uninvolved, undirecting parent becuase I had very involved self-motivated children.
 Quote:
... where as we adults, when we take classes, are more focused on skills.
Forgive me, but I would not call those skills. I would call them musical bags of tricks and quick fixes. This involves wanting to play certain beloved pieces to sound as one has heard they are supposed to sound, or to be able to play certain music well enough to be able to enjoy it. Whatever technique is needed is taken immediately at face value as it appears - you may know what I mean.

Skill, to me, is something that resides in something much deeper and involved. I seek skill but it is not that. I would like one day to call myself a musician, and to me that is an honoured and earned title with a specific meaning. Am I wrong?

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#933777 - 05/04/08 03:14 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
Having thought about this, I did not understand the "commodity" part - I tend to be hung up on "nature and purpose of lessons". I think in terms that would say that if you hire an expert, you will benefit from that if you allow him to guide along his line of expertise. If a teacher does what I want him to do, that may not be to my advantage.

But "commodity" is more in the sense that a teacher is a replaceable toothbrush. It still comes down to the same thing.

We just had that argument in the translators forum. We are getting a kind of agency-client that wants to dictate how we work: cheap rates, fast turnaround, specialized text by cheap non-specialists. The one camp is saying that the customer pays so the customer gets what he wants, and if what he dictates produces garbage, so be it. I am of the camp that since I have the expertise I am responsible, including protecting the client against himself for the sake of his best interest. that includes risking losing that client.

But closer to home,many years ago I tutored a 12 year old girl who was identified as learning disabled. She could barely read or write. I traced her disability down to trying to do everything at once. We began with low grade Peter and Jane readers, and when the structure became more complicated, we traded voices back and forth, acted out characters with squeaky voices. One day she skipped happily upstairs telling me she could read every book in the classroom (grade 6). She was encouraged to be playful with written words in colour and shape, and she began to enjoy writing. Every time this girl succeeded, her mother became depressed, "worried", and told me how bad her daughter was at learning. The last time this happened was at the library, where the girl learned to research books, mother predicting she couldn't - girl did splendidly well.

Shortly thereafter the mother tried to dictate how I should teach. Learning was supposed to be difficult and tedious as it had been for her. Her daughter was having too much fun. She wanted me to force her daughter to copy out the words of a novel she had brought, turning all present tense sentences into the past tense. I told her that if I did as she said, it would ruin every bit of progress we had made. The girl had advanced 4 grades in reading in 3 months! I lost the student as client. She ended up in a "learning centre" where they make kids slog through workbooks. I thought I was diplomatic that day. My sons, preschoolers, told me that I had a murderous look in my eye. That poor girl! I will not harm a student, nor a client, regardless of wishes or the exchange of money.

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#933778 - 05/04/08 03:42 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The clamour of affronted piano teachers crackles with self-indulgent wounded pride ... a litany of shocked egos humiliated at the thought of an enterprising fellow teacher having stolen a concert march ... and no insightful thought of the plucky lad who now has a proud confidence-boosting DVD of himself performing in public.

The true value of a piano teacher lies in the ability to inspire the student to master the playing of the piano ... sounds all too obvious ... but so often the mission degenerates into a bitty catalogue of theoretical padding.

IMHO give the lad every support for his extra- mural adventure ... wonder how many piano teachers have ever shared the magical pupil metamorphosis ... in the Gershwin "Summertime" words ...

"One of these mornin’s
You goin’ to rise ... up singin’
Then you’ll spread yo’ wings ...
An’ you’ll take ... the sky."

Hi Wombat,
In reading up on the past two days of bleat I see
we're playing the the same fourball... regards.

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#933779 - 05/04/08 09:14 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
No, btb, it's not self-indulgent wounded pride, but economic reality. For 99.99% of families, music instruction is the first item to go when the purse is lean. Just as when school districts find their funding is short, music programs and libraries are cut. The public view these items as luxuries, not necessities. If your livelihood depended on teaching, you'd be singing a different tune than Summertime!
_________________________
"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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#933780 - 05/04/08 09:31 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
keystring, your experience with the young lady is an excellent parallel to what Diane and others were reacting to.

