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Certified Piano Teacher? #1355146
01/21/10 11:11 PM
01/21/10 11:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 22
United States
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knightzerox Offline OP
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Hi, I've just joined this forum in hopes of getting some good advice on a adult beginner starting over with piano. I hope this is the correct forum for this question.

Is there a organization or certification for piano teachers? Meaning, is there something when looking for a piano teacher I can ask as credentials to see if they would have the potential of being a good instructor?

This may be a odd question to ask but I play the violin and there you can find many certifications in teaching methods and styles. I didn't know if there was one for piano as well.

The reason I ask is I am looking for a piano teacher in my area but it seems anyone is a piano teacher if they have a piano and will accept a fee. It's harder to find reputable good teachers, or should I say help filter instructors out. I just went through this week with finally canceling lessons for another instrument with a teacher because it wasn't very structured and after a year there was very little progress in the original goal, to the point where I wasn't sure what I was learning anymore.

I don't want the same thing to happen with piano. I'd like to play classical styles mostly in the beginning and would like proper technique/posture/ etc... to help build a good foundation.

Thank you for any advice or help.

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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: knightzerox] #1355165
01/21/10 11:30 PM
01/21/10 11:30 PM
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Posts: 1,702
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Minniemay Offline
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Go to MTNA.org and you will find a link to your state music teacher's association and, likely, a link from there to the local MTA. MTNA has a teacher certification process. Look for NCTM next to a teacher's name.

Also, check with the music department of a local college or university. They often know who the most qualified local teachers are.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Minniemay] #1355176
01/21/10 11:41 PM
01/21/10 11:41 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Certification is a valuable reference for students, but it's not the end all/be all. The MTNA certification used to be (and may still be) offered without exam to any college music grad. Betty can bring us up to speed on this. I think they've become more rigorous in recent years. They do have a rigorous exam for non-music majors, but unless recently changed, do not examine the candidate's students for competence. The ACM certification requires no college credentials but does examine teacher's students every year for teaching competency. Your choice!

What you really need to do is a combination of things: find out who has a good reputation locally, for starters. Don't hesitate to ask about their background. Teachers tend to specialize, which is not surprising if you think about it. Many teachers only work with very advanced students; others only work with young beginners, still others work with adult beginners and intermediate level students. Some specialize in jazz & improv, while others specialize in Classical repertoire.

While not always the case, it is generally true that you get what you pay for. Above average teachers charge $80 an hour or more. Top flight teachers are in the $150 - $200/hr range. If you're only willing to pay $25 or $30/hr, you're going to get exactly what you're paying for.


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1355214
01/22/10 12:31 AM
01/22/10 12:31 AM
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Posts: 22
United States
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knightzerox Offline OP
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Thank you for the advice. There are a few universities and a college level school of music here as well. I will see and contact them on who they might recommend as a teacher. I will also look at those organizations as well.

I don't think I can afford $200 an hour! I was paying about $60 an hour here, but then again competition in my city is high.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: knightzerox] #1355241
01/22/10 01:28 AM
01/22/10 01:28 AM
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Minniemay Offline
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Fees vary greatly depending on where you live. Piano teachers where I live charge anywhere from $25-$50/hr. I have a university position and I charge near the top of that range.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Minniemay] #1355298
01/22/10 05:24 AM
01/22/10 05:24 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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John,

Certification process has changed for MTNA as of January 1, 2010, John. It's in the AMT (American Music Teacher)magazine and in WSMTA Clarion and on the www.mtna.org website

For instance, here in Washington State where you and I live, certification is now granted at the national level then also granted in WSMTA with an application and a fee to WSMTA, I believe.

You might want to do some reading up on the whole new process.

Since Olympia is hosting the WSMTA Convention this year, I would think you and I are going to meet. I can't miss a convention that is just about an hour down I5 from my house!

knightzerox, welcome to the forum!

Many piano teachers have degrees in music and hold membership in MTNA but may not be "certified members" of MTNA. I think you can find a good teacher through your local chapter of MTNA in your state.

