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Always build up, never break down. (Read 1511 times)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Always build up, never break down.
« on: March 24, 2019, 09:00:55 AM »
The best teachers I have come across not only in terms of music are those who have built me up first without breaking me down. This is the sign of the "good fruits" of a good teacher that they will build you up without dismantling your current abilities or make you feel a failure or that you have wasted your time in the past or that anything you learned in the past cannot help you in the future. They will meet you at your level and build you up.

A poor teacher will ignore your past and expect you to recreate yourself immediately and if you are unable you are left feeling a failure and it is all your fault. You feel guilty, stupid, useless, nothing is able to be built up because you are so distraught that what you had before is useless. The teacher will blame you for your inability to recreate yourself or keep up with their regieme, they are unbending in the way they teach if you cannot follow their method "to the t" then you simply are not worthy of improving. They ignore your personal journey, they have no sensitivity to connect with that.

A good teacher will appreciate your past and get to know you, they will be interested in how you function and what you do. They will not copy paste their ideas of mastery over the top of you. They actively work against your negative feelings about yourself, they build your morale up, they make you aware of your strenghts and use that to build you up further. They will not focus on your weaknesses and make you feel bad for having them, in the process of building you up and actually liking you for what you bring to the lesson, you will feel secure and relax into their advice and teaching.

As you relax into the relationship with your teacher you will be able to make changes and improve upon your weaknesses, not by smashing them down and forgetting about them, but by first building you up to such a point where then you are able to reevaluate your situation with more insight, more confidence, no more traps before you. You relax because they have built you up and you feel good, you have tasted the fruits of their good teaching and it has opened your mind in a kind, constructive manner with no sense of destruction or feelings of incompetance.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline vaniii

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #1 on: March 27, 2019, 02:29:33 PM »
Needed to see this today.

First time I logged-in in months and this is the first post I have read; you have done mor ethan you know.

Best,

V

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 10:35:31 PM »
The best teachers I have come across not only in terms of music are those who have built me up first without breaking me down. This is the sign of the "good fruits" of a good teacher that they will build you up without dismantling your current abilities or make you feel a failure or that you have wasted your time in the past or that anything you learned in the past cannot help you in the future. They will meet you at your level and build you up.

A poor teacher will ignore your past and expect you to recreate yourself immediately and if you are unable you are left feeling a failure and it is all your fault. You feel guilty, stupid, useless, nothing is able to be built up because you are so distraught that what you had before is useless. The teacher will blame you for your inability to recreate yourself or keep up with their regieme, they are unbending in the way they teach if you cannot follow their method "to the t" then you simply are not worthy of improving. They ignore your personal journey, they have no sensitivity to connect with that.

A good teacher will appreciate your past and get to know you, they will be interested in how you function and what you do. They will not copy paste their ideas of mastery over the top of you. They actively work against your negative feelings about yourself, they build your morale up, they make you aware of your strenghts and use that to build you up further. They will not focus on your weaknesses and make you feel bad for having them, in the process of building you up and actually liking you for what you bring to the lesson, you will feel secure and relax into their advice and teaching.

As you relax into the relationship with your teacher you will be able to make changes and improve upon your weaknesses, not by smashing them down and forgetting about them, but by first building you up to such a point where then you are able to reevaluate your situation with more insight, more confidence, no more traps before you. You relax because they have built you up and you feel good, you have tasted the fruits of their good teaching and it has opened your mind in a kind, constructive manner with no sense of destruction or feelings of incompetance.

When I get around to working with a teacher, I want him/her to work with me out of the countless books from my past - not some new rote-course books. What you are saying makes  alot of sense for me. I had not thought about that before

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #3 on: March 28, 2019, 05:23:38 PM »
Needed to see this today.

First time I logged-in in months and this is the first post I have read; you have done more than you know.

Hi vanni I'm glad you found value in this, when I was made aware of this by a wonderful teacher it changed my outlook on many things in life and in unexpected ways. I feel happy that it has given you something and hopefully strengthened you in some way.


When I get around to working with a teacher, I want him/her to work with me out of the countless books from my past - not some new rote-course books. What you are saying makes  alot of sense for me. I had not thought about that before
Nice pianoplunker that certainly is a valid request to ask of a teacher and a good one will certainly be keen to dive into what you have done. I'm always pleased when students openly share their past studies with me and talk about their experiences though often it is the case that students bottle a lot of it up. It then takes time to open them up, undo past trauma in some form, so they can respond with the fullness and freedom of who they are.

(So now I feel inspired to rattle on a bit so this directed to whoever wants to read.)

Some however tell me how much they hated their past lessons and would like nothing else but to burn it up and escape it. I still will try to revisit it with them when they feel comfortable so perhaps they can find the value in it finally (because the past teachers approached it insensitively) or indeed we realize together that it truly was horrible for them (which is encouraging as well because the student doesn't think it was just them who thought that). Though even from a truly terrible past you can always use that to appreciate the "better" paths ahead of you and if need be you also are equipped to be aware of when you enter bad experiences in the future and perhaps know ways to deal with it effectively.

