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#944596 - 04/22/08 07:08 AM dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
baaaad_kitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 42
Loc: Philippines
hi!

up until the lessons i am having with a new teacher now, i have never ever studied Kuhlau. my teacher removed a Mozart sonata from my list of pieces to perform bec. she said that Kuhalu was a fundamental something something before i play the Mozart sonata. thing is, Kuhlau BORES me to death! \:\( i find his music so unappealing. i'd much rather play the Mozart. i can't even find recordings of Kuhlau to listen to, hoping that maybe i'd like the piece (Op.55 No.4). i sight read through the piece, but i still don't like the sound of it.

i'm meeting my teacher again in 2 weeks. the first lesson we had was to just assign me the pieces that i'm supposed to study. i have no way of contacting her until then.

what am i supposed to be learning from Kuhlau? technique?

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#944597 - 04/22/08 10:37 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
I am not familiar with that particular Kuhlau sonatina, but I have personally really enjoyed his pieces. Maybe you need to give him a little time. I think the idea is that Kuhlau is a little easier than Mozart but with many of the same elements. That gives you the chance to polish those elements and really have them in your fingers before tackling them in a Mozart sonata.

As for recordings, Kjos puts out a CD of both Op. 20 and 55 (publisher number GP384CD). Maybe someone has played it on Youtube?

Which Mozart had you wanted to play? I know it's hard to put it off. Do your best to give your new teacher the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she will be able to show you what is interesting in the piece.
_________________________
Private Teacher
Member MTNA, WMTA, CVMTA
Local Association President
The Achievement Program Center Representative

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#944598 - 04/22/08 10:59 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
Because my daughter and I both play the flute, we're very familiar with Kuhlau--he wrote a lot of music for flute. When I was assigned to work on a Kuhlau sonatina in high school, I didn't "get it" either--until I imagined that the R.H. was being played by a flute. Suddenly the phrasing and dynamics made sense to me, and I (almost) enjoyed playing it!

When students study Kuhlau, I sometimes have them play the L.H on the piano while I play the R.H. on the keyboard, using the flute sound. I've done the same with Beethoven sonatinas (using a violin sound) and jazz pieces (saxophone or trumpet). If nothing else, it's a change of pace and brings a fresh approach to thinking in terms of phrase-to-phrase instead of measure-to-measure.
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#944599 - 04/22/08 11:01 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
I held off my reaction until I could see teacher response.

Baad kitty, Is it your purpose to get a teacher's help in playing repertoire, or in getting piano skills and gaining musicianship? These are two distinct types of goals and either one can be the purpose of lessons. Often they are a mix of both. If the purpose is to get help with music that you like to play, then your consideration of what you enjoy and don't enjoy is a valid one. Listen to a recording in order to determine whether you like this morning is also valid, if this is your purpose.

If your purpose is to acquire skills and musicianship through the guidance of a teacher, then this consideration is less justified. If I were you, I would go so far as NOT listening to a recording unless this new teacher wants it, for fear of spoiling whatever your teacher is trying to lead you into. I would not want to spoil it by already having preconceptions.

The few things you have written give me the impression that this new teacher intends to form you into a pianist and musician, thus to give you skills and knowledge you do not yet possess. She (?) is leading you along uncharted waters and knows the way, has a plan. You cannot judge this, because you have not walked that path yet. You can only judge the music by what you know, but the whole point is that this teacher will bring you into what you do not know, through the music, and through the act of working through this music under her guidance. If you get what you want, the music of your choice, you might miss out on a fantastic opportunity. There are too many teachers who won't bother.

The first thing that I noticed this morning is that your new teacher explained why she was giving you this music, and what she wished to achieve. I noted that you could not remember what that was. At the same time you have invited the teachers on this board to try to guess what your teacher's purpose might be, when you have been told that purpose.

This is extremely precious! Your teacher has a plan for you, and is including you in that plan. You have a golden opportunity. The only way you will know what she has in mind for you, is to go through the process of working through the piece under her guidance. Music is not an intellectual pursuit (well, it is to a degree) - the learning resides in your hands, your ears, and in the process, and can only be taught in that manner. You cannot be told in words. You can only be told in the process of the guided lesson and the guided practicing. To be led past yourself and into areas that you do not yet know about is precious.

The next time this teacher tells you her plans, pay full attention. If you do not understand, ask for clarification until you do understand. If you still do not understand, keep the question in mind, do the exercises and instructions, and see whether over time the act of working in lessons will provide the answers for you. Let go of some of what you expect by way of teaching so that there is room to receive what might be given.

I happen to have some Kuhlaus in my grandmother's collection which I inherited. I sight read two of them this morning out of curiosity.