If you google your zip code or the name of your city along with the words "piano teacher" you will get links to profiles or websites of available teachers in your community.

You can also go to music teacher directory services and enter your zip and your instrument and the profiles and information about them come up for viewing. You can contact anyone of your choice and ask your questions of them.

www.learningmusician.com

www.getlessonsnow.com

Let us know what happens please.

Betty Patnude

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1355513
01/22/10 12:04 PM
01/22/10 12:04 PM
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 304
San Diego
trillingadventurer Offline
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I would definitely try to get know your potential teacher before signing up for lessons. It's a serious monetary and time commitment and the process of having to switch teachers after a few months can be pretty awkward.

In addition to credentials and/or certification I might ask them the following questions:

1. Is being a piano teacher their main vocation? How big is their studio?
2. What is their intention as your teacher?
3. Can they play you one of their favorite pieces?
4. How long have they been teaching?
5. Ask for a reference or review.
6. If they have a website, explore it thoroughly!

Also take note of your "chemistry" with this individual. Remember that you are hiring them for a service to help you. The more communicative and inquisitive you are, the more serious your teacher will take you. Have no fear! Most of those questions can be answered over the phone (except for asking them to perform a piece for you.)


M. Katchur
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: trillingadventurer] #1355563
01/22/10 01:02 PM
01/22/10 01:02 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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I think all the suggestions above are pretty good. The only comment I want to add is that if you're just a beginner, you may not need at $50/hr or more teacher. Maybe a good teacher who may not have the same accreditation as the accomplished ones but who only charges $25/hr is sufficient for your need until you grow out of that teacher and need to find a new one. If you find out a teacher doesn't work for you eventhough the interview went well, you don't need to stick around for a year before cancelling lessons. Most teachers only require monthly payment, so you can quit him/her as soon as your monthly payment is up.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355594
01/22/10 01:49 PM
01/22/10 01:49 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Betty, it does appear to be more comprehensive. That's great news.

Thanks for updating us.

John


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355603
01/22/10 02:09 PM
01/22/10 02:09 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 4,052
rocket88 Offline
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Originally Posted by Volusiano
I think all the suggestions above are pretty good. The only comment I want to add is that if you're just a beginner, you may not need at $50/hr or more teacher. Maybe a good teacher who may not have the same accreditation as the accomplished ones but who only charges $25/hr is sufficient for your need until you grow out of that teacher and need to find a new one.


With all due respect, I disagree with that statement. The first teacher is by far the most important one, because the beginning lessons are where basic habits are formed, habits that can be frustratingly difficult to overcome later on.

Although accreditation does not guarantee a good teacher, and certainly not a guarantee of a good "fit" personality-wise, it is one way of weeding out many amateurs who may not know what they are doing.


Piano teacher.
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: rocket88] #1355612
01/22/10 02:24 PM
01/22/10 02:24 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 337
Brooklyn, NY
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Rachel J Offline
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Originally Posted by rocket88
Originally Posted by Volusiano
..Maybe a good teacher who may not have the same accreditation as the accomplished ones but who only charges $25/hr is sufficient for your need until you grow out of that teacher and need to find a new one.


With all due respect, I disagree with that statement. The first teacher is by far the most important one, because the beginning lessons are where basic habits are formed, habits that can be frustratingly difficult to overcome later on.


I agree! I take great pride in starting people off correctly. People don't realize how difficult it is to teach beginners *well*.


Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355647
01/22/10 03:36 PM
01/22/10 03:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted by Volusiano
The only comment I want to add is that if you're just a beginner, you may not need at $50/hr or more teacher. Maybe a good teacher who may not have the same accreditation as the accomplished ones but who only charges $25/hr is sufficient for your need until you grow out of that teacher and need to find a new one.


You might want to reread the hundreds of posts by frustrated teachers who have to re-teach basic concepts and playing techniques to students who took lessons with these bargain teachers.


