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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: 13763
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: 13763
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 Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
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: 832
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: 2845
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: 2845
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: 2845
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 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
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 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
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: 11572
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: 10349
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: 2845
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: 11572
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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#951778 - 02/15/09 12:31 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2845
Loc: UK.
I don't think that anyone is annoyed or upset by any kind of pecking order. It's just meaningless.

There are several qualities that make a good teacher. Most of these have been mentioned already.

Great subject knowledge.
Experience.
Ability to communicate.
Patience and understanding.
A passion for the art of teaching.

etc.

I think that many teachers possess these qualities. What lifts a teacher beyond this is difficult to put your finger on. It has more to do with character and personality.

What it's not IMO is all about how many students end up being concert pianists. Education has been ruined by league tables and the attempt to raise standards by focusing on the end result. You can judge the success of a salesman by looking at how many units they have sold. You can't look at teaching in the same way.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951779 - 02/15/09 12:47 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Okay, here goes. My comments are based on observations I've made of two people I once worked with and whom I admire very much.

The best teachers:

Know and like the teaching literature. They know which pieces a student needs and why. They know when to assign Kuhlau 55/3, when to assign Clementi 36/5, and when it's time to move on to Mozart 283. They select repertoire based on what will engage the student and have pedagogical value, and they never sacrifice one for the other.

The Best Teachers:

Put students in an atmosphere where their musical life consists of more than practice and lessons. There are multiple performance opportunities of different types available, from informal masterclasses to competitions, studio recitals and summer camps. These are strong motivators and give lessons and practice a sense of purpose and importance.

The Best Teachers:

View music as a discipline and not a recreational activity. The benefits of music lie in the physical and mental discipline built over the course of many years. Making "fun" the goal of piano lessons is like making "taste" the goal of eating. We should do everything we can to make lessons fun and food taste good, but we all know what happens when your primary motivation for food choice is taste - you end up eating pizza and cake, weighing 250 pounds, developing diabetes at age 40 and die of a heart attack at 60. Good piano teachers see the consequences of allowing "fun" to be the primary benefit of music lessons as similarly unhealthy and dire.


The Best Teachers:

Work from a set of guiding principles that they know to be effective. This is independent from any given method or system. For them, the question isn't whether Suzuki is better than Faber or whether NFMC is better than National Conservatory or Guild, it's which of those best addresses the goals they have for their students.


The Best Teachers:

Understand musical and technical development. They have seen enough students at all different skill levels to know when a student is not fulfilling their potential. I have actually met teachers who believe that playing scales hands together is "too much" to expect of the average 10 year old. This leads me to my last one:


The Best Teachers:

Do NOT underestimate children. Not their abilities, not their intelligence, not their personalities, and not their emotions. They don't bribe students to practice by promising stickers and candy, but they also understand that it's nice to receive some tangible recognition for one's hard work every now and then. They don't insult children by thinking you have to introduce every concept with some silly game, but they know the value of a good smile and a laugh in every lesson. And they don't reduce children to two emotions. So many bad teachers think that children think in terms of "bored" or "having fun." It's a dangerously limited view of what it means to be a child, and does a great deal more harm than good.


So to sum up:

1) Repertoire Selection

2) Gives students opportunities to USE what they learn

3) Views Music as a Discipline

4) Work from Guiding Principles that are Independent from a Given Method or System

5) Understand Musical and Technical Development

6) Don't Underestimate Children
_________________________
"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)

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#951780 - 02/15/09 12:52 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keyboardklutz Offline
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Kreisler, shouldn't you get out more?
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#951781 - 02/15/09 01:06 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Piano*Dad Offline
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No! Then we wouldn't have such clear posts to think about.
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#951782 - 02/15/09 01:13 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keystring Online   content
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Kreisler, would it be possible to change "Don't underestimate children" to "Don't underestimate students"?

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#951783 - 02/15/09 01:37 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Good start, Kreisler!

Piano education is serious stuff!

Piano can not be taught in chaos and confusion - organization and a procedure of syllabus and sequence of developing skills is a priority.

Piano lessons are affordable and a good investment if you have a proven and seasoned teacher who has content and discipline to teach.

Piano lessons are not affordable at any price, including free, if there is not accountability from either the teacher or the student. Reaching goals, and setting goals is a huge part of making progress.

