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#970293 - 12/15/08 10:18 AM looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Hi
I am new to this forum and am like many others, attempting to learn the piano and looking for some moral support.
I have always wanted to play since a young child. (I’m no longer that young!!)
I took a year of lessons when I was about 17 but I soon became…………… distracted by girls and other teenage preoccupations which seemed very important at the time……..
So, many years later I have decided to do something about it……In fact last year I did do something about it and found a course of piano lessons provided locally. I was archi motivated and although I have two young children in the house still managed to find an hour a day to practice ( an electric piano and headphones is a must, for everyone!) each week I diligently practiced and looked forward to my weekly half hour lesson. Somewhere along the way things went very wrong……I noticed that each lesson my teacher would not remember what we had done the previous week and I would have to remind him as he would be searching through books for something for us to play. I would often bring scores to the lesson for us to play.
The pieces he chose would be either too easy or too difficult and when I did have difficulties playing a piece we would just swap to another. The end result was we never finished a piece and I feel I can play less now than when I began the lessons…….We did discuss the situation and we changed to 1 hour lesson every two weeks, created a structure for our lessons ( and another expensive book!). However it soon became as before.
I am telling you this because it has left me with a big problem …….At the end of the year I gave up as I was not making any progress. I have waited a while for the enthusiasm to return (not entirely there yet)..
I need help to find a new teacher ( what to look for etc) and I have become unsure that I am capable of achieving any reasonable level of proficiency!! I’d like to have your opinions and to hear form anyone who started playing in their 40s and is happy with their achievements.

Peter

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#970294 - 12/15/08 10:55 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4379
Loc: Jersey Shore
Welcome to Piano World!

Sounds like you need to find a good teacher and follow a good method series. The method series should solve your haphazard piece problem.

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#970295 - 12/15/08 11:01 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
I'm of the same oppinion but I don't know how to find a GOOD teacher........

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#970296 - 12/15/08 11:07 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Look for local recitals
_________________________
Estonia L190 #7004
Casio PX 310
Yamaha NP 30

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#970297 - 12/15/08 11:11 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
I'm not sure excactly what that is?
Do you mean student performances? But how would i know if the teacher would be sutable for me?

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#970298 - 12/15/08 11:14 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Hey Peter,

what a beautiful region you live in, I envy you!!

some generic stuff that comes to mind:
- be sure to learn and play the stuff that you enjoy playing the most. Might seem obvious, but for example, I recently realized that I enjoy playing with a band much more than solo. And that's why I can't seem to make a whole lot of progress playing solo pieces.

- Is the teacher good? Can he play? Can he spot your mistakes? Does he correct you?
It seems like half the fault is on you not working on pieces you judge "too difficult". What seems difficult may not be impossible. Many times I started a piece thinking I would not be able to do it. The solution, slow it down a lot. Play one bar at a time. I play one or 2 bars of difficult stuff a day, not more. I slow it way down, then gradually speed it up.
Next day, I play the next few bars. I don't play the whole thing. And so on.
When I'm done through the piece (one bar at a time). Then I play from the beginning, but playing 2 chunks at a time (between 2 and 5 bars usually). Again to the end.
Then 4 chunks at a time.

It takes time. About a month of practice for a minute of music.
I believe this is normal for adult beginners.

But because I play stuff I really enjoy, I'm able to play and have fun along the way. Otherwise, I just seem to give up.

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#970299 - 12/15/08 11:36 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I think the solution is to find a teacher that enjoys teaching adults. My first teacher seemed to be more 'amused' and didn't take me seriously. I would not have lasted with her.

I've been very happy with my current teacher. I was lucky in that I didn't have other's in mind and have to go through a 'search'. If I ever have to find another teacher I will not hesitate to interview several to find a match.

Private lessons are intimate really - when you think about it and personalities need to be suitable. Maybe not so much for kids but as an adult I think we really need to connect.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#970300 - 12/15/08 11:48 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2610
Loc: Not in Texas
Hi Peter and welcome to the forum!

Please don't let one bad teacher dampen your enthusiasm to learn piano. If you managed an hour a day of practice with 2 children in the house you're clearly motivated!

