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#1155687 - 03/02/09 05:39 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Chris H.

Jerry is not interested in learning to play either the clavichord or harpsichord.
This thread has morphed mainly because of your obsession with period instruments and early music. It was never about that in the first place.
It was merely a suggestion early on. This thread has morphed because you, the OP and especially Lyce can't tell the difference between a harpsichord, a clavichord and a piano - 'wimpy', indeed.
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#1155695 - 03/02/09 06:26 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: currawong
Read his first post again! "Intimidating and difficult"? Rubbish! Motivated and keen to work is more like the impression I got.
Read his second post. But maybe by then he was riled?


This is Jerry's second post. Please point out where he appears riled.
Quote:
Thank You All,


I appreciate all the comments / critiques.

I do appreciate the upfront candor that the teachers I did discuss my desires with told me then not later. I have no issue with that.

What has surprised me is the statistics that I have been 0 for 4 discussing potential lessons with well qualified instructors. (It wasn't like I just walked into a beginners class and had all these expectations).

From my perspective, the reason I have been (based on the feedback probably over) discrete is I wanted to address the actual shortcomings of my abilities. I have received feedback from others that I am lacking in certain areas and before I go any further (in piano or organ) I need to address. For example, I have been told by one individual that my attempts to play Bach sometimes sound like "I am playing Franck ". So from my perspective I gathered up the the feedback, and used it as a basis for me pursue a mentor to improve my abilities.

It's not the teachers not knowing what they are talking about. They were all very knowledgeable. I am just taken back that at the past events and trying to figure out why and how to overcome this.



I believe that "information overload" might have been a problem leading to some strange responses by teachers, and the problem may also include not taking the time to carefully read and analyze what was written before responding.

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#1155696 - 03/02/09 06:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: Amateur Jerry
After reading the responses, I don't know what I am more surprised at; a)being told I don't fit, or b)criticized for trying.

Here's some of the advice I've been given:

a) Tell the teacher, "help I don't know what I am doing" (That's clear and concise. I'll remember that next time!)

b) If I want to play Bach/Baroque "By a harpsichord" (I guess all the professionals who have made and are currently making a living playing Bach on the piano got it all wrong.) (Angela Hewitt, you should be ashamed of yourself!)

c) I'm scaring off the teachers by my strong views of my shortcomings. (I knew the Freddy Cruger mask wasn't going to go over well)

Based on this kind of feedback when the prospective teachers asked me what are my goals; I should've provided a Beavis & Butthead like answer "uh huh play the piano uh huh! Then, when I was asked about what improvements I wanted to make I should've provided another B&B answer somehting like "I wanna play good!"
So it's his third post. This isn't riled?
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1155707 - 03/02/09 07:04 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
The point I was making is carefulness of reading. Yes, it's riled. But has anyone tried to figure out why, after two polite calm posts, we get to "riled"? I found a number of the posts prior to that one upsetting but chose to be silent. Some serious miscommunication was going on, probably due in part from "information overload". The OP wanted to correct his playing and acquire the needed skills, which is exactly what we should be doing. He was being addressed as having a variety of attitudes, wishes, and backgrounds, missing the point, and some of the extrapolations could be seen as insulting. If you do not know what teachers encounter and therefore expect and read into a student's statement, it could be quite upsetting. I chose not to write anything, but I was also bothered.

Beavis and Buthead can easily be found - not your input btw - that's the one where we're supposed to say "I don't know what the hell I am doing" and then passively wait to be "surprised". I swallowed a fair bit of sarcasm on that one, and still do.

There is a fair bit of miscommunication between what the OP intends, and what was heard. I.e. he has been under guidance, has taken serous lessons, is following what he was told, and is aiming to get ordinary proficiency under his belt. He was addressed by some as a newb trying for unrealistic lofty goals and creating an agenda of his own making which he would ram down teachers' throats, et simile.

You have left out a fair chunk of that post which is probably a lot more pertinent.

Perhaps we can just see what can be learned from this thread.

KS

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#1155713 - 03/02/09 07:29 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
You're looking for a teacher of Baroque music. The teachers out there are traditionally Romantic. As you say, you wish to understand ornaments - that's not been common knowledge for a couple of hundred years. See if you can find a harpsichord teacher. Maybe even buy yourself a clavichord? I own two!