I think it is a shame that some teachers can treat lessons like a dictatorship so you find many students who merely become robotic pawns who do whatever the teacher demands, a demand that deletes any answers that a student might come up with and inserts the teachers solution without any negotiation process. It can be hard to get teachers to bring themselves down to their students level, some want to simply drag the students up and if the process fails or the learning curve becomes very steep they don't realize that it is their fault not the students. Teachers should investigate students past works, puzzle through the thought processes that went through the students mind, get to know how they came up with their solutions to problems, it gives insight into their inner workings and you should build upon that and discuss not merely demand replacement.

This investigation can take as little as a few seconds to years , the investigation can also never end. As teachers we should enjoy looking through the "students glasses" not break it down and ignore it and replacing it with a "better" way but build upon their very framework and then find that they will make developments themselves without you having to force it with a result that you demand.

This all boils more down to the very foundations of the learning and creative processes and human relationship, something I feel is much more important than just increasing the playing level. Ones playing level can be restricted severely but that doesn't mean we think lesser of ourselves and teachers certainly should not think lesser of the students. Some teachers/school only take the best students or the highest achievers, maybe they are not interested in anything else which I personally believe is a shame. Students however should not feel any less of themselves if they can't get lessons from these kind of teachers or institutions. It really is about your own journey and in there lies a uniqueness and something very precious.


There was an extreme case with a low functioning autistic student that I taught for several years that taught me about everyone having a unique, precious personal journey and  that has nothing to do with playing ability. This student taught me a great deal about the very foundations of the learning spirit. I mentioned to their parents that I wasn't a music therapist and was not trained to deal with such a student but they insisted I give lessons a try.

So what happened is that we ended up doing the same "lesson one" routine for probably 6 months or more, over and over... and over again. After a few weeks I thought that it was such a waste of time, I realized I was unable to introduce anything else since most simplest ideas were a great challenge and every time I tried to drag her up to learn something else it failed miserably. In those first few lessons I felt very tempted to tell the parents that there was no hope for their child to learn the piano but I upheld a positive demeanor even though underneath it all I was a nervous wreck.

It was only when I starting thinking it was my problem and not the students that I saw the lesson in a totally different light and started to like the student more and our interaction. I found that it was my duty to bring myself down to the students level and to see what it was that they needed and appreciated themselves and not a judgment of what I envisioned that they needed and what results they should enjoy achieving. I found that they needed to feel safe and secure in the lessons, to have a routine they could follow and understand and importantly have a positive, comfortable and relaxed relationship with me as their teacher. I could build up these no matter what the capability level and I found as we built this up that it merely required the students own time to make changes to their capabilities not me forcing it into action.

The lesson required a huge amount of constant repetition which would have required that I had super human patience if I had held that image in my mind as to what they should achieve and how they should achieve it. It was only because I fully surrendered that image of where I thought they needed to be and allowed it to be fully based on the students capability and desires that patience on my behalf really became no longer part of the the equation at all. I was able to focus in on the foundation of their learning, creativity and their interaction with me all which where being built up.

I really did like the student a great deal more and began to notice how much they actually liked doing the same safe procedure countless times and how that built their confidence and feeling of safety and relaxation in the lessons. I then saw actual playing skill progression which I couldn't detect before when stuck in my own mind. I occasionally tested if we could go further and further with incredibly small baby steps and eventually (after 6 months) I could add more and more and we could start building on top of that first lesson little by little, and I mean little by little in the tiniest sense.

I could see these steps forward because I had magnified my attention so close to their own capabilities, but if I were to remove that magnification and see from a higher level it all would again seem so miniscule and easily considered irrelevant. In fact if I told you it took 6 months to merely be able to find and control a five finger position with much experimentation and “playing around” to find it on their own you would think what a waste of time and how meaningless it is, then to realize it took several months more to develop the use particular fingers and then combinations of them - if you really thought about it on your own terms you would think it is such a tiny improvement and it is useless, but if you look at it from the students perspective it is really a monumental achievement.

Fast forward a few years at the end of our lessons they were playing a number of pieces with two hands and creating their own music. When I think of where they came from it really was a huge difference like day and night but to someone else it might seem very uninspiring and a waste of time. Surely it is something a "normal" functioning person could achieve in a few weeks but for this special needs student it was an amazing achievement, really quite brilliant. I was sad when they moved location but the experience changed me a huge amount when dealing with all my other "normal" functioning students.

Many years later I came across this video and I got a huge "ah ha" moment. It really encouraged me that what happened back then was on the right track.

"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #4 on: April 07, 2019, 03:44:36 PM »
I deliberately stayed off the thread because I have the bad habit of posting too often, and it was better for LiW's name to be out there prominently.
The best teachers I have come across not only in terms of music are those who have built me up first without breaking me down. This is the sign of the "good fruits" of a good teacher that they will build you up without dismantling your current abilities or make you feel a failure or that you have wasted your time in the past or that anything you learned in the past cannot help you in the future. They will meet you at your level and build you up.
I have highlighted one part that I especially liked.  There was one teacher before my piano time with whom I worked only for a smaller period, who had an absolutist idea that every foundation had to be learned perfectly, otherwise you were condemned to a playing that was always on shaky ground forever after.  If you started badly, what does that suggest to you about your prospects, other than "ruined for life"?  (That was not thought out too well, I'd say).  The premise itself; small children wobble and toddle before becoming athletes or dancers - they grow out of "imperfection", like coming into focus.  But also: Any "wrong" things and any problems that you have had to work through can give you a deeper insight over time, and might make you a better player. 

