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#1574913 - 12/11/10 06:53 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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KBK's posts in this thread make perfect sense if (and only if) he is always correct in his analysis of the content of other teachers' teaching, just from watching their students perform.

I've heard the description A Legend in His Own Mind. Perhaps it fits here.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
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#1574957 - 12/11/10 08:12 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Phil Best]  
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Originally Posted by Phil Best
It is quite a moral dilemma. If every time I heard a performance clearly lacking in rhythmic and structural stability and flexibility in the body and mind of the musician, I set about promoting my own (somewhat radical) methods of training that, then I would be a very busy (and hated) piano teacher.


I'd love to heard your radical approach, to see if it would help me with a couple of my rhythm challenged students. But I would prefer it, of course, if you came to me, rather than to my student.

But that leads me to the question: if you hear a student with problems, does it automatically mean the teacher is doing something wrong? If 15 of my students have great rhythm, and two struggle, am I bad?

One of my students has a great-uncle who is a concert pianist. She went to visit him over Thanksgiving, and I made a half-hearted joke about making sure he knew her hand position was NOT my fault. She CAN play with beautiful hands, she just doesn't. As far as I know, he didn't mention her hands. He did make her play one part over and over, scolding her for not doing it right. "What were you doing wrong?" I asked. She said, "I don't know! He wouldn't tell me!"

I was just happy he made her practice.


piano teacher
#1574961 - 12/11/10 08:14 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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I sometimes have to sub for a teacher who cannot make it. Most of time , if I look at the lesson notebook of the teacher`s comments, I can see that the teacher has MANY times stressed to the student to curve fingers, keep a steady beat, observe a certain rest. Is it followed? Only sometimes. This is why I take each student`s playing as his teacher`s best work. Some students don`t follow instructions. I had a student tell me once that her teacher NEVER told her about curving fingers......but her notebook of teacher`s comments proved otherwise. Also the teacher might be working on some other problem of the student`s before fixing the another one.


LEARNING AND IMPROVING NEVER STOPS. It would be boring if it did.
#1575066 - 12/12/10 01:21 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Which were quite tense. That was a multi-year project. And it was much more than the shoulders. All of his teachers were quite well aware of the problem. As was I. Tension is an ongoing battle for lots of people. The better you get, the more you realize how a little bit of tension here and there holds you back.
Yes. So it's a serious and very common problem. What if his teacher had been unaware? (I'd say many aren't - especially about the little bit bit)


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#1575094 - 12/12/10 02:19 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Just an update: my friend is meeting the teacher who criticized his playing (original post) for a "trial lesson" to see how they can work on improving whatever it is needed improving. He has not discussed the incident with his current teacher because he doesn't want to ask his teacher if he is being taught "properly". I think he doesn't know what "properly" means and I don't either smile . I have advised him not to go with this teacher because I think what happened was highly unprofessional... stay tuned for the rest

#1575095 - 12/12/10 02:19 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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I played for an adjudicator who made some very astute remarks about my playing that caused me to question my teacher. My teacher was not happy about the adjudicator and made a complaint to the committee, but I later switched teachers and I'm very grateful for his advice. This person was from out of town and had no interest in recruiting anyone, but he didn't care about stepping on any toes.

#1575102 - 12/12/10 02:34 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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And for helping you he gets reported? Typical.


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#1575105 - 12/12/10 02:49 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
And for helping you he gets reported? Typical.

Haha, yeah. He's well-known enough for it not to matter to him, but I don't anticipate another invitation from that committee.

Something else to consider is that even if the current teacher is trying to address issues that won't click, maybe the student is better off with another approach to that same issue. One person can only be so creative. Doctors refer patients all the time, but piano teachers are often too territorial. How great would it be if you had a network of specialists to send your students to for hard to solve problems?

#1575186 - 12/12/10 08:45 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Originally Posted by Argerich5405
Just an update: my friend is meeting the teacher who criticized his playing (original post) for a "trial lesson" to see how they can work on improving whatever it is needed improving. He has not discussed the incident with his current teacher because he doesn't want to ask his teacher if he is being taught "properly". I think he doesn't know what "properly" means and I don't either smile . I have advised him not to go with this teacher because I think what happened was highly unprofessional... stay tuned for the rest

Could you please share with us the circumstances where the first incident occurred? Was it at a public recital (audition, festival, etc.) or at a party, piano store, etc.? How was it that another teacher was present - was the second teacher invited? Thank you.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1575232 - 12/12/10 11:11 AM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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#1575290 - 12/12/10 01:00 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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How do we know that the student is listening to the teacher?

