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#953508 - 02/26/05 03:39 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Cindy:

Don't let the avatar 'frighten' you. My favorite breed of dog is the bulldog and the only one I consider when getting a new pet. Faust, my last one, died in July so I'm petless right now. I always take some time in between before getting another. Bulldogs are called the 'gorgeous sourmug' so they look fierce but are one of the most pleasant and agreeable in personality and demeanor--smart too! That's why it's my avatar--not to keep anyone from responding! \:\) Have a great day!

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#953509 - 02/26/05 03:43 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Oh--and I realize your response was 'tongue-in-cheek!' \:\)

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#953510 - 02/26/05 01:43 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
Cindy,

I think teacher get frustrated when there is no progess made due to lack of practice, that is because we have a heart for the student....becasue we care about them not be able to improve....if we don't care, the we won't get frustrated as long as we get paid....if you have experienced 'no big deal' about not practicing, then you may want to re-consider if the teacher is really serious about teaching.

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#953511 - 02/26/05 02:11 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Varcon, Sorry to hear about Faust. Great name for a bulldog, too.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#953512 - 02/26/05 07:12 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Yes, I conducted a 'name seach' at school with a small prize for the best name that I chose. Unfortunately there were no original names so I just chose 'Faust' and it worked. BTW, my ID is the name of another of my bulldogs and the name of an angel--which he definitely was. I did stray a bit and had a Boxer which I named Nisus. He was a bit more belligerent in nature but a wonderful dog. I don't like the usual, Rex, Rover, Spot, etc., as you can tell.

Ralph

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#953513 - 02/27/05 07:01 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
K.Penn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Michigan
Adult students-
what bugs me is they think they know more than the teacher they hired and 9 times out of 10 don't come prepared for lessons by practicing OR by not doing it the way they are asked to. This surprises me since adults are choosing to do this most of the time and you would think they would put more into it than they do. This is probably why I won't take adults as students anymore.

Students parents- what bugs me here is they get in your face and question every little policy and try to get you to "change it" to accomodate them. I get sick of defending myself to parents about fees and policies in regard to lessons. Since I explain all these at the phone interview and then give it to them in writing it just pushes my buttons when they come back saying "I did'nt know that" or "you never said" when I know I did.

Students at recital- when they fumble through its either anxiety or lack of practice. unfortunately we as the teachers I think get judged harder than the student's poor performance because we taught them. no one thinks "boy they messed up because they did'nt practice" they think "boy, this teacher did'nt prepare them properly". Unfair but true. That is my peeve there.

When a student does not continue- if they are'nt enjoying it or don't want the lessons I'd rather that they quit and do what they like. students who get pushed into lessons by parents who want them to play when the student does'nt its a losing battle on all sides. I'd rather fill my time up with students who do want to be there because it puts my knowledge and skills as a teacher to better use than on someone who does'nt. Keeping a student who does'nt just because a teacher wants the money or because they have a certain quota of students in their studio are keeping students who want to take lessons from taking when they keep "dead wood" on the schedule.

When students don't practice yes it bugs me. I have a sign above my piano in clear sight that reads "if you don't practice don't expect me to want to listen". I explain to students that this holds true not just for lessons but for performances especially. It may not be easy learning some things at first, but the only way hard things get to be easy things is through practice. An occassional bad week of practice is expected from students, but when it gets to be consistent every week they need to refocus their routine to fix what is wrong OR consider if they really want to continue lessons or not.

Do I (have I) ever declined a student because of parents- YES. Parents who are going to undermine the system or be a continual problem are'nt worth putting up with, even if the student is exceptionaly talented or studious at learning.
I've bounced students before because I can't work with the parents without them undermining me or causing problems. Some of them have been gifted kids who are exceptionally good. When I mail the records to the new teacher they end up with I let them know that "parents are difficult to work with" or "parents undermine the teacher" so they know what they are getting into. I don't elaborate unless they contact me to ask for details.

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#953514 - 02/28/05 02:10 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by princessclara2005:
Cindy,

I think teacher get frustrated when there is no progess made due to lack of practice, that is because we have a heart for the student....[/b]
I think this is a good point but does not go far enough.

Even the adults who do practice generally do not make as fast progress as the better children do, certainly not with the same amount of practice time. I practice roughly four times as much as my daughter, and far more efficiently. But she's learning faster.