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A poor teacher will ignore your past and expect you to recreate yourself immediately and if you are unable you are left feeling a failure and it is all your fault. You feel guilty, stupid, useless, nothing is able to be built up because you are so distraught that what you had before is useless.....
I think this happens too often.  You have mentioned the emotional toll, and I agree.  The student is also being profoundly cheated.  I have experienced where some skill or insight that I had known nothing about, turned around a whole bunch of things - suddenly what was hard became easy; what was obscure was crystal clear.  Any student lucky enough to have gotten such teaching will also feel how much a student is being cheated when blamed by this kind of teacher, and also how cruel and ignorant it is.

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.....  The teacher will blame you for your inability to recreate yourself or keep up with their regime, they are unbending in the way they teach if you cannot follow their method "to the t" then you simply are not worthy of improving. They ignore your personal journey, they have no sensitivity to connect with that.
I'm thinking that any "to the t" method which is the teacher's method probably doesn't show that much good teaching ability anyway.  Part of teaching has to be meeting the needs, the strengths, and the weaknesses of a student.  If that is not done, is it still teaching, or is it marching along a blind formula?

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A good teacher will appreciate ....
Yes to the whole paragraph.  ;)

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As you relax into the relationship with your teacher you will be able to make changes and improve upon your weaknesses, not by smashing them down and forgetting about them, but by first building you up to such a point where then you are able to reevaluate your situation with more insight, more confidence, no more traps before you. You relax because they have built you up and you feel good, you have tasted the fruits of their good teaching and it has opened your mind in a kind, constructive manner with no sense of destruction or feelings of incompetence.

I'd like to add another side to this as well.  If you are a mature student, and if you have actually managed to suspect or outright know that you have received poor teaching, it will also be hard to trust the new good teacher.  The trust that was so easily given to the first teacher will have to be earned by the good one, who might not be the second, but might be the third or fourth, because when your playing goes off the rails, you're harder to teach and subsequent teachers may not know how to manage this.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 07:06:25 PM »
IMHO
If you are looking at your third teacher after two ‘failures’ you need  to analyze what went wrong:

- did you discuss your musical interests with your teacher? Your long-term goals?
- did your second teacher know your willingness to ‘go backwards’ to develop skills?
-did you express concern if you felt like you were moving too fast?
- Did you let your teacher know how much you could practice every week, did you do it?
- Did you skip a large number of lessons? Was the lesson interval too infrequent?
- did you ask questions when you didn’t understand?  Did you repeat the technique after your teacher’s demonstration?

There are probably many more ideas for reflection.   Just like after a failed marriage, it is just too easy to totally Blame your partner. 

Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #6 on: April 08, 2019, 05:31:13 AM »
Taking this out of the hypothetical for the moment into a real situation that did occur before I took up piano again.
- did you discuss your musical interests with your teacher? Your long-term goals?
My goal was to learn to play this new instrument.  I assumed that there was a set of skills that needed to be learned in roughly some order, and anything I was asked to do would be done in order to get me there.   It never occurred to me to state that goal. "Musical interests" were to learn to play the instrument, and I was open to anything that came along.

The first teacher's thinking seemed to be that stressing technique too much would be a turn-off.  It was discussed way too late, but there was some turnaround then.  I had to stop for other reasons.
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- did your second teacher know your willingness to ‘go backwards’ to develop skills? 
There was a second teacher for a shorter period.  This teacher had fixed ideas which got applied to all students.  Here is a problem if you have not received good teaching and don't know what to look for, in that you cannot judge.  The things didn't work because they couldn't work, and I blamed myself / was blamed .. something that LiW talks about.
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-did you express concern if you felt like you were moving too fast?
With the first teacher, when I graduated to still another grade, I asked to review the previous grade as I felt as if I had not absorbed what I needed.  I could not specify more than that, because I didn't know how music study worked.  Essentially we quickly skimmed over the same material.
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- Did you let your teacher know how much you could practice every week, did you do it?
The teacher suggested that ideal practising time was 3 hours/day every day, though he didn't expect that much.  I went anywhere between 1 and 3 hours, most of the time 2 hours, daily.  Most of us here know principles such as effective practice etc.  If you diligently practice the wrong way or the wrong things, then that practising can even set your progress going in reverse.
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- Did you skip a large number of lessons? Was the lesson interval too infrequent?
Weekly, on hour lessons, every week of the year, for about 5 years, with lessons rarely missed.
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- did you ask questions when you didn’t understand?  Did you repeat the technique after your teacher’s demonstration?
I did exactly as I was told, and this turned out to be the problem, because some of what I was given were shortcuts or simplifications.  Many of the problems I encountered were due both to what I was not taught, and what I was taught to do.  That was ironed out near the end too, but by then there was a lot of damage to undo.
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There are probably many more ideas for reflection.   Just like after a failed marriage, it is just too easy to totally Blame your partner.
You do not have a relationship between equals in a student-teacher relationship.  And after a failed marriage, the kids tend to blame themselves.

As for reflection, that is exactly what I did as that instrument ended and I found myself with a piano after 35 years.  I joined PianoWorld and PianoStreet at that time.  I talked to teachers and fellow students publicly and privately.  I observed.  A lot of the things where I sound like a broken record come from that.  One of the teachers with whom I discussed these things earnestly ended up becoming my main teacher.

