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#952602 - 09/06/08 05:06 AM Coping with the loss of GREAT students
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
How do you teachers deal with the loss of GREAT, AWESOME, FANTASTIC, STUPENDOUS piano students when they:

1) move a different city far far away,

2) move on to a different piano teacher, or

3) quit piano altogether?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#952603 - 09/06/08 06:07 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Wow you really feel this way?

I'm a student at the present moment, changed teachers and the last teacher I had ... when I mentioned changing teachers was quite defensive, telling me that I was one of his keener students that practiced and worked really hard. When I made a move he was surprised ...

I hoped that he would be more supportive than defensive. There are teachers out there that encourage change ... mine (the current) is one of them he said "I wont get offended if you see me for six weeks and decide that its not working for you ..."

I never thought that it would really feel like a great loss, maybe finacially (there goes a stable student) but I never thought that teachers would really feel sad about losing their students.

Do you still keep in contact with the students you have lost? How would you feel if in a year or two they gave a call back to tell you how they are going musically ...?
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#952604 - 09/06/08 09:48 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12147
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Rebekah,
Yes, that is how we feel! He was probably just hurt and/or surprised, and that's why he was defensive. Perhaps he didn't feel as though you weren't progressing with him, and so wondered why you were changing.

Many teachers invest a lot more than one lesson time per week into their students. I feel that the students that I have for a period of time become friends (in a teacher/student sort of way), and I care very much for them. Sometimes we can sense when it's time for a change, but many times students will quit out of the blue for many reasons.

It's not easy to deal with, but generally I try to be understanding of their situation (I do try to find out a reason why). I let them know that I do understand, and that there are no hard feelings. They are always welcome to come back should things change. Most often they don't return, however. I generally don't keep in contact with students unless they are still in the area, then I will usually see them around town. The ones who move, I try to help them find a teacher in their new location by giving them pointers on what to look for and a list of teachers to start from.

And for those who quit piano (or voice), I really try to get to the bottom of why they are quitting. If they have been making great progress and seem to enjoy lessons, then usually it's other things that are vying for their time. This is always tough. I let them know just how good they are and I encourage them to keep playing or singing even if they're not taking lessons. What more can you do?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#952605 - 09/06/08 11:40 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
AZN,

Don't think "Lost", think "Elsewhere". I had a student who studied theory and counterpoint with me and then became a Presidential Scholar at Thornton (USC) before dropping out to pursue a career in acting. Now, I have no doubt that someday he'll return to his music in some way or another. He loved his instrument, he loved learning, he loved performing. Lost? No, for now he's just "elsewhere". Sometimes you just can't teach music; other times, there's no stopping it.
_________________________
PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#952606 - 09/06/08 01:44 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Maybe we should as teachers try to convince ourselves that everyone is just passing through? That is the reality of it.

Would our students believe that we are genuinely interested in their future and in them as people? Would they be so quick to take off for other places and not look back?

My appreciation to the people who do part from our studios gracefully and with acknowledgment of what has been accomplished together.

in many ways the parting can be celebrated - and that feels best all around when it is genuine and sincere.

Better not to slam any doors on your way out!

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (theme song) "Happy Trails to you, until we meet again" is being sung to me by my brain as I finish up this post.

Audiation is such a habit with me. It comes from inner resources and is a message from many, many years ago, from subconscious me, to the conscious level. (Amusing to me.)


Betty

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#952607 - 09/06/08 04:24 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
How do you teachers deal with the loss of GREAT, AWESOME, FANTASTIC, STUPENDOUS piano students when they:

1) move a different city far far away,
I almost CRY when this happens! It is SO frustating when I've built up a really close relationship with a student, and that student is forced to move. I live in South Florida, and it's a rather unstable area as far as putting down roots is concerned.
 Quote:

2) move on to a different piano teacher, or
That almost never happens to me until after high school, which almost has to happen if a student is going away to school. My best adult student, who became a close friend, studied with me for about 20 years. Her friends kept saying, "You still need piano lessons?" ;\)
 Quote:

3) quit piano altogether?
My average or below average students drop out a lot every year. I keep trying to "beat the odds" by finding ways to help them progress faster, but I find that if I'm working with slower children, for instance, parents tend to assume I am only an "average teacher" even if their kids are doing average or above average work with very little practice.