As for: Would you care to confirm that most teachers would not object, or expect to be asked permission, for their student to play at grandmother's 80th birthday?[/b] I seriously doubt any of the teachers on this forum were discussing this type of performance.

Let's expand on this a bit. Student A is in 3rd grade, and teacher asks if any one is taking music lessons and would like to play for the class. Student A enthusiastically raises his hand and gets up an stumbles through Wanda, the Magic Rabbit. Latter, at his lesson, he tells his teacher about it. Teacher smiles, and says, That's great. Did you enjoy playing?

Student B is in 6th grade, and has been asked by the teacher to play along with the student choir. She gives the student the music, which in turn is shown to the piano teacher. The piano teacher immediately recognized that this music is several years beyond the current skill level of the student, and strongly recommends to the student that they decline.

Student C is in 8th grade, and the class is putting on a talent show. She and a friend are going to do a musical number together. It's a bit challenging, but the piano teacher says, "Go for it."

Student D is in 11th grade, and learns of a musical contests and wants to enter. The criteria suggest that rather advanced students will be playing. Teacher suggests that the student is not yet ready for such a venue.

Student A and student C are performing in front of non-critical audiences in social situations, where musical excellence isn't being evaluated. In students B's and D's case, the opposite is true.

By the way, we have a major retirement center here in Olympia, and I often mention to my students that it is a great place to go and perform. Why, because the audience is non-critical and yet gives the student the opportunity to play in front of large numbers of strangers.

Back to my examples: if student B absolutely insisted on playing with the choir, the first thing I would do is to then divert the lessons to teaching the student some accompaniment tricks, such as skeletonizing the score, so that they could keep the beat without hesitating, and keep the music flowing.
_________________________
"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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#933781 - 05/04/08 10:43 AM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
Thank you, John, for your explanation. I framed my question in the manner that I did because I was seeing how the "non performance clause" was being perceived: Student A plays in an old age home where a relative resides and granny beams "That's my Johnny!", or a number of other hypothetical relatively informal occasions. It is the perception (probably correct) that informal playing in front of others should not be discouraged, but rather encouraged. Your non-teacher population was seeing such non-formal events as being frowned upon and even regulate by formal contract, and were gobsmacked. Forgive my tenacity: When I see folk don't get each other I tended to plow away until they do. Misunderstandings bug the heck out of me.

I have tried to get performance experience outside of violin. When I joined my first choir I learned how to work in a group, pace myself with the choirmaster, what kinds of interactions (good and bad) exist, how to prepare for a performance in a group, how to handle timing when I was not a soloist etc. If I ever make it into a decent orchestra or ensemble, or even get to solo, that experience will help. Eventually I moved up to a choir with a choirmaster who was also a conductor, a voice expert, and had built a reputation for bringing professional level music out of his selected amateurs. He was starting a new choir in my city at the time. I got to see how sections worked, the ideals he was looking for (memorization - few did so), how he developed the phrasing from note to note and within the note.

When I had these experiences I shared them with my teacher even though it did not involve the instrument of instruction. He could advise me and give me further insight. In the case of the first choir, he told me I was wasting my time. In another, a non-vocalist choirmaster was inducing harmful "voice training" and it was a relief to run this by my teacher, who did have voice training.

Individual situations differ. My son entered the arts magnet school after barely a year of violin. Performance experiences were heavily emphasized: ensemble, trio, quartet, orchestra, orchestra pit, Kiwanis festival. The music teachers had to be active professional performers: there was one for each category. My son was under the supervision of one strings teacher for the full four years. There is no way that his private teacher could have stayed on top of everything that my son had to prepare for the various things they were involved in. The student, himself, had to know how to organize his priorities. Of those admitted to the program, selected by audition, only about 30% graduated within the program.

