\"\"
Piano Forum logo

What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher? (Read 2873 times)

Offline mishamalchik

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 86
What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
« on: December 28, 2016, 04:29:39 AM »
So what does "conservative" mean in ways of teaching? What does it mean when someone says "school of music x is conservative" ? Does it mean traditional? What is traditional mean in the context of classical piano? 

just trying to get some clarification...

Offline vaniii

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 246
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #1 on: December 29, 2016, 12:34:14 AM »
Liberal and conservative, as with any descriptive terminology is subjective; generally, without a person experiencing both of them first hand, any answer can be inaccurate and best, and just plain fallacy at worst.

Conservative can be defined as traditional, respecting 'the old ways'.

Liberal can be defined as progressive, looking to the present and thinking forward to the future.

In teaching, basing one’s entire pedagogy, irrespective of one, or the other, means a disaster in regards to learning; it creates a paradox in logic, and an oxymoron to learning.

For example:
To be an effective teacher, the most basic skill at our disposal is reflection; “looking to the past to adapt to a future”. Taking a solely conservative approach means, we disregard that times change, and new needs have to be met. Taking a solely liberal approach, would mean, all tradition is redundant and obsolete because new is better; rhetorically speaking, things didn't just manifest in the present (how did we arrive here? ).

Speaking from a practical-piano standpoint, these two ideologies are, in actuality, referring to how one is taught to play the instrument.

A conservative approach might adopt the teaching of scales and exercises, focussing on reading music from sheet manuscript, also learning traditional harmony; a conservatory approach if you will.

Whereas, a more-liberal approaches might omit learning to read entirely, using tablet and phone apps or YouTube videos.  The key difference being, freedom in approach different to the preordained methodologies.

My opinion on this topic is why not both?  The ends dictates the means.

Eventually everyone uses a pencil in the traditional way; yes, it might be quicker to take shortcuts to the prize, but in order to recreate it, we must use a tried and tested method, which ultimately is, or will be, the traditional one.

Offline vaniii

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 246
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #2 on: December 29, 2016, 12:42:18 AM »
Ofcourse this does not concern the issues relating to efficiency.

Some including new more efficient methodologies or society discovering new understanding on learning, psychology, and or philosophy.

Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #3 on: December 29, 2016, 05:48:13 PM »
Is there actually such a thing?  Can one really categorize teachers that way (and should one)?

Offline mishamalchik

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 86
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #4 on: December 29, 2016, 09:29:45 PM »
    Haha I'm not really sure, but I was told I should consider switching to a "less conservative" teacher. I have no idea what that means, or even why my teacher is considered "conservative" per se. Another student at my university said that I should consider switching to a teacher he referred to as the "most conservative" teacher at our school. I don't intend to switch, as my teacher has put up with my nonsense so far and I'm not inclined to test my luck with someone else's patience, but I am curious as to what conservative generally means in regards to piano.

     I've studied art, and in art "conservative" generally refers to the older generation of teachers who don't believe that digital art is "art", and who often condemn non-traditional styles, such as western comic art, cartooning etc., as having little to no artistic value. I guess my teacher doesn't really allow students to play modern pop culture music, but I thought that was a given when one chooses to study classical piano? He has no problems with modern music and I even slid a Nobuo Uematsu piece by him (ending theme, not an arrangement), something that would perhaps be shot down by a "more conservative" teacher ?

Offline georgey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 936
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #5 on: December 29, 2016, 10:10:30 PM »
    Haha I'm not really sure, but I was told I should consider switching to a "less conservative" teacher. I have no idea what that means, or even why my teacher is considered "conservative" per se. Another student at my university said that I should consider switching to a teacher he referred to as the "most conservative" teacher at our school. I don't intend to switch, as my teacher has put up with my nonsense so far and I'm not inclined to test my luck with someone else's patience, but I am curious as to what conservative generally means in regards to piano.

     I've studied art, and in art "conservative" generally refers to the older generation of teachers who don't believe that digital art is "art", and who often condemn non-traditional styles, such as western comic art, cartooning etc., as having little to no artistic value. I guess my teacher doesn't really allow students to play modern pop culture music, but I thought that was a given when one chooses to study classical piano? He has no problems with modern music and I even slid a Nobuo Uematsu piece by him (ending theme, not an arrangement), something that would perhaps be shot down by a "more conservative" teacher ?

Vaniii has a good description of what is probably meant by conservative in regard to piano.  In investing, conservative means “not taking unnecessary risks”.  A conservative investor will invest in passive index funds with hundreds of stocks or bonds and have a well-diversified portfolio.   A non-conservative investor (risky investor) might put all his $ on one stock hoping to get rich.  The conservative investor is just trying to outperform inflation by a little.
 
When you say “I don't intend to switch, as my teacher has put up with my nonsense so far and I'm not inclined to test my luck with someone else's patience,”, you are being conservative.  You know what you have now and are unwilling to take the risk of changing to another teacher that might give you problems.

