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Why teach only the highly talented? (Read 3350 times)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Why teach only the highly talented?
« on: February 03, 2017, 05:26:23 AM »
I take on any students no matter how good bad, disciplined or not. I feel I learn just as much about teaching no matter who I teach and also have just as much to offer anyone no matter what skill level in piano/discipline, everyone has something to teach me and something that intrigues me as a teacher.

I know some teachers who only take good students but I wonder if this really is beneficial for you as a teacher. Sure a disciplined student might do a lot correct but I can assure you you could find something that they are stubborn to change also. With undisciplined students it is just more obvious their failing but no more difficult to deal with. A teacher who deals with a lot of stubborn students who just don't practice enough learns tools how to break down that resistance and identify why it happens and then really make changes in their students. Some teachers think it is just about how well you play the piano and learn but it is more than that, the bigger picture is vision, goal setting, aspiring, motivation etc etc. It really has far reaching effects in their life beyond just piano but we can use piano as a wonderful medium to learn about life.

Teaching only the talented is a problem I think especially when it comes to reputable music schools or teachers who only accept those who audition the best out of the lot. They will only accept students who are very good to start with or show great potential. I can understand why they would want to do this it protects their image, to be known to produce only great musicians. Those who study with prestigious schools often are expected to complete their music degree within a particular time frame so there is pressure for growth, no different from any other degree (though some schools allow you to do a degree part time over a longer time frame). So many schools would argue that they only take the best students because lesser ones would not be able to meet the standards of their curriculum and because there is so much demand for places to study with them they can pick and choose the best.

I think of this all outside the box a little. I don't think that working with what you think are the best necessarily encompasses all the best there is about the service of teaching. To me the greatest schools would be those are those are willing to take on lesser musicians with good work ethic and make them into the best they can be. Sure a prestigious school need not deal with students who don't want to practice that is a bit ridiculous but I think that their teachers should have good experience with dealing with students who don't want to practice so they can know how to push their own highly talented students boundaries. If you can make someone who resists improvement better imagine what you can do with someone who always follows you all the way? I assure you most of the top professors of the best schools in the world would simply pull their hair out over a student who doesn't practice :) But what does that mean about how well they know human nature and what real change can make in the students they teach?
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 06:12:30 AM »
I guess just like some piano students resist working and solving problems, so do some teachers ;)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #2 on: February 04, 2017, 01:46:57 AM »
I think so outin. This year I took on a new student who was taught by a very highly respected teacher here in my city who came from Russia. I was quite interested to see the type of work he went through and to keep things short I wasn't very impressed! The boy is highly talented it is why I can understand she took him on as a student but really it annoys me when people think that a student is good because of the teacher. Yes the teacher has something to do with it but the majority of the work rests on the students shoulders.

 Thus I hate the idea of prestigious schools and teachers who only take the talented, they protect their image that they produce only good musicians but in reality they only know how to choose good musicians (which is a billion times easier). It is a lazy way to maintain reputation, seriously I am amazed by teachers who successfully train the average student to a high level (or close to their potential), it is so obvious to me this is a much more impressive teaching feat.

From a teaching perspective if one knows how to motivate the undisciplined student and make real changes to their work ethic when dealing with a disciplined student who seriously wants to learn you can also make real changes in them too. The resistance for change is the same no matter what degree you are looking at, I find no difference in the beginner student who doesn't want to practice to the advanced piano student resisting changes to their musicianship. The problem I find with many well known teachers is that they merely trust their students will do everything they say, they don't know how to support that change, they believe if they make the student aware of it that is enough, it is not enough unfortunately as we are emotional humans who need all sorts of support. I noticed with my new transferred student the lack of "how to go about doing it" direction and simply a lot of "what to do" and in indifference if a student doesn't follow. Not good teaching IMO.

You can crush a students potential if you make them just feel failure for not following your directions instead we need constantly support their efforts through failure and puzzle out what is holding them back with them. I am a little unusual in the way that I am concerned if my students succeed with everything, it makes me think I am not pushing them enough or being too easy. In our lessons we don't learn as much from success but rather their challenges and difficulties. I find students make most change when things are a little challenging and not just a walk in the park. This kind of experience is not so obvious when you deal only with talented hard working students and I think is quite detrimental to the overall development and musical path that the teacher/student relationship will ultimately go through. My work is seriously cut out for me with these hard working talented students because I am trying to find what is their weak point. It is easy to spot an undisciplined students bad attitude towards practicing but severely difficult work to train that away, with talented students it is just the same though it may be tougher to spot their failings but it is no less difficult to make a change in them.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #3 on: February 04, 2017, 08:13:20 PM »
I guess just like some piano students resist working and solving problems, so do some teachers ;)

Well, I'm only a rock and roll hack -- albeit a good one -- who happens to teach, but to put a more cynical spin on it, "some piano teachers resist earning a modest living, and so do so some students [sc. 'resist'] learning some tricks."

In all seriousness, maybe it's because I don't have the opportunity to be picky that I "get" to hold my opinion, but I think a little more "music for the masses" is a good thing.

I've never taught young kids, so anyone who comes to me just wants to learn a few tricks, basically, but if middle-aged Haufrauen wanted to engage me to babysit their Augustus Gloops for an hour a week, I suppose, yes, what's the problem?  

You know the literature is so vast, and I'm even capable of playing some of it, I think not only would it be (selfishly, as an intellectual exercise) rewarding to select repertoire for whatever little brat crosses the door, and, ideally, a whole set/recital's worth of such material, it might make the world a better place to have some little asshat know there's a world of value that has stood the test of time.

I know on the internet everybody thinks they're Joey DeFrancesco or András Schiff, but let's be real, most of us are not setting the world on fire with our amazing taste and chops, except in our respective Real-Life communities, which may be small indeed compared to NY or Paris.  Every good boy does fine, or whatever.  Every girl's, also, too.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 01:31:20 AM »
I like training discipline with youngsters, I like seeing them go from floundering about whenever they want to to taking an interest to become more organized. When I teach piano to early beginners it like teaching a very advanced student a difficult piece.... but sometimes even more challenging!! To teach an undisciplined beginner has got to be the most problematic student to deal with and to improve them certainly stretches the resource of any skilled teacher.

One might question what is the point in teaching such difficult students, those that don't seem to want to learn or practice on their own? First and foremost making changes in youngsters early on has far reaching effects to the rest of their life, I have seen several examples of this over the years personally, that is what excites me the most. I also believe that from these type of students I have learned the most about teaching, a great deal about balancing patience and pressure, not too much patience that you are too soft you will have zero result out of problematic students, but not so much pressure that you become some dictator figure that quashes all individuality. Those who are highly trained can hold close many ideas and are very unwilling to "sacrifice their babies" if you too don't make them feel comfortable about changing it. "Sugar catches more flies than vinegar" as the saying goes and in terms of teaching I think you need problematic students to be able to understand this through and through.

I like to get my students to be honest with themselves and that is not easier the better you get at music though many teachers simply don't care to test this in their students or not. The teachers themselves can be blind to the fact that all the information they pass to their student is going in one ear and out the other. They fool themselves in believing that just because it is covered in lesson it is now known. This is the assumption of mass classroom teaching all the time since there is no time to go to every student individually and ensure they fully know what has been taught. Students even become untruthful to themselves to such an extent that they believe they understand what has been taught just because it has gone through their head once or twice. Other ideas of honesty I wrote here: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=62887.0

Teaching piano for me is not only about learning about music and how to play the piano but mastering oneself. It has a lot to do with attitude towards work, honesty and discipline as well and this to me has far reaching effects in students not only in the study of piano but life itself. Too many clever advanced students fool their teachers that all their attitude towards work, honesty and discipline is top notch, it is not, we are not perfect humans and we all need pressure to improve. A lazy teacher who has a highly talented student simply throws work at them and it all gets solved the teacher doesn't bother pushing the students boundaries in other areas because the music is just flowing out faster than the majority of their students. This is a disservice for the talented student imo, the teacher should be able to challenge them just like they challenge an undisciplined beginner to start practicing in a more consistent, structured manner.
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Offline bronnestam

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 06:26:39 PM »
This is such an interesting topic, thank you lostinidlewonder for bringing this up.

Actually I thought this problem was typically Swedish, or rather "typically Scandinavian".

I wrote a blog post about it, https://pianovning.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/ow-wouldnt-it-be-loverly/

(and the important stuff for this context is the last part of it, so you can skip the rambling before the video link if you like).