In this secondary program, a student had two solo exams per year, and a monthly etude. The private teacher was expected to prepare his student for the exam and studies that would happen in the secondary school. Meanwhile the private teacher had his own program. It happened that the strings ensemble had performed a very racy and intense rendition of Country Dance with very expressive bowings, which was the hallmark of the strings teacher. That piece was also in the RCM repertoire. My son's teacher did not know what had been performed in school, and introduced a standard rendition of the piece as per grade level and expectation, and then asked my son to try playing it. Obviously, having rehearsed it for 6 months and performed it, he played it as a well developed piece, minus the raciness of the ensemble version. The piece was not pursued, I assume because nothing more could be developed in it. My son did not explain that he had learned it in school. I later gave the private teacher a CD of strings repertoire as a gift. Several of his students were in that school.

The situation is a little bit different. Also, select students from a large geographic area would chat comparing teacher experiences, would see each other's areas of strengths and weaknesses. The strings teacher probably saw trends if several students came from a particular teacher. Meanwhile his teaching left a mark on the students. At festivals, regardless of the private teacher, they stood out for a particular kind of articulate bowing, which he stressed. At recitals of private teachers, the three or four students in the arts program had something that was different in their bowing. On the other hand, the fact that two or three students had made it to this school was also a noted plus for the teacher. I had never viewed it from that perspective before.

A great deal of independence and judgement was fostered in the arts program. This was driven home during the gala fundraiser. Select strings students served in the orchestra pit to support professional performing alumni who flew in for the occasion, to which top dignitaries were invited in an effort to keep the school afloat. An unavoidable event forced the strings teacher to be absent during this crucial time so he fired off a spate of e-mail instructions with rehearsal directives for the next few weeks, material to be rehearsed, and the kids mostly had to govern themselves with, I think, the choir teacher directing the last dress rehearsal and actual performance. The had the discipline and discernment to pull through.

On the same note, alumni at university wherever they are receive the score of Gala material via e-mail, and in between doing their own university work and rehearsals, prepare the material and many then return to their home town on a Friday, do one dress rehearsal side by side with students still in the school, the alumni professional performers doing a one-time only dress rehearsal as they have flown in, another morning rehearsal, and then on to two 3-hour evening shows Sat. & Sun. after which the university students rush back to their universities and catch up to work there.

This is the kind of world I have inhabited. It is good to get perspective of what I guess is a more normal music environment.

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#933782 - 05/04/08 02:25 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Wombat66 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/05
Posts: 262
Loc: Cornwall UK
Many thanks for your support BTB, it is heartening to have a nod of agreement rather than be dismissed as an insulting demagogue.
Accusations of paranoia seem wholly justified when contributors delude themselves that after a child has bombed in public performance some parents pretend to congratulate them (??surely console) simply to find out who their teacher is.
If a teachers reputation is so fragile that all it takes is a single pupils poor public performance to ruin it the teacher in question may be better served training to become a bus driver instead.
Criticism is richly deserved when, for some teachers at least, the sole purpose of hosting a recital is to advertise their own teaching abilities. To me such a teachers attitude is manifest child exploitation and the perpetrators of that exploitation deserve every insult they receive.
It is clear from my own experience that these attitudes are rare in piano teachers and perhaps if Jesus had waited until the modern era to be born maybe God would have picked a piano teacher to be Joseph – I certainly am under no illusion that He would have chosen a doctor (and still less a lawyer or politician!).
I had always thought that you had chosen your career for the love of art (it clearly wasn’t for the money) so it is all the more appalling to read the cynical and possessive way in which a minority of teachers view their pupils achievements. I am profoundly depressed that some teachers hope to avert a less able pupils public performance, not for the love of the pupils artistic development and adverse effect that a disastrous performance would have on it, but to protect their own pathetic reputation.

