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#1260110 - 09/01/09 05:02 AM Need Advice on Teacher  
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NocturneLover Offline
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Dantooine
Hey teachers,

I found a teacher who's charging $20 for half an hour and $25 for 45 minutes. Well, she is new to my area so surprise, surprise, later on she tells me that she only has a digital piano at home, Yamaha Clavinova. I go to her house and the keys are so damn hard to hit, the action seems to be much heavier. She tells me she feels bad all the time because she only has a digital piano and right now can't afford an acoustic. She seems to be a depressed, jaded soul who's been through much hardship and I want to at least take a few lessons to see how it pans out, if not to help her out a little. I've played on an acoustic all my life and now I appreciate it because I always thought I was missing out by not having a digital piano.

My question is, "Can digital pianos actually deteriorate the technique of someone who's been play since they were 6? if I take lessons from her, will I be able to adjust to this super heavy action? Or should I stop being a cheapo and find a teacher who teaches on a grand? smile

Btw, she does have a masters degree in piano performance and studied under the tutelage of some famous concert pianists. She does know her stuff. Oh yeah, the standard rate in Honolulu for most lessons are around $60 an hour or $30 for 1/2 hour.


"...music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." -Ludwig van Beethoven
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#1260114 - 09/01/09 05:33 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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Did you leave the lesson shouting Yippy! ? If so, she's good and worth it. Her equipment, at your level, is not important.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1260130 - 09/01/09 06:46 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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NocturneLover Offline
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Did you leave the lesson shouting Yippy! ? If so, she's good and worth it. Her equipment, at your level, is not important.


No, I left the lesson feeling, "how sad... I feel like helping her out." She gave me a free trial lesson as per her ad which was supposed to be 45 minutes, but ended up being about 1 hour 30 min with a lot of talking so I think I owe her about a couple lessons worth.

However, I did learn a lot from her on the first day, but she just has this eternal jaded sadness when I look into her eyes that I can't shake. One thing that I found odd was that she said she wouldn't trade her Clavinova for a grand or upright if someone offered her, so I guess that would be a problem.

Last edited by Thomas Lau; 09/01/09 06:52 AM.

"...music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." -Ludwig van Beethoven
#1260143 - 09/01/09 07:37 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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I'd give her the money you seem to owe her and find another teacher. How many have you tried out? I'd go for at least 6 if not 10. Remember you're looking for that Yippy! factor.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1260149 - 09/01/09 07:55 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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If you would like to have lessons and not on a digital, perhaps she could teach you at your home?

If not, maybe there is another way to befriend her and help her out? (take her to a concert or something?)


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
#1260160 - 09/01/09 08:40 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: lilylady]  
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Lollipop Offline
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I don't know anything about digital pianos. Is there any way the action can be adjusted? Maybe she needs a technician to look at it. Did you tell her you were having trouble with the heavy touch? What was her response? I've played on grands that were way too stiff for me, so I hesitate to say that would automatically be better.


piano teacher
#1260175 - 09/01/09 09:14 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Lollipop]  
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TimR Offline
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You have three things going on, I think.

You found a teacher who is a bargain, great qualifications at a super low price.

She has a less than ideal lesson piano.

You seem to be at some risk for getting entangled in a potentially destructive - or at least very needy - personal relationship.

How you balance those three is up to you. I would tend to think the piano is the least important, especially since you have a good one at home. I think maybe you are focusing on that aspect to avoid the more difficult problem.

If you are one of those assertive people, very good at keeping professional boundaries, you might get great benefit from her teaching.

If you are overly sympathetic to somebody else's problems, you might get sucked in to becoming more of her therapist than her student.

Has she asked to borrow money yet? <humor>

If you think you are going to leave her, now would be more fair to her (and easier on you) than later.


gotta go practice
#1260240 - 09/01/09 11:05 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: TimR]  
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dumdumdiddle Offline
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Her Yamaha Clavinova has a heavier action that your acoustic? I'm thinking you might actually benefit from playing her digital, rather than your piano.


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#1260257 - 09/01/09 11:21 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: dumdumdiddle]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Most digitals can be adjusted for a heavier or lighter touch. I would ask her to look at her manual (or if she doens't have it, you can download one off the Yamaha website). I'd try that out. The instrument you play on, while frustrating, is not going to damage you.

However, as Tim astutely pointed out, the emotional attachment you have very well may be damaging. From the teacher perspective, I have had students (adult) who come to me and vent their frustrations with their spouse during their lesson. The time turns into a therapy session rather than lessons. In this one instance, I was young and not sure what to do, so I sympathized and tried to help her. However, she never learned anything about music as a result. Now I know to set boundaries with my adults, and while I am friendly and cordial, and don't mind sharing tidbits of my life and hearing about theirs, I try not to get too sidetracked from the purpose of them being there.

