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The Van Cliburn Memorial Concert 2014

To mark the one-year anniversary of the death of legendary pianist Van Cliburn, the Fort Worth-based foundation that bears his name hosted The Van Cliburn Memorial Concert in Sundance Square Plaza on February 27. Hear eight former Cliburn Competition award winners perform short solo recitals on the outdoor stage of the plaza in downtown Fort Worth. Read more >>

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Author Topic: How to choose the best piano teacher?  (Read 1599 times)
wkmt
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« on: March 24, 2017, 08:55:25 PM »

Finding a good piano teacher is always a challenge. Particularly when we are beginners and we don’t know what to look for.

Should we ask for a CV? Should we ask for references? Should we ask our friends?....

After years of trying to find out the best way to go about it I finally came up with a guide on how to identify for sure the best professional.

It needs to be a good and intelligent artist. Why?

I have heard many times that is not necessary to be a superlative concert pianist to be a great teacher. True, but…

If you find a super talented pianist who teaches, then you are safe for sure. Any well-rounded artist will know the musical matter in the the way needed to deliver a top-quality piano lesson. Who can be better to teach you than someone who knows music to perfection? So, for those ones who say: “someone doesn’t need to be a great pianist to teach”; ask yourselves? Have you ever taken a lesson with a real concert pianist - and I mean a real one, not just someone who claims to be Martha Argerich Smiley!?

The same intelligence artists apply to their performances can be applied to deliver wonderful teaching. Why?
Because you need to be very smart to be able to position yourself in the place of your student - to try and think as he thinks- so you can deliver the exact information he is missing. Good teaching is about dealing with complex intellectual processes... Someone who has mastered the mysteries of piano performance is prone to be more successful in understanding the learning process than someone who is still in the process of understanding music himself…

2. He needs to be established, or at least his studio needs to be established.

Money is always the enemy of honesty. I wouldn’t suggest to go for someone who is not doing very well. Why? Because, that professional would do whatever he considers necessary to keep you as his student. But, isn’t that great?! Not really, because he won’t be able to tell you the truth. You need to be taught by someone who is enjoying teaching you in an very honest way. Someone who can live without you. That’s the only way he will be able to guide you properly without having to wrap up everything too nicely or to skip some indications entirely just to make sure he doesn’t upset you...

3. He needs to have time to practise

If you find out your teacher is delivering 10 hours of teaching every day, then you are in trouble. No artist can keep up with that sort of schedule. Teaching is very energy consuming. Your teacher needs to be a well-balanced individual who has a musical discipline and therefore can teach you how to develop one. It is not advisable to deliver more than 25 hours of solid teaching. Basically because after that, it stops being solid teaching...

4. He needs to be reliable

Stay away from too eccentric personalities. Musicians can end being quite frustrated individuals you need to make sure you don’t get swallowed inside the storm of lives he can carry with them. These sort of characters will not be able to provide you with the sort of continuity you need to count on for your training.

5. Recordings

Everyone looks great on papers. For that reason, you need to check if your teacher has any professional recordings published on the internet -Youtube, Vimeo... It doesn’t matter if they are ancient, but at least you should find something there. A good pianist will always has a comprehensive collection of professional video recordings online to promote his own artistry.

6. Strong personality

The most famous piano teaching tradition comes from Europe. The relationship between student and teacher is almost spiritual. You need to be musically lead by someone who knows what he is doing, who is proud of it and who can save your time and money by making assertive non argumentative decisions. 

www.wkmt.co.uk
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iansinclair
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 02:45:55 AM »

I'm not sure I totally agree.  I do, in sort of general terms, but... I really don't have time tonight to go into it in detail, but a couple of points do strike me.

First, about the money.  True, you don't want someone who regards you as lunch.  However, if you confine yourself to established teachers, you may be overlooking someone just starting to teach who would be exactly the person you want, or you may be overlooking someone who teaches just a few people because she truly loves doing it, and doesn't need the money.  I've seen both situations.

Second, your teacher does not necessarily have to be a great pianist.  He or she does, however, have to be a truly great listener and musician.  The two are by no means synonymous.  Indeed, if you yourself are getting near the top rank, it is quite likely that your teacher may not be as good a pianist as you are.  If you are at the top rank, he or she almost certainly won't be.  But that doesn't matter if he or she can listen to what you are doing, and listen to what you want to do, and help you figure out how to get from the one to the other.

And the last comment I'll make tonight is that nothing -- nothing at all -- will work if you and your teacher are not at least somewhat sympathetic in terms of musicianship.  If you are young and starting out, this is not so much of a problem.  If you are older, though, and more experienced, you and your teacher absolutely must share a similar approach to music in general and the piano in particular.
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Ian
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2017, 08:29:38 AM »

Ian,
I agree with your comments:   generalizations such in as in the OP are often based on airy assumptions which may not be valid.  I would add a couple of other comments;   and yes, I have taken lessons from a former concert pianist who now only teaches,  as well as teachers who have never been a concert pianist.  They are all great from a pedagogical perspective.  

I have also briefly had  a concert pianist/university instructor  who was the worst instructor imaginable.   He knew how to play, he did not know how to teach.

#5 recordings:  this is not necessarily a prerequisite to being a great pianist/great teacher.   Two of the instructors I have do not have professional recordings on the internet.They are in their 70s/80s,  and had many years of excellence long before YouTube channels;  they do not need to 'promote their own artistry' as they are not interested in building a large studio through their blogs and websites such as the OP is.  