An even more important problem for the teacher of adults is to somehow accept that most of them will never become really accomplished. The Mozarts in the bunch were already snatched by other teachers when they were 5. If you're dealing with a population of 40 year olds, the chances of an undiscovered Horowitz are really small. The learning process may be tremendously enriching for the adult - but the teacher is likely to hear technical proficiency emerge from only a small fraction of the adults. I think that's really the unconscious disappointment for the teacher. Teachers would like to succeed, and they can with children; adults, like Bob Newhart's patients, tend to never get good. (with rare exceptions) And yet, they are willing to pay their own money, not to get good but to get better.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#953515 - 02/28/05 06:06 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Another question:

I assume some students are more enjoyable to teach than others. What is it that makes a student a joy to teach? Is the student who can tackle huge, complex pieces more fun to teach than one who is a beginner or early intermediate?

One more question, this time posed in my role as piano parent:

For those of you with lots of beginning students, I would imagine it would be difficult to hear those beginning pieces and exercises again and again and again. How do you keep it interesting?
_________________________
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#953516 - 02/28/05 06:57 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
To me, teaching a beginner is just about as challenging as teaching an advanced student. I look at the material the beginner is working is as difficult for them as an advanced piece for someone already accomplished. They're beginning to assimilate the information and technique while the other has pretty much done that so I can't quite say it's the same.

The 'joy' comes from seeing them progress and understanding what is happening and nurturing their development. Those that respond to the music and work to get something done are the ones that create that 'joy' while the ones that are sluggards are the ones I would hope would quit.

If they improve and progress, then all-beginner, intermediate and advanced- are enjoyable to teach--at least to me.

Your second question--how to stay interested in beginners and hearing the same thing so often--is a good one too. Some avoid the exact repetition by using different courses with students but some use the same books for everyone. I think, for me, it isn't the pieces so much as the response from the student and how quickly they solve that problem. It might be comparable to a teacher of math--they have to hear the endless recitation of tables sometimes or continually work with addition/subtraction, etc. Each year they cover essentially the same material. Certain innovations can help but the basic material still has to be done so that a firm and solid foundation is built. Um . . .Patience is one thing that develops! \:\) Just my 'two-cents' worth.

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#953517 - 03/01/05 04:00 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
Just out of curiosity, how many of you have succeeded in getting adult beginners to a level of technical proficiency?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#953518 - 03/02/05 08:41 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Hi Varcon

Is it common for a teacher to allow a student to work without giving out specific assignments? I have been studying a little over a year with 2 different teachers and have never been given an assignment by either past my 2nd lesson. I do work on numerous pieces and am self motivated however it seems that a teacher would assign pieces that would be appropriate for learning/developing specific skills. I would love it just once if my teacher said to me "Will, I have this piece that I thought you might like. I want you to work on measures 1-12 for next week.
This piece might help you a bit with your dynamic expression which you seem to be struggling with Is it a normal course of action for a teacher to let their adult students do what they like?

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#953519 - 03/02/05 09:11 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Vintagefingers!

Yes, it is most common for the teacher to select pieces, etudes, etc., to guide the student toward technical improvement, touch gradations, styles, etc. I can't imagine a teacher not assigning pieces that have a purpose to challenge the student in new areas. And you have two that do not? That's interesting. Now some students ask about pieces they like or have heard and are interested in working on. Depending on a number of factors--difficulty among them--then it's nice that the student has some choices and the teacher guides intelligently. The reason a student takes lessons is to be guided I think--not to choose his pieces at random whether ready for them or not. I don't know what your situation is but I would suggest you find a teacher who has a plan for you based on an interview and an assessment of your ability. My teachers said, more or less, 'Do this!' and I did. They were far wiser than I so why not?

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#953520 - 03/02/05 09:19 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
What does your teacher do with you, VintageFingers?
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#953521 - 03/02/05 02:37 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Varcon not to be misleading which could have been assumed by the above post, I am not working completely at random. He has given me 2 different books since completing the Bastien Method books about a month after starting with him (July). I'm currently working on "Succeeding with the Masters" edited by Helen Marsalis. Mostly German dances and miniatures by Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven. I work on them during the week come to class and play what I choose. No specific assignment of what pieces to play or what to work on other than what is pointed out during class.