Above all, if an adult student begins lessons, do not assume that the teacher will be aiming to give you the needed skills, because different types of goals may be assumed.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 01:36:37 PM »
 A better answer:
There is one factor that I was utterly unaware of, had no idea of its existence, and it was the key to a lot of things.  Namely, I had simply thought that if playing an instrument, say flute: you need to learn how to physically play the flute, how the flute works, how music works for things like reading it, timing, dynamics, what phrases are etc.  Since this (I thought) was always the same, there would be some straightforward logical way that it tends to be taught.  Come to lessons, follow instructions, and you're all set to go.  Why ask anything other than, "What would you like me to do this week - and how?"

The missing factor is what the teacher will be teaching toward, and how that shapes his teaching.  One example is the common "adult formula" - become able to play your favourite music in a way you and your friends can recognize without spending much time and effort getting there; address the intellect since it's the abstract thinker age.  This type of overall goal set will then drive what is taught and how it is taught.  In fact, two students may get the same course content in terms of pieces, etudes, scales etc., in the same order, and yet the teaching is very different based on this kind of thing.

Asking questions (which you mentioned) can be tricky.  This was also when the Internet was in its infancy so the knowledge was not out there.  You don't know enough to ask anything intelligently, or in the lingo of a musician.  It can also go to how your question is perceived according to who you are.  A musician learning a new instrument says, "I don't like how this passage sounds." and gets told, "Wait until you learn how to make the other voice quieter." or even, gets shown how to do so.  An amateur might say exactly the same thing and be told, "Don't worry.  It takes time." - emotional anxiety is assumed, and the answer goes toward that perception.

This is the reason why I keep saying to have the goal of "getting the skills needed to play music on the instrument", so that you can express this goal to a prospective teacher.  That goal is shorthand for a bunch of things.  A competent teacher who knows enough has to be at the other end of this, but the perceived goal part is the first thing that can go wrong.  I have since met teachers who assume nothing, check everything, and insist on giving all students the fundamental tools.

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In regard to second teachers, when the first has gone wrong:  You will be a product of how you were taught.  How you approach an assignment, how you play, how you listen in a lesson, will all reflect that teaching.  Some teachers who are astute will recognize the signs and address it.  Others will miss it so the problem perpetuates.  And then you can also fall prey to the Unique Expert, who has The Answer, and woe betide the student whose problems don't match The Answer (LostiniIdleWonder addressed that too).  If you have a bit of knowledge about learning and self-knowledge, you might be able to recognize this rather than blaming yourself.

One good teacher said once, "You won't know what good teaching is, until you have received good teaching." and there is truth to this, I think.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 02:47:28 PM »
The premise itself; small children wobble and toddle before becoming athletes or dancers - they grow out of "imperfection", like coming into focus.  But also: Any "wrong" things and any problems that you have had to work through can give you a deeper insight over time, and might make you a better player. 
Exactly, you need to do things not so correct for a time so that when you improve upon it you can compare it to how you did it before and thoroughly understand the difference. If you merely parrot ideas of mastery without understanding it I feel that this is a problem. It is an irrational fear that bad habits are difficult to change, in fact I like seeing bad habits because it gives me something to work on with the student and at a rate which they will be able to make the changes to it themselves, not me just forcing them to make rapid change and destroying their previous solutions. Sometimes of course you can correct issues very fast but other times it takes time.

I have experienced where some skill or insight that I had known nothing about, turned around a whole bunch of things - suddenly what was hard became easy; what was obscure was crystal clear.
This is an important realisation I think, when you make some kind of change and it brings about a large improvement. A poor teacher of course allows a student to do things poorly for too long, but a good one will sometimes allow the student to do things poorly and then implement change slowly enough that the student understands the benefits of this change. If the student is unwilling or very resistent to change they have not done it wrong for long enough, they are still exploring the nature of what they are doing and need to come to their dead end before they can make efficient change.

Part of teaching has to be meeting the needs, the strengths, and the weaknesses of a student.  If that is not done, is it still teaching, or is it marching along a blind formula?
When we start to define what these strengths and weakeness exactly are then we can formulate an approach to improving the students situation. I find there are students who want a large change and are very open to recreating themselves, but these students also need a careful approach because changing too much can leave them bewildered no matter how keen they are. Then there are those who are very resistent to change, I get this a lot with younger students who feel very safe doing things "in their way", of course you must let them do it their way but encourage change by perhaps trapping their poor method with examples that exploit their weaknesses and forces them to make some type of correction. Of course this may also require that they mature technically and musically and simply time is of essence. What I have seen some teachers do is force a student to play in a certain manner without them really understanding why it is done that way, they are just expected to do it and not question, I feel this parrot type learning does not generally satisfy the creative and analytical mind.