But it's when the really good ones move away that it's hard for me not to get really down.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#952608 - 09/06/08 08:19 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
Betty, I like the way you say, "until we meet again". I always try to smile (sometimes this is easier than others!) and say something encouraging when a student quits, knowing there's a very good chance I'll see him/her again (at church, at the music store or library), and I want to keep the possibility of a future relationship open. Right now I have four students who are relatives of students who had quit years ago. And I played for the wedding of a former student this past summer (the wedding program listed me as "piano teacher of bride").

Sometimes the students themselves return to lessons after a break of several months or even years--I always welcome them back (if I have room for them in my schedule). I think life's too short to burn bridges!
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#952609 - 09/06/08 08:34 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
This is really fascinating to hear. You see with my teacher I left him because I felt he wasn't teaching in accord to my wishes and desires. He kept very strict to teaching from an exam board and that was it. As a vocal student (I see a different teacher for voice) I performed a lot more and learned many different skills (ensemble work, stage persona, different genres, etc) ... as a pianist I felt all I was learning was to satisfy some exam board and hence I felt as though there was a lot to music than and exam board.

I mentioned this to my piano teacher twice, one lesson just mainly talking and doing less playing. He didn't understand me. So I thought enough was enough ... I mentioned change and he grew very defensive. When I made the move the turned out quite surprised.

I didn't understand, I lost the love I once had ... I didn't practice as I did normally for weeks ... I thought it would be obvious.

Anyways ... I wonder if its a good idea to give him a call after I finish my major music exams to thank him ...
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#952610 - 09/06/08 11:21 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Rebekah.L,



Quote: "Anyways ... I wonder if its a good idea to give him a call after I finish my major music exams to thank him ..."

That's a nice thought!

Betty

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#952611 - 09/07/08 07:15 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
My last piano teacher was a French war bride and the mother of seven. She was the only decent piano teacher I ever had and I had her for far too short a time almost forty years ago. I'd begun learn to play at five, from "church ladies" and learned to play from hymnals. I had no theory, no classical, no scales. And I wanted to play Chopin. I wasn't God's gift to piano teachers by any means. I was a moody restless kid afflicted with "senioritis" and in the throes of a first love affair. She nursed me through it all, the first Chopin and the first love affair, and I all I did was disappear to off to college. I got to see her once more about twenty years later. The meeting meant a lot to both of us. I wish she were still around. Now she could teach me so much.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#952612 - 09/07/08 09:55 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Rebekah, just for sake of discussion, how many others of your teachers bowed to your desires on how to teach? Is it that you view music teachers as somehow different, and that rather than teaching the subject in a logical, straight forward fashion, building concept on concept, technique on technique, we should bend to the individual student's "wishes and desires?" Do you think this would be ethical conduct? I ask because generally it is the parent who has hired us, and who pays us, and to whom we owe accountability. How do you view the role of the student in the learning process? I'm not asking these questions to be cantankerous, but rather to gain further understanding of contemporary student attitudes.
_________________________
"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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#952613 - 09/07/08 11:35 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I remember when I moved on from my first good piano teacher. She was excellent, but I was in high school and starting to go beyond what she could teach me. I think she was truly hurt when I left, and she didn't take it very well. I think I was one of her best students and I can imagine it was difficult to see me leave.

It's hard not to get emotionally involved in your students, isn't it?
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#952614 - 09/08/08 09:14 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12147
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:

It's hard not to get emotionally involved in your students, isn't it? [/b]
Yes, it is. I still do, but I've learned to keep a slight separation because there will eventually be a time when they leave. It protects me, and it also makes that time much easier on the student. I can handle it better when a student says they want to quit by thanking them for the time they did spend with me and encouraging them to continue in playing music. It's never easy, but this helps me.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#952615 - 09/08/08 11:04 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
It's fine by me if they are moving on to bigger and better things. Every Summer I have good students who are going off to study music at university. Of course I am sorry that I won't be teaching them any more but I am glad to have took them as far as I have. They are ready for the next step which is great.

I did have a fantastic student who quit last week. She is 17 and a very advanced pianist. Unfortunately she has decided not to take music as a career option because her interests lie in science instead. Her grades in science have slipped because of the many hours she spends on her music. Something has to give and we have decided that it is more important for her to focus on her academic studies for this year. I am saddened by this because I think she might be making the wrong choice. However, there is only so much you can do and she will not be talked out of it. Thankfully this situation is quite rare.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#952616 - 09/08/08 12:13 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

I just realized that perhaps many students think of piano lessons as simply renting your time for which they have to be present in order for you to bill them for it. You are a once a week happening, if they choose to see you.

