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Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher (Read 3491 times)

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
« on: October 06, 2015, 11:41:06 PM »
Hi peps,
    I've been recently considering being a piano teacher. Even though I may have better potential as a doctor, etc... I really want to see what other options to have.

    I know I have a horrible personality, but that will change as I mature, so by the time I supposedly become a piano teacher, I will have a much better personality. I love to teach my little sister, and I love music, so it is really nice.

   OK straight to the point: What are some of your suggestions as a teacher? What are some things to avoid?
   For example:
Things to Avoid:
1. Forcing the student to play along with you
2. Not allowing the student to play any way except for a certain way
3.Using opinionated and exaggerated language in a lesson when teaching.
4. Making the student play Chopin and Liszt with the metronome (unless they are someone like Lang Lang  ;) )
5. Giving them atonal/not-very-tonal pieces way too early (I. e. No Prokofiev, Bach Fugues, Schostakovich, Bartok, or Copland until they've reached the stage where they appreciate the beauty of those works)
6. Forcing them to attend student recitals
7. Talking way too quiet
8. Having an extremely dry piano
9. Having an uneven piano
10. Exaggerating while you copy the student (unless the student is exceptionally stupid and cannot figure out what they are doing weirdly unless you exaggerate)
11. Telling the student that they are not ready for certain pieces (unless they want to jump from Fur Elise to La Campanella ::) )

Thanks,
Emily
Some Quotes about Me:

"Five stars in the culinary arts,
No star in music."
   - DrKlara Andbroms

"A terrible artist, too bad you cant get plastic surgery on your piano playing"
   -DrFay King

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 12:42:22 AM »
Hi peps,
    I've been recently considering being a piano teacher. Even though I may have better potential as a doctor, etc... I really want to see what other options to have.

    I know I have a horrible personality, but that will change as I mature, so by the time I supposedly become a piano teacher, I will have a much better personality. I love to teach my little sister, and I love music, so it is really nice.

   OK straight to the point: What are some of your suggestions as a teacher? What are some things to avoid?
   For example:
Things to Avoid:
1. Forcing the student to play along with you
2. Not allowing the student to play any way except for a certain way
3.Using opinionated and exaggerated language in a lesson when teaching.
4. Making the student play Chopin and Liszt with the metronome (unless they are someone like Lang Lang  ;) )
5. Giving them atonal/not-very-tonal pieces way too early (I. e. No Prokofiev, Bach Fugues, Schostakovich, Bartok, or Copland until they've reached the stage where they appreciate the beauty of those works)
6. Forcing them to attend student recitals
7. Talking way too quiet
8. Having an extremely dry piano
9. Having an uneven piano
10. Exaggerating while you copy the student (unless the student is exceptionally stupid and cannot figure out what they are doing weirdly unless you exaggerate)
11. Telling the student that they are not ready for certain pieces (unless they want to jump from Fur Elise to La Campanella ::) )

Thanks,
Emily


the most important thing IMO..  is to not set yourself up in your student's brain as some kind of piano guru that has all the answers and knows everything.  Teachers who do this end up having to defend this "false self" they have created... that's when they can become abusive.  Besides, it's so much more effective when the student discovers something himself rather than having it drilled into his head by an overbearing teacher.  Letting your student think that they have discovered something even you didn't know... can do wonders--but that's not possible if you have set yourself up as "the almighty piano genius"   Guide don't force... 


hmmm...  doctor or piano teacher...  sweetie...as someone who has taught piano for 20+ years-- I would have to go with dr.   Teach a few kids to help with Med school.  Teaching piano can be very rewarding..  but then so is saving lives I would imagine.  The pay is way better in medicine. :)

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 01:27:54 AM »
Great advice! Thanks!

Quote
don't be a piano teacher

Psh, Ill be a doctor if I can, and then Ill retire and then teach piano (if anyone is willing to learn from me hahaha)
Some Quotes about Me:

"Five stars in the culinary arts,
No star in music."
   - DrKlara Andbroms

"A terrible artist, too bad you cant get plastic surgery on your piano playing"
   -DrFay King

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 02:21:48 AM »
Great advice! Thanks!