#2 Size of studio:   Another assumption that needs inspection.  My instructors have small  studios:  not because they are not thriving, but they do not want more at this point in their lives. They are comfortable financially and just want to continue teaching a few students as part of semi-retirement.
I will add that assuming a teacher is good because he/she is part of an established studio, or teaches at a university is a false assumption.    

Generalizations of a 'one size fits all' instructor do not hold weight:  consider a beginning student. Does he need a concert pianist as an instructor?   No.  He needs an instructor who is skilled in teaching skill building.

What I would recommend is  a more personal, less exclusionary approach to having a good teacher:  evaluate each one on individual merits of the teacher.  




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keypeg
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2017, 04:25:39 PM »

I disagree on every point, especially if this is addressed to students starting out for the first time.  '

The teacher of a beginner-to-intermediate must be a specialist in this area.  This teacher establishes every basic foundation at a time when not a single one exists.  It requires a certain kind of mindset, awareness, an ability to organize your teaching around this priority, to observe and problem-solve.  There are excellent teachers in this area who are also concert pianists, and many more who have not decided to pursue that career.

Quote
Any well-rounded artist will know the musical matter in the the way needed to deliver a top-quality piano lesson.
The "musical matters" can be such things as "bring out the melody", "highlight the important notes, listen, like this", "pedal more subtly".  A piece of music may be assigned - maybe first demonstrated by this teacher for how it can sound - for the student to take home and practice.  To do any of things, the student first needs the TOOLS, and these should be developed by a primary teacher whose value is greatly undervalued, and whose work is often misunderstood.

There are boring and mundane things like learning to sit and move in a comfortable position. Learn to read music and what that entails.  How to develop even a small piece at home in practising, and how that practising is done - having this developed over time.  Very often the musician who can teach you a myriad of interesting things about the music does not have the patience or the character to develop those kinds of skills.  Nor the expertise.  His expertise lies elsewhere.

It is the adult student who suffers from this the most, often going to a lofty institution in the hope of getting good instruction, looking for a teacher who is a performer, and then lost and over his head because he is being asked to do things without having been given the tools.
Quote
If you find a super talented pianist who teaches...
The word "talent" is much too vague.  If he has talent in teaching itself, then perhaps.  However, the word "talent" connotes a raw potential.  In a teacher I want someone who has developed knowledge and skill.  He must bridge two worlds, and giving basic skills is the first priority for me.
Quote
After years of trying to find out the best way to go about it ....
Did you spend years trying to find a good teacher to teach you at a fundamental level?  That is not possible since you learned since childhood, and I think you had good teachers from the start.  Or do you mean that you spent years trying to find a good teacher at an advanced level?  Your guidelines may indeed help someone who is looking for teaching at an advanced level, someone who already has basic skills solidly.
By coincidence, I did spend years looking into finding a good teacher at the elementary level.  My guidelines and conclusions are very different from yours.
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. Who can be better to teach you than someone who knows music to perfection?
It is a fact via the experience of a number of people whose stories I know that knowing music to perfection does not necessarily relate to knowing how to develop a student from scratch.
Quote
The same intelligence artists apply to their performances can be applied to deliver wonderful teaching. Why?
Because you need to be very smart to be able to position yourself in the place of your student - to try and think as he thinks- ....
No, there is more to it than that.  There is specific knowledge to be applied, and experience in a particular area.
Quote
Have you ever taken a lesson with a real concert pianist
Yes.
One who also has expertise in teaching, because he has spent years and decades looking into this and honing it, specifically.
Quote
. I wouldn’t suggest to go for someone who is not doing very well. Why? Because, that professional would do whatever he considers necessary to keep you as his student. 
I disagree on a number of counts.  First, we can say that a number of charlatans do very well, because they know how to market themselves, how to go toward what is popular, and what sells.  They know how to bluster and fool the public.  Secondly, I have personally worked with several teachers who were doing less well financially because of their integrity, because they did not play the game.  The bottom line is that financial success or a reputation in neon lights, neither of these things are an indicator either way of good teaching ability.  The only way to tell is by observing.  This starts, as a student, by getting enough knowledge yourself so that you don't get taken in!
Quote
If you find out your teacher is delivering 10 hours of teaching every day, then you are in trouble. No artist can keep up with that sort of schedule. Teaching is very energy consuming. Your teacher needs to be a well-balanced individual who has a musical discipline and therefore can teach you how to develop one. It is not advisable to deliver more than 25 hours of solid teaching. Basically because after that, it stops being solid teaching...
I do tend to agree with that. Smiley
Quote
5. Recordings

Everyone looks great on papers. For that reason, you need to check if your teacher has any professional recordings published on the internet -Youtube, Vimeo... It doesn’t matter if they are ancient, but at least you should find something there. A good pianist will always has a comprehensive collection of professional video recordings online to promote his own artistry.
No - I disagree.  I'm not looking to hire someone to perform at my venue.  I'm looking to be taught.  I have watched recordings of excellent artists who also taught and also featured their students' recitals - some of them show up major teaching flaws in the essentials I wrote about.  I have also worked with some very excellent teachers in recent years who do not feature their playing on Youtube.  And no, a good pianist does not always have a collection of recordings on-line (professional or otherwise).
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keypeg
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2017, 04:51:53 PM »

Finding a good piano teacher as a beginner - what my own research and experience as a student (I also have a teaching background and credentials) have shown me.  I think we can assume that the student is an adult, since children don't go about trying to find a good piano teacher as beginners.

