\"\"
Piano Forum logo

What does the "average student" look like? (Read 8090 times)

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
What does the "average student" look like?
« on: March 31, 2016, 07:12:12 PM »
Hi there,

as I donīt have many people in my environment who play piano, I wondered what the average student would look like.
Of course there isnīt such a thing - everyone has to be taken into consideration individually. I know. But there must be an average level and attitude which most teachers are confronted with in their normal teaching day.
I am sorry if this comes off as a rather stupid question. But, you know, I only hear about extremes. Here are mostly professionals or extreme advanced pianists who contribute OR extreme beginners/teachers complaining about some students who donīt get it at all.
And in my circle of friends, there are a few pianists, but they are all professionals. So my question would be:

- Which level do "average" students (not intending to become professional!! But attending normal lessons) have quite often?
- How about their attitude towards practicing, their goals etc...?
- Of course we have to take a different look at adult beginners than towards kids

English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2475
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #1 on: March 31, 2016, 08:05:20 PM »
They like to compare themselves to others.

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #2 on: March 31, 2016, 08:13:16 PM »
They like to compare themselves to others.

Wooo....how intellectual and cunning!
...But I donīt intend to compare myself. I donīt see any point in this as my background is rahter discontinuous and I couldnīt even tell how long I have been playing. Furthermore I am pretty sure that I am at least a bit above the average student (levelwise) and donīt need assurance.
You see: I am sorry, but my only motivation is curiosity. :)

edit: Generally speaking though, you may be right. I have perceived piano as being a highly competitive activity.
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline vaniii

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 246
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 08:19:09 PM »
Post Deleted: too cynical …

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #4 on: March 31, 2016, 11:35:04 PM »
Post Deleted: too cynical …
It might have been taken that way, but I actually appreciated reading while it was there. :)  I'm writing as mostly a student having a bit of a foot on the teaching side - and had to look into these things a few years into being (an adult) student.  Thing is that it might have been misunderstood.

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #5 on: April 01, 2016, 05:20:22 AM »
Post Deleted: too cynical …

Hi vaniii,

I can understand why you decided to delete your post (it was too honest and a bit...yes...cynical) but I want to thank you nonetheless! I appreciated the honesty, too and have now a better idea of my questions.

English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline briansaddleback

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 706
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #6 on: April 01, 2016, 08:50:32 PM »
They like to compare themselves to others.
Wooo....how intellectual and cunning!
...But I donīt intend to compare myself. I donīt see any point in this as my background is rahter discontinuous and I couldnīt even tell how long I have been playing. Furthermore I am pretty sure that I am at least a bit above the average student (levelwise) and donīt need assurance.
You see: I am sorry, but my only motivation is curiosity. :)

edit: Generally speaking though, you may be right. I have perceived piano as being a highly competitive activity.
Im confused , you just asked what avg students are like, mjames gives you an answer of his, and your reply is now misdirected. So youre special and youre confident, good for you good for you. He was saying what the avg student is like.  If youre so confident and assured why even go off explaining yourself here when it was not even directed towards you?
weird.
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #7 on: April 01, 2016, 09:09:05 PM »
Im confused , you just asked what avg students are like, mjames gives you an answer of his, and your reply is now misdirected. So youre special and youre confident, good for you good for you. He was saying what the avg student is like.  If youre so confident and assured why even go off explaining yourself here when it was not even directed towards you?
weird.

No need to be confused. :)
1. I added to my reply that he might be right with his guess and therefore agreed with him.
2. I am not special at all. I said I am probably above the average level. But this is because
- I probably play already longer than the average student
- I have very good circumstances: great teacher, great instrument etc
But thatīs it; I donīt consider myself to be "special" or "gifted" at all.
3. I explained myself because mjames suggested a motivation behind my question that wasnīt there and I just wanted to point this out.

Everything ok, have a great evening!
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline ajlongspiano

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 691
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #8 on: April 01, 2016, 10:04:50 PM »
They like to compare themselves to others.

We have a winner.

Best,

AJ

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2097
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #9 on: April 01, 2016, 11:47:22 PM »
To be fair, I don't think there's a single pianist out there who isn't guilty of this to some extent.
Jazz Ambassador 8)

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #10 on: April 03, 2016, 03:53:35 AM »
But there must be an average level and attitude which most teachers are confronted with in their normal teaching day.
.... - Which level do "average" students (not intending to become professional!! But attending normal lessons) have quite often?
Well, there is already a problem with the question as it is stated here - sort of an impossibility.  A student who is in his first year, will have a first year "level" or a grade 1 or preliminary level.  This does not reflect the student, but the amount of time he has been studying.  You can't get at an "average" there.  And if you surmise you may be "above average" because you have played longer, well no, you would have to see whether you meet some kind of "average" among students who have played the same length of time as yourself.  And then, a teacher specializing in advanced students will have advanced students.

Quote
- Which level do "average" students (not intending to become professional!! But attending normal lessons) have quite often?
If "level" means grade, then a student doing grade 1 material would be doing grade 1 material, etc.  A student that has been studying for more years would be doing grade 3, 4, or 5 material.
Quote
- How about their attitude towards practicing, their goals etc...?
How well are they taught the practicing part, and how much have they been helped to define their goals?