In Sweden, we certainly measure the student after his/her teacher. So I've got some lessons by this leading star in our country, because we are friends and I was not afraid of asking. And before a recital last year, when I was in the audience, I had a nice conversation with two ladies, and it was a very typical one: During our chit-chat I mentioned that I knew the guy who was to perform and that I had had him as a teacher. Then I quickly added, in order not to give them the false impression that I was a professional pianist or something, "but I am just an amateur, I am not very good".
They laughed and said "oh, but with a teacher like THAT, you must be pretty good indeed".

But from these lessons, and from my visits to Chetham's piano summer schools in Manchester, I have realized that getting lessons from real concert pianists, and to be a part of their community, you get a whole new perspective to piano playing that can do wonders for a lousy amateur.

Why are some students lazy, lack motivation and seem "untalented" in general? Well, most likely some are just lazy, lack motivation and are untalented in general. Piano playing cannot be everyone's cup of tea, and you are definitely allowed to try a hobby out and then conclude you lost your interest in it. That is normal, that is human, we all do it and it is perfectly ok.

But I also bet many just feel locked out. It is pretty strong to maintain an interest although voices both from within and from the outside constantly whisper to you that you are too old, you are probably not good enough, you are stupid to take this too seriously, you don't really belong here and so on, so on. This little voice from within is often so subtle that we are not aware of it, but yet we react on it - with hesitation, "laziness" and other maneouvres to mark that we are not investing too much in this, therefore we should not be scorned if we fail. You can call it a defense mechanism.

I therefore think it is important that teachers learn to see beyond these obstacles and that even the "untalented" and "bad" piano students can feel welcome in a serious piano community. And what is that? Teachers and others that have a serious passion for their instrument, who think it is far more important to enjoy the ride and to share the joy than to pass exams, participate in recitals, practice diligenty, reach certain goals etcetera. The love for piano should be a means to find kindred spirits, listen to wonderful music, have fun together or have fun when you are alone, and it should not matter if you are an established concert pianist, an upcoming star, or just a dabbling beginner.

We must stop the sad development where piano playing is a spectator sport, where only the Gifted and Talented are allowed to take an active part, and the rest are supposed to act as audience and often also sponsors ...

Offline dogperson

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 07:50:49 PM »
@Bronnestam,
My experience in the US is that the venue for treating all amateurs as 'worthy' and 'welcome' is at adult summer piano camps.. the groups of students have been adult, beyond conservatory years, and with  skills that varied the entire spectrum.

All were made to feel worthy and were given an equal amount of attention and respect.   It was a huge morale booster for all of us-- to be taught by university professors or concert pianists...  and accepted for what we are:  just serious about learning and a passion for the piano.


Offline iansinclair

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 10:48:11 PM »
This is really a very interesting thread -- on a very difficult topic!  I agree with all of the above -- but I would add one thought.  Not every teacher/person will be able to teach less talented individuals.  It really is an art to do so.  If one finds that they are struggling to teach certain types of students -- say an enthusiastic but relatively untaught and somewhat untalented adult, for instance, that is not a mark against one but may simply mean that one is not mentally set up to do that.  Similarly, one may not necessarily work well with a brilliant ten year old.  Or whatever.  It is wise to know one's self that way!
Ian

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #8 on: February 07, 2017, 04:45:55 AM »
Actually I thought this problem was typically Swedish, or rather "typically Scandinavian".

I wrote a blog post about it, https://pianovning.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/ow-wouldnt-it-be-loverly/
I had a read through your blog and found these parts near the end very interesting:

[In Sweden, the elite of today normally only educates the elite of tomorrow. They don’t have time for anything else. You must not join a master class if you are above a certain age, or if you don’t have got enough grades from a conservatory and so on. This is due to our educational system which is free, and very fair in many aspects, but it certainly is of no favour to middle-aged hobbyists who are in the desperate need of an inspirational kick just to get up from the couch again.]

[Yet, now one of our most prominent pianist stars, my big piano idol as well, offered to give lessons to a person like me …
…but you know what the typical Swedish reaction to such a non-typical Swedish offer is?
“Ha ha, that would have been fun, too bad I am not good enough, though. I’ll pass.”]


This forms in my mind a very pyramid type world of education where at the top the training is kept secret and only for those worthy, it is unfortunately a reality all over the world I think. This is wrong to me because I feel music only lives on and improves through the "normal" people in this world who love and appreciate it, not the microscopic amount of artists who produce the music. I am so glad when my students teach their own brothers, sisters, parents, friends, family the piano in the way I have trained them, the knowledge is shared!

This is education in my mind, how to become more disciplined and work in a more efficient way within a particular subject. Discipline is something generally not taught at a university no matter how prestigious, you either sink or swim. Goal setting, dealing with failure and success, aspiring etc these type of experiences all are left to the students to have almost in total isolation. This to me is not education. If you set a test and a student fails you kick them out of the school and they are left to feel a failure. Ridiculous, a failure on the schools behalf. There should be no such thing as failure when a school accepts a student, there should be 0% drop out because the student didn't jump through the academic hoop appropriately. Why can't these great schools deal with individual students failure, pinpoint the causes and assist them every week? They don't do this. In many universities where it is not free they will happily take tens of thousands of dollars from you, sometimes even hundreds of thousands, but what service do they really give you? They merely hold this golden hoop of a degree that you need to jump through but they have no interest in helping a failing student achieve this. If you can't do it you are a failure and you get nothing. This is not education although it is been like this for hundreds of years. Instead I believe a student should stay with the school as long as they need to until they themselves realize they can't do it. Sometimes people need that extra time and then they shine, I have seen it so often in my own teaching experience but in our harsh world if you don't do it within a specific time isolated from your individualism, you are a failure.



In Sweden, we certainly measure the student after his/her teacher.
Yeah i think this is a knee jerk reaction many non musicians have! I have parents thanking me for how well their children are going but I always point out how well their child is working on their own and that their assistance to help their child own practice is invaluable. But what about students who have no guardians to support and motivate them, my adult students often have no one there to push them when they are on their own and when they do well it really is because of them not me. Yes I give them direction and how to practice but if they don't have the motivation to do it themselves it can't work. I warn my students always how easy it is to think about what to do and know how to do it, but then to go and do it that is a totally different matter which tests everyone. To me this is where the biggest compliment to someones ability rests, how they have motivated themselves to do the work, to want to do it, to have reason to do it, discipline.

I guess you can think of this metaphorically in terms of trains and tracks lol. The train themselves represents a students discipline towards work and the tracks are merely the musical teaching I lay out for them. Oh look at those rusty slow trains hardly moving, I shall oil the parts, remove the rust, give the engine a kick, try to get this broken down thing moving since it is not doing well on this track (even if it's a downhill one!). Oh look at this amazing modern bullet train! My goodness you fly through many of the tracks I set before you but I am sure I can find improvements to your engine and show you tracks that will challenge you. It is stupid to compliment the track if the train itself is a bullet! Of course both are important I am however more drawn to improving the trains no matter what condition any idiot can lay tracks down and not care if the train goes over it effectively or not.


Why are some students lazy, lack motivation and seem "untalented" in general? Well, most likely some are just lazy, lack motivation and are untalented in general. Piano playing cannot be everyone's cup of tea, and you are definitely allowed to try a hobby out and then conclude you lost your interest in it. That is normal, that is human, we all do it and it is perfectly ok.
It is often how they have been brought up, the parents or guardians are key figures which dictate how disciplined a child is towards work. This has far reaching effects through into the child adult life. Some families really make knowledge taste wonderful, they support their children in their effort to work hard, motivate them, reward them, hold their heads up during failures. Not everyone has had such support in their childhood, some have had less than desirable starts to life! But everyone can improve, it is never too late, it is hard to awaken the dead beaten down heart but you can start a spark and nurture it.

Most of my students stay with me for years because I really teach them about the discipline it takes to do music successfully and help them no matter if they succeed or fail at it. Those who resist it completely all lose interest very fast. Some have an idea that playing piano is impressive and amazing but then when they are faced with the work that actually goes behind it all, that rose tinted glass shatters.

I find most people become more disciplined when learning piano is no longer a solo effort. When they can share the experience with someone else. It is why having a teacher can be so important to many students. I still have a few students who really don't need me anymore but need me because they want someone to answer to. Without me they feel they would flounder about. This is important to realize, not everyone can work on their own as well as if they had a musical buddy to work with.

Discipline can be trained on many many levels and over the short and long term so there is zero excuse for anyone to not start improving as it is a concern to all improvement in life. Adults are often stuck in their own routine of living the and can be resistant to make changes to themselves until they are forced to. Too many adults think about it, just think think think and never do because things are not urgent enough. They make so many first steps only to give up because the urgency of what they are doing is not enough to stay on track with.