The first thing that I noticed was unusual (for me) fingering. It was backward from what I would expect, and made sense if I crossed some fingers (rather than the thumb) under the hand. This created a stretch across the top surface of my hand like a massage. I don't know if it is correct so I won't pursue it but I have a feeling that it was. My first impression was that Kuhlau's music expands what the hand is able to do, like an exerciser. I have no idea if that impression is correct. Maybe Kuhlau wrote didactic sonatas as a teaching device. I don't know.

The second thing I noticed is that the weak and inflexible fourth finger is used a lot. It had the bejeebums exercises out of it, and really had to work. My hand got a workout. Unusual fingersings, fourth finger workouts, unusual rhythms - lots more going on than Clementi - but somehow systematic, as though something were being taught.

I got into a beautiful movement played cantabile. I would have to develop new sensitivities and skills in my left hand to do this movement justice.

My immediate reaction was that there was a lot to learn in the physical act of playing and in the musical act, but that I would not be able to acquire this on my own - I would have to be shown the subtleties by a good teacher. That impression led me to surmise why your teacher has chosen this repertoire for you.

Please note, I am not a teacher but a student.

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#944600 - 04/22/08 11:11 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
Lalakeys, I just read your explanation. As a violin student and recorder playing, perhaps this is why I fell instantly in love with this music this morning!

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#944601 - 04/22/08 12:56 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
Keystring, you may not be a teacher, but you seem to have a wonderful perspective and excellent analysis skills. As a teacher, I greatly enjoyed reading your post. Have you ever thought about teaching?
_________________________
Private Teacher
Member MTNA, WMTA, CVMTA
Local Association President
The Achievement Program Center Representative

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#944602 - 04/22/08 01:00 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
What a message, Keystring!



Betty

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#944603 - 04/22/08 01:37 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
[double]

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#944604 - 04/22/08 01:38 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Karisofia:
Keystring, you may not be a teacher, but you seem to have a wonderful perspective and excellent analysis skills. As a teacher, I greatly enjoyed reading your post. Have you ever thought about teaching? [/b]
Yes, and very seriously.

Thank you, Karisofia, btw.

I wrote a lot more but I'm at risk of hijacking still another thread and I ahve been doing that a lot, I notice. I am in my late 40's, bgan a few years ago, have found a need to define what studying music involves if done at a certain depth. It has been a lengthy and deep journey. My music studies are under redefinition, you might say. But in that journey I got insights into learning, teaching, interactions, tons of stuff, for the sake of defining it for me.

I am a former trained teacher and still do some one-on-one. My goal currently, however, is learning to be a student, and getting my musical path to make some sense.

I'm gaining a bit of practical experience in music teaching, but only in theory since I don't feel competent elsewhere. I have passed all levels of RCM rudiments and I think I have a decent first sense of how theory and music intertwine. I'm volunteer-teaching someone the very basics of theory and so far it's bearing fruit. It is interesting to be at the other end.

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#944605 - 04/23/08 04:49 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Prussian Friederich Kuhlau ducked the threat of being dragooned into Napoleon's rampaging army and scooted over the border into Denmark to become a Danish citizen.

As others have noted Kuhlau might be remembered for his flute works ... I have a radio button close to my work station ... and automatically switch off any toot by Sir James Galway ... the same allergy goes for John Field and rap.

Having managed to dig up (you can still see the chisel marks!) the first two measures of the Kuhlau 55-4 sonatina to share the playing of a dull composition (see web page) ...

web page

the conclusion must be reached that the teacher somehow values the RH flute melody line ... when writing for piano Kuhlau hammed a monotonous rhythmic LH note pattern ... all of his sonatinas 1-12 display a similar rum-te-tum format.

For a sonorous pianoforte devotee the Kuhlau 55-4 sonatina is best endured like a bout of the lurgi ... no wonder the genius of Mozart provides bad/cat with a silver lining.

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#944606 - 04/23/08 05:09 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5277
Loc: Orange County, CA
Kuhlau is awesome. Don't underestimate his compositions!! I'm currently teaching 20-1, 55-1, 55-3, and 88-3 to different students. You need to play these sonatinas well before you can tackle the Mozart sonatas, which are far more difficult.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#944607 - 04/23/08 06:00 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
It sounds like your new teacher does not feel that you are able to do justice to a full blown Mozart sonata just yet. You can learn a lot about the classical style both technically and musically through easier sonatinas. As well as Kuhlau try Clementi and even some of the sonatinas by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. I think you should run with it and respect your teacher's guidance for now. Your Sonata playing will benefit long term.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#944608 - 04/23/08 10:45 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
baaaad_kitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 42
Loc: Philippines
thanks all for the replies! guess i really do have to trust my teacher. she's the one that said i'd be a really good pianist, if i only made the effort. suppose i'd just have to take kuhlau for what it could benefit me. still don't like the sound of it though LOL

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#944609 - 04/23/08 11:23 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
Baad Kitty, it would be very interesting to get an update every couple of months and see what happens with this.

