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When am I ready to start teaching beginning students? (Read 1983 times)

Offline beethovenfan01

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When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
« on: December 05, 2016, 03:34:46 AM »
Hello!

I am a late high-school student. I've been playing for about five/six-ish years, and right now I'm playing early- to mid- advanced repertoire, with one or two ridiculously hard oddities (for instance, I'm attempting the Chopin Ballade No. 1 on my own time, just because I love the piece).

When would I be ready to start teaching beginning students? I love music, all music, I love sharing it with others, and I really want to teach people who have always wanted to play piano but have never learned.

Do I need a degree in piano pedagogy? I have experience teaching kids already, as a lifeguard/swim teacher. And what level does my own technique have to reach?

Please share any and all opinions you have on this subject.

Thanks!
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline preludetr

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 06:56:59 AM »
There are people who effectively teach beginners and don't play at an advanced level themselves, just as you don't need to know calculus to teach arithmetic to kids. As long as you understand what you are trying to teach (that is, beginner material) and are able to communicate it effectively, you can teach.

Offline keypeg

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 11:26:53 AM »
Why beginners?  That is the most difficult and challenging level since you are setting up everything for the future.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 04:09:53 PM »
Why beginners?  That is the most difficult and challenging level since you are setting up everything for the future.

This is true. 

However, maybe the percentages are with the OP.

Let us take as a given that getting the basic fundamentals learned correctly as a beginner is the key to eventual success, and that failure to do so will forever limit the progress that is possible.

Let us take as a hypothesis that a beginning teacher has not yet learned how to teach those fundamentals sufficiently correctly.

Is any real harm done?

Maybe not.  Probably less than 1% of the kids who start piano lessons are ever going to become serious students and reach the advanced levels.

99% might do fine with a less experienced teacher.  They won't be as good as they could be, but given a motivated and hard working but less skilled teacher, might derive the benefits possible.

If a beginning teacher reaches 5 students a year, it could take 20 years before they run into that one student they should not have taught.  And in 20 years, maybe they've learned enough they are no longer a beginning teacher.

Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 05:24:21 PM »
To the OP:
You don't mention if you are taking lessons from a teacher?   If so, I would suggest you discuss your plans with your teacher, and see if you can work out a mentoring plan for teaching beginning students. Perhaps he/she would let you audit a few beginning student lessons?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 05:57:48 PM »
To the OP:
You don't mention if you are taking lessons from a teacher?   If so, I would suggest you discuss your plans with your teacher, and see if you can work out a mentoring plan for teaching beginning students. Perhaps he/she would let you audit a few beginning student lessons?

Yes.  And, somewhere along the line figure out a way to observe some different teachers.

We all tend to teach as we've been taught, just like we parent like we were parented.  Sometimes there's a better way, or a way that fits an individual student better. 
Tim

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #6 on: December 06, 2016, 02:06:23 AM »
Hello!

I am a late high-school student. I've been playing for about five/six-ish years, and right now I'm playing early- to mid- advanced repertoire, with one or two ridiculously hard oddities (for instance, I'm attempting the Chopin Ballade No. 1 on my own time, just because I love the piece).

When would I be ready to start teaching beginning students? I love music, all music, I love sharing it with others, and I really want to teach people who have always wanted to play piano but have never learned.

Do I need a degree in piano pedagogy? I have experience teaching kids already, as a lifeguard/swim teacher. And what level does my own technique have to reach?

Please share any and all opinions you have on this subject.

Thanks!

Experience teaching kids to swim is important. Learning to teach is probably the biggest hurdle. Virtuoso technique is great, but you dont need to be as good as Michael Phelps to teach swimming no more than you need to be a concert pianist in order to teach piano. However, a certificate or degree or anything you can provide to a prospect might be useful for getting clients. Especially at the beginner level. 

Offline keypeg

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 02:33:03 AM »
This is true. 

However, maybe the percentages are with the OP.

