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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 Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
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: 852
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: 2919
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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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#937212 - 02/25/09 08:00 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
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: 2919
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: 2919
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: 2919
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: 12072
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: 2919
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: 2919
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: 2919
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: 12072
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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#1154237 - 02/27/09 09:31 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
NeilOS Offline
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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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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
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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
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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]
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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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#1154812 - 02/28/09 06:03 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
TimR Online   content
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If these teachers are Masters level they are likely used to teaching adults.

I think the OP is doing something to scare them off. That "your interests don't fit" thing is kind of "I like you as a friend." It's an attempt to reject without causing offense or loss of face.

I suspect that if the OP had said he needed to increase piano proficiency, particularly in the late Baroque literature, to improve his organ playing, AND STOPPED THERE, he would have had better luck. I'm guessing here, but I think he gave too many details after that. Maybe he gave the impression he knew TOO much about what he wanted, and would be resistant to taking direction. An adult student should be expected to have a clearer idea of goals and direction than a child, and should be a partner in working towards them, but if this idea seems too fixed, then a teacher may not see how to work with that student.
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#1155000 - 03/01/09 01:16 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Amateur Jerry Offline
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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 in summary to find that so-called "fit" I should refrain from:
a) Accepting the guidance of upper level organ performers and teachers who catagorically advise (and some demand) a strong pianistic skill with piano studies as a pre-requisite.
b) Setting up clear goals and milestones
c) Providing succinct and descriptive responses when asked why am I there and what do I want to learn.


Looking back, I guess I was spoiled by my original piano teacher, who took me as a total newbie and listened to what my goals were/are and shaped a plan forward. Reading some of the responses I have received, it has opened my eyes that she defined the true art of a teacher (much like the true love of a parent), we worked together for me not her! She was the mentor, she provided the guidance, everything we did for those four years was for my benefit. It was up to me to listen to her wisdom and work hard/be dedicated. As I stated previously I made it only to level 4 RCM, but I don't think that was that bad for a part time adult. She provided me the foundation to go forward (in organ, a instrument she really had no interest in, yet she taught me for preparation of). With her support I started quite well in organ. Unfortunately, I have day job, so I had to take a break. Now I am ready to come back.

What I have learned in this experience is that it is going to be very hard to find a replacement mentor (just like when you lose a parent). These responses sound/feel so much different now then the teacher/student relationship I previously had.

Thanks for all the feedback. I wish you all good luck and much success. You have really helped me open my eyes. I have a new appreciation for whats out there. I'll keep that those thoughts to myself!!!

Best Regards
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#1155005 - 03/01/09 01:45 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I said buy a clavichord, it would do Angela Hewitt a lot of good too.
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#1155086 - 03/01/09 08:29 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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This thread goes beyond AmateurJerry, to any adult having serious goals. It would be good to work through it and learn from it. I don't want to find myself in a similar predicament.

1. I don't think a general statement would work, such as "I want to learn to play the piano well, teach me however you see fit." You could end up with a jazz or pop focus, or any of the things that are commonly seen as fitting adult wishes. The OP has been advised to become proficient on the piano in order to meet the standards of eventual organ teachers. How does this grab PW teachers:

"I am following the advice of organ teachers who want me to be proficient on the piano before they will teach me. I have already worked with a piano teacher and have passed RCM grade four. I would like to bring my playing back up to snuff and continue with these goals. Would you be able to help me? How would you want to proceed? What are your expectations and goals for me?"

2. The concern I am hearing from teachers, with some tinges of resentment, is of being given an agenda. This also seems to be a common experience. This is serious and has to be addressed.

If I wish to eventually study with an organ teacher where I will probably be doing mostly Baroque music, and gain piano proficiency in order to do so, I am not imposing such studies on the teacher. I am assuming that the teacher will LEAD THE WAY. Through this teacher's expertise, she will plan what she wants me to do, and in what order. In knowing the eventual goals, she will know what to stress. I would expect the prospective teacher to possibly redefine the goal, and set up goals for me, which I would expect to FOLLOW. I.e., "To gain this proficiency, we will need to work on posture and some rudimentary exercises, because I have detected a weakness in that area. I choose a broad repertoire for all my students, because the variety gives them the skills and familiarity with music as a whole that every musician needs." I'm making this up, obviously. The bottom line is that even if I give a goal of the kind that Jerry has given, I expect the teacher to run the show. I suspect the OP had the same attitude.

However, I read a lot where students try to impose repertoire and even approaches to technique, and I think this is the fear. I also wonder whether teachers are focusing on the choice of repertoire, rather than the desire for skills. If the OP wants to play Baroque music and these composers, then I have no freedom as a teacher to teach - something along those lines? Some of us *can* distinguish, and do want to get at the skills in whatever manner you teachers see best. Repertoire and genre is essentially beside the point.

I think that 1. there is a problem where teachers have learned to expect certain things from students and will understand what is presented in that light. 2. In an effort to present as clear a picture as possible, we give way too much information which is then taken as a shopping list. I might well do what Jerry has done. As a teacher myself, I like to have as much of a background as possible when tutoring someone, and so I provide the same. This thread may change my eventual approach.

Since there is this problem of teachers' prior experiences causing certain expectations, maybe this has to be addressed directly? ** Firstly, by paring down what we present to essentials, using the right language, knowing what to present. I guess this is a question. ** Secondly, possibly asking a prospective teacher for totally honest and frank feedback so that such concerns can be met head on. If it were me, I would not want politeness and being spared feelings, because I want to start working with some teacher.

I am also wondering whether involvement by the former teacher who has moved out of state might be helpful. Professionals in any field have a particular way of talking about things, and when we are still mostly on the outside we can easily present ourselves badly and give the wrong impression. I imagine that a word from the piano teacher, or perhaps a shove in the right diretion from the organists, might be helpful. I am concerned that the mere fact of being a certain age will shut doors needlessly.

I am also not totally comfortable with the idea that someone should be specialized in "working with adults". A given adult might work very much like a teen works, and I would want the teacher to be specialized in teaching what needs to be taught, rather than teaching a particular category of student. Above all, what concerns me, is that very categorization. There is a vast difference between adults, so how can there be such a thing?

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#1155088 - 03/01/09 08:33 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Online   content
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We are trying to be helpful. Let's look at just your interaction with me for a second.

I may not have expressed myself clearly, I sometimes have that problem. Or you may have chosen at some level to misunderstand. So I'll be simple and clear.

I think it is possible, even likely, that you APPEAR to be a difficult student. It is also possible though less likely that you ARE a difficult student.

When I suggested that, you reacted defensively, angrily, and sarcastically. If I were now one of those prospective teachers, I'd be looking at our interaction as a mirror of how our student-teacher interaction would be, and I'd be concerned. I'd never reject you, of course, I'd check my schedule and be unable to fit you in, but I'd promise to keep you on the waiting list for the first available opening.

If you are NOT a difficult student, we can probably help you present yourself so that teachers do not misinterpret.
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#1155090 - 03/01/09 08:39 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Jeez, what am I doing in the last two re:'s?
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#1155108 - 03/01/09 09:21 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
Jeez, what am I doing in the last two re:'s?

It's the system, kbk. If you fill in the field where one usually posts, it sticks in a "re:" where no "re" is meant. I was not replying to you, and TimR could not have been replying to you, unless he assumes you are a student. wink

KS

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#1155113 - 03/01/09 09:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
Jeez, what am I doing in the last two re:'s?

It's the system, kbk.
As usual, the 'system's' stupid then. I have flagged it up with the relevant authorities (I hope).
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#1155161 - 03/01/09 10:53 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keystring Online   content
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TimR, I believe the OP was reacting to the sum total of these 4 pages, and not your post in particular. Perhaps reading the whole thread might shed some light on this. For any of us students, feedback on teacher reaction to such things as being "over-informed" is a valuable thing to know of.

It has been personally informative to see the reactions of teachers on this board, because I would not have thought some of the things would be taken as they were. It is better to be forewarned and be able to be preemptive.

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#1155222 - 03/01/09 12:25 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
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It takes time for a music teacher and a student to find out if they are suited to each other and that the teacher has something useful to contribute to the student.

The attitude of the OP was one of frustration from the start - with a big game plan already thought out and a demand that a teacher step in to fill his needs IF they can.

The OP seems intimidating and difficult by asserting his questions on the telephone - as though he's a telephone solicitor working the phones. "Fill my need, fill my need!"

Think of this initial meeting as job seeking - you are the interviewee and the teacher is the "complany" you want to work with/for. How do you behave? What's the process and your role in it? What do you get "points" for, and "demerits" for in your presentation for consideration to be "hired"? Try writing a resume of your background, your preparation, your future goals and present them on paper to yourself in writing before trying to "talk" on the phone (no less) to someone you don't know.

If this is a serious endeavor on your part to find that teacher, you must go about it differently. Try AGO for instance. Try the local university and go attend organ recitals, or baroque music recitals in any instrumentation, check out early music sociieties - do something that puts you in the field with these people so that you might meet or at least achieve an "introduction" to them.

You are trying to blast your way into an environment of learned musicians who carefully choose who they will work with because this is a high level of thinking, learning and accomplishment, and there is a "profile" or description of one who has paved the way to be ready for this specialized work.

There is a "temperment" to this arena of music study and it is almost like you need to know the "secret door knock" to get in.

Demanding and difficult situations do not get far: it's the dedication and the devotion and the building commonalities among compatible musicians via commonalities that attract the incredible teachers to the authentic seekers.

This is not a consumer issue, this is establishing mentorship.

Mumble, mumble.

Betty

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#1155235 - 03/01/09 12:52 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Think of this initial meeting as job seeking - you are the interviewee and the teacher is the "complany" you want to work with/for. How do you behave?
To be fair the OP is offering to employ the teacher not the other way round.
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#1155253 - 03/01/09 01:32 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
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kbk,

Yes, I agree where the money is coming from....but in hiring/recruitment of company and employee, there have to be favorable is not strong reasons to join ranks together.