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#944610 - 04/23/08 03:18 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
An additional thought, thanks to BTB posting the opening phrase of the Kulau. Notice that the student has to learn to maintain a steady triplet rhythm in the left hand, against an 8th and 16th note pattern in the right hand. You'll need this technique for most advanced music.

BTW, if I recall correctly, Kulau was a friend of dear Ludwig, and you can even hear echos of some of Beethoven's music in Kulau's writing. I think it was the Op 88, #3 that AZN referred to that has references to Für Elise in it.
_________________________
"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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#944611 - 04/24/08 07:44 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi John,
Be a bit wary of Kuhlau biographers seeking reflected glory in a brief meeting with Beethoven (two years before his death).

My Beethoven Compendium mentions a meeting on 2 Sept. 1825.

"Danish composer Kuhlau visits Beethoven and they have a merry dinner party with Holz, Haslinger and others, at which much champagne is drunk; Beethoven composes a canon WoO191 on Kuhlau’s name, using the B-A-C-H motif." (Kühl, nicht lau)

It might be mentioned that both Holz and Haslinger (music publishers) were close friends of Beethoven ... who made canons on each of their names ... thus perhaps the theme for the Kuhlau party.

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#944612 - 04/24/08 08:02 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
Whatever the mindset of Kuhlau's biographers, either his music contains Beethoven themes, or it doesn't. If it does it would be educational and interesting to find discover and explore.

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#944613 - 04/24/08 10:19 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, the real point is that Kulau sonatinas offer solid music and technique which, when a student masters it, will help them better tackle and perform the great masters.
_________________________
"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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#944614 - 04/24/08 11:21 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
Which means, in turn, that baad Kitty's new teacher probably had serious reasons for that choice, plus plans for his/her student. That is something valuable and not to be dismissed lightly.

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#944615 - 04/25/08 09:08 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
My best students are always those who disagree
with the piano teacher ... had the highest hope
of bad/cat bucking the system to show some bouncy
youthful backbone ... but the ganging up of piano teachers in this Forum in support of the catty piano teacher has successfully cowed the anti-Kuhlau student(wanting to try Mozart)into bowing out.

Can't go along with John's use of the word "solid" in describing Kuhlau's batting style ... solid is another way of saying dull.

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#944616 - 04/25/08 09:49 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Tony.S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/15/06
Posts: 211
Loc: Alberta
I'm a little unclear on the major point being made by the teachers on this one. Is it that a piano student "can't" learn the lessons on the more difficult piece?

Personally I find I learn much faster (including musicality) by playing only pieces I love - regardless of the degree of difficulty - since I'm motivated and spend more time on the piano.
_________________________
Estonia 168 - slow down, relax, & listen

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#944617 - 04/25/08 10:13 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
but the ganging up of piano teachers in this Forum ...
Baad kitty was asking why his/her teacher might be insisting on Kuhla.

I just made an inventory in terms of teacher input and the idea of "ganging". Four teachers other than yourself logged in.

Karisofia simple describes enjoyment with no advice either way.
Lalakeys disliked it until discovering the flute-like melodic line tends to make it come alive.
John states advantages to learning it, and advisability in terms of how it prepares skills for later pieces - so not neutral but not forcible.
AzN comes in the most strongly, from a technical angle I take it, that Kuhlau's pieces are a necessary step giving skills that would prepare for harder pieces.

I hardly see ganging up.

That leaves myself as a possible major voice exploring the question. Trouble is, I'm not a teacher, I'm a student, and a pretty head-strong, rebellious, pushy one at that. In exploring possible answers to the question, as a student who has not gotten that far on the piano, I sat down and tried to play some Kuhlau. On a technical conceptual level I found there was a lot to be learned. I also had the impression that the pieces might have been written didactically to develop some physical abilities which would serve a student in tackling more difficult works. Above all there was this emphasis of the fourth finger and some rhythmic things.

If my teacher chooses a piece that will develop a skill because I must draw on that skill, then my personal taste in music comes second to my wish to gain proficiency in piano playing. The question was not that of a battle of wills, nor even to persuade to any decision. The question consisted of understanding what reason this teacher might have had for quelling a Mozart and replacing it with a Kuhlau, and if that reasoning would be a deciding factor.

The point is that this teacher had a purpose, wished to develop something in her student by using the piece as a tool, and even stated that fact. What a student wishes to do with this idea is up to the student.