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1355664
01/22/10 04:07 PM
01/22/10 04:07 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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You guys all seem to have ignored the key adjective "good" (as in "good" teacher) that I use in my post and automatically labeled any $25/hr teacher as "bargain" teachers who can never ever be a good teacher. That's quite a prejudice, I must say. You already admitted that good accreditation does not guarantee a good teacher. So why would $25/hr guarantee a bad teacher? Just the same as why would $50/hr guarantee a good teacher?

Sure, you get what you pay for, but as a beginner, you don't need somebody who's a genius or virtuoso who charges $50 or $100/hr to teach you the basic fundamentals with good habits and techniques. As long as the teacher follows an established teaching method, has had experience teaching (you can ask them for references from parents/students they've been teaching), can play decently well (to show that they have the skills and good techniques, or else they wouldn't be able to play well), then it's a fairly safe bet that the teacher is good enough to teach you as a beginner.

And keep in mind that this is not a child who doesn't know any better asking for advice. This is an adult beginner asking, and he's already had experience with bad teachers on other instruments, so he should know how to assess whether a teacher is good enough for him or not. And even if he's wrong after all the initial qualification/interviewing/assessment that he does with the teacher, it'd still only cost him a few lessons to find out. He's never stuck if it turns out the teacher doesn't work out for him.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355674
01/22/10 04:20 PM
01/22/10 04:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted by Volusiano
As long as the teacher follows an established teaching method, has had experience teaching (you can ask them for references from parents/students they've been teaching), can play decently well (to show that they have the skills and good techniques, or else they wouldn't be able to play well)...

The method book is merely a skeletal outline for the teacher to follow while presenting and helping the student form good piano playing technique.

Two questions: If you haven't learned good technique, how will you recognize it when the prospective teacher plays? Why would a "good" teacher work for half pay?

Originally Posted by Volusiano
....then it's a fairly safe bet that the teacher is good enough to teach you as a beginner.

I'd say that's a fool's bet.


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1355727
01/22/10 06:07 PM
01/22/10 06:07 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Two questions: If you haven't learned good technique, how will you recognize it when the prospective teacher plays?


You don't know in the strictest sense, but you should be able to tell in the general sense. I think if the teacher can play a variety of pieces fluently, fast and slow, and even unfamiliar pieces you throw at him/her by surpise adequately, then it's a good indication that they're a decent piano player. And in general, a decent piano player should have learned and possess good techniques to begin with to be able to play decently.

An analogy is I'm no tennis pro, just a beginner, but I'm able to tell right away when somebody plays tennis whether they have the proper techniques or not. It's not rocket science. I can tell bad techniques easily when I see one because it'd look awkward and clumsy, usually followed by poor results and/or mistakes.

Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Why would a "good" teacher work for half pay?

There are many reasons a "good" teacher may choose to charge less. One is already discussed, the lack of formal accreditation, so they can't compete with more accomplished pianists who've had formal education and degrees in music or music education. But it doesn't mean that they don't know how to play the piano well themselves with good techniques and is able to teach beginner level.

Another reason is a new teacher who's trying to get into the profession. The lower rate would help grow their student base and establish more teaching experience. But not all new inexperienced teachers are bad teachers automatically like you guys assume. Don't tell me that you didn't once start out as a new teacher without any teaching experience yourself. Everybody gotta start out new some where, some time.

Thirdly, not everybody is rich enough to pay +$50/hr for their kids' lessons. There's a big market out there for parents who want to give their kids the gift of music but would never be able to afford it if every single teacher charges +$50/hr for lessons. So I think those lower priced teachers actually offer a good reasonable service that allows more children to be able to learn music. I would rather get paid $25/hr if I can find 10 parents who are willing to sign up for this rate, than $50/hr if I can only get 1 parent who can afford this price. It's a huge commitment to pay +$50/hr for your beginner young child to take piano lesson when you don't even know if your child is going to stick with it or not.

Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by Volusiano
....then it's a fairly safe bet that the teacher is good enough to teach you as a beginner.