It is also a courting dance of best behavior going on through the introductory periods prior to employment. Do you have what I want? Are you willing to work for what I will pay you?

All the pretenses of hoping to find a winning combination for employee and employer.

After that, it's anyone's guess as to what is likely to happen. Once the interview or preliminary period has gone south, it is unlikely that it will be reconsidered.

The OP seems to have all the instincts of removing people from consideration. How does he know what he missed when it was simply a quick phone call that was the contact point.

Read websites, read resumes, get it to the discrimination level where one has enough information to make a good decision for ones self.

Courtesies. Not hastily gathered information please. To discover not to reject. To bring together, not to wrench apart.

"A yellow brick road....follow, follow, follow."

Betty

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#1155261 - 03/01/09 01:41 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
keystring Online   content
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Betty,
Quote:
The OP seems to have all the instincts of removing people from consideration. How does he know what he missed when it was simply a quick phone call that was the contact point.

The OP did not do that. He phoned four teachers. One refused to even see him. The other three refused to teach him. He had an interview with the three other teachers, and he prepared for that interview by practising some of his old pieces.

The OP has four grades of piano studies behind and has passed RCM grade 4. His original teacher has moved. He is resuming interrupted studies. His goal is the organ, but the organ teachers have told him that he must first become proficient on the piano before they will take him. That is what he is trying to do.

His stated goal is to bring his playing back up to quality through a teacher and to acquire what he needs i.e. to continue his studies. He came to the teacher forum to try to figure out why all teachers he has contacted have refused to teach him.

KS

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#1155322 - 03/01/09 03:47 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Too much information too soon alarms piano teachers, I think.

We are not psychiatrists nor psychologists and when we receive a lot of information at once it is a clue that this person might be a high maintenance person requiring much more than piano lessons.

When someone says I have achieved "four grades of piano studies behind and have passed RCM grade 4" that is a fact to register in our brains. If the inquiree would allow us space to ask a question at that point, there might be a conversation started that could continue somewhere.

If the talking continues to cover many other things in which we are not able to get a word in edgewise, it is being a clue that the speaker does not listen for input.

To want to work with a student means that the teacher sees probability that teaching and learning will take place because the student listens and responds appropriately.

When a conversation feels like the inquiree is putting the teacher on the spot, there is no reason for the teacher to want to continue the conversation.

Attitude and pace says a lot about an inquiree. Sometimes in a phone call, someone will ask an indepth question, but not always, and I can tell that they are having to beg off from an indepth answer at the moment....probably because they are calling from work, or on a cell phone while driving. It is so obvious to me. Save the indepth questions for when you have booked time to visit with the teacher and allow these "issues" you are concerned about to come up and receive full attention.

I understand your defense of the OP here - but telephone inquiries are meant to be brief, to ask a few questions, and to arrange a meeting time; they are not for long harangues, deep philosophy questions, and monologues.

A first preface might me: 1) Hello this is _______ (name)calling about piano lessons for myself. Let the teacher participate and lead you through this first initial conversation as there are some things she needs to know about you before she decides how to handle your call to your mutual interest. Back and forth, give and take.

It is obvious to me and has always been when someone has a strong hidden agenda in mind and that they think my job is to sit and listen to all of it. Not so. I have to agree to be interested and willing to listen to more. With my permission will this conversation takes place now or in the future at a more convenient time.

I just feel the insistance of the OP's voice and method, and while it asks "What am I doing wrong?" it really has fingers pointint in the direction of "Who were they to refuse me?"

Pressure is seen as different things coming to the survace, and teachers like to enter teaching doors with hope, expectations, and no big tensions or problems to solve. Everything unfolds in time given enough time and opportunity in an appropriate way.

Intensity is what I feel from reading this topic. People who preface everything with a long explanation are really time consuming and bringing with them a long history of yes, buts and why's, they keep their foibles in safe keeping. And then, and then, on and on.

If I am really very off I would apologize immediately, but I've heard this song before, and will hear it again and again.

I will gladly teach, but I refuse to be "played". If you are horrified with my viewpoint so be it. Some of us were not meant to work together, we share obtuse to each other needs, and rub each other raw. And, I think we recognize it. The instinct to self protect is high.

Betty

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#1155324 - 03/01/09 03:49 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
TimR Online   content
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The OP was obviously beginning to suspect it was more than just bad luck that was causing his difficulties.

Short of a conspiracy theory, the idea that it could be his presentation would seem to be a natural one.

Coming here would allow him to check that possibility, as well as the possibility that teachers of this type simply don't exist.

Answers here suggest that teachers of this type DO exist, and that possibly the personal interaction could be improved. At least that's my opinion. That the OP seems to reject this could be seen as confirmation.

All of us bring our life experiences to this table. I play piano badly and you would be a fool to take my advice on that subject; however without going into my cv I'd point out it would be equally foolish to reject my perceptions on interactions out of hand. I do manage a large diverse engineering staff and make hiring, firing, and discipline decisions constantly.

This thread has been extremely educational to me. Prior to this I've not understood why teachers find adults difficult. Now i can see, and will adjust my approach accordingly. I neither want to be perceived as, nor to be, a difficult student.

Yes, the student is the paying customer, but the teacher has the right and responsibility to say "but that's not what I sell, try elsewhere."
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#1155326 - 03/01/09 03:56 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Amateur Jerry
Thanks for all the feedback. I wish you all good luck and much success.
As for this comment, I really don't think we are in need of his encouragement - I find it quite patronizing, following his diatribe as it does.
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#1155523 - 03/01/09 09:22 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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Nothing has discouraged me as much in a long time as have the contents of parts of this thread. frown

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#1155526 - 03/01/09 09:23 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Gary D. Offline
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The OP (Jerry) may be unreasonable, demanding, arrogant and any teacher's nightmare.

He also may be a delight to teach, hard-working, cooperative, and a potential find for the right teacher.

We don't know.

It is incredibly presumptuous to draw conclusions about a man's character by attepting to "mind read" in a public forum.

I don't do interviews.

I will teach anyone one lesson, and after that one lesson I reserve the right to say that I will or will not continue. And the person who takes one lesson has the right to ditch.

It's called a trial lesson. It's all about fit. That's what works for me. I know many teachers feel different.

Because of my "open-door policy", I do have some trial lessons that are obviously a no-go. However, some of the most surprisingly good students have also started because I've kept an open mind. I'd like to mention that I have had some of the worst possible students referred to me by excellent students, and I've had some excellent students referred to me by my worst.

About a month ago an adult signed up for a trial lesson. He was very nervous and was not sure I would be at all right for him. He was primarily interested in Bach/Baroque music. He had (and still has) a lot of "holes", but so far the lessons have gone well. Although he decided that he wanted *me* for a teacher, after the first lesson, he only came back for lesson number two because I decided I could work with him.

I think this thread should be all about "fit". That subject alone is huge.
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#1155542 - 03/01/09 10:04 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gary D.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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I would never assume the kinds of things about a person I was meeting for the first time, I would have the opportunity, as would they, to make up their own mind about the merits of working together for progress and enjoyment.

It is only in reading this posting about somethings that already transpired and the explanation of one side, the interviewer, that these things I wrote came to mind.

I don't mean to be unkind to him, and I gave lots of suggestions about how he might accomplish his goals with a different slant. I also suggested some things that may have turned off a teacher by the style or demands of his first phone call.

I am not trying to undermine him. It's not so much his character I was imagining, it was a scenario that would explain why the results he received. The "approach" for instance.

The best piano lessons are between people in partnership with a common goal. We have to get there to form the partnership before we have any clue as to what the advantage for us is going to be.

Getting past the phone call and the introductory process is what happens first. The open mind is important until experience takes it's place and we begin to know what we have gained by choosing to work together.

"Fit" is important. It works from both directions.

Perhaps something positive has been gained from flailing this one out. Perhaps in being tempted to speak from my experiences I will begin realize that it might be best not to speak of those experiences, even in an anonymous way, where the adult learner is present. Another group of piano teachers would probably understand my rantings and ravings just fine and in the content they are meant.

Avoiding non-productive situations and difficult people is at the top of my list as a process to reduce stress in my life.

We are each either part of the problem or part of the solution.

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#1155620 - 03/02/09 12:11 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
The OP seems intimidating and difficult by asserting his questions on the telephone - as though he's a telephone solicitor working the phones. "Fill my need, fill my need!"

I've been following this thread rather than posting, and like keystring, I've found responses such as the above pretty disappointing. Read his first post again! "Intimidating and difficult"? Rubbish! Motivated and keen to work is more like the impression I got.

Unless there are things you aren't telling us, Amateur Jerry, my guess (only a guess) is that these teachers aren't used to teaching adult students. Perhaps they'd rather stay in their comfort zone. I'd keep trying. (Maybe you shouldn't have titled your post "what am I doing wrong?". Some have assumed you must have been doing something wrong and set about on a mission to find it, regardless. Reading your first post I can't really see it.) Good luck.
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#1155636 - 03/02/09 12:27 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
That was pretty much my point.

We don't see people here, so no voice. No body language. There is a ton we don't know.

Without being specific, I think Jerry seemed gentle and reasonable. Striking out four times in a row could be nothing but pure bad luck.

There is so much we don't know in this environment. I think it pays to be less judgemental!
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#1155656 - 03/02/09 01:35 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
keyboardklutz Offline
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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?
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#1155673 - 03/02/09 03:44 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
Lyce Offline
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Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 19
Amateur Jerry,

If you haven't totally left the building, here is a book for you:

Keyboard Interpretation, Howard Ferguson, Oxford University Press, 1975.

This book has in-depth explanations of ornamentation by period and specific composer; plus the chapters on fingering, rhythmic conventions, and phrasing and articulation will be of particular benefit for you, whether you work on developing your technique with a teacher or have to do so on your own.

**

I must say I am also dismayed at the responses to your query. There are so many threads on this forum about students who don't practice, who don't listen, who cancel lessons, etc. My take on your contact with potential teachers was that you stated your goals succinctly to avoid wasting their time as well as your own. This is a mutual courtesy. Music lessons are a partnership; that is, with the assumption that the adult student is motivated and intelligent and the teacher is likewise eager to teach and be flexible and open minded.