This was your first contribution to this thread.

You 'suggest' that Jerry look for a harpsichord teacher or buy a clavichord!

Which should he do? Who exactly is getting these mixed up?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1155737 - 03/02/09 08:23 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Let's say for instance, that had the OP left out the 4 phone call part and the "what am I doing wrong" he might have received some straight forward, helpful suggestions from the majority of responses.

Teachers recognize people with goals and ambition and good preparation for the future when they meet and hear them play. It would be easy for a qualified teacher, one with the experience that the OP is looking for, not just any neighborhood teacher or one in business downtown, but one with performance degree or probably a master degree in teaching music. Being accurate and historical in the Baroque and organ is what he is looking for - this is a speciality area of teaching and the teaching list would be academic, in my opinion.

Perhaps he might try the community music school of a college or university where the public seeks piano lessons at a classical level.

I really had the opinion that it was the teachers being criticized for passing him over and his not being able to make progress in his teacher search. I asked myself who would that be? And, offered some revealing things that go on with piano teacher inquiries from people who say too much about themselves and don't realize there is a courtesy to first contacts.

The in depth comes at the interview, or during the getting acquainted period of piano lessons together. The teacher would want to verify the students strengths and background and lead lessons in the direction of his long term goals based on where he is at this moment. Advice and a path would be discussed.

I strongly suspect that this turned out to be a wayward inquiry, the odds that four refusals of accepting the student did not have good reasons behind it from the teachers prospective. It could also be that these teachers dismissed themselves as candidates because they could not deliver on the "requirements" the adult student was looking for.

I wonder if the cost or special arrangements needed were a factor in the disconnect. If so, that is too bad.

For those who feel the student, who is posting here for the first time is misunderstood or being seen in bad light, the only thing that I can say toward making amends is that communication is a two way street, and that it is best done in person, and there is no rush to deliver all the information in half of an hour to the teacher. Things about each other are usually learned in discovery and collaboration. And, one teacher might not be able to satisfy all of his interests and sense of goals in the time frame he wants, or might deliver on some of the goals, but not all.

The introductory question might be: I am looking for my next teacher and I'd like to talk to you about my goals. How do we go about discussing this?

This begins the conversation at a safe pace and clues the teachers that this is a serious inquiry, with specific goals. The listening to each other begins.

Does this help?

The extraneous information in the topic was way too much information, and a problem at that, with which our conversation here at Piano World started.

Since this is posted in the piano teachers forum, it is likely to get the response that comes from experienced piano teachers. Some of the things we have experienced as teachers from difficult students or parents or adult students can be right up there with verbal abuse of the teachers. In many ways, the original explanation had that possibility.

When an adult student joins this conversation with their understanding of how they think teachers should treat them, they are surprized that we are not captivated by their "baggage" and "situations" because they are an important part of the inquirees history. Once we hear some of these things that adults bring up that are problematic, we can get quite turned off by it, because we should not have to solve the problems of the last teacher and this student. To me, it doesn't enter the situation, this is a new situation. If any baggage is coming into our new situation, it is from the student.

We need to start anew, fresh, open minded, trusting, respecting, creating a difference. The minute I get all the gory details from the horse's mouth, it is the beginning of recognition that this is not going to work - because of the baggage - and the long explanations of what came before.

As said previously, psychology is not part of the services I could offer, however empathy would certainly exist once I had discovered on my own exactly what this pianist can do at the piano. Everything eventually comes out as evidence when we meet at the piano keyboard...I will hear the real problems by listening to his music, and the real accomplishments too, and I'll either know I can be of help to him, of I can't.

Throughout this experience the goal is to be considerate and cordial to each other. The minute that goes astray, even inadvertently, we have to look at our needs as teachers as much as he wants us to look at his needs.

Piano teaching is all about teaching piano, that's what most of us do. It's exciting to get a new, enthusiastic, promising student!

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#1155743 - 03/02/09 08:45 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
Betty, one of my reasons for getting involved in this thread is in order to learn from it. I do believe that "information overload" was a primary problem. The information must be brief, pertinent, and organized. The chain of misinformation has not stopped yet. It highlights the problem - please permit me to correct the impression:
Quote:
Being accurate and historical in the Baroque and organ is what he is looking for

This is not what he is looking for. He wants to get the essential skills of piano playing after which he will work with specialty organ teachers who are waiting for him to get these skills. They will give him these things at a later time.