The same goes for so many issues in life, issues with health for example all requires self discipline but people often only do something about it when things come to a critical point. For example when you develop diabetes because you are morbidly obese so you start thinking about losing weight. Why can't we find motivation before things become an emergency situation? You certainly will find it very difficult to create emergency situations to make students to want to learn the piano :) Exam deadlines, concerts, competitions all do motivate people to work hard but there really needs to be a strong source of self motivation also. Scaring people to work is not really the best way to make disciplined though unfortunately it is where many people learn about it.


But I also bet many just feel locked out. It is pretty strong to maintain an interest although voices both from within and from the outside constantly whisper to you that you are too old, you are probably not good enough, you are stupid to take this too seriously, you don't really belong here and so on, so on. This little voice from within is often so subtle that we are not aware of it, but yet we react on it - with hesitation, "laziness" and other maneouvres to mark that we are not investing too much in this, therefore we should not be scorned if we fail. You can call it a defense mechanism.
Yes it is a wrong source of motivation when you listen to other people who have no interest in your own improvement. Those who are excited for you will encourage you and excite you even further! Music is an amazing relationship that can exist on so many levels, you don't need to be an expert pianist to experience the wave of emotions you get from playing the piano, certainly not!! A beginner student of mine was brought to tears playing a simple melody because it reminded her of her grandmother, that is as powerful as anything that exists in music. Music is special, it is your friend it is your foe, you really have a relationship with it, it is not always good it can be extremely challenging but overall it is rewarding and brings you peace, it allows you to express yourself, it allows you to take your mind away from this sometimes terrible world, you can revive memories from the past and feel things you can't when speaking, you can exist within a secret safe world, you can be alone but still have company.

I therefore think it is important that teachers learn to see beyond these obstacles and that even the "untalented" and "bad" piano students can feel welcome in a serious piano community. And what is that? Teachers and others that have a serious passion for their instrument, who think it is far more important to enjoy the ride and to share the joy than to pass exams, participate in recitals, practice diligenty, reach certain goals etcetera. The love for piano should be a means to find kindred spirits, listen to wonderful music, have fun together or have fun when you are alone, and it should not matter if you are an established concert pianist, an upcoming star, or just a dabbling beginner.

We must stop the sad development where piano playing is a spectator sport, where only the Gifted and Talented are allowed to take an active part, and the rest are supposed to act as audience and often also sponsors ...
Wonderful I totally agree!!!!
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #9 on: February 07, 2017, 05:21:40 AM »
Many wise words from lost but I have to disagree on stressing discipline so much. Discipline simply isn't much of an asset in today's world unless you want to be the one who is told what to do and be paid little for that. It may be useful when self inflicted but studies show self discipline is not a very efficient means of changing habits, because it's almost always too weak.

What I see as more useful to have and learn is persistence or whatever word to use for being able to handle failure and turn it into a positive force. Also ability to look at something that seems impossible and dive into solving it anyway.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #10 on: February 07, 2017, 07:05:59 AM »
Many wise words from lost but I have to disagree on stressing discipline so much. Discipline simply isn't much of an asset in today's world unless you want to be the one who is told what to do and be paid little for that. It may be useful when self inflicted but studies show self discipline is not a very efficient means of changing habits, because it's almost always too weak.

What I see as more useful to have and learn is persistence or whatever word to use for being able to handle failure and turn it into a positive force. Also ability to look at something that seems impossible and dive into solving it anyway.

Not sure if we talking about the same discipline ;) It encompasses many things for me like organisation, goal setting, motivation, dealing with success failure etc. I  consider it the driving force for all work done. People with poor discipline merely do activities when they feel like it, when it suits them, they dont sweat and bleed over their work. They never really know how much they really can achieve because they do everything so half heartedly.
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #11 on: February 07, 2017, 08:52:18 AM »
Not sure if we talking about the same discipline ;) It encompasses many things for me like organisation, goal setting, motivation, dealing with success failure etc. I  consider it the driving force for all work done. People with poor discipline merely do activities when they feel like it, when it suits them, they dont sweat and bleed over their work. They never really know how much they really can achieve because they do everything so half heartedly.

I guess there are many uses for that word. Many people see it as total lack of impulsiveness and obeying orders no matter what. I don't think it's a black and white matter: Learning can actually be more efficient with some of the things you mentioned as signs of poor discipline. It just cannot always be so, it's a matter of balance really.

In modern pedagogy it's more common these days to think of discipline as something that facilitates teaching in school environment rather than something that actually promotes learning. A lot has changed in this regard in the past 100 years. Are the old ways better? In some way maybe, but I doubt they could prepare the students to the demands of the modern world.

This is not to say that many kids today would not deserve some good spanking...but I don't think it would actually teach them anything. At the age of 7 or so it's already too late...

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #12 on: February 07, 2017, 12:00:18 PM »
Learning can actually be more efficient with some of the things you mentioned as signs of poor discipline.
As a teacher who deals with actual students I can't consider these kind of things being true without seeing it in action myself. Could you give examples of where poor discipline makes learning more efficient? I think stressing out a student too much and pushing them to achieve past their capability is detrimental yes, but to just leave a student totally to their own device and work on their own if they are lazy is madness for me as a teacher, I don't trust them until they prove themselves. Discipline to me is work ethic, how responsible you are for dealing with your work and completing tasks asked of you. Discipline is not smacking a child because they are naughty ahah :) That is not the kinda discipline I'm talking about, corporal punishment in the old day schools was pretty terrible, horrific really. Discipline has a lot to do with organizing yourself and completing tasks to the end at the best of your abilities. This is a kind of honesty that only disciplined students can realize, what is the best of your ability, many people say they know it but they don't because they really don't try.

In modern pedagogy it's more common these days to think of discipline as something that facilitates teaching in school environment rather than something that actually promotes learning.
To me discipline is what acts as a catalyst for learning. It is not about a student being prim and proper with me in a lesson, that is easy, I don't think that is difficult to get a students to behave in a lesson, but what do they do on their own? Where is their self discipline, their self motivation, their ability to control themselves and produce work at the best of their standard? Sure not all students want to play piano the best they can but certainly I will push them to understand that without diligent practice and discipline they will eventually hit a plateau to their improvement.


This is not to say that many kids today would not deserve some good spanking...but I don't think it would actually teach them anything. At the age of 7 or so it's already too late...
Haha, well the kids are not mine so I can't spank them, not that I would want to either! They can be naughty not listen in lessons, they can not care about practicing on their own and treat it all like a game, but I will punish them a little bit, with mental torture ahha. That sounds a bit melodramatic, but I will make a lazy student work super hard in lessons to "catch up" what they haven't practice. It can be boring, bland, repetitive, but it teaches them that they CAN do it, they just have to get off their butts and work with a bit of discipline when alone of course this is much easier said than done!
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #13 on: February 07, 2017, 01:01:16 PM »
Thoughts on "discipline".

In the school environment (I attended teachers college, got my B.Ed., taught in the classroom) you need to create order among the masses.  I taught gr. 2.  Kids lined up and exited the class in rows, otherwise it would have been a stampede with somebody getting trampled.  Raise your hand and don't speak until you are acknowledged, or it's a mess with a pile of voices.  It's crowd control, external control of the individual.  We had devices: Turn off the class lights to get their attention, everybody's hands go on their heads and don't talk - as soon as you get quiet, you can give directions because you can be heard: stars or privileges for the behaviours you want.  That's one meaning of "discipline.

In another meaning, it simply means "punishment" - doing something that is unpleasant or even painful in order to influence behaviour.  "discipline your child" means that. :(

There is ANOTHER meaning for discipline, and that's the one lostinidlewonder is after.  It's a thing that I discovered had been sadly lacking in my education, despite two degrees, postgraduate studies and the rest.  I finally discovered it in music studies, and even then I had to wait several years in, and then a teacher willing to go the extra mile.  Maybe "disciple" is related, minus the religious connotation or hero-worship.  This is where you learn to work in an effective way in your studies so that you learn and grow: and in your music so that it comes to fruition.  Blindly and stubbornly bulldozing through music for hours and days to make it sound right is not it.  Knowing what to concentrate on, how to be focused, what to focus on, for how long - that's the discipline.  And part of it has to get taught.  And for many of us, in our regular education, this was never taught anywhere.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #14 on: February 07, 2017, 01:15:18 PM »
@Keystring,
Seems like LIW is starting with the basic concept:  a piano student requires the 'self-control'/'motivation'/'discipline'  to practice even if he/she is not in the mood, has had a long day at work, or can think of other things to do. 

