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What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ? (Read 6717 times)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #50 on: February 20, 2018, 06:03:15 PM »
expanding:

Often, "teaching adults differently than children" means going faster through levels, not as thoroughly, aiming toward end results, and being more conceptual and intellectual about it.  I don't think LiW necessarily does that, but often that is what it means.  I want to be taught "like children" because the nervous system, body, and senses need time to create their connections.

In regards to pieces: I'd be limited to what I know, what I'm familiar with, and to a degree how I hear. That is why I don't want to be asked about what pieces I like.  I'd be stuck in my own one-person ghetto.  Secondly, I want my teacher to aim at those things that I need to learn, and choose the pieces that are most likely to teach me that.

That is my reasoning.  I have a teacher whose goals are similar to my own, i.e. to give skills which ultimately lead to independence, and that has been working very well indeed. :)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #51 on: February 22, 2018, 09:40:29 AM »
Food for thought for teachers - things I'm observing that you're not likely to see since you have no reason to go there:

I study two instruments.  For piano I have my regular teacher who is excellent.  I got lucky. The other instrument I restarted and I'm taking a different tack.  I have explored a couple of venues.  One was a platform, ArtistWorks, where a teacher offers a host of organized video lessons and will give video responses to videos submitted by students who have done their homework.  The other is where a teacher creates the same thing on his or her own.  When you are registered, you also get to see the work of the other students, the feedback they get, what they do with it, and their questions.

Here's what I keep seeing:
Adult students who have regular private lessons.  The private teacher is giving them pieces to play, but little technique and little if any music theory.  It appears that many private music teachers still believe that adults want to get right to piece, play pieces that are dear to their hearts, want to move fast, and not be bogged down by technique and theory.  So these adults are going elsewhere for that.  They are going to the platforms of quite serious and thorough teachers, to get what their private teachers are not giving them.  I am seeing very serious and hard working students.

I joined a group a couple of months ago that is like that.  You see a lot of white heads.  These are your 50+ and that is what I'm seeing.  I used to think I was mostly alone.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #52 on: February 22, 2018, 09:51:46 AM »
At this part of the conversation:
I obviously didn't give a very clear picture of what I often see with new adult students so let me give you an example of a typical conversation I might have during an intro lesson. After introductions and a bit of preamble;

...........
M: "And what are you hoping to achieve? Do you have any particular goals in mind?"
S: "No, not really. I'd just like to be able to play."
M: "Is there any particular style of music you like or want to play?"
S: "Um, no. I'm happy to play anything."
M: "Okay. Do you listen to a lot of music?"
S: "Sometimes."
M: "What sort of music do you like to listen to?"...........
[etc.]
Ok, if I come in telling you that I'd like to be able to play, then I expect that you as a teacher have an idea how you will teach me that.  I expect that there is technique I need to learn: I'll need to learn to read music if I don't know how: what type of theory I need to acquire (chords, key signatures - incl. applying these specifically to the music).  I expect that there is a general order in which these skills are built and learned, and that you, as a teacher, have some kind of plan.  I also expect that you, as teacher, know the various periods and genres of music, and which music is best suited for getting the skills across.

If I kept being asked about what music I like and listen to, I'd start to get very uneasy.  I don't want a teacher to teach me how to play pieces I like.  I want the teacher to teach me how to play the instrument, and instruct me accordingly.  I hope that the teacher knows how to do that.  Along the way, I want to be introduced to things I don't know, and that includes types of music.

As I am now as more experienced student, I would try to redirect your questions and tell you want I actually want, maybe asking you rather firmly, "What things will you teach me, and what are your expectations?"  As I was when I first had a teacher, I'd be one of those mumbling students, because seriously, I came in to learn to play the piano, not to learn to play pieces I like, and I haven't a clue how to answer that question.  Nor do I know how it is pertinent.  It's the wrong tack for some of us.


Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #53 on: February 22, 2018, 09:53:23 AM »
And not being heard may be part of the problem.

This 2nd installment starts with a teacher saying he hasn't read what anyone has written, and then two teachers arguing with each other about what we want.  Students come in to say what they want and suddenly there is silence. 

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #54 on: February 22, 2018, 02:48:55 PM »
I do NOT want to be asked what pieces I like.  In fact, I find that my knowledge is limited, and I want to expand beyond my limitation.
Well just because that's what you want do you think that represents the majority? Hardly. Many are interested in personal goals and a very common one is being able to play pieces they are inspired to learn which often involves pieces they personally like. You can teach people many beginners skills through pieces they like, teachers who say they cannot in my opinion are just short sighted and perhaps even inexperienced. One can edit pieces to suit a students needs if you have the musical skills.  

Secondly, I want to be taught "like a child".  Not in terms of "stickers" and pretty pictures.  There are teachers who don't do the sticker thing.  But they go slowly enough with children --- concretely enough --- less intellectually, more real.
Going slowly with a student is not isolated to teaching a child.

Adults are not an homogenous group.  There's a lot of "we's" and this is my "they" for what "they" want.
All humans are individual but there is a propensity for certain values and attitudes due to age for my experience as a teacher for some 25 years.


