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Asked to teach...should I? #1358482
01/26/10 11:31 AM
01/26/10 11:31 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 32
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hardlrrp Offline OP
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I just returned from my one of my sons’ music presentation, honoring Mozart, at his elementary school. My son informed his music teacher that I play the piano. I was asked to play some Mozart and after some declining (because I am not a professional and I did not want to embarrass myself) I obliged. I dared not play any Mozart Sonatas that I had learned over 15 years ago, instead I played some of his Minuets composed when he was a child. To say the least everyone enjoyed them, especially the kids who were amazed that Mozart composed them before he was 6 years old.
As the program ended, several parents approached me to ask if I would be willing to teach their children how to play the piano. I said no. I am not a piano teacher and I have no formal musical education.

On the ride home I felt uncomfortable with the notion of me, as under qualified as I am, teaching a child music. Also, the fact that some struggling piano instructor somewhere was in need of students to pay the bills was on my mind too.

Would it be unethical to teach someone? I have not put any serious thought into it because music is not what I do for a living but I think it would be a nice thing to do…..what do you think?

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Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: hardlrrp] #1358501
01/26/10 11:49 AM
01/26/10 11:49 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 503
Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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D4v3  Offline
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I get asked this all the time too.

In most cases I tell them of some good teachers that I know of; or if I know the people I would refer have a wait list and know the current teacher isnt very good I may be inclined to help temporarily.


Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1358537
01/26/10 12:42 PM
01/26/10 12:42 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 820
Georgia
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Lollipop Offline
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Georgia
hardlrrp - welcome to the forums. You should get a variety of answers here, because we represent a wide range of teachers.

I congratulate you on your impromtu performance, and also that you understand the seriousness of teaching enough to ask questions about it.

There are a number of threads on here you might want to read - threads about inadequately prepared transfer students, for example. And business-related issues.

You might want to to explore your local music teacher's association to get an idea of the teachers who are currently available in your area, the local fees, etc. See if there might be an unmet niche.

My first students, many, many years ago, were a couple of high school students at my church in a tiny community with no teachers. I had no clue what I was doing, the students weren't regular or committed, I taught at the church because I didn't have a piano, and I didn't charge. I made just about every mistake possible. Needless to say, it didn't last long.

Fast forward many years. I have three children, all of whom play piano and another instrument. I was their accompanist when they needed one. While accompanying my young violinist, I met another mom accompanying her own child. She was highly trained and gifted, and a popular teacher in the area. Eventually my own sons became her students.

Unfortunately, her husband was transferred, and she had to close her studio. She gave us several referrals for a new teacher. But then one day she called me and said she had one student she wasn't comfortable with transferring to any of the other teachers in the area.

This shy, quiet young student, she felt, would be crushed by most of the teachers in the area who were more serious and heavy handed.

She knew me as a pianist and as a mother of her students, and asked me if I would consider teaching this one student. Remembering my previous experience, I was hesitant. However, in the ensuing 10-15 years, I had had 3 children, experienced a variety of music teachers and methods through them, substitute taught, and been foster parent to 25 other children.

I agreed to teach this one child, and by word of mouth, was soon teaching a full studio.

I pretty much learned by doing, reading pedagogy and other piano books from the library, studying theory (my weakness) on my own, and playing through countless method books. In hindsight, I wish I had done a lot of that prior to beginning. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know! I also wish I would have learned a lot more about the business side of teaching, which is something you could learn through the local guild.

I make it a point to only teach beginners, and do well with young students. I have a couple local teachers who are happy to take my transfers (when they have room).

I feel immense satisfaction that 2 of my very first students are seniors now, heading toward careers in music. Perhaps I didn't do everything perfectly, but I did help them get started, and like to think I contributed to their love of making music.


piano teacher
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Lollipop] #1358540
01/26/10 12:45 PM
01/26/10 12:45 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,702
CA
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Minniemay Offline
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You did the right thing.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: hardlrrp] #1358563
01/26/10 01:28 PM
01/26/10 01:28 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,639
Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted by hardlrrp
I said no. I am not a piano teacher and I have no formal musical education.

On the ride home I felt uncomfortable with the notion of me, as under qualified as I am, teaching a child music. Also, the fact that some struggling piano instructor somewhere was in need of students to pay the bills was on my mind too.

