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#1956692 - 09/09/12 11:46 PM New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher?
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
I am an adult who is finally going to get a bucket list item checked off - taking piano lessons! This is something I have dreamed of since I was a young child.

While I have lurked here for some time in anticipation of this, I am interested in what those who teach would recommend going about interviewing or surveying a piano teacher to find the best "fit"?

I was a voice student in high school many years ago, and I could read music at the time, but I would really prefer to start from the very beginning in the event there are things I don't recall or might not have learned properly.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or direction!

Dan

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#1956701 - 09/10/12 12:11 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
If you go to this link, http://www.fmta.org/local.asp you will find a listing for the president of the Tampa chapter of MTNA. This person should know all the local teachers and can probably recommend ones she knows who enjoy teaching adults.

Oftentimes, teachers prefer working with children or have no experience working with adults. You'll want to find someone whose preference is adult students. You will also want to interview with several teachers. At that time, they should go over their studio policy with you and find out some things from you, like what your goals are. You'll probably be able to tell who will be a good fit.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1956810 - 09/10/12 08:21 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
Minnie's advice is pretty good, Dan. I'll add, that by the third teacher, you'll have a far better idea of what you want, and don't want, in a teacher or studio. Reading some of the back numbers on this site may give you some insight into the issues.

Anticipating the questions the teacher might ask, and maybe even doing a bit of writing about them, could be helpful. I would be asking: do you have a piano already, what kind, is it in good tune and good regulation, and do you have a tech who takes care of it? Not only your goals and aspirations (important as they are), but your musical background and present involvement with such things as chorus or choir, attendance at performances, what you listen to at home, etc. And the big one: how much time, realistically, can you devote to practice, and what is your idea of how long it takes to learn to play piano? What is your idea of good progress for yourself within, let's say, a year? Two years? Five? What is your idea of the cost of private lessons? Are you familiar with any music stores (which have piano sheet music) in your area, or online music retailers? How will your spouse or neighbors (if any) be affected by the sound of practice, and the time spent on it? (This one is both more, and less, obvious than it seems.) Any preference as to the gender of the teacher?

You might like to know some of these things about the teacher, as well. Age and temperament, pedagogical training, teaching experience, condition of the practice piano, travel distance, will lessons be in-home or at the teacher's studio. An interview is far from one-sided. These are interesting and valuable things to find out. You might ask to see a copy of the studio policy, and inquire about the terms of the contract, if there is one. Policies on illness, make-ups, payment terms, termination and notice, etc. It's important to have a clear understanding about these things, and thinking about them in advance can save a lot of time.

Good luck to you.
_________________________
Clef


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#1956812 - 09/10/12 08:24 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: Minniemay]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
Thank you for the suggestion! I will contact the local contact listed and see what I can find out from them.

I work for a very large (8th largest in the country) school district, so I am also putting out feelers through some of my friends who are music teachers.

Your point is well taken, and certainly one of my biggest concerns - finding a teacher who works with adults, not just a teacher who will take anyone who will "warm the bench", so to speak.

Again, thank you!

Dan

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#1956902 - 09/10/12 11:45 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
BinghamtonPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/11
Posts: 91
Loc: New York
You might also read through this article:
http://www.mtna.org/parent-and-student-resources/choosing-a-music-teacher/
The article gives you some great questions to ask your prospective teacher.
_________________________
Piano lessons in Binghamton, Vestal, Endicott, and other areas of upstate NY. Specializing in homeschool piano lessons.
www.binghamtonpianolessons.com
Member: MTNA, NYSMTA

White Rabbit - 60's, 70's & 80's classic rock, southern rock and blues rock band - Binghamton, NY.
www.thewhiterabbitband.com

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#1956907 - 09/10/12 12:04 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: MacDan

finding a teacher who works with adults, not just a teacher who will take anyone who will "warm the bench", so to speak.



ha ha! Some do like both adults and children, though. smile It is possible. You need to get a teacher you are 'admin-compatible' with. One of my biggest headaches with adult students is they keep wanting special things like big long breaks when it doesn't suit them, or work-related trips, or they cancel at the last minute due to work commitments. Now, everything can be sorted, but it's worth finding our what studio policy is before you sign up.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1956911 - 09/10/12 12:14 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
KurtZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 851
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Many fine teacher are not guild affiliated. Your nearest piano dealer should be able to give you some names.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1957009 - 09/10/12 04:01 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: ten left thumbs]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
MacDan, what TenLeftThumbs describes is important for any adult student to be aware of. Because of the negative experience with adults that many teachers have, those expectations may be there before we even walk into the door. Expected attitudes: wanting instant results, not willing to follow basic beginner things, quitting, wrong ideas of what learning is about and trying to impose it on the teacher. One side effect is the teacher "specializing in adults" who gives shortcut, "easy" piano to produce quick results in a short time, which a proportion of our population wants. Of course not every teacher who likes teaching adults has those ideas but it's there.