Meanwhile you said you didn't read the thread.  There were things of value in that thread.
I'm sure there was but I have no interest to read it I want to provide my professional opinion on the issue and have no real need to address what others say.

I was disappointed that the rest of the thread was not read (as was stated).
Gosh do you really need to keep flogging the dead horse?


He is proposing to ask older students what pieces they want to play, and not teach them like children.  Assuming that a teacher is teaching children thoroughly and slowly enough, focusing on the concrete side of playing (I don't see "stickers" as necessarily being a children thing) --- then I want to be taught like children, and I do not want to be asked what kind of pieces I like.  We are also individuals.
You seem to not get that adults generally have a better idea as to which music interests them over children who have logically less listening experience and thus a less developed musical taste if at all.

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Offline klavieronin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #55 on: February 22, 2018, 03:36:22 PM »
At this part of the conversation:Ok, if I come in telling you that I'd like to be able to play, then I expect that you as a teacher have an idea how you will teach me that.  I expect that there is technique I need to learn: I'll need to learn to read music if I don't know how: what type of theory I need to acquire (chords, key signatures - incl. applying these specifically to the music).  I expect that there is a general order in which these skills are built and learned, and that you, as a teacher, have some kind of plan.  I also expect that you, as teacher, know the various periods and genres of music, and which music is best suited for getting the skills across.

If I kept being asked about what music I like and listen to, I'd start to get very uneasy.  I don't want a teacher to teach me how to play pieces I like.  I want the teacher to teach me how to play the instrument, and instruct me accordingly.  I hope that the teacher knows how to do that.  Along the way, I want to be introduced to things I don't know, and that includes types of music.

As I am now as more experienced student, I would try to redirect your questions and tell you want I actually want, maybe asking you rather firmly, "What things will you teach me, and what are your expectations?"  As I was when I first had a teacher, I'd be one of those mumbling students, because seriously, I came in to learn to play the piano, not to learn to play pieces I like, and I haven't a clue how to answer that question.  Nor do I know how it is pertinent.  It's the wrong tack for some of us.


And not being heard may be part of the problem.

This 2nd installment starts with a teacher saying he hasn't read what anyone has written, and then two teachers arguing with each other about what we want.  Students come in to say what they want and suddenly there is silence.  

Well I'm not really sure where to start with this. I guess the first thing to say is that I think you have completely misinterpreted what I'm saying here. I don't ask students what music they like or want to play so I can simply give them that music and ask them to learn it. That would be idiotic. I do it because as a teacher it is important for me to get to know my students and understand what motivates them. It's a process that can sometimes take many lessons but it has to start somewhere. So why start with what styles of music they like? Well, first of all I generally don't start there but it does tend to come up early on because there are many different paths to learning the piano and some are more appropriate for particular styles of music than others. Yes there are certain things that will be common to all styles of music and you will encounter those things whatever path you take but there are some things that are essential to some styles of music that will be largely irrelevant for others. Consider this example (it has happened to me several times); A student comes to me wanting to learn the piano. We start to discuss styles of music and what they are interested in and I discover that they produce electronic music and want piano lessons to help improve their workflow and the quality of their music. Now tell me, do you think traditional classical piano lessons are appropriate for this student? Do you think they are going to be interested in half the things you mentioned you want to learn?

Secondly, do you honestly think that I, or any other decent teacher, would continue to push the issue once it became clear the student was struggling to answer the question? It's almost as if you took my little example conversation and assumed that that was the totality of my teaching method. If that's the case it's little wonder it aggravated you so much. I too would be highly suspicious of any teacher who spent more than a minute on that particular topic. However, that is the issue we were discussing so I didn't think it relevant to give a full account of my typical first lesson with a new student.

Lastly, once again you suggest that I'm trying to tell others what they want. I'm not sure in what universe asking questions is the same as telling people what they want. I can assure you however, that if you came to me for piano lessons it wouldn't take me long to figure out what you were looking for. Unfortunately, however, that would require me asking some questions, like whether or not you listen to a lot of music, or if there is any particular style of music you like or are interested in playing. Again, and I want to stress this so there is no mistake, those aren't the only questions I ask, but they are relevant so I have to ask them.

Offline dogperson

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #56 on: February 22, 2018, 05:56:05 PM »
FWIW, I am an adult student and I do not agree with the premise that adult students should  not be asked what they want to play, and  I would not believe that most adult students would not want to be asked this question. “Learning to play the piano “ Encompasses many different genres and styles. I would want my teacher to know what I want to play well....  eventually.  That  might involve Knowing what I like to listen to on the radio.  I would not want anyone to think that I wanted to learn to play from lead sheets  when my interest was in learning classical piano or jazz improv, or rock.   Maybe I don’t want to read music at all but just  play by ear. ...... maybe I only want to play well enough to play out of ‘ The great American song book ‘.    All this information helps the teacher set goals and a training plan , IMHO

 Now I will stay out of this topic,  as I frankly have hesitated even replying at all.  

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #57 on: February 22, 2018, 09:02:02 PM »
I was told that in order for people to respond to you in forums, you must be provocative.  I've long resisted this idea as it is not my nature.  Sadly it seems true.  I poked and got responses. :D

For the record, I do not believe that there is a one-way view to adult students, and that my mindset is the mindset.  But in fact, that was the point!  I was reading a synopsis of what older adult students need, want etc. which can be seen as a singular portrait, and some newer teachers might take it as that. I tried to give the direct opposite for food for thought, to counterbalance this.