Only when they are present with the piano teacher does the teacher's place exist in their life.

Any reason is justification for ditching the piano teacher, no conscienceness of the relationship, nor of the accomplishments of the partnership together. No remorse.

The thought that one teacher is as good as another.

The piano teacher has usually made a total commitment to working with this student and hopes to deliver music education way beyond the student's expectations.

In most cases, I could say, the student has no idea of the vast, missed opportunities for taking this musical relationship, and dropping it on it's head, an act of destruction.

When leaving, leave the door slightly ajar if you cannot leave it totally open. Treat others as you would like to be treated: "a golden rule" that fits all occasions, no?

Yes, indeed, I'm biased. Music has been everything to me in my life. Should it not be shared with others who can and do feel the same?

Betty

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#952617 - 09/08/08 05:38 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Any reason is justification for ditching the piano teacher, no conscienceness of the relationship, nor of the accomplishments of the partnership together. No remorse.
Betty,

I truly think that being "ditched" for any other piano teacher is most likely to happen to us if we are the only teachers students have ever had.

I don't know about your experience, but I hear horror stories from most of the students who come to me from other teachers. Not always, but most of the time.

Or people are somewhat pleased by what they have experienced before coming to me but express a great suprise at how differently I teach and how much faster they are progressing.

The most frequent exceptions to what I said above are students who move here from other parts of the county, because some have *had* to leave fine teachers simply because of relocating.

Regardless, there is no question in my mind that many if not most people think that one teacher is pretty much the same as any other. Here are just a few things that continue to shock me when I get students from other teachers:

1) After years of lessons, little or no ability to read bass clef, and still playing in 5 finger positions.

2) Sustain pedal is used backwards, with the pedal not raising as the new sound is struck/played, resulting in eather an endless series of burps or a complete blur (because once down, the pedal is kept down).

3) A huge amount of emphasis has been placed on block dynamics and graduated dynamice, but not one word has ever been said about how to play one hand louder than the other, or how to bring out a melody.

There's a lot more. Obviously if students who come to me with such problems make no progress under me, it's logical to assume that the former teacher(s) may have been OK or good, perhaps excellent, but were not listened to. But when I get cooperation and see these problems straightened out rather quickly, I have to assume that the other teacher(s) were not teaching well.

Now, the biggest problem is that *if* we are the first teachers, if we are working with people who have no more than average ability and at best put in a very limited amount of practice time, if such students progress reasonably well, but only reasonably well, people tend to assume that WE are, at best, average teachers. It is not unless they move to other teachers who do not have the same passion and put in the same amount of time as we do that they discover, usually too late, that they HAD good teachers and gave them up as if they were nothing special.

I think this is just the way the world works. Nothing to be done about it!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#952618 - 09/08/08 06:28 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
So, Gary D, very interesting.

You are saying beginners cut their teeth on us in learning about themselves and the instrument they are exploring?

Are you saying that helping them through the "underpinnings" of music study is also our job?

I understand your comments here - I'm just wondering how to improve the outcome without all the effort on my part - by getting message through effortlessly. (Is that impossible?)

I have interviewed students who have had several teachers before and when listing their previous experience, they don't remember the teachers name (neither do the parents), they don't remember how long they studied. (Big clues, which I interpret as a "dark cloud - storm coming" kind of warning. Also, they don't play very well, and "everything" needs improvement.

I used to thrive on this kind of challenge. And, I do have a substantial amount of patience. But, I sure would like more joy in my teaching life and that happens when the student is pleased to be here, ready to learn, and is willing to do the work.

I'm still a believe that music is important for everyone to participate in.

There is wisdom in what you've said because I've always been treated well by the students who have gotten past their second year. And, probably for you too, the exceptional one's remain in your heart and you in theirs far into the future.

Being an idealist by nature, I would love to see people knowing the basics in respect and effort in entering study in art forms. A genteel "Miss Manners" could teach proper etiquette for piano students and families instead of our studio policies trying desperately to set structure and preventing chaos, confusion, and disaster.

I'm dreaming! Hopeless you say - this is the way the world works. Nothing to be done about it.

I'm beginning to believe it!