There are few adventures so worthy in life that have such incredible results in helping to form a fully functioning, self actuating person.

Music lessons require productivity to be successful. Personal integrity plays a large role.

If you didn't have these characteristics when you started piano lessons, you will have them by the time you have become competent at the piano.

This is providing that you were able to acquire that 10% teacher.

The sad fact is that so many students leave piano lessons before they have found the passion and the pleasure and the magic and the miracle.

All of that!

Let's keep going on the achievement and academic presentating to music teaching. It's a much longer list!

Betty

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#951784 - 02/15/09 02:18 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Don't worry, kbk, I was out and about all day Friday and yesterday. Shoveling snow, pizza with friends, hanging out at the coffee shop, watchin' TV, stalking my friends on Facebook, playing with the dogs. Fun stuff! \:D

(Plus, my wife was on call for 30 hours straight and is now fast asleep. I needed something quiet to do this morning.) ;\)

And yes, birthday boy, I could just as easily say "students." I was just thinking mostly about younger ones, since they're the ones who are most often the victims of underestimation.
_________________________
"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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#951785 - 02/15/09 02:42 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Making "fun" the goal of piano lessons is like making "taste" the goal of eating. We should do everything we can to make lessons fun and food taste good, but we all know what happens when your primary motivation for food choice is taste [/b]
Yes, you become an Epicurean - no bad thing in my book. But then again, who am I to be throwing stones at PW's very own Renaissance man!
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#951786 - 02/15/09 03:34 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Morodiene Online   content
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Well, ultimately, it's the results that matter, right? A good teacher produces musicians who no longer need him/her. A good teacher puts themselves out of business \:\) . I don't mean that all of their students are stellar, but I think that a good teacher imparts the skills necessary to do the craft of making music to their students. This entails using many different teaching methods and styles, so the teacher must also continue to learn, because every students is a unique puzzle to solve.
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#951787 - 02/15/09 04:43 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
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Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Kreisler, thanks for your post. I agree on all points.

But then, it is basically back to success. Do all of these points that you made make a successful teacher in regards to student success?

After all, we can question... what is being a successful teacher? I would assume it is producing successful students.

Just doing these things still will not guarantee success for the student (or for the teacher), therefore, it is somewhat of an ambiguos topic and/or OP's question in regards to "the best teachers." I would assume the only real way to determine the "best teachers" is how students under their teacher's guidance play and know and how much they enjoy the process of learning how to play well.

With that said, and adding intuitiveness, I do think that the points outlined in your post makes a great basis for being a well-rounded teacher.
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#951788 - 02/15/09 04:53 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Pianobuff and Chris H

Thank you for your response.

My question was not to challenge anyones value on teaching. I'm sure if I were to ask anyone if they con\sidered themself a good instructor, all would say YES. Exceptional... maybe, but why not. In real life my job is to get our employees to evaluate what makes them better that average, better than our competition. Now we are not in the field of piano instruction but an appropriate topic, just the same. Yes there are many facets to being an exceptional instructor but your thoughts don't really matter if it is not shared by your students. So, what are those teachers doing that makes them exceptional instructors?

I'm sorry for running on but I am passionate about service quality and how to improve it and let's face facts, what you do is a service, would you not agree?

By the way, what you do is not easy and often appreciated even less by students. I know, I am an adult student and I see what my teacher goes through with some students.

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#951789 - 02/15/09 05:09 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Betty,

You asked what I was thinking at the time? Honestly, it had nothing to do about piano instruction or teaching or even judging who is an exceptional instructor and who is not. Actually I will be presenting a training series for a well known and respected pest control company on The Value of the Service. Setting You Apart From the Competition. As part of my research I posted questions to other similar industry types, ie lawn care, wildlife trappers, cable companies. Since I frequent the Piano Forum, with interest as an adult student, I thought I would post the question and read the responses. There was no intent of judgment... just interested in the responses. I must say, the responses were very interesting.

My hats off to all instructors, private and public. Often times your interest and passion to provide the best instruction is not well received, or appreciated, by students. Everyone on this forum, as far as I am concerned, is better than average and most likely exceptional simply because you see answers to questions, from fellow instructors and are seeking ways to improve your teaching and help students. I deeply respect each and everyone here.

