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Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted! (Read 1859 times)

Offline pianomomof3

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Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
« on: June 28, 2013, 01:55:51 PM »
Hi,
I am posting here hoping to get some advice on my 5 year old son who has been taking piano.  I am feeling unsatisfied with his current teacher.  I'll give some background and some information about where we would attend piano if we left his current studio.
First, this teacher is one of the most popular at his current studio.  She is generally a serious but gentle teacher, and that works well for my son.  My frustration is coming from the fact that I have invested time and energy sitting with him for a practice session every single day for several months.  She comments that he is making great progress.  He can read the notes that she has introduced so far, and he can actually read some of the pieces at first sight with the correct rhythm.  I feel that the pieces that she assigns him present no challenge.  He is never "done" after we practice and spends time trying to decipher the accompaniment.  He makes up chords, and really wants to play chords.  He wants to know about the black keys, and sharps and flats are nowhere in any of his current books.  However, she has kept him in Primer level material (he does anywhere from 3-5 primer level pieces per week, she says she assigns a lot so he won't get bored) and she says she intends to keep him there (I ask about new books, and she says ďIn a couple of months.Ē)  I feel like heís been bored for about 2 months.  He passes whatever she assigns, and sometimes she reassigns a piece to memorize.  She also reassigned a piece that he passed last week, with no comments on what to work on.  Another wasted week!  I think she just didnít have time to introduce anything new as she spent a good portion of the lesson having my son write in notes on other pieces.  He already knows them, itís only 9 notes, and while review is always called for, so is new material.  This all feels painfully slow.  He was the only student at his recital playing primer level pieces although he's not the youngest (just pointing that out because itís not a common practice of hers,) and I don't think he is benefitting from laboring over primer level for so long.  The studio will be closed 6 weeks during the summer, so we will be doing the primer work well into the fall.  Also, she made a comment that makes me think she believes that he does well in his lesson because we are working ahead (asked me not to teach him the next song in the book!)  We aren't working ahead.  Iím paying for lessons, and want her to introduce the pieces so she can, you know, teach.   He has just thoroughly grasped the note reading, steps and skips, and note duration concepts and isn't struggling.  Struggling to sight read is certainly not required, Iím sure she has many bright kids who canít recognize notes, and she doesnít quite understand what has happened to allow my son to do so.  But it doesnít have to be a big deal, I just expect her to move on from it.  I am not a music teacher so I have no idea what you guys run into, but she "forgets" that he knows his notes and has seemingly rediscovered it every lesson since the recital in May.  We have the same conversation about his reading notes every week after the lesson.  It's annoying, as I am paying $40/lesson and I think she can keep a progress chart, or similar, to help her remember as she does have a lot of students.  I guess I just donít think Iím getting my valueís worth as this studio charges more than most teachers in the area, and I am more or less expecting that the material will be challenging.  I donít like one of the primary method books being used, and it doesnít get good reviews on the web.  The good thing about this teacher though, is obviously that she gets along with my son and he can obviously learn from her when she offers up something.  It just seems as if she has been declining to teach something new for the past several weeks.
I am thinking about switching to a nearby studio that has a conservatory-style program.   It includes a theory lab and lesson each week.  The teachers seem to be very qualified.  All the students use the same methods, so I think I will have a better view of what is slow, average, and fast progress.  I am thinking of doing a trial lesson and seeing if a new teacher decides to put him in a primer.  If so, I may stay with his current teacher.  Also, with the theory lab, I think he will have new concepts to work on each week, and he will be mixed in with the violin students who put a huge emphasis on ear training.  However, with this program there will be very few performance opportunities compared to the current studio.  The new studio has one recital a year, and all students do RCM.  They also only offer 30 lessons per year (he gets 44 lessons at his current studio).  You have to be invited to join Chamber music for more performance opportunities, and I wouldnít think of having him join a group for several years.  However, they have ďMaster ClassesĒ that are rather cheap to attend.   I think they have one per month for beginner level students.  The current studio does 2 recitals a year, and his teacher has signed him up for 2 festivals, but our only option would be to continue with a 30 min lesson.

Any advice on what other factors need to be weighed in this situation?

Offline dorihunt

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Re: Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
«Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 05:20:11 AM »
This is a difficult situation.  Are there any other teachers at his current studio with whom your son could do a trial lesson?  The studio you are attending seems great with the festivals and recitals.  Does your son say he is bored?  I am not a teacher so I am perplexed by his teacherís lack of challenging your son.  She may be overworked or she may be concerned that your son will get frustrated.  What harm would it do to try lessons with a few other teachers?  I find being open and honest with all parties involved is the best way to find a solution.  Good luck.  Keep us posted

Offline pianoannieq

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Re: Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
«Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 02:49:58 PM »
Hi Pianomomof3,

Unfortunately, your experience isn't uncommon. It's difficult to find a teacher that works well with a child that teaches love for the instrument and technique. I wouldn't recommend switching him to a conservatory, just because he is so young and it would be much more intensive. But it couldn't hurt to do a trial lesson to see how he likes it. It could be a consideration for the future.

Currently, I think that the most important factor to consider is your son and his feelings. He is very young, so it's important that he learns to love the piano at first. I think that it's a great idea to work ahead since it gives the opportunity for him to prove that he can move through the primer books. If he is enthusiastic enough to improve at the piano, this should be brought to the teacher's attention. You said that he gets along well with his teacher, so perhaps his teacher will see how your son would like a greater challenge. If not, it would be a good idea to consult other teachers at the studio or find another local teacher that may have more time to devote to teaching :)
I hate music (and sarcasm) :)

Beethoven Sonata 18
Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole
Prokofiev Sonata 4 op.29
Scriabin Piano Concerto

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
«Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 01:42:35 AM »
You DO both realise this thread is 7 years old, and the OP has long disappeared.

Offline pianoannieq

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Re: Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
«Reply #4 on: June 14, 2020, 02:03:04 AM »
Perfect_pitch,

Thank you for letting us know. I guess I didn't see that when I first replied ;D
I hate music (and sarcasm) :)

Beethoven Sonata 18
Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole
Prokofiev Sonata 4 op.29
Scriabin Piano Concerto

Offline dorihunt

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Re: Changing Teachers; New Studio Program. Advice wanted!
«Reply #5 on: June 14, 2020, 04:16:08 AM »
Oops!  I didnít look at the date.  Thank you!  This boy is now 12.  I wonder how it all turned out.  We will never know.