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#1158683 - 03/06/09 07:04 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
The problem is not with generalizations, if they are clearly labeled...as generalizations...or as personal experiences.

The problem is with insulting and inaccurate generalizations being presented as fact.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1158690 - 03/06/09 07:13 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
Keystring,

Useful to whom? Much of what you have quoted of me are the things I wish to talk about with other teachers that did come up in the thread at least in the way that I read and understand things to mean.

When we have to say "No" to a student we can discuss the reasons why we are saying no. That doesn't mean our posting means we are dissing anyone or complaining about the quality of adult beginners. What is being considered as an insult by the adult student is an attempt by me to learn more from other teachers why we say no. No, because.....with an explanation. These kinds of things help us by being topics.

Because of our different slants from where we are coming, I feel that teachers are being grossly misunderstood here. We take risk to state anything because there will be or may a whiplash.

I receive criticism quite frequently. It's a given here.

And, I did not target Monica as an example or attack. I replied to her in the line of her posting and some of our previous discussion together have left us wary in our differences of opinion.

My credo is for the highest good of all and I have practiced it all of my married life and in my music making. It is amazing to me that several posters see me in the light that I am insulting adult students or anyone else for that matter.

I appreciate you, Keystring, as the facilitator and negotiator who has often clafified what is transpiring. This was a lot of effort on your part to reconstruct. And, I understand you have a good intention.

The only thing I can think to add here is a marriage counseling technique that goes: one person makes a statement, the other person repeats it exactly as said. The repeater asks a question: Did I understand you to say ________? And the original speaker verifies if they have understood each other.

I am sorry to see people stressing and I feel there is a "warp" in understanding between us when you react to something that is not really about you or any one else in particular. It is being spoken in a generalization and for that matter can be hypothetical. It is not your integrity that is at risk. Defense and attack is not necessary. This could be a great learning opportunity for all if we could be civil about our different viewpoints.

Concentrating on the useful as Keystring suggest is a good idea whose time has come. And, the question "will it achieve anything?" is in the making of future relationships.

Please do not take offense where none is meant.

PM me if you have something you want to say directly, I'd welcome the opportunity to work differences out or just to agree to disagree.

Thank you.

Betty

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#1158699 - 03/06/09 07:22 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Prodigal Pianist posted: 'The problem is with insulting and inaccurate generalizations being presented as fact.'

I truly am not recognizing any insulting or inaccurate comments attributed to myself.

Can you help me with this as it applies to you by exactly quoting the words that have offended you.

I will reread your posts at some point and see if I can find what you are referring to exactly if you will give me a clue.

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#1158709 - 03/06/09 07:39 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I truly am not recognizing any insulting or inaccurate comments attributed to myself.


Um, well, I personally would characterize your previous post directed at me as being both insulting and inaccurately representing my position:

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
With so little background in what music study is about it is very easy for adults to throw their weight around in the forum and not at all realize that they are represent themselves as coming from a small dimension of what piano study is all about and the principles, theories, and mastering of music is not yet complete.

I am really tired of your singling me out Monica.

Your feel good approach to music is what you have to voice from and while that's appreciated, it is in my way a domain that would allow you to set standards of communication between piano teachers and piano teachers.

So you don't like me, my communication style, and whatever else is on your mind. You do not get to censor me according to your references of how you relate to your instrument.

They are not deragatory or offensive unless you choose to take them that way.

I have great relationships with my students - children and adults - occasionally it is not a good fit between us, but usually based on an attitude coming from the adult student or the parent. Piano teachers and serious performers know what it takes to create a musician: the attitudes, habits instilled, dedication, patience, work ethics, and application of the self to the learning of a very encompassing mental and physical coordination of one person working to create music.

It is not the feel good, I'll do what I want, it's just for me world that you think it is. Only by rejecting teachers does an adult student get to do it his or her way. I'm all for that when the person has developed some tried and true accuracy at the piano and is not just fumbling and stumbling around so much that it impedes their ability to understand the discipline and self management that is needed.

And, for this viewpoint that I'm expressing, only because I am continuously taunted by you and brought to your form of accountability, which is purely from your "fun" viewpoint, my 38 years of teaching are diminished and questioned and put in contempt.

Calling it generalizations is strange.

My "generalizations" have come from diligent work in training musicians - forefront experience.

The secret is out: Adults do have problems in learning piano. When piano is difficult or not easily achievable, the explanation from the adult student is that teachers don't know how to teach them.

