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#1275834 - 09/26/09 09:31 PM "Traps" new teachers fall into  
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Ellechim Offline
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Can you tell me some? I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?

Also, I was wondering what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract.

Thank you!!

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#1275897 - 09/26/09 10:59 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Ellechim]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Not thinking through your studio's operation. You want to teach piano/music, but you're operating a business. I don't know what your music school taught or required you to learn, but mine was a big fat zero. I took pedagogy courses from the college of education and business courses from the school of business, and it has made a huge difference.

One of the most useful texts I have found on the practical side of teaching is Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan's "Practical Pedagogy" which is loaded with how to solutions, sample studio policies, a CD-ROM with down-loadable documents. It's not expensive, and will pay for itself in weeks, not years!


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1275906 - 09/26/09 11:15 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Ellechim]  
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The biggest trap I see new teachers fall into is in trying to refund, reschedule or make up students missed lessons. Students/parents may ask to reschedule for many reasons from soccer games to birthday parties. In many conservatories and community music schools, the policy states there is no deduction from the monthly fee or rescheduling for missed lessons due to student absence. Rescheduling is only done in the event of teacher absence. If the student cancels or fails to attend the scheduled make-up lesson, the missed lesson will not be rescheduled nor will the monthly fee be credited.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this policy- long lasting illnesses (3+ weeks), broken bones, religious observances (outside of the common school year calendar's scheduled days off). So, in addition to your studio policy, I recommend also providing students with a studio calendar to let them know which days are off, and that the fee you charge has already factored these off days, so there is no pay reduction for short months.

Best of luck to you as a new teacher!

~mstrongpianist

#1276050 - 09/27/09 10:34 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: mstrongpianist]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/27/09 10:44 AM.
#1276127 - 09/27/09 01:32 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Betty Patnude Offline
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"The Piano Education Page" might be a good referance for you. I've seen lots of advice written there about the business operation as well as about teaching. (Google)

The website of Dr. "Martha Beth Lewis" is full of information for teachers, students and parents.

"Beth Gigante Klingenstein" is a very capable resource having had a music teaching business column in the American Music Teacher" magazine from MTNA (Music Teachers National Association. She now teaches at a college in South Dakota where she has developed on online pedagogy class for teachers - leading to MTNA Certification. She also has had a book on the market for many years that is still available.

Frances Clark Center for Music Study (New Jersey) along with the "Keyboard Clavier" magazine and many books and videos is a huge resource for professional teachers.

All you have to do is google these names and so much materials will come up. My own list of referance materials for pedagogy and business operations in a music teaching service is huge and I still have many to read on my list after 38 years of teaching.

Best wishes to you!

Betty

#1276147 - 09/27/09 02:24 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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dumdumdiddle Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?


So, you didn't read her sentence about "what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract"??

One of the biggest problems with piano teachers is that they don't consider themselves business people. I think that aspect of piano teaching deserves as much attention as the 'altruistic' parts.


Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild
#1276153 - 09/27/09 02:30 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: dumdumdiddle]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle
Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Umm, was the question primarily intended to be about how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible? I was kind of thinking that is might have come from somewhere slightly more altruistic- ie. about what traps to avoid falling into with regard to aiming to help the students as much as possible? Couldn't we focus a little more on that aspect of things?


So, you didn't read her sentence about "what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract"??

One of the biggest problems with piano teachers is that they don't consider themselves business people. I think that aspect of piano teaching deserves as much attention as the 'altruistic' parts.


Well, I just found it rather notable that you tranposed the "also" into the main question about traps. Is getting as much money in as possible the most important issue here? I'd like to think that up and coming teachers would be primarily concerned with the traps that they don't want to fall into with regard to actually teaching, over the issue of how much money they can get out of it.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/27/09 02:36 PM.
#1276186 - 09/27/09 03:44 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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dumdumdiddle Offline
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I didn't transpose anything. YOU started with the attitude when you commented about "how to ensure that you can rake in much filthy lucre as possible". I was commenting on THAT.