Would it be unethical to teach someone? I have not put any serious thought into it because music is not what I do for a living but I think it would be a nice thing to do…..what do you think?


I have a bias, of course, so keep that in mind. That said, as many correctly note, laying in the proper foundation will make or break a student in the long run. I think your instincts are correct - provide those parents a list of piano teachers in your community, or better yet, provide the classroom music teacher the list as well (this is something that many communities/states prohibit teachers from doing, believe it or not).

However, we all owe you a great big thanks for performing. Even though we have a public list of piano/instrumental teachers on the web for our community, do you know that schools never, ever call us for support?


"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: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1358834
01/26/10 06:50 PM
01/26/10 06:50 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,862
Kansas
apple* Offline
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Kansas
i totally understand. People often ask me if I teach and can be quite pressing, (perhaps because I am cheerful).

Unless a kid is special and needy I decline.

needless to say, I make very little money.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: apple*] #1358967
01/26/10 10:44 PM
01/26/10 10:44 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 32
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hardlrrp Offline OP
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thanks for all the advice folks,

if i ever were to teach anything i probably wouldn't charge...reminds me of my sanskrit professor in college: "when teaching, give and give and have no need for compensation"

i know that comment can be torn apart in so many ways lol but his words do stike a chord in me

pianistically speaking, i am self taught and what works for me would probably not work for someone else

i also do not have a clue on pedagogical issues or concerns and i am sure i would lead someone down a path of bad habits and misconceptions

it takes a true teacher/instructor/mentor that has a true calling for this vocation of teaching piano and i seriously would not want to be a hindrance to anyone's piano studies

thanks again

Last edited by hardlrrp; 01/26/10 10:45 PM.
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: hardlrrp] #1359002
01/26/10 11:29 PM
01/26/10 11:29 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 350
wisconsin
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CarolR Offline
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I had people ask me for years if I taught, and my answer was always "I have no clue how to teach piano". Which was true. And quite honestly, my interest was in playing, not teaching. But, things started leading me toward teaching. It was a series of events, sort of like Lollipop's. My teacher, and my daughter's teacher, both suggested that I would make a good teacher. Years later......I started going to piano camp and my interest in piano quadrupled in intensity and I became much more interested and involved in playing and performing. My daughter's teacher told me about a someone who was coming to town to teach a piano teaching course, and I decided to sign up - not really sure where it would lead. And then, I was very involved in the class, and we were expected to have students in order to put into practice what we were learning.

So, maybe this is the thing that will tip you toward teaching. I agree that it does take a lot of research and preparation to teach, but maybe you will get to the point where you want to do that. I would recommend at pedagogy class.

I just read over your last post and see that you are self-taught, and this raises some flags. Much of my knowledge about playing the piano and teaching comes from studying with several different excellent teachers over many many years. Without this, I honestly wouldn't be qualified. Maybe that should be your next step - finding a great teacher!


Working on:
Chopin: Barcarolle
Schubert: Sonata D959
Rachmaninoff: Daisies
Lutoslawski: Paganini Variations for 2 pianos

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: CarolR] #1359033
01/27/10 12:16 AM
01/27/10 12:16 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Puyallup, Washington
Teaching is a calling.

It's nifty that you enjoyed your Mozart presentation with some young children. Perhaps it is bringing up an eagerness to do more of that type of thing and pianists like yourself are needed volunteers like yourself are needed in many arenas. Music appreciation and programs with content not just playing for your audience but proficing background and making it personal by speaking about your presentation too.

I think the teaching is a very serious undertaking as you are schooling and programming someone's future in music.

Being completely self taught as you say you are makes me concerned that you pretty happy with what you have accomplished for yourself but that you do not yet know enough to actually teach it as the serious subject it is.

Now if you are talking about having some good musical experiences with people and teaching in a general way without it being specific piano instructions, I bet you could do a wonderful job.

For most of us in teaching, we have spent a lifetime in music and know that it takes years to develop to be a good well-rounded, dedicated pianist and musician, as it also does to be a good, well-rounded, dedicated pianist and musician.

Those who are self taught are actually filling their own vessels and pursuing only what is interesting to them. They do not usually get the full picture of what piano represents to a career professional. There is a lot of myths about traditional classical teachers going on around the world.

If your music is in the social area, you can be a very average pianist and sound very good to the uneducation listener. Seen by a serious piano teacher, we are going to see some poor habits and some misunderstanding of certain musicianship principles. It's just a given. If I presented myself to a master world class teacher, you can bet they would find things to advise me upon. And, I would welcome that.