First, if you've never had music lessons before, find out what it's about.  If you did have lessons as a child, but suspect there was something iffy about them, find out what it's about.  I suggest that the goal of lessons is to be able to play music on an instrument, reasonably well.  This means acquiring knowledge and skills both in regards to the instrument, and in regards to music.  There is "project oriented" teaching that aims at pieces and pays less attention to skills, and "process oriented" teaching that aims at developing the student (skills etc.) and uses pieces to do so.  Personally I prefer "process".  Some of the things you will need to acquire are "technique" (how to use the body effectively on the instrument), "theory" in a practical applicable way, probably reading skills, and what I call "approach".  By "approach" I mean what you actually do in practising to get at what you are trying to reach.

Do not assume that teachers necessarily have these goals in mind, especially for adults.  Many believe, or have found, that adults want quick results, don't want to work too hard or too long, and so they offer shortcuts, simplified music like melody with block chords.  Or they believe that adults are impatient, want to go fast, sound impressive in a short time, and so they rush the levels.  Others are fooled by the intellectual abstract reasoning adults have, and will skip more concrete steps. ........... If you know that your goal is that of getting the skills, and you communicate with a teacher that this is what you want, and you will do what is needed - then you are more likely to get this from a teacher who is capable of giving it.

Listen to how a prospective teacher presents his teaching, what he says he'll ask of you (if he does), what he promises, what he checks (if you've played before) - try to see the attitude and goals.  If you're told that you will be able to advance super fast and impress your friends, I'd tend to run.  I'd also be cautious of the teacher wants to impress me with how wonderful he sounds when he plays.  It might be ok if he says "This is the kind of skill I want to teach you, and this is what it will enable you to do."

When you do have a good teacher who takes you seriously, work with him, consistently, over the long run.  That means working in the manner that he suggests you work when you practice at home, toward the goals he sets for you, but intelligently.  It means every single week for at least 5 days a week, aiming for 7, for several years.  Many teachers have been burned, especially by older students, who come in enthusiastically and then start to fade in their commitment.  If you do the same, you will make it harder for the next adult student to get accepted.
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dogperson
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2017, 05:43:06 PM »

I hope other begining adult students read Keypeg's post:
Teachers are reluctant to take new adult students, as they have been burnt by adults who want a quick, easy way to learning the piano.  My current teacher, who is very exacting, had a recent adult who quit shortly after starting, when he discovered learning is not quick and not easy.   It is a good thing she already had adults who don't think that way.

Don't be the adult looking to skip through principles as a means of finding the easy way out....there is no quick, easy way.  It is a journey down the road with no end.
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huaidongxi
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2017, 07:02:42 PM »

thank you everyone, for your thoughtful responses.  will be taking instruction as an adult beginner, myself, in the near future.  goals will be to increase my efficiency (practising a minimum of 70-80 min. daily at present, sometimes twice that) by learning proper posture, arm/hand position, warm up exercises, and continue my focus on a small number of pieces.[Bach WTC I excerpts, Beethoven, Schubert, Bartok]
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themeandvariation
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2017, 07:56:19 PM »

This view regarding  'adult piano learners' -
"Do not assume that teachers necessarily have these goals in mind, especially for adults.  Many believe, or have found, that adults want quick results, don't want to work too hard or too long,.."
 
has now been reinforced…

"Teachers are reluctant to take new adult students, as they have been burnt by adults who want a quick, easy way to learning the piano.  My current teacher, who is very exacting, had a recent adult who quit shortly after starting, when he discovered learning is not quick and not easy."
 
This has not been my experience at all… Very mostly - adults bring an earnestness to the task - whereas in younger ones, that quality of steadfastness is not so developed, and can be bumpy.. The mature adult is very conscious of the limits of time (determined!)in any given week, and knows they won't get anywhere if they do not dedicate themselves - much more so than the young ones… Yes, of course, there are qualities that are easier to develop for younger ones..
When older ones 'fall off', it is most often because their circumstances have changed, or that they have tried to juggle it in schedule, but after trying - find that they cannot.  
Also, and i think more significantly, a certain 'chemistry'  is more necessary between adult student and teacher…
Currently, (and usually) adult students make up about a third of those i teach.  (many have been with me for years..)
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keypeg
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 10:15:29 PM »

This view regarding  'adult piano learners' -
"Do not assume that teachers necessarily have these goals in mind, especially for adults.  Many believe, or have found, that adults want quick results, don't want to work too hard or too long,.."
 
has now been reinforced…
If you take that snippet by itself it will have a different meaning than what I wrote.  I am very careful in my writing and don't like small sections to be taken in isolation, since it tends to distort what I hope are important points.  My advice to adult students was to know before starting out that their goal is to get the skills etc. that I listed.  The attitude and assumptions by teachers does exist, and if you are not aware of it, and act pre-emptively, then you can fall into a hole.  Not everyone will be lucky enough to come to Themeandvarations, i.e. to you. Wink  The reason I wrote what I do comes from my own experience, and from what I have seen in helping other adults come out of situations they found themselves in.