An adult finding a teacher is a somewhat more difficult process since as Sandy said you and your teacher need to "connect" on a personal level. You have an advantage as an adult in that you are the one doing the choosing! You are hiring someone to perform a service for you and they should be prepared to tell you how they'll go about it. My suggestion would be to interview several teachers, tell them about your piano planing to date and what your goals are and then ask them about their approach to teaching adults, how they'll help you reach your goals, choose repertoire, etc. Just as you would when interviewing people for a job (which is what you are doing) define what you are looking for in a teacher and then make notes after the interview of how this particular person met your criteria.

Good luck in your search and don't give up!
_________________________
Greg

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#970301 - 12/15/08 11:49 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
I'm sure that a good teacher is whazt i need. What excactly is that? Certainly someone you connect with but what else...you see i'm somewhat lost!!

And to relpy to Knotty. I was more that prepared to work on those " difficult pieces" It was my teacher who prefered to move on when we came to a bar or two that were needing more effort. I think he was unable to translate his ability in playing in to instruction for a student. We got along very well and have kept in touch. He has now decided that teaching piano is not for him and is persuing his public playing.

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#970302 - 12/15/08 12:23 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2610
Loc: Not in Texas
Defining a "good" teacher in the abstract is somewhat difficult since my idea of good might be someone who whacks my fingers with a ruler every time I make a mistake \:D

More seriously, it seems to me that there are some general attributes:
  • You communicate well with each other.
  • They listen earnestly to your goals and are able to articulate what they'll do to help you meet them.
  • They should be able to explain why they're asking you to do something should you ask. For example, if they want you to learn a particular piece they should be able to say "it'll improve your left hand, it'll make you focus on rhythm, etc".
  • The basics: they start on time, remember where you're at in your studies, focus on you during the lesson. One of my teachers had me keep a spiral notebook in which she wrote my assignment for the next week, noted any special focus, etc. She'd always have a look at this at the start of the lesson.
  • They should help motivate you. This usually isn't required for adults because we tend to push ourself too hard but we also tend to be very self critical. They should be able to tell you straight whether you're making reasonable progress.

Probably many other items and perhaps others will chime in as well on things they looked for.
_________________________
Greg

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#970303 - 12/15/08 12:35 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
Hi Petex,
Welcome!
I'm sorry you had that experience. I also had some bad experiences with teachers in the past and ended up quitting for a long time. I did continue to study theory and plunked around a little bit on my own but i realized I needed the structure of regular lessons.

The difference this time was I was prepared with a list of questions that I sent to potential teachers. And I interviewed my teacher and had a trial lesson. This make a big difference and I felt I was more in control of the situation instead of just signing up for lessons and going into it blindly.

Btw.. I had problems with rhythm what were never corrected. But this time the teacher is working with me to fix this. She is very patient and I am learning alot from her. I think I am learning more easily b/c I enjoy going to my lesson and don't dread them etc.
Good Luck!

Here is the list of questions. Obviously you can add or delete according to your needs.

1. What are your studio policies regarding fees, cancellations and make-up lessons, for example?
2. What instructional materials and methods do you use? Do you tailor material to students' particular needs?
3. Do you teach any music other than classical music?
4. Do you teach students how to improvise? Memorize? Play by ear? Compose?
5. Do you work on sight reading in the lesson?
6. Do you teach music theory? Technique? How?
7. How much practice time do you require each day? Do you spend time during the lesson helping students learn good practice habits?
8. Do you require students, to perform a certain number of times per year?
9. Can you provide references.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#970304 - 12/15/08 12:37 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
Oh and also. I have learned to go with my gut instinc. If I don't feel comfortable for whatever reason I listen to that and know its not a good match.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#970305 - 12/15/08 12:45 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
 Quote:
Originally posted by petex:

And to relpy to Knotty. I was more that prepared to work on those " difficult pieces" It was my teacher who prefered to move on when we came to a bar or two that were needing more effort. I think he was unable to translate his ability in playing in to instruction for a student. We got along very well and have kept in touch. He has now decided that teaching piano is not for him and is persuing his public playing. [/b]
Sorry Peter, I misread your post.

Would local "conservatoires" teach adults? That's no guarantee to get a good teacher, but at least, usually one with a lot of experience teaching.