Everyone these days seems to be minimizing the value of a classical teacher because they think it does not meet their needs, they can do it themselves. And, partly this is true. Having evaluations of how you are doing and what you are lacking or missing in your study would be good experience for any pianist. Just to choose the right person to do this review is a big question.

There are so many poorly prepared teachers teaching that it is a getting to be a threat to established music teachers. Unfortunately the public does not always know how to choose a teacher. They look for fee, location and an opening in the schedule - but the most critical question is what kind of student do you produce? What kind of musical experience am I going to have in study with you? Only once in the past 3 years has someone asked me about creditials and my seriousness of purpose. I find that discouraging that so many enter into lessons without a good idea of what the process of music education is all about.

It is not about having fun, although fun fits into the picture, there needs to be more value to music study then just having fun. We can giggle all week and get nothing done. And, the cutesy little songs I could teach you would do little to make progress, but you would be well entertained for a while, while I put your tuition fees into my bank account. But, what if I haven't taught you to think and listen and plan and persevere? I want perople to go their maximum in music if they want to, but if they get the wrong teachers, the poor, unsuspecting student and the parent are not going to realize it until it's too late.

You will know in your elder years whether they made the best decisions for themselves or not. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. You will be the end product of all your musical experiences and it will one day speak for you. Then you will know which path you took and whether it worked well for you or not.

Whatever you do, do it because you aspire to be and give it your best shot. Buying a method book for your students any teaching from it as your only resource for instruction is really a minimal effort on the part of a teacher. Piano teachers heads are brimming with creativity and ideas far beyond the basics of what is offered in music books. You really need to know how to take a piano student to his full potential when you start him, not grow along with your students. Keeping a step ahead of your students is a poor road map and yet it is being done and no one's complaining - yet.

Everyone deserves the best!

Good luck! And, welcome to the forum!

Betty Patnude

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1359050
01/27/10 12:53 AM
01/27/10 12:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 503
Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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D4v3  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 503
Fort Worth, Texas
Betty,

Why don't you tell us how you really feel! wink

Is the plethora of poor teachers the problem, or a symptom/result of a bigger problem. That problem being, "classical music is being marginalized and piano playing is seen by and large as more of a novelty; taking the backseat secular interests".

That would explain why no one has asked for your credentials, why unfortunately they want the easy teacher who can teach them piano novelties as opposed to a teacher that makes them work.

And unfortunately the economist in me reminds me that economies are to scale, which is to say people get what they pay for. People want a novelty and are willing to pay novelty prices and practically anyone can teach novelty piano.

When I get asked to teach, I won't even refer my teacher unless the person is dead serious and passionate about classical music, anything less is insulting.

My suggestion is to price based on the student/parents goals and teach to that level! "I have a few different teaching methods I use based on the goals of the student etc...". Then you have captured the market that is competing against you! Then after a year or 6months you can do an upsale based on how good they are doing. If you find another student more dedicated and willing to pay more for the better lessons, then drop the "novelty" student.

Now I give business advice on different levels and I think your ready for the next level. Let's talk.

Last edited by D4v3; 01/27/10 12:57 AM.

Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1359066
01/27/10 01:14 AM
01/27/10 01:14 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,432
Santa Fe, NM
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jotur Offline
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Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
...Those who are self taught are actually filling their own vessels and pursuing only what is interesting to them.


Hm. Your point is? I mean, is it *bad* that those of us who are self-taught (I actually prefer "without formal lessons") are pursuing only what is interesting to us? I pursue only old-time, old standards, old English tunes, ragtime, etc. No classical. Is that what you're getting at? If someone pursues only classical because that's what they like, isn't that "filling their own vessels and pursuing only what is interesting to them"? ? ?

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
They do not usually get the full picture of what piano represents to a career professional. There is a lot of myths about traditional classical teachers going on around the world.
...


Aside from the fact that I can't figure out what these two sentences have to do with each other laugh - I'd venture that many, if not most, people who play piano, whether self-taught or in formal lessons, don't plan on becoming career professionals (in piano playing, any way). So again, I'm not sure what your point is.


Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
Everyone these days seems to be minimizing the value of a classical teacher because they think it does not meet their needs, they can do it themselves. And, partly this is true. Having evaluations of how you are doing and what you are lacking or missing in your study would be good experience for any pianist. Just to choose the right person to do this review is a big question.