I see no problems from taking lessons from her, but you will have to stay on task of learning piano. By being her student, you are helping her out, and you may even want to let her know what her colleagues are charging, and that she is more than qualified to charge that much. If she did, certainly she would be able to afford a better instrument. Lilylady's recommendation of teaching int he student's homes would also be a good thing for her to begin with. Not only would it be convenient for the student, but she wouldn't have to be ashamed of her digital.


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#1260272 - 09/01/09 11:37 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR
You have three things going on, I think.

You found a teacher who is a bargain, great qualifications at a super low price.

She has a less than ideal lesson piano.

You seem to be at some risk for getting entangled in a potentially destructive - or at least very needy - personal relationship.

How you balance those three is up to you. I would tend to think the piano is the least important, especially since you have a good one at home. I think maybe you are focusing on that aspect to avoid the more difficult problem.

If you are one of those assertive people, very good at keeping professional boundaries, you might get great benefit from her teaching.

If you are overly sympathetic to somebody else's problems, you might get sucked in to becoming more of her therapist than her student.

Has she asked to borrow money yet? <humor>

If you think you are going to leave her, now would be more fair to her (and easier on you) than later.


Well said. 100% agreed. I wouldn't think a 30-45 minute lesson on her keyboard would be that big of a concern. The other concerns you mention would need some consideration. At that price and those qualifications I would give it a try for a while. Good Luck


Piano Teacher.
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Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

#1260332 - 09/01/09 01:27 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Mrs.A]  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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This does not seem to me to be a viable choice because already you have learned too much about this teachers negative emotions concerning her hard luck. To be immersed in continuing personal issues is not your role at all. Who knows if she has a mental health issue, or maybe she is a depressed person needing counseling. You have no business knowing these things, she had no business telling you. It seems like a "trap" to me.

If you really want to do her a big favor you will pay her what others in the community are earning comparing her "credentials" to theirs. Why don't you send her a check for the time you spent there based on the other teachers fee. Encourage her to not compromise herself finanacially.

You want the best circumstances for yourself - you want an enjoyable encounter with your teacher - she has to bring something very valuable to you. The best environment is one of welcoming smiles and encouragement. Did you see that here? All that talking was from her and not from you, right? There was more talking than lesson or time at the piano, right?

She is not going to get out of her "sad" if potential clients accept this behavior and attitude from her. She needs to rise above her circumstances and become the teacher that she knows she can be.

The rest of what you say are clues as to why you should not venture there, in my opinion.

#1260340 - 09/01/09 01:44 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Mrs.A]  
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Gyro Offline
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I don't see any problem. One of
the teachers on this forum, a Russian
conservatory graduate, uses a
Williams digital as the only piano
in her studio. In the US, teachers
are expected to have an acoustic
piano in the studio, but in the
UK, digitals are apparently fairly
commonly used by piano teachers.

I personally love digitals and think
they are the greatest thing that's
ever happened in the piano world.
I have an expensive acoustic upright
in storage. A similar model today
would be in the ~$20,000 price range,
although when I bought it, it was
less than $6000. That upright stays
in storage because I find digitals
to be much better for everday playing.
You cannot ruin your technique by
playing a digital. Digitals on
the contrary are the best thing
for developing technique. A number
of top concert pianists today use
digitals for practicing.

This sounds like a good teacher, at
a bargain rate. As for her personality,
did you expect Victor Borge?

#1260357 - 09/01/09 02:05 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gyro]  
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Varcon Offline
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You might like to check these things out with Ellen Masaka, a prominent teacher there in Honolulu. She and my teacher were good friends and I met her when I was there to coach with him.

I would not have thought the digital would have a stiff action but some grands do. Personally, I feel an acoustic piano (good quality and tuned properly) would be best to have lessons on as they respond, in my opinion differently than digitals and one will miss the sympathetic vibrations of the other strings when the damper pedal is applied due to the fact that there is nothing on a digital to vibrate in sympathy with the sounding string.

Your teacher, it would appear, has problems that you do not need to be burdened with but the focus should be on your lesson, playing, and instruction. Some friendly exchanges are ok but the lesson should be the main thing.

If you haven't committed to lessons, then keep looking. I'm sure there are some wonderful teachers in Honolulu.

Last edited by Varcon; 09/01/09 02:08 PM.
#1260361 - 09/01/09 02:13 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Morodiene]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Most digitals can be adjusted for a heavier or lighter touch. I would ask her to look at her manual (or if she doens't have it, you can download one off the Yamaha website).

No. That's wrong. Most digitals have settings that change the way data is sent when the keys hit sensor strips. The heaviness or weight of the keys themselves does not change, not on the DPs I've played.


Piano Teacher
#1260454 - 09/01/09 04:49 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gary D.]  
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NocturneLover Offline
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Thanks for all the replies.