Show me an avid learner and it's a done deal. Show me an excuse maker or complainer or totally lost adult student, and I will say piano study is not going to work very well for them because of the focus on how they are "feeling" and how "easy" it should be: It's truly one of the hardest thinking skills you will ever think of doing, and the % of people who accomplish this to the level they need to reach in order to play well is small.

I am going to call the singling out of certain teachers because you do not agree with them - abuse. I think some of what is said to teachers here is the poster angry when teachers point out something meaningful to consider and the student resent the "interferance" which differs with their own concepts about what music study should be.

Persistance with messages no one else wants to here works in both directions.

Not all people are teachable. That works both ways too. I simply have a lot of experience to consider I didn't formulate my philosophy and theories by myself, I had my students help and input with every lesson I have given.


I don't expect you to recognize why some of us are insulted by comments like this, because as Einstein so aptly said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

Have a good weekend, Betty. smile Get some rest. You seem tired and out of sorts this evening.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1158715 - 03/06/09 07:48 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Betty, thank you for your response. Your mailbox is full, so you are not accessible.

I have chosen to focus only on the practical that pertains to a serious student wishing to work with a teacher to that purpose - in other words, the OP's purpose. Therefore on the question of "poor record of adult students" I will only allow myself to consider how this might apply to that situation. It does apply, in that a good student may miss out if the general bad reputation of adults holds sway. We live in a real world and things are not always fair. It is important to be aware, so that we can be proactive.

I have no comment on "poor record" statements. It is not something I prefer to focus on. I have summarized the advice that did come forth from teachers, which went for beyond that one idea which has now held sway. These are important points that were offered.

Quote:
is an attempt by me to learn more from other teachers why we say no

Might it help to state that you are addressing teachers with a separate topic, or even open a new topic, in order to avoid confusion? If you simply say "adults are this" in the middle of a thread where an adult has asked for help, people will not know where you are coming from.

In any case, your clarification is appreciated.

KS

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#1158902 - 03/07/09 04:58 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Keystring, I went back and had a look at some of your posts, and since so many have been edited, I wasn't really sure what post you would like me to respond to?

Personally, I have never said no to taking on an adult student...However, it has been my experience that the majority of adults I've taught over the years have had issues with dedication, practice, and even lesson attendance. There have also been greater cases of technical ability progressing rather slowly due to hand/muscle tension having developed over many years, and it has been very difficult to reformulate their physical habits into proper pianistic ability..much reiteration of advice and time involved with very little results overall.

I have also found, personally, that adult students are very self-critical and anxious, and I have found that a great deal of lesson time is often devoted to working through their pyschological issues in order for them to focus...Again, as these issues have developed over many years, they have been really challenging to overcome. These adult students are, for me, very draining, as the hurdles they need to overcome can take years..as I've noticed my teaching advice is not absorbed or adhered to even after lengthy reiteration over months. However, I do admire their persistance in taking lessons, and see any small step, no matter how long it takes to achieve, as a great accomplishment. Nonetheless, if other teachers experience these qualities in adult students, I can understand why some choose to say no to taking on adult students.

With that said, I have had and still have, some adult students who are keen and dedicated to learning and listen with great eagerness to my teaching guidance and go to conscious lengths to apply it to their playing and musical experience...and they are a joy to teach as they give of their energies, as much as they take of mine.

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#1158906 - 03/07/09 05:18 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
Candywoman Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 850
lotus crystal really expresses my view best. But, all the same, I've decided to extend the olive branch to all who felt offended. I'm sorry.

I think what's happened to me is I've invested my heart and soul into a number of adult students and my instruction of them was seemingly fruitless to me. But I'm open to the possibility that they gained something from their interaction with me. I should just be content with that.

All the best to the adult students.

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#1158909 - 03/07/09 05:49 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Lotuscrystal, that water has gone under the bridge. I had deleted the post asking if you had noticed the post addressed to you, but since Betty was anxious about what it might have said I mentioned it. My edits, btw, would be to make a sentence clear but not to alter content.

Thank you for your description of your experience with your students - I also understand that this is common. Can you entertain the possibility that it doesn't go that way for some of us, but that expectation may be there because of what has preceded us? If I passed my first exam "with distinction" at 4 months, to the other child-student's two years, and had curiosity rather than anxiety, it doesn't follow that pattern. I am mentioning this in order to give something concrete. I assumed my experience will have been matched or surpassed by other adult students, even if we are not among the norm cited by teachers.

