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#951748 - 02/14/09 10:00 AM Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
With all due respect to your teaching abilities and your profession, I have a question to present as an adult student.

Let us remove the student for a moment and focus on what, in your professional opinion, makes for a exceptional piano instructor? I am talking Cream of the Crop, not the average. As a corporate trainer, I am always interested in
what the top 10 percent does that the 90 percent doesnt and how it effects the customer, in this case, the student.

Anyone up for the topic?

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#951749 - 02/14/09 10:55 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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


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#951750 - 02/14/09 12:02 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wayne723,

Wow! Do you ever have my attention!

I will wait to read some other posting here in reply, and will respond at a more condusive time to this really great question.

I wonder if John and Kreisler feel the "spotlight" as much as I did when I saw the title of this topic? Thanks, for the good feelings....but there are many others in PWF who should respond here because of their dedication, pursuit, and seriousness of purpose in the field of piano teaching.

I will get back to this question after my interview and the wedding of a grandson this afternoon. I wish I didn't have such a compelling agenda for the day so that I could respond spontaneously in the present moment.

I'd love to know more about your corporate trainer work! At one time I used management tool reading as a catalyst to teaching ideas and accountability in piano teaching. 1980's, I think. Took lots and lots of notes, read everything in the library I think! Of particular help were things on organization of the self, and time management.

Really good question!

kbk really says a mouthful when he says "Magic!" I'd definitely agree with this as off to a good start!

Betty

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#951751 - 02/14/09 12:26 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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


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#951752 - 02/14/09 04:06 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The best teachers don't perform.
Today you have some teachers playing at
their students' recitals--showing up their
own students. This is monstrous
behavior for a teacher. Once a teacher
starts teaching regularly he/she should no longer
perform.

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#951753 - 02/14/09 04:16 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Having ALL of the teachers students play well and with enthusiasm, and with no transfer students, mind you.

So yes... magic!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951754 - 02/14/09 11:22 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13773
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I perform regularly, but not at my students' recitals.

I hope that exempts me from being a monstrously mediocre teacher! \:D

I will admit that I am planning to play something at my students' next recital. I'm doing it for two reasons - because several of them have asked me to, and because I think students are often inspired, not "shown-up," by hearing their teacher play.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The best teachers don't perform.
Today you have some teachers playing at
their students' recitals--showing up their
own students. This is monstrous
behavior for a teacher. Once a teacher
starts teaching regularly he/she should no longer
perform. [/b]
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#951755 - 02/14/09 11:24 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13773
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Oh, and I plan on responding to this topic at length. Hopefully tomorrow.

I don't plan to use myself as a model, as teaching is only half my job and I don't claim to be in the top 10% of anything (except maybe posting on PW!)

I do have some observations of two teachers who I have worked closely with who clearly are in the top 10% (if not top 1%).

Hopefully I can do them justice...
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#951756 - 02/14/09 11:43 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
That would be interesting, K; I feel as you do, this topic is going to take some real thought to reply to properly, and just for the record, I figure after all these years of teaching, I have, I hope, at least moved into the upper half of teachers, but that could be delusional on my part. \:D
_________________________
"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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#951757 - 02/15/09 12:49 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 837
I think each teacher has something special that could put them in the top 10% of teachers. However, to be the top piano teacher, I think you need all of the elements in one teacher.

I think an exceptional teacher has to develop a very good rapore with the student, and try to get the maximum out of the short time s/he is with the student. So even giving too many stickers to younger students could be bad because in that one minute you discussed stickers, you could have taught one important concept.

As you get better, you teach more with fewer words!

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#951758 - 02/15/09 02:17 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
best teachers are the ones who teach but still keep the passion and pass it on to their students... (among many many other things...)

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#951759 - 02/15/09 02:58 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
With all due respect, this question is rather superlative, subjective and narrow-minded as well .

Because there are so many factores involved; about the students and their effort, the parents and their effort too.

What if students that teachers take on are transfer students?

There are teachers that *only* enroll so-called talented students and deny others, therefore, the teachers look like they are in in the top 10%.

Also, how in the world can you "remove" the student and "focus" on the teacher. After all there would be no teacher if there is not a student.

So sorry, I really don't understand the question and the reasoning behind it. Or for that mater how to really answer it. Being a corporate trainer is not the same as being a piano teacher. It is not apples and apples.

I guess I did the best I could with my previous post, as far as answering your question.

I'm looking forward to Kreisler's post.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951760 - 02/15/09 03:17 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Candyman:
I think each teacher has something special that could put them in the top 10% of teachers. However, to be the top piano teacher, I think you need all of the elements in one teacher.

I think an exceptional teacher has to develop a very good rapore with the student, and try to get the maximum out of the short time s/he is with the student. So even giving too many stickers to younger students could be bad because in that one minute you discussed stickers, you could have taught one important concept.