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#951790 - 02/15/09 05:16 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2845
Loc: UK.
I would say that on the whole I do a good job. That is based on the fact that I have a busy studio with mostly happy and successful students. Also, I do care about doing my best and would never assume that I can't improve. However I don't think about what makes me better than the competition. I might be and then again I might not be. Does it matter?

Judging a teacher on their students results or the way their students play can be deceptive.

Consider this:

Teacher A believes in giving everyone a chance. They are not particularly selective and welcome challenging students who might find learning difficult for whatever reason. Because they want to give their students opportunities they will enter them for recitals, competition and exams even when they know that those students will not win.

Teacher B doesn't want these students. They audition and only take the very best. Out of these the only ones they put in for competitions are the ones who they know will win. Obviously this will make the teacher look great because they teach the winners and the very best performers.

Who is the better teacher?
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#951791 - 02/15/09 05:27 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Well said Chris. I agree with you compeltely. Who is better?

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#951792 - 02/15/09 05:34 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Very true Chris.

I take back what I said about that being the way to judge if a teacher is good or not.

There are just too many variables.
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Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951793 - 02/15/09 05:52 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Can I ask a question of the teachers who said Experience is a pre requisite of being a good teacher?

Is it safe to assume that if you take that statement at face value, then no new teacher can be a good teacher?

While I don't doubt that a good teacher who is constantly analysing their methods, honing their craft etc. will improve as a teacher over time, surely it is possible to be a good teacher without years and years of experience? Weren't they a good teacher to begin with?

The reason I ask about this specifically is that in my line of work and in many other professions I have come across, the number of years that someone has been doing something bears little correlation to the relative abilities of the people in that profession. In simple terms, you get just as many poor professionals who have been in their particular profession for a short time as have been doing it for a long number of years.

Or am I missing something?
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Gerry Armstrong

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#951794 - 02/15/09 06:21 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wayne723,

"The Value of the Service. Setting You Apart From the Competition" for your pest control customer, would be a revelation if written to represent a piano teacher!

I've spent 38 years trying to get my advertising, publicity, business card, and interview information and studio policy all written well to represent me, and then to have it entice prospective clients to enter study.

Well, I'm thinking from what you said that, what appeals to me as informative and good communication does not appear that way to the reader of my materials. You said: "Often times your interest and passion to provide the best instruction is not well received, or appreciated, by students."

I can understand that and accept that.

If I were to take away all the processes to introductions and information sharing, would it make a big difference/improvement from their point of view?

I really believe there is a responsibility to the student that parents and the teacher can work together to insure success, and that is part of my agenda in communication, to promote the parent's role.

I think the big objection would be that it doesn't seem "natural" and it seems "demanding of them on my part" and "it's time consuming".

I had an interview recently of a 5 year old with 3 semesters of Kindermusic, the referral was from the Kindermusic teacher. After spending a lesson time working at the piano with the child, I related to the mother and father what I had seen in the time I'd worked with their daughter, and the strengths and weakness (small sized person, wobbly fingers, not able to hold hand in a stable position, and fingers that did not yet respond well, important to build this first, and little things like her accuracy and consistancy in what we were doing, and her avid participation. The Dad fell asleep and missed the interaction, and Mom asked all these questions, and finally said: "This is a bit further than we wanted to come for lessons" and that they had "another" piano teacher to interview with this week, and I gave 2 more referrals to teachers closer to them.

I bet you can sell people on pest control services better than I can sign up interviews.

Actually, I want them to find their best teacher for their circumstances, so it's not the conflict with me that it seems. I'm just relating about communication end of it, I wonder if they missed the fact that I had identified lots of things that were taking place during this lesson, and what I'd learned about their daughter. That didn't seem to factor for them.

It may be that I can learn a whole lot from this particular topic and the posting here and from you Wayne723!

Hmmmm. Maybe the fact that the parent is getting this information one on one is too much pressure for them.

I'll always remember KISS. I don't seem to have achieved that at all! :rolleyes:

Betty

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#951795 - 02/15/09 09:33 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Betty,

I have read many of your posts and, even though I do not know you personally, I believe you are a very good instructor. I hope your students feel the same.