My own experience with keyboard lessons did not prepare me for the majority of responses you received here. Mine were in college in a group setting; and as a non-music major, I was only able to take them when I had priority to enroll in my last year. I am deeply indebted to the piano teacher who selected special pieces for me to play outside the standard curriculum and offered to work with me individually outside of the classroom. When her office hours did not align with my schedule, she came in on off days on her own time to meet with me. My primary interest was in Baroque music; and in my last semester, she referred me to the professor who taught harpsichord in an evening session, as I could not fit her piano class into my daytime schedule. I studied with him for four semesters, three of them after I had begun full-time employment. The book I've referenced above was the text for the course.

Teachers, please. With all due respect, I don't understand the disconnect here. Jerry specifically mentioned ornamentation and Baroque repertoire as his specific focus of study, and I can understand that all four of the teachers he contacted would say that's too narrow an area for their standard pedagogical approach. But to say that Jerry came off as demanding is reading far beyond the content of his post. To suggest he should have dumbed down his inquiry, "Help, I don't know what to do," is mutually disrespectful to teacher and student alike.

Because I've never met with other than encouragement and support from the teachers with whom I've been privileged to study, I've assumed that to be the paradigm for music lessons. I hope Jerry's search will find a second teacher whose instruction encompasses these qualities.



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#1155674 - 03/02/09 03:52 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Lyce]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Lyce
My primary interest was in Baroque music; and in my last semester, she referred me to the professor who taught harpsichord in an evening session, as I could not fit her piano class into my daytime schedule.
I suggested a harpsichord teacher and acquiring a clavichord - I was scoffed at!
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#1155677 - 03/02/09 04:22 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Lyce]
Chris H. Offline
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Loc: UK.
I took harpsichord as a second study when I was at college. My teacher was a specialist in early music and his area of expertise was harpsichord and organ. I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. The difference between myself and Jerry was that I was already an advanced pianist with a lot of repertoire under my belt from baroque through to 20th Century. If all those organ teachers advised Jerry to become a proficient pianist first then why would that be any different for harsichord or clavichord? In any case, it's clear from reading what Jerry posted that this is not what he is looking for.

I have an adult student who is interested in baroque music. She is returning to the piano after learning some basic skills as a child. Her baroque interest is useful because there is plenty of repertoire to go at for elementary/intermediate pianists. However I insist that she also plays a variety of other things because I know it will help her development as a pianist. She has no problem with this as long as I explain why she is playing the music I have picked out.
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#1155680 - 03/02/09 04:43 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Lyce Offline
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Registered: 11/13/08
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Yes, KBK, but her referral was only due to her unavailability vis–à–vis my schedule and her teaching hours. I would have been delighted to continue learning with her, and she was well able to teach the conventions of the music within my interest.

Now, speaking personally and with the benefit of hindsight, I hope Jerry will find a fine piano teacher engaged in developing his technique in light of his interests, but also his overall musicality as well. The piano's sonority and dynamic capability can be a welcome change when the harpsichord/clavichord/virginal starts sounding mechanical and one-dimensional. At least, that was my experience.

When one focuses on an early instrument or baroque repertoire at an early point in lessons, there is a concomitant narrowing of exposure to the breath and development of keyboard music's evolution over time. A fine teacher can find what appeals to a student's current musical taste and expand their understanding and appreciation of new ideas and modalities. A niche can easily become a dead end and a rut, unless of course, the student is a true prodigy with the talent to become a specialist in the genre. In all candor, that was not my experience. ;o)

My two cents; worth price charged.

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#1155681 - 03/02/09 04:56 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Lyce]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Chris and Lyce will please stop lumping harpsichord and clavichord together, you're as bad as the OP. Chris, the OP has just the right amount of experience to start clavichord but I doubt harpsichord. Lyce - 'one-dimensional'!? The clavichord has more dimensions than the piano! It was the main composing instrument for both Mozart and Haydn.
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#1155683 - 03/02/09 05:13 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Lyce]
Lyce Offline
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Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 19
Chris, your post appeared after I was responding to KBK. I see that we are in overall agreement, as we seem to making the same point in different wording.

Just to elucidate one difference: I began harpsichord lessons when my repertoire was not much more advanced than Jerry's, as opposed to your study of the instrument as a proficient player. I think the crux here is that if music is to be your career, your development most likely will follow a logical, traditional path. If you are an amateur (especially an adult amateur), you will take advantage of what is available to you and learn and enjoy, but mastery is never a goal, or even a possibility. So, carpe diem.

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#1155684 - 03/02/09 05:28 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Amateur Jerry]
Chris H. Offline
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Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: Amateur Jerry
Hi all,

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.


KBK, did you read this part of the original post?

Jerry is not interested in learning to play either the clavichord or harpsichord. Nowhere has he said he would like to play baroque music on period instruments. He even said that he would LIKE to play more late classical/romantic works on the piano.

This thread has morphed mainly because of your obsession with period instruments and early music. It was never about that in the first place.
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#1155686 - 03/02/09 05:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Lyce]
Lyce Offline
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Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 19
KBK --

Maybe *you're* lumping all clavichords together. I've played a fretted clavichord -- it's pretty wimpy.

Instrument construction, the number of choirs, and their disposition will definitely affect the sound of a harpsichord. The difference in sound between an Italian and a French Double harpsichord is vast.

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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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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
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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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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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#1155707 - 03/02/09 07:04 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
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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
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
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?
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#1155737 - 03/02/09 08:23 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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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
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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
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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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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
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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.
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#1156491 - 03/03/09 12:42 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Online   content
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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.
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#1156786 - 03/03/09 09:13 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Morodiene]
NeilOS Offline
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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.)
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#1156799 - 03/03/09 09:38 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: NeilOS]
Andromaque Offline
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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.
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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: 852
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
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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
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
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
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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 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
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. Online   blank

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
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
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
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 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
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
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Registered: 12/11/07
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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 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
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: 11765
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: 11765
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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#1157190 - 03/04/09 01:24 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
Loc: Canada
Quote:
"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!

We are not on the same page. First - the questioner in my idea is not the student, but the teacher. For example, the OP comes along, and he's talking about all sorts of things: piano, organ, Bach, Buxtehude, trills, skills that need revamping. Do you not want to draw out what it is that he actually wants? People here thought he wanted ornaments and fancy teachers. How can that go anywhere?

Clients phone me and tell me all kinds of information because they don't know what I need to know. So then I guide them, and the conversation takes on a different tack.

Is that not what you do?

I am not talking about discussing emotional issues, or whatever it is that you seem to be referring to. I am talking about a professional taking control, and asking the right questions in order to clarify what's going on.

I was also talking about written Internet (forum) communication which has its own traps: not interviews.

KS

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#1157195 - 03/04/09 01:37 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

This is in reply to keystring first of two postings. Her 2nd posting came in while I was posting here so there is a gap in sequence. I have not read the 2nd posting yet.

Exactly! Real time is full of clues and the opportunity to verify and repeat things as understood.

The written word is entrapment of the worse kind in that once misunderstood or questioned, it takes on a life of it's own, with threads like cancer.

Nods, smiles, shrugs, pauses are warm and conveying. Every one happy?

On the opposite side the stomps, wails, anxiety, frustrations are clearly seen for what they are, the potential for verbal or physical abuse.

Perhaps I do read more negatively than other people do. This would creates an immediate concern of whether this could turn into potentially verbal or physical abuse or dysfunctional traits surfacing. A transfer of possible gestures would now accompany the written word as I have a vivid imagination and some acting and interpreting from story form ability. I take on characterization easily, and I also entrain with certain people in their thoughts and actions. I think these are natural abilities I was born with, but I have certainly developed them while teaching since teaching requires me to get inside the students head to understand his thinking process and interject ideas and information in ways that he understands and can use. In other words duplicating his learning style. I am saying, I may duplicate their speaking/writing style too, by "osmosis".

I think this ability is as faulty as it might be enlightening. Obviously its a consideration to one's perspective in the first place. I'm ingrained with doing this - I'm coming to realize.

The question would be rather it's valid or invalid, or both.

I do think of myself as an intuitive person.

Interesting turn of events here!

We can learn from probing questionable things, I think. And, I have a new awareness surfacing from participating in this topic.

Betty



Edited by Betty Patnude (03/04/09 01:41 PM)

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#1157199 - 03/04/09 01:41 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
It's been suggested that the OP made a bad choice of words with this thread title, and I agree. By even suggesting that he may have been doing something "wrong" in a way that was probably rhetorical or self-deprecating, he inadvertently set himself up for reactions based on that presumption; inferences have been made (wrongly, IMO) about a supposed negativity that would justify that conclusion.

I gather that teachers in general prefer students whom they can teach what they want in the way they want. I'm not saying that's wrong, but it's a limitation that should be recognized as surely most suited to the naïveté, malleability and undemanding nature of a child. Is there typically a concern about a teacher and child student being a "good match" unless the parents have issues of their own?

An adult student—certainly one who is not a beginner and who has specific needs and targeted goals—just isn't going to be compatible with any teacher (or even most teachers). The narrower the focus of the adult student's requirements is, the harder it will be to locate a suitable teacher who has the specialized knowledge, teaching style and personality that the student seeks.

I agree that the OP needs to cast a much wider net. I think that teachers who would consider such an adult student too needy or revealing too much information about what he is seeking are obviously not the right ones. Far from doing anything "wrong," the OP's strategy seems to be a very reasonable and necessary filtering mechanism.

I found absolutely nothing negative in the OP's initial presentation. He has an atypical background and unusual goals that would inappropriately challenge most teachers; the fact that his requirements are specific challenges the comfort zone of teachers who are accustomed to, and happy with, the unquestioning nature of children and novices.

I'm sorry the OP didn't find much support here. It might be for the best if he already left the building after all, though I admit it's been a real eye-opener for me—and made me glad that I'm not looking for a teacher.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1157210 - 03/04/09 01:58 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: sotto voce]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
It might be for the best if he already left the building after all, though I admit it's been a real eye-opener for me—and made me glad that I'm not looking for a teacher.