If there are adults who do not fit that pattern, but teachers expect it because that is their experience, then that can lead to an "interesting" interaction from the onset. There is no way that as an adult student I can be aware of what a teacher commonly experiences and therefore expects. As written before, It seems important to be aware of the reality of teacher experience and expectation so that we can be proactive instead of mystified. I wonder if it is equally important for teachers to be consciously aware that they will carry this expectation, and it will be there before even meeting the student?

Fwiw, this was the post I had written some days ago addressed to you. At the time you had explained about freedom of "demographic" choice. I remain always in the context of an adult student pursuing serious study, such as the OP. I also assumed that some adults do not have those attributes, and that these may find themselves before closed doors.

Quote:
Lotus, the problem involves extrapolating what you think someone is capable of based on a group portrait. It closes doors on the individual who may not be anything like that. If enough teachers exercise their demographic right then there is nowhere to go.

Secondly, there is the danger that we will be taught according to the common perception and fail to come anywhere near our potential. Certain things must be done to acquire proficiency, some of them arduous. If they are not given, we will not progress. For those with talent, they will "ride on talent" but without a foundation to support them - it's the worse for them because they will hear what is missing and remain bewildered.

Can you not see that there is a potential problem? In the least, we must be aware in order to deal with it. I would not have thought any of these things 5 years ago.



Edited by keystring (03/07/09 05:53 AM)

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#1158916 - 03/07/09 06:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Keystring, knowing myself and many of my colleagues and I'm sure many teachers on this forum...I really have to say that any good teacher would not 'cut you short' of your potential in their method of teaching just because you present as an adult. It's ludicrously against the art of the teaching philosophy. If teachers are witness to your dedication and willingness to apply their guidance and to work together toward your potential, they will enlist you as one of the many who are worthy of all of their efforts (regardless of their past experiences with adult students)..as they would see the 'ebb and flow' of your efforts and progress as experienced together with theirs for you, on an equal par.

However, in my experience, and from what I have read of the experience of others, such dedication to the art of learning and modification of past unhealthy habits, has not been consistently present with adult students.

But by no means, is this meant as any disregard to you or any of the other adult students who have graced this thread. Perhaps you are all 'dream' adult students, and students that we would be grateful and blessed to teach smile


Edited by lotuscrystal (03/07/09 06:42 AM)

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#1158918 - 03/07/09 06:55 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Lotuscrystal, in this thread we are considering the moment of finding a teacher and defining the course of the lesson. If hypothetically almost all good teachers refuse adult students, then the student is left with those who are less serious or capable. That would definitely have an effect.

There are other scenarios but it would be too complicated for this thread. It is vital to know how to state your intentions if you are an adult. You do not want to find yourself in a stream emphasizing music (pieces) and patching in a bit of technique on an as-needed basis. These things can and do happen. Even if a teacher responds to the student's progress, it is not the same as methodical building of skills with an emphasis on the same. It is in this sense that I am writing of not reaching potential.

KS

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#1158930 - 03/07/09 08:16 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I don't see anything wrong in a teacher who will not accept adult students. If you are not comfortable with it then it's best to be honest from the outset. There is no discrimination or prejudice involved. The relationship between teacher and student is complex and personal. Choosing a teacher is not like going into a shop to buy goods. There needs to be a good fit and if a teacher feels that this is not possible then what's the problem?

I have been rejected as a teacher for several reasons in the past. I have had female students who wanted a female teacher which is fine. I am not offended by this. Some students have passed because of my age and experience (when I first started). Some have read my studio policy and felt that they would not fit in with my expectations. In this thread one poster stated that they would not select a teacher who contributes to this forum and that decent teachers don't have websites.

I don't have a problem with any of this. A student is quite entitled to choose their teacher so why not the other way round?

By the way, this post is not in response to keystring. I just don't know how to alter that re: bit. Also, where has the spell check gone?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1158947 - 03/07/09 09:01 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Chris, if a student is not as assumed based on his age-category, and if a single teacher makes that choice for that reason, then it is that teacher's potential loss - he may be depriving himself of an excellent student and rewarding experience.

If, (please note that this is an "if", and deliberately exaggerated) however, most good teachers have a preconception about all adult students and therefore reject any adult student due to that conception, then it condemns that student to helplesness. Where does he go? What level can he reach if he cannot find good teaching? You (plural) are condemning a potentially good student and future musician to mediocrity if en masse he is rejected.