Let us take as a given that getting the basic fundamentals learned correctly as a beginner is the key to eventual success, and that failure to do so will forever limit the progress that is possible.

Let us take as a hypothesis that a beginning teacher has not yet learned how to teach those fundamentals sufficiently correctly.

Is any real harm done?

Maybe not.  Probably less than 1% of the kids who start piano lessons are ever going to become serious students and reach the advanced levels.
You seem to be starting with the assumption that good fundamentals are only important for students who will become serious.  From there you are saying that since only a small number become serious, good fundamental don't matter.  But that is not the reason for good foundations --- it is for any playing at any level for any degree of seriousness including for "fun".  You could even surmise that the statistics are caused by that kind of attitude.

I'm not going by statistics, actually.  To begin with, personally if I start lessons in anything, I want proper foundations by someone who knows what they are doing, because I know that everything else builds on it.  I have also heard numerous stories by teachers who inherit a student with poor foundations, and fixing that is well nigh impossible.

Weak foundations means that the student has to be started from the beginning, which is demoralizing for any student, and rebuilding something that has already been set wrongly is much more difficult than building it properly in the first place.

Yet when someone wants to start teaching for the first time, so often it is suggested that they start with the hardest thing - beginner students - rather than perhaps an early intermediate student who already has some foundations to work with.

Offline gabriel99

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #8 on: December 06, 2016, 03:17:24 PM »
As a student I would for someone with
1. Formal Qualifications.
University degree in music, preferably piano, someone who has taken absrm exams or equivalent, and preferably has certificate of teaching.
2. Gets paid to play piano regularly.

A teacher who knows your playing would be the best to advice you on the matter, and may turn out that you could teach. However, I would be wary of being taught by someone with no formal qualifications and whom I never seen play in public. Music lessons tend to be expensive, and it is likely that having played piano for 5 or 6 years won't do for most people. Offering a competitive price may get you some students, but these teacher I also avoid due to bad former experiences.

Offline vaniii

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #9 on: December 06, 2016, 03:27:07 PM »
You seem to be starting with the assumption that good fundamentals are only important for students who will become serious.  From there you are saying that since only a small number become serious, good fundamental don't matter.  But that is not the reason for good foundations --- it is for any playing at any level for any degree of seriousness including for "fun".  You could even surmise that the statistics are caused by that kind of attitude.

I'm not going by statistics, actually.  To begin with, personally if I start lessons in anything, I want proper foundations by someone who knows what they are doing, because I know that everything else builds on it.  I have also heard numerous stories by teachers who inherit a student with poor foundations, and fixing that is well nigh impossible.

Weak foundations means that the student has to be started from the beginning, which is demoralizing for any student, and rebuilding something that has already been set wrongly is much more difficult than building it properly in the first place.

Yet when someone wants to start teaching for the first time, so often it is suggested that they start with the hardest thing - beginner students - rather than perhaps an early intermediate student who already has some foundations to work with.

I wrote a response to the comment you responded to, but decided not to post it.  It shares the sentiment that you have posted.

To add, there is tremendous responsibility teaching beginners, because you are setting up the habits they carry around for the rest of thier time spent learning and playing.  If the teacher is careless or inexperienced, it does lasting damage, and forever puts the student at a disadvantage; insomuch as they will never meet their true potential.

The easiest lessons to teach are those of an intermediate to advanced level with good foundation.  This can be intimidating, especially if they are 'try-hard' (i.e. look, I can playing Chopin B-flat minor piano sonata at 180 bmp).  Problem here is convincing them that its not always about speed.

I would recommend that if you start teaching, you will undoubtedly have to teach beginners or transfer students; don't expect them to be what you are not.

1) do some basic reasearch of pedagogue styles (I recommend reading: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Improve-Your-Teaching-Beginners-Instrumental/dp/057153175X)

2) be honest in your professional advertisments: "A recent graduate, who is setting up thier teaching practice." or "A prospective music student seeking teaching experience before formal academic study". Parents and students will understand who you are, and will be more forgiving to your blunders; this is especially so if they are hobbyist and not looking for anything serious.