If you are a mature student, and if you have actually managed to suspect or outright know that you have received poor teaching, it will also be hard to trust the new good teacher.  The trust that was so easily given to the first teacher will have to be earned by the good one, who might not be the second, but might be the third or fourth, because when your playing goes off the rails, you're harder to teach and subsequent teachers may not know how to manage this.
Yes and I think this is the duty of the teacher to deal with not so much the student. The student will relax and trust the teacher again if the teacher is sensitive enough to connect to that emotional past of the student. Of course the student needs to open up evnetually and make that choice but it predominantly is on the teachers shoulders to help the student on that journey.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #9 on: April 29, 2019, 05:26:02 AM »
One good teacher said once, "You won't know what good teaching is, until you have received good teaching." and there is truth to this, I think.
This is very true and it is especially true with the arts where answers and even progress can seem quite ambiguous or slow revealing, especially from the students perspective. As students I think we can get so caught up over how our lesson situation is that we don't realize there may be better opportunities elsewhere.

Sometimes I have referral students who are severely negative about their ability, they often had an insensitive, demotivating teacher who crushed their potential and self confidence. With these students many who have studied for years the piano I notice a strange and very fast ability level improvement when I teach them and when investigating why I often find out that their previous teachers were so caught up over negative reenforcement (eg: they correct themselves to avoid the teachers scourn, or are made to repeat countless times in a lessons until they got something right then and there), pointing out errors without a building up of the student to develop a constructive plans to deal with them, holding up unreachable ideals of perfection and many inefficient teaching methods etc.

The student knew no better lesson environment and through the problem was with themselves, it made them fear making mistakes as these were failures that had to be avoided, fear growing and taking chances, made the students constantly check every single step incessantly before actually making them. Once these students tasted being actually built up and appreciated by their teacher for their abilities they could thrive and no longer try to fit some artificial mould that neglected who they were.

Teachers experience also needs to be taken into consideration. Some are so caught up over the way they teach that they see no other way and the students who do well are doing well because their teaching is good, those that don't do well merely are lost causes and it has nothing to do with their teaching. Sure some students have a lot more challenges than others but all can discover their own potentials and thrive and enjoy music at their level given that they are receptive to the learning process (those who don't practice at all or are forced into lessons often are much tougher to deal with). Some teachers need to realize that their perspective as to what the student needs to do to enjoy music must not be evaluated totally on their own ideologies but heavily incorporate the students personal situation.

A large responsibility of the teacher is to help the student come to terms with their own capabilities and be comfortable with it. Sometimes it is very difficult to guage what a student potential really is so as teacher we should encourage them to reach for the stars but not make them feel a failure if they can only hit lower targets. Sometimes we can get students who are quite unrealistic with thier ability level and when they do not hit certain marks think much less of themselves and become very negative, of course we need to treat these students with care and help them become comfortable with their individual musical selves not some false competitive image that they think they should keep up with.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #10 on: May 24, 2019, 12:17:38 PM »
This video is very relevent to this thread:

https://www.ted.com/talks/julie_lythcott_haims_how_to_raise_successful_kids_without_over_parenting?language=en

How to nourish children to grow in the best way they can and not force their growth in a direction that we see fit.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #11 on: May 25, 2019, 09:57:35 PM »
The video addresses a world with which I am totally unfamiliar.  For those who raise their children that way, it may be a needed eye opener. For those who were raised that way, it may help them come to terms with what happened to them and where they are now.

Offline Bob

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #12 on: May 25, 2019, 11:16:12 PM »
I glanced through the post, but I recently "crashed" for practicing.  Even doing things you think are good and helping... Sometimes things still crash when you've done your best.

I would think over the long term, that's where you can tell if things are actually working, not necessarily if work is being put in, but if that work is paying off.  And in that case, it might be as much the teacher directing things as the student doing the work.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #13 on: May 27, 2019, 04:02:26 PM »
The video addresses a world with which I am totally unfamiliar.  For those who raise their children that way, it may be a needed eye opener. For those who were raised that way, it may help them come to terms with what happened to them and where they are now.
I would have thought that it is quite common to know families for instance who put a lot of pressure on their kids to get good marks in school and the kids see approval in their parents when they get high marks and distain when they get low marks. What is more important is to raise children who honestly do their best regardless of what mark they get, that attitude is much more important.

I personally know several multi millionares who never completed their studies at school and a few who actually did terribly at school. I've personally taught several great musicians who flunked out of music at university and mistakenly thought that they were not worthy to do music as a career (thank goodness that changed for some of them!). The institutional higher education system is not the only pathway but so many think it is the only way. Life is not about getting a high % mark in an exam yet that is the hoop most must jump through and because of this people miss out on their future choices.

There are so many more important skills out there to build up than just getting a high mark, unfortunately the archaic nature of our institutional education system still believes a high mark is the be-all end-all for sucessful people. So too can we as piano teachers fall into this kind of trap when teaching our students!

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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 04:17:22 PM »
Even doing things you think are good and helping... Sometimes things still crash when you've done your best.
Sure we can do our best at something and it might not turn out being the best but then you are equipped to improve upon it and know if that improvement helps because you can compare so nothing is really wasted. 