You said..."Hmmmm. Maybe the fact that the parent is getting this information one on one is too much pressure for them."

My question to you is... are you selling or providing opportunities to buy? We realize that custoemrs don't like being sold but love to buy. We actually sell more business when we get customers to visualize the results through various purchasing options. Maybe this can work for you.

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#951796 - 02/15/09 09:47 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gerry Armstrong:
Can I ask a question of the teachers who said Experience is a pre requisite of being a good teacher?

Is it safe to assume that if you take that statement at face value, then no new teacher can be a good teacher?

While I don't doubt that a good teacher who is constantly analysing their methods, honing their craft etc. will improve as a teacher over time, surely it is possible to be a good teacher without years and years of experience? Weren't they a good teacher to begin with?

The reason I ask about this specifically is that in my line of work and in many other professions I have come across, the number of years that someone has been doing something bears little correlation to the relative abilities of the people in that profession. In simple terms, you get just as many poor professionals who have been in their particular profession for a short time as have been doing it for a long number of years.

Or am I missing something? [/b]
I agree. Although, we should learn through experience, I certainly have.

Being a good teacher does take talent, a calling, just like any other profession.

Either you have it or you don't. If you were not any good at what you do, why would you stick with it? Or how could you stick with it... You would be fired! The same holds true for piano teachers. If you're not any good, unless people just don't know any better, how in the world could you make a living at it, be happy, and be successful!

I guess we know that we're good teachers if our students stick with us for years on end and you have a full studio with happy parents and children.

You also know that you are successful if, with time, a student auditions to study music in college and gets accepted. Or if a student ends up composing, or playing just for enjoyment, but does play well.

This is where experience does come into play, knowing that you are capable of doing a great service, but you won't know this until you see the rewards of your efforts, which does take some years.
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#951797 - 02/15/09 09:56 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Wayne723:
Betty,

You asked what I was thinking at the time? Honestly, it had nothing to do about piano instruction or teaching or even judging who is an exceptional instructor and who is not. Actually I will be presenting a training series for a well known and respected pest control company on The Value of the Service. Setting You Apart From the Competition. As part of my research I posted questions to other similar industry types, ie lawn care, wildlife trappers, cable companies. Since I frequent the Piano Forum, with interest as an adult student, I thought I would post the question and read the responses. There was no intent of judgment... just interested in the responses. I must say, the responses were very interesting.

My hats off to all instructors, private and public. Often times your interest and passion to provide the best instruction is not well received, or appreciated, by students. Everyone on this forum, as far as I am concerned, is better than average and most likely exceptional simply because you see answers to questions, from fellow instructors and are seeking ways to improve your teaching and help students. I deeply respect each and everyone here. [/b]
Hi Wayne,

I think understand now from your response to Betty. Are you talking about how us teachers handle the business/professional side of things in order to sell our "product" in the case it would be piano lessons?
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#951798 - 02/15/09 09:58 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
 Quote:
Originally posted by Wayne723:
Betty,

You asked what I was thinking at the time? Honestly, it had nothing to do about piano instruction or teaching or even judging who is an exceptional instructor and who is not. Actually I will be presenting a training series for a well known and respected pest control company on The Value of the Service. Setting You Apart From the Competition. As part of my research I posted questions to other similar industry types, ie lawn care, wildlife trappers, cable companies. Since I frequent the Piano Forum, with interest as an adult student, I thought I would post the question and read the responses. There was no intent of judgment... just interested in the responses. I must say, the responses were very interesting.

My hats off to all instructors, private and public. Often times your interest and passion to provide the best instruction is not well received, or appreciated, by students. Everyone on this forum, as far as I am concerned, is better than average and most likely exceptional simply because you see answers to questions, from fellow instructors and are seeking ways to improve your teaching and help students. I deeply respect each and everyone here. [/b]
Wayne,

I think I understand now from your response to Betty.

Are you talking about how us teachers handle the business/professional side of things in order to sell our "product" in this case it would be piano lessons?

And thank you for your kind words. I hope I didn't sound too gruff, but I did not quite understand your original post.

