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#937205 - 02/24/09 06:34 PM What am I doing so wrong?
Amateur Jerry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 65
Loc: Mokena, Illinois
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.

I am 53 years old. About 10 years ago, I took piano lessons for about 4 years. I had no musical background and could not read or play a note. In four years as a part time student, I made it through passing the RCM level 4 exams. (I know some have done much better, but I thought I did well making it that far). I took the lessons as a prerequisite to taking up classical organ. I took classical organ for about 3 years. My job requirements forced me to put the music hobby down for awhile, but now I am getting the time and interest back.

This time I have equal interest in classical piano and organ (as I have both instruments at home). I have been searching for a piano teacher who would be willing to work with me to repair some bad keyboard habits I have picked up, and improve my keyboard technique for ornamentation etc, which is essential for Bach, Buxtehude, Couperin, Handel etc. I would even like to play more late classical / romantic so that the technique is there for Mendelsohnn, Franck, Widor etc.

So I have been scouring the various teachers websites and setting up phone calls and interviews.

To prepare for the customary interview I brushed up on a few simple to internmediate pieces, primarily to give an example as to where I am at:

Trumpet Tune: Purcell
Hornpipe: Purcell
Musette: Bach
Chorale Prelude-
Nun Danket Alle Gott: Kauffmann
Ballo del Granduca (1&2var): Sweelinck

So far I have contacted 4 teachers, and to my surprise all 4 have turned me down! I only made it to 3 interviews, and after I got done playing and we discussed what I was looking for, in all 3 I was told sorry. The one interview I didn't have, I was told sorry on the phone.

The four prospective teachers were all Masters degreed instructors (one even in pedagogy). The recurring answer that I received from all four is that my interests don't fit!

I am little dismayed by what I am hearing. Unfortunately my prior piano instructor has retired and moved out of state, so I cannot return to her. In my dismay, I am very puzzled as why the deferrals and what I should do.

Personally, I don't think my interests are that far off the norm. Many career organists spent many years working their piano skills prior to organ. I really believe that before I go back to classical organ I need to work Bach (at least through WTC etc). But without the proper teaching, I know I will flounder at my attempts.

Any constructive comments or critique to my dilemma would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Amateur Jerry
_________________________
Czar

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#937206 - 02/24/09 07:33 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi Jerry,

You understand, of course, that the technique required for piano is distinctively different than what's required for organ, even though both are deceptive, as both have keyboards. But your gut instincts are correct, learn to read music and develop some proficiency on the piano, then transition to organ, where you'll be adding the pedal board to your skill set.

Musically, I am surprised, as what you've listed is very much typical for classical piano training, except the Sweelinck.

I have a neighbor who teaches exactly what you want, but the trip is a bit lengthy. I would just keep searching. You're relatively close to both Joliet and Chicago, so there must be thousands of teachers who'd like to connect with you.

Good luck,

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#937207 - 02/24/09 08:21 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Amateur Jerry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 65
Loc: Mokena, Illinois
John,

Thank you for the feedback. I clearly understand the difference between piano and organ. For example, when I first started organ, I had to play more fingers than wrist, and I had play more legato (no sustain pedal to cover the holes).

To prepare for the baroque, I am looking for proper execution of all the different ornamentation, would I be playing on the right beat etc? Some of the other areas I was inquiring about is bringing out point / counterpoint within the fugal passages, the different kinds of fugal passages say that Bach used versus something much later like Widor or Dupre. There are a lot of baroque works that require emphasis on middle voices; so not only executing those middle voices but keeping a consistent rhythm. Common to both instruments is still the intricate fingering for all those preludes and fugues. These are some of the techniques that I really need the improvement.

By the way, I understand that the Sweelinck piece is really more clavichord, harpsichord, or organ, but I wanted to play something that I like.

Thanks for the input

Best Regards

Amateur Jerry
_________________________
Czar

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#937208 - 02/24/09 10:46 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Soleil_nuage Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 284
Loc: Virginia
Hi Jerry,

Welcome! I am an adult beginner, not a teacher. But a couple of things came to mind when I read your post. Teachers on here can feel free to tell me that I am full of it! \:D

First, a lot of piano teachers specialize in teaching kids and do not take on adults. I ran into this when I was looking for a teacher. About four or five told me that they do not teach adults. If you do a search in the Teacher forum for threads on adult students, you will see that teaching adults can require a different approach. I felt a little dejected when the teachers told me that they do not teach adults, but years later, after having read a lot of threads in the teacher forum here, I now realize that it is better for a teacher to be upfront with me if they do not have the skill set or interest in taking on an adult student. Saves problems down the road.