The very fact that this is not coming across highlights a possible source of the problem. The information is there, but it's nestled in other information which is secondary but catches the eye.

As students we must realize that it is necessary to keep it simple and to the point because teachers are not mind readers, try as they might to acquire that skill. wink

The frustration has come as the OP was trying to transmit one intention, but teachers were responding to another.

I hope that I am not venturing into a hornet's nest if I suggest that teachers may also carry the "baggage" of negative experiences with adult students, and are therefore cautious and expecting similar "common problems". If we as adults understand that, then we can make certain not to send out the wrong signals and be alert for signs that this is going on. This is definitely a reality and it's putting on blinkers to pretend it doesn't exist.

KS


Edited by keystring (03/02/09 08:46 AM)

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#1155766 - 03/02/09 09:28 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Being accurate and historical in the Baroque and organ is what he is looking for is his ultimate goal, is it not? I posted it because that is the hopeful end accomplishment of his musical productivity at this time. The "Dream!"

His Baroque education would work on either piano or organ, with applied technique and performance requirements. There is potential for interest in Early Music Society and other early music instruments, too. This could be an academic or social process for enjoyment.

The high end academic and specialized study come long after his basic foundation is complete.

His path has great appeal to someone who wants to be a a well trained musician in a specialized area of instruction.

He should list his stated best outcome and work backwards from that to list the path he needs to take to complete his journey.

The journey is one thing, the destination is another.

All we have is the present moment to act upon with our best attitudes and our good intentions. Principled effort and organized time management enter into it too.

Betty

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#1155769 - 03/02/09 09:34 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
Yes Betty, that is indeed his ultimate goal. The point of confusion is that the first goal is basic proficiency on the piano, and teachers were getting confused with the ultimate goal. Some of us come in wanting the final outcome first, as I have read, and this is the expectation that was seen by some teachers.

This thread began with the question of what was going wrong in the quest to find a teacher, and I think this is part of what might have been going wrong. No teacher would be turned off by a student who wants to get basic skills. They would be turned off if the student seemed to want to specialize immediately. How do we send out the right message, and understand that message, in order to start off on the right foot.

It has been informative.

KS

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#1155819 - 03/02/09 11:07 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
You're looking for a teacher of Baroque music. The teachers out there are traditionally Romantic. As you say, you wish to understand ornaments - that's not been common knowledge for a couple of hundred years. See if you can find a harpsichord teacher. Maybe even buy yourself a clavichord? I own two!


This was your first contribution to this thread.

You 'suggest' that Jerry look for a harpsichord teacher or buy a clavichord!

Which should he do? Who exactly is getting these mixed up?

Most clavichord teachers are harpsichordists as you can't earn a living playing/teaching clavichord - it's hard enough on the harpsichord.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1156491 - 03/03/09 12:42 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
One more comment. This has been alluded to by several, but not spelled out.

The OP mentioned his strategy was to find teachers on the web and set up interviews.

In a very traditional field, what percentage do you think advertise on the web? Or are even computer literate? I know everybody here is, at least enough to get on a forum. But that's a small portion of the teachers out there. And how many of you have your own web sites?

I'm thinking he's not fishing in a big enough pond.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1156786 - 03/03/09 09:13 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Morodiene]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Thank you for your note, Morodiene.

It is my view that a student should be welcome to bring anything to a lesson and ask for technical help on it. A teacher should be able to look at the piece and 1) see immediately what the possible technical challenges might be and how to solve them (not all students have the same problems) and/or 2) observe the student's playing and be able to show him/her what he is doing wrong. This does not require having played the piece one's self. Of course, familiarity with a piece can add depth to interpretation. But to a trained musician, style and the explication of ornaments is second nature. (I recommend Howard Ferguson's Keyboard Interpretation.) And yes a piano teacher should actually play the piano, but playing is different from performing which is different from teaching. (I've known many fine performers who really didn't know how they did it and couldn't tell someone else how to do it. And I've known fine teachers who weren't much good at performing---and a few who could do both.)
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1156799 - 03/03/09 09:38 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: NeilOS]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
NeilOS
May I offer an unsollicited comment regarding your website. The very first sentence is very off-putting and quite passé(e)!
The term "old wife tale" is offensive to many women today and certainly does not belong on a site that presumes to appeal to students of both genders.
I am certain you did not mean to offend but the oversight does not fit well with the otherwise very professional presentation of your credentials and methods.
Best