It is totally understandable for a teacher not to want to have the attributes in his studio that have been mentioned in this thread. It is another thing entirely to extrapolate those attributes to any and all students. We are each individuals. We only have this life to lead.

Do we find a Fountain of Youth in which to dip ourselves in order to make ourselves acceptable? And if I did look like a 17 year old, will I be more promising student? I will tell you with absolute certainty that I am a superior student, capable of learning more and much more effectively, including the physical act of playing an instrument, than I was at age 17.

I am sorry. I am not accountable for the actions and attitudes that a teacher's other students may have presented. I do not want to walk in the wake of their legacy. I know who I am and what I can do if I am given a chance. I cannot, and will not, accept a blanket portrait based on age.

Respectfully,

KS

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#1158967 - 03/07/09 10:03 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3214
Loc: Virginia, USA
I really appreciated the post by lotuscrystal, spelling out in careful and nonconfrontational detail the difficulties with adult students.

It does mean it's harder for an adult to find a compatible teacher, but we knew that. Actually it's also harder for some who wants to specialize in jazz, or pop, or rock, or bluegrass. Hee, hee.

So what do we do about it? Force teachers to take 5% adult students? None of us could tolerate that. Convince teachers that the stereotype isn't true? Not going to work, because it is true for most of us in at least some degree.

But it does outline some strategies for adult teacher-seekers. Knowing what it is that teachers fear, we can try to present ourselves as different, and we can try to actually avoid some of those problems, to the extent possible. We can't completely avoid some of them - we have work and family responsibilities and we are going to miss lessons. We can avoid some of the psychological dependence issues.

If there were enough of us, this problem would go away. The free market would respond, teachers would realize the profit they could make in this niche and specialists in adult piano would be as common as muffler repair and oil change shops. They wouldn't care we don't stick with it, they'd just open the door and let another one in. But there's never going to be more than a tiny number of us, and it's never going to produce that kind of incentive.

Something economic that doesn't help you, but does help the industry: musical instruments of all types (brass, woodwind, string, piano, digital) are better quality and lower real price than they've ever been in history. That market isn't driven by the pro's; it's the adult amateur who buys most of them.
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gotta go practice

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#1158972 - 03/07/09 10:14 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: keystring
If, (please note that this is an "if", and deliberately exaggerated) however, most good teachers have a preconception about all adult students and therefore reject any adult student due to that conception, then it condemns that student to helplesness. Where does he go? What level can he reach if he cannot find good teaching? You (plural) are condemning a potentially good student and future musician to mediocrity if en masse he is rejected.


You see I just don't think there is any truth in this. Some teachers choose not to teach adults. They have their reasons and are entitled to make this choice just as the student can choose to accept/reject a teacher. But there are lots of good, even great teachers who are more than happy to teach adults. So if as an adult you get a rejection you are not at all condemned, you just find another teacher who will take you on. Why assume that those teachers who do teach adults are not just as good as those that don't?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1158974 - 03/07/09 10:18 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: TimR
I really appreciated the post by lotuscrystal, spelling out in careful and nonconfrontational detail the difficulties with adult students.


+1. thumb I also appreciated very much candywoman's post and Chris's, which similarly detailed in a thoughtful, nuanced way the possible issues involved in finding a good teacher/student match for adult students.

It may be too much to hope, keystring, but just maybe we're finally venturing back into territory that might help Amateur Jerry, should he still be reading this. crazy
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1158985 - 03/07/09 10:36 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Monica K.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Chris, you are a decent teacher, and treat students with care and fairly. You have your students and you receive transfer students. You went the path of a child learning into adulthood with the good and bad of whatever you encountered - but it was the conventional path. I have encountered other things, and I have had exchanges with a few fellow students - one over a long period of time - and have seen sides that you would probably not run across. Please trust me that there are some realities out there. I don't go off on tangents and I only have so much energy to spare. If there were not something of concern I would not bother.

In the very very least we must know how to present ourselves, and be prepared to address these concerns. I am talking about a student who wants to reach a fairly high level and not just play as a hobby. Professional aspirations do not have to be in the picture.