I would think over the long term, that's where you can tell if things are actually working, not necessarily if work is being put in, but if that work is paying off.  And in that case, it might be as much the teacher directing things as the student doing the work.
I think if you do something more efficiently this is noticeable sooner rather than later especially if you have something to compare it with. A total beginner doesn't have much comparisions to use to guage this but it will come. A teacher needs to guide a student at the students level and need to ensure an instrinic understanding is evident with what you are teaching them. This often requires many levels of revelation over time depending on the students capabilities. Some students really need to do things initially on their own without input from the teacher, then when the teacher offers suggestions they can compare and appreciate better. It is actually instructive for the teacher also to allow their students to work on their own and observe them then offer correctives that the student can appreciate and agree with on their level. Sometimes teacher can miss this point and merely dictate answers to their students and expect them to "copy paste" them into their regieme.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #15 on: May 27, 2019, 10:19:58 PM »
I would have thought that it is quite common to know families for instance who put a lot of pressure on their kids to get good marks in school and the kids see approval in their parents when they get high marks and distain when they get low marks.
It depends on your circles and your environment.  If you teach in a particular environment, you are going to see particular things.  Where I am, I do not see this at all.  Where you are, it is quite likely that you see it a lot.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #16 on: May 28, 2019, 03:08:17 AM »
It depends on your circles and your environment.  If you teach in a particular environment, you are going to see particular things.  Where I am, I do not see this at all.  Where you are, it is quite likely that you see it a lot.
Yeah well it is surprising to me because I teach some 40+ families each week of all sorts of cultures and socio economic brackets and those who have kids many of them place great importance on grades in the way I described, in the western world it seems rather commonplace.  To be totally oblivious (or as you put it "totally unfamiliar") and not experience it to me is quite a statistical anomaly I can imagine in very poor 3rd world countries or outback tribal communities this would be quite common though or places were higher education is not really an option.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #17 on: May 28, 2019, 08:34:34 AM »
The world that woman addresses, with parents pushing their kids that way, and everything she describes, is a world that is common in some circles, but not others.  It is not as common as you think.  I am saying that for those who do think that way, her message is important.  For those who don't, it's moot.  There, other things going on would have to be addressed.

Offline outin

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #18 on: May 28, 2019, 09:26:29 AM »
The world that woman addresses, with parents pushing their kids that way, and everything she describes, is a world that is common in some circles, but not others.  It is not as common as you think.  I am saying that for those who do think that way, her message is important.  For those who don't, it's moot.  There, other things going on would have to be addressed.

It's very much a cultural thing too. I grew up in an extremely non-competetitive culture, but have recently seen some "imported" ideas about "success built early" spread more...

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #19 on: May 28, 2019, 12:31:30 PM »
The world that woman addresses, with parents pushing their kids that way, and everything she describes, is a world that is common in some circles, but not others.  It is not as common as you think.  I am saying that for those who do think that way, her message is important.  For those who don't, it's moot.  There, other things going on would have to be addressed.
Well you don't actually have to have lived in that culture to know that it exists and exists in many places in the western world. To say you are "totally unfamiliar" makes me think you live in some kind of bubble which doesn't see the world outside of your little space. You state it is not as common as I think, I disagree it is very common, come to Australia and it is very common. In Chinese culture it is very common and there are billions of Chinese people, not common? Many 1st world countries which elevate higher education also follow suit, if it was not common then the enterance exam scores to get into universities  would be much lower.   
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #20 on: May 28, 2019, 02:59:14 PM »
Well you don't actually have to have lived in that culture to know that it exists and exists in many places in the western world. To say you are "totally unfamiliar" makes me think you live in some kind of bubble which doesn't see the world outside of your little space. You state it is not as common as I think, I disagree it is very common, come to Australia and it is very common. In Chinese culture it is very common and there are billions of Chinese people, not common? Many 1st world countries which elevate higher education also follow suit, if it was not common then the enterance exam scores to get into universities  would be much lower.


To say ‘I am unaware’ does not mean you have lived in a vacuum or a hut but that it is not common in the local environment, no matter what it is.  I was part of an upper middle class US family, and this was also not part of the culture I knew at the time.   Generalizations can only be generalizations but can not be applied individually

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #21 on: May 28, 2019, 05:39:15 PM »
Being "unaware" or to be "totally unfamiliar" to me means that you have zero experience at all, it is quite a powerful statement I would think. If someone said that such things are alien to their own personal upbringing or how they raise their own kids I can understand that. The meaning of the words can be difficult to understand sometimes so it is good to clarify what people mean and how others interpret what you say.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #22 on: May 28, 2019, 10:14:41 PM »
The woman in the video talked about parents vetting teachers, pushing their children to get good grades, making them aware as they grew up that they took the right courses, to get into the right schools, choosing the right teachers etc.  - she warns against this, and you also agree with that warning.  For where such things happen, I would also agree with that warning. I have started to learn about these things in recent years, via the Internet, and by chatting with one or two people, again on the Internet.  Personally, in my life, in regard to people I knew and know, in regard to people I have come in contact with, I don't encounter this - and thus I am "unfamiliar" with it.  In life.  Maybe you think I ought to have encountered such things in life, but the simple fact is, I haven't.

When I taught school, it was not that kind of area.  In my own life and people surrounding me as I grew up, the idea was that you study what was presented in school, and if you were smart and worked decently, you'd get decent grades and have a chance at who knows what.  Nothing more than that.  When I tutored later on, I sometimes had to advise students on how to plan an assignment in stages, and get parents to provide a study space in the home.  That tended to be the other extreme.

The very fact that you give piano lessons means that you will have parents who are involved in their children's education to the point of paying for piano lessons.  Unless that is paid for by some government program or otherwise, those parents can also afford to pay for them. By the very fact of teaching piano, you are already more likely to be exposed to a different socioeconomic environment, or a different mentality.

