Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.5 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
What's Hot!!
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
(ad)
Piano Tuning
How to Tune Pianos
(125ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Piano Buyer Guide
Piano Buyer Spring 2017
(ad)
4th Finger Enigma Resolved!
Schumann's 4th Finger Enigma Resolved!
Who's Online Now
76 registered members (bennevis, Beemer, 36251, AZ_Astro, 21 invisible), 1,846 guests, and 1 spider.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords & Scales
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
#1051594 - 11/18/08 12:36 AM Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
princeton3 Offline
Full Member
princeton3  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Spotsylvania, Virginia
Hello all,

This is my very first post and I must say, these forums are the best - great information covering virtually every topic involving pianos.

So here is my question: I am evaluating several piano teachers here in my area (adult beginner-with some experience playing as a child). This past weekend, I had the opportunity to "interview" one instructor who stated that she had been teaching piano for 30 years but that she stopped playing for a while to raise her children. She stated that now that her children are all grown and out of the nest that she has gotten back to teaching full-time. I got the impression that she had been back teaching several years now. Anyway, at the end of the meeting I asked her to play something for me and she asked what I wanted her to play. I told her "anything" would be fine. She grabbed some of her sheet music that she had for upcoming accompaniments (church choir and some other kids' band) and proceeded to play a few songs. First, I found it strange that she could not play a single song from memory. Is this customary for someone who claims to have taught for so long? She indicated that because she does a lot of accompany work that she doesn't have the time nor the interest in memorizing songs. Sounds plausible. She also attempted to play a well-known Beethoven song and couldn't remember the song. Second, she attempted to play several songs but continuously hit the wrong key every time she played. I got the feeling she was embarrassed by how she was playing. Is this normal? I would think someone with this much experience could play at least part of a song without hitting the wrong keys continuously. I really liked her on a personal level and think she is right for me but I have concerns about her playing ability. Is this fair? She provides lessons in a studio in a piano store and was attempting to play a new Steinway for the first time and according to her, the piano was not very responsive and was very heavy - hence she was not used to the feel. I did happen to hear one of her students play before their session ended and I thought the student sounded pretty good but I have no idea how long the person's been studying with her, etc.

I am considering 2-3 other teachers but really liked this one's personality. I haven't met the others as yet. What should I do?

Thank you for your help.


Princeton3
(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#1051595 - 11/18/08 12:40 AM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
princeton3 Offline
Full Member
princeton3  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Spotsylvania, Virginia
Sorry...posted twice by accident. How do I delete one?


Princeton3
#1051596 - 11/18/08 01:18 AM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 661
AnthonyB Offline
500 Post Club Member
AnthonyB  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 661
Center City, MN
Obviously you can't compare this teacher to the others whom you have not met yet.

I'm not sure someone has to be accurate with sight reading and playing a song in order to teach. If you get along and she can teach you technique and guide your playing then that might be good enough.

I personally don't have much else to say on the subject since I don't have a teacher but I mainly wanted to say that you should likely check the others out. Face it, you don't but the first piano you sit down to play and finding a teacher should work the same way.


Roland FP-7 / Pianoteq 4.5.1
[Linked Image]
#1051597 - 11/18/08 01:48 AM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member
signa  Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
Ohio, USA
if a teacher cannot play anything well, then find another one. she obviously gets very rusty in piano playing, which means she cannot even demonstrate much to you when you're having trouble with some music.

personality is something you should consider only after you know the teacher is competent first. i would interview other teachers before choosing one.

(ad ) MusicNotes.com
sheet music search
#1051598 - 11/18/08 04:07 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 153
ChristinaW Offline
Full Member
ChristinaW  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 153
Washington DC
I don't think it's normal for any teacher to not be able to play something decently. That would suggest they never play the piano. It doesn't have anything to do with not having taught a while, etc. Look elsewhere, sounds like she doesn't know what she is doing, never plays the piano, and isn't qualified to teach it, therefore (IMO). I would never take lessons from someone who cannot play. If they can't play themself, that means they don't enjoy playing, probably. Also, to tell you the truth, I think that anyone at the level who has the nerve to teach lessons should be able to play something by sightreading and have it sound decent, even if not note-perfect.

However, I don't know why you are being so critical about not being able to play from memory or an occasional wrong note, so it's hard to say. Why do you care if they play something from memory? Maybe they aren't in the performing mode lately.

I suspect she wasn't playing a Beethoven song, but a composition of some kind, and perhaps you are not aware of what a song is -- which is something with words that one sings.

#1051599 - 11/18/08 04:27 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 14,913
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 14,913
Canada
I am interested in part of this:
Quote
Anyway, at the end of the meeting I asked her to play something for me and she asked what I wanted her to play.
You have written about her playing for you. But you want her to teach you, not perform for you. You wrote "at the end of the meeting" but what happened at the meeting might be the important part.