KS

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#1158992 - 03/07/09 11:20 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Keystring, I might be missing something here which certainly wouldn't be the first time! It seems as if you are assuming that a teacher who is willing to accept adult students does so on the basis that they will play for a hobby and never really achieve anything. That would not be true in my case. I like to think that I treat all my students as individuals and work with them to achieve whatever is possible. For me it makes no difference how old they are.

My wife doesn't take adult students. Nor does she take transfer students. She will only take on children who have encountered the system she chooses to teach or who have had no previous experience at all. This has nothing to do with stereotypes or generalisations. She does this because private piano teaching forms a small part of her work and she prefers it to be as easy and enjoyable as possible. She is not interested in correcting bad habits, overcoming preconceptions, dealing with 'baggage' etc. She also fully understands that not ALL the students she would reject have these problems but the fact that they might is enough. You could say that she is not willing to take the risk. I know how hard she works and can't blame her for that.

On the other hand I will teach just about anybody who wants to learn as long as we get along. I have a lot more students than my wife and it has to be said that on average their standard of playing is lower than hers. That's not because she is a better teacher, just that she is more selective of her students in the first place. And it's not because I have low expectations either. Those who take lessons with me are expected to do their best and reach their potential, whatever that may be.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1158994 - 03/07/09 11:24 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
keyboardmuse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 22
Lotuschrystal, I loved your letter. I have just started reading this whole discussion and would like to say I am ONLY commenting on your words. I too have, finally, an adult class that is richly rewarding. It has happened after years and years of dealing with the exact issues you mentioned. Understanding those adult issues of self criticism, lack of practice time, fear of failure, etc. has led me to develop ways to get around them and empower the student. One thing I always do now when I interview a prospective new adult student, is talk to them about these very issues so they are up front from the beginning. I let them know that learning to play an instrument will not be like other adult activities where they can take in information and immediately assimilate it. Quite to the contrary, the number of elements that a student is required to synthesize, both intellectual and physical, is unlike anything else they've ever done. And it requires more patience and methodical work than most adult enterprises require. I try to let them understand that it is a process of mastering skill sets, one at a time, with plateaus in their progress, and that it is impossible to learn to play if they are afraid of making mistakes.

The other thing that I have finally realized after many years, is that a beginning student has no idea of the complexity of the entire endeavor, and that I have to have realistic expectations for the beginning years. Little by little, those who remain begin to acquire skills, then confidence. It's just great when that happens.

By the way, I loved Australia!

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#1158997 - 03/07/09 11:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Chris, I know your attitude and I have some idea about the standards of your work and to which you hold your students. This is not the reality everywhere.

What teachers expect of adult students because of what they have experienced has been apparent previously and is clearly set out in this thread. I do not want to be excluded from consideration because of such expectations. I want to be judged by my own merit. I still say that the positive part of this thread is to realize that this is so, why it is so, and be able to act upon it.

KS

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#1159022 - 03/07/09 12:23 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardmuse]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
We are not all the same. Perhaps I can illustrate to bring a point across. I do not know how many are like me, what percentage, if these are exceptions, but here goes:

On a personal level if I were to express my thoughts which I would never do since they sound like instructions, they might go like this:
I am not insecure. Please teach me how to play. Do not discuss fears that I do not have. Do not walk on eggshells around me. Do not try to bolster my ego. I am happy if you like my playing, but I'd like to know what is good about it and what I can improve, and how. Address my emotions less, (if at all), and my playing more. Feel free to criticize, and do so in a way that I can work with and toward what you are criticizing. In fact, please criticize more - those are my milestones in practicing. Teach me how to play. If your young students need to learn things in a certain order, chances are that I do too. I do not want to "ride on my talent" - it won't get me far. I enjoy performing and do not fear it. But I want to perform well, knowing what I am doing. Teach me. Never mind emotions - if I have performance anxiety, I'll let you know. Teach me how to play.

As far as I can bring it out, this is my personal reality. I am an individual student. If some of my realities are not the same as the ones described, then the approaches for them would not work. If there is a common pattern for most people belonging to a given group, it does not follow that everyone will fit that pattern. That is my main concern. We are individuals.

I do not want to find myself with an "adult student specialist" if that specialist is dealing with a common pattern that I may not share. I would rather be with a "piano playing specialist" i.e. piano teacher and assume that I am expected to adjust to what is expected of any piano student. I feel more comfortable at the second prospect.

The main thing is that we are individuals, and cannot all fit the same profile. If there is a common pattern, we have to be aware that it will be expected.