Consider also the dynamics in private lessons and the relative isolation of each teacher.  There can be a kind of closed loop, and what you see tends to be seen within the framework of that loop.

An example from my own experiences with the first lessons.  The teacher thought I related to music and pieces, while I was interested in technique and knowledge --- neither of us knew this.  In the routine of lessons, he taught things, asked me to do things, watched and listened how I did them, and assigned things which I then practised at home.  Since it was based on pieces that would motivate me, if I played well he concluded that I liked this piece and it motivated me.  His conclusions were wrong because he operated on the wrong premise.  You will get answers to the questions you ask.  It's a trap in teaching, and one of my professions is also as a trained teacher.  I wear two hats.

If it were just myself it wouldn't matter.  But I have been encountering adult students finding their way here and there whose teachers are teaching them focusing primarily on pieces- and method books also stated that this is the mindset - and those students are hunting up the training that it is thought they don't want.  They are people who will play any assigned piece if it will teach them something, because their interest is skills and knowledge that goes into playing.  These are the people who are falling through the cracks.  There are DIFFERENT kinds of motivation and mindsets.

I hope this makes it more clear.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #58 on: February 22, 2018, 09:12:53 PM »
Klavieronin
Quote
Secondly, do you honestly think that I, or any other decent teacher, would continue to push the issue once it became clear the student was struggling to answer the question?
I cannot have any idea how you teach, because that would presumptuous.  We can only try to start getting an idea.  I did look at that imaginary dialogue, and it did not seem to leave the question of "what kind of pieces do you like" throughout the conversation - it's all I had to go on.  I do not think this represents how you teach - that would be silly. ;)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #59 on: February 23, 2018, 12:09:34 AM »
FWIW, I am an adult student and I do not agree with the premise that adult students should  not be asked what they want to play, and  I would not believe that most adult students would not want to be asked this question. 
This was not my premise.  The main thing is that there is no one way or one motivation.

From where I come from, I would have been incapable of answering that question.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #60 on: February 23, 2018, 12:27:50 AM »
I was told that in order for people to respond to you in forums, you must be provocative.  I've long resisted this idea as it is not my nature.  Sadly it seems true.  I poked and got responses. :D

Well played. I was told not to feed the trolls so I won't say any more. ;)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #61 on: February 23, 2018, 02:05:13 AM »
Well played. I was told not to feed the trolls so I won't say any more. ;)
I was not at all trolling. My concerns are real.  I do not believe that things are black and white, but it seems that if one writes in pastel shades, it gets ignored.  It's like you have to paint things in garish cartoon colours, exaggerated, before you're heard.  If you see green and state that it is a mix of blue and yellow, then the yellow side goes ho hum, the blue side goes ho hum, both think they won, and nobody gets to see that both colours are in there.

There are pieces and there are skills.  One can focus on pieces and sneak in the skills.  One can focus on skills and find pieces that match.  One can also decide to give pieces, patch in a few tricks here and there so the student thinks he's learning, and the skills aren't in there.  Or one can decide to give only the skills needed for those pieces and skip the rest.  This is your blue and yellow.

As a student I happen to focus on skills.  If you want to know what motivates me, that is what motivates me.  I'm not some kind of nerd who loves skills for skills' sake, but rather, I know what that gives me and what happens when it's lacking.  I played music enough on my own to know that.

I also can't related to "what do you listen to" and such.  I just can't.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #62 on: February 23, 2018, 02:26:01 AM »
I was not at all trolling. My concerns are real.

Relax, it was just a joke. This is why the internet is such a terrible avenue for conversation. It's impossible to communicate any kind of nuance across the internet. In any case, I think your concerns are misplaced. We were discussing one particular issue. lostinidlewonder's experience told him that most adult students have a good idea of what they want and are motivated by particular styles or pieces of music. My experience tells me that that isn't always the case, as you yourself have confirmed. Other members also confirm lostinidlewonder's experience so, like you said, there isn't one type of adult beginner. We all know that already but can't be expected to include every aspect of teaching and piano playing in every post. Nobody has suggested that you MUST be motivated by pieces. We were only discussing our general experience as teachers. Nobody is telling anybody to do or think or want anything. We are merely making observations.

Offline outin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #63 on: February 23, 2018, 03:17:42 AM »
There are pieces and there are skills.  One can focus on pieces and sneak in the skills.  One can focus on skills and find pieces that match.  One can also decide to give pieces, patch in a few tricks here and there so the student thinks he's learning, and the skills aren't in there.  Or one can decide to give only the skills needed for those pieces and skip the rest.  This is your blue and yellow.


For some reason you insist on ignoring one option: One can focus on both skills and pieces without consciously looking for "pieces to match". Variety and skills to match can also increase naturally with the expanding intrests of the student.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #64 on: February 23, 2018, 09:57:27 AM »
For some reason you insist on ignoring one option: One can focus on both skills and pieces without consciously looking for "pieces to match". Variety and skills to match can also increase naturally with the expanding interests of the student.
Something seems not to have been understood.  I never considered the idea of "pieces to match".  It is an option, however.  One teacher some years ago, who sadly has passed away, wrote that he prefers to choose pieces because he has worked long and hard to find music that best suits the things (skills) he finds important to teach.  That is one way of working, and as a student I happen to prefer it.

