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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1355888
01/22/10 11:58 PM
01/22/10 11:58 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.

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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1356104
01/23/10 08:49 AM
01/23/10 08:49 AM
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Iowa City, IA
Kreisler Offline
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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 09:11 AM
01/23/10 09:11 AM
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Canada
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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 11:31 AM.
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1356247
01/23/10 12:50 PM
01/23/10 12:50 PM
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rocket88 Offline
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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 01:01 PM
01/23/10 01:01 PM
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Minniemay Offline
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AMEN!


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Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: rocket88] #1356255
01/23/10 01:04 PM
01/23/10 01:04 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,342
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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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 01:14 PM
01/23/10 01:14 PM
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Canada
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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 01:22 PM
01/23/10 01:22 PM
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rocket88 Offline
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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.)


Piano teacher.
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: keystring] #1356318
01/23/10 02:21 PM
01/23/10 02:21 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 02:38 PM
01/23/10 02:38 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
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France
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landorrano Offline
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France
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.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Volusiano] #1356333
01/23/10 02:41 PM
01/23/10 02:41 PM
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Volusiano Offline
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To Rocket88, MonicaK and FrozenIcicles, I hope with the long post above in replying to Keystring, I've established that I'm in agreement with you guys all that it's important to build a solid foundation with a beginner. I never ever argued that point with anybody.

The only point I argue with is the implication and stereotyping that the lower price teacher is automatically shoddy by default and can never ever build a good foundation no matter what. So what if that shoddy teacher decides to charge a higher fee? Does it automatically guarantee that he/she knows how to build a good foundation now?

My sole argument in the start was only about going to a good, lower price teacher, because the higher price teacher, even if he/she is also good, is probably over qualified with all the extra accreditation and 20 years of experience (to justify the higher price). My argument is never about good vs bad teachers. My argument is about qualified teachers vs overqualified teachers. Both can be good and can teach beginners. The qualified good teacher can cost less. The overqualified good teacher can cost more. Let's not even talk about bad teachers, period. Because that was never part of my original post to the OP. The bad teacher discussion was dragged up by the higher price teachers afterward, by labelling all lower priced teachers "bad".

While I totally agree with the "you get what you pay for" argument, I also firmly believe in the "just pay for what you only need". If you just need to get from point a to point b and don't need to get there in 100mph, why buy a Ferrari when a Toyota will do?

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: landorrano] #1356338
01/23/10 02:45 PM
01/23/10 02:45 PM
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Posts: 304
San Diego
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Or maybe certifiable?

Har har!


M. Katchur
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: trillingadventurer] #1356519
01/23/10 07:23 PM
01/23/10 07:23 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Puyallup, Washington
When I was a child, I spake as a child.

An adult beginning piano lessons speaks as an adult beginner. As progress is made the level of understanding increases to reflect the experiences gained and learned from.

When I achieved the right to teach piano, I began to speak as a piano teacher while producing piano students with good musicianship skills every step of the way. Over time and many students, you gain more and more experience in piano teaching and your "walk and talk" in giving lessons has greatly expanded from what you knew when you started.

Our experiences in life give us our voice to speak with.

One person's wisdom is easily another person's grumble making it important that we find our peer group in piano teaching with whom to share, discuss, interact, commiserate with and to encourage each other. Intelligence seeks it's own level.

Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: landorrano] #1367566
02/07/10 12:00 AM
02/07/10 12:00 AM
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Posts: 69
Kent, WA (Covington)
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Miss Karen Offline
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Kent, WA (Covington)
Hi All,
Looking at the prior threads, I will try to give my two cents. My studio specializes in honing beginning students at very young ages prior to going to other studios for the advanced levels in piano or voice.

My rates are based on the ages of the students. They fluctuate as they get older as they change different lesson plans in their age group. I do my market research to see where my rates fit in with other teachers every couple of years. I just did a rate increase for new students only. I kept the old rates with my existing students because I am averaging a out-of-the-studio of 2 1/2 years.

Parents and students choose teachers based on how they make a connection together. I have many years of teaching in the corporate world and the public school world prior to returning to independent teaching.

If you are teacher and have gained many years of experience and education including certification, your rates should be higher than a teacher who is still gaining experience, education, and maybe certification. People, most of the time, look at the resume' of the teacher prior to getting the interview.

Rates, are like art, because they are in the eyes of the beholder (students and/or parents). Students, transfer or new, normally know if they have a good teacher.


Karen
Redwood Piano Studio
http://redwoodpianostudio.atspace.com/
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Miss Karen] #1367666
02/07/10 06:18 AM
02/07/10 06:18 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,337
Sydney, NSW, Australia
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Elissa Milne Offline
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Sydney, NSW, Australia
Wow, I am new enough to this forum to have missed this thread until it got this bump by Miss Karen.

The sticking point seems to be the issue of fees, and the assumption that the better a teacher is the more they will charge.

I travel around Australia meeting with piano teachers and the range in fees from one region to another is enormous. So maybe the the way to phrase this debate is 'cheapest' and 'most expensive' rather than grabbing at a number that changes its meaning from one centre to another.

And if the best teacher in your area is also the cheapest teacher then she is no doubt the only teacher in your area.

I'm fascinated by the extraordinary 'insights' that illuminate this forum.


Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: Elissa Milne] #1367804
02/07/10 12:22 PM
02/07/10 12:22 PM
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Posts: 41
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007Pianolady Offline
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Going back to the original question of certification....MTNA has changed it's certification procedures, and it is a very good program now. I used to be MTNA certified for many years (a long time ago), but discontinued it. My prospective students didn't seem to care about that, they were more concerned with degrees earned, performance ability, etc. So, I dropped it with no ill effect to my studio. At the time I was certified, I felt like I was just sending them a check to put a piece of paper on my wall. Things have changed now.

In present day, MTNA certification is of great value if you want to go that extra step to show you have put forth the effort to be the most educated teacher you can be. A "degree" is not required, and you do have to send in videos of your teaching, take tests, etc. in the process. It is not what it used to be, and very thorough in it's certification process.


Independent Piano Teacher 1987 (full-time)
Re: Certified Piano Teacher? [Re: 007Pianolady] #1367931
02/07/10 03:25 PM
02/07/10 03:25 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks for the update. I was looking at the new certification process which began this Jan 1st, and it does indeed look much more comprehensive, especially in the "can you actually teach" department!


"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] #1368048
02/07/10 06:07 PM
02/07/10 06:07 PM
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Iowa City, IA
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I have to admit, I like the new certification system. I may actually take the plunge and finally do it.


"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)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed
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