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So someone approached me to teach them piano (Read 356 times)

Offline ranjit

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So someone approached me to teach them piano
« on: June 15, 2021, 09:51:28 PM »
It was mostly as a favor. I taught them how to recognize notes, how to construct major and minor scales and chords, constructing chords based on the scale, how they are related, as well as how to read in about an hour. But then, I realized that I had a huge mess of information in my head collected from hundreds of videos, posts, books and discussions about what to do next, and got very confused trying to lead them in a specific direction. That's when I realized that there is this huge body of knowledge I draw from without even realizing it. And it's grown much larger over the past year.

Also, I find it extremely hard to think about learning in terms of how long it takes to get there. So questions like, how long approximately does it take to get good are very hard to answer. Other people may answer based on how long it is expected based on grade levels, but I don't really feel like saying "8 years to grade 8" because I don't think it's really true and I haven't even been playing that long. And hearing that it'll take 5 years to be able to play Fur Elise is sure to turn someone off the piano. At the same time, I got there much quicker so I don't feel justified in giving those kinds of time estimates.

How do others here do it?

Piano Street's Digital Sheet Music Library

Beethoven: Für Elise
piano sheet music of Für Elise


Offline lelle

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #1 on: June 15, 2021, 11:17:08 PM »
I mean, the true answer to how long it takes to get good is, "it depends". It depends on how you define good, it depends on how much work you are willing to put in, it depends on your natural talent/aptitude for what goes into playing piano on the physical and intellectual end, and it depends on what quality level of teaching you get.

I know of people who got to the point where they could play the revolutionary etude decently within 3 years, and I know of people who still struggle with it after playing for almost 20 years.

Offline ranjit

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #2 on: June 15, 2021, 11:31:30 PM »
Yes, I see what you mean! I think the best teachers often have stories where some student of theirs was able to play a Chopin etude decently after 2-3 years. I've thought so much about what it takes to be on that end of the spectrum that it's hard for me to relate to someone who is just playing for fun, I guess. It's not just about time, there is usually a restriction on how much focus and thought they can put into it.

But how do you collect all of the information in your head while teaching a student? Or do you just follow an established method book or something? I would think that would bore an eager student. I think many people look for an online course which can teach them piano. I thought about it, but couldn't really come up with much. I did learn online, but it was by somehow piecing together a lot of different resources and a lot of experimentation.

I've also, in the past, told other beginners to slow down a recording and try to transcribe melodies note by note, but others told me that it's impracticable for most. Teaching is confusing.

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #3 on: June 16, 2021, 02:21:57 AM »
I find it extremely hard to think about learning in terms of how long it takes to get there. ... I don't feel justified in giving ... time estimates.

How do others here do it?
Yes you need realistic goals and achieve them within a noticable timeline but that has nothing to do with the question "how long does it take to get there". This seems to me to be a long term goal question but if there is no direction as to how to get there and an understanding that the direction may change and follow a pathway which the student can manage, the student will often be trapped in their thinking and eventually give up. They should be able to answer that for themselves as they get on with a lot of work. It is a trap question and if answered from your perspective rather than their own realization it can add mental obstacles in their way.

I have found students who think like this on a surface level only never progress as effectively as they could. They are so focused on how good they are overall getting every moment they study, it is a bad distraction. It is like watching water boil or bread being toasted, you mentally waste energy waiting for something to happen where you could use that time to focus working to get there.

You can prove to a student their progress after a number of months studying with them, just go back to someone that you studied with them earlier on and it should be done much easier than the first time they tried it. Reviewing ideas and making them more solid also a clear path for them to become more familiar with the piano and gain more confidence in problem solving and coordination.

I encourage my students simply to "get on with the job" and not compare themselves too much. The personal music journey each person takes is different, some people might start out playing the piano dreaming to play very high level music but that may never be possible for them, so they must learn to change their perspectives and find a pathway which is just as enjoyable and actually possible for them to live in. Most people who start out at the piano really don't know where they will end up, they may have some idea where they would like to go but it isn't that easy to achieve for the vast majority. As a teacher you can help them overcome a lot of hurdles, clear the way for them so they can take that journey. It is just no good looking at a dense uncleared forest and then estimating how long it will take for them to make it through, we don't even know what direction they will take, we don't even know if they can hack dealing with the work loads. So just tell them to get on with the job, dreaming about long term goals is fun and inspiring but you really need to come back down to reality and deal with the work that you need to master now.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #4 on: June 18, 2021, 09:04:32 PM »
How coordinated are beginner students, usually? This person was able to manage a melody against a chord pattern (C-EG, C-EG) on his very first day and make it sound musical. He wasn't fumbling, either. And then when I showed him octaves, he was able to play the first five notes of an F major scale without really struggling using the fingering 55545, as well as with his thumbs which looked naturally relaxed. He listens to a lot of music and sings, and can play most simple tunes by ear on the piano really well while never having played it before, by intuitively judging the distances.

He believes that that level of physical coordination is normal, I don't believe him!

I'm also at a bit of a loss as to how to direct someone like that. Any thoughts would be welcome.

Offline j_tour

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #5 on: June 19, 2021, 12:26:06 AM »
He believes that that level of physical coordination is normal, I don't believe him!

I'm also at a bit of a loss as to how to direct someone like that. Any thoughts would be welcome.

I definitely agree that your particular student is not the average beginner.

I've found that people I've encountered who come from another instrument (almost always bass guitar or regular guitar) have a few things in common:  first, they've invariably plinked around on a keyboard at some point in their lives, or have observed pretty closely other keyboard players.  Second, they tend to have a really good sense of what intervals are and a basic idea of how far apart they are. 

The intervals on, say, the guitar, are less obvious than on the piano, where the choices don't have to be made based on which position on the fretboard one's using.  I'd bet most guitarists do pretty well at that on the keyboard, but I've never made a test or a direct observation of that. 

I do know, at least in my experience, that all translates pretty well to sitting at a keyboard and doing a little better than chopsticks.  Sometimes quite a bit better.

Probably a lot of subconscious intuition or unconscious imitation of what they've seen and heard.

I don't know how to proceed in general as a longer-term strategy, nor for classical music, but I just pile on some new tricks or sounds, and if they like it, sometimes they come back for more.

And, of course, always end a session with demonstrating something pretty neat, but related to what they're interested in.  Just common sense, that is, if you actually want the person back in your house/studio!  ;D
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Offline ranjit

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Re: So someone approached me to teach them piano
«Reply #6 on: June 19, 2021, 03:21:17 AM »
Now that I think about it, he had also taught himself in the past to count 4:3 and 5:4, and could play a C major scale with both hands on his first attempt (which I was honestly impressed by). Definitely not your typical guy, I guess.