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#1156907 - 03/04/09 12:34 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
Wow, I'm totally surprised how long this thread has dragged on. When I wrote that comment, "Have mercy on me, I don't know what the hell I'm doing," I was splitting down the sides laughing. It was meant as a bit of a joke for all of us. If you read my post, it was in conjunction with my thought that you learn most when you don't have too many preconceptions. It wasn't meant as direct advice for only Jerry. But let's face it, we can all use a little humility when we go to lessons. I still go for lessons and I try not to set any expectations for my teachers. So that's where I'm coming from.

I can see now that my comment about not wanting to teach adults combined with my sense of humor resulted in a crazy combination. Sorry Amateur Jerry.

Anyways, the reason I don't want to teach adults is because often they switch the schedule around too much. They often don't practice much and they need enormous amounts of encouragement. With a child, I can teach very intensively, but adults go at a slower pace. I feel they place obstacles in front of themselves and their pride gets in the way. Teaching children is my personal preference. No biggee.


Edited by Candywoman (03/04/09 12:43 AM)

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#1156943 - 03/04/09 03:10 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
Anyways, the reason I don't want to teach adults is because often they switch the schedule around too much. They often don't practice much and they need enormous amounts of encouragement. With a child, I can teach very intensively, but adults go at a slower pace. I feel they place obstacles in front of themselves and their pride gets in the way. Teaching children is my personal preference. No biggee.
Now you've gone and done it!

Originally Posted By: Andromaque
NeilOS
May I offer an unsollicited comment regarding your website. The very first sentence is very off-putting and quite passé(e)!
The term "old wife tale" is offensive to many women today and certainly does not belong on a site that presumes to appeal to students of both genders.
passé(e)? Offensive? Do wives not get old? Do they not hold to traditions that have no basis in science? At least traditionally? (it comes from a time when women had no involvement in science) You cannot be allowed to denude our language in such a 'cavalier' fashion. (is that derogatory to cavaliers?) And is there anything wrong with old wives tales? If you don't take them at face value they often contain more truth. The term itself says buckets about the cultural practices of previous generations. I miss 'old wives'. Those were the days!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1156956 - 03/04/09 04:29 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
Wow, I'm totally surprised how long this thread has dragged on. When I wrote that comment, "Have mercy on me, I don't know what the hell I'm doing," I was splitting down the sides laughing. It was meant as a bit of a joke for all of us. If you read my post, it was in conjunction with my thought that you learn most when you don't have too many preconceptions. It wasn't meant as direct advice for only Jerry. But let's face it, we can all use a little humility when we go to lessons. I still go for lessons and I try not to set any expectations for my teachers. So that's where I'm coming from.

I can see now that my comment about not wanting to teach adults combined with my sense of humor resulted in a crazy combination. Sorry Amateur Jerry.

Anyways, the reason I don't want to teach adults is because often they switch the schedule around too much. They often don't practice much and they need enormous amounts of encouragement. With a child, I can teach very intensively, but adults go at a slower pace. I feel they place obstacles in front of themselves and their pride gets in the way. Teaching children is my personal preference. No biggee.


More adult bashing and lumping all adults together in to one group and all children in to another.

It gets a bit boring reading the comments of people who fail to realise the most basic of all facts about human beings i.e. we are ALL individuals. Children, adults, men, women, however else you want to group us together. We are all different and individual.

It's staggering how many comments I've read about how one thing applies to all children while the opposite applies to all adults. Absolute NONSENSE!!

If I said the same thing about a group of people based on their sex, their race or their religion I'd be branded a bigot and rightly so.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1156961 - 03/04/09 05:10 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
Candywoman, I appreciate your use of the word "often".

In regards to your joke: The OP's intention did not come across well. He wished to acquire keyboard proficiency as instructed, and since he had already worked with a demanding piano teacher previously he did know how to work properly as a student. However, he wrote so many extra things that some teachers saw a shopping list --- the preconceptions that you mention. --- To those of us who had caught on to the actual goals and attitude, your joke seemed puzzling and insulting.