I generally work on 4 to 5 pieces at a time and continue polishing up the completed ones. Is this the way it’s suppose to work? Don’t you assign specific pieces with specific goals in mind? Yes, he does critique my technique and is always offering tips and advice during the lesson but there is no specific assignment or stated goal from one week to the next, which is a bit perplexing to me. He has indicated that I am his most motivated adult student and my progress is excellent but it still says nothing about a specific direction that I was hoping for when I started with him.

I’m beginning to wonder if it has something to do with the dynamics of our relationship. He is a very astute and knowledgeable man, much more so than my last teacher but still something seems to be missing. He has 75 private students and I am his last student on Friday night. We usually run over 15 minutes generally discussing music, recordings and other mutual interest things. He seems a bit reluctant to criticize and is a bit on the shy side. I've hinted to him that I would like more criticism but he replied with “acknowledgement of achievement is as valuable as criticism” or words to that effect.

Maybe this is good policy for teaching children but I’ve always been motivated more by being challenged a bit beyond what I am capable of at a given time. I don’t want to give the impression I don’t like him or we don’t get along, this is not at all the case. I do wonder if maybe he has too many students. I left my first teacher for many of these reasons but with her I got nada constructive criticism after 6 months, it was always "you're doing great".

Well Cindy, I generally start my lesson by running through several scales and chords; open to the music I'm working on and start playing whatever I want, strange eh? How I yearn for him to ask me to work on a specific piece with a specific goal in mind. He doesn’t take notes, so far as I can tell, so I expect he probably doesn’t remember from one week to the next with as many students as he has. My practice time has fallen off a bit but I expect this has more to do with that pingey sounding Kimball console than anything else

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#953522 - 03/02/05 04:55 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
I don't know your teacher, of course, but I can in one way relate to your situation. I was in school in Chicago with an artist teacher, very famous at the time, who went all over the country giving workshops so he was away from school frequently and, when he returned for a few days, I had maybe two lessons today, two tomorrow and one the next day to make up for the lessons missed. At the lesson he was going through his mail while I played, said, 'What's next?' and continued with his mail. At the end of the lesson period he would go to his music file, pull out something and say, 'Have this next time.' I think, out of the time I was with him, he actually said something about the music/playing twice. I switched teachers and quit school.

On the other hand, my other teachers would stop me, correct me, demonstrate, etc. And they made specific assignments too. When in Vienna I would hear, 'NICHT, NICHT!!! Das ist nicht richtige!'

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#953523 - 03/03/05 11:58 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
VintageFingers:

 Quote:
He seems a bit reluctant to criticize and is a bit on the shy side. I've hinted to him that I would like more criticism but he replied with “acknowledgement of achievement is as valuable as criticism” or words to that effect.
AND

 Quote:
I left my first teacher for many of these reasons but with her I got nada constructive criticism after 6 months, it was always "you're doing great".
A-HA! You know what I think is going on?

I think the prevailing wisdom on How To Teach Adult Recreational Students is not to criticize. I really do. I've heard other people say that they have to drag constructive criticism out of their teachers. I remember that in the early going it was awfully hard to get specific criticisms regarding technique.

Teachers, what say ye? Is that how you tend to handle adults -- less constructive criticism than you might give to a younger student? Is there a feeling that adults are easily discouraged, so hitting them with too much too soon is counterproductive?

Or am I all wet?
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#953524 - 03/05/05 12:38 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
TimR...

well, I think the reason that adult doesn't progress as quickly is because how they practice, in addition to their ability. Lots of them are seeking fast result, they are not patient enough to deal with all the details when comes in learning. The impression in instrument playing for someone who is new to music appears to be very pleasant and easy, if they have that in mind, they are looking for fast improvement which lead to sloppy practices, which they will fail to have good result and improve.

teacher can shut their ears if they are not so serious about teaching, the reason that we care about lack of progress is that we are seriouse.

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#953525 - 03/05/05 12:50 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
Cindy

it's more fun to teach a student it he or she is active in thinking, in other words, if there is an interaction between the teacher and the student, it's very boring if it's only one way, like the teacher always give out information, and the student on the other hand, is not really aborbing, then it's pretty painful to go through the same thing over and over again.

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#953526 - 03/06/05 09:51 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
ljohnson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/05
Posts: 17
Loc: USA
1. I think Candyman expressed my feelings pretty well on this one. I have found that, more times than not, adult beginners complicate everything. They need to be handled with great care, which is distracting and draining to me as a teacher. A clear syllabus must be insisted upon in the beginning if we are going to get anywhere. Piano lessons are not Karoke nights out! Adults (and children!) need to check the attitude and the ego at the door and just LISTEN. If not, I cannot give them my best teaching
and they are paying me to put up with irrelevant nonsense.