I'd say that's a fool's bet.


A fool is one who pays an arm and a leg for an over-priced (albeit good, but unnecessarily over-priced nevertheless) teacher to teach him very basic beginner fundamental stuff and is afraid to try out a more reasonably priced "good" teacher who can teach him well just the same for half-price. If we're talking about intermediate or advanced level students, I wouldn't argue with you guys. But for somebody who knows nothing about music and the piano, there's a lot to learn and much to progress until one can outgrow the beginner's stage. Good habits and techniques are part of the beginner's learning experience but is not everything. There's a lot a beginner needs to learn on the musical theory side of things as well.

Another analogy here is learning karate. You don't need a fifth degree black belt to teach you karate as a beginner. In fact, a fifth degree black belt will probably refuse to take you in as a beginner. A brown belt or first degree black belt who's a good teacher would probably suffice, at least until you get to a green or blue belt level. And even then, if that first degree black belt is good enough for you and as long as you can still learn from him, why not stick with him until you outgrow him? If anything, he may be the one to refer you to a higher level teacher when you've outgrown him.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355834
01/22/10 09:07 PM
01/22/10 09:07 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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I wish you the very best with your "half price" good teacher. Let us know how it works out.


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1355835
01/22/10 09:08 PM
01/22/10 09:08 PM
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Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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I've heard enough.

I wonder when our regular posting piano teachers in this forum are going to stop defending the quality of their work and their prices?

If these people are happy with what they get elsewhere at a cheaper price, with no policies in place, they can take a lesson here and there, maybe progree, maybe not, no goals, no structure in place - then so be it. It seems like a good match actually if they are going to spend a lot of time arguing with us about our music teaching businesses. Let them have at it. It's how I feel about a bad marriage: when I see people in a difficult marriage making each other miserable, I think "thank god they found each other and let some other innocent person off the hook."

We know the standards of being prepared for piano teaching are severely lacking or non-existant in many people calling themselves piano teachers, but the public doesn't seem to recognize the problem exists and that they can do better in finding a teacher. In fact, we all, as teachers know that the first teacher is the most important teacher as all basic musicianship is put into place by the first teacher. A serious responsibility. Reason to buy quality instruction.

So, in the teacher's forum, it's getting pretty irritating to hear the same old same old from people who want to do piano their way and ignore any wisdom being given freely to them to consider.

There is much in the archives about these kinds of topics and let them do a little research on their own if they truly want to compare and have our viewpoints.

We don't have to defend or explain on a daily basis as it robs us of our enthusiasm and purpose in the present moment we are spending in a deadend subject.

I would like to see the piano teachers forum used for discussion among piano teachers. There may be need for a forum called "Ask the Piano Teachers" where these kind of things could occur and people needing this information keep their issues separate from our piano teacher forum where teachers want to mingle together.

1) Teachers, how do we feel about this "teacher bashing and battering"?

2) Please do not respond to my posting if you are not a teacher.

3) And, teachers please identify yourselves as teachers in your signature.

4) And, don't tell me I don't have to read these things. It's pretty insulting to all of us to entertain these problems rather you recognize it or not. We have enough to do in parent education in our own studios. I really get the idea that we are talking to the wall. Otherwise I would not post my frustration.

Betty Patnude


Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1355840
01/22/10 09:21 PM
01/22/10 09:21 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Calm down, Betty. I've worked in this profession for 30 years; you and others have even longer. We've learned through the school of hard knocks and apparently, others are going to have to learn the same lessons the same way. It's a pity, but often true.

You've had and I've had dozens and dozens of parents over the years who have said to us, "We just get sick thinking about all the money we wasted not knowing better."

By the way, remember that really sensitive transfer student I mentioned a week ago? In three lessons, she's progressed what her previous teacher did in three months. Why the slow progress? And she's very bright, grasping concepts very quickly. What can you possibly say????