I do have "expanding interests" but again they don't go toward pieces - that is almost secondary.  Some people are not wired toward pieces, and if a teacher looks for a motivation where it isn't, that doesn't work that well.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #65 on: February 23, 2018, 11:40:14 AM »
… if a teacher looks for a motivation where it isn't, that doesn't work that well.

I'd like to make a slight correction here; If a good teacher looks for motivation where it isn't she'll know to start looking elsewhere instead.

Offline outin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #66 on: February 23, 2018, 03:46:56 PM »
Something seems not to have been understood.  I never considered the idea of "pieces to match".  It is an option, however.  One teacher some years ago, who sadly has passed away, wrote that he prefers to choose pieces because he has worked long and hard to find music that best suits the things (skills) he finds important to teach.  That is one way of working, and as a student I happen to prefer it.

I do have "expanding interests" but again they don't go toward pieces - that is almost secondary.  Some people are not wired toward pieces, and if a teacher looks for a motivation where it isn't, that doesn't work that well.

I understand that you see things differently, but cannot help thinking you presented things too one-sided. The message that came out from your post was: There are these several options that lead into problems and then there's this one option that works. To me it seems that different approaches can result in good pianistic and musical skills, depending on the dedication and personality of the student.

It seems like you were devastated to see that concentrating on music (which pieces are) can lead into such lack of general skills. But the opposite can happen too where music never is the main focus but "having better skills". I personally find that a sad scenario. I find skills useless until needed for a specific piece (=music). It may reflect my general lack of competitiveness, never cared for sports or other things where the main point is better skills and measurable results. Yet so far almost every piece I have learned has had some personal meaning to me while also required me to improve some ability so I see it as a win-win situation.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #67 on: April 23, 2018, 01:28:23 PM »
First, I'm over 50, and my perspective is that it takes a long time to become this awesome!  So, the trade offs are worth it.

Re: Over 50 piano lessons.

.  Students are at different levels of commitment.  I took a group class, and I was the only person who actually practiced outside of the lessons, so a teacher needs to be able to work with this restriction.

.  Speaking for myself, it is humbling to be really bad at something. As I got older, I became more competent at my profession/life.  Not to "know" to "struggle", and in fact, to look down right stupid was a challenge.  Knowing nothing about piano, but a fair amount of life, I tended to be very defensive when my teacher tried to correct me. 

.  I have agile hands, but my similar aged piano peers struggled.  All of us were "thought professionals", and we don't use our hands for much other than tapping in reports.

.  A lot of adult students I know want to play for their friends, but they don't want to reach a level of technical professional proficiency.  Having just started with a new teacher with a goal towards reaching ABRSM level 8 (in some distant future), I played my two "wow, can you sure play pieces" for her.  I expected her to embrace me cause of my wonderful playing.  Instead, she started out with a detailed analysis of my deficiencies.  It took me 3 days before I concluded that if I wanted to reach my goal, I would have to accept that I had a lot of work to do.

So, piano at 50 plus is humbling...!

Offline compline

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #68 on: March 03, 2019, 12:47:35 AM »
Would a piano teacher subtly tell an older student of 50+  if he/she is not going to make the grade, if they are slow on the uptake or not gaining speed and accuracy by a certain time?

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #69 on: March 03, 2019, 02:35:10 AM »
Would a piano teacher subtly tell an older student of 50+  if he/she is not going to make the grade, if they are slow on the uptake or not gaining speed and accuracy by a certain time?
I would first check how well the teacher is doing in the teaching.

Offline outin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #70 on: March 03, 2019, 08:40:44 AM »
Would a piano teacher subtly tell an older student of 50+  if he/she is not going to make the grade, if they are slow on the uptake or not gaining speed and accuracy by a certain time?
I don't understand the question. Not gaining speed and accuracy compared to what? Many young people never learn to play very fast or very accurate or learn fats in general.

I would say 50+ is old only if you have neglected your physical and cognitive health...

Offline compline

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #71 on: March 03, 2019, 05:03:39 PM »
I don't understand the question. Not gaining speed and accuracy compared to what? Many young people never learn to play very fast or very accurate or learn fats in general.

I would say 50+ is old only if you have neglected your physical and cognitive health...


What I meant by speed and  and getting the timing accurate is after say about four years of learning, I would have thought some level of proficiency would be attained .


Offline outin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #72 on: March 03, 2019, 07:17:04 PM »

What I meant by speed and  and getting the timing accurate is after say about four years of learning, I would have thought some level of proficiency would be attained .

Do you think this is somehow limited to people under 50?

Offline j_tour

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #73 on: March 04, 2019, 03:11:25 AM »
Disclaimer:  I've never taught anybody over fifty (that I know of!), and my only students have been people who are already musicians in some capacity who wanted to pick up some ideas.  Closest I've got is just giving some quick tips to a manager at day job who sucks at sight reading and so I jotted down some of the usual advice on a post-it-note at work and told him to try harder.