Keyboardklutz, I think I do need to shop around, but I think most instructors may not give trial lessons. Btw, do any of you teachers give free trial lessons? So I would end up paying $100+ just to find the teacher I want. Actually, I do not know much about the teacher searching process, you see I started at 7 with the same teacher all the way to 18 years old (she was OK, and my mom was a very loyal customer =)) so I never had to shop around for a teacher. Lessons were stopped because her policy was that she didn't teach adults.

TimR, Yes I think you're right I found a bargain teacher, and I think I can adjust to her piano in time. It'll just be weird playing pianissimo on my piano and then going to her DP and playing forte. And I think I WAS being overly sympathetic, however, she maintained her professional boundaries by not telling me of her problems. On a lighter note, she did smile a few times during our lesson. Did I mention that she is also a good singer?

Morodiene, I'm probably not going to become emotionally attached, and hopefully she doesn't become attached to me. Teaching at my home is not an option since I have a sick sister who sleeps all day and she picks up on the tiniest noise and goes all crazy when she hears it.

Varcon, I am a university student so I can't afford the prominent teacher fee of $70+ an hour. The highest earner is a man by the name of Chang and he has a university scholarship named after him already. His clients seem to be mostly doctors' sons and daughters.


"...music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." -Ludwig van Beethoven
#1260466 - 09/01/09 05:09 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gyro]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Gyro
I don't see any problem. One of
the teachers on this forum, a Russian
conservatory graduate, uses a
Williams digital as the only piano
in her studio. In the US, teachers
are expected to have an acoustic
piano in the studio, but in the
UK, digitals are apparently fairly
commonly used by piano teachers.


You're way off, again. PLENTY of teachers in the US teach on a digital keyboard. Some of them are good teachers; some of them are god-awful teachers. Some teachers have both a digital and an acoustic in their studios, but they reserve the acoustic piano for the intermediate-advanced students.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1260471 - 09/01/09 05:13 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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C.Y. Offline
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If you can't play at home because of your sister, do you have a place that you can practice? Maybe you can meet your teacher there and take lessons.

#1260497 - 09/01/09 05:54 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by Gyro
I don't see any problem. One of
the teachers on this forum, a Russian
conservatory graduate, uses a
Williams digital as the only piano
in her studio. In the US, teachers
are expected to have an acoustic
piano in the studio, but in the
UK, digitals are apparently fairly
commonly used by piano teachers.

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

You're way off, again. PLENTY of teachers in the US teach on a digital keyboard. Some of them are good teachers; some of them are god-awful teachers. Some teachers have both a digital and an acoustic in their studios, but they reserve the acoustic piano for the intermediate-advanced students.

You forgot to put in your "beating a dead horse" graphic. smile

I'd like to save my own set of "replies to Gyro's incredibly misleading and misinformed" posts. Then I could paste them in right after his pastes.

But it would take too much time. So I guess I'll have to live with his nonsense, along with the rest of the members.

The idea that DPs are used fairly commonly in the UK but not in the US is so ridiculous, I don't even know what to say.


Piano Teacher
#1260512 - 09/01/09 06:11 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gary D.]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Gary--

This emoticon is better.

[Linked Image]


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1260515 - 09/01/09 06:15 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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currawong Offline
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Originally Posted by Thomas Lau
I think most instructors may not give trial lessons... So I would end up paying $100+ just to find the teacher I want.
I see what you're saying, but it wouldn't be just to find the teacher you want - you'd also be getting the actual lessons.


Du holde Kunst...
#1260521 - 09/01/09 06:26 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Gary--

This emoticon is better.

[Linked Image]

I like it!!!
Originally Posted by currawong
I see what you're saying, but it wouldn't be just to find the teacher you want - you'd also be getting the actual lessons.

I charge for trial lessons. Most of my new students don't request them, but some do. The amusing thing is that while they think they are "auditioning me", I'm making up my mind about whether or not *I* want to continue.

I'm auditioning the student. wink

Last edited by Gary D.; 09/01/09 07:09 PM.

Piano Teacher
#1260575 - 09/01/09 07:55 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gary D.]  
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rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
I see what you're saying, but it wouldn't be just to find the teacher you want - you'd also be getting the actual lessons.

I charge for trial lessons. Most of my new students don't request them, but some do. The amusing thing is that while they think they are "auditioning me", I'm making up my mind about whether or not *I* want to continue.

I'm auditioning the student. wink [/quote]

Gary, how do you gracefully get out of taking on a student with whom you do not want to teach?


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1260590 - 09/01/09 08:12 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: rocket88]  
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"Gary, how do you gracefully get out of taking on a student with whom you do not want to teach?"

Yeah I'd like to know that too!! I'd like to do that, if I can figure out an inoffensive way to do it.