Geez....


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Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild
#1276191 - 09/27/09 03:51 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: dumdumdiddle]  
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"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/27/09 03:59 PM.
#1276206 - 09/27/09 04:12 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


At the risk of sounding like an extortionist here,
IMO one of the main "traps" teachers can fall into is definitely the money issue. I think that's why so many of us commented on that first. A business plan serves as a strong foundation, along with pedagogy training.


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#1276248 - 09/27/09 05:56 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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currawong Offline
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OK, Nyiregyhazi, so far your advice is don't think about the money. Anything else to offer, or is that all there is to it?


Du holde Kunst...
#1276255 - 09/27/09 06:07 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: currawong]  
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eweiss Offline
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What's wrong with thinking about the money anyway?


Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com
#1276260 - 09/27/09 06:20 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: currawong]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Originally Posted by currawong
OK, Nyiregyhazi, so far your advice is don't think about the money. Anything else to offer, or is that all there is to it?


I didn't say don't think about money at all. I suggested that maybe there are more important issues to advise a new teacher on- other than how be in a contractually enforcable position in which to demand money for a lesson, in the event that the kid should warn you a week in advance that they won't be able to come next week, because they are going to their grandfather's Birthday party, say.

For one thing, make sure you grab your students arms plenty, to check that they are loosening up in the right places. In order to play comfortably, you need grip in the fingers but looseness in the wrist. Lose either and you have problems. The only way to ensure these things are working is to check by lifting the student's forearm while they are playing. They need to know what it's like to feel genuine pressure resting on a depressed key at the fingertip, while still having total freedom at the wrist. Unless they chance upon this for themself (which is highly unlikely) you need to show them what this actually feels like. Try pushing their fingertip into the keys slightly, to give that feeling of stable contact. Then simultaneously move their forearm and wrist around at the same time, to show how you have both freedom in the wrist and a very stable contact at the fingertip at once. Some things can only be done by feel, no matter how many words you might use. Always check their permission first, but you simply cannot convey technique adequately without a hands on approach. It's also very useful to get the student to do the same thing on you. There's a tendency not to fully believe the idea of a loose arm, unless you can prove it to them. Ideally play something quite fast and loud and ask them to try to whip your arm away without warning mid-flow. They are always surprised, when they realise how easy it is to pull my arm away from the keyboard. It's a good way to show that not only do you mean what you say, but that you are actually putting it into practise for yourself (rather than simply telling them something that might otherwise seem impossible).

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/27/09 06:52 PM.
#1276295 - 09/27/09 08:20 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Ellechim]  
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currawong Offline
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If I could suggest some of the "traps" I fell into when I first started teaching (a Long Time Ago) it may be helpful.
[1] Not thinking through how I was going to manage the business side. It's worth spending time organising this, as others have pointed out. That's if you actually need to eat and pay bills, as most of us do smile . (Disclaimer: I put this as #1 not necessarily because I think it's the most important.)
[2] Taking on too many students at the beginning before I'd had time to properly work out what I was doing.
[3] A tendency to not demand enough from some of the students.

Some of the things I did right:
[1] I wasn't afraid to try things. Or to ditch them if they didn't work.
[2] I did a lot of reading, talking to other teachers, and exploring music.


Du holde Kunst...
#1276340 - 09/27/09 10:39 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Ellechim]  
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Barb860 Offline
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Originally Posted by Ellechim
Can you tell me some? I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?

Also, I was wondering what kinds of things to put in my "commitment form" or contract.

Thank you!!


Start and end lessons ON TIME. Don't feel the need to go over time with anyone, when another student is waiting. I fell into the trap of not using time wisely. Be efficient and make the best possible use of time. Prepare ahead of lesson time as necessary: materials handy and ready for each student.


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#1276358 - 09/27/09 11:32 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Barb860]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Barb, not only is that great advice for a beginning teacher, it's darn good advice for more experienced teachers as well.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1276389 - 09/28/09 12:50 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Barb860]  
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You need to start each student with the proper boundaries, particularly the beginners, so that discipline doesn't become a problem. You need to be friendly without trying too hard to be bosom buddies.