KS

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#1159039 - 03/07/09 01:01 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
In this thread one poster stated that they would not select a teacher who contributes to this forum and that decent teachers don't have websites.



Um. Wow. Just...Wow. If you are talking about what I said below:

"Glad you (and I) are not looking for a teacher on this board, anyway."

I would hire a teacher on this board, were I looking for one and it was a good fit. I have a high degree of respect for many teachers on this board.

But I am not looking for one (on this board or off). I have one. I am glad, however, that I did not come looking to this board for a teacher, because if I had, the things I have read here about adult students would have made me completely discouraged, if not heartbroken. I would have wanted to slink off quietly, embarrased to have even had the temerity to suggest I start taking lessons again. The dreams of adults are fragile things, when it comes to things like music lessons.

No one wants to be the student the teacher talks about in disgust. No one wants to take lessons, all the while thinking, "am I really awful? Does my teacher hate teaching me?" Geez no wonder some teachers here talk about how self-critical adult students are...if the voice we are hearing in our heads about how what a waste of time and effort we are is the voice of a piano teacher!

If we read the threads here that are specifically about adult students, we hear about all the problems associated with adult students. If we never read any other threads on the board, we would get the idea that kids are all model students, always practice, advance rapidly, etc. That is, of course, not at all what is said in other (non-adult student related) threads.

I am not a model student. My teacher is very likely a bit frustrated that I can't practice more, and that I learn pieces more slowly than a kid playing at my level. Nobody, however, is more frustrated about these things than ME. It is something she and I address (and battle) _together_. I wish it were different but I've gotten rather used to living indoors and eating regularly. wink However, I get the impression that my teacher wishes *all* her students practiced more hours a day and more days a week. I hope she doesn't attribute my particular difficulties to my 'being an adult student' and therefore a lost cause to begin with.

And...'decent teachers don't have websites?' How did you get that from this:
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
The best teachers I know (and know of) personally do not have websites. That's not to say "teachers with websites are not the best"...just to say, the teachers that I know, who I think would be pleased to meet and teach the OP, would not be found during a web search...


I hardly know every teacher in the world. Or every teacher in my area. Of the ones (teachers and students) I know, most find their students because they are associated with the university, and either teach in the piano prep program, or offer lessons and classes through metro community colleges, or through word of mouth. In fact, those teachers may also have websites, for all I know. But I never hear them say, "Yeah I got such-and-such student from my website"...I do hear students and teachers talking about finding each other in these other ways.

I personally have not found web searches very useful in looking for music teachers. Every once in a while I daydream about moving back to my home area...or taking violin lessons again...and when I try to find the type of teacher I'm looking for, just by looking on the web, I find it really frustrating. I guess I'm old school. Aside from basic qualifications (degrees, memberships, location, rates), websites can't tell you much except how good they are at building (or hiring) a website.

Plus...as an aside...I'm sure that there are high quality 'find a music teacher' kinds of websites...but a lot of the ones that are easiest to find are pretty cheesy and definitely are not where you would find really excellent teachers.

And Betty, as far as I know I really believe I have already quoted the statements of yours that I had the most question about.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1159047 - 03/07/09 01:23 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: keystring
Please teach me how to play. Do not discuss fears that I do not have. Do not walk on eggshells around me. Do not try to bolster my ego. I am happy if you like my playing, but I'd like to know what is good about it and what I can improve, and how. Address my emotions less, (if at all), and my playing more. Feel free to criticize, and do so in a way that I can work with and toward what you are criticizing. In fact, please criticize more - those are my milestones in practicing. Teach me how to play. If your young students need to learn things in a certain order, chances are that I do too. I do not want to "ride on my talent" - it won't get me far. I enjoy performing and do not fear it. But I want to perform well, knowing what I am doing. Teach me. Never mind emotions - if I have performance anxiety, I'll let you know. Teach me how to play.


Well, I won't claim to be 'not insecure'...but this is pretty much how I feel as well.

A couple of months ago I was the "guinea pig adult student" visitor in a university piano pedagogy class. That day, they were talking specifically about adult students. When the teacher asked me to explain to the class how I wanted to be taught, I said something like, "I know I have big gaps in my teaching and my technique. I want them gone. I've never had explicit instruction on correct technique. I've just floundered around by trial and error. That is frustrating. Tell me what I'm doing right (so I'm sure it's right, not to stroke my ego). Tell me what I'm doing wrong. And tell me how to fix it. And work with me to make sure I understand and am applying it correctly. Put the rubber to the road and let's get it done." The instructor laughed out loud when most of the class's jaws dropped open. I still don't understand what is so unusual about this attitude.