"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
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1355841
01/22/10 09:24 PM
01/22/10 09:24 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,311
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted by Betty Patnude

I would like to see the piano teachers forum used for discussion among piano teachers.


The issue of whether the teacher's forum should be for teachers only has been discussed ad nauseum, and each time the outcome is the same: The majority of teachers here state that they welcome the contributions of parents and students. In fact, Frank himself (the owner of the forum, in case you've forgotten) weighed in once and said that the piano teachers' forum should be open to all. It's annoying to have you keep raising this issue.


Quote
Please do not respond to my posting if you are not a teacher.


Once again, you're not the moderator or the owner of this forum. You do not have the right to tell people where they can and cannot post. I suggest that you start your own teachers' forum that you can control as you'd like. I'll even promise not to register for it. smirk


Quote
And, don't tell me I don't have to read these things.


You don't have to read these posts, Betty, and you certainly don't have to respond to them if they upset you so much.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Monica K.] #1355885
01/22/10 10:54 PM
01/22/10 10:54 PM
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northern California
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Barb860 Offline
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I'll throw my 2 cents in. Why do teachers feel the need to defend our policies, fees, and teaching methods? There is a lot of support here in this forum and sometimes in apparent frustration, some of us get paranoid of how a policy change might come across to clients, or an increase in tuition, something like that. We can bounce ideas off each other and get constructive feedback. Many of us have our own businesses and just need different ideas. Perhaps we come across as defensive. Some of us may be lacking in assertiveness but are damn good teachers, care immensely for our students and do not feel the need to defend that. But we question ourselves every day, right? Because we can always do a better job.
Regarding "bargain teachers",
FWIW, no doubt we all know of piano teachers who are NOT GOOD but charge a hefty fee anyway.


Piano Teacher
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1355888
01/22/10 10:58 PM
01/22/10 10:58 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
I've heard enough.

I wonder when our regular posting piano teachers in this forum are going to stop defending the quality of their work and their prices?


Betty, I never attack yours or anybody's quality of work. Why don't you quote anything out of any of my posts on this thread that does that?

As for attacking your prices, I never really did that either. I fully agree with John when he said "you get what you pay for". My only argument is that if you're a mere beginner, you don't need to pay extra for an overqualified teacher who costs more, while a sufficiently qualified teacher for a beginner will do. I just don't agree with the stereotyping and prejudice that a $25/hr teacher is simply not qualified to teach even beginners.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
If these people are happy with what they get elsewhere at a cheaper price, with no policies in place, they can take a lesson here and there, maybe progree, maybe not, no goals, no structure in place - then so be it. It seems like a good match actually if they are going to spend a lot of time arguing with us about our music teaching businesses. Let them have at it. It's how I feel about a bad marriage: when I see people in a difficult marriage making each other miserable, I think "thank god they found each other and let some other innocent person off the hook."


How do you know the $25/hr teachers don't have any policies or goals or structure in place? That's just a "holier than thou" attitude. Are $25/hr teachers so dumb they don't know how to do any of those things?

It's the responsibility of the parents (or adult student) to interview and qualify any teacher they choose, and also to set mutual goals that the teacher agrees to, and monitor progress and ask the teacher for periodic progress report. If the parents don't get involved and do any of these things, then they're just as much to blame as the teacher for entering into this "bad marriage". And I agree with you that they "deserve" each other.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
We know the standards of being prepared for piano teaching are severely lacking or non-existant in many people calling themselves piano teachers, but the public doesn't seem to recognize the problem exists and that they can do better in finding a teacher. In fact, we all, as teachers know that the first teacher is the most important teacher as all basic musicianship is put into place by the first teacher. A serious responsibility. Reason to buy quality instruction.


I agree that anybody can call themselves piano teachers and no doubts there are bad teachers among good teachers. But it's a free market out there, and the standard is not determined by price and price alone. And there's no guarantee that more expensive teachers give quality instruction either. The standard is determined by what parents (or the adult student) deem sufficient and reasonable for the level of service that they require. It's all a trade-off, and it's up to the parents to decide whether this trade-off is acceptable to them or not.


Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
1) Teachers, how do we feel about this "teacher bashing and battering"?


All I see so far is the more expensive teachers bashing and battering the lower priced teachers.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
2) Please do not respond to my posting if you are not a teacher.


I have not been responding directly to your posting. Well, at least until now, here, since I feel that this posting here was directed at me, the "instigator".

This thread belongs to an adult beginner asking the forum's general audience for an advice. I'm not a teacher myself but just a adult beginner like him. I saw advice asked, so I gave my 2 cents. Whether the advice is taken by the OP or not, it doesn't matter to me. He can make his own decision.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
3) And, teachers please identify yourselves as teachers in your signature.


I'm fully aware of this forum's rule that any professional must identify themselves in their signature. I'm not a teacher nor a professional in the music business. I'm just an adult beginner learning to play piano.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
4) And, don't tell me I don't have to read these things. It's pretty insulting to all of us to entertain these problems rather you recognize it or not. We have enough to do in parent education in our own studios. I really get the idea that we are talking to the wall. Otherwise I would not post my frustration.

Betty Patnude


Well, you already read these things so I won't tell you not to read them. And I must admit that it took me by surprise the reactions I got from the teachers in this forum. I didn't mean to insult or offend by anybody, at least it wasn't my intention. It just started out as a short advice to the OP. But the outburst of stereotyping and putting down of lower-priced teachers irked me so I want to speak up.

If there's a real problem with lower quality teaching, then the proper solution is for parents to take ownership of finding better quality teachers and monitoring progress to make sure the teacher provides the results according to the goals set forth. The solution is not necessarily to find a more expensive teacher, then again, like before, not participate in the child's education and let everything fall in the hands of the new teacher and assume that if he/she is more expensive, then the quality of instruction must be good enough.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1356104
01/23/10 07:49 AM
01/23/10 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
1) Teachers, how do we feel about this "teacher bashing and battering"?


I find it easily ignorable. It doesn't make sense to generalize based on price. $25/hour might get you a fantastic teacher, especially if you live in a rural area or less affluent neighborhood. $75/hour might get you a horrible teacher who just happens to be really good at marketing and lives in an affluent area.

I completely agree with Volusiano's last paragraph.

I also agree that you tend to get what you pay for. But that doesn't mean everybody should drive a BMW instead of a Hyundai. They're different products that serve different populations. There is a market for $25 teachers and there is a market for $50 teachers. We need to demand quality from both, not choose between one and the other.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1356111
01/23/10 08:11 AM
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Volusiano, I would like to address the issue of beginner students in particular, and leave the issue of price and official papers aside for the moment. You seem to be saying that teaching a beginner student is less demanding than intermediate or advanced. I have often read that the intermediate student is the safest for an inexperienced teacher, provided that this student has been properly taught, because this student will have firm foundations but not yet ultra difficult repertoire. The beginner has no knowledge or experience so everything is raw and unformed. The foundations are being built. That's the hard and important part: the repertoire is of a kind "any 5 year old could play" wink I am writing as a student and parent of a now-grown child.

In terms of certification and price: Maybe we can assume that a poor teacher cannot ask for top dollar, and someone who doesn't have a minimum amount of ability in both teaching and playing would not be able to pass the certification. Therefore that association is made. But surely there are teachers who have not opted for certification (yet) or are not charging a high fee, who might nonetheless be excellent teachers. There may also be teachers charging a higher fee who may be lacking - everything is possible.


Last edited by keystring; 01/23/10 10:31 AM.
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1356247
01/23/10 11:50 AM
01/23/10 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Volusiano

Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Why would a "good" teacher work for half pay?

There are many reasons a "good" teacher may choose to charge less. One is already discussed, the lack of formal accreditation, so they can't compete with more accomplished pianists who've had formal education and degrees in music or music education. But it doesn't mean that they don't know how to play the piano well themselves with good techniques and is able to teach beginner level.