Betty

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#952619 - 09/08/08 07:01 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
...I just realized that perhaps many students think of piano lessons as simply renting your time for which they have to be present in order for you to bill them for it. You are a once a week happening, if they choose to see you.

Only when they are present with the piano teacher does the teacher's place exist in their life.

Any reason is justification for ditching the piano teacher, no conscienceness of the relationship, nor of the accomplishments of the partnership together. No remorse.

The thought that one teacher is as good as another.

...

Yes, indeed, I'm biased. Music has been everything to me in my life. Should it not be shared with others who can and do feel the same?

Betty [/b]
Oh, Betty - I saw this message when I was at work today and couldn't reply - but I want to assure you, NOT all students think that way!

In fact, this thread has been fascinating to me, from an adult-student perspective, because one of the things I struggled with (initially) is feeling like my teacher is SO important to me, but I'm just "one of 60-70" students. I only have ONE piano teacher, but he has tons of students - so why would he think about me beyond the hour we're working together? And I've worried (in the past) that I'm just "part of his job".

I feel really really lucky that I found the teacher I did, and feel like he is a great influence, inspiration, and just very positive person in my life.

To me, it feels like - in a weird way - piano lessons are helping me become the person I was meant to be, or the person I was - but lost in all this "grow up and get a job" business. It's awesome. And to be clear, it's definitely NOT in a therapy-like way (we sometimes talk a little at the end of the lesson, but we're very focused on the music!)

I think there's alot of reasons, both about how music lessons work, how individual teaching works, and about his personality (and mine) but it's been an awesome experience so far, and I'm just so incredibly grateful for what I'm getting from it.

It might sound crazy, but I think it's going to be a big help in making the life changes I want and need to make, and it's already been a big help in getting me less depressed (though I still struggle) than I was previously. I've had people that I work with tell me I seem like a different person.

\:\) Anyway, I didn't want to sound crazy. Just wanted to offer you up a different perspective on how some students feel!!!

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#952620 - 09/08/08 07:25 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

I'm so glad you can speak well of your teacher and of your musical experiences together.

The top-notch way that you feel that you gained form music study in your life, at this time, is what I would like to see as "normal".

You are not crazy, just enthusiastic and grateful - and I love your perspective and hope that it continues for you as enlightening and productive.

Thank you so much!

Betty

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#952621 - 09/08/08 08:33 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

You are saying beginners cut their teeth on us in learning about themselves and the instrument they are exploring?
Betty,

I had never thought to put it that way, but I think there is much truth in that, for *some* beginners. In addition, what we really have to cope with, when working with children, is the attitudes of the parents, because many times the children like us and would prefer to stay with us, but decisions are made for them. Nothing gets me down as much as gifted children who obviously like me and work well with me but whose parents are clueless.
 Quote:

Are you saying that helping them through the "underpinnings" of music study is also our job?
I'm not sure what "underpinnings" means, but it is left to us to try to educate parents and adult beginners about what we think is important and the fact that you just can't find that from any teacher. Some people will get it, some won't.
 Quote:

I have interviewed students who have had several teachers before and when listing their previous experience, they don't remember the teachers name (neither do the parents), they don't remember how long they studied. (Big clues, which I interpret as a "dark cloud - storm coming" kind of warning. Also, they don't play very well, and "everything" needs improvement.
Yes. Two weeks ago I started a little girl. The mother asked me when I am going to start "doing theory and writing" the way "Dr. P did it", the last teacher. The little girl did not know how to read a single note. "Dr. P" went through the Alfred Prep books, and there are some good ideas in that series, but there are really big dangers too. They are very rigid about staying in five finger positions a long time, and when only the positions are taught and there is a lot of drill combined with a lot of imitation, you see kids picking up the patterns but not reading notes at all. That's not Alfred's fault, but it's something to watch for when people use that series.

They were with "Dr. P" for over a year. And then quit. But didn't know how long ago they quit. When I asked *why* they quit, I got weird answers. I just smiled, as well as I could, while doing a fair bit of cussing in my head!
 Quote:

There is wisdom in what you've said because I've always been treated well by the students who have gotten past their second year. And, probably for you too, the exceptional one's remain in your heart and you in theirs far into the future.
Yes. And I would say that there is something very crucial in making it through and past that second year. Those who get that far have a very good chance of continuing for a lifetime, while those who quit before one year has gone by are likely to move from teacher to teacher, always with excuses and always expecting miracles with no work and no commitment, or are likely to quit altogether. For the latter, there is always a good chance that they will start again later and will succeed, but with less than a year's lessons, they will be very little more advanced when they start again than if they never took lessons at all. In my opinion, one year of very little work and little interest is not enough to time to build anything important that can be used to good advantage later on.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#952622 - 09/08/08 11:10 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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


Gary D,

I enjoyed our "conversation" very much.