BUT, it seems one point that's been alluded to above, but perhaps not emphasized is the role of a teacher as a kind of cultural ambassador. 

So, if someone (of any age) has a short list of pieces they really feel gung-ho about, that's great.  Enthusiasm, all that, they work hard (maybe for naught, but still).

I think an important role of a teacher is to be able to have a relatively encyclopedic grasp of repertoire that can be introduced, in either a prepatory manner towards a goal, or to perhaps enhance the student's understanding of the breadth of the repertoire, and the ways techniques and theoretical ideas are shared and elaborated upon between such works.

Not a profound observation, but perhaps adults, especially educated adults, may have a deeper knowledge of history in their stack of knowledge, and can derive some important cues by observing common threads in the evolution of the piano repertoire.

Not saying to teach "music appreciation," just a sentence here or there, or a way of introducing an appropriate piece perhaps with the goal of reaching the adult's final goal.

Or you could give them a copy of the book Final Exit.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #74 on: March 04, 2019, 07:23:08 AM »

What I meant by speed and  and getting the timing accurate is after say about four years of learning, I would have thought some level of proficiency would be attained .
Compline, are you writing as a student, or a teacher? Knowing this would help a lot in answering.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #75 on: March 04, 2019, 07:45:20 AM »
Disclaimer:  I've never taught anybody over fifty (that I know of!), and my only students have been people who are already musicians in some capacity who wanted to pick up some ideas.
Noted, and quite.

Quote
BUT, it seems one point that's been alluded to above, but perhaps not emphasized is the role of a teacher as a kind of cultural ambassador. 

So, if someone (of any age) has a short list of pieces they really feel gung-ho about, that's great.  Enthusiasm, all that, they work hard (maybe for naught, but still).
What level are you talking about?  A student who already has some piano training, so that the student can in fact work a "gung-ho" piece?  A beginner needs to get basic skills first - but you don't teach that level.  How does "enthusiasm" help anyone get anywhere, by itself?  Sounds like a headless chicken approach to me. ;)  Does your hypothetical student have training, but badly done needing fixing?  It's not just about the piece.

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I think an important role of a teacher is to be able to have a relatively encyclopedic grasp of repertoire that can be introduced, in either a prepatory manner towards a goal, or to perhaps enhance the student's understanding of the breadth of the repertoire, and the ways techniques and theoretical ideas are shared and elaborated upon between such works.
I'm trying to follow this.  Introduce repertoire, toward a goal?  Enhance understanding?  How will that help me learn to play piano, or play a piece on the piano? (I'm lost).  "techniques and theoretical ideas ....." - you mean, talk? words?  Or how?

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Not a profound observation, but perhaps adults, especially educated adults, may have a deeper knowledge of history in their stack of knowledge, and can derive some important cues by observing common threads in the evolution of the piano repertoire.
How would such knowledge help me play pieces on the piano?  What about things like effective use of the pedal, effective technique, listening skills while playing for things like the decay or duration of a note, the blending (or not) of notes, timing, counting - you know, the things we do when we play music? 

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Not saying to teach "music appreciation," just a sentence here or there, or a way of introducing an appropriate piece perhaps with the goal of reaching the adult's final goal.
If the final goal is to learn to play the piano well, how does "music appreciation" fit in there?

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Or you could give them a copy of the book Final Exit.
A book on assisted suicide?  Are you for real?         

I couldn't make head or tail of any of your ideas, but the last is just beyond insulting.

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #76 on: March 04, 2019, 07:59:35 AM »
What I meant by speed and  and getting the timing accurate is after say about four years of learning, I would have thought some level of proficiency would be attained.
Having looked back, I think that you are writing as a student.

Speed and timing have to be broken down into their components.  For example, if your timing is off, why is it off, when is it off and similar.  Is your teacher giving you input on this; specific input - what to do about it - or are you simply being told your timing is inaccurate?  There can be a lot of causes.  That is why I mentioned teaching and teacher.  There is effective teaching. Then there is also effective practising.  And then there is the teaching of effective practising.  Which may or may not be happening.

Offline compline

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #77 on: March 04, 2019, 11:15:19 AM »
Having looked back, I think that you are writing as a student.

Speed and timing have to be broken down into their components.  For example, if your timing is off, why is it off, when is it off and similar.  Is your teacher giving you input on this; specific input - what to do about it - or are you simply being told your timing is inaccurate?  There can be a lot of causes.  That is why I mentioned teaching and teacher.  There is effective teaching. Then there is also effective practising.  And then there is the teaching of effective practising.  Which may or may not be happening.


Yes, I was speaking as a student.  Thank you for your very helpful replies.

Offline j_tour

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #78 on: March 05, 2019, 05:37:56 AM »
I couldn't make head or tail of any of your ideas

The main idea is that adults, at least educated adults, could and should expect that their teacher should be able to introduce pieces of repertoire which have similar technical difficulties, or which relate in an historical fashion somehow to what I presume is a common goal of adult learners.

Namely, that they may have a tendency to have selected on their own a somewhat limited selection or even one or a handful of pieces they desire to perform (or at least play for their own enjoyment).