Steven


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

The OP strikes me as someone that a lot of the teachers I know would be thrilled to have...fairly serious, into serious music, willing to work, high standards, knowledgeable.

How that comes across as "needy" and "demanding" and "undesireable" I am at a loss to explain. In fact, for the right teacher I could imagine a friendship/mentorship developing. Comparing different recordings...going to recitals together.

I always think of threads like this when teachers start complaining about how they are losing students and income.

Honestly, I have to say that when I come up with a mental picture of the PW Teacher's Forum Piano Teacher...it's of a person who thinks the world owes them a living of teaching only a certain type of student who is and does and thinks exactly how the teacher wants. Nice work of you can get it. Wish I could say, "I want to get paid to do only and exactly this with no difficulties or variations."

I mean, no offense but I read Betty's posts about students who are verbally and physically abusive and I wonder, what on earth kind of piano studio is this in which this is a serious and ongoing problem to the point where you must have the "I have to protect myself" attitude toward potential students???
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1157221 - 03/04/09 02:11 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: sotto voce]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I can understand your opinion, nicely state, quite well, Steven,

Part of the teachers confidence is that the lesson structure will meet the needs of the adult student because she is not going to neglect the needs of the students, nor the back ground of the student. All are contributing factors.

When you meet up with an accomplished very capable teacher you don't have to ask or explain about such things or make an issue of things you are concerned about because at the level at which you are seeking a teacher, those are the capacities you would expect them to have.

Ask about the teachers skill sets, their highest level of instruction they give, ask about their performance history, special interests. There is lots available about teachers on web sites these days.

I'm sorry that I am creating a disadvantage toward myself by being difficult or opinionated, it's a risk I'm taking. It's just that we need to understand each other better as to what works and what does not work. It bothers me when I read about situations that did not have to have the outcome they had.

It's a two way street....compatable works.....obtuse does not.

Betty

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#1157224 - 03/04/09 02:19 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist


Glad you (and I!) are not looking for a teacher on this board, anyway. eek
Hey guys, I'll teach ya! And you won't even have ta buy a clavichord (or harpsichord).
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1157228 - 03/04/09 02:28 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I mean, no offense but I read Betty's posts about students who are verbally and physically abusive and I wonder, what on earth kind of piano studio is this in which this is a serious and ongoing problem to the point where you must have the "I have to protect myself" attitude toward potential students???
_________________________]

That's not quite what I said: I meant that we have to protect our selves and our other students from negative and difficult situations and this is possible why I look closely at behavior and attitudes at the interview.

I don't have difficult students or families in my studio - I am proud of the committment of my students and their helpfulness in creating a studio that is comfortable and friendly and productive.

My policy says I do not teach in chaos and confusion, which many studios these days don't select their clientele, they accept anyone who knocks and pays the bills.

Adults just don't seem to see the priviledge of learning from a capable teacher who will treat you like family and be supportive far beyond the call of duty. Not only do you get a good music education, you sometimes get a friend for life.

Adult students seem to demand that the learning go on to meet only their demands or interest and they treat what is primarily an "arts education" as only a recreational experience when it really asks so much more and delivers so much more to us than we are even aware of.

Sometimes obtuse and cross purposes don't help develop one's musicianship at all. That the teacher might teach with purpose and foresight doesn't seem to be understood.

There must be a heck of a lot of quack teachers that generated this kind of accessibility to piano lessons with no desire to educate the public about what music education is because they simply don't know the component parts of preparation for a musical life. Today anything goes and it's called teaching.

The biggest thing that piano teaching is, is the organization of the mind and body to approach learning and a productive outcome in music study. Organizing thoughts and actions to coordinate with a semblance of expertise.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

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#1157233 - 03/04/09 02:32 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
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Adults just don't seem to see the priviledge of learning from a capable teacher who will treat you like family and be supportive far beyond the call of duty. Not only do you get a good music education, you sometimes get a friend for life.

Adult students seem to demand that the learning go on to meet only their demands or interest and they treat what is primarily an "arts education" as only a recreational experience when it really asks so much more and delivers so much more to us than we are even aware of.


Yet more Adult bashing. Will it ever end???
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1157234 - 03/04/09 02:34 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


Adults just don't seem to see the priviledge of learning from a capable teacher who will treat you like family and be supportive far beyond the call of duty. Not only do you get a good music education, you sometimes get a friend for life.

Adult students seem to demand that the learning go on to meet only their demands or interest and they treat what is primarily an "arts education" as only a recreational experience when it really asks so much more and delivers so much more to us than we are even aware of.



I guess the only thing I can say is that you and I know a wildly different bunch of adult pianists and piano students. Not only am I one, myself, but I am a member of a piano club in the metro area.

I am Very Very Very aware of what a privilege it is to have a good teacher. More aware than most because my first 6 years of lessons as a kid were wasted at best and damaging at worst. And I don't consider myself, my attitudes or my experiences to be the least bit unusual among the adults I know.

In fact, that is why I insist on having a teacher with at least a Master's in piano, and I recommend it to others (kids and adults alike).

There are times when my lessons have to be rescheduled because of me (my work, my illness) but no more often than they have to be rescheduled because of my teacher's rehearsal and performance (and life) schedule.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1157268 - 03/04/09 03:44 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Comment made:Glad you (and I!) are not looking for a teacher on this board, anyway."

It's too bad that all teachers participating in the forum are going to receive your wrath because of my postings.

It's rather rude to make that association.

No one really knows our capacity as individual teachers until they have spent some time with us and listened to our music and our teaching ideas.

I too admire those with accomplished degrees in their field of music, and I have certainly had that in my criteria of whom I have studied with throughout my life.

That some teachers don't have that certification on paper does not mean they are lacking. Kreisler has addressed that several times in his posting, and he is at the college faculty level of teaching. He also says, there are people holding credentials who are not at their forte in teaching.

When it comes to "adult bashing", I would like to call attention to the teacher bashing that goes on constantly. In the piano teachers forum there is so little participation these days, we are very much outnumbered by adult beginners and pianists and technicians.

I think receiving teacher bashing has been a contributing factor as well as the obvious problem that things said confidentially to other teachers as peers are pick on and picked apart by posters outside of the designation teachers.

I've been on the defensive the entire time of this topic, and it is not a comfortable place to be. One might throw up their hands in exasperation, but my teaching philosophy and my value judgments and the way I make them make sense to me and I stand by them.

People get involved with me by their choice, I involve myself with them through my choice making. Sometimes it's a wonderfully compatible situation, sometimes it turns out not to have been.

We don't just fall into good situations, we create them.

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#1157277 - 03/04/09 04:05 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,

Defending your Adult Bashing by saying Teacher Bashing goes on too is a very poor excuse. As the old saying goes, two Wrongs don't make a Right.

As I said in an earlier post, if I made similar comments about Women, People from a particular Race or People from a particular Religion then I would understand if they were offended.

I fail to understand why you and others who have made similar sweeping generalisations cannot comprehend that making these statements about all "Adults" as a group offends us Adults.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1157284 - 03/04/09 04:27 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
Loc: Virginia, USA
I've seen some adult bashing on this forum. (and it's stung a couple of times, as I am one of those adults) But in this thread? I don't think so.

I think most of those who have seemed critical of the OP have felt he might be a difficult adult, not that all adults are difficult. If you're reading generalized adult bashing into that, I think you're projecting some internal attitudes and not really picking up what's being said. I thought the teachers here were pretty fair in their approach to adults. I can certainly understand why some would not want to work with them at all, though I still think the average adult is easier than the average child - and doesn't come with a problem parent!

True, we're all working with some very limited data - a couple of posts from someone we've never met. It may be that seeing him as potentially difficult is unjustified. But based on the little we have, it's not completely unreasonable.

And in a way, it's a positive sign. If there's something he is doing wrong - as his post title suggests - then there's something he can fix. If not, if he's completely innocent and the world is at fault, then it's never going to improve, he has no hope. I'd like to give him that hope.

One thing this thread has done is make me rethink how I look for my next teacher.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1157288 - 03/04/09 04:33 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
I wasn't refering to the OP's comments but various replies like:

"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."

"Adults just don't seem to see the priviledge of learning from a capable teacher who will treat you like family and be supportive far beyond the call of duty."

"Adult students seem to demand that the learning go on to meet only their demands or interest and they treat what is primarily an "arts education" as only a recreational experience when it really asks so much more and delivers so much more to us than we are even aware of."

These are sweeping generalisations about Adults as a group that I vehemently disagree with. All adults are not like this at all and I take great offence at being categorised in this way simply because I'm an Adult.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1157291 - 03/04/09 04:34 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Comment made:Glad you (and I!) are not looking for a teacher on this board, anyway."

It's too bad that all teachers participating in the forum are going to receive your wrath because of my postings.

It's rather rude to make that association.


There is no wrath. Only a perplexity that the attitudes expressed here seem so different than the attitudes of pianists, teachers and adult students I know in real life.

When I spoke of the Piano World Piano Teacher's Forum Piano Teacher I was describing a fictitious person that is made up of a conglomeration of attitudes I have read here from multiple persons. The fact that some teachers on the board might find this fictitious teacher and the attitudes I attributed to him/her offensive, says more about how teachers are coming across in their posts than anything else. I doubt people are as off-putting to their potential student/customer base in real life as some come across on this board.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


Adults just don't seem to see the priviledge of learning from a capable teacher who will treat you like family and be supportive far beyond the call of duty. Not only do you get a good music education, you sometimes get a friend for life.

Adult students seem to demand that the learning go on to meet only their demands or interest and they treat what is primarily an "arts education" as only a recreational experience when it really asks so much more and delivers so much more to us than we are even aware of.