I'm again having trouble understanding what the last half of that quote means, given the first half. Also - did you mean that it is partly true that people can do some of it themselves? Do you really believe that "everyone" seems to be minimizing the value of a classical teacher? That seems to be an exaggeration, to me.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
There are so many poorly prepared teachers teaching that it is a getting to be a threat to established music teachers. ...


IF this is true, it has ever been true. It didn't start recently. It's one of those "what's the matter with kids today" kind of statements, as if somehow it used to be different. *I* doubt seriously that there were fewer poorly-prepared teachers in the past. My take on human nature is that, on average, it hasn't changed much in the last 5000 years :\

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
It is not about having fun, ... And, the cutesy little songs I could teach you would do little to make progress, but you would be well entertained for a while, while I put your tuition fees into my bank account...


At this point I've lost track of who "you" is smile The original poster? The poor unsuspecting victims of poor teachers (who all teach only "cutesy little songs"?)? The whole world? laugh

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
You will know in your elder years whether they made the best decisions for themselves or not. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. You will be the end product of all your musical experiences and it will one day speak for you. Then you will know which path you took and whether it worked well for you or not.


None of this made sense to me frown "You" is who? "they" is who? Are "they" somehow a product of "you"? Or was "you" just standing by and watching "they"? What have "they" got to do with "you"'s end product?

Originally Posted by Betty
Whatever you do, do it because you aspire to be and give it your best shot. Buying a method book for your students any teaching from it as your only resource for instruction is really a minimal effort on the part of a teacher. ...

Good luck! And, welcome to the forum!


So now I can't tell if you are now encouraging the OP to try teaching or not. Was all the previous post a cautionary tale of some kind? I dunno -

What I mostly took from your post, Betty, was a feeling that you are miffed about something - self-teachers, poorly-prepared teachers taking your business, I don't know.

But I *can* say - yes, this particular self-teacher (c'est moi) is filling her own vessel, and it overflows when I play for dancers, or the Adult Day Care Center, or friends' weddings, or charity events, or for myself or family. As, apparently, did the OP's when she played for the school. Bless us all smile

I have no doubt that piano teaching isn't for me. I also have no doubt, from reading the OP's post, that if she wanted to teach she would prepare for that, or she wouldn't have asked the question. If I recall, Betty, you had some lessons when you were young, and then took a long time off before you started actually teaching. You have since read a lot of books, joined a professional organization, and generally tried to learn more about teaching piano. But I suspect that when you started teaching (didn't you say that a piano salesman told you about chords when you were in looking for a piano? Or was that someone other poster?) you had a lot to learn. Others can do the same. We all start somewhere.

Cathy


Cathy
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Practice what you suck at - anonymous
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: hardlrrp] #1359074
01/27/10 01:24 AM
01/27/10 01:24 AM
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Posts: 1,137
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Candywoman Offline
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I think you should ask a piano teacher in the neighbourhood if you could sit in on a lesson. I think you have a long road ahead if you would like to transition to being a piano teacher.

When it comes to music, many people feel they're in a position to guide children. Parents of my students sometimes think they know what's best for their children's musical education. I can't understand why after 34 years of playing the piano, and 13 years of teaching piano, my opinions on these matters get such small notice.

Then you get posters who say piano is just a novelty, not unlike face painting at the local zoo. I've decided it's the tall stemmed rose phenomenon. People hate to see you excel and profess to be an expert on things, so--as they would do with a tall stemmed rose that towers over the other roses--they chop you down to size.

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Candywoman] #1359087
01/27/10 01:45 AM
01/27/10 01:45 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 503
Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Fort Worth, Texas
I hope you didn't think I was saying piano ought to be a novelty, but that unfortunately people have marginalized it because it is not easy and instantaneous.

I'm also saying I don't understand why your upset about other teachers who are poorer in quality getting more work than you. Invest a little in advertising or scale your price/teaching model to be more accomodating.

You can look at things as cutting you down to size or you can be adaptable like every succesfull business. I get the sense from some teachers who feel their lifes experience has a predetermined intrinsic value that should be obvious in their pricing model.

The problem is that your personal feelings don't determin demand; and economically if someone can acomplish what the buyer wants at a cheaper production cost yeilding the same results well there you go.