Another approach is to select a key and perhaps its parallel minor, and attempt to build rudiments on that basis — not an uncommon strategy among jazz players, to, for example, spend a week or a month learning one's "book" in, say, E major or whatever.

So, the role of a teacher in the case of an adult who wishes to learn...say "an invention of Bach" — a minimal effort from the teacher could be to quickly demonstrate or provide a list of additional materials (the E-minor corrente from the Partita in e minor, as well as the Air from that partita, the E-minor fugue from WTCI, the E major prelude, and perhaps fugue from WTCI, and so forth).

In this manner, the two adults collaborating towards a common goal may proceed in the manner of a conversation, with the teacher taking on the additional task as a kind of curator of suitable repertoire, in addition to the normal tasks of providing the usual important instruction about fingerings, interpretation, general technique.

Of course, I'm assuming the adult learner has some clearly-defined goals and has the usual amount of intellectual curiosity one can expect from the type of person who wishes to begin the demanding task of learning demanding music on a demanding instrument.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #79 on: March 05, 2019, 06:39:53 AM »

Yes, I was speaking as a student.  Thank you for your very helpful replies.
Ah, so I was right.
Ok, I planted some various things to get you started on possible cause/effect things - question which if you answer them might help solve some of what is troubling you (or may be).  Can you answer or think about some of these?

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #80 on: March 05, 2019, 06:53:27 AM »
j_tour, thank you for responding.
The main idea is that adults, at least educated adults, could and should expect that their teacher should be able to introduce pieces of repertoire which have similar technical difficulties, or which relate in an historical fashion somehow to what I presume is a common goal of adult learners.
So you are seeing the goal of adult learners to be centered around particular pieces they want to learn, rather than learning to play the instrument well (which, in fact, has been my goal).  Your hypothetical learner must already have some playing ability, know how to read notes, if you're starting with pieces at a given technical difficulty?
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Namely, that they may have a tendency to have selected on their own a somewhat limited selection or even one or a handful of pieces they desire to perform (or at least play for their own enjoyment).
Again, you are seeing the student's goal to be centered around playing given pieces.
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Another approach is to select a key and perhaps its parallel minor, and attempt to build rudiments on that basis — not an uncommon strategy among jazz players, to, for example, spend a week or a month learning one's "book" in, say, E major or whatever.
Technique as well?  (I am less familiar with jazz, I must admit.)
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So, the role of a teacher in the case of an adult who wishes to learn...say "an invention of Bach" — a minimal effort from the teacher could be to quickly demonstrate or provide a list of additional materials (the E-minor corrente from the Partita in e minor, as well as the Air from that partita, the E-minor fugue from WTCI, the E major prelude, and perhaps fugue from WTCI, and so forth).
I can't see that as working, unless you are talking about a student who already has a fair background in piano technique.
What is the student to be doing with these extra pieces?  Play them as well? Study them as theory by analyzing modulations, voices?
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In this manner, the two adults collaborating towards a common goal may proceed in the manner of a conversation, with the teacher taking on the additional task as a kind of curator of suitable repertoire, in addition to the normal tasks of providing the usual important instruction about fingerings, interpretation, general technique.
I work with a teacher as an adult.  I cannot see learning happening in conversation.  You play in front of the teacher.  He corrects.  He suggests.  He assigns tasks to be done at home, to give you the skills you need in layers over time .... well, what students usually do.  An intellectual conversational approach I don't think is practical.

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Of course, I'm assuming the adult learner has some clearly-defined goals and has the usual amount of intellectual curiosity one can expect from the type of person who wishes to begin the demanding task of learning demanding music on a demanding instrument.
If any student starting piano for the first time wants to learn "demanding" music, to start with, then he's in trouble and can indeed go buy that depressing book that you recommended in (I hope) jest in your last post.

I'll respond separately to how I see it .... and this is as an adult student.  I was 50+ when I joined this forum near the start of my piano journey so I do know a bit about this. :)

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #81 on: March 05, 2019, 07:41:11 AM »
@j_tour

I am an adult student and at this point I'm in my mid-sixties.  My goal is not that of playing some particular piece of music, or even a number of them.  My goal is to learn to play music on the piano, and what that entails.  It means I need to understand and be able to handle the instrument, understand how the body works together with the instrument (that combination gives us technique), get a grasp on things like reading music, interpreting and understanding in on a practical level as pertains to piano.  If the music should crescendo, with the melody being brought out, I must understand this ear-wise, physically, etc.  Those are the kinds of goals that I have as an adult student.

If a child is being taught well, then the child is given the kinds of skills that all students need.  Children often are not taught well.  But what a well-taught child gets, that is what I need as an adult too.  It is hands-on, interactive, responsive, guiding at the instrument to a large extent of the time.  "Conversations" won't work for anyone (imho).  It can also be pretty tedious: like learning to count and learning to hear when you are off.  Can you see how this differs from the kinds of things you wrote?  What do you think of that?

I did do some Bach Inventions some years ago: not because they had any huge attraction for me, but because of what I could learn.  Since they are well written by the master, I also enjoyed playing them.  I will mention the companion pieces you listed, to my teacher, because I am curious what he thinks of that idea.