Second, I get the sense that if a prospective student comes with specific, pre-formed ideas and agendas of what s/he wants to learn that do not match with the teacher's pedagogical approach, the teacher will not want to take on that student. It makes sense to not want to take on a student knowing full well that there is a conflict in expectations, etc. It makes sense for a student to know what they want to get out of lessons. But when you start to get specific about what exactly you are seeking, it may take longer to find a teacher who is willing to be boxed in, so to speak.

Third, and this one is pure speculation. You seem very knowledge about music, which is commendable. But, could this come across as intimidating? I sometimes felt that I was putting my teacher on the spot when I asked specific questions.

My advice is that when you are talking to a prospective teacher, you should try to sound more open-minded about what you want to learn, e.g. "I want to continue learning classical music. I particularly like the Baroque and late Classical and Romantic styles but I am open to exploring other music. I want to improve my technique, particularly x." Then during the conversation, you can feel them out by asking how they would approach or what they think about x or y issue. If you really are seeking what you stated, you can stick with it but know that it may take some time to find a teacher who is open to going along with it. \:\)

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#937209 - 02/25/09 01:09 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 841
I'm a piano teacher on the verge of not accepting adult students anymore. I agree with Soleil nuage on the first two counts. I'm not sure a piano teacher would be intimidated by specific questions, perhaps only slightly annoyed.

You have to look at things from the piano teacher's perspective. You already have twenty students stretching you in all directions. One wants to know jazz chords, another proper harmony and history for the exams, another needs serious behavioral concerns addressed (presumably a child!), another one is studying for a grade nine exam, the repertoire of which requires that you practice between lessons to keep up with them, and then an adult comes along mentioning Widor or Dupre neither of which you've heard of. It might be the straw that broke the camel's back.

I think people learn piano best when they throw themselves at the feet of the teacher, and say, "Have mercy on me, I don't know what the hell I'm doing! Help!" rather than coming up with questions on an introductory meeting. You never know what you'll learn with my approach!

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#937210 - 02/25/09 01:22 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
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!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#937211 - 02/25/09 04:13 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I do think that adults often chase after the wrong teachers as well. They look for the most highly qualified, prestigious pianists or educationalists because obviously they want the very best their money can buy. But it is these teachers who are the most selective (they can afford to be) and in any case what they offer might not be appropriate. It's kind of like asking Lewis Hamilton for driving lessons if you get what I mean. Most of these teachers specialize in working with advanced performance majors. They don't want an adult re-starter.

I'm not saying you need to lower your standards. It's more a case of finding a good fit. There are plenty of good 'grass roots' teachers out there who have enough skill and knowledge to help you and would be willing to take you on. Teachers like me for example! I am happy to take adults but the funny thing is that they don't often get in touch. My guess is that they head for the Conservatoire and try to arrange lessons with the professors and concert pianists. No doubt they get turned down.
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#937212 - 02/25/09 08:00 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
How should someone like Amateur Jerry present his case in that first telephone call and interview? What gets mentioned how, and what is left out? I am thinking the fact that the OP is returning and has had lessons, wishes to polish his skills, and is interested in particular in the Baroque period including ornaments. Mentioning particular composers and works would be unnecessary and give information overload since skills, not pieces, are the goal - would that be correct? So my question to teachers is, what should such a student mention to prospective teachers, and how? Should one perhaps indicate a willingness to do one's bit, by asking something like - if these are my goals, what would you expect of me as a student?

The thing is that if you say nothing, you can easily get a teacher who thinks your goals are casual, aiming toward repertoire and sounding nice, and teach toward that. Or a teacher who is not specialized in that period like kbk indicated, and so could not teach what the OP is after.

Chris, could you define "grass roots" teacher? And how would a student find someone such as yourself? Where, if one is serious, does one look, and what does one look for? And then, once you do know whom to phone, how do you present yourself so that the teacher knows enough about your goals, but does not feel he or she has been handed a shopping list?

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#937213 - 02/25/09 08:11 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
See if you can find a harpsichord teacher. Maybe even buy yourself a clavichord? I own two!
Kbk, would you go so far as to say that period music is best played on period instruments and learning the technique of that time which goes hand in hand with both the music and the instrument? Is that actually something to ask a prospective teacher, and then the same question, where would such a teacher be found?

I was once in a choir where the choirmaster was a Baroque specialist who also gave workshops of period music on period instruments. Would attending period performances and listening carefully possibly give you an idea of where to find such a teacher, if such is the chosen route?