As you get better, you teach more with fewer words! [/b]
This I like!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951761 - 02/15/09 04:18 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
I agree with pianobuff. The question is impossible to answer.

For starters, 90% don't have the answer. If we did then we would be in that top 10%.

Those who are in the top 10% probably don't even know it. Those who think they are in it are probably not.

Rather than talk percentages, it might be better to just ask what makes a good teacher.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951762 - 02/15/09 04:23 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
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 Chris H.:

Rather than talk percentages, it might be better to just ask what makes a good teacher. [/b]
Yeh, they're the top 10%. And it's pretty ugly the rest of the way down.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#951763 - 02/15/09 05:05 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
I'm not so sure kbk.

You could say that the majority of piano teachers are no good. In that case being in the top 10% might not make you a great teacher. You would simply be better than most of the worst ones.

On the other hand if you assume that most piano teachers are good at what they do then just avoiding the bottom 10% could be all you need.

A good teacher is a good teacher. Who cares where they rank on this kind of scale? Also, the best teacher for one student could be the worst kind of teacher for another.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951764 - 02/15/09 05:37 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Why aren't there concert pianists on every street corner then?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#951765 - 02/15/09 06:07 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
Because you can take a horse to water.......
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951766 - 02/15/09 06:32 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I don't think there are any absolutes when it comes to this thread topic, and some of the answers given, and some of the question asked.

There are far too many variables...

For example, I teach 66 students each week...now is it because I'm in the so called top %10 percent, or do I simply live in a highly populated area, and am therefore, on equal par with a teacher who teaches 15 students per week in a town of 1000?

In broad terms, I would summise that a great teacher of anything, corporate training included, needs to possess vast experience, knowledge, and wisdom in the field in which they instruct others, an incredible aptitude for communication, great problem solving skills, intuition, imagination, a depth of psychological understanding, a respect for one's boundaries, a belief in one's potential, a warm, enthusiatic, and encouraging nature, compassion, and with both a nurturing and motivational/inspirational approach...and above all...flexibility \:\)

And Gyro, your post made me cringe and in my opinion, showed great naivety.

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#951767 - 02/15/09 07:10 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
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 Chris H.:
Because you can take a horse to water....... [/b]
...or you can hobble it.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#951768 - 02/15/09 07:16 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Why aren't there concert pianists on every street corner then? [/b]
Because they're all practicing behind closed doors \:\)

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#951769 - 02/15/09 07:58 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The best teachers don't perform.
[/b]
That may or may not be true.

But in general, looking at error is a bad way to evaluate or improve performance.

The best teachers DO something. They don't just AVOID doing bad things.

And a teacher who DID the right things during lessons could probably do anything he wanted in recital and still be a good teacher.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#951770 - 02/15/09 08:01 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Wayne723:
As a corporate trainer, I am always interested in
what the top 10 percent does that the 90 percent doesnt and how it effects the customer, in this case, the student.

[/b]
I'm not sure this one can be answered directly by teachers.

I have long suspected that a lot of really effective teaching is done by subtle nonverbal reinforcement of items in a stimulus chain that long precedes the action. And that much of this is unconscious - the teacher has learned those mechanisms by the same method he/she is teaching piano, so is completely unaware.

If that is the case, you can't get an answer from a teacher, because what they really do may not be what they think they do.

You could only find out by careful observation.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#951771 - 02/15/09 08:31 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
I would think that in the very least (and that's a lot) a good teacher has a thorough understanding of the instrument, technique, music, probably physiology. That understanding would have to be physical as well as intellectual. He or she would also need to be able to impart that knowledge - i.e. have some kind of underlying pedagogy even if it is informal and "instinctive". I would suspect that a number of people who teach do not have all these things. Am I off the mark anywhere?

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#951772 - 02/15/09 09:28 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
The wording of the OP has set some of you off. I understand that, but it's too bad, because semantic fights detract from some of the more interesting aspects of the question.

The 'top 10%' language suggests some false scientism, as though we could measure things so precisely. Yet the opposite position, that everybody is good in their own way, is equally problematic. That suggests we cannot, and therefore ought not, make any judgments about better and worse. We make those judgments all the time. Separating better and worse is a very human trait. Talking about how and why we do this is NOT the way to madness.

We may have different ideas about what makes a truly superlative teacher, and those ideas are worth discussing even if it does not permit us to find a non-existent 10% cutoff.

.
.
.
.

now, concerning this assertion:

 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The best teachers don't perform.
This is simply absurd as a generalization. Of course, teachers whose behavior and attitudes make plain to parents and students that they don't think much of their clientele are cruising for a Darwin award in their profession. But one cannot lump together the case of a teacher whose showoff personality dominates their students' recitals with a teacher who is a concert artist capable of drawing a paying audience. In my book, that latter is a real plus.