Quote:
I still go for lessons and I try not to set any expectations for my teachers

May I ask about this? First of all, you will let your teachers know that you are already a teacher and musician, am I right? You would not just ask for lessons and leave the teacher guessing that you are an adult novice. Therefore from the onset this teacher will have expectations of you, and teach you accordingly.

But when you approach a teacher for lessons at this stage, do you simply phone up, say you're a piano teacher yourself, want to take lessons, and leave it at that? Do you have particular things you would like to address which is the reason for lessons, and do you state that? What kinds of things are stated? Do you discuss goals with the teacher?

These are the kinds of concerns that are raised in this thread. In a sense I think it is easier to be an absolute beginner than to come in mid-stream such as the OP has tried to do.

KS

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#1156976 - 03/04/09 05:52 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Gerry Armstrong
...we are ALL individuals. Children, adults, men, women, however else you want to group us together..
We are all children, if you ask me.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1156983 - 03/04/09 06:32 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
So, has anyone worked out if 'Elvis' (amatuer Jerry) has in fact left the building? My thoughts are, if he has left the building, he'd be certain to feel ambivalent about returning. lol

There are so many teachers here uncharacteristically fired up, that it's time to have a barbecue! Pass me the sausages to throw on the barbie, before someone faints from fatigue. And perhaps someone could belt out on the piano, a rendition of "I've Got You Under My Skin" lol





Edited by lotuscrystal (03/04/09 06:54 AM)

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#1157020 - 03/04/09 08:49 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Excellent question!

And if he indeed has left the building, does he feel rejected a fifth time? Or was any part of thesse 8 pages encouraging?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1157039 - 03/04/09 09:35 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17773
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Amateur Jerry
Hi all,

Long time reader, first writer. I was going to post my entry on the Adult Beginner's Forum, but I thought better to address my concerns on this forum.


Hi Jerry, welcome out of lurkdom! I'm sorry that your first efforts at starting a thread were met with such misunderstanding and (imo, undeserved) criticism. Please come join us at AB forum. You will find lots of support and encouragement there.

Candywoman, I'm not at all surprised by the turn this thread has taken, given similarly controversial threads on the topic of adult students that have occurred in the past. I'm sorry you have not had good luck with adult students. I can assure you that we are not all as you described.

Betty, please re-read Jerry's initial post carefully. You suggest that his overtures did not go well because he said "too much" about himself and didn't "realize there is a courtesy to first contacts." You went on to say that "The in depth comes at the interview...The teacher would want to verify the students strengths and background and lead lessons in the direction of his long term goals based on where he is at this moment. Advice and a path would be discussed." But that's exactly what Jerry did. In 3 of the 4 cases, he actually went to first meetings/lessons and did everything you suggested that he do and was still met with refusals.

And this thread would be several pages shorter if the entire (and completely irrelevant) debate about harpsichords and clavichords hadn't come up.

*sigh* Jerry, if you're still out there, you have received some excellent advice here despite the misunderstandings. I agree with the posters who have encouraged you to contact music faculty at local colleges to ask for recommendations. I disagree very strongly with those who are advising you to remain vague about your goals for lessons. You know what you want out of piano and piano lessons, and to ignore that is only performing a disservice to you and your future teacher.

Good luck. I am sure there is a teacher out there for you, and I hope you find the right one quickly.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1157072 - 03/04/09 10:44 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
[quote=Monica K.]

Betty, please re-read Jerry's initial post carefully. You suggest that his overtures did not go well because he said "too much" about himself and didn't "realize there is a courtesy to first contacts." You went on to say that "The in depth comes at the interview...The teacher would want to verify the students strengths and background and lead lessons in the direction of his long term goals based on where he is at this moment. Advice and a path would be discussed." But that's exactly what Jerry did. In 3 of the 4 cases, he actually went to first meetings/lessons and did everything you suggested that he do and was still met with refusals.

Monica and others,

Before I went on the tack I did about Jerry saying too much, too soon, and in a "desperate" and "demanding" voice, I copied his posts to MSW and looked at the verbs and descriptive words of what he said about his experience. I found a lot of negative tone of voice there and some sarcasm, really I did. It is clear that there is an undercurrent going on with the posters approach and attitude. I'm sorry if no one else sees that happening, to me there is nothing positive said in his explanation that would have attracted the interest of a teacher who is highly envolved in teaching Baroque ornaments, or just paving the way for serious classical study.