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#937214 - 02/25/09 08:35 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
For a start I wouldn't necessarily be browsing websites to find the most highly qualified instructor. Credentials are important but an adult re-starter needs to work with a teacher who has experience of adult re-starters. They might not hold a masters degree in pedagogy but is that really important?

I would say a 'grass roots' teacher would be a full time private instructor working from home or their own studio. They would teach pretty much anyone willing to learn and would have a wide and varied experience. Some might even specialize in teaching adults. You could expect them to have some form of professional qualifications in music and teaching as well as some experience in performing. Most piano teachers who do the job for a living will have these things. If your main interest is Baroque music you might want to look for a more Classical teacher rather than one who mainly teaches jazz/blues/rock etc. Every teacher with a Classical training will be well versed in Baroque as well as other periods.

So where do you find them? Word of mouth is often the best bet. Do you know anyone who takes lessons or whose kids take lessons? Many good teachers don't really advertise because they get plenty of students through word of mouth. You could also try the local music store, private ads in local papers and directories like Yellow pages (not sure if you get that in the US?).

I would start by explaining that you have past experience and would like to return to lessons. I don't think I would be too specific about what you want to learn in terms of style, at least not over the phone. It could appear that you are being a bit narrow minded and would not be willing to follow the teachers recommendations. For example, if someone called me and said they would only study Baroque I probably wouldn't take them. If they said they are interested in Baroque but would be willing to try other things it would be fine. I would appreciate knowing the repertoire studied previously because it gives me an idea where you are at. I think it is best not to mention the organ when enquiring about piano lessons. The technique is very different.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937215 - 02/25/09 08:39 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
One more thing......keep trying!

If those teachers turned you away then they would not have been right for you. Somewhere out there is the right teacher and they are waiting for you to call.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937216 - 02/25/09 09:20 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Amateur Jerry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 65
Loc: Mokena, Illinois
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.

Regards

Amateur Jerry
_________________________
Czar

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#937217 - 02/25/09 09:42 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I'm not sure you are doing anything wrong Jerry. You are who you are. You have been honest and up front with these teachers and your playing is what it is. You really can't do any more. It's up to them to decide if they would take you as a student. Sadly there are a lot of teachers who won't take you but you only need one that will. It doesn't matter if you are at 0 out of 4 right now. 1 out of 20 would be fine wouldn't it? Just keep looking, asking and calling. You will find the right match.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937218 - 02/25/09 09:58 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Kbk, would you go so far as to say that period music is best played on period instruments and learning the technique of that time which goes hand in hand with both the music and the instrument? Is that actually something to ask a prospective teacher, and then the same question, where would such a teacher be found?[/b]
Ideally yes, I'd search out a university dept. You'd have to be especially keen to go the whole hog technique, instrument and all but it's far more satisfying. Maybe search for two teachers?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#937219 - 02/25/09 10:04 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11901
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I woudl check the many universities and colleges in the area to see if any of the piano professors specialize in Baroque music. If they don't ask if they know of someone who does.

I know of a director in Chicago at Northwestern University, Stephen Alltop, who himself is an accomplished harpsichordist and Baroque musician. I don't think he gives lessons at all, but if anyone knows of someone who does, he would be the person! I'd give him a call and see who he would recommend.

The toughest thing I think is that you are looking for a specialist without being at the level of playing that a specialist would require. Someone who specializes in Baroque ornamentation does not want to teach the rudiments of piano. They would want an advanced pianist to work with, so they wouldn't have to teach you good fingering, proper technique, etc. The level of playing where you are at currently is early Intermediate. Your best bet is to find a teacher who teaches adult students, and is comfortable working in the Intermediate levels. Sure, you can let them know that you have a passion for Baroque and Romantic music, and that you also play organ. Let them know your goals. It may take a while to find just the right teacher for you. But be open, as other people have posted, to whatever the teacher thinks will get you to that point where you are ready to move onto a specialist.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#937220 - 02/25/09 10:58 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
To Amateur Jerry,

A real challenge to me is being able to listen to period instruments played by musicians specializing in early music period performance.

I think you will find your complete training in the university halls with a specialist of the instrument you ultimately want to perform these on. If (s)he can't work with you at this time because you are not totally prepared to take this on at this time, (s)he can direct you to resources in print, recordings, and a preparatory teacher (credentialed)to study with. There are also Early Music Societies, as well as American Organ Guilds around the country.

I think if you start at the top and trickle back down to where you are, you will find your path forward by locating the expertise you need at today's point.

It is a whole different sound and technique played on today's modern piano than on any keyboard instrument that came before. Individualist requirements of each instrument, as well as a study of the ornaments and school of playing at the time is a very committed study and best shared with others of the same persuasion.

