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Steinway Update: Code Name “Edelweiss” Outbid by a True Piano Lover

The calculation was apparently rather simple for the new owner - he loves Steinway's pianos, so why not buy the whole company? We suggest that next step for the new owner, John Paulson, would be to learn to play his pianos. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Reasons Parents Give for Changing Teachers  (Read 10522 times)
mrsmusic13
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« on: July 23, 2010, 04:25:03 AM »

A colleague of mine lost a student recently- an 11 year old boy who has done exceptionally well with her since he started taking lessons 4 years ago. He works very hard, enjoys his lessons, has won several competitions etc.

It is the same reason I've been given on a few occasions. In all situations, the families were Chinese. I only mention this, because the reasons are so similar.

"We are changing to a teacher who  will motivate and pressure him to work harder."

Earlier this summer I was told  by a father of one of my young students-"I want my son to have more consequences." Hmm. Consequences? He plays well, has improved SO much, loves making music, practices efficiently and treats me with respect. Don't get it.

Really, I'm not trying to pigeon hole this into a cultural or ethnic thing, I just want to understand.....What is it that these parents want?

I am not strict in the sense that I yell, scream, hit(like my own first piano teacher did when I was a young child Shocked )but I'm not even sure what some of these parents mean by strict, consequences. pressure, motivation. (Actually I think motivation for the most part comes from within, even in children, though of course I do all I can to motivate my students(even providing extrinsic motivation)

We see them once a week for lessons. They are home the other 6. How does a teacher pressure and motivate them to practice more and work harder? What am I missing? What is my friend missing?

I'm serious. My friend hasn't heard this reason before and hasn't been teaching as long as I have and she's really upset, feels betrayed. She put her all into this kid.

I'm past the point of feeling betrayed when students transfer to other teachers and those are the reasons given, but I really DO want to figure this out and gain some insight into what this hypothetical other teacher is doing that we are not.

Comments? Discussion? Suggestions? Insight?

Thank you. Lou





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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2010, 04:45:08 AM »

One thing you must realize; You are always replaceable no matter who you are or how good you are.

So no matter how good your product is there will still be people who head off in another direction. That is fair enough! I had one experience of this, it was a Chinese student as well, I told the parents that this child was too talented to be studying under the AMEB examination, they wanted him to do grade 1 through to 8 and I said that is a waste of time and proved that by making him play around grade 7 level in less than a year (from beginner). So they took their child elsewhere at the end of the year.

Not all parents know much about musical studies, neither do the children. In the case above I was completely 100% happy with how I taught and with the extremely fast progress he made, they however did not realize it, so much so to change to another teacher who would teach him exams. I bumped into this student a few years later and they are still on grade 5 content! A terrible waste of time imo but for them it was the best choice. For me their choice was a blunder and a half but why should I bother telling them that? They have the right to waste their time/money.

In the end, just move on, ensure your students are enjoying themselves and the music they learn, that is all you need to do. If one comes to you and says they want to be pushed harder then why don't you give them something that is above their level and let them struggle, sweat and strain a little Smiley As a general rule I usually teach one piece easier, two pieces at their level and one harder.
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mrsmusic13
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 05:20:03 AM »

Thank you for your response. Oh, I definitely know I'm replaceable. Grin I've been replaced on a few occasions over the last 30 years.

I had a similar experience to you in regards to a very talented student. She was playing advanced Beethoven Sonatas within a year's time of beginning lessons.  It was amazing. Her mother wanted her to test as well. I said something similar to what you said. There was no reason to take ALL of them. Her mother was in medicine(naturally she knew nothing about music) wanted her daughter to do MORE. I did what I thought best, put her into several appropriate events. They dropped me because the mother's partner recommended a concert pianist for a teacher. I was so upset at the time until I found out a few weeks later that the concert pianist was the guy who played the piano at the piano store at the mall for the shoppers' pleasure Grin

Then again, my very first student was much like the student you spoke about and the girl I mentioned above. He had musically clueless parents who actually listened to me and followed my guidance and advice for the years I was his teacher and even AFTER. He is a concert pianist and composer now who even though he lives 3000 miles away now and is grownup is like my other son.

I did give my own student whose father told me he wanted "Consequences"(still not sure what that MEANS Huh) 1 much more difficult piece this summer, which he adores learning...and so far the father hasn't said anything else, so for the moment the waters are calm.

My friend who lost her student this week will have to get over it and I'm sure she will eventually.

I'm still curious what the Chinese parents of the student my friend just lost as well (as some I've taught in the past) consider a strict, pressure producing, consequence giving, motivation providing teacher to be?

 I realize all parents don't fit the same mold, but about half of my private students are young students whose parents were born in China or Taiwan.

Thank You, Lou


One thing you must realize; You are always replaceable no matter who you are or how good you are.