There is a level of preparation needed by an adult student wanting to go in this direction of study, and I think perhaps the teachers felt he was not seriously prepared for that direction at this time.

I feel it would have been better not to "dump" so much on the teacher at the first visit - what he said is part of his mind set and problem oriented and criticism oriented and he doesn't sound like he would be a happy camper. The attitude and focus he has taken in seeking lessons and what he has said about himself as a developing musician is a potential warning system.

It's the tone of voice and the demand being made that is a bit of a turnoff. The teacher would like to do the evaluating of where he is and what he needs.

Interviews work best when they allow the student and the teacher to enter into the collaborating arena of study, without all the preface, without baggage. At an interview, which is an invitation begin extended to consider working together, and it is a decision being made by both people, it's important to extend your best foot forward.

Most teachers have a profile of the time of student they are looking for and the skills or mindset they like to see. Experienced teachers also recognize the situation when there are signs that the student is going to be difficult to work with.

On any given day, we make choices and decisions to the best of our abilities.

It is my opinion that the OP needs to think of his impact on someone listening to his verbage about himself, and leave the diagnosing and concerns for the teacher to direct his/her attention to as they are working together at the piano. All things can not happen at once, it's a direction and a path.

I think what I objected to was the insistance of the poster that he had a good mentor, yet he blows himself out of the water with all the "stabs" he makes at himself about having problems and not understanding some things.

An accomplished, qualified for teaching to perfection (use that academically) is going to want to be the diagnostician since the interviewee is relying on various and sundry who have made comments about his playing. If he knows these things about himself and agrees, they he has been told there are problematic things in his playing, and he needs to address that with an exceptional teacher first by placing himself in study with them.

If you are not the teachers peer, you are second guessing what is needed and creating a "box" to fight your way out of....start afresh with a new teacher. Listen attentively with an open mind to what they have to say to you. That is where the new helpful information will come from, outside of your experiences to date.

And, finally, one visit with a teacher does not establish enough of a picture of your future together, purchase a packet of lessons prepaid to show your committment to work with the teacher for a certain period of time.

You want to convey that you are here to learn what they have to teach you. It would be nice to hear that you both are looking forward to this "exploratory" time. It would be a joy to hear that you are a good "fit" together.

I wanted to voice my opinion one more time in the hopes that it would be understood as a valid point of view coming from an experienced teacher.

The objective of inquiries and interviews is to connect together not to disqualify, although it is perfectly legitimate to say "No" if your instincts and information gained have alerted you to things you cannot or choose not to accept in the teaching environment you are considering entering. The teacher does the same thing, but I think more quietly, cordially and objectively.

When four teachers have said "No", there has to be a reason, doesn't there? Sounds to me like there is a lesson in approach to be learned.

I certainly want for this man to get what he is looking for and continue on his music path. To do that, any obstacle he is creating that is getting in his way needs to be removed from the equation.

Betty Patnude

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#1157094 - 03/04/09 11:30 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
Betty, the OP gave too much information so that is intention did not come across. That combined with common expectations teachers have of adult students is probably where the problem lay. Almost every PW teacher has misunderstood his goals because of this surplus of information. It is that simple.

We students must be aware of the negative experiences and expectations that teachers have. It's not what we say, but how it can be interpreted and what meaning is given to it. There are plenty of examples here. The important thing is not to assign blame, but find the way around it.

My own solution involves asking how to present oneself and that has been addressed already.

Quote:
When four teachers have said "No", there has to be a reason, doesn't there? Sounds to me like there is a lesson in approach to be learned

Yes, and depending on what that reason is, there may be a lesson to be learned. 1. Is it because the OP gave too much information? 2. Is it because he approached the wrong people? 3. Is it because prejudgement exists in regards to students so that someone will not be given a chance, and his words will be interpreted according to it?

If it is the latter - and if potentially good students are being locked out and being forced into lesser circumstances - is no teacher concerned?

Betty, communication is my field. Please believe me that the sort of analysis of verbs etc. that you have carried out does not work in written communication. If you analyzed the third statement, of course there were agitated verbs. But why? What was going on before that? What is the message? What do the paragraphs say? What kind of background makes the person present his information in a particular manner? What kind of background makes the reader (you) read this information a certain way? For example, if teachers are accustomed to students demanding repertoire then the mention of repertoire will be read in that light.