When you write all the positive things that you have, then you are reinforcing my actual point and what I'm trying to get across.  Thank you for writing these things. Smiley  Also, when you, as a teacher, work toward giving skills rather than shortcuts or gratification, then you are also setting up your student for working steadily.  A poorly taught student cannot sustain the momentum, because the struggle and confusion are too great.  It becomes a bad circle.  I do thing we're on the same page.
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themeandvariation
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2017, 10:42:22 PM »

Sorry, Keypeg.
I wasn't meaning to characterize the whole of your post - as i am in much agreement - but when i saw that 'snippet' of your post catching some steam, i wanted to respond to Just that bit of it..
(i didn't attribute your name - or 'dog person' because of it being out of context of the whole..
i like my adult students Smiley  (and have not been 'burned') Smiley
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keypeg
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2017, 11:34:42 PM »

Sorry, Keypeg.
I wasn't meaning to characterize the whole of your post - as i am in much agreement - but when i saw that 'snippet' of your post catching some steam, i wanted to respond to Just that bit of it..
Thanks T&V.  In fact, I was a bit concerned when that part of my post got quoted previously, the part advising students to do their homework like good students so to say, essentially for the reason that motivated you.

The whole thing can create a nasty circle.  You start with a teacher who thinks you want the easy & superficially impressive route.  You don't get the tools, and you also don't get the approach.  Practising - how to practise - itself is an art, a mindset, and a mentality.  How you work, which is also related to how you've been taught, affects how you play.  If you go to another teacher as a transfer, you are presenting yourself according to how you have been formed by all this.  The bottom line in view of this thread is that the role of a teacher who forms the beginner and beginner/intermediate is a tricky one.  Being a good performer is not nearly enough. 
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2017, 01:32:03 AM »

Ill add I disagree with pretty much everything said. No I will not give any detailed advice because I know this poster has the tendency to use our posts without our permission to decorate their own website.


If you find a super talented pianist who teaches, then you are safe for sure.
You can't just make it all intellectually assessed you actually need to test them and see it in action otherwise you will not be safe FOR SURE.

The same intelligence artists apply to their performances can be applied to deliver wonderful teaching.
Silly generalization which will not work 100% of the time or even a high % of the time.

2. He needs to be established, or at least his studio needs to be established.
What about great teachers who have just started out? Everyone needs to start somewhere, if you take this attitude then no one ever can have a starting point. New teachers can have inspiration and excitement and willingness to learn new things.

3. He needs to have time to practise
HE?Huh What about SHE pianists? And what are you going to do follow the teacher and watch their daily habits? Your hour estimations are also silly, people are individuals, some people thrive with a lot of work others not so, how can you put everyone in one box?

4. He needs to be reliable
I don't think you highlighted what reliable should mean here appropriately. Also there are women who teach you know?


5. Recordings
Don't be silly. Someone who records themselves heaps is rather self absorbed, great teachers are more interested in their students.

6. Strong personality
You fail to define what strong personality is supposed to mean.


This whole post is fishing for information again, just waiting to use info for their website once more?
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wkmt
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2017, 09:44:10 AM »

This is a proper discussion. The topic raises attention because it touches all as a community.

Why do I say teacher needs to be established and what do I mean with it?
I mean your teacher has to be confident about himself. If by means of strong educational and professional morals or by means of not needing the money, it doesn't really matter.
What I mean is that your teacher can't be in a situation in which he remains at your mercy in order to be able to eat.
It sounds quite harsh but it is the crude reality. If someone is in such delicate situation and has to choose between eating or telling you the truth about your mediocre performance skills, I'm sure we will all agree on what's going to be his choice -I use "his" as it is too much work to specify he/she in every sentence. Just a bit rebellious against the English language Smiley. In Spanish the masculine article can be used to refer to any subject without being offensive.-

I will continue later to reply to as many contributors as possible.

Thank you for interacting.

www.wkmt.co.uk

 
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keypeg
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2017, 10:41:38 AM »

What I mean is that your teacher can't be in a situation in which he remains at your mercy in order to be able to eat.
It sounds quite harsh but it is the crude reality. If someone is in such delicate situation and has to choose between eating or telling you the truth about your mediocre performance skills...

Let's start with "mediocre performance skills" this time round.  You started this discussion by talking about beginners.  By definition, a beginner does not have "performance skills" and the job of the teacher is to GIVE skills. We can argue that a teacher who is establishing himself will TRY HARD and DO HIS BEST to teach to the best of his abilities.  There is no reason to think that his teaching will be of low quality because of his pocket book.

No, this is not a "reality".  Period.

And again - there are teachers who are rich because they exploit the hopes of students, and in fact, some of these do give out false promises and false "feedback".
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iansinclair
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2017, 12:49:19 PM »

On recordings and such nonsense.  The best teacher I ever had -- bar none, in any subject -- had no recordings to her name, and never played a recital or concert.  Until one fine day we, her students, managed to twist her arm hard enough (knowing her ability) that she decided to give one.

We had thought that she had a good reputation.  Suffice it to say that people came from all over the world to hear her recital, including two of her former teachers from France (initials NB and JL).

Quite possibly the finest organist of her generation, and certainly one of the best teachers.  She was devoted to her students, and devoted to teaching them to the best of her ability and the best of their ability.

Recordings?  No object.  Money?  She didn't care.