There's no shame in expecting the proper amount of money. If you are not in business anymore because you've let people get away with too much, then you won't be able to fulfill your commitment to students who rely on you for the whole year. Eking out a living isn't hauling off "filthy lucre."

#1276406 - 09/28/09 01:54 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Candywoman]  
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Ellechim Offline
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Thank you!

I definitely wasn't looking for any tips on getting rich. Who would go into teaching piano to get rich? lol

My question was mostly general, because I sincerely was looking for advice in any and all areas of teaching.....both guiding students and the business side.

Thank you for all the insight!

#1276424 - 09/28/09 03:06 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Ellechim]  
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Know that it's okay to make mistakes (with the teaching aspect, not just the business side.) You can't be the perfect piano teacher over night.

A little bribery can go a long way. (In an ideal world, it's not needed, but let us be realistic.)

Don't try to teach too much too soon.

#1276522 - 09/28/09 10:17 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1276527 - 09/28/09 10:29 AM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Morodiene]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Back to the OP, here are some things to consider:

1) Do have a policy that you consider to be fair, and *use* it. It protects you and the student.

2) Do have an idea of what you want each student to achieve, both in the long run and the short run. Plan out the year accordingly, setting milestones and work your daily plans accordingly.

3) Do familiarize yourself with the method books and repertoire that you will be teaching before starting to teach. The more resources that are available to you, the more flexible you can be with each student's needs.

4) Do reflect on your own teachers, what you liked about how they taught and what you didn't like, to help you form your own style of teaching.

5) Do not try to please everyone all the time. You will only succeed in pleasing some people some of the time anyways. Do your best to be understanding when that is warranted, but in the end there will be those who expect everything for nothing.

6) Do consider only teaching beginner students are first. That way you can focus on what they need to learn as a beginner: the technique, repertoire, what should be the order of what is learned, etc. Once you have a handle on that, then you can explore Intermediate levels. If you jump into all levels of playing at first you will be overwhelmed and underprepared.

7) Do be an Encourager, and not a Discourager. Even in rough days where kids don't practice or get frustrated with themselves, try to help them work toward a solution rather than dwell on what is or what isn't.

8) Do consider the learning styles of each student. Children especially may be very oriented in one way: Aurally, visually, or tactically. Understanding this will help you to teach them. Usually by the time a person becomes an adult, they have learned ways to compensate for their different learning styles and can often glean knowledge from two or all 3 styles.

9) Do continue your education by reading, attending classes and seminars, and conventions. I have learned so much from other teachers on how to be a better teacher, and I continue to add these things to my own teaching.

10) Lastly, do join an organization such at MTNA, where you can exchange ideas with other teachers, develop healthy professional relationships, and receive/give encouragement.


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#1276649 - 09/28/09 02:50 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Morodiene]  
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Some of the important things I've learned over the years are, in no particular order:

Don't try to "enforce" note reading too early, with good directional reading instruction your students will learn to read but always remember that it takes time.

Don't try to move too quickly,even if you see a student has talent.

Ensure that your student is playing with good tone, hand and body position.

There are benefits of group lessons of 2 when teaching young beginners.

Young beginners learn better by ear first.

Be confident when speaking to the parents. Don't let them push you around. Some will try.

Don't be afraid to discipline your students, they will respect you if you are serious about music. This doesn't mean you have to be mean, just firm and even-keeled.

Teach pieces methodically, and make sure each student knows exactly what, in which order and how many repetitions. Write out a daily practice regimen. (Most students need this structure)

Have a strict policy and stand by it.

Be yourself. Teaching-wise and personality-wise.

Don't be afraid to let the parents know if and when the student is not practicing or seems to be losing interest. It is more important to get the bottom of it even if it risks losing the student.

Don't be afraid to lose students. It happens.

Do give incentives for good practice habits.