What risks are there in piano playing?  One of many that come to mind is the risk of injury to your hands while playing the piano.  A conservative piano teacher might look at techniques of playing that reduce the chance of hand/wrist injury.  I doubt this is what was meant by conservative piano teacher in your case.

Online lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6106
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #6 on: December 29, 2016, 11:50:54 PM »
A conservative teacher in my mind presets the musical playground they desire to see their students exist within where a more liberal teacher questions what the student would like their playground to look like and helps builds it together with them. A conservative teacher believes that improving technical/musical capability is the main aim, a more liberal teacher believes that improving the practice craft is the main aim.


Personally I enjoy teachers that don't teach from predetermined courses, that treat their students as an individual. I personally dislike teachers who try to force students into a certain "way of playing" without developing what naturally comes to the student over long periods and in terms of the students personal musical interests.

Teaching art is not like teaching science or anything else which has often specific answers, art has many answers to the same problem. I like teachers who are open to the many answers that there are out there since you need a good teacher for that who knows how the art works through many different individuals thoroughly and the repertoire out there that is still being created!

There are multiple paths people can take when it comes to repertoire selection. Some teachers are so stuck in using certain repertoire that they have no idea how to form a syllabus for a student based on their musical interests and desires. Not everyone wants to play the classics or play on the concert stage, some teachers have this goal in mind all the time for each student which is not always the case if you are teaching away from a classical music conservatory. A conservative teacher probably will be shocked to learn that a student can develop into a fine musician by studying music written in our century.

Some teachers think the main goal with all students is to play with masterful technique or expression or play perfect technical patterns. Though this might satisfy many students many others want to develop their practice craft, that is improve the rate at which they can learn their music. In my opinion this represents the more difficult to find teachers, those who will show you how to fish for yourself. Most "conservative" teachers actually don't know much about improving a students rate of learning but rather focus on elements which they require to work on but give no real tools to act as a catalyst toward that mastery. Different finger here, more/less volume, more/less tempo, take away all repertoire decision making by the student, they don't explain the thought process that could go into it, they also don't give the students freedom to explore music and know how to choose appropriate music that would be efficient to learn for that students ability level.

Many conservative teachers are stuck in the view that improving technique and expression is all that is needed, but what about reading skills? How do you develop reading skills in a student is a very "out of the box" question. Yes you can teach the basic principles in a traditional manner but I'm talking about all the repertoire that the student needs to go through to practice their reading skills. We need to excite students to practice reading and there is no single path towards this in terms of repertoire choice. Excite a student to be able to sight read music they love and they will work hard on their reading skills (but of course not all material you read needs to be what you love but the student needs to have pleasurable reading experiences too).

Most conservative teachers avoid specifically improving students sight reading and instead simply learn pieces with the student and hope that they will get better through brute force. Though I believe a less conservative teacher will have the know how to specifically tackle the question of improving reading skills in their individual students, teaching the students how to choose the appropriate repertoire to practice with.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline vaniii

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 246
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #7 on: December 30, 2016, 02:39:13 AM »
The point I was trying to make, perhaps inadequately, was that to be a 'good' teacher, we have to remain neutral to conservatism, or liberalism, adopting both concepts into our methodologies of teaching.

However, ideologies are a flawed, simply because they are fixed, in relation to something that is not.

What was deemed conservative/liberal in 1900, is certainly not conservative, or liberal, in 2000; so how can we consider these things (conservatism or liberalism) relevant?

(Not rhetorical)

Offline visitor

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5093
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #8 on: December 30, 2016, 12:43:20 PM »
"Conservative" teacher - one who teachers at a "conservatory"
Alternate - a teacher that employs methods of "conservation" or that "conserves" when teaching.


Offline keypeg

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3567
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #9 on: January 03, 2017, 02:31:36 PM »
I think that when someone tells a student that he should go with a more conservative, or less conservative, teacher, then only that speaker knows what he means.  Tbh, it seems like rather useless advice.  If you perceive that a student has particular needs which aren't being met, then the advice about teachers should be couched in those terms.  "Conservative" could mean anything, depending on who is saying it, and why.

Offline vaniii

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 246
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #10 on: January 03, 2017, 02:56:48 PM »
I think that when someone tells a student that he should go with a more conservative, or less conservative, teacher, then only that speaker knows what he means.  Tbh, it seems like rather useless advice.  If you perceive that a student has particular needs which aren't being met, then the advice about teachers should be couched in those terms.  "Conservative" could mean anything, depending on who is saying it, and why.


Precisely; there is no definitive authority on what is and isn't conservative.

Alas, the foibles and semantics of the spoken word!

Online lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6106
Re: What does it mean to be a "conservative" teacher?
«Reply #11 on: January 04, 2017, 12:07:19 AM »
Well that is why we are discussing this to reveal our idea as to what we think it might mean.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/