I remember telling a mom once who said she wanted her daughter to have 'fun' at lessons...playing poorly is not fun. Playing well is fun. It seems to me that a lot of the 'problems' of adult students would be eliminated or reduced if things were tackled head-on. Direct, frank instruction based on reducing or eliminating roadblocks to piano enjoyment.

Don't discourage me by telling me "adult students are nothing but problems and I (and every other teacher) hate to teach them"...but don't coddle me or lie to me either, to try to make me feel better...once you are my teacher.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1159068 - 03/07/09 02:48 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I must say, at the risk of offending everyone, that this thread strikes me as a Kerfuffle about nothing.
If I were to systematically analyze all that was proffered, the only conclusion would have to be: Adults are different from one other. Teachers and students discussed here are adults. Therefore they must select each other carefully.
What else is there to say?

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#1159119 - 03/07/09 04:30 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Sorry about that Prodigal. I admit it was a bit below the belt. When I first read your comment about looking for a teacher on this forum I did interpret that to mean that you would not be happy with any of the teachers who contribute here. It sounded like a generalisation to me. I do know you didn't mean it like that but I suppose I wanted to stress that it is easy to take what people say here the wrong way. As for websites, I have one, but you wouldn't find it on a web search. I use it to provide information for my current students rather than to advertise my services. To be honest you will find out far more about me (or any other teacher) by lurking in this forum. wink

I do feel like these threads end up being a bit 'them and us'. Betty was getting a pasting and I did find it upsetting. Surely it's clear that Betty is an experienced and dedicated teacher and wants the best for her students. Nobody gives more help and advice over on the ABF than she does. Read all the threads about dropping students and you will find that Betty is the one who will try every possible avenue to save the relationship. I didn't speak up in her defence here and feel slightly ashamed. I am very aware that this is a public forum and everything you say can be used against you and can easily get twisted. I'm just not one for arguments. But Betty speaks her mind and it often seems to land her in trouble.

No offence intended.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1159181 - 03/07/09 07:04 PM 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
Chris: Thank you so much for your understanding of who I am and what I deliver in my piano studio. I appreciate your support more than you will ever know!

That adult students on the forum see me as they do is more of a reflection on their understanding of what music study is not, than on what I know music study to be.

Chris said: "I do feel like these threads end up being a bit 'them and us'. Betty was getting a pasting and I did find it upsetting. Surely it's clear that Betty is an experienced and dedicated teacher and wants the best for her students. Nobody gives more help and advice over on the ABF than she does. Read all the threads about dropping students and you will find that Betty is the one who will try every possible avenue to save the relationship. I didn't speak up in her defence here and feel slightly ashamed. I am very aware that this is a public forum and everything you say can be used against you and can easily get twisted. I'm just not one for arguments. But Betty speaks her mind and it often seems to land her in trouble.

No offence intended."

It does get me down to be misunderstood when I am trying hard to communicate and contribute something that is important to me. I assist people to reach their goals musically, and that means I join them where they are, and I don't disparage anyone who studies with me, I encourage and motivate them when needed. I carry them on my back sometimes. I don't dismiss them because they don't live up to my expectations.

Chris, it's getting harder and harder to be understood as a piano teacher in today's society!

I think highly of you and Julie, too!

Betty

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#1159182 - 03/07/09 07:06 PM 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
Chris: Thank you so much for your understanding of who I am and what I deliver in my piano studio. I appreciate your support more than you will ever know!

That adult students on the forum see me as they do is more of a reflection on their understanding of what music study is not, than on what I know music study to be.

Chris said: "I do feel like these threads end up being a bit 'them and us'. Betty was getting a pasting and I did find it upsetting. Surely it's clear that Betty is an experienced and dedicated teacher and wants the best for her students. Nobody gives more help and advice over on the ABF than she does. Read all the threads about dropping students and you will find that Betty is the one who will try every possible avenue to save the relationship. I didn't speak up in her defence here and feel slightly ashamed. I am very aware that this is a public forum and everything you say can be used against you and can easily get twisted. I'm just not one for arguments. But Betty speaks her mind and it often seems to land her in trouble.

No offence intended."