Psh, Ill be a doctor if I can, and then Ill retire and then teach piano (if anyone is willing to learn from me hahaha)

I have known so many musicians who were medical professionals..    I have had piano students who were also doctors..   it's kind of funny to me when they get frustrated or they are afraid to perform... it's like.. you went to med school... you cut people open... and THIS is scary to you?

 being a doctor who also plays the piano would be pretty cool I think.    ;D

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 02:49:58 AM »
I have known so many musicians who were medical professionals..    I have had piano students who were also doctors..   it's kind of funny to me when they get frustrated or they are afraid to perform... it's like.. you went to med school... you cut people open... and THIS is scary to you?

 being a doctor who also plays the piano would be pretty cool I think.    ;D

Max Planck was a scientist, but I'm pretty ssure he got a doctor's degree.
Some Quotes about Me:

"Five stars in the culinary arts,
No star in music."
   - DrKlara Andbroms

"A terrible artist, too bad you cant get plastic surgery on your piano playing"
   -DrFay King

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 03:46:48 AM »
Max Planck was a scientist, but I'm pretty ssure he got a doctor's degree.

some people are amazing at everything. :)

Offline dogperson

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 04:16:47 AM »
I'll give a real-world example from my piano lesson today -- I have been working on a Mozart sonata for so long that i already felt lower than a snake's belly.. but after this week's concentrated  practice, I thought I really had FINALLY conquered it ...

So, after playing the first section of the last movement, I looked my teacher, hoping and dreaming of the first positive comment.  and then her words

"Well, I can see you have had a good time this week, but it is  still not right"

 :o :'( :-* :'(

Offline outin

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 05:05:08 AM »
I'll give a real-world example from my piano lesson today -- I have been working on a Mozart sonata for so long that i already felt lower than a snake's belly.. but after this week's concentrated  practice, I thought I really had FINALLY conquered it ...

So, after playing the first section of the last movement, I looked my teacher, hoping and dreaming of the first positive comment.  and then her words

"Well, I can see you have had a good time this week, but it is  still not right"

 :o :'( :-* :'(

The difference between my teacher and yours is that while mine is not much into praise either (at least not with me), she always talks in details, not generally like that. So after a week of hard work she may say something like: Now that you've got that thing we talked about last week, this is what you should do next. She actually almost never says that this piece is now fine, but often asks me if I want to leave it or do I want to keep on working yet on something to make it better :D

And of course if it's a piece that I really like it I tend to fall in that trap and she will add yet another layer of difficulty...

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 11:25:39 AM »

"Well, I can see you have had a good time this week, but it is  still not right"

 :o :'( :-* :'(

ouch...  :'(   Oh,  I can feel that pain.  It feels like the wind going out of the sails--or a balloon deflating-- sometimes it's almost like boiling water is being thrown on your heart...I know that look well.    I do my absolute best not to cause that pain in my students...

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 12:32:41 PM »
1.  Avoid thinking one size fits all.  Every student deserves to be given the approach that serves them best, not you.  Every one of your examples feels personal, like it's something your teachers did to you, so you'll never do it.  Except, what if your student needs that? Also, let the past go.  I think you're still mad.

2.  Don't talk too much.  Piano lessons are not about lecturing. 
Tim

Offline rubinsteinmad

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 08:55:47 PM »
1.  Avoid thinking one size fits all.  Every student deserves to be given the approach that serves them best, not you.  Every one of your examples feels personal, like it's something your teachers did to you, so you'll never do it.  Except, what if your student needs that? Also, let the past go.  I think you're still mad.

2.  Don't talk too much.  Piano lessons are not about lecturing. 

For #1, OMG You're right! I forgot about that. Yes. I'm making the same mistake as that b!tch teacher. She teaches the approach she was taught, because she doesn't know what musicality comes from because she doesn't have it :P Youre right, I should not be that dumb. I should be a smarter teacher, focusing on the STUDENT's need's approaches.

For #2 OMG I agree. Unfortunately my new teacher is great, but she teaches in somebody else's studio. She tries to help me a lot, but she can be a little "lecturey". Here's the formula:
Dry pianos + Loud ventilation + Lecturing= BORING
Some Quotes about Me:

"Five stars in the culinary arts,
No star in music."
   - DrKlara Andbroms

"A terrible artist, too bad you cant get plastic surgery on your piano playing"
   -DrFay King

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 11:09:23 PM »
For #2 OMG I agree. Unfortunately my new teacher is great, but she teaches in somebody else's studio. She tries to help me a lot, but she can be a little "lecturey". Here's the formula:
Dry pianos + Loud ventilation + Lecturing= BORING

no doubt...  quickest way to lose them.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #12 on: October 08, 2015, 06:55:46 PM »
As I read through this thread, I see plenty ideas of what not to do, but I don't really see any vision of what a teacher is aiming at.  Surely that is the first step and the main thing.  If you have a general direction or goal, then the path will tend to define itself as you go along.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #13 on: October 09, 2015, 01:35:52 PM »
As I read through this thread, I see plenty ideas of what not to do, but I don't really see any vision of what a teacher is aiming at.  Surely that is the first step and the main thing.  If you have a general direction or goal, then the path will tend to define itself as you go along.

you are right..lol   I think we all missed the "to do's"...  