Betty

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#952623 - 09/09/08 02:30 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
Rebekah, just for sake of discussion, how many others of your teachers bowed to your desires on how to teach? Is it that you view music teachers as somehow different, and that rather than teaching the subject in a logical, straight forward fashion, building concept on concept, technique on technique, we should bend to the individual student's "wishes and desires?" Do you think this would be ethical conduct? I ask because generally it is the parent who has hired us, and who pays us, and to whom we owe accountability. How do you view the role of the student in the learning process? I'm not asking these questions to be cantankerous, but rather to gain further understanding of contemporary student attitudes. [/b]
I understand where you are coming from. By no means do I exspect a teacher to agree to everything I believe, infact I don't think anyone should have to agree to what I think ... (the world would be very boring ).

John, I see five (2 music - 1 piano - 1 theory - 1 voice) teachers a week and I can really see that each and everyone have a unique style of teaching. From this I gain an exposure to different ways people teach. Not only that but, I travel a lot and have many musical friends ... sometimes I'd sit into their lessons - that itself has allowed me to gain further insight into how others teach. Through that I have made evaluations on what I see as important or not. Keep in mind, my parents are not musical - they don't choose my teachers I choose my own teachers. I am in my mid teens and my parents think that I am mature enough to make my own decisions.

Let me tell you more about that experience that I mentioned above. I saw a teacher some years ago ... This teacher's personality suited me well and the way he taught worked for me at the time. However as time progressed and when I began to see other teachers I began to see other ways of teaching. I came to a realization that the teacher I saw taught very strictly to an exam board. What you end up with is a student that can play 4-6 pieces a year, scales and arpeggios.

You don't end up with a student who can compose, you don't end up with a person who knows a thing or two about the composer and music history or the context of the piece. You don't have someone who can work in an ensemble or work as an accompanist.

I could go on but what I am saying is being narrow just to suit the requirements to an exam board doesn't allow a student to explore. Any question I had with this teacher would be answered with a brief explanation followed by "but lets focus on the exam requirements more." I knew many people that played for years, passed many exams and can only play a few pieces, they haven't developed musicianship or a real deep understanding of music at all.

I didn't want to be that type of student. I wanted to look into other areas as a student and I felt that this teacher neglected this area. Many other teachers, I observed allowed students to perform not just for an exam at the end of the year but throughout the year with repertoire that varied.

I came to the conclusion that this teacher taught very rigidly and mentioned my goals as a student was to: perform more often, understand ensemble work, get into melody writing, music history and develop an understanding for music styles rather than just learning a piece. I wanted to be a better musician not just a person who could play the piano better.

Another reason why I felt this teacher wasn't for me was because he gave his biased subjective opinoun. Many of his students played Bach and Chopin for their exams - there is nothing wrong with that, but is it coincidental that they are his favorite composers? I think teachers should never be producing clones, they should be getting the students to paint a portrait of themselves not having the student paint a portrait of the teacher. This might sound 'wish washy' but basically I think that an individual should develop the teachers role is to guide, to mentor, to support, to encourage and to lead the way. A teacher's role should not be to clone.

So no, teachers shouldn't have to bend over to their students, but teachers and students should set goals ... both parties should listen to each other. If both disagree than maybe its time for a change. That teacher suited me for some time ... but then my goals and ideas changed ... that's when I decided its time to go. I have an excellent piano teacher now ... one that leads the way but listens to me every step.

I hope I made sense ... sorry for the enormous waffle!
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#952624 - 09/09/08 03:33 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
So no, teachers shouldn't have to bend over to their students, but teachers and students should set goals ... both parties should listen to each other. If both disagree than maybe its time for a change. That teacher suited me for some time ... but then my goals and ideas changed ... that's when I decided its time to go. I have an excellent piano teacher now ... one that leads the way but listens to me every step.
As I read the rest of your message here, I also felt at though your previous teacher, if you were fair about what he (he?) did, was wrong for you.