It would be helpful to have a better idea of what you are after?  :)

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #11 on: April 03, 2016, 07:35:42 AM »
This does not reflect the student, but the amount of time he has been studying.  You can't get at an "average" there.  And if you surmise you may be "above average" because you have played longer, well no, you would have to see whether you meet some kind of "average" among students who have played the same length of time as yourself. 

It would be helpful to have a better idea of what you are after?  :)

Hi
thank you for your reply, but I think you misunderstood it. I donīt want to know what is the average student in general, but what is the average student you as teachers give lessons to.
E.g.: (I am not a teacher myself, just want to make it clearer)

"I am a teacher and have 12 students. The average time they are playing for is 3 years, and I think the average level would be a grade 4. In general, I am satisfied with how they practice and would say itīs about 1 hour a day for most of them."

etc.....vaniii, who has deleted her post, has done exactly this but her conclusions were rahter sad so that she decided to delete it.

Regards :)
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #12 on: April 03, 2016, 08:29:11 AM »
You seem to be using the word "average" in a mathematical way like in word problems that we used to get in school: add up a group of numbers and then divide by how many numbers there are in order to get an "average".  But what you are asking has no sense to it, and I cannot see how it can help you in any way, or even give you any idea about yourself.  Well think about public school which goes from grades 1 - 12.  Does that mean the "average" is grade 6?  If you are in grade 1 are you "below average", and if you are in grade 10 are you "above average"?  If most piano students don't go further than grade 3 and you are doing grade 5 then it doesn't mean you are "above average" - It means you have gone further.

When a student is deemed "above average" it refers to how well the student is doing.  Maybe the student learns things faster than most students and needs less explanations.  Maybe the student gets 9/10 questions correct in a test while most students get 7/10 questions correct.  That is what "above average" means.

Even that is not that useful in teaching music.  A good teacher will look at your various skills.  Maybe you are able to hear things readily in music, but your coordination is weak; maybe you pick up reading music quickly so less time needs to be spent on that and the teacher can use it as a tool to teach you.  A good teacher will help strengthen you where you are weak, and build on where you are strong.  She will also know whether there is reason for concern or whether your difficulties are normal and will go away because most students have them at your stage (another kind of "average").  Your purpose for lessons is to learn how to play, rather than comparing yourself for comparison's sake, so that's what is important I'd think.

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #13 on: April 03, 2016, 08:37:14 AM »
You seem to be using the word "average" in a mathematical way like in word problems that we used to get in school: add up a group of numbers and then divide by how many numbers there are in order to get an "average".  But what you are asking has no sense to it, and I cannot see how it can help you in any way, or even give you any idea about yourself.  Well think about public school which goes from grades 1 - 12.  Does that mean the "average" is grade 6?  If you are in grade 1 are you "below average", and if you are in grade 10 are you "above average"?  If most piano students don't go further than grade 3 and you are doing grade 5 then it doesn't mean you are "above average" - It means you have gone further.

When a student is deemed "above average" it refers to how well the student is doing.  Maybe the student learns things faster than most students and needs less explanations.  Maybe the student gets 9/10 questions correct in a test while most students get 7/10 questions correct.  That is what "above average" means.

Even that is not that useful in teaching music.  A good teacher will look at your various skills.  Maybe you are able to hear things readily in music, but your coordination is weak; maybe you pick up reading music quickly so less time needs to be spent on that and the teacher can use it as a tool to teach you.  A good teacher will help strengthen you where you are weak, and build on where you are strong.  She will also know whether there is reason for concern or whether your difficulties are normal and will go away because most students have them at your stage (another kind of "average").  Your purpose for lessons is to learn how to play, rather than comparing yourself for comparison's sake, so that's what is important I'd think.

Oh for godīs sake! How often should I repeat that this is NOT ABOUT ME? It is purely interest in the subject as I am a physician and am considering to specialize at an intersection between neurology and music. I already did research on focal dystonia concerning professional pianists and now I am trying to get an overall impression of the area of teaching. My intention was: getting to know what target group is the most prevalent one and how long adult beginners are taking classes in average, and what their attitude and motivation would look like, and of course what they mostly are able to achieve. It isnīt a serious study (of course!), but only a personal interest as it could provide me a first overview. E.g. it is proven that there are certain neurologic differences at different ages and at different stages of playing.
I am absolutely not interested in discussing myself as I am happy with my lessons and I donīt make any connections to this thread.

Thank you very much! I agree with you on most of your points, though, so good post nevertheless! :)

English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #14 on: April 03, 2016, 10:35:12 AM »
Julia, the first answer you got to your post was a joke and a dig at you.  The next response got deleted after a few hours.  The problem is that nobody knew where you were coming from, why you were asking - the first assumption (the "joke") probably being that you were trying to compare yourself to others.  I tried to give as broad an answer as possible, so that something in there might go toward what you need, and that maybe you could give some clues that would give us a sense of direction.  I was also going by what you had written to get some clue: you had written that you were a student, you placed yourself somewhere in there --- ok, I see now that this was in response to what someone else said, but it seemed to be a clue about what you were asking.  What I don't appreciate is the "Oh for god's sake" - the yelling at someone for trying to help.  Maybe you don't know how that comes across.