Your concept of HOW to exercise that energy in an effective way does not seem to be discipline but instruction in effective practice.  In other words, you have a disciplined student who now needs to learn how to channel that discipline.  And your'e right, this is not often taught.... and it should be.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #15 on: February 07, 2017, 03:15:55 PM »
Thoughts on "discipline".
There is ANOTHER meaning for discipline, and that's the one lostinidlewonder is after....This is where you learn to work in an effective way in your studies so that you learn and grow: and in your music so that it comes to fruition.  Blindly and stubbornly bulldozing through music for hours and days to make it sound right is not it.  Knowing what to concentrate on, how to be focused, what to focus on, for how long - that's the discipline.  And part of it has to get taught.  And for many of us, in our regular education, this was never taught anywhere.
Yes keypeg this is also what I am on about. I speak about discipline in many ways in this thread, often for lazy beginners just about getting onto that piano and practicing something at all! But of course it is a lot more than that, it would be ridiculous just to tell an advanced student, ok go off do 30 minutes extra a day you will be better. You show them an effective way to to get through their work and encourage a more disciplined approach towards their practice methodology. You help them have their own relationship with music, one which they respect requires a lot of work and effort and one which they are glad to suffer/work for.

How many of us realize that changing point when we are practicing seriously or just tinkering about? It happens all the time to us, many of us need those "micro breaks" throughout their practice mixing serious with "tinkering". Should this all should have to exist solely within self exploration? A good teacher should be able to help a student become more focused, make them more sure how to deal with their work, improve their motivation and courage to practice and learn on their own and in the generalized word, improve their discipline.

Of course we can describe all facets of what makes up discipline and the issue can go on for many pages. The reason why discipline came up in this thread is because I feel that an advanced student often has wonderful discipline towards work and the prestigious teachers who deal with them often do not think on improving these skills in terms of vision. I gave an example of aspiring concert performers why can't the teachers give them a vision to build this up rather than merely teach music in terms of the instrument. It is futile to think that having a concerting career solely depends on how well you play, there is a way to build it up and the teacher should give the aspiring student the vision to do this.

So from a beginners getting them to actually start practicing alone consistently to the highly advanced talented pianist wishing to become a concert pianist who would love to know how pathways to build a career in performance, the music teacher often can have a larger job than just teaching the piano.


@Keystring,
Seems like LIW is starting with the basic concept:  a piano student requires the 'self-control'/'motivation'/'discipline'  to practice even if he/she is not in the mood, has had a long day at work, or can think of other things to do.  
Well yes this was a large part of what I said when regarding beginners, but i was juxtaposing them with the highly advanced talented musicians where within my wall of text I have described many facets of the generalized term "discipline".
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #16 on: February 07, 2017, 07:48:36 PM »
As a teacher who deals with actual students I can't consider these kind of things being true without seeing it in action myself. Could you give examples of where poor discipline makes learning more efficient?

Sometimes it's far more efficient to do things that you want to do instead of forcing and sweating and enduring boredom. I almost never force myself to do things I am not interested in and I still learn new things every day :)

Tolerating hardship, dedication and consistency are fine and required to succeed in life, but boredom and lack of interest is intolerable for me, so I would not expect it from anyone else either. Unless they are paid for it...

In short I think the desire to learn (it's not the same as desire to be good) is what one should develope and it's hard to force. Some people find it best in their own way, not the teacher's way. After it's found it's easier to build work ethic, fight lazyness etc.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #17 on: February 07, 2017, 11:42:29 PM »
Sometimes it's far more efficient to do things that you want to do instead of forcing and sweating and enduring boredom. I almost never force myself to do things I am not interested in and I still learn new things every day :)
I think you are mistaking the word "efficient" with "enjoyable" because I still don't understand how ONLY doing things whenever you like and doing only things you find interesting improves efficiency. There are also plenty of instance where you "don't know that you don't know" so if you merely study only things that interest you and excite you there is a huge amount of important issues you forget about because it doesn't interest you at the moment, this leaves holes all over in your knowledge.  You must realize that there are things in life that you might not enjoy at the start but can slowly realize its benefits and eventually find enjoyment in it.

Tolerating hardship, dedication and consistency are fine and required to succeed in life, but boredom and lack of interest is intolerable for me, so I would not expect it from anyone else either. Unless they are paid for it...
Who said you have to be bored or lack of interest? Why would someone study the piano if they are totally not interested in it? There must of course be a reason for why you play but just because you do piano because you love it that doesn't mean you only subject yourself to all the good things about piano only. You try to have a relationship with another human only experiencing the good times with them and not wanting any of the bad at all, you will never have a lasting or rewarding relationship like that.


In short I think the desire to learn (it's not the same as desire to be good) is what one should develope and it's hard to force. Some people find it best in their own way, not the teacher's way. After it's found it's easier to build work ethic, fight lazyness etc.
If you think you can do it better on your own then do it! A teacher helps a huge amount of people improve and deal with things that might be not be so interesting at first but master it. All the students I have come across who ignore my ideas and simply go off on their own generally quit soon after. What is the point in having a teacher if you dictate exactly what should be learned because you will only do what interests you? Outin you really need to reassess how you learn in this world, ONLY doing things that you like is not always the best way that leaves very little room for your to grow as a person.
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Offline Bob

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #18 on: February 07, 2017, 11:49:19 PM »
It's easier and you get more recognition as being a good teacher probably.

Easier since you give a piece and they play it.  If you give them bad info, they play it.

If they sound good, people think you're a good teacher. 


Doesn't help teaching skills so much.  The results don't necessarily match the input.  Makes business sense to have a student sound as good as possible, even if it's not all you for teaching.  I'm not saying I'd want that, but it's probably true.  And it would beat having students that never practice.  That's more of a teaching/motivation thing at that point rather than actual teaching (depending on how you define teaching, if it includes motivation).
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #19 on: February 08, 2017, 12:01:02 AM »
...it would beat having students that never practice.  That's more of a teaching/motivation thing at that point rather than actual teaching (depending on how you define teaching, if it includes motivation).
This is exactly the point where I differ with some teachers because I feel you need to do both all the time with all students. I think that we need to find motivation in all our students no matter what level.

You can only boil down the practicing process to such a stupidly simple level that if the student doesn't succeed then it was totally their own pig headed choice. I like to put lazy students into this situation where it is impossible for them not to succeed if they actually do the minimal work set for them. You still however have these students failing because they are utterly lazy or disorganized. But if we are a caring teacher we work on their mindset, their values and attitudes toward work, we support their efforts in trying to become more disciplined, perhaps even give them different visions of their own future if they maintain their laziness vs if they finally get off their butts!

This also is relevant to highly disciplined students who for instance wants to become concerting performers, their teacher should make it a duty of theirs to give the aspiring performer pathways to become a performer, not just the piano work that needs to be done but the other activities that support the reason for doing it. That is all a part of teaching to me, a student wants a teacher to help them become more motivated and have a clearer path for their efforts as well as learn how to play and practice better.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #20 on: February 08, 2017, 01:22:49 AM »
Had to add this :) Funny look on discipline!
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #21 on: February 08, 2017, 05:09:07 AM »
I think you are mistaking the word "efficient" with "enjoyable" because I still don't understand how ONLY doing things whenever you like and doing only things you find interesting improves efficiency. There are also plenty of instance where you "don't know that you don't know" so if you merely study only things that interest you and excite you there is a huge amount of important issues you forget about because it doesn't interest you at the moment, this leaves holes all over in your knowledge.  You must realize that there are things in life that you might not enjoy at the start but can slowly realize its benefits and eventually find enjoyment in it.
Who said you have to be bored or lack of interest? Why would someone study the piano if they are totally not interested in it? There must of course be a reason for why you play but just because you do piano because you love it that doesn't mean you only subject yourself to all the good things about piano only. You try to have a relationship with another human only experiencing the good times with them and not wanting any of the bad at all, you will never have a lasting or rewarding relationship like that.

If you think you can do it better on your own then do it! A teacher helps a huge amount of people improve and deal with things that might be not be so interesting at first but master it. All the students I have come across who ignore my ideas and simply go off on their own generally quit soon after. What is the point in having a teacher if you dictate exactly what should be learned because you will only do what interests you? Outin you really need to reassess how you learn in this world, ONLY doing things that you like is not always the best way that leaves very little room for your to grow as a person.

It seems our thinking is so different that there's no way I'll ever manage to make myself understood :) You interpret things I say in a very different way than what I actually mean because they don't fit your world view. There's a fundamental difference in our thinking, may be partly a cultural difference. Where I come from many old ideas of learning and teaching were abandoned decades ago. It is true that the new ways do not work for all, since they require more willingness and ability to independent thinking and decision making skills. Those who would need a more teacher dictated disciplined approach are often left behind. With individual lessons this is not a problem if the approach is tailored for every student.