If you are trying to make a serious living as a piano teacher you may have set personal feelings aside and be a smart business person. If your want to be an artist and charge artist prices then you won't find many takers in today's world and I hope you have a day job.


Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359106
01/27/10 02:29 AM
01/27/10 02:29 AM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,137
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Candywoman Offline
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More respect is owed to Betty Patnude. I just want to say I've had seven piano teachers, and I would always treat them with the utmost respect and admiration.

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: jotur] #1359119
01/27/10 02:47 AM
01/27/10 02:47 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Betty Patnude  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted by jotur
Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
...Those who are self taught are actually filling their own vessels and pursuing only what is interesting to them.


Hm. Your point is? I mean, is it *bad* that those of us who are self-taught (I actually prefer "without formal lessons") are pursuing only what is interesting to us? I pursue only old-time, old standards, old English tunes, ragtime, etc. No classical. Is that what you're getting at? If someone pursues only classical because that's what they like, isn't that "filling their own vessels and pursuing only what is interesting to them"? ? ?

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
They do not usually get the full picture of what piano represents to a career professional. There is a lot of myths about traditional classical teachers going on around the world.
...


Aside from the fact that I can't figure out what these two sentences have to do with each other laugh - I'd venture that many, if not most, people who play piano, whether self-taught or in formal lessons, don't plan on becoming career professionals (in piano playing, any way). So again, I'm not sure what your point is.


Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
Everyone these days seems to be minimizing the value of a classical teacher because they think it does not meet their needs, they can do it themselves. And, partly this is true. Having evaluations of how you are doing and what you are lacking or missing in your study would be good experience for any pianist. Just to choose the right person to do this review is a big question.


I'm again having trouble understanding what the last half of that quote means, given the first half. Also - did you mean that it is partly true that people can do some of it themselves? Do you really believe that "everyone" seems to be minimizing the value of a classical teacher? That seems to be an exaggeration, to me.

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
There are so many poorly prepared teachers teaching that it is a getting to be a threat to established music teachers. ...


IF this is true, it has ever been true. It didn't start recently. It's one of those "what's the matter with kids today" kind of statements, as if somehow it used to be different. *I* doubt seriously that there were fewer poorly-prepared teachers in the past. My take on human nature is that, on average, it hasn't changed much in the last 5000 years :\

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
It is not about having fun, ... And, the cutesy little songs I could teach you would do little to make progress, but you would be well entertained for a while, while I put your tuition fees into my bank account...


At this point I've lost track of who "you" is smile The original poster? The poor unsuspecting victims of poor teachers (who all teach only "cutesy little songs"?)? The whole world? laugh

Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
You will know in your elder years whether they made the best decisions for themselves or not. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. You will be the end product of all your musical experiences and it will one day speak for you. Then you will know which path you took and whether it worked well for you or not.


None of this made sense to me frown "You" is who? "they" is who? Are "they" somehow a product of "you"? Or was "you" just standing by and watching "they"? What have "they" got to do with "you"'s end product?

Originally Posted by Betty
Whatever you do, do it because you aspire to be and give it your best shot. Buying a method book for your students any teaching from it as your only resource for instruction is really a minimal effort on the part of a teacher. ...

Good luck! And, welcome to the forum!


So now I can't tell if you are now encouraging the OP to try teaching or not. Was all the previous post a cautionary tale of some kind? I dunno -

What I mostly took from your post, Betty, was a feeling that you are miffed about something - self-teachers, poorly-prepared teachers taking your business, I don't know.

But I *can* say - yes, this particular self-teacher (c'est moi) is filling her own vessel, and it overflows when I play for dancers, or the Adult Day Care Center, or friends' weddings, or charity events, or for myself or family. As, apparently, did the OP's when she played for the school. Bless us all smile

I have no doubt that piano teaching isn't for me. I also have no doubt, from reading the OP's post, that if she wanted to teach she would prepare for that, or she wouldn't have asked the question. If I recall, Betty, you had some lessons when you were young, and then took a long time off before you started actually teaching. You have since read a lot of books, joined a professional organization, and generally tried to learn more about teaching piano. But I suspect that when you started teaching (didn't you say that a piano salesman told you about chords when you were in looking for a piano? Or was that someone other poster?) you had a lot to learn. Others can do the same. We all start somewhere.

Cathy


Thanks for your input, Cathy.