I find it difficult to be in the same room during a performance on early instruments because of the big difference in sound and tuning and the instrument voice. The vibrations grate on my nervous system, I'm sorry to say. A defect that I have!

We can still receive today the benefits of the contributions from those who have kept early performance alive. But, I do wonder how long we will be able to say that into the future and retain the authenticity of it. SIG (Special interest group, for sure!)

I find the time periods and composers to be thrilling in their pursuit of music and enjoy very much the music of the day, but I don't like listening to it being played on original instruments. I've seen beautiful instruments in museums and in illustrated art and photograph collections, the history of the instruments themselves are fascinating, I think.

I enjoy Wanda Landowska harpsichord, organ, recorder, viol from recordings, but the live in the room performances just don't work for me. I can't be in the same room for very long, unfortunately. At least this has been true of my history.

I personally thrive on the sound of piano and viola, cello, and the alto voice, or baritone voice of a capella - it's a preferance of mine.
The more sonorous, the more I enjoy!

What a calling you are feeling! In pursuing your interest, you will develop an in depth different skill and mind set of precision and authenticity than the average adult piano student.

Somehow a picture of Henry VIII just passed before my eyes! The patron saint of recorders, he practiced daily. Henry would smile and shake your hand. Fervant recognizing fervant. Have you heard Baroque recorder quartets? You might try listening to the Flanders Recorder Quartet's newest CD, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”

Might there be some summer workshops on early music around the country? And, of course videos on YouTube. Etc.

How many hundreds of years are you covering in your quest?

Betty

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#937221 - 02/25/09 01:41 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
MordentMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
hmmmmmmmmm i've never had to have an "interview" to be with a teacher, sounds awfuly pretentious to me...

having said that you said all the teachers you asked had masters degrees.... so no offense with that kind of education maybe they only want to teach higher level students?

Do you have to have a teacher with such high qualifications? I have my grade 10 piano, with NO degree in music or anything and i'm the higest qualified teacher at my job, and in the whole city I work in. I'm sure there are lots of teachers like that in your area \:\)

I don't think your interests are "odd" they seem normal to me, so don't worry about anything that YOU are doing. Just keep searching, good luck!
_________________________
Mordent Music - Offering Piano and Music Theory Lessons in Windsor, Ontario

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#937222 - 02/25/09 03:06 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I can't find where Jerry said anything about playing early music on period instruments. Was this in another thread?

Seriously, I don't think it is a good idea to specialise in this kind of study until you have reached a very high standard in general. It's the type of thing an undergrad or even post grad performance major might branch off into. Looking for a college professor to teach Baroque music on period instruments at this stage (for Jerry) would be pointless. I don't think that is what Jerry is looking for anyway.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937223 - 02/25/09 03:14 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Pointless? It wasn't pointless for the sons of Bach or his many students!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#937224 - 02/25/09 03:26 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I don't think that Bach's students would have had much choice in what they studied.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937225 - 02/25/09 03:39 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I often wonder what lessons with Bach must have been like. Do you think expectations were higher in those days or did he have students who were stuck on minuet in G for months?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937226 - 02/25/09 03:43 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
He taught a lot of 1 to 1 lessons at St Thomas'. Each boarder had their own study cubicle with a keyboard so I would think they did plenty of practicing.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#937227 - 02/25/09 03:47 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
We don't have to take every prospective student who seeks lessons from us.

There is nothing inappropriate in having an interview process to get acquainted with each other.

In my case, I have a policy which needs to be examined by the prospective client as to whether the stipulations fit within their framework of what piano commitment is about.

There are certain responsibilities and obligations that we have to each other should we decide to work together in pursuit of their music education.

We have choices and preferances that contribute to things working, or things failing, and it's better to see that going in than when you get there Pandora's Box with open.

Knowing what you are getting when you invest money is a sound financial step.

Besides, I'd like to know there are some niceties being established going in, and we can all act mannerly with respect and trust for each others role in our equation.

Not all think like I do. But, I don't give music education in a casual or chaotic way either.

This is my music education service business and I am in charge of what goes on in it.

Betty

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#937228 - 02/25/09 10:03 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11901
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
MordentMusic,
I, too, interview all of my students. There are times when I meet the student or parent and know right away it's not going to work. Why waste anyone's time or money? It benefits us both, because the student gets to check me out too, at no cost.

I don't think the OP was trying to be discriminatory by looking at teachers with master's degrees. It's just that usually those who have specialized in a particular style get to that point while doing graduate studies, and so the ones who specialize just happen to have a master's or higher degree.