Sometimes I can act like my Avatar looks! Not quite getting it... No reflection on my teaching of course! \:\)
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#951799 - 02/16/09 05:42 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Pianobuff,

I have deep respect for anyone who teaches, and does it well. To inspiring and guide someone to achieve a level of success is a gift that most people find difficult to do. There was a saying I recall... Everyone can instruct but only teachers inspire.

This post has taken a slight twist along it's journey. At first I just wanted to know how teachers measure themselves. A subjective question? Yes. Is there a standard to say what is exceptional and what is not? No, which is why I thought it would be an interesting topic for discussion.

Then a question came up and I guess I diverted to the business aspect of teaching, ie sales and marketing, which can be a separate topic of discussion.

"I hope I didn't sound too gruff, but I did not quite understand your original post."

No offense taken. Your responses show your passion for what you do. Nothing wrong about that. If I may ask, How long have you been a teacher and what do you find most enjoyable about teaching?

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#951800 - 02/16/09 10:27 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:


The sad fact is that so many students leave piano lessons before they have found the passion and the pleasure and the magic and the miracle.


Betty [/b]
When I was a young engineer with a manufacturing company (Fortune 35 at the time) it took me a long time to "get" customer focus. They sent me to all sorts of Quality Management training, but i had a hard time getting past the idea that as a smart engineer from one of the top universities I probably knew more than the customer about what he needed. It did sink in, eventually.

I'm alluding to a problem of definition here. Good teacher at doing precisely what?

I like Betty's paragraph. It gives us a meaningful and definable (though subjective) outcome by which we could judge teaching.

If, however, that is what the customer is looking for. And that may not be the case.

I would suggest it is the case for a minority of students, and then we could explore this idea further.

For the other students, the goal is different, and the measurement of success must be different.

Perhaps the teachers in the top 10% for one type are well under that mark for the other type.

It is off topic, but the observation itself, that so many leave before success, is telling. It is a hard journey, and not rewarding until a long way down the road. Is there a way to change that?
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#951801 - 02/16/09 11:46 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
1RC Offline
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Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 497
Loc: Alberta
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Either you have it or you don't. If you were not any good at what you do, why would you stick with it? Or how could you stick with it... You would be fired! The same holds true for piano teachers. If you're not any good, unless people just don't know any better, how in the world could you make a living at it, be happy, and be successful!

I guess we know that we're good teachers if our students stick with us for years on end and you have a full studio with happy parents and children.[/b]
I would argue that most people really don't know any better, and that somebody could do quite well while doing a mediocre job because of being charismatic. All because the average person doesn't really know mediocre work from the great stuff.

You could put three dance instructors in front of me and I would probably not know who's a better dancer, let alone be able to judge how well they could teach it.

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#951802 - 02/16/09 12:18 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
This would be a pretty good definition of politics!

 Quote:
Originally posted by 1RC:
I would argue that most people really don't know any better, and that somebody could do quite well while doing a mediocre job because of being charismatic. All because the average person doesn't really know mediocre work from the great stuff.[/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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#951803 - 02/16/09 01:19 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wayne 723 and TimR:

I had said: "Hmmmm. Maybe the fact that the parent is getting this information one on one is too much pressure for them. "

Wayne723: To Betty
"My question to you is... are you selling or providing opportunities to buy? We realize that custoemrs don't like being sold but love to buy. We actually sell more business when we get customers to visualize the results through various purchasing options. Maybe this can work for you."

TimR: To Betty
"If, however, that is what the customer is looking for. And that may not be the case."

Thank you both!

I can see that the interview meets my needs but I'm again understanding that I need to consider making this a marketing target with selling points so that the bottom line is connection to move forward together.

Lately I've been missing the mark, where previously my interviews brought immediate connection and entry into the studio. It's like a whole new ball game out there in this economy and troubled times. Instead of aiming to comprehensive understanding of the stucture of my lessons and the organization of my piano teaching service business - I need to be focusing on easy entry - perhaps a trial period of 10 lessons - during which we learn about each other in an Introductory Program.

The information packet of year round study and the tuition payment plan could come at the end of 10 lessons.

During this initial time we would be learning about each other and what it feels like to have piano lesson commitments in the family schedule, the practicing requirement, and overall, the progress that has been made in 10 weeks. In other words, the free interview has now been replaced by the 10 lesson package as the starter.