"a vision of what the teacher is aiming at"  ---  I can speak for no other teacher but myself--but my aim is always to give the student a foundation--or to improve upon it--and to inspire an appreciation for music...beyond that there are too many variables to consider to make any kind of blanket statement in that regard..IMO.

the business aim is really what comes first out there among most teachers anyway--pretty much across the board...  and anyone who owns or works in a piano studio will tell you...  "what a teacher is aiming at?"  keep those kids having a good time, you keep them in the studio...and keep your job.
and that is NOT a bad thing... if we as teachers didn't give everyone a shot... if we only taught students who we perceived as being "able" -- we would all starve to death.

MOST kids who sign up for lessons are not serious... but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to take them... or that the teacher should be blamed when they quit.





Offline timothy42b

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #14 on: October 09, 2015, 03:11:54 PM »



MOST kids who sign up for lessons are not serious... but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to take them... or that the teacher should be blamed when they quit.


Something I mentioned in another thread that did not attract any interest, but I've been thinking about it.

Do we sell piano students short, compared to athletes?

We all know excelling at piano takes a large investment of time and energy - hours of daily practice, good instruction, seminars and competitions - and we all know hardly any students can be induced to do it.  We just accept that piano students aren't serious.

Contrast that with athletics.  Whether you're a swimmer, diver, gymnast, skater, soccer player, etc., you do all of those things and more, and no coach will accept anything less.  And athletes routinely comply. 

We have a shared culture that athletes will work hard even with no pro career possible, and musicians for the most part won't.
Tim

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #15 on: October 09, 2015, 06:46:42 PM »
Something I mentioned in another thread that did not attract any interest, but I've been thinking about it.

Do we sell piano students short, compared to athletes?

We all know excelling at piano takes a large investment of time and energy - hours of daily practice, good instruction, seminars and competitions - and we all know hardly any students can be induced to do it.  We just accept that piano students aren't serious.

Contrast that with athletics.  Whether you're a swimmer, diver, gymnast, skater, soccer player, etc., you do all of those things and more, and no coach will accept anything less.  And athletes routinely comply. 

We have a shared culture that athletes will work hard even with no pro career possible, and musicians for the most part won't.

any working class piano teacher will tell you...all too often the  piano comes in last--behind soccer, football, dance, church group--whatever else the kid is into...  except for the rare few who are truly motivated to play.   Selling students short and just accepting that they aren't serious?  never....  LOL please :) for 20+ years I have tried the best I could... I have invented games, songs, motivational marketing ideas--I have all but got down on my knees and begged them to at least try to be open to this.  I am not the kind of person who can take someone's money and not try to deliver results...  I have seen students go from struggling and snail paced to all of the sudden jumping up level after level--you really never can tell who is going to be the best player in the end...  some start off like gangbusters and then completely lose interest... while others --who struggled endlessly at first while learning the simplest lessons... who hated you and the piano...lol...  they end up still being with you when they are 18 and they play Rach in their last recital...  and you cry when they go off to college...

I am not one of the big time teachers.. just a small timer in a studio...  but that doesn't mean I don't take pride in what I do for a living.. :)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #16 on: October 09, 2015, 07:03:00 PM »
any working class piano teacher will tell you...all too often the  piano comes in last--behind soccer, football, dance, church group--whatever else the kid is into...  except for the rare few who are truly motivated to play. 

I am not one of the big time teachers.. just a small timer in a studio...  but that doesn't mean I don't take pride in what I do for a living.. :)

Apologies, I did not mean to offend.

You've stated your case eloquently!

No criticism of the teacher was intended. 