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#944618 - 04/25/08 10:20 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
That's exactly the point Tony S ... my finding endorses your view of my students finding few terrors with a piece of music that is loved ... the bad/cat doesn't like the Kuhlau 55/4 which is being prescribed before taking on Mozart ... I'm batting for piano-playing Mozart against flute-tooting Kuhlau.

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#944619 - 04/25/08 10:32 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
btb, did you bother reading anything that I, as a student wrote? Did you take time to explore the question from any new angles?

The appropriate thing consists neither of teachers or myself telling baad Kitty to accept the Kuhlau, nor does it consist of you persuading him that he should not accept it.

The appropriate thing is for the student to ask the teacher why this choice is being made, and then seeing how this student feels about the reasoning and priorities.

If you are a teacher, I assume that choices are made for the purpose of achieving certain things, and you probably present the reasoning for such choices to your students. That is what has to happen here. "No, I don't like it." with a superficial exploration, or no exploration at all, would be childish. BK did the mature thing by asking what reason there might be behind such a decision. The next thing is to make a decsion, a true decision, on his own.

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#944620 - 04/25/08 11:08 AM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
This is a Piano Teachers Forum keystring.

It makes for unproductive debate if the one party holding no keyboard skills and screened by "being a student" mask ... expects the other ... a professional party ... to listen to a vague panoply of unsubstantiated argument in a highly specialized field.

In this case a professional party offers the opinion that the secret to optimum pupil motivation is provision of a "loved" composition ... a dictum supported by Alberta farmer Tony.S ... who apparently shares the view that music which is liked holds no terrors.

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#944621 - 04/25/08 12:02 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
Which one of us are you talking about?

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#944622 - 04/25/08 03:36 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11179
Loc: Canada
I would like to isolate the following:
 Quote:
the opinion that the secret to optimum pupil motivation is provision of a "loved" composition ... a dictum supported by Alberta farmer Tony.S ... who apparently shares the view that music which is liked holds no terrors
I gather, btb, that this is extremely important to you, and that for you this is what is at issue. I do not think that this ahs come across, nor that it is what others have been discussing. What I have seen here is your statement that teachers are bullying a student, that a student's rebellion is good, that the proposed composer is boring. None of this highlights the values that are at stake - namely a cornerstone of your teaching is that liking the music one plays is the key to success. Baad Kitty's teacher has violated the cornerstone of your teaching, and that is why you are unhappy that he has been persuaded to change his mind.

Without this being stated the dialogue here doesn't make sense. If this is a basic teaching premise it is best stated since there will be different philosophies at work, trying to talk to each other.

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#944623 - 04/25/08 04:35 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
MarkFromNYC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 37
Keystring, I don't believe the student has been persuaded to change his mind. He said he didn't like the piece in his first post, and he said the same thing in his second. It's not like he read the responses here and developed a sudden love for the Kuhalu. All he did was shrug his shoulders and say "I guess teacher knows best."

Okay. Some questions:

--How much energy and passion do you imagine he'll be putting into working on a piece that he absolutely hates from day 1?

--I liked your advice that he should ask his teacher why she assigned him the piece. Supposing those reasons are justifiable, does that mean his disinterest in the piece is wholly irrelevant?

--Whatever she's hoping he gets out of the piece, is this Kuhalu the only piece of music ever written that would achieve those objectives? Isn't it likely that another piece that the student actually likes which achieves the same objectives would be a better way to go in both the short and long run?

I don't believe that a students' opinion of a piece should be the sole deciding factor in whether he works on it or not. But I think it HAS to count for something. Forcing students to work on music they have no interest in (or, like in this case, music they have an aggressive dislike for) seems like the surest way to turn them away from piano study. I'd wager that there are many former students out there for whom "piano lessons" has the same enticing ring as "root canal." I think this is why.

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#944624 - 04/25/08 05:20 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I'm not familiar with this Sonatina, but will look it up.

A couple of my students are learning Kuhlau's Op 55 #1 and love that piece. I like it too.

As a teacher, I don't see anything is wrong with a student saying, "I don't like this piece." As long as the student can tell me why.

If the reasons are valid, we then would explore other pieces that could develop his technique and musical sense comparably, in order to play more advanced pieces.

I feel you need to play a certain many Sonatinas, at least 3 before starting a Sonata.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#944625 - 04/25/08 05:20 PM Re: dear piano teachers.. (question from student!)
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
I must have missed the part where baaad kitty discussed his dislike for this piece with the teacher in question.

There are many sonatinas which would serve the same purpose. My guess is that the teacher is not aware that there is any problem with this particular piece.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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