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#970306 - 12/15/08 12:45 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Sounds like some sound advice. While we have been exchanging mails i have been googling local piano teachers. Non so far are geograpicaly near enough.. as for fees there is a large variance.
15 to 35 euros for an hour.. (shame, the 35€ is in the next village!! )
Do you think it's better to go onece a week or every other week. i'm concerned that one week will not alow for any progression. (i wish!! )
peter

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#970307 - 12/15/08 12:59 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Peter, every 2 to 3 weeks seems like plenty enough for me. You don't need the motivation a kid would.

Don't complain about 35E / hour. I used to pay $80 / hour ... \:\(

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#970308 - 12/15/08 02:06 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Ivory Dreams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/08
Posts: 210
Loc: Central NC
AS I SEE IT:

Your problems is clear. You simply hired the wrong teacher the first time around.

Ask Yourself... What are your goals? What type of music do you want to play?

Then ask everyone you know..... If they know of a good adult piano teacher. (Ask at church, ask any musician you know, and especially call all of the local piano techs, and piano stores and ask them).

Then call the teachers on your short list. Discuss your goals and the type of music that you want to play. It worked for me.

Problem solved. Welcome to the forum.
_________________________


You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.

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#970309 - 12/15/08 04:01 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
In cases such as this, the problem can
often be traced back to the psychological
aspect of playing, which is critical.
For example, what suddenly motivated you
to start taking lessons for the very first
time at the rather late age of 17?
And then what made you suddenly quit
after a yr.? Then, last yr., after more than
20 yrs. away from the piano, you suddenly
start taking lessons again. What was
it that, all of a sudden, made you start
again, with a passion? Then, again,
after a yr., you quit. What was the reason
for this? Answers to these questions can
give you an idea as to what is going to motivate
you to play again.

Typically, the motivation to play comes
from another person, as no one will
start pounding on this awkward, cacophonous,
exasperating instrument without some
human catalyst being involved.
Then, when a person quits, it's usually
because playing has become associated
with something unpleasant, and when
that happens, the person is not going to
continue.

At this point, you apparently are associating
the piano with something unpleasant,
and thus, you resist starting again,
even though you can logically say to
yourself that it is reasonable that you
should--reason alone is not strong enough
to overcome the strong emotional forces
that are preventing you from playing at
this time. What will get you to start
is some emotional spark similar to the
ones that caused you to suddenly start
at age 17, and again last yr.

So you need to examine what the nature
of this emotional spark is that causes
you to want to play, and with a passion.
And then you also need to discover what
causes playing to become associated
with something unpleasant, after about
a yr. at it. In order to start playing
again you'll need to get a similar
kind of spark like you got at age
17 and again last yr. And when you start
again, you'll need to avoid the things
that twice in the past have caused playing
to become associated with upleasantness
and have resulted in you quitting
after a yr.

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#970310 - 12/15/08 04:23 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11706
Loc: Canada
Hogwash. An adult student begins lessons with a teacher, and practices diligently, but the lessons seem random and disorganized. Unless the student is frivolous and wants to just fool around, how can motivation stay in such a situation?

Petex, there is still a belief among some teachers that adult students are not serious and want to just have fun playing pieces of any kind. The first thing you need to do in looking for a teacher is to tell a prospective teacher that you seriously wnat to learn to play the piano properly, that you want to learn whatever it is that you need to learn, and that you are willing to do the work. Before you do that, think of what your own goals might be because that will help you interview prospective teachers as well as be able to discern among the responses you get. Be prepared to listen to what they say.

Teaching can happen in a fun way, and it can even be done in a way that you don't realize you're being taught technique and theory. But the teacher himself should have some kind of underlying organization or plan of what needs to be learned first, second, third. It can't be totally random.

Be prepared to speak up in lessons. For example, your teacher skipped the hard parts. Did he know that you wanted to work on them? Some teachers are used to students being discouraged by hard things and don't want to make them work on them. If you prefer the challenge, let your teacher know that. If he has reasons to think you are not ready he will tell you.