2. Parents must learn to observe and listen at the lesson, not play teacher. I certainly agree that they need to be firm about behavior, but not overreact to the normal ups and downs of learning.
I find it hard to tolerate parents who question my studio policies and try to write them for themselves as they go!

3. One part of me thinks that it is OK for a person with anxiety issues not to perform, and another part of me thinks that they are ungrateful for the opportunity that teachers create for them.

4. As a professional, I handle these matters (which rarely occur) in a manner that does not display my emotions. Transfers must be handled professionally be the current teacher and the new teacher. It happens from time to time.

5. Yes!

6. Absolutely. In interviewing a potential student, I have a clear checklist of requirements.
I have found, and I field a lot of calls, that those who display impertinance, make negative comments ("We don't want to invest in a piano, etc.", " I don't think this is going to work" "We don't have time to practice everyday!" (as if this were a betrayal by the teacher to dare suggest these things. ) and just general overbearance,
will be troublemakers. These situations put the teacher in the position for compensating for the parents (or student's) lack of effort, which can easily lead to teacher abuse or burn-out from these types.
_________________________
Lea
clearfuture@erols.com

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#953527 - 03/16/05 01:06 PM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
1. What do adult piano students tend to do that drives you nuts? Fail to practice? Lie about failing to practice? Failing to lie about failing to practice? Something else?

Inconsistent lessons. Wanting to take lessons at times I reserve for school-age students.

2. What do parents of piano students do that drives you nuts?

Wanting to pay for lessons weekly versus monthly. Parents who want their child to take lessons less often than once a week. (Which I only allow for disciplined intermediate and advanced students who are high school aged or older) Piano students: wanting to use a keyboard for piano lessons. (I can live with a touch-sensitive one for the first 3 months or so of lessons, but after that, a real piano is a necessity). Parents who give me lame excuses for not using a real piano. (How about not having the room for one, when I have students and parents with living rooms half the size who managed to fit one easily?) Clarinet students: wanting to use a school-owned versus a privately-owned/rented instrument. Parents who treat private lessons merely as a means of “getting a good start” or remedial, as opposed to a long-term commitment. (Only once an issue with a piano student, but it’s happened 3 or 4 times with clarinet students). Parents who try to dictate what I should be teaching the students, like those who tell me not to do ear training or theory, or who tell me to be “strict”. Parents who try to negotiate lessons fees, simply to get a good deal. People who take advantage of the teacher. Parents with unreasonable or unrealistic expectations. (I used to teach a clarinet student whose mom wanted her to have her ARCT in piano by the time she finished grade 8 in school! The girl hated piano, too) Parents and/or students who don’t read your “lesson details”, and then fight with you about how they “didn’t know”.

3. When your student is not performing at recital, what exactly is going through your mind?

I don't do recitals yet.

4. When a student decides not to continue with you, does this bother you deep down?

It depends on the reason. If the student is clearly not interested, it doesn't bother me. But if it's a good student with parents who are irresponsible about their child's musical education, it does bother me a little bit.

5. When a student shows up and clearly hasn't practiced their assignment, does this bother you?

No, especially if it's due to illness. Since it only happens occasionally with most students, we do a bit of refresher work on the pieces, and do some theory or listening.

6. Do you ever decline to teach potential students because you just don't get a good vibe from them or their parents?

Yes, especially now that I have the luxury of doing that. I believe in keeping bad karma out, especially since I got rid of my first awful (high school age) student almost a year ago. (now it's really easy!)Now I have a bunch of really good students and parents.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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#953528 - 03/31/05 07:47 AM Re: What do piano teachers really think?
Teng, M Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 13
Loc: Singapore
1. Finding excuses.

2. Trying to dictate my time table, and almost certainly ends up in a power struggle with me.

3. We've gone through this soooo many times. U've failed me, and I, your parents.

4. No, never. Either u take it or leave it.

5. Yes, pretty much. Esp if this unhealthy 'one way traffic' has been persisting for weeks.

6. Nope. U pay me, and I'll work. Money makes the mare goes round. I can't eat and drink nor survive on people's 'vibes' alone.
And anyway I've taught ADHD, defiant oppressive and behaviourial castastrophe kids. How much more of a brat can your little one be than my previous 'record' holders?
\:\)

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