Volusiano, with all due respect, this style of thinking is where you, and many others, misunderstand a very important concept.

Yes, beginner level music is simple music; Advanced level music is complicated.

But the "simple" part of beginner music fools people into thinking that teaching beginners is simple, and thus somehow allows for a lesser teacher.

But the truth is that teaching beginner level students in order to lay the proper foundation so they can advance successfully is much more complicated and demanding than teaching more advanced students.

That is because new students by definition know little or nothing, thus every single aspect of what is a very complex structure must be put in place, and put in place at the right time, all adjusted to fit the individual's learning style.

That is a much more demanding task than teaching a student who already has that foundation in place. Such students are usually less demanding to teach (in general, unless they had a poor foundation laid), because then the teacher can focus on developing or polishing one aspect or one piece of music with a student who already knows how to sit, how to practice, where middle C is, etc.

Think of aviation teachers...the teacher of beginners has the most important task...if they get it wrong, people will die.

If the beginner piano teacher gets it wrong, people won't die, but their dreams of playing well can be diminished, and, in some cases, they can experience physical damage.

Here is a link describing how piano players can injure themselves...one of the causes is poor hand/body posture at the piano:

http://pianomap.com/injuries/

I have had transfer students from a local teacher who fails to address posture, and those students sit and play in ways that can produce hand and tendon damage.

Thus, a very qualified teacher is the best for the beginner.

Furthermore, the idea that being able to play well or sight read well equals a good teacher for beginners, which has come up in this discussion, is also a false concept, and is absolutely no guarantee of being able to teach well.

Teaching anything is a skill and an art in and of itself, one that has very little to do with the performance of what is being taught, be it piano, golf, what have you.


Piano teacher.
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: rocket88] #1356253
01/23/10 12:01 PM
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AMEN!


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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: rocket88] #1356255
01/23/10 12:04 PM
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That makes a great deal of sense, Rocket88; thank you for laying out the reasons so clearly.

I think there's actually more agreement on this thread than disagreement, believe it or not. Nobody is saying that students should go to a shoddy teacher early on simply because lessons are cheaper.

One factor that hasn't been stressed sufficiently is local market forces in determining prices. People are talking here as if a $25/hr teacher is necessarily "cheap" and thus substandard. But in some parts of the country, $25 is the going rate and what top-notch teachers are charging. My daughter's flute teacher, for example, charges $18 for a half-hour lesson... very reasonable, as far as I can tell from this forum. Yet she's one of the most highly recommended teachers in the city. Just because that's what the market in Lexington can bear doesn't mean she's any less good than a teacher in a larger metropolitan area who charges double that.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Monica K.] #1356264
01/23/10 12:14 PM
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I also agree with everyone here who said that you often get what you pay for with piano teachers. I started with an $18/hour teacher and built up a quite a few bad habits while learning with her, which were eventually corrected with other teachers. But Volusiano brings up a good point - not all parents can afford the best teachers. My parents might not even have given me piano lessons if the only teachers available charged $50 per hour. Where would that leave me now? Completely unable to play piano. Later on, when they realized that there were better teachers out there, I was switched to higher priced and more qualified teachers. I started violin at a public school strings program and the bad habits learned there were later corrected by my private teacher. Children absorb things quickly and bad habits can be unlearned. Without these "half-price" teachers and public programs, many kids would never have the opportunity to learn music at all.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Monica K.] #1356270
01/23/10 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Monica K.
That makes a great deal of sense, Rocket88; thank you for laying out the reasons so clearly.

I think there's actually more agreement on this thread than disagreement, believe it or not. Nobody is saying that students should go to a shoddy teacher early on simply because lessons are cheaper.


Thank you Monica.

I don't think that anyone believes a "shoddy" teacher is best, or even acceptable.

But the concept does exist that people think that a lesser teacher is ok for beginners, who later on, as they progress, can get a better one. (As I described above.)