Until your last response it was totally unclear what you were asking - a what hinges on a why, on a context.  Now that you have clarified that, shall we start again?  :)

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #15 on: April 03, 2016, 10:51:49 AM »
Julia, the first answer you got to your post was a joke and a dig at you.  The next response got deleted after a few hours.  The problem is that nobody knew where you were coming from, why you were asking - the first assumption (the "joke") probably being that you were trying to compare yourself to others.  I tried to give as broad an answer as possible, so that something in there might go toward what you need, and that maybe you could give some clues that would give us a sense of direction.  I was also going by what you had written to get some clue: you had written that you were a student, you placed yourself somewhere in there --- ok, I see now that this was in response to what someone else said, but it seemed to be a clue about what you were asking.  What I don't appreciate is the "Oh for god's sake" - the yelling at someone for trying to help.  Maybe you don't know how that comes across.

Until your last response it was totally unclear what you were asking - a what hinges on a why, on a context.  Now that you have clarified that, shall we start again?  :)

I would appreciate this very much! Thank you! :D
And sorry for the "For Godīs sake" - I was a bit annoyed that I got the same suggestion that I tried to make invalid before, obviously not very successful. I only answered to the first person when I brought myself into this whole subject, trying to explain myself, and it wasnīt my intention at all to involve my pesonal experience/progress when I started this thread.

I see now that I should have explained myself already in the beginning so there wouldnīt be any misunderstandings. I am sorry.

Thank you for being lenient though. :) I am new and didnīt know how this platform works and I didnīt take into consideration the fact that you are confronted with students who like to compare themselves to others so often so that you are probably already expecting it. :)
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #16 on: April 03, 2016, 10:58:40 AM »
It is purely interest in the subject as I am a physician and am considering to specialize at an intersection between neurology and music. I already did research on focal dystonia concerning professional pianists and now I am trying to get an overall impression of the area of teaching. My intention was: getting to know what target group is the most prevalent one and how long adult beginners are taking classes in average, and what their attitude and motivation would look like, and of course what they mostly are able to achieve..... it is proven that there are certain neurologic differences at different ages and at different stages of playing.
Now that I know what the question is about, I can give my own response to some of it.

I have studied two instruments as an adult student.  I am also a trained teacher with some specializations in learning disabilities / alternate thinking (learning) styles, and my studies with my current teacher also include issues of piano pedagogy.  Due to my experiences when studying the first instrument (violin) I spent some time finding out about teaching issues, esp. in regards to adult students, by talking to teachers and students a few years ago.

1.  About your population - there is a great diversity so "average" (or typical) might not be found.  There are folks who had lessons as children and stopped: some were well taught and some were "ruined" by those early lessons; some who start as adults first self-teach, some are serious, some are not, and goals vary widely.  How they are taught becomes the next factor.

2.  Many teachers stated that they don't actually know how to teach adults, because it is a relatively new phenomenon.  Meanwhile a prevalent attitude in some quarters is that adults want to advance quickly, don't want to spend much time practising or a longer period of time, or go deeply into things such as technique, but that they grasp concepts very quickly.  This can lead to a superficial kind of teaching which is low on skills, rushes through things, and focuses on the intellectual while the physical is left behind.  I think that this can cause difficulties.  Meanwhile many teachers avoid adults, so the student may not manage to get a good teacher, and poorer teaching leads to poor results.

3.  I believe that regardless of what the mind can pick up intellectually (abstract reasoning of adults), the body and senses need time.  I would favour learning which is rich in experiences and physical guidance; in fact for an adult it may even involve a need to get reacquainted with one's body and senses.  In language teaching we talk of the "phonological sieve" whereby the English speaker will "translate" a French R into the R he knows from his own language, and therefore never actually hears the sound, and does not experiment with his vocal apparatus for producing that sound (babies experiment).  We probably have a similar "intellectual sieve" and we very much need to get this physical part.  Some on-line teachers are now addressing it - Jaak Sikk and Piano-ologist.  If you study their first lessons you might see a link to your question.  Because if we don't start off by learning to move in an efficient way - and if we are rushed into "producing nice music" and strain to do it, that is when injury as well as failure occur.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #17 on: April 03, 2016, 05:59:38 PM »
The premise of the thread topic is that of the unanswerable question; there is no such thing as "the average student" and every student look different to every other student, just as does every other human being. Also, if by "student" you mean "music student" (as would not be unreasonable to assume in a forum such as this one), why would his/her appearance matter in any case when what the student is doing is the study of singing, or of playing an instrument, or of conducting, or of composition, or of musicology, none of which disciplines are followed for visual reasons?

I therefore do not understand why you put this question.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #18 on: April 03, 2016, 07:56:28 PM »
Now that I know what the question is about, I can give my own response to some of it.

I have studied two instruments as an adult student.  I am also a trained teacher with some specializations in learning disabilities / alternate thinking (learning) styles, and my studies with my current teacher also include issues of piano pedagogy.  Due to my experiences when studying the first instrument (violin) I spent some time finding out about teaching issues, esp. in regards to adult students, by talking to teachers and students a few years ago.