So no matter how good your product is there will still be people who head off in another direction. That is fair enough! I had one experience of this, it was a Chinese student as well, I told the parents that this child was too talented to be studying under the AMEB examination, they wanted him to do grade 1 through to 8 and I said that is a waste of time and proved that by making him play around grade 7 level in less than a year (from beginner). So they took their child elsewhere at the end of the year.

Not all parents know much about musical studies, neither do the children. In the case above I was completely 100% happy with how I taught and with the extremely fast progress he made, they however did not realize it, so much so to change to another teacher who would teach him exams. I bumped into this student a few years later and they are still on grade 5 content! A terrible waste of time imo but for them it was the best choice. For me their choice was a blunder and a half but why should I bother telling them that? They have the right to waste their time/money.

In the end, just move on, ensure your students are enjoying themselves and the music they learn, that is all you need to do. If one comes to you and says they want to be pushed harder then why don't you give them something that is above their level and let them struggle, sweat and strain a little  As a general rule I usually teach one piece easier, two pieces at their level and one harder.
Posted on: Today at 04:25:03 AM Posted by: mrsmusic13
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go12_3
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2010, 12:41:30 PM »

I think in the teaching profession , the teacher has to deal with several situations...
and personalities of students and parents.  Interests and circumstances can change a student's
perspective in piano playing.  I went through the "changing teacher" a few years ago.
I had a couple of students, sisters, one a beginner and the other advanced.  Well, one day
the parent mentioned that her daughters will be quiting lessons with me because she
found another teacher that did recitals and more fun stuff.  Oh, well, I thought, it doesn't
matter to me because I know in this business change has to be always expected.... Tongue
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pianoplayjl
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2011, 12:08:05 PM »

My parents contemplated changing teachers just because the current piano teacher lives too far away. Luckily they backed down because rarely can a quality teacher be stumbled across. Well we did have some teachers near us but they were mainly elderly people but with heaps of teaching experience. I still insisted on staying.  Grin

JL
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coffee_guy
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 09:53:01 PM »

call the parents and say you agree. Tell them you will place a coal poker in the music room and burn him every time he makes a mistake. Tell them you will hold a knife to their throats during practice, and if the child makes a mistake, you will cut them. Are these the kinda consequences that sound good to them? Or is beating the child there job?

Actually it sounds like a bs excuse they are giving, but if it is legit they need a mental examination. There are so many gifted musicians and child prodigies in the world it's almost lost it's nostalgia. Forcing a kid to practice to be "the best" does not make them special. For the most part, they are just copying the music of those that were truly special to begin with. It's sad people can't just enjoy music.
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coffee_guy
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 09:57:22 PM »

also, in another generation, there will be enough Asian teachers that Asian parents will only seek out them for their children. I guess they will have to do the beatings.

My teacher went to the royal school of music in London as a child, I know he had physical consequences for messing up, I will ask him what they did as a motivator. He also told me he despised the piano by high school, and didn't start loving it again for 10 years of piano free life and no pressure from his family and teachers.
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notmozart
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 07:01:10 PM »

I am a white parent with no musical background. However, I have a 7 year old boy flourishing under a Chinese piano instructor for the past two years.  Her studio is probably 75 percent Asian 25 percent white. Chinese teacher is a graduate from top conservatory.   I realize this thread is old but I thought I could explain what maybe Chinese parents think in terms of consequences/ pressure from a white American point of view. I will start off by saying his piano teacher is very nurturing but she does have high standards. There is no doubt however who is in charge and she has subtle ways of reminding him of this frequently. Also if he is not working to his potential/trying she has no problem scolding him/disciplining him but it's  clear to me that she does it because she cares. Some of the things she has said in the past have been pretty shocking as she is very blunt (ie threatened to yell at him if something was not perfected and going into very detailed description of what that would be like).  She's never yelled with a raised voice at him though I expect she probably will one day.  In a nutshell praise is her main reward and scolding/ withdrawing attention is her main consequence. She must be completely exhausted after giving lessons. She so deeply cares that withdrawing attention has a huge impact on him as he realizes it too.  Honestly being able to strike the right balance between pressure/reward/ discipline is a gift that in my opinion that is completely different outside the Chinese community and has been somewhat of a culture shock to me but I'm liking the process and results that I am seeing so far.
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bernadette60614
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2015, 01:29:30 AM »

One of my very dear friends is from China.  She has her son on an earn to play program. He has to do so many hours of math drills to get a play break.  Her son is playing French horn...not because he chose it, but because his mother believes that fewer kids play this instrument and he'll stand out more.

She's a lovely woman and she tells me that this is the Asian way...your children are there to accomplish, and their level of accomplishment reflects upon your value as a parent.

What she seems to like (and this might help in your situation), is knowing the grade level of the pieces her son is playing.  It makes her feel that he is practicing enough and progressing.
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quantum
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2015, 11:15:00 PM »

I believe some important questions to ask are: 

How are goals defined?
What happens when a goal is achieved? 
Is the resultant reaction appropriate to the work put into achieving the goal?

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Hopefully people will notice that OP was in July 2010.
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