I not only don't like teaching to exams, I refuse to do it. The price of this decision has been very high, since it puts me in the postion of seeming to rebel against most of what I see just about everyone doing.

Not here, but in my area.

Teaching a few compositions each year with the idea of having them all performance ready seems to me to be a dead-end goal. At the very least I'd like any really good student to always be working on new things while perfecting others.

Practical considerations might cause me to bend, such as preparation for a high school student for an entrance exam (playing), in which case it would be impossible not to focus more on a "program", and special attention would have to go on whatever is expected for the exam/audition, whatever.

Even so, my biggest mistake in the past was focusing too much on college entrance requirements and not enough on broarder goals. Specifically I over-taught a student, who was very much liked by my former teacher, who went for a "camp" during the summer and performed what we had worked on, using the former teach of mine only for extra ideas and polishing. I had already done most of the polishing.

This same student got in as a performer, same school, same teacher, then washed out because I had done too much for him, and he could not work things out on his own.

It was not all my fault (he started late), but it was definitely partially my fault.

Since that time I have done anything BUT over-stressed a few pieces, since my own path was the opposite. I was sloppy, with poor technique and terrible fingering, but my teacher (in high school) was just the opposite.

I was left totally on my own. I had to do everything. I was just told to take music home and learn it. The teacher sat on a couch, like Cleopatra on a barge, and listened to me play, across the room, to get "the big picture". The fact was this teacher was unable to show me how to play, because she could not play my music.

That could have been the end of me, but because I was so self-reliant and had learned to solve my own problems (and shape my own ideas), I later went from being one of the weakest performance students in college (almost did not get in) to being one of the strongest AND made money from my freshman year accompanying AND got a scholarship accompanying the chorus AND minored in a second instrument AND gave recitals on two instruments.

Strange, but this lazy teacher ended up, strangely, doing me a huge favor. I explored all sorts of music on my own, listened to everyone, and I was too ignorant to know that most kids my age weren't allowed to do some of the things I did. (Some hurt me, but some pushed me way ahead.)

And since that time I've never had a non-musical job, making all my money from teaching or doing some kind of playing.

My story is extreme, and I'd hate to see any young pianist left on his/her own the way I was, because it was very difficult for me to correct so many faulty habits, but in my opinion the path you were on is worse and kills the soul, and creativity—or more basically, it over-trains skills, creates clones, kills reading, etc.

Now this:
 Quote:

I hoped that he would be more supportive than defensive. There are teachers out there that encourage change ... mine (the current) is one of them he said "I wont get offended if you see me for six weeks and decide that its not working for you ..."
If you have been lucky, THIS may be the teacher you spend a long time with, or a much longer time. What keeps you with a teacher should be the feeling that you are growing, forming a really good "team" with the teacher.

If you ever do find a great teacher for you, not just for the moment but for a long time, you will indeed feel as sad when you have to leave as the teacher will feel when you leave!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#952625 - 09/09/08 03:53 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
So no, teachers shouldn't have to bend over to their students, but teachers and students should set goals ... both parties should listen to each other. If both disagree than maybe its time for a change. That teacher suited me for some time ... but then my goals and ideas changed ... that's when I decided its time to go. I have an excellent piano teacher now ... one that leads the way but listens to me every step.
As I read the rest of your message here, I also felt at though your previous teacher, if you were fair about what he (he?) did, was wrong for you.

I not only don't like teaching to exams, I refuse to do it. The price of this decision has been very high, since it puts me in the postion of seeming to rebel against most of what I see just about everyone doing.

Not here, but in my area.

My story is extreme, and I'd hate to see any young pianist left on his/her own the way I was, because it was very difficult for me to correct so many faulty habits, but in my opinion the path you were on is worse and kills the soul, and creativity—or more basically, it over-trains skills, creates clones, kills reading, etc.

Now this:
 Quote:

I hoped that he would be more supportive than defensive. There are teachers out there that encourage change ... mine (the current) is one of them he said "I wont get offended if you see me for six weeks and decide that its not working for you ..."
If you have been lucky, THIS may be the teacher you spend a long time with, or a much longer time. What keeps you with a teacher should be the feeling that you are growing, forming a really good "team" with the teacher.