1.  About your population - there is a great diversity so "average" (or typical) might not be found.  There are folks who had lessons as children and stopped: some were well taught and some were "ruined" by those early lessons; some who start as adults first self-teach, some are serious, some are not, and goals vary widely.  How they are taught becomes the next factor.

2.  Many teachers stated that they don't actually know how to teach adults, because it is a relatively new phenomenon.  Meanwhile a prevalent attitude in some quarters is that adults want to advance quickly, don't want to spend much time practising or a longer period of time, or go deeply into things such as technique, but that they grasp concepts very quickly.  This can lead to a superficial kind of teaching which is low on skills, rushes through things, and focuses on the intellectual while the physical is left behind.  I think that this can cause difficulties.  Meanwhile many teachers avoid adults, so the student may not manage to get a good teacher, and poorer teaching leads to poor results.

3.  I believe that regardless of what the mind can pick up intellectually (abstract reasoning of adults), the body and senses need time.  I would favour learning which is rich in experiences and physical guidance; in fact for an adult it may even involve a need to get reacquainted with one's body and senses.  In language teaching we talk of the "phonological sieve" whereby the English speaker will "translate" a French R into the R he knows from his own language, and therefore never actually hears the sound, and does not experiment with his vocal apparatus for producing that sound (babies experiment).  We probably have a similar "intellectual sieve" and we very much need to get this physical part.  Some on-line teachers are now addressing it - Jaak Sikk and Piano-ologist.  If you study their first lessons you might see a link to your question.  Because if we don't start off by learning to move in an efficient way - and if we are rushed into "producing nice music" and strain to do it, that is when injury as well as failure occur.

Thank you very much!! That was interesting to read. Concerning your last part, I have to agree! There are too many people who donīt keep in mind the fact that everything which requires very detailed physical processes (donīt know how to put it in English) like learning an instrument also requires more time because our body isnīt able to process such complex informations/movements as fast as our brain. Therefore itīs pretty ridiculous when someone claims he will learn a Chopin etude within a year because he is going to study 8 hours a day. NO. Thatīs just not how it works. And thatīs also the reason why we canīt make up for a missing practice day through practicing twice as much the next day.
Again, thanks.

@ahinton: I am sorry I wasnīable to make it understandable to you. But as already two people have replied to my question in a very interesting way (unfortunately one of the replies has been deleted), I am sure it isnīt completely confusing when one tries to follow the idea behind.
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #19 on: April 03, 2016, 11:36:28 PM »
Julia, I also wrote you a private message fleshing out some of these ideas.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #20 on: April 04, 2016, 10:33:08 AM »
@ahinton: I am sorry I wasnīable to make it understandable to you. But as already two people have replied to my question in a very interesting way (unfortunately one of the replies has been deleted), I am sure it isnīt completely confusing when one tries to follow the idea behind.
No need to apologise, but I have to say that those other replies seem likewise to offer little in direct response to your question, in terms either of enlightening as to what "the average student" might be or what one such might look like (if indeed there could be any such visual commonality) and why and in what ways his/her appearance might be thought to matter (as much as their achievements might do, that's to say).

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #21 on: April 04, 2016, 12:21:35 PM »
I suspect she doesn't want to know about the average student, but about the average of a particular subset of students.

She also doesn't say (unless I missed it) what country she's from, which may have a significant impact. 

The average student in the US is a child sent by his/her parents with the goal of enrichment.  They develop some low level of skill, some have fun and some hate it, they do a few years probably averaging about 3, and drop it never to play again.  However they've absorbed some elements of music appreciation during that time and probably benefitted marginally.  A very tiny percentage get interested enough (or start interested enough) to develop a high level of skill, and an even smaller percentage of those go on to a musical career. 

That average student develops sufficient skill to work through several method books and play each piece to an acceptable standard, with some stumbling.  They could not play a hymn at church, accompany a choir, play Happy Birthday confidently at a luncheon, etc.  They have academic knowledge but cannot apply it.  Strangely this is also true of some of the more highly skilled ones.

Piano is unique in having few opportunities for the relatively unskilled.  If you played clarinet or drums you would be welcome in community ensembles even as a beginner, and if so inclined might enjoy the social aspects.   

This is of course my own opinion, and I don't teach piano (I teach handbells and assist with a vocal choir). 

I have some thoughts about the more specialized subset of student that I think the OP and keypeg are discussing but they will have to wait. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #22 on: April 04, 2016, 11:04:55 PM »
No need to apologise, but I have to say that those other replies seem likewise to offer little in direct response to your question, in terms either of enlightening as to what "the average student" might be or what one such might look like (if indeed there could be any such visual commonality) and why and in what ways his/her appearance might be thought to matter (as much as their achievements might do, that's to say).
Except that the question was not, in fact, about the "average student" - it was a problem of wording and terminology - and that has been straightened out.  Julia's subsequent explanation helped.  It was more of a statistical thing than in regards to ability or characteristics.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #23 on: April 05, 2016, 12:22:20 PM »
The premise of the thread topic is that of the unanswerable question; there is no such thing as "the average student" and every student look different to every other student, just as does every other human being.
Alistair

Well, in this case, there might be an average student.