Yes, 39 years since. You really read and remember my history well and I find that amazing. I don't know whether to feel flattered or stalked actually. You are very good at what you do - writing and dissecting - I remember those red pencil days when teachers really corrected our papers. I don't know why I am the focus of your attention nor your criticism.

Actually, I was asked to teach by the manager of a Sherman Clay in Topanga, California in 1971. He believed in me before I believed in me as a teacher. Every one who wants that opportunity should have it, but they had best be prepared to do a great job at it as it's usually self-employment and there is no tenure. Some people luck out with tenure. In the long run we are all accountable for being able to live with ourselves.

If I'm so unfathonable to you, Cathy. Please use your ignore button.

Betty Patnude

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359126
01/27/10 02:58 AM
01/27/10 02:58 AM
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Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Originally Posted by D4v3
Betty,

Why don't you tell us how you really feel! wink

Is the plethora of poor teachers the problem, or a symptom/result of a bigger problem. That problem being, "classical music is being marginalized and piano playing is seen by and large as more of a novelty; taking the backseat secular interests".

That would explain why no one has asked for your credentials, why unfortunately they want the easy teacher who can teach them piano novelties as opposed to a teacher that makes them work.

And unfortunately the economist in me reminds me that economies are to scale, which is to say people get what they pay for. People want a novelty and are willing to pay novelty prices and practically anyone can teach novelty piano.

When I get asked to teach, I won't even refer my teacher unless the person is dead serious and passionate about classical music, anything less is insulting.

My suggestion is to price based on the student/parents goals and teach to that level! "I have a few different teaching methods I use based on the goals of the student etc...". Then you have captured the market that is competing against you! Then after a year or 6months you can do an upsale based on how good they are doing. If you find another student more dedicated and willing to pay more for the better lessons, then drop the "novelty" student.

Now I give business advice on different levels and I think your ready for the next level. Let's talk.


D4v3,

Let me just say it was a "novelty" to read your post addressed to me.

The "tessitura" appears to be your word "novelty".

I see you are in the business of giving advice. How is that working for you? With the economy and all? I think all industries are hard hit but there sure are a lot of people in the restaurant parking lots on any day of the week. Maybe I should have opened a restaurant instead of piano teaching?

And, my money is all tied up at Edward Jones so I'm not a candidate for a talk.

Betty Patnude

made correction

Last edited by Betty Patnude; 01/27/10 02:58 AM.
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1359130
01/27/10 03:00 AM
01/27/10 03:00 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
There are so many poorly prepared teachers teaching that it is a getting to be a threat to established music teachers.


This reminds me of this blatant example: I was judging one year when a kid played Clementi Op. 36 No. 1 THIRD movement. His teacher analyzed that movement in sonata-allegro form, and actually marked the sections exposition, development, and recapitulation!


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: AZNpiano] #1359133
01/27/10 03:06 AM
01/27/10 03:06 AM
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hardlrrp Offline OP
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well this is becoming very informative

I appreciate all the advice so far

I would like to reassure the piano teaching community that if I ever decide to teach a child piano/music education, I will be sure to seek out proper training.

my dilema was concerning children...I have dealt with "students" when I was teaching classes in graduate school...or conducting corrective training on my soldiers during my time in the service...but these were adults not children

if an adult were to ask me if I would teach them how to play the piano, which doesn't really happen because I don't make it a habit of playing in public, I would help them out the best I could and send them to a qualified person

for instance, my sister-in-laws cousin, who just graduated this past fall with a BA in music, asked me to coach him for his entrance audition; he had no instructor...

I obliged and he got in with flying colors...

but with children, in my experience, there needs to be a different approach that I do not feel I possess...

during college I contemplated majoring in music ed...but I was shocked when the degree required a double major in education and music...this is one of the reasons why I am familiar with the hurdles music educators have to go through=be proficient and knowledgable in two fields that require them to be subject area experts in order to be successful

I kinda feel I am rambling lol...it's passed midnight here on the east cost and my wife is telling me to get off tge pc :-)...so sorry if this post makes no sense!

goodnight

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359151
01/27/10 04:01 AM
01/27/10 04:01 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by D4v3
The problem is that your personal feelings don't determin demand; and economically if someone can acomplish what the buyer wants at a cheaper production cost yeilding the same results well there you go.


Huh?