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#970311 - 12/15/08 05:43 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Bex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Southern California
Petex: Kimber and BBPlayer, among a couple of others, had very sound advice on finding a good piano teacher for you. I heartily second the tip on asking around - especially at church and at community concerts - to find a good teacher. I would also look at prospective teachers' CVs -- that was key to my getting a great teacher. She had the chops and the education that I was seeking in a teacher. And luckily, we hit it off in person. I've made a huge amount of progress since I started playing the piano again 9 months ago.
_________________________
On the piano stand:
Widmung
Partita in c minor
Jardins sous la pluie

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#970312 - 12/16/08 07:41 AM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Thank you for all you comments.....Interesting ideas from Gyro, it does seem that history has repeated itself! the first time it was women that distracted me! this time I suppose I got frustrated with the lack of direction and non existant progress, I knew that I was putting in some good practice time but it wasn't enough. As for giving up on the hard stuff......thats just not the case, I am rather stuborn in these situations and like to overcome the problem. With my old teacher I would ask for advice and it was often differed to the following week which was then (by him) forgoten and I tired of reminding him and it was probably at this point things went from bad to worse!!
I think i will try the word of mouth route. I don't know anyone who plays so i will have to get out and about!!
Bex thanks for the support and encouragement..

Ps motivation........
I have always wanted to play the piano, just hearing the piano on the radio pop or classical is enough to motivate me........last year(while i was having lessons!) I saw a french guy Philippe LeJeune playing boogie woogie piano.....i just got to do it!!!! but where to begin???

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#970313 - 12/16/08 03:17 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
QuackersMcDuck Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/11/08
Posts: 6
Loc: CT
I think Chuan C. Chang's book Fundamentals of Piano Practice (available free online here: http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book) would be helpful to you, as long as you read the whole thing and really pay attention to it. Not a replacement for a teacher, but it should definitely help. It also discusses the teaching/learning process quite a bit, so you'll end up being a bit more prepared when deciding if prospective teachers know what they're doing in the future.
_________________________
After they amputated his toe he joked about having to learn to count in base 19

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#970314 - 12/16/08 07:23 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Hogwash. The first thing you need to do in looking for a teacher is to tell a prospective teacher that you seriously wnat to learn to play the piano properly, that you want to learn whatever it is that you need to learn, and that you are willing to do the work. [/b]
When my teacher asked me 6 years ago what I wanted, I told him that I wanted him to help me be the best I could be - what ever that was and that I was serious and willing to work hard to get to where ever that was. I'm still a long long way from 'there' but having a great time.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#970315 - 12/18/08 06:59 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
melwig Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: California
Peter,

You said that your enthusiasm has not yet completely returned. I would address that issue first. Looking for the right teacher can be an exhausting and frustrating exercise. I would set that aside temporarily and cultivate what motivates you to play in the first place. For me, it is playing pieces that I love and can play resonably well. I also get inspired by listening to music of other pianists who play music that I feel is within my reach to also play. Rekindle the dream. Don't let anyone steal it.
_________________________
Keep it fun, and stay motivated!

If you can achieve something without a struggle, it's not going to be satisfying.


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#970316 - 12/19/08 12:06 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
petex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/08
Posts: 33
Loc: Nimes France
Thanks for all your support...I must say that since I have started this thred, thanks to all the replies I have become more and more motivated..Thanks to you all
I have started reading the Fundamentals of Piano Practice as suggested by QuackersMcDuck .....it's a bit heavy going but interesting ideas..i'd be interested in anyone elses views on this book.

I have decided to use the midi capabilities of of my yamaha DP and have installed Finale composer and anvil studio to start me off...the idea is that by using midi files to show me what I should be playing I should be on the right track (joke!) ...anyone else tried to learn using midi files?

This leaves me with one big question ........I need a piece that I can attack that will be interesting, not to technical (i'm beginner/intermediate on a good day!. Not an easy choice since I am aware that I really need to succed to bost my ego .......
Any ideas?
I like classical and modern.. but it needs to be a little dramatic to keep me interested, if you know what I mean!!

Thanks again
Peter

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#970317 - 12/19/08 12:18 PM Re: looking for some moral support.
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I have the Hal Leonard/Cherry Lane Music
publication, Great Songs of the Sixties,
Vol. 2. It has all kinds of cool songs
in it, and you'd probably be able to
find something in it to get you playing
again. I consider jazz/popular music
the same as classical, so you'd play
these just like you play your classical
pieces.

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