You say it is rude of me to make the association between how one (or several) teacher(s) on this board posts, and all teachers participating on the forum...but you cannot see why adult students reading this find the above rude and offensive? Really? (I'm not being nasty I'm just perplexed...)
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1157292 - 03/04/09 04:34 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5947
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I think receiving teacher bashing has been a contributing factor as well as the obvious problem that things said confidentially to other teachers as peers are pick on and picked apart by posters outside of the designation teachers.

Betty, you can't have confidential conversations on a public forum. The whole world can read what you say!

I haven't time now for a detailed response (I have to go and teach one of my hard-working, serious, enthusiastic adult students) but I have to say I'm distressed (as I always am) when the conversation goes in this "them-and-us" way that it's going.

Teachers (not specifically Betty), if you don't want to teach adult students, then don't. You don't have to justify your choices with all this tosh about "adults are..." "adults don't..." Just don't teach them, and leave them to those of us who appreciate them.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1157294 - 03/04/09 04:38 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: TimR
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.


BTW Tim I think you are right about this and meant to say so earlier. 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...
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1157297 - 03/04/09 04:46 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Though I wouldn't have thought to use the term "adult bashing" for what I've read in this particular thread, I've gotten the sense that adult students are generally considered problematic. The term "baggage" has been used, which tends to make me cringe. What's "baggage" but the cumulative consequences of life's experiences? If adult students have it, so do teachers and all adults who haven't spent their lives under a rock or in a coma.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1157332 - 03/04/09 05:58 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
Loc: Canada
I've withdrawn my question. Don't want the flames to go higher. Did somebody mention a bonfire a while back? Weeny roast for all? How about a masked ball so we can't tell which is the teacher and which is the student? We can all pretend to be the opposite and keep everyone guessing. Or even more dastardly, be who we are, confound the stereotypes and really cause confusion. wink

KS


Edited by keystring (03/04/09 06:12 PM)

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#1157342 - 03/04/09 06:15 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
And what about clavichord bashing? No one seems to mind that.
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#1157344 - 03/04/09 06:19 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5947
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
And what about clavichord bashing? No one seems to mind that.

No clavichord bashing from me - I love my little fretted clavichord! Closest thing to actually playing the strings with your fingers.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1157346 - 03/04/09 06:21 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes, yes, that's exactly it!
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1157347 - 03/04/09 06:23 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5947
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: keystring
Or even more dastardly, be who we are

Sounds good to me smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1157350 - 03/04/09 06:27 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
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! [/quote]

__________________________________
KbK, as you well know the term "old wife tale" is used to describe inaccuracies, fallacies, myths.. I join your interest in empirical knowledge and opinion based on years of experience, but that is not what this term refers to. As for "wives" not being involved in science back then, well neither were husbands, but I have never heard the term "old husbands' tale" bandied about.
I suggest we hold on to the valuable traditions of language not the bigoted ones. As for you missing old wives, what did you do to scare them away?? grin

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#1157353 - 03/04/09 06:30 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Andromaque]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
As for you missing old wives, what did you do to scare them away?? grin
If only.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1157517 - 03/05/09 01:04 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 852
Nowadays you can't say ANYTHING in a public forum without twenty people picking it apart. That says a lot about our current, extraordinarily scrupulous society.

This is the REAL crux of the matter. Have you read 1984, by George Orwell? Folks, that's where you're headed.

We need to ALLOW others to state their opinions. And LISTEN more instead of getting so easily offended.

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#1157522 - 03/05/09 01:15 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
When everybody no matter who they are gets their say it is very much not 1984. Maybe Night of the Living Dead.
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1157524 - 03/05/09 01:19 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
Nowadays you can't say ANYTHING in a public forum without twenty people picking it apart. That says a lot about our current, extraordinarily scrupulous society.

This is the REAL crux of the matter. Have you read 1984, by George Orwell? Folks, that's where you're headed.

We need to ALLOW others to state their opinions. And LISTEN more instead of getting so easily offended.


"You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts." That quotation is attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

I don't believe scrupulousness is a bad thing, and don't find the comparison with 1984 to be apposite.

I think that anyone who posts something publicly shouldn't be surprised if called upon to support it. Generally, in my experience, accusations of nitpicking are made by those who expect that uninformed opinions and sloppy facts should go unchallenged.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1157561 - 03/05/09 03:47 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
Nowadays you can't say ANYTHING in a public forum without twenty people picking it apart. That says a lot about our current, extraordinarily scrupulous society.

This is the REAL crux of the matter. Have you read 1984, by George Orwell? Folks, that's where you're headed.

We need to ALLOW others to state their opinions. And LISTEN more instead of getting so easily offended.



As I pointed out earlier, if I had said about Black people for example what you said about Adults as a group I would have been labelled a Racist.

It is staggering that you still think you are entitled to make these generalisations about a group of people in a public forum and then it's their fault if they are offended.

If you refrain from making offensive comments about groups of people in the first place then they won't be offended.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#1157565 - 03/05/09 04:31 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11765
Loc: Canada
Candywoman,
Quote:
And LISTEN more .....

I'm listening. What is it that you want to tell me? I'm an adult student. Let's start there.

KS

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#1158245 - 03/06/09 02:01 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 852
When you study writing at school, they tell you not to preface everything with, "In my opinion." This is because it is understood that when you speak it is your opinion. And in my opinion, all the things I've noticed about MY adult students are true. The fact that Gerry Armstrong wishes to take my experiences and find something to offend himself with is not my problem.

I have noticed that there are many people who have to relate everything to themselves. If I tell you I have a sore toe, you can list all the times you've bumped YOUR toe, or you can empathize with my pain. Very few people in conversation are able to do this. That's an example of really listening.

What I wish to say to Keystring and Gerry Armstrong is keep going at your own pace and enjoying music. The time you whittle away on this thread could be better spent practicing.

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#1158270 - 03/06/09 03:13 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
keystring Online   content
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Candywoman, I addressed you respectfully. Here is my concern: Those of us who wish to work seriously can find ourselves shut out because of the reputation of adult students. If one general portrait is cited by enough teachers, it may become harder for us. I am concerned, but at no time did I attack you or your post. As a person of authority (teacher in such a forum) your posts have impact. Are you aware of just how seriously you are taken? What is written in forums has a much greater effect on people's lives (decision) than it should.

I had two purposes in participating: a) to learn how to present oneself to teachers, b) to help if possible even if only by asking questions.

Quote:
have noticed that there are many people who have to relate everything to themselves. If I tell you I have a sore toe, you can list all the times you've bumped YOUR toe, or you can empathize with my pain. Very few people in conversation are able to do this. That's an example of really listening.

What you say is very true, and it is an important point. Supposing you have a nasty gash on your toe, and I also have a nasty gash, but I've noticed there's a nail sticking out of the floor. I'll show you my gash, the nail, and maybe you have a hammer so we can prevent more injuries. In my eyes this thread is about problem solving. It should not be for venting or purposeless anecdotes. I hope not to have done so.

A small note about your opening line:
When I began teaching I was told to list sample observations (facts) rather than an abstract generalization. I have disciplined myself strictly to this and a thirty year habit is hard to overcome. "Johnny has picked up his pencil briefly twice in an hour, and wrote 2 1/2 words." rather than "Johnny is lazy." was the example given. In this way solutions can be found. My particular "Johnny" turned out to have ADD. Given facts, experts in other areas could problem-solve.

I believe, "in my experience/opinion" is a good idea when people are trying to solve a problem in scenarios such as the one here. The rule you cite is good for essay writing and academic work, but I was told not to use it in pedagogy. People in this thread believed you were stating an absolute, so your message was not received as intended.

IF the OP is a serious student who works well, and IF the teachers he encountered have drawn conclusions such as the ones you cited, then this may be a clue on why he was refused. And IF this is so, the same thing can happen to others. How we present ourselves and then follow through may be one solution. I do not believe my time was wasted frivolously here.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

KS



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#1158273 - 03/06/09 03:33 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
When you study writing at school, they tell you not to preface everything with, "In my opinion." This is because it is understood that when you speak it is your opinion. And in my opinion, all the things I've noticed about MY adult students are true. The fact that Gerry Armstrong wishes to take my experiences and find something to offend himself with is not my problem.

I have noticed that there are many people who have to relate everything to themselves. If I tell you I have a sore toe, you can list all the times you've bumped YOUR toe, or you can empathize with my pain. Very few people in conversation are able to do this. That's an example of really listening.

What I wish to say to Keystring and Gerry Armstrong is keep going at your own pace and enjoying music. The time you whittle away on this thread could be better spent practicing.



You are free to have opinions and if you want to make comments about all of YOUR adult students, I find information like that interesting and enlightening.

It's when you extrapolate YOUR experiences of YOUR adult students and apply that to ALL adults, as you did several times in this thread, that the offence occurs.

I'm glad the penny has finally dropped.

One final point - as you know nothing about me, my music or how much time I spend practicing, I would respectfully ask that you keep your suggestions about my practice time vs Piano World time to yourself.
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#1158280 - 03/06/09 04:33 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
lotuscrystal Offline
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Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Gerry...adult bashing on this thread? The only bashing I've observed is yours...defensiveness, accusations, judgements, and un-solicited advice on the technical aspects of communication, hurled towards others for having expressed their experiences, values and assertive decisions, based on their sincerity.

I can relate to the teachers who have made opinions regarding teaching adult students. I adore all of my students...with that said, adult students present different challenges, as a whole, to those who are of child and/or adolescent age. Each age group (since we are only talking about 'age') presents differing strengths, weaknesses, needs, and requirements in general...and there's nothing wrong with speaking in general when we are speaking to others who live on different continents, and in different cultures..it's a global form of interaction. Were you my colleague and friend living next door, I would speak in more specific terms...perhaps even name people you've heard mentioned before. But that is not the case with a global internet forum.

Gerry, with 23yrs of teaching experience, and some here have taught even longer, I will suggest that one can usually tend to form some generalisations. However, I have witnessed in my time on the forum, that the teachers here are astute enough to realise that there are exceptions and quite often, many, to every preconceived generalised 'rule', whether it be a positive or slightly negative one.