I think I know what you're trying to say. Unfortunately, there are poor-quality teachers who deliberately undercharge--grossly undercharge--in order to gain and maintain clients. If they charge 30% of the "going rate," of course they'll have clients lining out the door. As for "same results," for many parents they really cannot tell. Just take a stroll through some studio recitals, especially the ones held in "music schools." Really--some parents think as long as their kids are pressing down keys and making sound, learning has taken place.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: hardlrrp] #1359156
01/27/10 04:08 AM
01/27/10 04:08 AM
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landorrano Offline
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I think that if you accept students, even if you aren't too sure of how to proceed, you have to be ready to follow through. Better to refuse than to accept to teach and then abandon a few weeks or months later.

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: landorrano] #1359177
01/27/10 05:10 AM
01/27/10 05:10 AM
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Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Originally Posted by landorrano
I think that if you accept students, even if you aren't too sure of how to proceed, you have to be ready to follow through. Better to refuse than to accept to teach and then abandon a few weeks or months later.


this is so true and the biggest reason I don't want to teach.


Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1359180
01/27/10 05:53 AM
01/27/10 05:53 AM
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Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Betty I was only saying to contact me in jest. And my post was a critque on the unfortunate state of society that has given so much place for poor teachers to be successful, not on you personally. I wish more teachers were as dedicated as you.

Fortunately I have enough people keeping me busy where I work currently; however, even in my world of business (to reply to another poster's comment on my thoughts on pricing vs quality) most people feel they can successfully invest on their own or on the advice of a family member/friend with little or no investing background.

The problem with those investors is the same with parents going to poor quality music instructors. It's not that they don't seek out a true professional or that other people with 0 music/educating workplace backgrounds are giving advice/teaching; it's WHY they feel comfortable going to the alternative sources.

Is it in ignorance? If so then buyer beware and the fault is theirs, not the underqualified teacher. Ask for those credentials and about the other students, sit in on a lesson if you can.

Is it that they can't afford a better teacher? Maybe they go somewhere that undercuts you by 30% is because they can't afford more.

Is it that they view learning the piano as a novelty instead of wanting to take it seriously? They may even say to themselves "why pay for an expensive music education when the odds of my child or self being the next Horowitz is practically nill?".

Maybe they had a bad experience with a teacher and only trust themselves or simply want to ask professional teachers questions for free on a webforum page/ YouTube where the teachers are all too willing to give their advice away for free. Thus pushing the demand for their services even lower, and then ask why thier business model isn't working and blame it on others versus their own inability to adapt their pricing model, or inability to market themselves correctly.

I don't buy the idea that some undercutting you in price is stealing all the quality students away. What I do buy is that the non serious student/parent will go to those teachers, but the serious parents and students know that you get what you are willing to pay for if they know how to locate you. Every parent I spoke to that viewed piano as a novelty below kids sports took the cheapest teacher, every parent that gave a crud about a serious music education knew they would have to pay more, pay upfront for the month and not miss lessons.

It was by luck that I came across my current teacher, word of mouth referal which I then went to his website and saw his credentials and heard him playing things he posted on his website. Do you do this AZNPiano? And I don't trust pieces of tear off paper with a phone number, or a 3x5 card on a board. That tells me you don't have many students maybe because your not that good and can't afford better advertising, or that your lessons may give the same amount of care as was given to how you presented yourself.

Last edited by D4v3; 01/27/10 06:14 AM.

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Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359373
01/27/10 01:19 PM
01/27/10 01:19 PM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by D4v3
Maybe they go somewhere that undercuts you by 30% is because they can't afford more.


Just to clarify: There are teachers who charge 30% of the going rate. So they'd be undercutting us by 70%.

But that's not the only horror story. You probably haven't heard of places that teach "hour lesson" in which 30 minutes are at the piano with a teacher and 30 minutes are in front of a computer screen doing educational music "games."


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Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359389
01/27/10 01:34 PM
01/27/10 01:34 PM
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Puyallup, Washington
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Betty Patnude Offline
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Originally Posted by D4v3
Betty I was only saying to contact me in jest. And my post was a critque on the unfortunate state of society that has given so much place for poor teachers to be successful, not on you personally. I wish more teachers were as dedicated as you.


Thank you for explaining, D4v3. I didn't get you humor "in jest" and it didn't seem to me that you thought it was "the unfortunate state of society" during my first or second reading.

I have read your next post and understood your intentions better because you clarified.