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Ian
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2017, 10:49:14 PM »

I mean your teacher has to be confident about himself. If by means of strong educational and professional morals or by means of not needing the money, it doesn't really matter.
Of course it matters.  If this teacher does not know how to teach, but thinks he does, then he will mess up his students .... most confidently.  If he is so reach that he doesn't need to care, he can afford to be careless.  The only thing I would care about in this list are the first two, and not even necessarily "strong education" per se without qualifying.  If he is merely a good performer and/or knows many things, but does not know how to teach, that is of no use to me as a student.  "Professional morals" - if you mean ethics, i.e. to teach every student to the best of his ability, this is extremely valuable.  So the ability to teach well plus the willingness to do so is a combination I would look for.  Financial success - no.
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pianoplunker
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2017, 02:01:32 AM »

Finding a good piano teacher is always a challenge. Particularly when we are beginners and we don’t know what to look for.


The student or parent of a student has to consider what they want from music before looking for a teacher. This includes schedules of lessons that fit the student. It includes the student being reliable to keep a schedule and be able to show up on time. Have a time of day to practice or be able to work around a practice schedule however the student can. Of course be able to pay for the lesson. If a potential student does not have all these things, no need to get a teacher. This does not matter if a beginner or advanced. If a student does have all these things then a simple interview is a good place to start.  Lay the expectations on the table.
 

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hardy_practice
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2017, 01:49:54 PM »

I use "his" as it is too much work to specify he/she in every sentence. Just a bit rebellious against the English language Smiley. In Spanish the masculine article can be used to refer to any subject without being offensive.-
 
Yeh, but you ain't in Spain are ya?
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2017, 02:10:45 AM »

I use "his" as it is too much work to specify he/she in every sentence.
Here's a little tip, use the word "they" instead of he/she or "their" instead of his/her or is a few extra letters too much for you to type? Why bother giving yourself an excuse here, so dumb.

Yeh, but you ain't in Spain are ya?
Exactly and they are not writing in Spanish either -_-
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iansinclair
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« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2017, 01:59:43 PM »

Here's a little tip, use the word "they" instead of he/she or "their" instead of his/her or is a few extra letters too much for you to type? Why bother giving yourself an excuse here, so dumb.
Exactly and they are not writing in Spanish either -_-

The usage of "they" in this context is, incidentally, approved (if anyone really cares!) by the two major US manuals of writing style (Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press style book), as well as the OED.
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« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2017, 06:28:16 PM »

I think that language usage is the least important thing here.

The introductory post has the tone of giving advice to beginners on how to find a good teacher.  Many of the premises are not good in terms of advice, especially at that level.  I would be concerned if a novice coming to the forum were to base himself or herself on it.  (I can circumvent the him/her with a restructuring - "I would be concerned if this were to form the basis for a novice coming in to the forum.")
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2017, 05:39:30 PM »

I will definitely take the advice on using "they" instead of "he" Thank you for that Smiley

You can try and see my point or not, but the fact remains the same. When we look for a reliable piano teacher we look for an independent character, someone who can make a decision based on what he or she believes right for us as students and not as clients. I believe this statement doesn't leave a lot of room for controversy...

in terms of his / her qualification, a proven track of success in music should definitely be a point on his / her favour,... or not?!

We (pianists) will all agree in that it is much easier to go to school and get a Diploma than actually gather all the skills and knowledge needed to perform in front of an audience.

Open to criticism though...

www.wkmt.co.uk

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« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2017, 08:15:36 PM »

I've had lessons from teachers as highly qualified and experienced as you can get - they were crap.  Go figure.
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« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2017, 12:31:37 AM »

I will definitely take the advice on using "they" instead of "he" Thank you for that Smiley
You can try and see my point or not, but the fact remains the same. When we look for a reliable piano teacher we look for an independent character, someone who can make a decision based on what he or she believes right for us as students and not as clients. I believe this statement doesn't leave a lot of room for controversy...
You did not respond to anything that I wrote on this subject.  I would like very much if you addressed at least some of them.  I believe they are important.

In regards to treating people as "clients" -- going off topic.  While I am a trained teacher, and also a professional in another field.  I have clients.  Some are organizations or departments, and many are ordinary men and women off the street who need my services.  I serve the needs of each client to the best of my ability, with utmost professional care.  This is how you treat "clients".  As a student, I want to be treated with the same attitude as a true professional treats any client.

It is NOT true that a teacher who is not rich will teach badly, and a teacher who is rich will teach well.  Teaching itself - especially of beginners - does NOT consist of praising or not giving praise; it consists of giving tools for the learner.  "How nice you sound" does not even figure into it!  You're a beginner.  You're learning to find middle C.  
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in terms of his / her qualification, a proven track of success in music should definitely be a point on his / her favour...
The type of "track record" to show that a beginner has been given the tools is not going to be that visible.  If I learn to read music, and move well, and the teacher goes slowly enough to make sure the skills are absorbed, and avoids glitsy music that impresses at recitals -- this will not be visible "out there".  But another teacher taking up such a student will immediately see that she has been solidly taught.  If I see a "track record" advertised, this makes me cautious.  Maybe some other members here can state better than I can, why.  (I'm not even sure that I know what is meant by "track record".)

I have known some excellent teachers who according to your writing would not be (excellent).