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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: keystring] #1356318
01/23/10 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Volusiano, I would like to address the issue of beginner students in particular, and leave the issue of price and official papers aside for the moment. You seem to be saying that teaching a beginner student is less demanding than intermediate or advanced. I have often read that the intermediate student is the safest for an inexperienced teacher, provided that this student has been properly taught, because this student will have firm foundations but not yet ultra difficult repertoire. The beginner has no knowledge or experience so everything is raw and unformed. The foundations are being built. That's the hard and important part: the repertoire is of a kind "any 5 year old could play" wink I am writing as a student and parent of a now-grown child.


Hi Keystring,

I totally agree with you and the teachers who have spoken out that beginners need to build a good solid foundation where good habits and techniques are a key parts of it, among other things. Where I differ in opinion is the stereotyping that $25/hr teachers don't know how to teach beginners to build a solid foundation. Someone who possesses a good solid foundation themselves, enough to feel comfortable taking on beginner students and teaching them, should be able to pass on those good traits and solid foundation that they acquired to their students.

I would venture to guess that a lot of these people had been long-time piano students themselves when they were younger (with good teachers, I hope), and probably got to a relatively advanced level by the time they're college-bound. But maybe they weren't good enough to be able to get into serious musical studies at the conservatory level or follow other musical endeavors, or maybe they just want to follow other aspirations they have for a career. Then for one reason or another, maybe later in life, they decided they want to try making use of their piano playing skill to teach, maybe on a part-time basis to supplement their income, or maybe they find a calling in teaching piano and would rather to do that than other work after all. But they don't have the formal education and accreditation at the university level to justify charging a high fee. Nor do they have extensive experience in teaching piano for 20 years like the established teachers to compete head-on. But they saw a market out there for parents who can't afford the higher fees but are willing to trade-off the lack of accreditation for a lower fee as long as the parents deem them good enough to teach their kids. So they tap into that market to establish themselves. I don't see anything wrong with doing that, and there's really no competition between the two classes of teachers because it's two different classes of clients, although it's the same market.

Anyway, sorry to have rambled on and got off the topic you what want to discuss, although part of what I said above is relevant to it. I think that teaching is a demanding job, no matter at what level. I think each level has their own unique demands, although there are overlaps, too, of course. I think good habits and techniques are important at any level, but I think difficult pieces played at the intermediate and advanced level in particular demand an even more concentration of developing and applying good techniques in order to execute those pieces properly.

Meanwhile, at the beginner level, teaching good habits and techniques are a lot more basic and straightforward, and is not as demanding. It's important to teach them for sure, but not as hard to teach a beginner good postures, proper fingering, loose tension, finger exercises, etc. (the very basic stuff). The pieces at the beginner level are pretty easy to execute, and for the most part pretty slow. And on top of that, the student is probably more pre-occupied with reading notes, chords, rhythm, scales to practice their execution. So as long as good habits and proper techniques are taught, observed and enforced by the teacher, the foundation should be built properly. Any "good" teacher should be able to do that, even a $25/hr teacher.

But when you get to the intermediate and advanced level, the value of a teacher who has had a more formal/advance/graduate level of musical education comes into play much more and is probably needed. Special tricks, specific fingering exercises, more abstract ideas, pattern recognition, etc, maybe required to play more complex pieces. Then there's also the "artistry" of things that's subjective and less clearly defined. The teacher kinda becomes a coach, suggests, shares ideas and experiences, imparts wisdom and knowledge. So I wouldn't necessarily agree that an intermediate or advanced student is safer for an inexperienced teacher. If that's the case, the inexperienced teacher doesn't have any value for the student.

So hopefully after this long post, I've clarified a bit why I think either types of teachers should be able to handle beginners OK as long as they're "good" teachers, while the more accredited and seasoned teacher can probably add more value to an intermediate and advance level student.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1356332
01/23/10 01:38 PM
01/23/10 01:38 PM
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Does the word certified still have the sense that it did some years ago? "He's certified" or "she's certified" or "you're certified" certainly wasn't a compliment.

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