Did she tell you what she would like to teach you, what her goals and expectations would be, what type of teaching material she uses, her approach? Your first interest is to be taught, and the person who will end up playing well is you. Do you know what your own goals are, why you want to take lessons, and were you able to communicate this to her?

Many musicians sight read and it is an important thing to be able to do.
Quote
... but continuously hit the wrong key every time she played
This maybe sounds less good. (?)

#1051600 - 11/18/08 04:33 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Kymber  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
MA
Hmm this is tricky. She could just be rusty if it's been a long time since she's REALLY played. I know many musicians who don't memorize music and true a pianos action feel that way. That doesn't necesarily mean she is not a good teacher. Personality can be important in some cases. If you get a teacher you clash with then you will hate going to your lessons.

However, I have always found that when I question something I am questioning it for a reason. If it was me I would take that as a sign that she is not the right teacher for me, even if she is nice. Check out a few more until you find the one who's personality you like and who you are not left wondering about. The one that leaves you thinking- yes this is the teacher for me. I recently went through this myself btw...
Gool luck smile


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1051601 - 11/18/08 04:40 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Kymber  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
MA
Oh yeah and WELCOME! smile


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1051602 - 11/18/08 04:42 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 14,913
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 14,913
Canada
Ditto. wink

#1051603 - 11/18/08 06:15 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,024
SAnnM AB 2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member
SAnnM AB 2001  Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,024
Canada
Well surprisingly I think teachers can get nervous when a student asks them to play something. It's kind of endearing and nice to realize that they are human afterall..

I wouldn't judge this teacher on her playing this one time.

I know my teacher can be perhaps a little embarassed if he plays a piece I'm working on or about to work on and makes mistakes. He's probably not played it in 30 years!!!

Busy accompanists are required to sightread constantly and required to focus so much on the music (not just the piano parts either) and required to play so much different music that they don't have time to devote to any one piece. Maintaining a polished repertoire would be difficult I'm guessing.

Having said that....gut feeling is very important.


It's the journey not the destination..
[Linked Image]
#1051604 - 11/18/08 07:35 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 842
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member
saerra  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 842
Atlanta, GA
Hi Princeton3, and welcome to the forums smile

At this point, you don't have anything to lose by talking to the other teachers, do you? So why not go ahead and at least talk to them, just so you have some points of reference?

Who knows, maybe you'll find that one of the others also has alot of experience, is a great personality match, AND is actually inspiring in their playing too! wink

I saw you posted on the teacher's forum too about this... I've seen this come up a couple of times there - can you be a great teacher, but not a great player. It's a bit of a can of worms wink

I can understand (sort of) logically how it might be possible... but... I think that one of the things that happens in lessons, besides the explicit teaching that we see, is an unconscious learning - of attitudes for example.

For example, my teacher clearly LOVES playing music. If he's on the bench, and I have a question about something that's not assigned, and I open the book to show him - he'll play it. He's actually unstoppable in this regard wink If I bring in music to ask him about, he'll play it for me, even if it's something he's never seen before. If I am trying to compose something - he can take my tiny little hint of an idea, and on the fly, play it in several different styles to give me an idea of where it might go...

I think the unconscious message - "piano is FUN!" is a great thing wink

If instead I had a teacher who sighed heavily when I brought in music, scrunched up their face at my compositions and stumbled painfully through them, and overall didn't seem to want to be near the piano - I think the message would be, "piano is tedious, boring, etc...".

I don't know if other people react to these types of things, but I know that I do.

Similarly, when you said the teacher was embarrassed about the mistakes - I understand that they're human, but... in contrast, my teacher plays through them and rarely shows any acknowledgement (hmmm if he makes mistakes, he says he does, I don't think I'm good enough to catch them yet!) - I think this is great modeling of how to behave when we're playing (again, something that one could unconsciously pick up on).

So, as a role model for my own playing, I'd much rather have a teacher who is eager and happy to try out new music, not afraid or apologetic about mistakes, and who's playing inspires me...

Anyway, as I said, you don't really lose out by talking to the other teachers, so why not at least see what they can offer, so you have a frame of references - rather than trying to decide right away if this is the right teacher for you...

Good luck, and welcome again smile

#1051605 - 11/18/08 08:28 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,049
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member
ProdigalPianist  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,049
Phoenix Metro, AZ
The best judge of how well someone teaches piano is generally in their students. Listen to their students play, that will tell you how good a teacher they are. Some wonderful players may be poor teachers.

Accompanists don't memorize their piano parts, as a rule, nor do pianists in ensembles, so I wouldn't worry too much about the memorization part.

If she could not play the pieces she was accompanying well, that could be worrisome, but it's all about context (how long has she been working on them, etc).

My teacher is a PhD student in piano performance, she can PLAY...but more than once, when we have been working on a piece together (something she played 15-20 years ago but has not worked on since) she will say, "you can play this better than I can right now"...of course if she worked on it a bit she'd kick my butt wink but there are minor wrong notes in her demonstrations (not her technique!).