You also seem to confuse "like" with "interest". I never said I only do things I like. I try out things to see if I can develope an interest or not. If I can see actual benefit in something that does create interest. So no, I don't really need to reassess my own learning. My way has worked for me through 12 years of schooling, university, professional life and it works for me and my piano teacher. There are very few "must do this way" things in this world really, there are almost always alternative ways. I think it's one type of mental laziness to not look for them and just suffer in silence and wait for an opportunity to quit. But that's just me. Everyone should teach in the way they feel comfortable, but it would be good to understand that there are other ways that work for different individuals. You have students who quit and you put all the blame in them because they would not get motivated by all your efforts. What if they had a different kind of teacher and did not quit? I am not saying you should change your ways, but it is a bit close minded to say that other people should change theirs just because you feel your way is the only right one.

Btw. After 5 years of lessons and learning my way I am now at a point where I feel I can independently study and learn a lot of the music I wanted to learn when I started. What limits me from expanding my repertoire at the moment more than ability is time. I will keep  taking lessons because I think I can still increase my knowledge on music and how to learn it with my teacher and because the little pressure that comes from my lessons motivates me to find time for practice even when it seems impossible. And of course it's always valuable to have a second set of ears to assess what comes out of the piano and another set of brain to help solve technical problems. When I look back I don't have regrets or see much I would do differently except getting a better instrument sooner.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #22 on: February 08, 2017, 06:46:45 AM »
It seems our thinking is so different that there's no way I'll ever manage to make myself understood :)
That should be no reason for you not to be able to explain yourself.

You interpret things I say in a very different way than what I actually mean because they don't fit your world view.
Then explain yourself, it has nothing to do with fitting my "worldview" as you put it.

There's a fundamental difference in our thinking, may be partly a cultural difference.
This still doesn't prevent you from explaining yourself.

Where I come from many old ideas of learning and teaching were abandoned decades ago.
What old ideas?

It is true that the new ways do not work for all, since they require more willingness and ability to independent thinking and decision making skills.
Throughout my post I highlighted assisting my student through processes and disapproved of learning in total isolation.

Those who would need a more teacher dictated disciplined approach are often left behind. With individual lessons this is not a problem if the approach is tailored for every student.
What is a teacher dictated disciplined approach?


You also seem to confuse "like" with "interest".
Also? Who else confused it? You clearly didn't understand the use of the word efficient.

I never said I only do things I like. I try out things to see if I can develope an interest or not.
Semantics.

So no, I don't really need to reassess my own learning.
Then explain yourself clearly, your posts say do it your own way is best, don't listen to a teacher it's not always the best.

My way has worked for me through 12 years of schooling, university, professional life and it works for me and my piano teacher. There are very few "must do this way" things in this world really, there are almost always alternative ways.
Good for you but the majority of mainstream society benefit from a more disciplined approach to their studies. If you think doing everything your own way is best good for you! It however is not adding anything or taking anything away from what I've already written.

I think it's one type of mental laziness to not look for them and just suffer in silence and wait for an opportunity to quit. But that's just me. Everyone should teach in the way they feel comfortable, but it would be good to understand that there are other ways that work for different individuals. You have students who quit and you put all the blame in them because they would not get motivated by all your efforts.
They realize what work they need to put in that's why they quit. They don't feel a failure so your speculation is useless. Those that quit don't do piano with other teachers.

What if they had a different kind of teacher and did not quit? I am not saying you should change your ways, but it is a bit close minded to say that other people should change theirs just because you feel your way is the only right one.
Outin you are going to find the majority of society respects a disciplined approach to work. You might have your marginalised perspective but there is no use you shaking your puny fists at the mainstream.
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Offline outin

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #23 on: February 08, 2017, 07:08:10 AM »
That should be no reason for you not to be able to explain yourself.
Then explain yourself, it has nothing to do with fitting my "worldview" as you put it.
This still doesn't prevent you from explaining yourself.
What old ideas?
Throughout my post I highlighted assisting my student through processes and disapproved of learning in total isolation.
What is a teacher dictated disciplined approach?

Also? Who else confused it? You clearly didn't understand the use of the word efficient.
Semantics.
Then explain yourself clearly, your posts say do it your own way is best, don't listen to a teacher it's not always the best.
Good for you but the majority of mainstream society benefit from a more disciplined approach to their studies. If you think doing everything your own way is best good for you! It however is not adding anything or taking anything away from what I've already written.
They realize what work they need to put in that's why they quit. They don't feel a failure so your speculation is useless. Those that quit don't do piano with other teachers.
Outin you are going to find the majority of society respects a disciplined approach to work. You might have your marginalised perspective but there is no use you shaking your puny fists at the mainstream.

Which society? Are you sure it will be the same when your present young students are grown up? Is it the majority that develope things in society? We would probably still be in caves if the majority's views were always respected...

I'd say at this point the effort needed to make you understand is not really worth my time, because I do not think you really want to.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #24 on: February 08, 2017, 08:36:09 AM »
answering LiW -- what I see (If I can bring it across)

Beginners: When a beginner gets proper guidance, that is also a set-up for the future, for everything.  This guidance includes skills such as physical playing ("technique" incl. how to sit at a comfortable height and distance), reading, listening and hearing yourself and others.  It also includes practice approach: how to go at a piece in stages and parts, how to divide up your time.  "Do piece A, then scale X - repeating each measure 5X" is not a practice instruction.

Following from this: If you are getting the skills and know how to practice, you will get somewhere, and that is motivating.  If you are lost, bulldozing your way through with great effort with iffy results, if any, that is not motivating.  It also can lead to what looks like "laziness".  Of course there are also bad attitudes, students who don't want to study piano - I'm leaving that aside.

A word about the "talented beginner" - there is a danger.  This student may grasp things so fast that he might miss some fundamental things which nobody will notice, but will give him problems later on.  He may learn not to work hard, because he doesn't have to, and later that can be a problem when the music gets more complicated.

Advanced students:  This gets complicated, imho.  Does a given student play well simply because he is "talented", or is it because he is also well taught?  And if a student has weaknesses in his playing - or if he doesn't know how to work on music because of poor teaching - will he lose all chances of ever getting anywhere since the quality of his playing is evidence of how he was taught?  Or should he get a chance at being taught what he is missing?  How about the student with natural talent, where things were skipped so that now there are holes?  (I have conversed with a handful of professional musicians who that happened to, and they had to scramble).

We have attitude and training at opposite ends of the spectrum, and they intermesh.  A student with a poor attitude, who is truly lazy, or does not want to learn to play the piano and thus resists or ignores instruction, will also not get the training since he's ignoring it.  But a student who has poor training, or who is missing a skill that the teacher hasn't caught on to, may become lazy and appear to have a bad attitude because nothing has ever worked.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #25 on: February 08, 2017, 09:14:31 AM »
Trying to tackle the "poor discipline leading to good results", "doing things your own" vs. other concepts i.e. Outin & LiW - maybe finding some third view or something.

In Outin's post I saw a reference to " many old ideas of learning and teaching" having been abandoned in that country.   I suspect something I'll call "empty shell" vs. substance.  A lot of the old traditional ways were shells - the outer form of say Hanon, Inventions, scales, sonatas, whatnot, done in a given order, for 3 hours/day, this in itself did the learning and teaching.  People were rigid about these forms and formalities and some still are.  "Substance" otoh is what these things might contain: an Invention may teach musical patterns and inversions, ways of reading - these same things might be taught in entirely different ways.  If there is a skill or set of knowledge, that is what is needed, but the means to get there can be very varied.  I think it is important to distinguish where what is abandoned is form/formality, or skills and knowledge.

1. I'm assuming that there are some efficient ways of doing things - maybe more than one way.  As a beginner I may not even be aware that this exists.  My teacher will know of some things that are definitely deadly and to be avoided, and lead me to other better ways.  Not working on a piece from beginning to end over and over, is a simple example.  A good teacher will take the lead in the beginning, and also lead you to making discoveries, so that eventually you'll be doing this on your own.

The above is about approaches.  There are also physical skills.  I want guidance in that.  That doesn't mean rigid rules, "hold your hand like a ball" or whatever - it can be an exploration-based guidance, but it's guidance.

This is not about repertoire, I don't think, or at least only as a distant secondary thing.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #26 on: February 08, 2017, 09:24:53 AM »
My schooling started in 1960, in Canada.  By the time I got to high school, the hippy era was in full swing and dying down.  My present teacher is 5 years older, so his first 5 years were in the 1950's, in the US.  I've read the curriculum guidelines (here) pre-1960 and post-1960 and there's a huge difference.  It's a thing we discuss.  In my public school years, every year it seems we were told "Children, this year we are trying an exciting new thing."  Oh, we had freedom!  What I see in the 1950's was substance.