Offline j_tour

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #82 on: March 06, 2019, 03:42:51 AM »
@j_tourBut what a well-taught child gets, that is what I need as an adult too.  It is hands-on, interactive, responsive, guiding at the instrument to a large extent of the time.  "Conversations" won't work for anyone (imho).  It can also be pretty tedious: like learning to count and learning to hear when you are off.  Can you see how this differs from the kinds of things you wrote?  What do you think of that?

You're right:  I stated a number of assumptions about adult learners, and I recognize, like many generalizations, it's not true for all cases.

The core axiom is that, in my view, any kind of teacher in any subject is really tasked with providing inspiration and enthusiasm, in order to encourage the student to do most of the learning during hours spent outside of the classroom/studio.  I think that's from Plato, or something, but I've found it to be generally something to aspire to as a teacher.

So, from there, that explains my little idea about providing multiple examples that relate to the work the student is mastering at the moment, as a sort of window into the greater world of the piano repertoire.  I don't mean giving an actual lecture to a student, just that certain people crave making some connections for its own sake.

But, like any technical discipline — engineering, applied mathematics, and so on — of course there can't be any substitute for doing the traditional repetition and feedback from the instructor.

Oh, and, yes, the jazz idea about spending, say, a month (or more, perhaps much more) on a single key absolutely typically includes everything technical.  Certainly scales and patterns, and sight-transposing (or, better, ear-transposing) dozens of tunes (or more!) one already knows into the target key.  So you'd play your rhythm changes "heads" into A major, and all the rest.

I've never done it in a strictly methodical way, but I do make it an exercise when I feel a little stagnant.  You know, since it's Mardi Gras today, maybe take some New Orleans staples and play them in the odd sharp keys (not that typical for the horn-and-keys heavy traditional NOLA R&B).  For me just a way to keep from getting bored and picking up some unusually tricky techniques, and not a real systematic approach.  You know, play "Tipitina" in E instead of F or Eb, or "Big Chief" in B natural or A.  It's good practice, anyway.

And, yes, of course I was joking about Final Exit — I thought it was funny anyway, although a little dark humor or "humor."  Besides that book would be better recommended to the Incels, and people who drive all crazy in the streets.  :)

Or, to "normalize" my idea of a teacher-as-curator of repertoire, it's not so much different than a teacher suggesting appropriate pieces for a given student.  For example, I was just now reading through a bunch of Bach's little preludes and fughettas and "little" fugues — I wasn't that familiar with them, but some of them take some doing to play at full speed.  So a teacher would do well to identify appropriate substitutes.  So, not much different than what most teachers (whether of adults or children) do.
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Offline outin

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #83 on: March 06, 2019, 07:08:27 AM »
Just to balance things:

I too am a 50+ adult learner, although I was a few years under when started. I practically started learning to play the piano from scratch because my rather unsuccessful lesson ended over 30 years earlier and I never even touched a piano for over 25 years. However I did some other things with music.

Unlike keypeg I do focus on playing music and learning specific pieces (a very long and still expanding list). Skills are only interesting to me when they serve this goal. I have taken lessons for about 7 years in order to play the music I want to play well enough to please myself and learn that music independently, that's all I want. To be able to do this does require a lot of skills, but I do not care so much how and when I learn them.

I do not expect quick results and I do consider myself a "serious" student. I think the limitations on what I can play are less related to my age but more to my personal physical and cognitive limitations and lack of experience. I think my biggest asset is my creativity and problem solving skills which are even more advanced now than as a child. I am also a little bit more patient I hope. Even at 50 I may still have more than 20 years to play if lucky, so I don't see age that relevant. At the moment the biggest limitation is time, since my work has become pretty demanding.

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #84 on: March 08, 2019, 09:17:59 AM »
And not being heard may be part of the problem.

This 2nd installment starts with a teacher saying he hasn't read what anyone has written, and then two teachers arguing with each other about what we want.  Students come in to say what they want and suddenly there is silence.

Keypeg,

 I sincerely apppreciate your contribution to this thread as you are a 50+ student. Although I have not posted much to this thread I do read all of the posts from different angles of student/teachers and appreciate all of your views.  It helps me see what I can do to get the most out of a teacher. I guess I will just start with sight reading since that is what I really want to be good at. BTW, I appreciate every contribution  to this thread since I am trying to figure out how to improve piano playing.

Offline 1hummingbird

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #85 on: July 11, 2019, 02:51:46 AM »
The main difference is that a 50-year-old is more likely to be working full-time or caring for others.  These tasks will likely interfere with practice time.   Do to time limitations, a more open structure to teaching middle-aged adults is therefore advised.  Adults are likely to stick with lessons once the decision to take them is made. 

Offline dogperson

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #86 on: July 11, 2019, 09:22:24 AM »
I’m an adult student, and I question the premise about available time between age groups.  Yes adults work and have commitments, but aren’t a lot of young students involved in a myriad of activities that often make practice very low in the list of things to do?  Yes I can work long hours but then I don’t have homework that completely absorbs my evenings

Most age groups have some time limitation; not sure adults have less.

Offline ted

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #87 on: July 11, 2019, 10:02:23 AM »
Most age groups have some time limitation; not sure adults have less.