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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2017, 02:54:51 AM »

I will definitely take the advice on using "they" instead of "he" Thank you for that Smiley
Try to put it into practice immediately it will set you free! lol

....in terms of his / her qualification, a proven track of success in music should definitely be a point on his / her favour,... or not?!
Don't be shy no need to use the clumsy he/she as you said before is bothersome, you can try to use "their" in this sentence Tongue There are many types of "there, their, they're" so it can be tricky lol.

... in terms of their qualification, a proven track of success in music should definitely be a point on their favour.... no not?!

We (pianists) will all agree in that it is much easier to go to school and get a Diploma than actually gather all the skills and knowledge needed to perform in front of an audience.
You are totally missing the point of what makes a good teacher (and this does not look good for your teaching business at all), a good performer does not mean a good teacher, having a diploma in teaching does not necessarily mean you will be a good teacher. I know teachers who have no qualifications but have ample teaching experience and they are wonderful teachers. The only way you will know if a teacher is good is if you try them out, there is absolutely no other way. A student simply needs to question if they are learning well and enjoying the lessons, that is not a difficult process and requires the teachers to prove nothing else but that!! It seems fairly logical and obvious.
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« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2017, 12:20:50 PM »

I think you have all missed the hidden point of wkmt's post.

For adult beginners, there is almost zero choice in finding a teacher.  There are hardly any out there.

This may change somewhat as Skype and its competitors become more standard.  But it's always going to be a problem. 

wkmt's answer is "go to my school."  A more general answer is "go to a piano school."  My experience with friends who've gone that route is that they didn't make much progress; school teaching is of unpredictable quality.  But then, so is individual teaching. 
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« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2017, 12:27:29 PM »

I think you have all missed the hidden point of wkmt's post.

For adult beginners, there is almost zero choice in finding a teacher.  There are hardly any out there.

This may change somewhat as Skype and its competitors become more standard.  But it's always going to be a problem. 

wkmt's answer is "go to my school."  A more general answer is "go to a piano school."  My experience with friends who've gone that route is that they didn't make much progress; school teaching is of unpredictable quality.  But then, so is individual teaching. 

I don't agree with the premise that there are few teachers out there for adults.  I actually live in a semi-rural area, and have two teachers that are pleased to teach adults.  From the feedback of adult students on other forums, there are many with teachers.  Yes, it can take a little work to find one, as all teachers do not teach adults--- but they are there.  Zero chance?   No.   there is a high probability of finding one.
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« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2017, 03:23:31 PM »

A good teacher is someone smart. A pianist who plays difficult pianist is smart. A pianist who plays difficult pieces successfully will be able to provide decent teaching to a student who pays attention.

A teacher that is confident, inspires confidence and trust. That's what I mean with someone who can really tell you what he believes regardless of any other framing.

www.wkmt.co.uk
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« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2017, 03:40:09 PM »

A good teacher is someone smart. A pianist who plays difficult pianist is smart. A pianist who plays difficult pieces successfully will be able to provide decent teaching to a student who pays attention.

A teacher that is confident, inspires confidence and trust. That's what I mean with someone who can really tell you what he believes regardless of any other framing.

www.wkmt.co.uk


Really NOT...  a pianist who plays difficult repertoire is certainly smart, but he/she may not have the ability to teach their students skills to play that repertoire.   I have been there, seen it,  as have others here.  To be an effective teache you also need effective teaching skills.... not just performance skills.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2017, 04:14:48 PM »

Yes, it can take a little work to find one, as all teachers do not teach adults--- but they are there.  Zero chance?   No.   there is a high probability of finding one.

I didn't say almost zero chance, I said almost zero choice.

Most teachers will not teach adult beginners, and for very good reasons.  So while it is possible to find a teacher, it takes effort and you don't have the luxury of choosing between a number of alternatives.  You may find one or none in your area. 
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« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2017, 04:41:35 PM »

Wkmt, the problem with your responses is that you do not respond to any specific things anyone has written.  I outlined the reasons for my views, and the priorities, in my initial posts.  Could you address those points, please.  This will make for a dialogue, and much better feelings.  Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2017, 04:57:17 PM »

I think you have all missed the hidden point of wkmt's post.
The hidden point of wkmt's post is that he is seeing it only from the point of view of his own teaching and his own school.  His experience may have been a lifetime starting with education in his country at a young age, but it is also limited to that experience, and everything is coming out from there.  It does not go beyond this - for worse and also for better.
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For adult beginners, there is almost zero choice in finding a teacher.  There are hardly any out there.
If this is true - which it may not be - then what wkmt proposes is not a solution: if anything, it may exacerbate the problem.  When I read about honest feedback about someone's playing, this does not involve beginners (as I wrote before).

THE PROBLEM IN GENERAL:  A beginner needs to get foundations at an absolute basis.  He also needs to learn how to approach his learning and practising, again in a fundamental way.  Sometimes a teacher does try to teach these things, but because the beginner has preconceptions, he won't follow those instructions.  That is one side of it.

Teachers will go too fast into music, advance too fast, address the abstract thinking intellectual side that is the part of older teens and adults, and skim past these basic things.  They may address music and musicality to the detriment of other things that need to be learned.  They may be fooled by the sophisticated "musical sense" a student may have from years of listening to music.  A teacher who can navigate these things, and guide an adult student, and not be fooled by such things, is rare.

The mindset that wkmt presents is precisely what I would want to avoid as an adult beginner.  It seems to go precisely toward those things, and away from what is needed.