Continuously advertise. Keep flyers in your car at all times in case you randomly come across a place where you can put up a flyer.

Applaud your students when they've performed well.

Don't rely too much on method books.

Keep track of your money! I use a ledger.

Charge by the month and not by the lesson. It's much easier that way.

Host monthly performance classes so the students become comfortable with recitals.

Teach your students how to bow after a performance.

I could go on, but I'll stop there. I'm sure I'll think of more in a minute!



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#1276672 - 09/28/09 03:33 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
"I am going to start teaching soon, and don't want to do the wrong thing! Is there any traps you see many new teachers falling into?"

Sorry but you indeed transposed the 'also' part of the post into the above question.

I'm really not looking to start an argument here, but I think that the traps about how to teach are far more important to advise young teachers upon than the issue of how to maximise their earnings. Make the odd mistake with contracts and you might lose a few pounds. Big deal. You can learn from the mistake and move on. Make a mistake with teaching a student and you might screw up their playing up for life. I think we ought to be a little more concerned by the main question, than with the secondary issue that was mentioned. Personally I couldn't give a damn if a student doesn't want to come for a lesson occasionally (provided that they let me know in advance). I'd like to think that I've got more important things to worry about than extorting money out of people for not actually doing anything. To think that I thought teaching might be a vocation first and a means of raking in the cash second...


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.

#1276854 - 09/28/09 08:06 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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I would say the worst trap I fell into when I used to teach was to be so concerned about my students learning to read music that I avoided playing for them lest they "cheat" by mimicking me. Now I believe that the teacher's greatest and most powerful teaching tool is to CONSTANTLY play for their students, precisely because it uses children's natural ability to mimic, just as they learn to speak. There are so many nuances to playing music that can be demonstrated so much more easily than can be described in words, and playing for the student helps develop their hearing. When I go back to teaching, my students and I will get a great physical workout switching places on the piano bench. I would also incorporate a lot of listening to great recordings.

#1276863 - 09/28/09 08:21 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: JerryS88]  
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Join your local MTNA organization. They should have programs and events that will help you and your students.

Set long term and short term goals for each student. This can be done through Guild auditions or other similar programs.

Remember that each student will learn at his/her own pace. Praise all accomplishments. Let the student know you are proud of what they have done whether it takes one week or one month.

Be patient.


#1276897 - 09/28/09 09:01 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Morodiene  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,041
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted by Morodiene


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.

So it does not mean you're not a teacher. Is that your double-negative way of saying you're a teacher? If so, you should state that in your signature line.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...%20Pros%20-%20READ%20THI.html#Post962149

Last edited by Morodiene; 09/28/09 09:02 PM.

private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1276936 - 09/28/09 09:52 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Morodiene]  
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Nyiregyhazi  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted by Morodiene


You are speaking hypothetically, so does that mean you are not a teacher?


No. It does not.

So it does not mean you're not a teacher. Is that your double-negative way of saying you're a teacher? If so, you should state that in your signature line.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...%20Pros%20-%20READ%20THI.html#Post962149


Yep, I'm a teacher. I was just giving a direct answer, in accordance with how the question was phrased.

#1276946 - 09/28/09 10:07 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
Just curious, what do you teach and where do you teach?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1276950 - 09/28/09 10:14 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Betty Patnude Offline
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Betty Patnude  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
Nyiregyhazi,

Did you say you can't pronounce your name?

Not only is it hard to pronounce, it's hard to spell!

I would think that is a big disadvantage. How do you cope?

#1276956 - 09/28/09 10:30 PM Re: "Traps" new teachers fall into [Re: Betty Patnude]  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,171
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member
currawong  Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,171
Down Under
Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
Nyiregyhazi,
Did you say you can't pronounce your name?
Not only is it hard to pronounce, it's hard to spell!
I would think that is a big disadvantage. How do you cope?
It's not his real name, Betty. It's his screen name.
Read about Nyiregyhazi here.


Du holde Kunst...
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