I'm really good at winging it.  I mostly self-taught my own way my whole life.  The school system was empty.  I spent grade 8 reading a novel under my desk and was top of the class.  If something of substance had been taught, that would have been impossible.  The first time I discovered that there were things to be learned was near the end of my 3rd year of private lessons.  Why not before?  Because once again the teaching was based on me doing things my own way.  Finally I discovered by chance that there are the kinds of things I keep writing about: approach, ways to practice, ways to get at skills, tools.  When I got at those things, what I could reach as opposed to before was night and day.  And then when I got a piano again and was looking for instruction there, I had to hunt to find a teacher who would give these things to me.  The first three I encountered all wanted me to use my feelings and instincts, to let go and be spontaneous, and not occupy myself with learning.  I've had almost half a century of that.  No thanks.

But good teaching is not imposing rigid anything.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #27 on: February 08, 2017, 09:53:57 AM »
Thank you KeyPeg, for your insights.

I 100% agree.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #28 on: February 08, 2017, 12:04:16 PM »
Which society? Are you sure it will be the same when your present young students are grown up? Is it the majority that develope things in society? We would probably still be in caves if the majority's views were always respected...
*sigh* The human society on earth. Talking past everything I asked of you, good one outin.

I'd say at this point the effort needed to make you understand is not really worth my time, because I do not think you really want to.
well then shut up and don't respond to my threads lol.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #29 on: February 08, 2017, 12:41:25 PM »
Beginners: When a beginner gets proper guidance, that is also a set-up for the future, for everything.  This guidance includes skills such as physical playing ("technique" incl. how to sit at a comfortable height and distance), reading, listening and hearing yourself and others.  It also includes practice approach: how to go at a piece in stages and parts, how to divide up your time.  "Do piece A, then scale X - repeating each measure 5X" is not a practice instruction.

Following from this: If you are getting the skills and know how to practice, you will get somewhere, and that is motivating.  If you are lost, bulldozing your way through with great effort with iffy results, if any, that is not motivating.  It also can lead to what looks like "laziness".  Of course there are also bad attitudes, students who don't want to study piano - I'm leaving that aside.
That's it, many beginners get to know the tools used to learn effectively, of course what tools they learn to use well depends on them individually you can't just treat everyone exactly the same. As a private tutor we can spend time treating each student individually unlike the classroom situation. We can certainly motivate them to do more work if the tools they have to do the work is sharpened. No one likes doing work if it is confusing or has a super slow learning curve. Motivation in beginners is not too difficult to find but in the more advanced it is no always so obvious and teachers dealing with only these students can easily forget about dealing with it because the student seems to do everything just fine.

A word about the "talented beginner" - there is a danger.  This student may grasp things so fast that he might miss some fundamental things which nobody will notice, but will give him problems later on.  He may learn not to work hard, because he doesn't have to, and later that can be a problem when the music gets more complicated.
I can find this problem with talented young kids who think everything is easy, they knowingly ignore things they don't get and focus on what they can. I call it "musical immaturity" where they just want to get the notes played well but are not interested in fine tuning things whether it is musical or in the way that they practice. They don't care if it takes them many repetitions to solve it and neglect practice routines that would make things more efficient. This is not altogether bad sometimes the student needs to to start caring more about the details and how they are doing things. I feel that from not doing something totally correct to more correct is a good way to learn and it seems to be something that exists in piano playing no matter what level you are. You always find a slightly better way to do something, or an improvement to what you thought was the best, that is ok, we are not perfect and will can always improve (no matter how small that improvement is) if we want to.

I use to tutor maths and would notice students sometimes saying they totally understand a concept or way to solve a problem but then when I tested them to apply that knowledge on their own they made mistakes. You can "think" you know something but have not enough experience applying it to "know" that for a fact. I find that with talented beginner pianists often, it is not altogether bad because sometimes some ideas will solve themselves over time as they are subconsciously thought about over time, but generally if things are brought to conscious attention they tend to improve a lot better and less erratically.

Advanced students:  This gets complicated, imho.  Does a given student play well simply because he is "talented", or is it because he is also well taught?
Yes I think this is something that teachers can often ignore if the student plays well. They merely see the end product of practice and if the results are good they are not interested in how the student got about producing that so long it is done. For the more advanced students they might not think that they need improvement in their practice approach but certainly there are ideas that they might not or improvements on what they already do that a teacher should explore with them.

Yes I am very interested in helping students of all levels play the piano better, make a better interpretation, express their music more effectively etc, this type of teaching is so important and of course a vital duty of a music teacher. However I am also (and probably much more) interested in the rate at which my students learn as that is the bottle neck of their output. If you can expand that bottle neck you increase what they can achieve in their lifetime, very very valuable in my mind. Improving rate of learning is extremely important for so many different reasons, just being able to play harder and harder pieces no matter how long it takes is not the best way to approach music from my experience.

And if a student has weaknesses in his playing - or if he doesn't know how to work on music because of poor teaching - will he lose all chances of ever getting anywhere since the quality of his playing is evidence of how he was taught?  Or should he get a chance at being taught what he is missing?  How about the student with natural talent, where things were skipped so that now there are holes?  (I have conversed with a handful of professional musicians who that happened to, and they had to scramble).
Sometimes what a student is missing cannot be resolved immediately and steps to improvement need to be made. Some teachers merely have a 0 1 type attitude, you either play it right or wrong, increments towards improvement are not considered. This is a difficult issue to talk about because there are some students I teach who I let do some things wrong things because trying to correct it immediately will slow their progress so far down and make everything so mentally exhausting that they would feel stressed out. From my professional experience if you are guiding the student carefully you can let them do things not completely correct and form their method over time, this gives their natural understanding time to absorb the concept then the teacher can go back and work over things that are not improving and question what is restricting the student personally.

I work with my students own hands and minds and form that based on what they have often making small improvements. Often yes you can make abrupt changes to what they are doing because they are thinking about it all wrong and when you show them the correct way it is obvious they have missed it so they make the immediate change, but sometimes the solution can be quite difficult for them to naturally understand and they require time to absorb it naturally and sometimes in many stages. The key word is "natural" because all technique should be a natural effort not something that is constantly consciously observed. If you are playing something that requires you to consciously be aware of a lot then chances are you will make mistakes and feel exhausted by the end of it all. There is a balance needed to be struck up between consciously being aware of things you must improve and what you do naturally with little conscious effort while trying to improve ones playing, you can certainly train a student to deal with more at once but too much and nothing is observed, too little and you can play wrong for too long.


