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Topic Options
#1002432 - 11/18/04 03:23 PM On the topic of lessons...
frida1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 199
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I played piano through my youth off and on, sometimes with lessons. I took lessons in college and played alot. Then a 25 year hiatus, where I played once in a while, but learned almost nothing new. I restarted lessons a year ago. I love playing regularly again, and I like having the lessons because it's a good motivator. But I'm a little uneasy because my teacher doesn't give me much (like not any) guidance. She's a very good player and one of the top teachers in out admittedly small town. But after I've mastered the notes fairly well, not even very well in my opinion, she simply moves me on to the next piece. I don't get any technical or interpretation advice. I'm working on things like Brahms intermezzos, Beethoven sonata, and Chopin preludes. I feel like I'm floundering for "interpretation" advice. I certainly don't want to offend her because I don't have many choices for teachers, but I don't know what to do, if anything. Any ideas?

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#1002433 - 11/18/04 04:04 PM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I have an idea about this.

I think sometimes piano teachers are worried about being too hard on adult students and thereby discouraging them. This might cause a teacher not to offer additional suggestions on interpretation once you've got your fingers on the keys, so to speak.

After you play a piece for her and she's about to move you on, you might ask how you can play the piece better. If no suggestions are forthcoming, you might ask *her* to play the piece and then ask what she is doing differently. If that doesn't work, then I'd come right out and say you'd like more instruction on interpretation and expression.

And if *that* doesn't work, well . . . it might not be a good match.
Vote For Cindy!!


#1002434 - 11/18/04 04:39 PM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Lightnin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/04
Posts: 210
I think Cindy is dead on... I was typing the same idea, and then realized Cindy was doing it better. As adults, we ARE treated different, ultimate diplomacy, and if you want criticism, you are going to have to specifically ask for it. Bring in a list of specific questions, ask them one by one.

My teacher is the same way, way laid back (I'm older than she is), but all I have to do is ask, and then she goes all out, anything I want to know.

#1002435 - 11/18/04 09:58 PM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
My situation may be a little different because I am only about 20 months at the piano. Sometimes my teacher will have me move on when I don't have a piece completely finished. I asked him about this and was told that I got what he wanted me to get from the piece and that to continue with something that wasn't going to be much fun or didn't offer much more wouldn't be that productive. Makes sense to me. Has anyone else experienced this?

My teacher isn't that laid back, he nails me pretty hard when he knows that I haven't been practicing properly...... mostly playing too fast & not enough repetitions on small sections of music. I have a bad habit of wanting to play a piece from start to finish many times, instead of 10 in a row in small sections. I have to work hard every day to keep a disciplined practice. I think this is the hardest part about learning piano. If I do it right things come so much faster, I've learned not to get frustrated......JUST DO IT!
Keep a song in your heart!

It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1002436 - 11/18/04 11:06 PM Re: On the topic of lessons...
ragtimebg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/04
Posts: 180
Loc: California
hmmm....small sections, 10 times over, things come faster....I don't need a teacher now, I have my lesson for the day...
I have a new mistress. She's black and curvy and pretty and sounds great and has great legs. I call her "Petrof".

#1002437 - 11/19/04 03:47 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
I'm glad to see I'm not alone. I left my first teacher for that very reason, while we got along very well, I never got any specific input and was told to "keep doing what you're doing". I continually let her know that I would welcome constructive criticism but for whatever reason things just kept going on in the same manner. I became a bit frustrated that she wasn't critical enough and when she gave me an opening "At some point you will need to find another teacher", I did after 6 months.

My current teacher is more critical but still not enough and there is no specific direction, similar to the last one. I pick what I want to play, come to class and play through it. I sure would welcome more specific direction. I almost have to ask for criticism but usually what I get is praise for what I know I'm doing right. Where are the "Madame Sushaskas"? \:\)

I expect it is as Cindy indicated, teachers are sensitive to discouraging adult students. Personally, I have always been motivated by criticism. I hope the teachers tuning in are listening? This forum has been a blessing for some of my concerns. I've found and implemented much valuable information presented here.

#1002438 - 11/19/04 06:02 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Vint, have you tried proding your teacher. For example, after you finish playing your new piece and you receive the praise, ask her; "so that piece is perfect?" Of course she wouldn't say that it was. Then ask her what could be improved and how would that improvement be accomplished.

#1002439 - 11/19/04 06:37 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Kris10 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 21
Loc: Ohio
Here is my two cents on the subject.

During my flute lessons, I often have an idea for what should be accomplished from a piece and as long the student has met those expectations, I am satisfied and move them on. Each week they work on progressively harder material. So they play piece A then B then C then D, etc. and none of them perfectly. But by the time they get to piece M or whatever, they can go back and play piece A to perfection. If I were to keep them on piece A until perfection was reached, they would get no where fast and lose interest.

I'm sure piano is the same way. I'm glad you brought this up because it makes me realize I've been too hard on myself. I've been expecting perfection from myself and perhaps that is holding me back and making progress slow.

Something else that your teacher may be thinking is that she wants you to feel a sense of accomplishment and not discouragement and she may well know your accomplishments better than you do. She may remember that when you started X months ago you couldn't remember to play F#, but now you're playing 5 #'s with ease!

I think that perfection should be expected when a piece will be performed. Otherwise, learn all you can from a piece and move on to something harder. Just my opinion.

#1002440 - 11/19/04 07:09 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Bob -the real problem was she would correct me on the obvious stuff, to both her and myself, but couldn't articulate to me techniques that would help me and that I was interested in learning. Believe me, I spent a lot of time prodding her. The real problem, she's a player more than a teacher, no real education in teaching. She admitted to me that I was a bit of a "challenge" for her in the respect that while I know nothing about playing piano, I know quite a bit about music, used to play woodwinds for 10 years plus I listen to a LOT of different music. I was quite interested in how a piece should sound from the very beginning, tempo, dynamics, shadings etc.

In addition to the method books, Bastien, I was also studying other stuff, Gershwin, fake books and the like. Her interests were pretty localized to church music and hymns, which she was very knowledgeable of. I really hated leaving cause we had a lot of fun but I felt that the lessons were becoming stagnant and I just couldn't see the point of continuing. And so far as pieces being perfect, that was the problem, they weren't and she just couldn't help me other than with fingering. Dynamics and expression were things she could do in her playing but couldn't convey to me other than through demonstration. My current teacher has a PhD in education and Master's in music so is very knowledgeable about music and teaching me nuances and correcting me when I make subtle mistakes but is not very vocal unless pressed. He has 75 private students and I expect being the last of the day, he is pretty wiped out by the time 8:15 comes along!

#1002441 - 11/19/04 07:13 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
calvin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 35
Loc: traveling the us
interpetations what on earth is that .. if it sounds good to you thats all that matters...end of story

#1002442 - 11/19/04 09:14 AM Re: On the topic of lessons...
frida1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 199
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Interpretations: of course the problem is that it doesn't sound good to me, I just can't identify how to make it sound better. For instance, why is the flow just "not there," or how can the dynamics be such that it's natural and interesting, but not lacking in subtlety? etc. This is what I expect a teacher to help with, even given that there are differences in style and opinion. Also, for instance, fast arpeggios: there must be techniques for learning to do doing them well. Shouldn't a teacher be able to clue me into them? These are just some examples.


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