P.S. Happy b'day, keystring.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#951773 - 02/15/09 10:00 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
I wouldn't say that all teachers are good, far from it in fact. But I think it can be very difficult to judge if a teacher is good or not. What is the criteria? This is part of the problem faced by those who are looking for a teacher.

I get the impression that Wayne could be looking for a definition which will help him to select the very best teacher. Trouble is that you can't define it. The qualities of a good teacher are obvious but they are not easy to detect until you have studied with the teacher for a while.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951774 - 02/15/09 10:02 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 548
Loc: Japan
We can't learn from variables. We can only learn from absolutes. There must be absolutes for every piano student. for example the piano student should be able to execute scales correctly. Period. There should be NO sliding from the technical skill areas. And the teacher should show how this stuff actually works by demonstrating it. Therefore, the teacher must perform to an extent, Gyro although I agree that teachers performing at students recitals may be superfluous under some conditions. Also teachers present far too many ideas when there is a fundamental problem ie. expounding on "mental imaging" and other fashionable psychologies instead of actually observing the students mechanics etc. So the teacher should have fine analytical skills and that teacher should see clearly and decisively the foundation of a good or bad technique. A good top ten percent teacher in my mind will have a backgound not only in Music but also in Physiognomy or Anatomy and emotional intelligence to get the best out of people.

And that teacher should essentially be a formative and empathetic coach and maintain distance from a student during tuition not talk about sundries. I know that more students do better when the teacher is strict. That teacher should not have a financial need for students.
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#951775 - 02/15/09 10:05 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
I just came upon writings about the French Nadia Boulanger, who was considered a sought after teacher and (so says the book) had an influence in America. Apparently she brought out the best in her students but also had high demands. The list of what she expected of her students is daunting. Is the story of Boulanger relevant at all? I only came across the name today.

Amazingly she taught into her 90's.

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#951776 - 02/15/09 10:42 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wayne723,

I took your question seriously which was: "...What, in your professional opinion, makes for a exceptional piano instructor?"

I think posters here have responded about deliniation of the top 10% vs 90%, and the identification of certain teachers in the topic heading.

Let me call that "wrath" from my point of view, and because of that negative direction, I clearly included that there are many good teachers in PWF not just the few mentioned. At the same time, I'm very pleased to have been considered one of the teachers that the poster thought to include.

The question was not set up to be a "turf war" as it is a very legitimate and interesting question. Unfortunately, it has not been recognized as a great question because it got taken as a "pecking order" or "setting apart" among the teachers who read here.

I see it as an academic question, and not for a second did I see a student involved as a way to contribute to this question.

I saw it as an opportunity to share the philosophy of teaching, the basic cornerstones to be covered, the connection between student and teacher that makes good work possible. My answer would be more directed to what it is that we pursue/share/contribute in teaching piano lessons as being important/required/essential.

I realize that in speaking/posting from my experience, that it sometimes sounds like I am bragging, "tooting one's own horn" and taking "pot shots" at other teaching methods and whatever else would be assigned to my style of communicating.

It was a really good question, in my mind, but I am really hesitating to post to the question and the intent behind it.

I don't think the direction of the thread is going in a direction that would be well received, despite what I feel are good intentions on my part to share information and ideas. That is always my goal.

I'm going to hold on to my thoughts that I would have written here, and wait for the thread to become more purposeful to the question for the original poster.

I must say, part of my reaction here is that sometimes really off the wall, outside of educational principles enters the posting world, and certain contributions really contaminate any positive work that could come of a question (especially in the piano teachers forum this happens - a major complaint of mine - please don't bother responding to this asided comment because it will further contaminate the outcome for all of us.)

I guess I can end by saying that excellent piano teaching - creating a musician - is a very serious purpose, requires lots of experience and skill, the best efforts of the teacher-student team, and it works best when there is guidance from a thinking, feeling, committed and dedicated teacher.

I think we need a motto such as "first, do no harm" because everybody and his brother and sister seems to be trying their hands at piano teaching, and they would have no concern or interest in a topic like this.

Questions like this have always been motivating to me, and it's through examining this question over many years, that I have found certain things to be my "religion" in teaching. I understand the reasons why this would be asked of us by a corporate trainer, or by anyone else who works in education, who wants to be at the top of their game.

So that's where I am right now....I didn't expect to respond like this....but, we're missed an opportunity to answer the real question asked of us.

I wonder what Wayne723 is thinking at this moment!

Betty

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#951777 - 02/15/09 10:48 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
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 Betty Patnude:

I think we need a motto such as "first, do no harm"
[/b]
Good one! If that was the criteria 90% would fail.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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