Accusing a teacher of being against 'humanitarian' equality is futile, as teaching, next to the medical and charity industries, is one of the most selfless, generous, and caring fields that exist...one driven on the principles of philanthropy, and not on prejudice or exclusion, and certainly not on material benefit.

However, like all philanthropists...doctors, charity workers, scientists, researchers etc., teachers may choose any demographic to work with that they see fit and appropriate, one where they feel they can do their best work based on their innate gifts, capabilties, and professional boundaries. And if a teacher does or doesn't choose to teach adults, children, or anyone...it is the best for everyone. For every teacher attempts to find the best platform on which to present their skills and heartfelt efforts...one in which their work will do the best service to others firstly, and then, in turn, to themselves.

All the best smile

lotuscrystal



Edited by lotuscrystal (03/06/09 05:15 AM)

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#1158284 - 03/06/09 05:17 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
keystring Online   content
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edited

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#1158285 - 03/06/09 05:18 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Lotuscrystal,

I have no issues with teachers teaching who they want to. Equally I have no issue with teachers making comments about the students they have taught.

However I reserve the right to be offended if I am lumped in a group labelled slow, difficult etc. just because of my age.

As I have said several times without a single reply to date, if I posted the same opinions about a group of people based on race, sex or creed then people would be offended. I fail to see why you cannot understand why the same offence is caused when the criteria to group people is age.

The KKK are entitled to their opinions as are the BNP (the British National Party) here in the UK. Most people however find their opinions offensive as they are clearly prejudiced against groups of people based on their colour.

In my 28 years as a performing musician I have met many teachers and many students. Some teachers share these views about adults, some have these views about children and some teachers treat each student as an individual, with individual strengths, weaknesses, needs and wants. In my opinion the best teachers I've met are the ones who treat their students as individuals.
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#1158289 - 03/06/09 05:23 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keystring Online   content
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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.

KS

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#1158291 - 03/06/09 05:27 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gerry Armstrong
In my 28 years as a performing musician I have met many teachers and many students. Some teachers share these views about adults, some have these views about children and some teachers treat each student as an individual, with individual strengths, weaknesses, needs and wants. In my opinion the best teachers I've met are the ones who treat their students as individuals.

Hear, hear! thumb
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#1158292 - 03/06/09 05:48 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Candywoman]
currawong Offline
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To those who have made generalisations of the "adults are..." or "adult students do this" type:

If what you really mean is:
- Adults I have taught...
- Some adult students I know...
- Many adult students I have come across...

then for goodness sake, SAY THAT, instead of saying "adult students" this and "adult students" that and wondering why people think you're targeting them. It's not 1984, or being over-scrupulous, or anything else except clear communication. Say what you actually mean.

And I sincerely hope that any adult students who are reading this will not in return lump all teachers into a group and generalise that they are all prejudiced against adults.
I'm not, and I'm sorry that you've had to put up with this.
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#1158293 - 03/06/09 05:49 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
lotuscrystal Offline
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Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Yes, I concur, that every teacher should see a student as an individual case. And I believe that every teacher on this forum does just that.

May I remind you, Gerry, that this is a 'piano teacher' forum, and not a forum for students....And therefore, piano teachers will voice their uncensored opinions, in the faith of being understood and/or challenged by their colleagues, and not by students who have a need for validation or reassurance, as this isn't really a forum for those in that context. (may I suggest the 'Adult student' forum for you to express your grievances?)

So for you to analyse, assess, judge, and condemn the opinions expressed by teachers on this thread, that have been gracious, and generous enough to reply to the OP...to me...seems surreal, unneccessary, and offensive.

PS: I will not engage you any further, I have said my peace.

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#1158295 - 03/06/09 06:00 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: lotuscrystal
May I remind you, Gerry, that this is a 'piano teacher' forum, and not a forum for students....

This has been discussed at least twice and the result was that though this is a forum designed for teachers, it is an open forum, with some teachers (not all, but some) saying they specifically welcome the input of students, the only proviso being that someone who is not a teacher should make this clear when answering a question asked of teachers.
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#1158296 - 03/06/09 06:03 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
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Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Lotuscrystal,

If I have caused any offence then I apologise most sincerely. That was never my intention.

As for this being a Piano Teachers Forum, yes I am an Adult Student but also training as a Piano Teacher. I would like to think that New Teachers are as welcome here as Experienced Teachers.
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#1158299 - 03/06/09 06:40 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
keystring Online   content
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edited


Edited by keystring (03/06/09 09:27 AM)

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#1158304 - 03/06/09 06:50 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
keystring Online   content
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Lotuscrystal,
Quote:
... and not by students who have a need for validation or reassurance..

Participation is for two reasons: a) to learn by asking questions and exploring, so that our interaction in real life can become more effective, b) to help get at a problem together since all sides are involved, in case that seems necessary in a given situation. Perhaps this purpose has been misunderstood.

KS

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#1158311 - 03/06/09 07:07 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
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Originally Posted By: Gerry Armstrong
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
When you study writing at school, they tell you not to preface everything with, "In my opinion." This is because it is understood that when you speak it is your opinion. And in my opinion, all the things I've noticed about MY adult students are true. The fact that Gerry Armstrong wishes to take my experiences and find something to offend himself with is not my problem....

You are free to have opinions and if you want to make comments about all of YOUR adult students, I find information like that interesting and enlightening.

It's when you extrapolate YOUR experiences of YOUR adult students and apply that to ALL adults, as you did several times in this thread, that the offence occurs....

+1 thumb

Different writing purposes mandate different writing styles. "In my opinion" may be generally unneeded or even inappropriate in academic papers, business writing and journalism, but it goes a very long way to grease the gears in public forums. Indeed, when it is not used, how does the reader distinguish between a mere opinion and an outright assertion of fact?

In this venue, it comes across as myopic and overbearing at best when opinions are stated as fact and personal experiences are extrapolated as having universal relevance. Why would one not choose to distinguish one's opinions lest they (along with one's intentions) be misinterpreted?

Steven
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#1158460 - 03/06/09 12:09 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
It really irritates me when posters totally remove what they have said from their posting. I think editing is one thing for clarity, or for spelling, or improved flow in the posting, or to enter more information. But, to totally remove, which I've seen many times from different posters, seems like a complete retreat of self protection.

If you said something and wrote it and pushed the button to reply, you need to stand by your words and not disappear.

You can always explain or retract what you have said in a continued post.

Mean what you say and say what you mean.

It makes me suspicious of being manipulated as our threads develop and we all know a thread can be twisted into disagreement and opposition easily depending who is posting with what attitude.

Look at this 14 page document posted in the Piano Teacher's Forum but calling us up on our comments made to our peers because our "opinions" don't jibe with theirs.

Generalizations? Not! Where we are speaking from is informed experiences, from personal experience in our piano studios, and from others across the world who relate about their experiences in their studios.

Any one individual who is offended by any "generalization" is being a censure to our opinions as we express them from the field of piano teachers.

"Hit and Run Driver" is a very descriptive label which defines an action and a criminal intent. "DUI" is another understood label. "Sex Offender" too. "Olympic Gold". "Miss America". "Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy". "LA Lakers". "Green River Killer". "TGIF - Fridays". "The Grand Canyon".

When someone asks you not to think of an elephant, you can't avoid thinking of the elephant, it comes to mind even though you mind not want to think of it. It pops up.

Does not a "picture" come to mind when you hear these words and labels as above?

For piano teachers, when someone says "Adult Beginner" a lot of information comes to mind as an associative thing based on our knowledge of adult beginners. There will be a mix of wonderful things and some not wonderful things - because that is the way the brain works like a data base. It will be our personal experience base and our world of music base.

The person who comes to us for a piano lesson is getting individualed attention, the best of our services, our support and patience and best intentions.

So, is the only thing Adult Students think about piano teachers: "You guys offend/irritate us with your generalizations of adult students and you shouldn't lump us all together, we are individuals."

Our peer discussions are not derogatory comments toward adult students. There is no reason for anyone to be offended.

Betty Patnude

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#1158479 - 03/06/09 12:37 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


For piano teachers, when someone says "Adult Beginner" a lot of information comes to mind as an associative thing based on our knowledge of adult beginners. There will be a mix of wonderful things and some not wonderful things - because that is the way the brain works like a data base. It will be our personal experience base and our world of music base.


Betty Patnude


I think we are mixing several ideas and confusing the issue.

One is that teachers have a stereotype of adult beginners. This doesn't offend me, because it is largely true. <grin> (of course it doesn't apply to me, just everybody else! <smiley>

Another is that teachers prefer to avoid difficult, high maintenance students, just as I try very hard to avoid high maintenance employees.

I think some people may have concluded the OP had difficulty finding a teacher because he was adult; others because he was perceived as potentially difficult.

I can certainly see why it is harder for an adult to find a good match to a teacher. I understand that much better after this thread.

I think some here would like to tell teachers that adult does not equal difficult. However, to a certain extent, we ARE difficult. Good teachers who care about their work like to succeed. And let's be honest, a minority of adults succeed. This is due to all sorts of reasons, and assigning reasons quickly leads to blame and hurt feelings. We need to deal with reality. A few of us are serious and understand what it takes. Actually I think the OP is almost certainly in the latter category, it's just that he appeared to bring some additional baggage.

I see a lot of adult beginner trombone players. Their horn has sat in the closet a few decades, they remember nostalgically how much fun they had, they drag it out, join a forum, ask advice, start practicing, take a lesson - and disappear. A minority stay with it and develop skill far beyond what they had in high school. As far as I can tell the difference between those who suceed and those who don't is simply who joins a community band.

Moral of the story: if an adult wants to sign up with a highly rated teacher, you have the best chance if you bring some evidence of two components: you are indeed serious, you are not high maintenance.

Of course, that's just my theory, could be wrong as always.
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#1158492 - 03/06/09 01:07 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Betty, I removed a post. I did so because it added nothing. In that post I addressed Lotuscrystal, asking him to look at my prevoius post. It is not something you could have responded to. I am sorry to have caused confusion be deleting that post.

My motive for deleting the post is that I wanted to keep my presence to a minimum since I am a student. My request seemed pushy and I did not want it to stand.