But I still think that Jerry should work on the basics first, then move on the a specialist teacher when he's ready.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1154227 - 02/27/09 09:16 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Jerry, you may have had more responses than you know what to do with by now. But it occurs to me that no one has addressed the real issue. You said you wanted to "repair some bad keyboard habits and improve keyboard technique for ornamentation." This would not be a problem for any teacher who understands how to teach technique. That is, technique is separate from style and can be taught using whatever materials are available. The repertoire mentioned is in fact ideal for training the hands to move efficiently and any teacher worth his/her salt can show you ornamentation, particularly for Bach, off the top of the head. And if a teacher can't or won't answer a question or has to practice the music first to teach it, then he/she should give you your money back. Next time you call a teacher, say that you are interested in improving your piano technique (no need to mention organ if you're going to study piano) and when you go to play for that teacher, take the repertoire you are interested in.

Concert pianist, retired university professor of applied piano, private teacher
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Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
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#1154237 - 02/27/09 09:31 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
NeilOS Offline
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Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Lessons with Bach, reportedly, were not just keyboard technique. They were music lessons, the foundation of which was compositional techniques. This is why we are blessed with the vast Klavieruebung.
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#1154333 - 02/28/09 01:34 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: NeilOS]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Yes, definitely. He was training civic musicians. Workers who could not only play, but also come up with compositions when required.
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#1154455 - 02/28/09 08:41 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: NeilOS]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11901
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Jerry, you may have had more responses than you know what to do with by now. But it occurs to me that no one has addressed the real issue. You said you wanted to "repair some bad keyboard habits and improve keyboard technique for ornamentation." This would not be a problem for any teacher who understands how to teach technique. That is, technique is separate from style and can be taught using whatever materials are available. The repertoire mentioned is in fact ideal for training the hands to move efficiently and any teacher worth his/her salt can show you ornamentation, particularly for Bach, off the top of the head. And if a teacher can't or won't answer a question or has to practice the music first to teach it, then he/she should give you your money back. Next time you call a teacher, say that you are interested in improving your piano technique (no need to mention organ if you're going to study piano) and when you go to play for that teacher, take the repertoire you are interested in.

Concert pianist, retired university professor of applied piano, private teacher


While I agree with most of what you've said, Neil, (in fact, I did mention that he should work on his technique in general and then go to a Baroque specialist), I disagree with your comment about "if a teacher...has to practice the music first to teach it, then he/she should give you your money back." I am not a concert pianist. I do perform, mostly as accompanist, but sometimes solo, but I do not keep a repertoire of 20 memorized pieces. I continue to learn advanced rep, and sometimes I have a student who needs to work on a particular technique or style, and that may entail me brushing up on a piece previously learned, or even learning a new piece for that purpose. Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning, so please clarify if that's the case, but to say that a teacher who has to practice the repertoire before teaching it is not worth the money they're getting paid is unreasonable. Who can play piano without practicing it??
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#1154490 - 02/28/09 09:49 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
I'm wondering if you're scaring the teachers off by having strong views about what you nead to learn (and maybe how you want to learn it?).

There's also the sad truth that the pattern for adult pupils almost invariably goes:

1. Enormous enthusiasm, lots of practice, rapid process.

2. (a few weeks later) New tricks have been learned, rapid visible progress gives way to the long plod of consolidation. Frustration, practice no longer seems such fun.

3. (a further few weeks) "I really can't find the time to practice....".

Are the teachers aware that, as a late beginner, you DID previously stick to it for several years?

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#1154518 - 02/28/09 10:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
I understand the following:

- Initially the OP was advised by organists and/or teachers that he needed to acquire keyboard proficiency at the piano before he would be taught organ music. See "prerequisite" in initial post. That set his path.

- He studied piano with a teacher who chose the RCM program. He passed grade 4 RCM exam.

- Life caused an interruption. He now wishes to resume his path but since his teacher has moved out of state, he must find a new teacher. His goal is to regain any lost skills and continue the path that has already started.

This gentleman has followed the guidance of a teacher, passed exams, and is following the path set out for him by the organ teacher(s) who will eventually teach him the next stage once he has prepared in the manner that he has been told to prepare.

From what I'm reading, I wonder if this has come across.

Exalted Wombat, you might have identified a possible source of the problem: expectations of teachers due to the reputation of adult students as a whole. I am also wondering how well known the RCM program is in the US. If someone says he has passed the gr. 4 exam, a whole framework of technical and theoretical requirements are implied, as well as pieces which are organized by genre and period.

I am an adult student of about the same age as the OP, and my studies are within the framework of the RCM.


Edited by keystring (02/28/09 10:42 AM)

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