It's hard to really know from a verbal description on an internet forum...it's just something you have to feel out for yourself. I've had bad experiences with teachers before so this time around I wanted someone with an advanced degree. I understand how important it is to pick the right teacher. Hang in there and keep us posted.


Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.
#1051606 - 11/18/08 08:53 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 728
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member
MarkL  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 728
Chicago Suburban
Some great pianists are really bad teachers, so I'd look for a combination of both skills. Buying the teacher is more important than buying the piano, try them and move on if it doesn't work. You never know how you'll find the great ones. I was fortunate to find a retired concert pianist and music professor who happened to move to our area after leaving the city. When I went to his house the first time and he played for me I had tears in my eyes. Why not take lessons from someone that can really inspire you if you're going to spend the money anyway.


Yamaha P90
#1051607 - 11/19/08 12:57 AM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
princeton3 Offline
Full Member
princeton3  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Spotsylvania, Virginia
Thank you for all of your help! I had the opportunity to "interview" a second instructor today who was able to play 2-3 pieces for me at the end of the interview. While I wasn't particularly impressed with her playing abilities, I did appreciate the fact that she actually knew enough material to actually accommodate me, and played them without mistake after mistake. I left her house feeling a bit better but still undecided. Nevertheless, when I arrived home I told my wife about my latest experience and she suggested that I talk to a new neighbor that lives diagonally across the street from us. She reminded me that on Halloween he was playing creepy sounds on his piano when we approached his home. Well, I went over there today and asked him if he knew anyone who taught piano and explained the Halloween story to him as we had not previously formally met. He informed me that he has been playing the piano for 11 years and has taught roughly 50 students from time to time (some he only taught songs to and others he taught structured lessons). Anyway, he invited me in and we talked and he offered to teach me how to play. I did not have to ask him to play anything. He simply sat down at the piano and went to work!! He played and played and played bits and pieces of all types of music. I was amazed at his abilities and especially impressed at what he said he could teach me, and if its anywhere close to what he can do I'll be happy. I think being able to show one what your talents are is very important - especially on something like the piano; the bottom line really became clear upon hearing and seeing this new person play. In terms of confidence in the teacher and making comparisons, it makes a huge difference. And nothing he played was a concert masterpiece but it was certainly enough to allow me to judge his talents as a player. Whether he turns out to be a good instructor only time will tell. But at least I know he can really play. Thanks again everyone!!


Princeton3
#1051608 - 11/19/08 01:10 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Kymber  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
MA
Princeton3

That's great! I love that he was playing scary music on Halloween. Sounds like you will have a lot of fun with this teacher.

Keep us updated.
thumb


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1051609 - 11/19/08 07:30 PM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 728
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member
MarkL  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 728
Chicago Suburban
Quote
Originally posted by princeton3:
...a new neighbor that lives diagonally across the street from us
You can stay in your pajamas for your lesson, just open the window and play really loud. Sounds like a winner.


Yamaha P90
#1051610 - 11/21/08 12:31 AM Re: Assistance Evaluating a Potential Teacher  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member
signa  Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,483
Ohio, USA
congratulations on finding a good teacher and a good pianist! your teacher sounds like my teacher, who impressed me with his playing at my very first few lessons with him. when a teacher is that good, you just couldn't help thinking that you'd become good as well. if my teacher couldn't play well himself, i would doubt i would have had stayed with him for more than a couple of lessons. it's exactly 3 years ago when i had my first lesson.


Moderated by  BB Player, casinitaly 

Piano Acc. & Gift Items in
Piano World's Online Store
In PianoSupplies.com ,(a division of Piano World)
our online store for piano and music gifts and accessories, Digital Piano Dolly, party goods, tuning equipment, piano moving equipment, benches, lamps Caster Cups and more.


Free Shipping* on Jansen Artist Piano Benches, Cocoweb Piano Lamps, Hidrau Hydraulic Piano Benches
(*free shipping within contiguous U.S. only)
(ad)
Pearl River & Ritmuller
Ritmuller Pianos
(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq 6 Out now
(ad)
Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restorations and sales
ad
Pierce Piano Atlas


New Topics - Multiple Forums
Pen Pal Thread
by cmb13. 10/22/17 07:26 AM
The difference between PTG and technician association?
by Fazioli-Yang. 10/22/17 12:27 AM
Sostenuto pedal
by Elysia.S. 10/21/17 10:52 PM
Impending issue with ABF Recital software
by Whizbang. 10/21/17 10:12 PM
Lee's Piano
by Piano*Dad. 10/21/17 09:18 PM
Forum Statistics
Forums44
Topics182,418
Posts2,666,367
Members89,015
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Check It Out!
There's a lot more to Piano World than just the forums.
Click Here to
Explore The Rest of Piano World!!
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers


 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2017 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0