I've re-read the thread, and I see now she is talking about the adult beginner, and the possible effects of age on learning and performance.  (please correct me if I'm wrong)

If so, then sadly there is an average adult beginner. 

These are people who start piano lessons later in life, probably in the 45 to 60 years range, as life stabilizes and allows them to do some things they've always wanted to.  They have initial enthusiasm that is quickly dampened as the magnitude of the journey becomes apparent, and the frustration with slow progress mounts.  Within about six months 99% of them quit. 

That is my guess at the average adult beginner.

That 1% continues for years making incrementally slow progress but deriving great satisfaction from the effort.  Somewhere along the line they make a connection with a teacher who meshes with their goals.  Some of them achieve a decent skill level but most will never play a note in public, other than an occasional recital if their teacher demands. 

What separates the 1% from the 99?  Dunno.  But it's a very interesting question. 

I don't have data to back this opinion up - just my experiences which are obviously a small sample.

Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #24 on: April 05, 2016, 02:20:03 PM »
When it comes to the older beginner, a major factor is how that student is taught, toward what kinds of goals, and how he is taught to practice, toward what.  The manner and competence of teaching, combined with learning habits which are also guided by a teacher (should be) have always been a factor in how well any student does.  So why should that not be a factor in this "age group"?  However, when there is good and appropriate teaching, the student's own attitudes and preconceptions can still get in the way, and there is no guiding parent to curb this.

I believe that a lot of progress or lack of it is due to the nature of teaching and learning, rather than inherent disabilities that are supposed to come together with age.  Fortunately the "hardening of the mind" has been countered with the term "neuroplasticity" in recent years.

Often the advice for teaching adults is that they want to go fast, not practice much, and need to relate to the material (their favorite pieces played in a way that sounds nice to them).  It is stressed that adults can conceptualize while young children are concrete.  Familiarity with music is mistaken with understanding of music as a musician does, and so we get a kind of accidental shallow glossing over.  The kind of teaching that ensues from those kinds of premises would create problems for a student of any age.  It is not sustainable if you don't get foundations where it is necessary - or if you get to gloss over the surface, sort of hydroplaning.

The adult may not understand the process or the subject matter, which isn't surprising, since novices will have misperceptions which is part and parcel of being a novice.  This will again interfere with what is learned, or how he works with the teacher, if he is lucky enough to get a good teacher who works in a solid way.

How much is the physical addressed typically?  Young children are still uncoordinated, esp. in regards to their small muscles, while older adults have accumulated scores of poor physical habits, and are way too intellectual and way too little in tune with their bodies.  What effect does it have when you adopt a policy of catering to the intellectual and conceptual side, and going to advanced music quickly?

My early memory is doing a grade 1 exam for a different instrument, and being preceded by a seven year old.  I had been taking lessons for about 6 months, and had done preliminary and grade 1, and was doing grade 2 by then.  I was told to remember that this little boy had taken 2 years to reach what I had taken less than half a year to reach.  Of course my musical sense from years of hearing music and playing it self-taught on other instruments let me rush forward.  But that little boy had a solidity from his two years which I simply didn't have.  And half a year and two grade levels later, my ability to play crumbled like a house built on sand.  I got top marks in that exam, by the way.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #25 on: April 05, 2016, 03:30:00 PM »
Except that the question was not, in fact, about the "average student" - it was a problem of wording and terminology - and that has been straightened out.  Julia's subsequent explanation helped.  It was more of a statistical thing than in regards to ability or characteristics.
Be that as it may, the part of the OP's question that relates to what any such student might look like and what reference his/her appearnce might be deemed to have is not yet straightened out, so I remain puzzled by the premise of the question.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #26 on: April 05, 2016, 05:48:37 PM »
Be that as it may, the part of the OP's question that relates to what any such student might look like and what reference his/her appearnce might be deemed to have is not yet straightened out, so I remain puzzled by the premise of the question.
I thought that it had been straightened out and that my last understanding of it was confirmed.  I may be mistaken.

The word "average" can mean "typical" - what most students are like.  When we read "average student" that is what most of us think of, and I did too.

But the later explanation suggests that it was meant in a mathematical statistical manner.  It's like those early arithmetic questions we get: 5 + 7 + 5 + 4 + 5 =  25 --- there are 5 numbers - 25 / 5 = 6, so the "average" is 5.  If these numbers represent grade levels, then the "average" grade level of these 5 students is grade 5.  Change this a bit: 12 + 12 + 1 + 1 + 1 - You'll still get statistics telling you that the "average grade" reached by students is grade 5.  Which does not reflect the reality of two students passing high school, and three students not getting past first grade.  I think that this is the kind of "average" that was meant, given that grade levels were in the discussion somewhere.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #27 on: April 06, 2016, 04:24:47 AM »
I thought that it had been straightened out and that my last understanding of it was confirmed.  I may be mistaken.

The word "average" can mean "typical" - what most students are like.  When we read "average student" that is what most of us think of, and I did too.