The closest I came to this was one year when one of my children was in an alternative school kindergarten out of district, I had to drive there with my battered car since we were "out of district", and there was also a local playgroup.  I went to the playgroup twice a week with my younger child, which halved the travel time.  Those parents were also the ones who had lobbied for the alternative school: it was a different kind of area (one where I could not afford to live), and these parents, talking about their older children, would discuss which teacher's class they wanted their child to be in the following year.  I was totally astounded that such things exited.   I was  :o  :o  :o and made a mental note.  Like, these parents visited classrooms to make those decisions, got involved including not just being passive with teachers, were proactive. Wow - this exists?!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #23 on: May 28, 2019, 10:23:32 PM »
There is another side to this.  Until I started to converse (Internet) with some of the people who had had this kind of "parental involvement", I had felt deprived and hard done by in regard to my own background.   When I heard their stories, I realized that I might have dodged a bullet, and what the woman in the video says seems to suggest the same thing.  Some of those people grew up not knowing who they were, what they liked, discipline was an externally imposed thing, and things like music that they were forced to take turned into an oppressive thing for some of them.

If you "grow up like Topsy", left to your own devices, teaching yourself what you can for what interests you, then you do know what you like and what interests you, and you also learn how to work toward what you want.  The problem is that if you are left totally to your own devices, there are things you simply won't learn, or that you learn wrong.  One's late fifties or sixties is a silly time to start learning what you tried to learn when you were ten!  Neither extreme is good.   It is always about balance and common sense.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #24 on: May 29, 2019, 04:32:14 AM »
I liked what the lady said in the video because it resonated with the idea of building up a child at their level and not merely dragging them up and forcing them to act a certain way. There are much more important skills to develop that will help them become "whole" people.

We shouldn't leave a child or any student for that matter totally to their own devices everyone needs some sort of guidance but how that guidance is packaged makes all the difference. More importantly is that a teacher during one on one lessons goes alongside the student in their education journey and guides them through it at their level and avoid copy pasting ideas of improvement into them. Sometimes teachers can have an idea of mastery that a student should achieve and drill for extended periods of time until that student achieve it, the teacher neglects that the students capability perhaps cannot efficiently match that image of mastery. Most of the times these kind of improvements if forced encourage a "parroting" of ideas rather than an intrinsic undertsanding. The building up of the student to that ideal can be done while considering the students current capabilities and a step wise improvement over long term. Of course some issues can be solved quickly but to consider that all problems can be done like this can be quite limiting and demotivating to students who struggle who may feel a failure for not being able to jump through that hoop fast enough and thus avoiding this copy/paste action is encouraged.

We do have to allow students to act in their own way for a period this allows them to appreciate a better way through comparisons to how they did it before. How people did things before also has good fruits as well that we can take from it, it is not simply all bad or all good, how do we extract the good from it all and go on from there, how do we extract the bad and demonstrate a better methodology, something that will encourage the student to reevaluate and trust the better way more readily since they can compare.

I feel that if a student is resistant to some skill which is very important I need to make inroads into making them WANT to do it. This is often a long term procedure and key to my idea of building up without breaking down. Not all teachers want to engage in this kind of teaching and much prefer a student who will do as they say straight away, of course that is an easier journey. I have had students with deep problems who have found joy through piano, the world is not filled with highly functioning perfect students, this is of course the extreme cases but the concept of building up without breaking down also applies to the best of students too, to make them WANT to deeply connect with teachings they otherwise would merely follow out of respect of our expertise.

The woman in the video talked about parents vetting teachers, pushing their children to get good grades... she warns against this.....Maybe you think I ought to have encountered such things in life, but the simple fact is, I haven't.
.....In my own life and people surrounding me as I grew up, the idea was that you study what was presented in school, and if you were smart and worked decently, you'd get decent grades and have a chance at who knows what.  Nothing more than that. 
I find it bewildering how you have connected what the lady said to your experience in the schooling system. Your students around you all thought if you were "smart" and "worked decently" you get "decent grades" and all of this is done totally 100% in all cases absent of parents pushing their children and encouraging them to get good grades? I didn't know all the families in detail at my private school I attended but there was a lot of pressure to do well to enter into universities since the marks were high to enter the good ones. It is a natural part of the system that you are pressured to do well and it is not that you are just born with smartness or you worked decently without people pushing you on. If there was absolutely zero influence of the parents in a childs education then I'd say most would have dropped out of school and gone done something else, this is something you find in 3rd world countries were they really do need the kids to earn money as soon as possible to feed the family and thus education doesn't seem a good investment for them. 

The very fact that you give piano lessons means that you will have parents who are involved in their children's education to the point of paying for piano lessons.
And I am sure where you lived there were kids getting tutored as well? So this must apply to them also. Their involvement in their chidlrens education must show that they value education and encourage their kids to do well and some would even be quite involved in pressuring them to do well also. It is not encourgement that is to be avoided but rather how intense you push that encouragement and how it is all packaged, that makes a difference.

By the very fact of teaching piano, you are already more likely to be exposed to a different socioeconomic environment, or a different mentality.
I also taught at public and private schools in classrooms just for your information. My experience with students goes beyond one on one lessons.