I would have hoped to have earned more trust by now.

KS

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#1158504 - 03/06/09 01:29 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: currawong]
jotur Online   blank
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Originally Posted By: currawong
To those who have made generalisations of the "adults are..." or "adult students do this" type:

If what you really mean is:
- Adults I have taught...
- Some adult students I know...
- Many adult students I have come across...

then for goodness sake, SAY THAT, instead of saying "adult students" this and "adult students" that and wondering why people think you're targeting them. It's not 1984, or being over-scrupulous, or anything else except clear communication. Say what you actually mean.

And I sincerely hope that any adult students who are reading this will not in return lump all teachers into a group and generalise that they are all prejudiced against adults.
I'm not, and I'm sorry that you've had to put up with this.


+15 smile This is also what Gerry Armstrong, keystring, Steven, et al, are saying. A PUBLIC FORUM is open to A GENERAL AUDIENCE, and as currawong pointed out many teachers here have no problems with students posting in this forum. In any case, it is not possible to keep them from doing so, since it *is* a public forum.

Clear writing reflects clear thinking. It is particularly important in writing in a public forum. While it may annoy you no end that this isn't strictly a teacher-to-teacher forum, it isn't. I wouldn't begin to, as Gerry Armstrong points out, say something like "Women are difficult to teach because they aren't confident about themselves" or "Men are difficult to teach because they don't want to take directions"!!!!! It is no different than saying "Adults are difficult to teach because..." They are all broad generalizations which are not warranted no matter what the percentage of your individual students you think fit them. (And the ones I wrote about women and men are, IMNSHO, stereotypes.) The way we speak reflects the way we think, and, in my experience, the way we speak actually influences the way we think. Back in the 1970's women here in the U.S. began to insist that they not be spoken of as "girls" for just that reason. Not speaking/writing in such a way that you make it clear that it is your individual experience with/of most of your adult students (or even all of them) will, indeed, come across as asserting a blanket statement about all adults.

These particular writing/communication skills are needed by *all* posters, not just piano teachers or adult students (which may not be mutually exclusive categories). I'm with Gerry Armstrong, keystring, currawong, and Steven in asking for clearer communications (reflecting clearer thinking, to me).

Cathy
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#1158513 - 03/06/09 01:52 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Online   blank

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Registered: 08/10/05
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
So, is the only thing Adult Students think about piano teachers: "You guys offend/irritate us with your generalizations of adult students and you shouldn't lump us all together, we are individuals."

Our peer discussions are not derogatory comments toward adult students. There is no reason for anyone to be offended.


The fact that you do not understand how some of the comments made on this thread are perceived as derogatory or offensive to adult beginners speaks volumes about your attitude toward same.

The answer to answer your question, "is the only thing I think of teachers" is--No, that's NOT what I think of all or even most piano teachers. I appreciate greatly the evenhanded and thoughtful remarks of many of the teachers who post here. But it *is* what I think of a few teachers on this board who are vocal with their generalizations and who persist in stating such generalizations as facts.
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#1158538 - 03/06/09 02:57 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Monica K.]
keystring Online   content
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Some positive, possibly valuable things came out of this thread and are in danger of getting lost. If something can be gained, surely that is where the focus should be:

We have the question of (any) adult student who wishes to pursue piano seriously - possibly not a complete beginner. It is clear that many teachers will hesitate to take a student of that age because of expectations. That expectation alone, regardless of behaviour, may shut the door in that student's face. It should be accepted as a fact that it may happen, so that we can deal with it. The teachers here do not seem to refute this.

What comes out of this is needing to know how to present ourselves. We may possibly need to reassure teachers or anticipate these concerns. We also must make doubly sure to follow up on what we promise. Some of the teacher feedback here has helped clarify how.

In my mind, the topic of this thread concerns the first period of time when a student tries to find a teacher, their meeting, and possibly the first lessons.

It would be great if anyone is helped by this thread, whether student or teacher, or if some insights have been gained. That's all I'm interested in. There is no point in venting feelings one way or the other.

I am assuming that this is a forum of professionals who do take such things seriously and do like to see good outcomes. If while someone is asking for help, the purpose of participating is simply to chat about personal frustrations among peers, then I have two questions: How can that help? Might it confuse the person who is asking for advice? This is only food for thought: it is your forum to run as you see fit. I'm a guest.

I have actually tried to stay out of the teacher forum, so I apologize for my presence in it.

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#1158543 - 03/06/09 03:06 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
keystring Online   content
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I should add that a fair bit of practical advice was given in the first few pages by a number of the teachers. It would be too bad if all that were swallowed up by ill feelings.

KS

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#1158549 - 03/06/09 03:21 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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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.

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#1158551 - 03/06/09 03:26 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
[...] For piano teachers, when someone says "Adult Beginner" a lot of information comes to mind as an associative thing based on our knowledge of adult beginners. There will be a mix of wonderful things and some not wonderful things - because that is the way the brain works like a data base. It will be our personal experience base and our world of music base.

[...]

Our peer discussions are not derogatory comments toward adult students. There is no reason for anyone to be offended.

Betty, this sounds suspiciously like "baggage"! Previously, you were emphatic that adult students have but teachers don't:

Quote:
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.

I'm relieved to know that teachers have "baggage," too, after all!

As others have pointed out, it doesn't seem possible to expect "peer discussions" in a public venue like this one. Short of a private and genuinely exclusive subforum for that purpose, at least there's greater functionality now that allows PMs to be exchanged among a group of up to six participants. That's not a perfect answer, but it's something we didn't have before that might be utilized when it's felt necessary.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1158554 - 03/06/09 03:32 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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The focus can be on the negative messages or the positive ones. It is natural to react to the negative: the positive can be chosen.

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#1158626 - 03/06/09 05:45 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
tickler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Chicagoland
Why are teachers who know that all students are individuals, both children and adults, are making generalizations about adult students?

For example, Betty wrote:
Quote:
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.


This is an insulting generalization. Sure, some adult students are like that. But many others are not.

Yet, from her other comments, it seems clear that she realizes there are adult students who aren't afraid of hard work.


I really don't know what to make of this contradiction.


Mary
_________________________
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman. -- Beethoven
1911 Steinway A-II (2007 Rebuild)

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#1158653 - 03/06/09 06:27 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Tickler/Mary,
I find it difficult to understand as well, and I know that there are others who have been confused by such statements in the past.

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 wondering whether this entire post was talking about Monica in particular, although purporting to discuss "adult students"? Because if so, just because we are "adult students" does not mean we have little background in music.

My first undergraduate degree was in music ed...at one time, in the past, I was a rural piano teacher myself, although I believed even then that I did not have the qualifications to be (what I considered) a high-quality piano teacher, there was simply no one else around who was even as advanced as I was. My family even now chides me for not giving lessons since 'I have a piano and know how to play' (the only criteria that many people think needs to be met before teaching).

Compared to those I currently know who have had high-quality instruction all along and who are now MA and PhD students in music at the campus where I work, my music background is not all that impressive. But I do have one.
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

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

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#1158656 - 03/06/09 06:29 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: tickler]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
About “Generalization”
I used a thesaurus to define Generalization: As each new definition appeared I continued to define the new work until we have a broad list of things included in generalization. The list is alphabetically presented. Antonyms (opposites) are at the bottom.

Abridgment
Abstract
Clue
Digest
Extraction
General idea
Generality
Generalizing statement
Hint
Impression
Indication
Inkling
Intangible
Nonfigurative
Outline
Oversimplification
Overview
Precis
Pointer
Review
Rundown
Sign
Signal
Simplification
Suggestion
Summary
Summation
Summing up
Suspicion
Sweeping statement
Synopsis
Trace
Unjustified remark
Vague remark
Warning

Antonyms (Opposites):
Detail
Facet
Fact
Factor
Itemize
Specify

There is nothing wrong with making a generalization.

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#1158661 - 03/06/09 06:36 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: tickler]
keystring Online   content
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Betty, I've read your response above, and I would like to respond to the parts that are pertinent to all.

First you mention the responses that teachers gave in an effort to help the OP and any other student in a similar situation. They were HELPFUL and they are as follows:
- John proposed that the OP was on the right track, and suggested that in his region there should be a choice of many teachers
- kbk indicated that most teachers stress the Romantic period, so a clavi/harpsichordist might address the desired period
- Chris H. suggested a grass roots teacher such as himself, and indicated they would have more than adequate qualifications
- Chris H. then described where to look, and how to present oneself; he also suggested that the OP might not be doing anything wrong, and encouraged him to keep looking
- Morodiene gave advice about specialists, but advised a generalist at this stage, seeing the OP as early-intermediate
- Betty suggested university resources, and spoke positively about the OP's ultimate ambitions
- MordentMusic saw nothing wrong with the OP's goals
- Neilos gave precise detailed advice on Feb. 27, p. 3
- Currawong was overall supportive
- anyone I have left out and what they said

For the first three pages the most experience teachers weighed in, and their feedback was positive and practical on the whole.

For some reason after that the question of poor expectations of adults kept cropping up. Does it not make sense to pay attention to the positive since that's what we can use? The only use that I see for poor expectations - is that it can be a potential obstacle so we should be prepared for that possibility.

Now I would like to address this:
Quote:
when teachers point out something meaningful to consider and the student resent the "interference"

Resentment was expressed only at the statements that adults are poor students, and not at any of the helpful advice I have mentioned. WAS the statement of poor adult reputations made in order to be helpful? How can I use this information? The fact is that at this point teachers were venting among themselves. You have pointed this out yourself, Betty. These things were not meant for us, I don't find them meaningful, and I have not responded to them accordingly.

I think we should all concentrate on what is actually useful and leave the rest aside. We are all here for the same purpose, are we not? It is very easy to get lost in the negatives. Will it achieve anything?


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#1158675 - 03/06/09 06:52 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I think I'm getting lost. cool

Betty, I don't understand the point of the list of synonyms (and antonyms) for generalization. If one is to conclude from it that there's nothing wrong with generalizations, neither would there appear to be anything wrong with the opposites.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1158679 - 03/06/09 06:57 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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The word list derails the topic. Efforts have been made: can they not be considered?