My point is that the problem is not the child.  Somehow the coach finds it easy to get the child to work hard, and the piano teacher doesn't.  We seem to have a community shared ethic where sports are serious and music is not.  All piano students should get to Rach before graduating high school, not the rare few.  Start at age 9, work hard for 8 years, age 17 should bring a good level of mastery.  Even 4 years should bring considerable amateur level competence. 

Maybe if you raised your rates. 
Tim

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #17 on: October 10, 2015, 01:32:51 AM »
Things to Avoid:
1. Forcing the student to play along with you
2. Not allowing the student to play any way except for a certain way
3.Using opinionated and exaggerated language in a lesson when teaching.
4. Making the student play Chopin and Liszt with the metronome (unless they are someone like Lang Lang  ;) )
5. Giving them atonal/not-very-tonal pieces way too early (I. e. No Prokofiev, Bach Fugues, Schostakovich, Bartok, or Copland until they've reached the stage where they appreciate the beauty of those works)
6. Forcing them to attend student recitals
7. Talking way too quiet
8. Having an extremely dry piano
9. Having an uneven piano
10. Exaggerating while you copy the student (unless the student is exceptionally stupid and cannot figure out what they are doing weirdly unless you exaggerate)
11. Telling the student that they are not ready for certain pieces (unless they want to jump from Fur Elise to La Campanella ::)
As a piano teacher for 20 years now I disagree with many things listed here as being something to avoid 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11

"Forcing" doesn't necessarily to me mean mindlessly telling them to do it and try again and again but to give the student various tools to achieve it. They should accompany the teacher when learning a piece and play in time, you don't always have to do it but it comes up often as good practice especially when exploring new pieces.

Some early beginners require direct instruction as to what not to do and constantly reminded to avoid certain movements (eg dropping wrist below the keys) yes many issues in technique is formed over time and one should not simply try to copy/paste deals of mastery but often issues need direct correctives rather than long term manipulation.

Using exaggerations are good to clearly highlight an issue it depends on your personal style but none of my students mind when I over exaggerate their errors and rather appreciate getting a clearer view.

Metronome use in my lessons are for small sections only so all students should know how to use it, you wouldn't make them play an entire piece with one though that seems unuseful.

I let students explore what interests them, there is no set path, but to develop as a pianist there are thousands of pieces to go through, to simply think you must do this book completely or another is mindless, to be a complete pianist you need experience in many regions and there is no problem expanding ones listening/playing experience to styles they might know little about. As a teacher I must know the many levels building up in the thousands and thousands of pieces that is available for the student, then I can move my students through the levels and ensure they have the experience to draw from to efficiently learn their music, poor teachers give their students pieces which take a lot of time to learn, it should be fast paced with new pieces learned at a good rate, not a slow output with difficult pieces.

Attending performances makes students feel less isolated as the only person playing the piano. Encouraging them to attend performances of their peers or professional concerts is beneficial, especially for those who always compare themselves with others, they must learn not to do it and exposing themselves to performances is a good way to desensitise especially with some good talking to beforehand and after.

Certainly I will tell a student if something is too hard, it is never that they can't play it but I remind them they simply will waste time labouring on their difficulties, some are pig headed and will not change studying pieces they love you can't blame them, but proper study requires efficient learning, it is such a shame watching students of music waste months and months even years with single pieces where they could be learning so many easier pieces and develop their learning craft to a higher level.


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Offline keypeg

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #18 on: October 11, 2015, 05:47:15 PM »
I think that any and all of the above rules can be good or bad.  It depends on how they are applied, why they are applied, and so on.  the list of rules itself seems skewed.  You should know what you need to teach, what your student needs to learn, observing the student, interacting with the student, and then do what needs to be done.  I would think that it begins with the first two things.  Any agreement or disagreement on that?

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #19 on: October 13, 2015, 09:55:35 PM »
I have known so many musicians who were medical professionals..    I have had piano students who were also doctors..   it's kind of funny to me when they get frustrated or they are afraid to perform... it's like.. you went to med school... you cut people open... and THIS is scary to you?

 being a doctor who also plays the piano would be pretty cool I think.    ;D

I am an engineer with a Master of Science degree in applied physics, if that counts. I also play the piano.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Things to Do and Not to Do as a Piano Teacher
«Reply #20 on: October 14, 2015, 12:16:14 PM »
I am an engineer with a Master of Science degree in applied physics, if that counts. I also play the piano.


like the guys on Big Bang Theory?   Walowitz? 


applied physics and you play the piano...  it's like nerd-nirvana  --

that's pretty cool. :)