If you are aware of this you can be preemptive by telling a prospective teacher that you want to get the skills of playing music on the piano, and are willing to do what is needed to get there - and then following through in lessons. Goals should not be taken for granted. You may want to get a feel for what the teacher's thoughts and priorities are.

Your opening post suggests that you are serious, since you talk about wanting to start at the beginning, even for things that you might already know from high school days.

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#1957061 - 09/10/12 05:33 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: keystring]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
Absolutely. I am at a point in my life where I not only have the time to commit, but the time to practice and the motivation. I can (and would!) easily commit to an hour a day of practice without question. As my skills improve I know I'll want to become more challenged, and explore pieces I have heard that I want to play.

Some good points had come out of this as I had hoped - it had never occurred to me that adult students might be more of challenge for a teacher, and therefore, less desirable.

Pedagogy is important to me, as I am an educator myself, and as such I recognize how critical this aspect of teaching is. No short cuts, no "easy". I want to have a good foundation and be able to build on that as I go along.

Again, thanks to everyone for their input. It has been very helpful. I'll report back as I make progress.

Dan

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#1957222 - 09/11/12 01:23 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1314
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Dan, there are actually precious few of us piano teachers whose specialty and expertise is the adult learner. If you manage to find one around Tampa, you'll be lucky. But any piano teacher can be ok if you feel that he or she respects you as an equal partner in the educational process: that criterion alone will knock out most the candidates, though.

My advice is to speak at length with several teachers, and take a lesson (paid or not) with each of them. Then trust your instincts. You'll learn something from any piano teacher, but it would be nice to find a relationship that might flourish for you.

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#1957243 - 09/11/12 02:20 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
Peter, as an adult student I am not sure that I want a teacher who considers himself my equal partner. I want a teacher who understands what is needed in terms of skills and knowledge to play music on the piano, and who also knows how to guide me to get there. This includes teaching skills, and those teaching skills will include being tuned into a student's strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, lack of learning styles etc. Especially if I am a beginner, I do not want to be responsible for the course, because I don't know much yet. I want to be taken seriously and given a chance. Competence would be a major component.

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#1957825 - 09/12/12 11:45 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
You might have to try a few teachers before you find someone who works for you. Don't be afraid to walk if things aren't working out, though try to do so gracefully. It's a process ...
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


Check out my blog !


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#1957826 - 09/12/12 11:48 AM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: keystring]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
Originally Posted By: keystring
Peter, as an adult student I am not sure that I want a teacher who considers himself my equal partner. I want a teacher who understands what is needed in terms of skills and knowledge to play music on the piano, and who also knows how to guide me to get there. This includes teaching skills, and those teaching skills will include being tuned into a student's strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, lack of learning styles etc. Especially if I am a beginner, I do not want to be responsible for the course, because I don't know much yet. I want to be taken seriously and given a chance. Competence would be a major component.


Here's the minimum criterion: someone who knows more than you do and who knows how to teach it to you.
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


Check out my blog !


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#1957855 - 09/12/12 12:47 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: Piano Again]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5421
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
Here's the minimum criterion: someone who knows more than you do and who knows how to teach it to you.

That's a rather low expectation for a teacher frown
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1957867 - 09/12/12 01:22 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
Here's the minimum criterion: someone who knows more than you do and who knows how to teach it to you.

That's a rather low expectation for a teacher frown


I said it was the minimum. It's not always met, either. You can usually find the first but not the second. The "knowing how to teach it to you" part is what makes or breaks it, right?
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


Check out my blog !


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#1958311 - 09/13/12 01:39 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: Piano Again]
MacDan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 91
Loc: Tampa, FL
I am pleased to report that through the local FSMTA chapter I was able to get a list of piano teachers in my area. I have contacted several and am in the process of setting up interviews.

One in particular addressed a number of the questions I was going to ask in our initial exchange without prompting, and she also has five adult students at this time.

So hopefully I should have located a teacher and started on my way in the next week or two!

Thanks to all,

Dan

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#1958357 - 09/13/12 02:37 PM Re: New Adult Student - How to Choose A Teacher? [Re: MacDan]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
That's great, good luck on your piano journey!
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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