3) set your teaching rate to match your experience: Current average in UK for graduate teachers with experience is 30-35, and 35-40 near london (Check your country's average).  Set you rate as 50-75% of this markup.  Parents and students will understand who you are, and will be more forgiving to your blunders.

4) be prepared to brush up on your own technical and theoretical knowledge.  This is important; a question: how can you expect your students to believe in your knowledge, if you do not believe in it.  "Practise your scales", yet you don't; "Practise daily", yet you don't ... etc.  People are not so foolish, to not see a hypocrite.

I hope this helps.

---

PS

I started teaching before I went to university.  The experience it gave me helped when I actually started my teacher training.  I was mentored by my first teacher who gave advise and even shared a few students at first.

A side note: please do not think it is the quantity of the students that makes a good teacher.  A good teacher's reputation precedes them, and so students want to be taught by them.   Work at your style, method and ability and it will be reflected in the quality of your output.

Not mentioning any names, I have seen poor examples of teaching, from experienced teachers that makes me angry; there excuse is, "its just for a bit of pocket money", "I still get paid", or "I simply don't have the passion anymore".  These are the teachers I am sure people are referring to when they say they have bad experiences.

Be prepared to make mistakes, but learn from them fast.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #10 on: December 06, 2016, 04:35:05 PM »

3) set your teaching rate to match your experience: Current average in UK for graduate teachers with experience is 30-35, and 35-40 near london (Check your country's average).  Set you rate as 50-75% of this markup.  Parents and students will understand who you are, and will be more forgiving to your blunders.



All good points but I'm not so sure about this one for two reasons.

Cut rate teachers depress the market for everybody else.  You're hurting your peers if you charge too much less.

Students value teaching partly based on the charge, though this isn't usually conscious.  You get more respect and are a more effective teacher at a higher rate.  Also, there's a subtle interaction with seeing yourself as a working professional and holding yourself to high standards, rather than a hobbyist dabbling. 

I would not go down to 50%.  90% maybe. 
Tim

Offline timothy42b

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #11 on: December 06, 2016, 04:39:02 PM »
You seem to be starting with the assumption that good fundamentals are only important for students who will become serious.  From there you are saying that since only a small number become serious, good fundamental don't matter. 

Your points are quite valid too, and I agree with them, even though they're opposite from what I said.

The harm to students from poor fundamentals is real.  But teachers have to start somewhere, and realistically new teachers without a reputation are going to start with beginners.  And, probably the overall damage can be minimized, knowing how few of those students ever will reach their potential. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #12 on: December 06, 2016, 05:25:18 PM »
The harm to students from poor fundamentals is real.  But teachers have to start somewhere, and realistically new teachers without a reputation are going to start with beginners.  And, probably the overall damage can be minimized, knowing how few of those students ever will reach their potential. 
Gotcha.  However, "realistically" teachers without a reputation should not be starting with beginners, and that mindset should be eradicated as much as possible. It would also be good for a beginning teacher to mentor with a teacher - be guided by their teacher or former teacher - or at least get some ideas about teaching beginners if that is what they are setting out to do.  At the beginning stages the music itself is easy.

I do not agree with your way of seeing "damage".  First, poor teaching of fundamentals prevents students from reaching that potential in the first place. It also kills enjoyment even at a hobby level, and can set up a feeling of failure. Would you recommend instruction skiing, or skating, or dance, to be done by a novice and never mind the injury and failure that might come with that, because after all, few people become professional skiiers, skaters, or dancers?  Or how about driving instructions?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #13 on: December 06, 2016, 07:14:17 PM »
However, "realistically" teachers without a reputation should not be starting with beginners, and that mindset should be eradicated as much as possible.

I do not agree with your way of seeing "damage".  First, poor teaching of fundamentals prevents students from reaching that potential in the first place.