Communication begins by clarifying what is muddy - not by analyzing another's psychology (and likely getting it wrong). I do that as a teacher as well as as a linguist. "Could you clarify?" "What do you mean by that?" "I am understanding A - is this what you mean?" "It seems you want X - do you?"

Far too often in these forums people respond without bothering to find out more. People who are not in the field don't know how to express themselves the conventional way. You, who are the professionals, must guide the conversation. There is no other way. What appears to be said may not be the real picture. What you understand may be due to your experience with someone else. Clarification must be sought. And some thought should be behind the answer because some students take you dead serious, more than you may know.

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#1157112 - 03/04/09 11:52 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Betty tried to quantify some reasons for a somewhat negative reaction. (My impression, anyway, I hate to speak for her.) You say that quantification doesn't work for you, but it doesn't dispel the fact of the negative perception.

I also had a perception that the OP presented himself as a potentially difficult student. I haven't tried to analyze grammatical construction, just noted my perception.

Several posters are criticizing those with that reaction, insisting we should focus on what his stated goals are instead. Well, I'm not sure we CAN get past that. Clearly four piano teachers (and an unknown number of organ teachers) did not get past that. So it very likely is a problem, quite separate from knowing how to differentiate ornaments between Bach and Buxtehude.

Therefore I would suggest the correct focus IS on that perception and not on the musical goals at this point.

It could be that all of us are mistaken, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the OP's presentation, just pure bad luck has led to four successive rejections, and the next teacher will jump at the chance.

Or it could be that presentation is part of the problem, and he needs to welcome some uncomfortable feedback in the hopes of correcting it. How others perceive us is exceedingly difficult to determine without some often painful candid input from them.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1157122 - 03/04/09 12:13 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
I believe that three things are a problem:
a) presentation (too many facts) b) perception c) pre-existing expectations by teachers, and this last is very real.

The OP's first presentation cannot possibly be seen as being negative. If it is, kindly point it out. By the third he was steamed so yeah, it was negative.

I have bothered to communicate privately with the OP so I do know the story. Did anyone else bother to find out more?

I would like to point out one thing: Some of us only know our own experiences before coming to PW. I was unaware of any of what is commonly described. We were expected to practise 3 hours daily, I passed my first exam "with distinction" at four months, I was told the boy ahead of me had taken two years because adults are expected to progress faster (!) and to higher standards. The idea of changing lesson times or not practising, or not doing what is assigned as assigned was an amazing one.

If you come from my kind of world, then teacher responses don't make sense until you know what their experience and expectation is. We cannot help extrapolating due to what we know.

I will say again that teachers not wanting to take on adult students because of what they expect is a reality. Such an attitude exists outside of a student's control. Teachers may be ready to take us on in a non-serious capacity, but when it gets serious they may simply say no due to who we are. Does anyone deny that this exists?

What do we do about this? Personally, I would go back to those three teachers and ask them to be totally honest with me and not spare my feelings. Depending on what I heard, I might ask for a trial period, and ask exactly what they expected of me.

Again, knowing that there is a real hesitancy to take on an adult student, with some grounds maybe for it, I might ask the former teacher, or the organists, to help me. They may know who would be the most likely teacher, and also be able to reassure that teacher if they have worked with me. That way I'm not just some student coming off the street at an unlikely age.

I also would not peruse web-sites. I might talk to the organ guild, ask my former teacher whom I should contact, and possibly the American chapter of the RCM because I know the kinds of standards the RCM upholds. This is what I did for both myself and my son. Web-sites can promise anything.

Knowing what teachers have experienced and expect also helps us know how to present ourselves. I may be very enthusiastic about this or that thing, but I will stifle myself until I know this teacher well, because my enthusiasm may send the wrong message to a teacher who is already hesitant and cautious.

KS

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#1157131 - 03/04/09 12:29 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
I wish the OP well, hope he finds what he's looking for.

I agree with your suggestion of getting a recommendation from his former teacher - that would probably go far to quell some very natural fears.

I doubt I'd ask those earlier teachers to be honest. There's only risk in it for them.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1157142 - 03/04/09 12:40 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Hey KS,
I thought the new forum edition came with limits to 2 paragraphs per response.. Your input is often thoughtful but logorrhea is not conducive to focused reading.. No offense intended. But if your responses were shorter, more people would read them, me included.. smile
Premises of writing: Clarity, Brevity, Simplicity (there is one more, I forget what)

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#1157147 - 03/04/09 12:48 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
So be it where the shoe falls, Keystring.