Generalization includes: "suspicion, unjustified remark"
Antonyms to these are: "trust, fair comment"

Which do you choose?

Can we go back to the topic now?

KS


Edited by keystring (03/06/09 06:57 PM)

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#1158683 - 03/06/09 07:04 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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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
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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
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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. Online   blank

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
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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
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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 Offline
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Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 852
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
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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
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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
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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
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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?
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#1158947 - 03/07/09 09:01 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
keystring Online   content
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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 Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
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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#1158972 - 03/07/09 10:14 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
Chris H. Offline
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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?
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#1158974 - 03/07/09 10:18 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Monica K. Online   blank

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
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#1158985 - 03/07/09 10:36 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Monica K.]
keystring Online   content
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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
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Registered: 10/14/05
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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.
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#1158994 - 03/07/09 11:24 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
keyboardmuse Offline
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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#1159047 - 03/07/09 01:23 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keystring]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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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.
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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
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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.
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#1159181 - 03/07/09 07:04 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Chris H.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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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
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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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#1160479 - 03/10/09 02:24 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: AlphaMeridian]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5574
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: AlphaMeridian
(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)


Yes smile I think the default view is one long thread, tho your replies will be labeled to the last post above yours (maybe, to the person you're [edited from "your" :D] quoting, but I don't know for sure). There has been other comment on this. You might look for the megathread on whether or not you like the new forum in the Piano forum. I think you can edit preferences for the kind of view you want, but I haven't tried because I prefer the "one long thread" view.

Remember - not *all* teachers feel the way *some* teachers do about adults, and it's worth it to read individual teacher's replies thruout the thread. It's easy to have the negative stuff overwhelm the more rational stuff - partly just because it's usually a longer post laugh My impression, from being on PW a couple of years, is that the great majority of teachers here, some of whom post fairly regularly in the other forums, too, have a pretty adult view of adult students, or any other students, for that matter smile

And welcome -

Cathy


Edited by jotur (03/10/09 02:27 AM)
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#1160483 - 03/10/09 02:38 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: AlphaMeridian]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: AlphaMeridian
Oh wow, this thread really really scares me.
Teachers should have no bias. Yes, there is certainly a difference between beginner child and adult but you're no teacher if that effects who you offer your services to. Preference? That's not part of the game.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1160548 - 03/10/09 07:52 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Piano teaching isn't a 'game'...sorry. It's an artform, and every teaching artist has the right to choose what genre/demographic they specialise in. It's called 'free-will', KBK smile



Edited by lotuscrystal (03/10/09 07:52 AM)

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#1160561 - 03/10/09 08:20 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: AlphaMeridian
Oh wow, this thread really really scares me.
Teachers should have no bias. Yes, there is certainly a difference between beginner child and adult but you're no teacher if that effects who you offer your services to. Preference? That's not part of the game.


I can't agree with that. Part of the responsibility of the teacher is to say no, when the skill set demanded is not part of the repertoire. If you're not good at teaching it, you're professional enough to pass them on to somebody who is. If you're a classical specialist you may find it impossible to teach jazz and vice versa. If you're good with youth you may not have the right approach with adults, or very young children.

There are a lot of issues with adult students, and few teachers who specialize in them. There are also few adult students in general, and far fewer who are serious. That does pose some obstacles for the serious adult looking for a quality teacher - but there's no contract for the sunrise, no guarantee life has to be fair or easy. If you persist you can find someone.

Now, possibly: one of the reasons teachers are reluctant to take adults, besides the psychological baggage they bring, is that to invest a lot of effort in somebody who will quickly drop out becomes tiring. (correct me if I'm wrong, this is my theorizing. I haven't taught adult piano; I have worked with adult guitar, choir, and handbells) Adults drop partly because it's frustrating not to improve more rapidly. It's easy to point the finger and say they didn't practice or they weren't committed, but that's often not the case. They learn slowly because a) they're adults and adults learn most things slowly and b) they're adults and the same learning strategies DO NOT WORK for adults.
_________________________
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#1160592 - 03/10/09 09:38 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: lotuscrystal]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: lotuscrystal
Piano teaching isn't a 'game'.
Notice I said 'teaching' - and for teachers it's 'the game' - the only one on offer not 'a' game. Tim, don't confuse knowledge base with teaching skill.
Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, possibly: one of the reasons teachers are reluctant to take adults, besides the psychological baggage they bring,is that to invest a lot of effort in somebody who will quickly drop out becomes tiring.
That's just part and parcel, though I don't understand why it should be tiring, nor how it differs with children.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1160610 - 03/10/09 10:12 AM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: lotuscrystal
Piano teaching isn't a 'game'.
Notice I said 'teaching' - and for teachers it's 'the game' - the only one on offer not 'a' game. Tim, don't confuse knowledge base with teaching skill.
Originally Posted By: TimR
Now, possibly: one of the reasons teachers are reluctant to take adults, besides the psychological baggage they bring,is that to invest a lot of effort in somebody who will quickly drop out becomes tiring.
That's just part and parcel, though I don't understand why it should be tiring, nor how it differs with children.


bkb,
It probably wouldn't bother me, but I can see how it would others.

There's a lot of overhead to losing a slot, having to fill it, waiting on the income, etc. When we moved back to the US from overseas we needed a month to month rental. There were almost none available, everybody wanted a minimum year lease. I can understand that. When you leave there's no rent due, plus you've got to clean and repair for the next person. As a result we paid a very high rent.

What's the alternative, force people to rent month to month? Force teachers to take adults? Would adults pay a premium price?

Every Monday night the Golf Channel has the Haney Project, which I think is directly applicable. It's a reality show, where one of the world's top teachers tries to build the swing of one of the world's top athletes. I've watched the first two episodes, and it's not so clear he's going to succeed.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1160705 - 03/10/09 01:58 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
What am I doing wrong? THe original topic and the qualm of the original poster comes back to mind.

What am I doing wrong? The best people to ask are the 4 teachers who refused him - declined to offer him a place in their studio, for what ever reason they had.

Since then, we have been doing 19 pages of our own personal baggage of what our preferances and things to avoid being discussed are riling others who do not think the same.

One of the things that is almost too much to wish for, is that when we read each others postings, it might be noted that some of our posters uphold over and over again their opinion which remains stagnant. Nothing that has been said changes their thinking. So therefore, we are guaranteed an "argument" since we are not approaching these challenges in communication by "learning" from these situations.

If we could each discover "What we are doing wrong", myself included, it would be a connection together and a more purposeful outcome, I think. The same old, same old is not representative of taking the opportunity to learn from each other.

Information and knowledge are precious to me. If I could get the information without the personalities and the baggage, it would be possible to teach anyone.

I think it's important to look for authentic students when we open our doors to inquiry and interview from potential clients. They should also be looking for a self-actualized and authentic teacher. Doing the work is where the focus is at, hopefully.

Betty Patnude

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#1160778 - 03/10/09 04:30 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: Betty Patnude]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3229
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
What am I doing wrong? THe original topic and the qualm of the original poster comes back to mind.

What am I doing wrong? The best people to ask are the 4 teachers who refused him - declined to offer him a place in their studio, for what ever reason they had.

Betty Patnude


I'm not sure I completely agree.

We've diverged from the original topic, but some of the discussion about adult students, while only marginally related, is an interesting topic in itself. Where does a serious adult student search for a teacher? Where does a hobbyist adult go for lessons or a performance outlet? How must instruction be modified to meet the unique learning styles of old farts like me? How can this kind of teaching be made profitable and pleasant for teachers?

But back to the OP. I agree the best source of information would be the four piano teachers who declined to teach, or possibly the organ teachers who referred him.

However, it is unlikely they will provide that information, if they even know. (They may not. There may just have been vague alarms in the back of their mind, nothing they can articulate.) But if they do know, they are neither obligated to answer at all, or to answer honestly if they do, and I suspect they would not. Are you always brutally honest when declining a student? And have him leave upset, and maybe badmouth you all over town, in an industry highly reliant on word of mouth?

I would not expect a prospective teacher to. I might expect an actual teacher to be brutally honest about my playing <grin> but then I have a contractual arrangement and in a sense I'm paying her to do so.

If I were the OP, I would not consider going to any of those teachers and asking why they rejected me, because that's more or less accusing them of doing wrong, and they'll expect me to argue with them. I would go back to them and say something simple like: "I'm having trouble finding a teacher. Can you recommend anyone who might fit, and can you give me some suggestions how to present myself to them?" I think that might produce some useful information, iff one listens "with big ears." If you are very calm and nonconfrontational, there is even some chance one of them would change their mind and give you a chance; they may have made a quick judgment, and you've now given them more data in the course of your interaction. (Or you could blow it big time, give the impression you're argumentative or otherwise difficult, and then they'll give you the name of another teacher, but quick call ahead to warn them you're coming.)

Bottom line, though, who cares what I did wrong? Tell me what to do right next time.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1160816 - 03/10/09 05:18 PM Re: What am I doing so wrong? [Re: TimR]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Tim,

Of course you are relating to fixing things for the future, that is really where the help is most needed in a helpful vein.

I appreciate hearing our differences, which really aren't big differences in viewpoint at all, but your mind gets to the problem solving before mine does.

This may be something that desperately needs change, but I'm always been aware of what is wrong before I have seen the what is right in any situation.

I am learning and considering what you have to post, Tim. It really makes me think and clarify what I'm sending out into the world, believe it or not.

I uphold "for the highest good of all" and I keep finding times when I missed the mark a little and sometimes a lot. I do have good intentions.

I like the parrying when it is constructively offered!

Would you want to hear:
"Someone is speaking poorly of you"? Or,
"Someone is speaking highly of you"?

Sometimes both are essential to our learning. I think a lot of it depends on how the receiver sees the sender as relevant in their lives. Peer? Friend? or Pain? Nemesis?

More good posting from you Tim!

Betty

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