But the later explanation suggests that it was meant in a mathematical statistical manner.  It's like those early arithmetic questions we get: 5 + 7 + 5 + 4 + 5 =  25 --- there are 5 numbers - 25 / 5 = 6, so the "average" is 5.  If these numbers represent grade levels, then the "average" grade level of these 5 students is grade 5.  Change this a bit: 12 + 12 + 1 + 1 + 1 - You'll still get statistics telling you that the "average grade" reached by students is grade 5.  Which does not reflect the reality of two students passing high school, and three students not getting past first grade.  I think that this is the kind of "average" that was meant, given that grade levels were in the discussion somewhere.
But whilst you've expounded upon the "average" aspect of the question, you still haven't addressed the issue of what such a student might "look like" (and why it might matter)!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #28 on: April 06, 2016, 04:58:16 AM »
Please do not strain my original words. As I am not a native speaker I might have chosen the wrong phrasing.

I think through my explanation it became a lot clearer what I was acutally asking for and additionally, keypeg has explained it very well (thank you for that, keypeg :) ).

I am happy to see the debate alive though and after all - isnīt it quite interesting what we are talking about, even though it might be different to the original question? So why keep complaining? :)
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #29 on: April 06, 2016, 06:46:32 AM »
But whilst you've expounded upon the "average" aspect of the question, you still haven't addressed the issue of what such a student might "look like" (and why it might matter)!
I don't know if you have ever struggled to express yourself in a foreign language or unfamiliar subject matter or both.  You may also be gifted with the ability to state exactly what you mean to say first time round - in fact I have a feeling that you are. :)  Sometimes it takes several tries and in that case it is best to leave behind the first attempt altogether.  I've abandoned the opening post, in favour for the later explanation, and the "look like" part I suspect was a dud.  Take the OP's longer explanation, the one with the medical background in it and forget about the first post.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #30 on: April 06, 2016, 07:55:24 AM »
Please do not strain my original words. As I am not a native speaker I might have chosen the wrong phrasing.

I think through my explanation it became a lot clearer what I was acutally asking for and additionally, keypeg has explained it very well (thank you for that, keypeg :) ).

I am happy to see the debate alive though and after all - isnīt it quite interesting what we are talking about, even though it might be different to the original question? So why keep complaining?
I'm not complaining; I'm merely questioning. I accept that English is not your primary language but that alone need not preclude me from asking what it is that you meant by "look like" in this context in order that you might avail yourself of an opportunity to explain this using different words; if, for example, the physical appearance of the student is not what you sought to refer to in your question, then so be it, as long as you try to clarify what it is that you mean instead, so that the thrust of your question becomes clearer both to those here whose primary language is English and to those whose primary language is other than English. If, on theother hand, you wish to drop the "look like" aspect of the question for whatever reason (it's your question, after all), you have only to say so!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #31 on: April 06, 2016, 09:16:08 AM »
I believe that clues to the "look like" part can be found in the explanation addressed to me on April 3 (the non-statistical part dealing with "average")
Quote
. My intention was: getting to know what target group is the most prevalent one and how long adult beginners are taking classes in average, and what their attitude and motivation would look like, and of course what they mostly are able to achieve. It isnīt a serious study (of course!), but only a personal interest as it could provide me a first overview. E.g. it is proven that there are certain neurologic differences at different ages and at different stages of playing.
It must be remembered that this is being asked by someone who is only starting to get familiar with issues, and may not know which questions to ask.  The interest appears to be primarily in regards to adults.  "look like" continues to attitude, motivation, and what they tend to achieve.  The interest behind it is influenced by the asker's medical background, shown by reference to neurological differences.

I tried to answer that question according to what I know, in my previous post.  My first point was that there would be different groups within this group: folks who had lessons before as children - and whether  those were good or bad lessons would have a great effect on where they are upon seeking out a teacher now.  Some are serious, some are not.  I also pointed out that how they are taught, and how they learn to learn, will have a major impact.  If one considers neurological things or physical things, and then considers the tendency to address music cerebrally and not so much physically, when there is physical need, then the outcome may have at least as much to do with the teaching - learning part, as in inherent physicality.

It would be interesting to read thoughts other than my own.

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #32 on: April 06, 2016, 10:00:23 AM »
I believe that clues to the "look like" part can be found in the explanation addressed to me on April 3 (the non-statistical part dealing with "average")It must be remembered that this is being asked by someone who is only starting to get familiar with issues, and may not know which questions to ask.  The interest appears to be primarily in regards to adults.  "look like" continues to attitude, motivation, and what they tend to achieve.  The interest behind it is influenced by the asker's medical background, shown by reference to neurological differences.

I tried to answer that question according to what I know, in my previous post.  My first point was that there would be different groups within this group: folks who had lessons before as children - and whether  those were good or bad lessons would have a great effect on where they are upon seeking out a teacher now.  Some are serious, some are not.  I also pointed out that how they are taught, and how they learn to learn, will have a major impact.  If one considers neurological things or physical things, and then considers the tendency to address music cerebrally and not so much physically, when there is physical need, then the outcome may have at least as much to do with the teaching - learning part, as in inherent physicality.