I have given a free introductory lesson for beginners and transfer students for many, many years. I could change my strategy making it easy to step into the program and to live with it for a period of time before making a longer commitment for study.

Am I getting it? Is this practical? Does anyone see more options?

This topic has become quite helpful to me and given me something to seriously examine.

Betty

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#951804 - 02/16/09 02:53 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I could change my strategy making it easy to step into the program and to live with it for a period of time before making a longer commitment for study.

Am I getting it? Is this practical? Does anyone see more options?

This topic has become quite helpful to me and given me something to seriously examine.

Betty [/b]
I think we've had this discussion before. It entails the congruency of customer (parent) and teacher (service provider) goals.

I would guess that Betty is somewhat oriented towards helping a dedicated and talented student achieve true success, both technically and musically. Obviously not all of her students fit that pattern and she is likely skilled at dealing with the others, but that would be her prime focus.

I would also guess that today's average parent has no particular desire to have that happen. We put our children in piano lessons because the public school system has largely abandoned music education, and we think music should be part of a well rounded student's development, just like we think they all should have some math even if few become physicists or engineers.

I would wonder then if over time the proportion of students in category A vs B has shifted quite far to the latter. If so, that would explain Betty's recent results. The "Voice of the Customer" (that's a technical term from Lean Six Sigma, but you see what it means) has changed pitch.

Yes, I can see another option. You said "live with it for a period of time BEFORE making a longer commitment." Replace Before with Or. And treat the two groups of students quite differently.

If I had an interview with you, and you told me your teaching skills were so good that if my child put in X hours of work per day you could guarantee admission to a music conservatory, something no other teacher in a three state area could do, I'd be puzzled: why would I want that?

Or, I could be totally off base, it's happened before!
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#951805 - 02/16/09 04:00 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thanks for the response, TimR!

Let me reply to: "If I had an interview with you, and you told me your teaching skills were so good that if my child put in X hours of work per day you could guarantee admission to a music conservatory, something no other teacher in a three state area could do, I'd be puzzled: why would I want that?"

That kind of talk from me does not exist - I don't say things I haven't delivered on - but I can see that recently how I handled the interviews didn't give them anything to latch on to as being instantly desirable.

Also, I usually say, take your time in choosing a teacher as the first teacher has a lot of responsibility for the basic foundation of your child's music possibilities.

My "old presentation" doesn't suit "today's customers". I think I would get better response by doing all acceptance, scheduling and payment up front from a website, which requires a financial transaction. Impersonal and non-threatening and certainly not time consuming on my part.

I've seen some sites like this and thought how "cold", but maybe that is what it has to be before it warms up to personal results such as progress, success and accomplishments and future committments.

You are helping me a lot - it's a "frame of mind". As Dr. Phil would ask, "How's that working for you, Betty?"

Betty

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#951806 - 02/16/09 04:28 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
 Quote:
Originally posted by 1RC:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Either you have it or you don't. If you were not any good at what you do, why would you stick with it? Or how could you stick with it... You would be fired! The same holds true for piano teachers. If you're not any good, unless people just don't know any better, how in the world could you make a living at it, be happy, and be successful!

I guess we know that we're good teachers if our students stick with us for years on end and you have a full studio with happy parents and children.[/b]
I would argue that most people really don't know any better, and that somebody could do quite well while doing a mediocre job because of being charismatic. All because the average person doesn't really know mediocre work from the great stuff.

You could put three dance instructors in front of me and I would probably not know who's a better dancer, let alone be able to judge how well they could teach it. [/b]
I agree, and that was kind of where I was coming from. While a good teacher will learn and develop with experience, having lots of experience in itself is not a true measure of how good a teacher someone is.

I have 1st hand knowledge of an experienced teacher who is far from being a good teacher despite years of experience and a full appointment book. In this particular example, it can be easily explained by a very simple line I was once introduced to by an extremely successful sales professional.

"Look the part and act the part, and you become the part."

In other words, the vast majority of people will assume that you are what you say you are and you know what you're doing if you believe it yourself, no matter how wrong you might be.

The reason that experience being mentioned always gets my attention as I often see it being used as a barrier to people who otherwise might make good or even great teachers, but they are made to feel that this isn't possible because they don't have the necessary "experience".