Neither am I, and they probably use the time they do have to much greater advantage. I squandered thousands of hours at the piano in my youth working in all the wrong ways. Since I retired I seldom play for longer than two or three hours a day, but it is all very directed and not a second is wasted.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline keypeg

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #88 on: July 14, 2019, 03:11:30 PM »
The main difference is that a 50-year-old is more likely to be working full-time or caring for others.  These tasks will likely interfere with practice time.   Do to time limitations, a more open structure to teaching middle-aged adults is therefore advised.  Adults are likely to stick with lessons once the decision to take them is made.
I'm with dogperson.  I have always questioned this premise.  It's a good excuse though.  All you have to see the workload of a kid, especially high school age, and ask yourself how many adults put in that many hours - worse if the young person has been put into a lot of extra curricular activities.

The structure used in teaching me, I would hope would be toward the substance of what I need to learn, and without compromising what I need to learn due to being an adult.  You probably mean scheduling structure.  If circumstances warrant, I guess that is true for any student.  :)

Offline trilling

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #89 on: August 30, 2019, 03:14:53 AM »
With all due respect, I know little and that can be dangerous. But even Van Cliburn said there is simply not enough time to play everything, let alone everything great like the masterpieces. I'm surprised no one mentioned that playing the piano takes a lot of time. And at a mature age there are additional constraints. No one likes to be reminded of what they can not do. I suspect a good teacher would take that to heart. And that can be the difference in handling people in the different age groups.   

Offline sucom

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #90 on: September 18, 2019, 08:54:41 AM »
With all due respect, I know little and that can be dangerous. But even Van Cliburn said there is simply not enough time to play everything, let alone everything great like the masterpieces. I'm surprised no one mentioned that playing the piano takes a lot of time. And at a mature age there are additional constraints. No one likes to be reminded of what they can not do. I suspect a good teacher would take that to heart. And that can be the difference in handling people in the different age groups.   

Absolutely true!  Your post brought to mind a thought about 'why' people play the piano.  From my own perspective, an initial goal in the mind of every student has to be the aspiration to move to greater heights.  The imagination may produce images of playing that piece you love so much, feeling the excitement of watching fingers fly over the keys or reaching deep into the emotions of a heart felt piece of music.  Aspiring to greater things fires up the imagination and provides the persistence and motivation to practice.

Having said this, the person who is likely to succeed on the piano is not the person who believes they will only find enjoyment 'once that goal is reached'. The aspiration leads the way, of course, but the real joy has to be felt in the journey 'towards' that goal.  Every wrong note, corrected; every sentiment achieved; every finger drilling to competence; every practice session HAS to be enjoyed. 

The imagined goal provides the motivation and persistence; but the person who finds absolute joy in the journey towards that goal is the person who will succeed. Anyone who is practising the piano with the mindset of 'It is so painful practising this; I will only feel happy when I can do it' could be on a bumpy road where the roads will only become harder to negotiate.

So I would say, particularly to older adult beginners, don't think about whether time is on your side when it comes to learning the piano.  It doesn't matter if there is insufficient time to learn a particular piece or reach a particular standard.  Time is right 'now' and if you are enjoying practising a beginners piece, a grade 3 piece, an advanced piece, it doesn't matter!  It makes no difference.  Playing the piano, practising the piano, aspiring to greater heights, are all taking place right 'now'.  If you are enjoying that process, in the now moment, at whatever level you are or whatever level you think you may be able to attain with your aspiration clearly in mind, then that is all that is necessary to gain the greatest benefit from your piano playing activity. 

Don't ever let the idea that time is not on your side quash your motivation or give up!  Instead, simply enjoy the journey as it unfolds.  This, in my mind, IS succeeding.  The journey towards the imagined goal IS the goal!




Offline sucom

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Re: What is different about teaching someone who is 50+ years ?
«Reply #91 on: September 18, 2019, 09:00:40 AM »
First, I'm over 50, and my perspective is that it takes a long time to become this awesome!  So, the trade offs are worth it.

Re: Over 50 piano lessons.

.  Students are at different levels of commitment.  I took a group class, and I was the only person who actually practiced outside of the lessons, so a teacher needs to be able to work with this restriction.

.  Speaking for myself, it is humbling to be really bad at something. As I got older, I became more competent at my profession/life.  Not to "know" to "struggle", and in fact, to look down right stupid was a challenge.  Knowing nothing about piano, but a fair amount of life, I tended to be very defensive when my teacher tried to correct me. 

.  I have agile hands, but my similar aged piano peers struggled.  All of us were "thought professionals", and we don't use our hands for much other than tapping in reports.

.  A lot of adult students I know want to play for their friends, but they don't want to reach a level of technical professional proficiency.  Having just started with a new teacher with a goal towards reaching ABRSM level 8 (in some distant future), I played my two "wow, can you sure play pieces" for her.  I expected her to embrace me cause of my wonderful playing.  Instead, she started out with a detailed analysis of my deficiencies.  It took me 3 days before I concluded that if I wanted to reach my goal, I would have to accept that I had a lot of work to do.

So, piano at 50 plus is humbling...!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post; thank you for posting your thoughts.  You have brought forward so many good points.