If you ever do find a great teacher for you, not just for the moment but for a long time, you will indeed feel as sad when you have to leave as the teacher will feel when you leave! [/b]
He, yes he ... Thankyou for replying to my post, I never knew anyone would bother reading it. THIS teacher I have now, its been a few months really, but it feels like much longer. We get a long great, he acknowledges that one day I will leave him ... (almost a sad thought) and when that happens he hopes that the skills imparted would make me a more self sufficient student. He encourages independence and encourages me to explore other teachers and to take in what other teachers say.

I am glad to hear I am not alone in my idea of exam boards. I do exams but my teachers agree that they wont revolve their whole teaching year around an exam board. Exams if taken I believe should be only another aspect of learning, it should not be something that the teacher feeds the student as a means of learning.

Gary, I felt quite sad to leave my last teacher but at the same time relieved ... he was quite conservative, and said that I did not have enough experience to know what I was on about (the exam board situation) .. he said that this request of looking into other areas is rare.

This current teacher acknowledges that that day will come. Its funny, I cant really imagine that day ... some people take lessons for the rest of their lives! I am quite young, and its hard to really think for the future that far ahead. When I think about it though, I can't see myself being taught from him for the rest of my life! It would yes, be quite sad I predict ... I've just came to the realization that the private setting is quite close , its only natural but its a reality when students leave. The current teacher that I have now says that he believes there is so much you can learn from a teacher and then a student comes to the realisation that its time to go ... there is nothing wrong with changing ... it doesn't make the teacher bad, teachers contradict themselves! (I see five a week and have been through many more) Having different teachers has allowed me to get an understanding of many different ways to approach things.
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#952626 - 09/09/08 03:54 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
He, yes he ... Thankyou for replying to my post, I never knew anyone would bother reading it. THIS teacher I have now, its been a few months really, but it feels like much longer. We get a long great, he acknowledges that one day I will leave him ... (almost a sad thought) and when that happens he hopes that the skills imparted would make me a more self sufficient student. He encourages independence and encourages me to explore other teachers and to take in what other teachers say.
There are some famous players who stay with a teacher for a very long time, continuing long after they are famous. In that case though I think they use the teacher more as a coach than as a teacher. It does seem to me that the very best players (the ones I like best) make a break from all formal teaching fairly early in their careers, because only in this way are they able to develop fully as creative and independent thinkers.

I'm curious: what are you studying with him now (pieces)?
 Quote:

I am glad to hear I am not alone in my idea of exam boards. I do exams but my teachers agree that they wont revolve their whole teaching year around an exam board. Exams if taken I believe should be only another aspect of learning, it should not be something that the teacher feeds the student as a means of learning.
The main problem I have with exams is that they can actually be limiting. Sometimes they expect specific answers to questions that don't have one answer, and if you do not supply the answer the exam expects, you are penalized.

For an example, if someone asked me what the correct spelling is for a fully diminished chord and asked for an example with C as the root, I could give two answers:

1) C, Eb, Gb, Cbb

OR

2) C, Eb, Gb/F#, A

Even the greatest composers are not fully consistent about which enharmonics they choose. And that's only one example of an infinite number.

I was once in a theory class in which a composition was expected to be analyzed in a particular way. I saw two different overall solutions, but I knew how the professor thought and gave him what he wanted. A friend of mine used an equally valid analysis but was graded down because she did not choose the same solution as the professor. I liked this professor very much, but I argued with him passionately about his inflexibility. I didn't exactly win, but I may have changed his mind a little. \:\)

Exams are much worse. There is little room for thinking outside the box.
 Quote:

Gary, I felt quite sad to leave my last teacher but at the same time relieved ... he was quite conservative, and said that I did not have enough experience to know what I was on about (the exam board situation) .. he said that this request of looking into other areas is rare.
I got similar answers from my worst teachers. They got very defensive whenever I challenged any of their rigid positions. In fact, one was so incredibly off re technique that I would have been ruined if I had obediently followed his advice. I was a pretty polite person, and I feared hurting his feelings or making an enemy, so I waited far too long to change teachers. When I finally did, I found out that the other teachers, those who had much more successful students and who played much better, thought this teacher was absolutely wrong. But no one came out and said much until I made a change.