It does get me down to be misunderstood when I am trying hard to communicate and contribute something that is important to me. I assist people to reach their goals musically, and that means I join them where they are, and I don't disparage anyone who studies with me, I encourage and motivate them when needed. I carry them on my back sometimes. I don't dismiss them because they don't live up to my expectations.

Chris, it's getting harder and harder to be understood as a piano teacher in today's society!

I think highly of you and Julie, too!

Betty

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#1159216 - 03/07/09 08:01 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Betty,

I can't speak for anyone else, only myself but I see you as a teacher who has dedicated much of your adult life to teaching piano. It comes across in many of your posts that you care deeply about music education and strive each and every day to be the best teacher you can possibly be.

The fact that I disagree with some of the posts you've made doesn't change the how I see you or many of the other teachers who come here to post.

As an aspiring teacher I have much to learn from yourself and the many other teachers who come here to share their knowledge and experience.

I hope you continue to share what you've learned over the years about teaching and even in times of disagreement, that you can also learn from what I and other students contribute to the forum.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1159269 - 03/07/09 10:02 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Nicely said, Gerry Armstrong!

We all learn from each other and that is one of the biggest attractions of PWF for me. I learn so much here and I have an opportunity to meet other piano teachers and read their contributions too.

Posting can be a very happy and rejuvenating factor between teachers, and the criteria is not that they agree with each other. It works best for me when it is positively stated or that any criticism would be constructive and valid. Often we achieve that.

If I were to say anything about a fellow teacher, I would hope I would say it in a way that people would know I was speaking highly of that teacher. It is understood there will be sometimes disagreements which can challenge our abilities to communicate without offending.

I listen to advice and ideas, and then I reach my own conclusions, that is the way it is for all of us I think.

I don't pretend to have the final answer to anything. I, do, however stay in the debates longer than does me good. We just have to much stake in our self-respect to let our intentions and philosophies be picked apart.

Say you don't agree and say why - that's very acceptable. I'll do the same. It's called "opinion".

I did post a topic this evening about Pedagogy being established in early Greek and Roman times. I hope teachers get a chance to read it as pedagogy in music has been a thread in history from the very earliest of times. (Aulos, lyre, and drum.)

Betty

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#1159397 - 03/08/09 07:18 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardmuse]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: keyboardmuse
Lotuschrystal, I loved your letter. I have just started reading this whole discussion and would like to say I am ONLY commenting on your words. I too have, finally, an adult class that is richly rewarding. It has happened after years and years of dealing with the exact issues you mentioned. Understanding those adult issues of self criticism, lack of practice time, fear of failure, etc. has led me to develop ways to get around them and empower the student. One thing I always do now when I interview a prospective new adult student, is talk to them about these very issues so they are up front from the beginning. I let them know that learning to play an instrument will not be like other adult activities where they can take in information and immediately assimilate it. Quite to the contrary, the number of elements that a student is required to synthesize, both intellectual and physical, is unlike anything else they've ever done. And it requires more patience and methodical work than most adult enterprises require. I try to let them understand that it is a process of mastering skill sets, one at a time, with plateaus in their progress, and that it is impossible to learn to play if they are afraid of making mistakes.

The other thing that I have finally realized after many years, is that a beginning student has no idea of the complexity of the entire endeavor, and that I have to have realistic expectations for the beginning years. Little by little, those who remain begin to acquire skills, then confidence. It's just great when that happens.

By the way, I loved Australia!


Thanks Keyboardmuse! And you have some really great ideas in approaching new adult students and students in general! I definately relate to what you've shared and thanks heaps for your reply smile

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#1160448 - 03/10/09 01:13 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
AlphaMeridian Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Northern Virginia
Oh wow, this thread really really scares me. Mostly because conceptually I'm very much like the opening poster - I'm an adult, I've had about 4 years of experience, I definitely have goals in terms of pieces of music I'd like to learn to play, and I definitely have gaps in technique that I'd like a work with a teacher to fill. That being said, I don't mind being busted back to white belt (to use an analogy) but WOW after reading this I'm starting to consider maybe I should just continue with self-study.

I'm almost left speechless at just how...I don't even know how to say it, annoyed (maybe?) teachers seem to be with adult students.

(Also, I didn't notice this before, but is this some kind of weird mix of a flat forum and a threaded forum? Obviously this post is addressing pretty much everyone, but it seems to be pegged as a "reply" to lotuscrystal)

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