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« Reply #32 on: April 10, 2017, 05:06:03 PM »

I didn't say almost zero chance, I said almost zero choice.

Most teachers will not teach adult beginners, and for very good reasons.  So while it is possible to find a teacher, it takes effort and you don't have the luxury of choosing between a number of alternatives.  You may find one or none in your area. 


Let's see:   I have approached three piano teachers in this semi-rural area and have taken lessons as an adult from all three....  two of them currently. 
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« Reply #33 on: April 10, 2017, 06:52:49 PM »

The hidden point of wkmt's post is that he is seeing it only from the point of view of his own teaching and his own school. 

I think the hidden point of wkmt's post is the list of teacher attributes that can be met in his school.  And maybe only in his school. 

It's not intended to be a guide for a naïve student trying to choose a private teacher from a large population of them. 
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« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2017, 07:43:02 PM »

I think the hidden point of wkmt's post is the list of teacher attributes that can be met in his school.  And maybe only in his school. 

It's not intended to be a guide for a naïve student trying to choose a private teacher from a large population of them. 
Before responding to any of this, I spent considerable time visiting the school's site, reading what he had to say, reading and watching what was said on the site by other teachers, listened to excerpts of teacher workshops, and I also listened to students playing at the school.

Before going further --- when you suggest what wkmt must have meant and what the mindset is, have you done the same?  Or are you guessing and extrapolating?

Any posts we see here have begun as posts on the site, and are surely meant to advertise the school, and those posts then get pasted into various forums of which PianoStreet is only one.  It  establishes a presence.  Dialogue may also be be a secondary purpose - but in general there is not much real dialogue.  That is, what we write is barely responded to.

Whatever it is intended for - it is posted in this forum, with the first sentence being about beginners looking for a good teacher.  Many people are lost on this point when they decide to take lessons, so if they take wrong advice, or take advice the wrong way, it can be to their hurt.
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« Reply #35 on: April 11, 2017, 03:34:09 PM »

I think that, in the context of beginning pianists, much of the original post is either wrong or completely irrelevant. What is needed is someone who will instil the basics: playing and hand position, counting, elementary theory, and much more. Stuff which is going to be needed later on when the student reaches a more advanced level and if he hasn't been properly instructed in these aspects then he / she is going to have to relearn or unlearn.

For a more advanced student, I'd say it is far far more important than the prospective teacher's recordings / level of fame / technical capacity - that the teacher is good at communication, good personal skills, and has the capacity to transmit not simply how passage x should be approached but also to give the student the tools to start arriving at opinions by him or herself. Just because some famous pianists make a living giving masterclasses doesn't mean all famous pianists are going to teach effectively.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2017, 04:55:09 PM »

Before responding to any of this, I spent considerable time visiting the school's site, reading what he had to say, reading and watching what was said on the site by other teachers, listened to excerpts of teacher workshops, and I also listened to students playing at the school.

Before going further --- when you suggest what wkmt must have meant and what the mindset is, have you done the same?  Or are you guessing and extrapolating?


Yes, I've been to that site.  Even listened to a good performance on a sad piano.

Those suggestions aren't useful for two reasons.

One is that they aren't necessarily correct.

But the more important one is a beginner does not have a large selection of teachers to choose from, nor can he easily determine all those factors.  "never pick a teacher who doesn't have time to practice."  Really?  A, I care about them improving their teaching, not their playing; B, I have no way of knowing how much time they have.  Nor can I survey ten teachers to find out who has the most time. 

An adult beginner is worse off, because of the total population of piano teachers only a small minority are willing to teach adults. 
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« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2017, 12:02:05 PM »

An adult beginner is worse off, because of the total population of piano teachers only a small minority are willing to teach adults. 

Is that true? I started as an adult. I've lived in Maryland USA, Ghana, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vermont USA. In all those places I've had piano teachers. I never encountered a teacher who refused to take me on.
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wkmt
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« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2017, 03:20:20 PM »

Before responding to any of this, I spent considerable time visiting the school's site, reading what he had to say, reading and watching what was said on the site by other teachers, listened to excerpts of teacher workshops, and I also listened to students playing at the school.

Before going further --- when you suggest what wkmt must have meant and what the mindset is, have you done the same?  Or are you guessing and extrapolating?

Any posts we see here have begun as posts on the site, and are surely meant to advertise the school, and those posts then get pasted into various forums of which PianoStreet is only one.  It  establishes a presence.  Dialogue may also be be a secondary purpose - but in general there is not much real dialogue.  That is, what we write is barely responded to.

Whatever it is intended for - it is posted in this forum, with the first sentence being about beginners looking for a good teacher.  Many people are lost on this point when they decide to take lessons, so if they take wrong advice, or take advice the wrong way, it can be to their hurt.

Thank you Keypeg for doing proper investigation on our website. That is exactly the kind of professional discussion we are looking for.

You mention that what is actually needed by a beginner is a teacher who can insist on the basics. Well, that is totally true! I can't agree more. But normally a good pianist will do that too. If he is a real performer, a true perfectionist, he or SHE Smiley won't allow a student to get away with unacceptable mistakes.

It is at the core of a good practice to be intolerant towards pedagogical mistakes.

Of course someone less qualified can still be insistent on these matters though probably less sensitive to them.

I hope this clarifies my perspective...