The closest I came to this was one year when one of my children was in an alternative school kindergarten out of district, I had to drive there with my battered car since we were "out of district", and there was also a local playgroup.  I went to the playgroup twice a week with my younger child, which halved the travel time.  Those parents were also the ones who had lobbied for the alternative school: it was a different kind of area (one where I could not afford to live), and these parents, talking about their older children, would discuss which teacher's class they wanted their child to be in the following year.  I was totally astounded that such things exited.   I was  :o  :o  :o and made a mental note.  Like, these parents visited classrooms to make those decisions, got involved including not just being passive with teachers, were proactive. Wow - this exists?!
So you do have some experience with this all, I was quite confused that you where "totally unaware" and might have had absolutely zero personal experience encountering it and this video was your first time ever hearing about it all. I guess in the lower socio economic brackets the idea of encouraging and pushing education in children is not so profound as the higher socio economic brackets whos parents often would have had achieved a degree at univeristy with lots of study.

So one shouldn't force a child into study because it makes them hate it and kids are playful creatures. Students need to build their skills for self discipline but each one is different and we should not force them into something they are not accustomed to.

You have kids who are all about play and nothing to do with discipline and work ethic, should we stifle their play and force them into regimented discipline? We can try but it will often be met with great resistance and such battles changes little, if we do manage change the kids fear us and will do as we say but if left on their own would rather do something else! This is not a good attitude to encourage. We should make work fun for them intially and slowly help them to become more disciplined beasts over a long period of time. To contantly force them to do their work against their will creates compliant workers rather than workers who actually love work, it can make them hate work and embrace the idea that adults think they are unable to keep up with the demands we set them without that constant pushing.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #25 on: May 29, 2019, 04:51:11 AM »
.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #26 on: May 29, 2019, 06:09:40 AM »
Quote
I liked what the lady said in the video because it resonated with the idea of building up a child at their level and not merely dragging them up and forcing them to act a certain way.
But of course.  And that is just common sense, to build up a child at their level.  It's the things she spoke up against that I am fortunate not to have encountered.  Though the opposite is also bad.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #27 on: May 30, 2019, 01:11:45 PM »
And that is just common sense, to build up a child at their level.
It can be common sense if ones concept of what it means to build them up at their level is not very elaborate. On a superficial level it is quite basic and this can make people think they are doing things appropriately but they fall in danger of "dragging up" and "forcing" neglecting the students individuality and the actual state of their "level", deeper understanding of the process has multiple layers which makes it a rather intensive issue. To actually understand what is their level and how to build them up effectively by meeting them from points which they can intrinsically understand what you are trying to teach them and WANT to do it, that is not so easy especially for teachers dealing with their students and not only children.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #28 on: May 30, 2019, 05:23:00 PM »
I agree with you.  What you have stated are basic principles of pedagogy which I learned in my teacher training in the early 1980's here in Canada.  This goes together with educational psychology, learning models, development stages and various philosophies regarding the same - which we also got in "teacher's college".  Unfortunately stuff happens with that. Some people who teach never learn any of this, or don't know how to apply it.  Then you get ambition - often parental (esp. of a center class or social strata) - and politics.  Both and either of these things can prevent teachers from teaching how they should and can, and can distort the teaching process.  The distortion can become more common than proper teaching.  It's all quite sad.   When I homeschooled, I found a disproportionate number of homeschoolers were teachers, making that choice due to what they saw.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Always build up, never break down.
«Reply #29 on: May 31, 2019, 02:52:14 AM »
I agree with you.  What you have stated are basic principles of pedagogy which I learned in my teacher training in the early 1980's here in Canada.
I personally would not call them "basic" principles since application of them are often quite involved and complicated often over a long term period. Piano pedagogy and psychology study is not something that a majority of piano teachers actually go through, the standards of being a private piano teacher is not as high compared to those who are employed by an institution and those that have training don't necessarily always place huge importance in much of what has been written in this thread, they may know about it but don't prioritize it. At least this is what I have observed reading thoughts of other teachers online, observing teachers in person and analyzing lessons with transfer students that come to me and thus one motivation for posting this thread.

Then you get ambition - often parental (esp. of a center class or social strata) - and politics.  Both and either of these things can prevent teachers from teaching how they should and can, and can distort the teaching process.  The distortion can become more common than proper teaching.  It's all quite sad.   
Sure I have experienced such things that the parents try to command how lessons are given and how their children should be taught, I think as a teacher some negotiation is fine as to what is being taught but then how it is packaged, presented and timed to the student is predominantly my decision which I apply to a student based on many of the ideas discussed in this thread.

You said previously you are unfamiliar with parents high expectations and pushing educational demands onto their children but I can tell you from my experience it is quite a difficult force to contend with, working on these parents to soften their demands of their children in piano lessons. I do so by giving positive feedback and detailed analysis of their childs development and also placing great importance on the childs own self motivation rather than solely a pushing from us adults, often if a student has the right tools and does things successfully with ease they will feel more motivated to do something, it sure is a lot more enjoyable. Still I've had parents shout and correct their children during piano lessons if they don't get something right in terms of behavior or skill level, I actually allow this process I think it is a good therapy for the parents and children to have a mediator inbetween when things like this happen. Almost always the harsh commentary from the parents subside after a while and they and their children relax more during lessons, its good for both sides :)
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