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#933783 - 05/04/08 02:47 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
Wombat, I have been in such surroundings and no, it is not paranoia. The ambitious crowd does "critique & seek". As a parent, I've heard it. Fwiw I'm not part of the ambitious crowd.

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#933784 - 05/04/08 02:51 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
I've dealt with many of John's "Student B" situations, and have done exactly what he suggests: teach the student some accompanying tricks and "skeletonize"the score to "keep the music flowing". This is almost always a "win-win" outcome, because the choir director's needs are satisfied and the student feels great about being able to play like the "pros".

Unfortunately, though, too many piano teachers seem to have a negative attitude about accompanying in general, maybe because it would divert precious practice time away from solo piano literature. I remember "forgetting" to mention to my college piano teacher that I would be playing Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes (for piano duet--I was the "primo" part) for the concert choir. He was not pleased when he found out, because I hadn't had time to prepare my lesson that week. It didn't seem to matter to him that my emphasis was in chamber music & accompanying (now called "collaborative piano" by most universities), or that I was being paid to play for the choir. This incident taught me to be upfront with teachers about whatever performing I chose to do, and if a teacher had an issue with it I could find a teacher who better suited my ultimate goal to become a well-rounded, employable musician.
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#933785 - 05/04/08 02:56 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
It didn't seem to matter to him that my emphasis was in chamber music & accompanying (now called "collaborative piano" by most universities), or that I was being paid to play for the choir
Lalakeys, what would the reasoning be for this, would you know? Is it the personal taste of the teacher, or the excitement of producing a soloist, or a general emphasis in classical musical education on solo works?

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#933786 - 05/04/08 03:12 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
Keystring, I call it the "ivory tower syndrome".

It seems to me that a lot of university professors are short-sighted and unrealistic about the employment possibilities available to their students after graduation. Actual paid performance opportunities for classical pianists (aside from presenting solo recitals as a college faculty member) seem to involve chamber music, accompanying, church work or a combination of the three. But many college piano professors I've known seem to consider non-solo piano literature as unworthy of students' time & attention, maybe because they just don't realize how few of their "star" students can make a living as soloists.
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#933787 - 05/04/08 03:18 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Your non-teacher population was seeing such non-formal events as being frowned upon and even regulate by formal contract, and were gobsmacked. Forgive my tenacity: When I see folk don't get each other I tended to plow away until they do. Misunderstandings bug the heck out of me.
[/b]
keystring, you have done a yeoman's job of trying to negotiate a consensus here, but I can't help but think you're seeing more agreement than there really is. On several occasions throughout this thread a non-teacher has asked, with varying degrees of incredulity and politeness, a question to the effect of "surely you wouldn't insist on a student asking your permission before playing for others, would you?!?" John has addressed this question in a straightforward and reassuring manner. But I haven't heard a groundswell of similar assurances from the other teachers. Betty responded by saying that "she would want to be told" but she didn't specify what would happen if the student did not consult her or take her advice and she has stated before that "disloyal" students are released from her studio. And we also have teachers saying such things as:

 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
Obviously, when the student is not ready to be presented in front of an audience, the teacher needs to stop it before it happens. [/b]
...which sends a very different message than your suggested compromise that you claim we all appear to be slouching toward.

I'm sorry, but I will continue to believe that the decision to accept an invitation to play in front of others, whatever the audience, belongs to the student and the student alone.

p.s. to Wombat: if you read my posts, you will see that I am in total agreement with the spirit of your remarks, only rather more politely phrased. ;\)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#933788 - 05/04/08 03:33 PM Re: Speechless. . . now there's a first!
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
I do not care about compromises, Monika. Sensitivity and understanding, perhaps so each party can see where the other is coming from. People can talk and either listen to each other, or not. The bottom line is that we are not students and teachers of each other. I have my teacher, and am happy that I do. Each person has the job of communicating clearly with whoever they are working together with.

(edit: there's one too many withs - feel free to take out the one that doesn't belong, anybody ;\) )

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