I think you might be overly fixated on a subset of fundamentals, the nuances of proper mechanics. 

Most of the complaints about transfer wrecks are about not knowing note names, not moving out of C position, depending on written in fingers, etc. 

Then there are other teaching skills:  how to relate to a student, how to give instructions, how much to explain, how fast to go, how to handle frustration or rebellion, how to select material for the individual, how to get paid on time, how to handle cancellations, etc.  How to cope with students who don't practice at all, which is most of them. 

All of these are better learned as an apprentice to a teacher working with a variety of students.  But the opportunities for this are very near zero. 

No beginning teacher will get advanced students.  Intermediate students will already have a teacher, or they will be self taught and full of bad habits, not ideal for a beginning teacher.  Realistically a beginning teacher will have a lot of beginning students, and ......maybe......hopefully......will learn from their mistakes.  Some people never do, unfortunately.  (Dunning-Kruger)

If you're in university as a piano major, do you have students?  When I was in graduate school I had to bring in tapes of my counseling work for critique by my professors AND my peers.  Now that we have Skype the opportunities are much greater.  It can be intimidating though.

Tim

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #14 on: December 07, 2016, 01:01:09 AM »
I think the best beginner teachers remember well what it was like to learn the piano at the early stages. They can remember the struggles they might have gone through and how they progressed through the many stages. I started teaching piano in my early teens after 10 years of piano practice. I had no formal training in piano teaching (but had been taught piano by 4 teachers) but I knew very well how I learned at the beginning stages and what worked for me. Your first few students will really teach you a lot about what it means to teach, you must have already realized this when you taught swimming. You can read all the text books, be trained by x amount of people about how to teach it, but it is when you actually start conducting your own lessons that you really learn how it is all done. Teaching is best improved through practical experience.

I think teaching a lot of single position pieces is fine, it can be in C position but once you teach them many 5 finger major positions in the other keys they can transcribe whatever piece into those keys too. Many teachers are against focusing on these 5 finger positions but I think it is important to give early beginners many many of these to build their experience in a safe environment. You can start creeping in positional movements within a piece gradually. I am very much a proponent of experience base when it comes to teaching piano, learn a large number of pieces at a level the student can efficiently learn and build the difficulty level from there.

I find many students who have come to me feel they are a certain grade level because they have passed the examination grade and I feel this is fooling too many. Just because you passed grade 5 doesn't mean you are grade 5 level, I have found many students labored for over a year on a handful of pieces just to sit and exam and scrape by. When I test these students practice method and learning rate it is often way below the grade they passed. This is a problem in my eyes, so don't feel that teaching a beginner 50 pieces where the hands hardly move position is going to be detrimental to them. Just playing more difficult pieces is not the only aim at learning an instrument, understanding how you learn and what you can learn efficiently is much more empowering I have found.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: When am I ready to start teaching beginning students?
«Reply #15 on: December 07, 2016, 04:50:11 PM »
I think you might be overly fixated on a subset of fundamentals, the nuances of proper mechanics. 

Most of the complaints about transfer wrecks are about not knowing note names, not moving out of C position, depending on written in fingers, etc. 
Not at all.  Not nuances, and I'm not even sure what subsets of fundamentals are.  My impressions come from in depth discussion with experienced teachers in private, more than general comments in forums, ditto for some students, and also my own experience.

For example, a student has zipped through the "easy" early music, which is easy to memorize, and the first teacher has gone through it fast to "cover" it, without actually teaching the skills that this early music is meant to teach.  He has no idea about a single chord.  He sits anywhere at any height and distance and has strange technique etc.  Yes, that does give some of the things that you have described.  Our transfer student is now "at grade 3" but is lacking very fundamental skills, because the original teacher did not know that the skills matter, and must be taught.  This is not just the problem of novice teachers - some ruin students for decades.  But it does underline the importance of the beginning stage.  These are not "subsets" and they are not "nuances".