You sound like a very polite person, so at this time I'm assuming that if a teacher is insulted by your independence, that is not your fault but the teachers. ;\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#952627 - 09/09/08 04:28 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Ahmedito Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/08/08
Posts: 18
I wrote a post on my blog about my views on this issue. (http://ahmedfernando.wordpress.com)
It is called "getting rid of your students". In my opinion, what a piano teacher should strive for is for the students to be independent enough to leave the nest.
_________________________
My blog, Allegro Molto. http://ahmedfernando.wordpress.com

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#952628 - 09/09/08 10:33 PM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
I'm curious: what are you studying with him now (pieces)?
I'm at intermediate level - Looking at a few pieces, Bach invention, small Grieg pieces and Mozart Sonatinas.

 Quote:
I got similar answers from my worst teachers. They got very defensive whenever I challenged any of their rigid positions. In fact, one was so incredibly off re technique that I would have been ruined if I had obediently followed his advice. I was a pretty polite person, and I feared hurting his feelings or making an enemy, so I waited far too long to change teachers. When I finally did, I found out that the other teachers, those who had much more successful students and who played much better, thought this teacher was absolutely wrong. But no one came out and said much until I made a change.

You sound like a very polite person, so at this time I'm assuming that if a teacher is insulted by your independence, that is not your fault but the teachers.
It's great to hear that I am (was) not a lone. It's funny really, when I left my former teacher I let a few people (friends) know about my situation and how it was. Many actually felt sympathetic to him rather than cheering for me! Thankyou for that polite remark, I tried to be as honest and as tactful as possible without hurting him. I feel really glad that I have made the change, I feel really happy to have a teacher who lets me think for myself and lets me listen to other teachers rather than give me the instruction to only listen to him. There is independence on my part and I am happy about it. However, sometimes I stop and think about all the other students that he is destroying ... its a sad thought and I can't do anything about it \:\(

 Quote:
I was once in a theory class in which a composition was expected to be analyzed in a particular way. I saw two different overall solutions, but I knew how the professor thought and gave him what he wanted. A friend of mine used an equally valid analysis but was graded down because she did not choose the same solution as the professor. I liked this professor very much, but I argued with him passionately about his inflexibility. I didn't exactly win, but I may have changed his mind a little.
I agree! You see composers break the rule all the time. In four part vocal style the idea to not double the third is apperently WRONG ... its supposedly 'unstable' ... it is ... really but still ... in certain circumstances it isn't! Composers break the rule all the time ... Stephen Sondhiem is a perfect example ... his works still sound very natural and melodious though ...
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#952629 - 09/10/08 01:36 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5965
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
You see composers break the rule all the time. In four part vocal style the idea to not double the third is apperently WRONG ... its supposedly 'unstable' ... it is ... really but still ... in certain circumstances it isn't! Composers break the rule all the time ... Stephen Sondhiem is a perfect example ... his works still sound very natural and melodious though ... [/b]
They break "the rule" because there are no "rules" - only guidelines to follow if you wish to write in the style of a certain period or composer. I wish those who teach and write books about harmony wouldn't use the word (the best ones don't) - it leads people to think that you need to follow these guidelines of voice leading, for example, when composing your own music. You don't, of course, unless you have a particular reason for so doing, like wanting your music to sound like a harmony exercise! \:\)
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#952630 - 09/10/08 05:45 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
You see composers break the rule all the time. In four part vocal style the idea to not double the third is apperently WRONG ... its supposedly 'unstable' ... it is ... really but still ... in certain circumstances it isn't! Composers break the rule all the time ... Stephen Sondhiem is a perfect example ... his works still sound very natural and melodious though ... [/b]
They break "the rule" because there are no "rules" - only guidelines to follow if you wish to write in the style of a certain period or composer. I wish those who teach and write books about harmony wouldn't use the word (the best ones don't) - it leads people to think that you need to follow these guidelines of voice leading, for example, when composing your own music. You don't, of course, unless you have a particular reason for so doing, like wanting your music to sound like a harmony exercise! \:\) [/b]
Thats true, the problem comes when students learn that to pass an exam they have to satisfy these so called 'rules'.
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#952631 - 09/10/08 07:00 AM Re: Coping with the loss of GREAT students
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5965
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rebekah.L:
Thats true, the problem comes when students learn that to pass an exam they have to satisfy these so called 'rules'. [/b]
Just so long as you remember they are not rules for composition, but observations of what composers writing at a certain time and in a certain style tended to do. And if the exam requires you to write in that style, then you observe the appropriate stylistic conventions. Just keep it in its context, otherwise you might find you want to cross out huge slabs of Debussy with a red pencil for his use of consecutives \:D .
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Du holde Kunst...

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