It would be interesting to read thoughts other than my own.
From this you would appear to have concluded that 'What does the "average student" look like?' is intended to mean 'What impressions may be gained from (the attitudes, conduct et al of) the "average student" rather than to question aspects of the physical appearance thereof (which would itelf be problematic in that no two humans actually look alike); if that is indeed what you have concluded and if you were right to have done so, so be it!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #33 on: April 06, 2016, 10:25:31 AM »
Alistair, I have given my best impression, since you have asked about this more than once.  In the meantime I have tried to give some answers to the question, and would be interested in thoughts on the same. :)

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #34 on: April 06, 2016, 10:40:39 AM »
Alistair, I have given my best impression, since you have asked about this more than once.  In the meantime I have tried to give some answers to the question, and would be interested in thoughts on the same.
Since I do not believe that there is anythone who could reasonably be decribed as an "average student" even allowng for the variations in parameter as outlined in previous posts here, I cannot really say that I have any, so over to those who have!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #35 on: April 06, 2016, 12:24:31 PM »
Please do not strain my original words. As I am not a native speaker I might have chosen the wrong phrasing.


Quite so.  Would you be willing to share what your native language is?  That might or might not be useful in this context.

Also, I'll help you out a bit on perceptions.  In English your first sentence sounds like you are giving us orders.  You expect us to obey.  That isn't how this works!  There's an echo of that in some of your earlier posts as well.  But once you've released a post, you've lost control over how people will respond. 
Tim

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #36 on: April 06, 2016, 02:45:18 PM »
Quite so.  Would you be willing to share what your native language is?  That might or might not be useful in this context.

Also, I'll help you out a bit on perceptions.  In English your first sentence sounds like you are giving us orders.  You expect us to obey.  That isn't how this works!  There's an echo of that in some of your earlier posts as well.  But once you've released a post, you've lost control over how people will respond. 

German. Though I donīt think my English is that bad. I didnīt have any opportunity to speak English since I finished school in 2011 (where I only achieved top results...but I know this is not how it works in real life) and considering this long time I am satisfied with it. I think some people just find pleasure in stressing this point now....?
You donīt have to respond if the question seems inappropriate to you. I tried to fix it once and donīt want to repeat this through the whole topic. 

But as I am willing to learn: Which first sentence do you mean? Please quote, that would be very helpful. Thank you! :)
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #37 on: April 06, 2016, 03:43:05 PM »
Quite so.  Would you be willing to share what your native language is?  That might or might not be useful in this context.

Also, I'll help you out a bit on perceptions.  In English your first sentence sounds like you are giving us orders.  You expect us to obey.  That isn't how this works!  There's an echo of that in some of your earlier posts as well.  But once you've released a post, you've lost control over how people will respond. 
...especially since it has no longer been possible to edit a post that one has made after it has been posted for Ũ minutes (I don't know exactly how long)!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #38 on: April 06, 2016, 04:00:36 PM »
German. Though I donīt think my English is that bad.

No, your English is quite good.

Short OT story:  when I was working in Germany in 2003, I needed to hire an IT (computer) worker.  A man took the train from Berlin to Wuerzburg to interview for the job.  He had not spoken English in decades and had only learned it to pass some computer courses, yet he had the courage to attempt an interview in English.  My German was only rudimentary at best, and these were highly technical topics, so I had an interpreter sit in.  But I had to really admire his bravery. 
Tim

Offline ahinton

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12052
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #39 on: April 06, 2016, 04:11:52 PM »
No, your English is quite good.
As indeed I had likewise taken it to be, which is why I had seen no reason to make assumptions that writing in a second language might have impacted meaningfully on the OP.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline juliaalessandra

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #40 on: April 07, 2016, 06:04:40 AM »
Ahhh okay, thank you! I was a bit worried that my English has gone down the swanny. ::)

@timothy24b: Indeed, this guy had a lot of courage! Did he get the job in the end?
The only time I really struggled with expressing myself properly was 3 or 4 weeks ago. (okay in fact THIS was the first time I had to speak English after school, sorry, just forgot about it).
I was invited to a conference about philosophy in Cambridge and struggled not to paraphrase some words - philosophical debates require the exact expression. That was hard!
Luckily there were a few German and Austrian people who studied there for years and they helped me when I got stucked. But I was amazed when I noticed how fast my English improved through being forced to speak! After these 2 days I even struggled to translate some English words back into German, haha!

Okay, and now I can add another difficult location to my "struggling-to-express"-experiences: pianostreet.com! Haha!  :D (take it with a sense of humour though)

Regards! :)
English is not my mother tongue so please be lenient. Thank you. :)

Currently studying:
- Chopin Op 25 No 12
- Beethoven 32 variations WoO 80
- Bach Partita No. 2

Offline chomaninoff1

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 99
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #41 on: April 07, 2016, 07:21:13 AM »
Hi Julia,

I actually do not agree with your assessment that most pianists on this board are professional or extremely advanced. Of course there are some more advanced pianists on this board, but I think the majority of us are just amateurs. (Correct me if I'm wrong anyone?)

To answer your question I think the average student starts off playing the most famous piano pieces (ie. Clair de Lune, Nocturne 9.2, Moonlight Sonata mvt. 1, The Entertainer, Consolation 3, Raindrop Prelude etc.) and then finds their niche. Not sure if this is true, but I feel most pianists love Chopin, at least judging from his popularity on this board. Also, I think the average student probably does not practice for 2+ hours a day.


Just some thoughts..