Teachers have to protect themselves from the wrong situations - and we learn to do that as an instinct of self protection.

Piano teaching is a wonderful thing and we thrive on doing our best work when there is a capable and interested student on the bench who applies themselves to the endeavor.

It is not easy to teach or work with students who present distraction from our attention to the music which is the reason we are together in the first place.

The "psychology" that is unwanted here, is simply observation of what is said, how it is said, and why it is said. The focus and mindset the student has is evident in the interview. The more one is disturbed about something,the more acting out and frustration becomes evident. These, I have learned, or interpreted for myself, are warning signs of difficulty areas that pre-exist and enter today's interview.

We don't have to clarify and regurgitate about such things, these are latent behaviors in the prospective student, and some of us recognize that we don't want to be involved in such things.

I've noticed in this world that hairdressers, waitresses, and piano teachers all have the burden of people unloading on them in psychological ways and expecting us to take up on the subject because it is of importance and interest to the client.

People ask us to participate in conversations we would never want to have, but we are their captive audience while they are in our presence.

There is a different agenda going on with them then the principle reason we would participate, which would be to teach music.

Why does all the "muddy water" come up? Because it lives within them and is looking for opportunity to present itself.

Muddy water can be an impossible obstacle.

It does not fit in my job description.

Rational and objective is a good stance to have if you are going to be a piano teacher in today's society.

Problematic people undermine our willingness and good intentions and they drain our energy and tolerance if we aren't careful.

"Then you say, Keystring, "Communication begins by clarifying what is muddy - not by analyzing another's psychology (and likely getting it wrong). I do that as a teacher as well as as a linguist. "Could you clarify?" "What do you mean by that?" "I am understanding A - is this what you mean?" "It seems you want X - do you?"

That is exactly the situation I would like to avoid having! Conversation needs to role out comfortably and in a meaningful, natural way. Further conversation leads to understanding and clarification. Things need to evolve over time. I find intense questioning to be artificial and penetrating. Someone keeps pecking until they get the answer they want. Constant questioning puts control on the questioners side, rather than a meeting of the minds, and a gentler approach to communication and knowledge. Pecking is insistant and does not create flow between two people.

Dr. Phil says that we teach people how to treat us. I think it's to our advantage to nip sad situations from happening in the first place by not playing into the game of those who seek something from us besides piano lessons.

Some people are insatiable for attention for all the wrong reasons. Focus on the music making and the productivity between the student and the teacher.

Present a willing and interested student to us and we are willing, interested and ready, too. It should be a straight shot into understanding the dynamics of the potential relationship. Our first impressions do count, they open doors, or they close doors.

Diatribe: a thunderous verbal attack likened to ranting.

I hesitate to say anything more as there is a chasm between the perception of that happens at interviews for piano lessons.

I accept piano students easily until there is a warning sign given out by the interviewee. Too many of those and it's a "No Go". Incredible thought goes into my interviewing process. What seems like a snap decision to the reader here is because this experience of mine is 38 years old in a 65 year old body and brain.

I've participated in hundreds of interviews, and the average student will have had a few interviews of their history. I can't ignore what I have observed and the conclusions I come to, they are very relevant to me.

I see nothing wrong in having a student take me dead seriously. This is a very serious enterprize we will be working on together. If you can't count on me being trustworthy, you shouldn't count on me at all.

My last "hit" here is that I must be doing something right because once in piano study with me, so many have made it a long term - 5 to 7 years.

Still standing!

Betty

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#1157150 - 03/04/09 12:50 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
smile [In response to Tim's post - though anyone else can partake of the smile and smile back if they so wish]


Edited by keystring (03/04/09 01:04 PM)
Edit Reason: Since the smile got posted in the wrong order.

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#1157172 - 03/04/09 01:10 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11656
Loc: Canada
A small note on conversation. It happens in real time, moment to moment. Written communication consists of gigantic paragraphs, with no chance to adjust. The misunderstanding can grow and grow. It does not evolve like spoken words, with nods, smiles, shrugs, pauses. Beware of the written word. wink

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