Piano teacher since August 2008.
#1260596 - 09/01/09 08:16 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted by Thomas Lau
Hey teachers,

I found a teacher who's charging $20 for half an hour and $25 for 45 minutes. Well, she is new to my area so surprise, surprise, later on she tells me that she only has a digital piano at home, Yamaha Clavinova. I go to her house and the keys are so damn hard to hit, the action seems to be much heavier. She tells me she feels bad all the time because she only has a digital piano and right now can't afford an acoustic. She seems to be a depressed, jaded soul who's been through much hardship and I want to at least take a few lessons to see how it pans out, if not to help her out a little. I've played on an acoustic all my life and now I appreciate it because I always thought I was missing out by not having a digital piano.

My question is, "Can digital pianos actually deteriorate the technique of someone who's been play since they were 6? if I take lessons from her, will I be able to adjust to this super heavy action? Or should I stop being a cheapo and find a teacher who teaches on a grand? smile

Btw, she does have a masters degree in piano performance and studied under the tutelage of some famous concert pianists. She does know her stuff. Oh yeah, the standard rate in Honolulu for most lessons are around $60 an hour or $30 for 1/2 hour.


I'm a little surprised that you find it particularly heavy. I have a CLP370 and would prefer considerably more weight to the action. It barely feels like I'm moving anything, when I play loud.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/01/09 08:17 PM.
#1260614 - 09/01/09 08:32 PM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: rocket88]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by rocket88

Gary, how do you gracefully get out of taking on a student with whom you do not want to teach?

The talk was about trial lessons. If someone comes in, thinking they are going to "try me out", I don't see any problem saying, "I don't think we are a good fit."

But I'm not unpleasant about it.

Now, people I've agree to teach and have taught for awhile, who turn out to be totally irritating, present a very different problem. To be honest, unless I get very angry, I'm probably too patient and too forgiving. smile


Piano Teacher
#1260846 - 09/02/09 05:03 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: Gary D.]  
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NocturneLover Offline
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Quote

The talk was about trial lessons. If someone comes in, thinking they are going to "try me out", I don't see any problem saying, "I don't think we are a good fit."

But I'm not unpleasant about it.

Now, people I've agree to teach and have taught for awhile, who turn out to be totally irritating, present a very different problem. To be honest, unless I get very angry, I'm probably too patient and too forgiving. smile


I think it's a bit harsh to show a prospective student the door on the first lesson because you never know the type of student you are getting. He/she could be really nice and polite, but turn out to be irritable and hard to teach later on with some emotional issues which reflect in their piano playing. On the other hand you could also have a seemingly "bad fit," but later on that student might blossom to be one of your most promising students in which your achievements are inextricably linked to. And there is everybody in between as well so... assuming your trial lesson isn't free you'd still be making money so it'd be win/win for both parties.


"...music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." -Ludwig van Beethoven
#1261545 - 09/03/09 03:55 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted by Thomas Lau
[

However, I did learn a lot from her on the first day, but she just has this eternal jaded sadness when I look into her eyes that I can't shake.


She sounds interesting, sounds like an artist, she might be a great teacher.


Originally Posted by Thomas Lau


I left the lesson feeling, "how sad... I feel like helping her out."


Be careful, friend, if you look down at her you may discover that behind her sadness the fire of life is still a-burning.

#1261705 - 09/03/09 10:57 AM Re: Need Advice on Teacher [Re: NocturneLover]  
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Originally Posted by Thomas Lau
Quote

The talk was about trial lessons. If someone comes in, thinking they are going to "try me out", I don't see any problem saying, "I don't think we are a good fit."

But I'm not unpleasant about it.

Now, people I've agree to teach and have taught for awhile, who turn out to be totally irritating, present a very different problem. To be honest, unless I get very angry, I'm probably too patient and too forgiving. smile


I think it's a bit harsh to show a prospective student the door on the first lesson because you never know the type of student you are getting. He/she could be really nice and polite, but turn out to be irritable and hard to teach later on with some emotional issues which reflect in their piano playing. On the other hand you could also have a seemingly "bad fit," but later on that student might blossom to be one of your most promising students in which your achievements are inextricably linked to. And there is everybody in between as well so... assuming your trial lesson isn't free you'd still be making money so it'd be win/win for both parties.


I understand what you are saying. After reading many of Gary’s posts I sure he is a very qualified and intuitive teacher.

When you have been teaching long, you quickly recognize red flags. I hope for the best with a new student, however I find my first impression of a student is usually correct. I can tell in the trial period how a student learns, how easily they are going to understand piano, how organized htey are and what their strengths will be.

I also get a clear idea of who will consistently have poor practice habits, missed lessons, lost books and so on. Those patterns manifest early and don’t change.


Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


Moderated by  Ken Knapp 

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