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #42 on: April 07, 2016, 12:13:35 PM »


@timothy24b: Indeed, this guy had a lot of courage! Did he get the job in the end?
The only time I really struggled with expressing myself properly was 3 or 4 weeks ago. (okay in fact THIS was the first time I had to speak English after school, sorry, just forgot about it).
I was invited to a conference about philosophy in Cambridge and struggled not to paraphrase some words - philosophical debates require the exact expression.

Some years ago I was at a lecture and demonstration on diminutions by a French trombone player with one of the major German symphony orchestras.  Fabrice Millischer was his name, amazing player.  Oh, guess I should explain, diminution is another term for ornaments.  Ornaments are stinking hard to do on trombone, as you can imagine.  The slide has to move a long way very quickly. 

His lecture was in French and the audience was American so a translator was hired.  After about his first paragraph, the translator turned to the audience and said, "I'm sorry.  I speak French, but this is all technical.  I do not know the meaning of what he's saying and I can't explain it." 

After a little conference, Fabrice continued auf Deutsch.  He was not as fluent as in French but had enough to explain himself, and several audience members had enough German to translate.  The audience had a lot of military members and back then most would rotate through Germany during their career.  Because it was a second language he spoke slowly and carefully, and I could follow most of it myself. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #43 on: April 07, 2016, 06:25:23 PM »
His lecture was in French and the audience was American so a translator was hired.  After about his first paragraph, the translator turned to the audience and said, "I'm sorry.  I speak French, but this is all technical.  I do not know the meaning of what he's saying and I can't explain it." 
Off topic, but I do have to say something professionally.  The interpreter they hired should have had a background in the subject matter or if they couldn't find someone like that, in the least he should have been given information ahead of time on what he would be interpreting.  That would be so even if there was a background in music.   An experienced interpreter would ask for this info ahead of time and study up on it.  But often those doing the hiring don't know enough, call someone up last minute so there literally is no time, and may call someone who is bilingual but not actually a professional in the field.
Quote
After a little conference, Fabrice continued auf Deutsch.  He was not as fluent as in French but had enough to explain himself, and several audience members had enough German to translate.  The audience had a lot of military members and back then most would rotate through Germany during their career.  Because it was a second language he spoke slowly and carefully, and I could follow most of it myself. 
A delightful ending which says much for the musician.  It also tells us something - simpler language, more slowly spoken so that you can also follow it, plus because he mastered the subject he could also bring it across.  It sounds like it was a delightful lecture, Timothy.   :)

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #44 on: April 07, 2016, 08:04:16 PM »
Trying to get closer to the original topic.  Language proficiency is not enough.  When you are entering an unfamiliar topic, even in your native language, you will be starting out with some wrong premises, some gut feelings that you cannot express, and there will be some initial hunting around.  For that reason I don't think it's a good idea to take things too literally, and it may be good to point in other directions that may be related.

A decade ago I was a beginner who had never had music lessons.  My instinct was telling me something, which I now know was correct.  But I didn't have the background to be speaking a "musician's language" or a "teacher's language", and I only had part of the picture.  So I flopped and floundered around, and what I was trying to ask about got totally missed.  When I started with my present teacher, sometimes when I asked about something, he would answer with something else, because he had the big picture, and knew what was behind it.  Always, I got a better answer that went straight to what I needed, than if I had been answered literally.  Similarly from time to time we see questions that read oddly, posts that are long and rambly, which happen when folks are hunting for a thing.  Sometimes terminology can be off when someone writes in a second language, but that would hardly be so here.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #45 on: April 08, 2016, 01:43:10 PM »
Well, Fabrice is not an average student, so it's off topic, but:



Tim

Offline kawai_cs

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 573
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #46 on: April 08, 2016, 01:59:28 PM »
He is amazing, wow! Is it someone you know?
Chopin, 10-8 | Chopin, 25-12 | Haydn, HOB XVI:20

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #47 on: April 08, 2016, 03:34:15 PM »
No, I don't know him, but he was a guest performer in Washington DC at Fort Myer.

Every year the US Army Band puts on a trombone conference and invites some top classical and jazz performers to do some recitals and master classes and play in concerts.  I always attend for a couple days of immersion and inspiration. 

We just had that conference this past March.  One of the performers was Zoltan Kiss of Mnozil Brass, who put on an incredible show.  But, I don't know him either. 

Who do I know?  Well, here's my teacher at about the 3:00 minute mark


Tim

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3559
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #48 on: April 09, 2016, 01:27:21 PM »
Going back to the topic.  You cannot in fact get any kind of valid conclusion about anything by going by way of statistics in terms of number of years etc.  I see that as a first attempt due to a lack of familiarity with what is involved.  I tried to get at that previously by fleshing out some of the things involved.  The question itself cannot be answer because there are too many variables, not just about students and their backgrounds, but also how they are taught, or "taught".

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3231
Re: What does the "average student" look like?
«Reply #49 on: April 11, 2016, 12:42:47 PM »
Going back to the topic.  You cannot in fact get any kind of valid conclusion about anything by going by way of statistics in terms of number of years etc. 

We may not be able to conclude with a high degree of precision, but I think there are some things we do know.  One of them is that the vast majority of adult beginners do not stay with it long, do not succeed. 
Tim