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« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2017, 04:28:33 PM »

Thank you Keypeg for doing proper investigation on our website. That is exactly the kind of professional discussion we are looking for.

You mention that what is actually needed by a beginner is a teacher who can insist on the basics. Well, that is totally true! I can't agree more. But normally a good pianist will do that too. If he is a real performer, a true perfectionist, he or SHE Smiley won't allow a student to get away with unacceptable mistakes.
Thank you for responding, W.  I would ask that you try to take some time to understand views that are unfamiliar to you. After all, growth is ongoing - Pavarotti said at the end of his life "I am a student".
You are still talking about "mistakes".  Building fundamental skills is not about recognizing mistakes, but building skills and concepts.  It is NOT true that real performers are necessarily able to do that.  I have experienced the contrary, have helped others in such situations, and have looked at stories.  The performer may be able to tell the student that he is playing the wrong note, but not know how to guide him in learning to read.  He may be able to tell the student that the rhythm or note values are wrong, but not know how to systematically form the ability to understand and use concepts -- i.e. create the tools.  The teacher of beginners is a SPECIALIST, and adult beginners are in special danger of having these things skipped over for the sake of music.  When the beginner gets corrected, without having the tools, that is frustrating and undermining.
Could you try to consider this part?  Smiley
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wkmt
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« Reply #40 on: April 17, 2017, 06:02:09 PM »

Maybe I used a rather strong language when I mention "mistakes". What I'm trying to refer too are imprecisions. But don't get me wrong. It is normal and expectable for a beginner to exhibit this sort of musical behaviour.


I believe a sensible piano teacher can definitely spot and aid them, regardless his or her personal standard. I totally agree on this one.

What I'm trying to state is that truly committed musicians, who have dedicated all their lives to enriching their musical knowledge very seldom end not being able to play at a certain standard.

From that perspective is that I'm mentioning that high standard piano professionals make good piano teachers.

www.wkmt.co.uk
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keypeg
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« Reply #41 on: April 17, 2017, 10:50:00 PM »

You still have not responded to the things that I wrote out in my first response.  A dialogue in forums goes both ways.  People learn from each other and listen to each other.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #42 on: April 18, 2017, 12:29:06 PM »


From that perspective is that I'm mentioning that high standard piano professionals make good piano teachers.


Would you take a golf lesson from the best player in the world?

Or, from his teacher?
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« Reply #43 on: April 20, 2017, 06:40:25 PM »

Would you take a golf lesson from the best player in the world?

Or, from his teacher?

Probably with both Smiley

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hardy_practice
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« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2017, 08:17:29 PM »

So now it's about how to choose the best two piano teachers?
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« Reply #45 on: April 21, 2017, 04:38:42 PM »

So now it's about how to choose the best two piano teachers?

Well, that's exactly my problem right now  Grin
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wkmt
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« Reply #46 on: April 21, 2017, 07:04:22 PM »

I love this debate, it is truly everyone's issue.

Well, in a nutshell, checking our teacher's portfolio can definitely tell us lots about his/her professional and personal approach to music. If you are an advanced student doing this research is particularly important. If you are a beginner, Keypeg is quite right, a professional and insistent teacher could actually work, quite well even if he or she is not a superlative pianist. 
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hardy_practice
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« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2017, 06:12:55 PM »

I love this debate, it is truly everyone's issue.

Well, in a nutshell, checking our teacher's portfolio can definitely tell us lots about his/her professional and personal approach to music. If you are an advanced student doing this research is particularly important. If you are a beginner, Keypeg is quite right, a professional and insistent teacher could actually work, quite well even if he or she is not a superlative pianist. 
Surely as we're now talking two (or more?) teachers it's ' our teachers' '?  and their rather than his/her he/she?
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« Reply #48 on: April 22, 2017, 06:24:39 PM »

Thank you Hardy Practise, I truly need to find out a way to use articles in a better way. Some weeks ago I found myself calling a male composer from she during an entire presentation. THat's the bad thing of being a foreigner, you never stop being it Smiley!
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« Reply #49 on: April 22, 2017, 07:11:10 PM »

wkmt, it may be that you have not responded to my main points because you did not understand them.  To me these points are extremely important so I will try to be more concrete.

1. A beginner student must learn these kinds of things: how to locate notes on the piano and relate piano keys to written music; how to move in a way that creates ease from the very beginning; note value and rest value, counting, pulse, time signature and differentiating among them.  All of this in a concrete and practical manner -- the teacher may have the intellectual concept, but the student must receive them at his or her level.  Additionally - learn how to practice, from the very beginning, through guidance.

Giving these kinds of skills is a special process, and requires a teacher specialized in this, especially when the student is older.

2.  The student who has been given these skills can then use these skills for playing music.  A teacher who is an accomplished musician as per your priorities, can tell that student "You are playing this too loudly" and the student has the skills to play it more quietly.  He can say "You are not keeping the tempo" and the student has mastery of note value, time signature, and tempo.  He can say "Improve this section of music at home." and the student has learned how to practice and how to approach pieces at home.  Your accomplished musician-teacher depends on the student having these prerequisite skills.  He may not know how to form those skills in a beginner.

Does this make sense?  Does it give you new thoughts and ideas?  I would very much like to read a response to this.

These things may dovetail more readily with child-students, but they can to awry in adults, where this first skill development can be skipped partly or altogether way too soon.

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