No amount of experience can make up for a lack of ability and skill.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#951807 - 02/16/09 06:01 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
Hey everybody,

I love the responses. Maybe not a typical post for this forum but wow, can't say it hasn't generated a variety of responses.

Gerry, Tim, K and RC1 good stuff. Thanks

Betty, our company has had very good success at obtaining new customers and retaining them for a number of years, by offering "trial" programs. We know that once the customer experiences our service we have them for awhile.

We just have to present a program that they are comfortable with. For example: Mrs. Patnude, I know you have been talking to other pest control companies, and service can get expensive. I want your business so here is what I will do for you. I will give you a full 90 day trial program to try. It includes full pest protection, including termite montoring, two seasonal applications, free callback service, should a problem develop, a customized service report with each service we provide and, if you are not satisfied with our work, I refund your introductory service fee.

Now what is my competition offering? A $500 - 600.00 yearly program based on a signed contract.

Who do you think gets more business?

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#951808 - 02/16/09 07:46 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
1RC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 497
Loc: Alberta
Gerry: I agree completely! When experience comes up I always remember when I met a guy who had been doing my job for longer than I've been alive. I thought "wow, I could learn something from this fellow", but shortly found out he was pathetically incompetant. I guess for all those years, he hadn't put in an ounce of effort.

Though I'd like to throw out there that although somebody can make a living by acting the part, it's those few people who CAN tell the difference between good and mediocre whose opinion actually counts.

Kreisler: It's even worse than I thought! I met a friend of my brothers who was sent off the our nations capital in order to write speeches for politicians. His job is to write down the speech as well as to figure out any objections to the politicians position and have a retort ready... I guess the politicians don't need to know anything so long as there are interns to do the thinking!

btw I loved your response to the topic, couldn't be improved on IMO.

Wayne: thanks, I hope this was all helpful to you!

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#951809 - 02/16/09 09:44 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Wayne723:
Now what is my competition offering? A $500 - 600.00 yearly program based on a signed contract.

Who do you think gets more business? [/b]
It would depend a little.

All things being equal, the company demanding a signed yearly contract will have trouble attracting customers.

BUT, if the company demanding the contract has been in business for 25 years and has a large number of very satisfied clients recommending them, they might be just fine. And a new, untested startup company offering a trial might very well have trouble getting a foothold in the community.

Another main difference in independent piano teaching and other business models is that piano teaching isn't scalable.

If you're in the Pest Control business and you're doing very well, you can add more employees, more trucks, open branches, and expand your geographical coverage.

Piano teachers can't really do that. Once you fill up your teaching schedule with 40 or so hours worth of students, you're done - that's as big as you get. The next step would be to hire additional teachers and rent space, at which point you're no longer an independent piano teacher.
_________________________
"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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#951810 - 02/17/09 06:16 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Magz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Illinois
K

Your response is valid. I think any new company starting off will face challenges at the get-go. All new businesses do for the first couple years. Actually we are a big organization however I prefer the small shop or family business instead. You have more control and many times, believe it or not, the bottom line is more attractive.

I have found that you lose control the bigger you get, particularly when you have a large employee base. It gets hard to manage. I'm not suggesting that your industry doesn't have its problems also but I would think that its a whole lot easier to manage and control.

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#951811 - 02/17/09 07:18 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
Wayne...I am put off by your 'control' issues. I didn't like your wording from the start...it didn't 'resonate well' with me...it seemed controlled and demanding...

You say your words and then placate any misunderstanding by false sincerity/flattery. I would venture to say that you have a salesman background. And though others have been manipulated...I am not 'buying into it'. There's just 'something' that doesn't sit right with me about your responses and this thread, and you. My ears are screaming 'narcissistic' amongst many other things. I feel you are taking advantage of really great teachers on this forum for the sake of your 'research' and 'playing' them. And I wonder how much 'spam' is really involved here...

Carry on, if you must, and while they are willing \:\) All the best.

Lotuscrystal.

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#951812 - 02/17/09 07:37 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...
I find it rather boring.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#951813 - 02/17/09 07:53 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Wayne723:
I would think that its a whole lot easier to manage and control. [/b]
It is. The trade-off is revenue. 400 people can generate a lot more than 1.