We have attitude and training at opposite ends of the spectrum, and they intermesh.  A student with a poor attitude, who is truly lazy, or does not want to learn to play the piano and thus resists or ignores instruction, will also not get the training since he's ignoring it.  But a student who has poor training, or who is missing a skill that the teacher hasn't caught on to, may become lazy and appear to have a bad attitude because nothing has ever worked.
In my late teens I played at a very high level, not too much lower than what I do now. But my reading skills was really terrible and my rate of learning pieces suffered badly because of this. I hated sight reading until it came to a critical point where I no longer could resist it (I started teaching students who read much better than me and many would bring pieces I couldn't play by sight.) This is only one example, take an aspiring concert pianist who is never told how to build a career in performance. They will start hating performance because they never were told how to do it, they will become bitter than they are not given the opportunity to perform for the community etc etc. A teachers duty is to find issues that are restricting their students and guide them through the process. None of my teacher I had explained how to get better at reading they knew I was a weak reader but because I played all the works set fine they saw no problem with it, in fact some were impressed with my memorization skills. But this is not right in my mind, you need to as a teacher deal with your students weaknesses not just massage their strengths.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #30 on: February 08, 2017, 05:35:01 PM »
Continuing the conversation. :)
That's it, many beginners get to know the tools used to learn effectively, of course what tools they learn to use well depends on them individually you can't just treat everyone exactly the same.
This will be reflecting your teaching of your students, ofc. But there are teachers who don't give tools and simply give their students more advanced music along higher grade levels, and/or they don't teach how to practice.  At that point, behaviour and motivation may shift to the non-teaching as cause.
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As a private tutor we can spend time treating each student individually unlike the classroom situation. We can certainly motivate them to do more work if the tools they have to do the work is sharpened.
exactly!
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I can find this problem with talented young kids who think everything is easy, they knowingly ignore things they don't get and focus on what they can. I call it "musical immaturity" where they just want to get the notes played well but are not interested in fine tuning things whether it is musical or in the way that they practice. They don't care if it takes them many repetitions to solve it and neglect practice routines that would make things more efficient.
What I am seeing is that possibly a talented student for whom things come easily in the beginning may have never learned to work on things strategically, and so literally doesn't know this exists.  That this can be a trap.  The first time I read of this, it was on the site of Martha Beth Lews, a senior piano teacher who wrote a lot of things about teaching and learning styles.  The penny dropped for a few things.
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I use to tutor maths and would notice students sometimes saying they totally understand a concept or way to solve a problem but then when I tested them to apply that knowledge on their own they made mistakes. You can "think" you know something but have not enough experience applying it to "know" that for a fact.
I tutored math at around the gr. 7 - 9 level, and often I found that the underlying problem had to do with basic concepts that should have been taught at the gr. 2 level (the grade I used to teach).  They had been taught to pass tests and memorize things.  When we went back to actual fundamental concepts at that level, suddenly the gr. 9 problem cleared itself up like magic.  Unlike the students you tutored, these kids didn't think they totally understood everything: they thought they understood nothing and that they were hopelessly stupid.  They weren't!
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.... but generally if things are brought to conscious attention they tend to improve a lot better and less erratically. 
This makes sense to me.
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However I am also (and probably much more) interested in the rate at which my students learn as that is the bottle neck of their output. If you can expand that bottle neck you increase what they can achieve in their lifetime, very very valuable in my mind. Improving rate of learning is extremely important for so many different reasons, just being able to play harder and harder pieces no matter how long it takes is not the best way to approach music from my experience.
I like your metaphor of "bottle neck" - I think I'll borrow it. ;)  In my own journey as a student, with that first instrument, one day in about my 3rd year I was working yet again on a piece that had barely budged in 5 weeks.  One day I turned my back on it - literally - and worked on a technical challenge within that piece.  I had been "too busy" to get at technical skills because of having to prepare pieces.   I spent the week working on that technique, and when I next played the piece in front of my teacher -- the piece I had not touched all week --- it was much improved.  When he suggested to do this or that, I was capable of doing it, because I had gotten the technical ability.  I advanced more in a week than I had in a month - the bottle neck metaphor is a nice one!
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Sometimes what a student is missing cannot be resolved immediately and steps to improvement need to be made. Some teachers merely have a 0 1 type attitude, you either play it right or wrong, increments towards improvement are not considered.
Should such people be called teachers? ;)
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This is a difficult issue to talk about because there are some students I teach who I let do some things wrong things because trying to correct it immediately will slow their progress so far down and make everything so mentally exhausting that they would feel stressed out.
Triage.  Put out the most serious fires first.
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From my professional experience if you are guiding the student carefully you can let them do things not completely correct and form their method over time, this gives their natural understanding time to absorb the concept then the teacher can go back and work over things that are not improving and question what is restricting the student personally. 
This is also logical.

Some years ago I studied for a brief period with a teacher who believed that every beginning step had to be perfect, and if you learned it imperfectly, you were doomed to carry that imperfection in your playing forever afterward.  As a whole, I eventually rejected it.  Some things I keep.  If every time I sit down at the piano I make sure I'm at a good height and distance, and start in a relaxed balanced manner, this becomes a habit that will be there for me as a default.  But for other things: babies learn by having things gradually come into focus.  They move from imperfection to perfection.  The kid that stumbles around, aptly called a "toddler", and can't pronounced words to save his life, saying "want apple" - that kid may become a ballerina, an orator, or opera singer.  He did not start with "perfection"!
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I work with my students own hands and minds and form that based on what they have often making small improvements. Often yes you can make abrupt changes to what they are doing because they are thinking about it all wrong and when you show them the correct way it is obvious they have missed it so they make the immediate change, but sometimes the solution can be quite difficult for them to naturally understand and they require time to absorb it naturally and sometimes in many stages. The key word is "natural" because all technique should be a natural effort not something that is constantly consciously observed. If you are playing something that requires you to consciously be aware of a lot then chances are you will make mistakes and feel exhausted by the end of it all. There is a balance needed to be struck up between consciously being aware of things you must improve and what you do naturally with little conscious effort while trying to improve ones playing, you can certainly train a student to deal with more at once but too much and nothing is observed, too little and you can play wrong for too long.
I like this whole paragraph.
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In my late teens I played at a very high level, not too much lower than what I do now. But my reading skills was really terrible and my rate of learning pieces suffered badly because of this. I hated sight reading until it came to a critical point where I no longer could resist it (I started teaching students who read much better than me and many would bring pieces I couldn't play by sight.)
Yes, that would be a "missing skill" which a teacher might not catch on to if the student is talented in many other ways.  In your example, there was a particular time that you needed this skill and took steps to get it.
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A teachers duty is to find issues that are restricting their students and guide them through the process. None of my teacher I had explained how to get better at reading they knew I was a weak reader but because I played all the works set fine they saw no problem with it, in fact some were impressed with my memorization skills. But this is not right in my mind, you need to as a teacher deal with your students weaknesses not just massage their strengths.
Absolutely!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #31 on: February 08, 2017, 06:38:41 PM »
In case it's of interest, this is Martha Beth's article on the topic, which I read about ten years ago:
http://www.marthabeth.com/gifted_students.html

Offline Bob

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #32 on: February 09, 2017, 05:36:49 AM »
What about time?  I don't think 30 min cuts it if they're doing an awesome job.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #33 on: February 09, 2017, 12:38:11 PM »
What about time?  I don't think 30 min cuts it if they're doing an awesome job.
Lesson time?

Offline Bob

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #34 on: February 11, 2017, 01:34:57 AM »
Yes, lesson time.  30 min once a week seems ok for a "normal, average" student.  If the kid does well, they would work on harder pieces, maybe more pieces, maybe other areas in music.  It takes more lesson time.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #35 on: February 13, 2017, 05:43:50 AM »
Yes, lesson time.  30 min once a week seems ok for a "normal, average" student.  If the kid does well, they would work on harder pieces, maybe more pieces, maybe other areas in music.  It takes more lesson time.
I would think that the student needing more help would also benefit from more time.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #36 on: February 13, 2017, 05:06:26 PM »
Yes, lesson time.  30 min once a week seems ok for a "normal, average" student.  If the kid does well, they would work on harder pieces, maybe more pieces, maybe other areas in music.  It takes more lesson time.

Some good thoughts above.

With respect to time, that might vary with the individual.

With the normal average student, there is little value beyond the point where concentration goes away.  That point might be less than 30 minutes for some.  I run a handbell ensemble.  I would love to go beyond an hour to be able to teach more and prepare more difficult pieces, but at that point I've reached their limit. 

With an enrichment student - one who isn't seriously working hard at reaching a high level of skill, but was sent by his parents and is reasonably cooperative - you might be able to go to 90 minutes.  It becomes mostly a practice session, but concentration need not flag, as you're making it fun. 

With a serious talented student, you might be able to do a short lesson and let her get back to the real development taking place at home.  My teacher does not think it is efficient to target more than one thing at a time anyway. 
Tim

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #37 on: February 14, 2017, 03:38:46 AM »
But there are teachers who don't give tools and simply give their students more advanced music along higher grade levels, and/or they don't teach how to practice.  
It seems to be the sad state of things throughout this world especially those who are doing examinations which focus only on small number of pieces to get to the next grade level. The teachers are just caught up over polishing few pieces that the practice method to initially get the pieces under the hand is not given much attention to. Often students spend an entire year preparing for an examination playing a handful of pieces over and over again polishing it as far as it can go.

Many students then get the false impression that learning pieces is always a drawn out process that takes months and months. They never get to realize learning pieces at a fast rate and playing them immediately with mastery thorough good reading skills. They don't take time to see pattern in many many pieces and seeing how this is found in all other pieces. Teachers who deal with highly talented student often altogether ignore practice tools because the student does well on their own. It is not a good teaching service imho. Once the teacher can no longer improve the student or has no vision themselves to do so, they shouldn't be teaching the student. Dealing with talented students you can simply work on polishing pieces and think you are teaching them heaps where you really do need to work on their learning tools just as you do so with the less talented.

What I am seeing is that possibly a talented student for whom things come easily in the beginning may have never learned to work on things strategically, and so literally doesn't know this exists.  That this can be a trap.  
Exactly often the teacher sets the talented student the work and then the next lesson it is all done well, some teachers however do not question the process it took to get there, so long it looks good it doesn't matter to them how they got there. A talented student might be relying on skills that are not so efficient but because they know no other way that is all they can use. Brute force repetitions and poor reading skills might be a problem holding back their efficiency but the teacher never considers it because the work set is satisfied. When dealing with talented students it is very important to challenge them and it is not just getting more difficult pieces for them to learn.