It is very unfortunate that people cannot discriminate what is value in music teaching. Consumers have become very savvy over the years about quality and bargain prices which is great we need both in the equation.

I thought you were giving me a marketing opportunity to review my business plan. I do have one, by the way and an operating/management system. I wondered if reviewing and evaluating the music teachers program was something that you have expertise in and if you were offering to set me straight?

Betty

Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: Betty Patnude] #1359395
01/27/10 01:42 PM
01/27/10 01:42 PM
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Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
Originally Posted by D4v3
Betty I was only saying to contact me in jest. And my post was a critque on the unfortunate state of society that has given so much place for poor teachers to be successful, not on you personally. I wish more teachers were as dedicated as you.


Thank you for explaining, D4v3. I didn't get you humor "in jest" and it didn't seem to me that you thought it was "the unfortunate state of society" during my first or second reading.

I have read your next post and understood your intentions better because you clarified.

It is very unfortunate that people cannot discriminate what is value in music teaching. Consumers have become very savvy over the years about quality and bargain prices which is great we need both in the equation.

I thought you were giving me a marketing opportunity to review my business plan. I do have one, by the way and an operating/management system. I wondered if reviewing and evaluating the music teachers program was something that you have expertise in and if you were offering to set me straight?

Betty


I wouldnt presume to solicit services in a manner like that.


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Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: AZNpiano] #1359407
01/27/10 01:56 PM
01/27/10 01:56 PM
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Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by D4v3
Maybe they go somewhere that undercuts you by 30% is because they can't afford more.


Just to clarify: There are teachers who charge 30% of the going rate. So they'd be undercutting us by 70%.



Welcome to capitalism.

Businesses that can produce the substandard goods/services that some consumers are willing to settle/looking for as long as its cheaper, as opposed to the higher quality goods/services at a higher cost, are the businesses that are going to thrive.

I read in an article that used Walmart and Vlassic pickles as a great example. Vlassic pickles priced their pickles based on the cut of the pickle. Walmart said no dice our customers want more for less and hence the $5 1gallon jar of pickles came to be. Vlassic went out of business because it couldnt adapt. Another company that made umbrellas said that it couldnt reduce its price any further or it would go out of business, Walmart said "really? Ok, .... Hello China we want to buy your umbrellas now", and that umbrella company still went out of business.

So AZNpiano I sympathize but what you may be facing is a change in the demand for piano teachers based on the substandard wants of the parent/student, or if another piano teacher can give a discount longer than you can they will ultimately win. survival of the fittest, not necessarily survival of the most worthy.

You could as I suggested fight back by adapting a flexable price model to build loyalty and then raise prices as you go, as opposed to the my way or the highway approach.

Just random thoughts here.


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Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359410
01/27/10 02:04 PM
01/27/10 02:04 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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FWIW, Vlassic was bought out by Pinnacle Foods, a conglomerate. Vlassic pickles are still widely available.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359413
01/27/10 02:10 PM
01/27/10 02:10 PM
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by D4v3
the $5 1gallon jar of pickles came to be. Vlassic went out of business because it couldnt adapt.


Ha! That reminds me of the "12 pounds of nutmeg" joke on The Simpsons.

Without derailing the thread further, I might start a new thread on How to Find a "Good" Piano Teacher.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1359440
01/27/10 02:44 PM
01/27/10 02:44 PM
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Fort Worth, Texas
D4v3 Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
FWIW, Vlassic was bought out by Pinnacle Foods, a conglomerate. Vlassic pickles are still widely available.


The namebrand is still kicking around but I am correct that it did go bankrupt and had to be bought by another company which it didnt want to do.

Walmart Vs Vlassic

this article states that the gallan jar was for $1, even worse.

Last edited by D4v3; 01/27/10 02:45 PM.

Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions
Re: Asked to teach...should I? [Re: D4v3] #1359462
01/27/10 03:13 PM
01/27/10 03:13 PM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
John v.d.Brook Offline
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This isn't an article, it's a blog. Someone's opinion. Companies file for chapter 11 all the time. This isn't going out of business bankruptcy, it's reorganizing and subordinating debt.

Is Walmart selling pickles for $1/gal? I don't shop there, so don't know.

At any rate, there apparently is still a market for Vlassic pickles at what ever price Pinnacle is selling them for, probably a lot more than $1/gal.


"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
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