(My uncle and brother-in-law both own their own companies, so this is actually something I've thought about quite a bit.)
_________________________
"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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#951814 - 02/17/09 08:45 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:


All things being equal, the company demanding a signed yearly contract will have trouble attracting customers.
[/b]
Ah, but what is your customer base? What demographic are we really targetting?

Other manufacturers and service providers have a target audience and market to them. They don't use the same techniques with AARP members vs teenagers, for example.

I have suggested there are at least two distinct populations in the piano lessons arena, and they probably find different incentives attractive.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#951815 - 02/17/09 08:51 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Um, that's why I said "all things being equal."

When things are not equal (different customer base, demographic, types of services), everything is different.

I can think of several different populations in the piano lessons arena:

Preschool
School Age - serious/competition
School Age - recreational
School Age - parents do it because of peer pressure
Adult - late beginner
Adult - coming back to it from before
Adult - continuing serious amateur

And within each of those categories is classical, jazz, pop, and church music.

And many teachers address a combination of these demographics.
_________________________
"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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#951816 - 02/17/09 10:54 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
I think Wayne723 has been helpful from a point of view of looking at the big picture and examining the efficiency and effectiveness of our business methods (this has been a particular slant - not a 100% review).

It is good to question and evaluate how your prosedures, systems, and strategies are working for you. Communication is a mighty and necessary tool. I appreciate what I've learned here from the perspective that I do need a change and I identified where it was because of Wayne's stimulating comments.

Yes, it was strange to find that he was doing "marketing research", but I was able to not let that irritate me.

The words manage and control as applied to our precious music studios is exactly what we have to do to keep it alive and thriving. Manipulation is something that would turn my stomach. However, in selling ideas or program, hidden relevant selling points must be made, and the whole goal is sign on the bottom line.

My interviews have taken a different shape because I used to treat every inquiry as "legitimate" and now I'm seeing that it's not information about what will be happening, and what the parents and students "role" is in it, and trying to demonstrate/model what they will be receiving in a lesson, I find none of that matters to them. They just want to get started and go - and you have to say a magic word that brings them to that moment of decision. Otherwise,

I find the latest interviews in the last 2 years to be very different in outcome than the successful interviews I've had over the years. The families seem to want no restrictions/responsibilities on their part and want to be free to do lessons their way - no contract or statement of good intentions.

I am trying to decide if I want to make changes to create easier entry to my studio.

We can't avoid being business oriented and for all practical purposes the bottom line of income generated is a huge question for us in these trying economic days, as much as it is for anyone else.

Betty

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#951817 - 02/17/09 12:37 PM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Um, that's why I said "all things being equal."

When things are not equal (different customer base, demographic, types of services), everything is different.

I can think of several different populations in the piano lessons arena:

Preschool
School Age - serious/competition
School Age - recreational
School Age - parents do it because of peer pressure
Adult - late beginner
Adult - coming back to it from before
Adult - continuing serious amateur

And within each of those categories is classical, jazz, pop, and church music.

And many teachers address a combination of these demographics. [/b]
You've been at it a while, can you see any trend in the percentages of these over time?

From the outside I would have guessed:
school age serious, stable over time, small niche
school age recreational, disappeared
school age parents (let's call it educational reasons rather than peer pressure) expanded, largest part of potential customer base
adult beginner - relatively new phenomenon
adult returnee - stable over time, tiny numbers
adult serious am - stable over time, tiny numbers

It was only a few decades ago that accordion schools flourished with hundreds of students and large performing ensembles.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#951818 - 02/19/09 09:30 AM Re: Ok Betty, John, Keiser and the rest of you professionals
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
i think the best teachers are those who strive to be the teacher THEY always wanted to have. different teachers suit different students. For me, I had a BEST teacher myself growing up and try to emulate her style. This includes exposing my students to ALL aspects of playing so they can fully know how many doors are open for their pursuit: a strong classical foundation, aural skills, composition, improvisation, theory, playing by ear, etc. though not every student loves composing, working on it in lessons takes away some of the mysticism of it and shows them that just b/c they're classically inclined doesn't mean that all the more creative avenues are closed to them. and then, those that do enjoy playing without a page can discover a new passion.
my favorite part about teaching is watching a student learning to love something they previously felt little affection for - whether theory, scales, etc.
_________________________
Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com

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