I tutored math at around the gr. 7 - 9 level, and often I found that the underlying problem had to do with basic concepts..... They had been taught to pass tests and memorize things.  When we went back to actual fundamental concepts at that level, suddenly the gr. 9 problem cleared itself up like magic.  Unlike the students you tutored, these kids didn't think they totally understood everything: they thought they understood nothing and that they were hopelessly stupid.  They weren't!
I think both situations are however with a problem of application of knowledge. You can have the tools and the know how but if you do not practice applying the ideas, see them in action and observe how they effect you personally, it will not mean much. In my lessons I can go through proper practice methods with the student and they can appreciate it, understand it, recreate it on their own, but I find some get overly confident and then do not practice it on their own enough.

The reason I bought up application of knowledge was because with talented students often certain applications of knowledge in terms of practice method can be missed by their teachers. Because they do all their work so well the teachers ignore application of practice tools, they fully trust the students methodology because the results are satisfied. This of course can cause problems as we both have described and it is something that when dealing with most other students is an obvious issue to improve.

Also some talented beginners are plagued with "musical immaturity" in that because they can learn something in a certain way they are unwilling to change because it doesn't interest them or what they currently do is good enough for them for example: a young kid who is a clever "button pusher" and can play all the notes of a piece accurately and confidently but is not overly interested in expressing them beautifully, or those that are very good at memorizing so neglect to improve their reading skills. Dealing with talented students is tricky you cant stifle a talented child to want to play more musically if they are just interested in getting the right notes down and get that comfortable in their hands, you do have to let them go until they decide it is important to improve in some situations but in others the teacher should make the student aware of their short comings. Just because you can pass tests and get good marks they think that is good enough, why do I still have final grade students in examinations come to me with poor reading skills and slow learning capabilities? They are very good pianists but they have holes all over because they simply passed tests cleverly. It is the fault of the system that they have put their trust in, unfortunately getting high grades on exams still means everything these days.


Some years ago I studied for a brief period with a teacher who believed that every beginning step had to be perfect, and if you learned it imperfectly, you were doomed to carry that imperfection in your playing forever afterward.  As a whole, I eventually rejected it.  Some things I keep.  If every time I sit down at the piano I make sure I'm at a good height and distance, and start in a relaxed balanced manner, this becomes a habit that will be there for me as a default.  But for other things: babies learn by having things gradually come into focus.  They move from imperfection to perfection.  The kid that stumbles around, aptly called a "toddler", and can't pronounced words to save his life, saying "want apple" - that kid may become a ballerina, an orator, or opera singer.  He did not start with "perfection"!I like this whole paragraph.Yes, that would be a "missing skill" which a teacher might not catch on to if the student is talented in many other ways.  In your example, there was a particular time that you needed this skill and took steps to get it.Absolutely!
Yes I totally agree with all of this. A teacher who wants you to do everything correct from the beginning will not allow you to play the piano naturally, it will always be somewhat a conscious effort. The main problem I see is in the the application of the knowledge. If you tirelessly try to parrot perfect movements in a single piece before moving on, then the next piece you come across you might again have to recreate the whole wheel again, and again, and again. Super slow and inefficient. So instead we learn many pieces to the best of our abilities and form our technique as a whole, as we make changes we will see improvement to the whole picture of the many pieces you can play. Through applying knowledge in many examples we will naturally solve many issues without forcing it and then issues which are not correcting themselves will become more obvious and then we can put our attention towards that. This overall view is much more natural and application of the knowledge will be well known, parroting good movements in few pieces will not be helpful since application is severely limited.


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Offline j_tour

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #38 on: February 14, 2017, 06:30:14 PM »
This seems to have turned into a focus on discipline -- not that I disagree.  I happen to think as an absolute preliminary to advanced studies in whatever discipline, the student should have learned a Western classical language (Homeric Greek, Latin, for examples), and two Western European languages in addition to their mother tongues.  Speaking for Western culture of course -- I don't think it's too much of a leap to make, since the keyboard instruments and functional harmony seem to be the focus of these forums.

However, there's a small parable that La Rochefoucauld expressed, which I think is kind of appropriate.  You might paraphrase it like, "if someone performs something from lack of ability to perform otherwise, it's no test at all."

I think one of those pop-psychology drivel people rephrased it like "if you want a candy bar and have no change for the vending machine, it's not exactly to your credit that you resisted the urge."  Whereas the man with the proverbial "shitload of dimes," well, he has self-control.

I don't see a timid, fearful, docile student who learns his or her self-control at the discipline of music and study by coercion as anything more than a little robot, lacking in important values, and, arguably, having developed a respect which is not worthy of the name. 

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #39 on: February 14, 2017, 07:18:53 PM »
Is it advanced studies that were being discussed?

Offline Bob

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #40 on: February 15, 2017, 02:29:26 AM »
On the other hands, assuming the student does what you say, you can work on your own teaching by having a student who models your concepts.  It is nice and can be kind of scary when it happens and you're aware of flaws, etc.

If they're really gifted, they'll go beyond to reach whatever they think is the goal though, beyond what you taught.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #41 on: February 15, 2017, 03:27:42 AM »
This seems to have turned into a focus on discipline...
I think when teaching highly talented this can be easily missed as an issue. Maybe not so much discipline itself in advanced students but focus where they apply it. Discipline itself is such an obvious issue to improve in many struggling musicians but when dealing with the highly talented it can seem that where they focus their attention doesn't need to be questioned at all because the results they produce is good.

I don't see a timid, fearful, docile student who learns his or her self-control at the discipline of music and study by coercion as anything more than a little robot, lacking in important values, and, arguably, having developed a respect which is not worthy of the name.  
We all are "programmable" in one way or another not everything we do in life is something we really want to do, we are often forced to do things that benefit us but we don't necessarily enjoy it. Many young kids learn about discipline through many activities whether it be piano, karate lessons, sports, etc etc. If you want to get better you have to work at it, and working at it is not always fun and games but hard work, a good teacher will make the process of work understandable and thus somewhat enjoyable however.  What really limits people is how well they can focus their attention and how consistent they are. I have seen so often with the hundreds of students I've dealt with over the years that when they improve their discipline it improves a lot in their life not just the subject they are trying to improve in. Their attitude towards work changes, they know they can control their time and feel empowered that they can get difficult tasks done successfully. With regards to talented students it can be easy to ignore where they are applying their attention because their results are so good. For example a talented memorizer who has poor reading skills may never learn how to read well because their teacher don't consider it a problem since the results are good.

Discipline was a good issue to consider because it is an obvious issue to improve in lesser students and can seem perfect in the highly talented. However should we be teaching students if we don't think we can improve their discipline or where they focus their attention at least? Shouldn't we work on their weaknesses? When teaching only the talented some teachers only massage their strengths.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Why teach only the highly talented?
«Reply #42 on: February 15, 2017, 09:55:55 AM »
Lostinidlewonder - In regards to your response to me - we seem to be totally in sync with everything so there is nothing to add: it would only risk taking away from it.

I do want to clarify the part I wrote about math, the gr. 2 concepts being needed by the gr. 9 kids stuck with algebra.  This was not a case of learning to apply what is learned, but a flaw in how the gr. 2 material was taught.  The main grade that I taught in the school system was gr. 2, and the first grades is where concepts should be taught.  A concept is much harder to get at, than using that concept later on.

In basic math we have addition and subtraction, with multiplication and division being a shorthand version of these.  The mistake that is made is to have kids memorize number facts, and think they have learned everything when they can get right answers in test papers.  Meanwhile the concept of addition and subtraction is that you have a bunch of things, another bunch of things, and then a total which is both of those bunch of things.  There is a relationship.  You get at it by manipulating objects.  If you get this, then 6 + x = 8, solve x, is not a problem. a(b+c) = ab + ac is not a problem.  You don't have to memorize a thousand formulas about "distribution" and whatnot in a blind way, because it's real for you. 3 - 7 or 3 X (-7) stops being scary.  What I did with these grade 8 & 9 students, was to bring them back to basic concepts.  They never had those basic concepts in the first place.  They had memorized number facts and passed tests.

There are parallels to music.  What if I played relatively advanced music, but I never realized that notes on two adjacent spaces form a skip or a third?  Or (in my case) note values were whole, half, quarter, eighth, really really fast notes you rush through, and even faster notes you rush through even faster.   A complicated rhythm is not one you work out, because you don't know how to, because you never learned the relative value of notes and how to divide them up - so you wing it.  Do you actually really understand beat vs. note value vs. rhythm?  Did you get taught that a quarter note is "1 beat" and still apply that to 3/8 time or 4/2?  My impression is that we get rushed through basic concepts in order to get at the music.  Or, we perceive the music as a whole, and never really get at basic concepts.

This has been a bee in my particular bonnet, since it's where I fell short.  I don't know if it's so for any kind of majority.