Without knowing what the student said about his teacher, or what his teacher says to him, we can't judge the situation.

But to immediately target the students teacher without knowing whose fault it is is a bit nonsensical. Not just poor taste ... but literally irrational.

Maybe it was a new piece he was learning ... or doesn't follow directions ... or the teacher is working on other things.

Usually my students give me horror stories about their previous teachers. But I would never listen to a new student and accuse their previous teacher of being poor.


#1575299 - 12/12/10 01:20 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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You can only make a judgement about a teacher by seeing a whole cohort of that teacher's students. But even then comparisons are difficult:

One year I had taken over 7 children from another teacher at a local primary school - I would give lessons at the school with the kids coming out of class for their piano lesson. The rest of my students had lessons after school at my studio. At the end of year recital the difference between these two groups of my students was breath-taking. You would not have known they had the same teacher.

All kinds of reasons why, but it would only be by seeing a wider range of students that one could assess the impact of the teacher.

Ideally, of course, judgement should only be passed on the difference a teacher makes, not a single performance that cannot be assessed with a view to how the student has improved and over what time frame.

The observation is very true that students will swear black and blue that their teacher has never told them to do something and then their notebooks are filled with this same instruction week after week.


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#1575328 - 12/12/10 02:15 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Requested advice (and a request for advice is of course implied when you go on purpose to play in front of an adjudicator) is different from non-requested advice.

And (perhaps more importantly) criticism of a teacher's methods upon seeing a student play is different from criticism of the playing itself.

To be able to criticize a teacher's methods, it's necessary to observe lessons not performances; or else to observe a peculiar characteristic (one not present in the students of other teachers) running through a great many performances by many different students of the same teacher.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
#1575329 - 12/12/10 02:18 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Oh, c'mon folks. All you have to have in order to jump in and criticize is a whopping big ego! Is that so hard. grin

#1575346 - 12/12/10 02:33 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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From personal experience, I find myself...if not *quite* on KBK's side...well, honestly, it's no big secret that there are quacks out there who got as far as John Thompson's Book One twenty years ago and now need a little spending money and decide to hang out their shingle as a piano teacher.

Whenever someone comes to the Teacher's Forum and makes a vague reference to a teacher, it seems like the teachers here (who are obviously committed and invested to quality teaching) assume the teacher referred to is a good teacher.

My assumption, as someone who grew up in an isolated rural area and whose first 6 years of piano was spent with 2 teachers of the quack variety, is that it's just a human kindness to at least ask for more information in order to potentially be able to make a huge difference in the life of a student who might be the victim of such quackery and whose family just doesn't know any better.

I remain forever grateful to the person who told my mother my second teacher was a quack. No one in my extended family had EVER had a music lesson of any kind and my mother was quite utterly shocked that 1) there existed such a thing as a proper way to play the piano 2) the only teacher in our little town wasn't very good 3) I had sufficient musical talent to merit a better teacher.

Edited because I MEANT to say: I have no doubt that there are many piano teachers that are SO BAD that any teacher Here could determine the problem by watching the student play and spending a few minutes in having a quiet word in confidence with the parents.

Last edited by ProdigalPianist; 12/12/10 02:37 PM.

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#1575358 - 12/12/10 02:57 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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+1 Prod! I must have had half a dozen quacks in my time! As far as I know they're still out there.

edit: just added up, actually it was 5 but that doesn't count the three quack singing teachers.

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 12/12/10 02:59 PM.

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#1575396 - 12/12/10 03:58 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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So, KBK has found a post to latch onto. Excellent.

In my view, people who make easy and quick judgments about the professionalism of others usually aren't worth listening to. The three posts by Dustin, Elissa, and David express this cautionary approach quite well.

I have spent some quality time chatting with and listening to Nobel Prize winners in my own field and others. I have noticed a set of common characteristics among them. They listen, they ask questions, and they engage in probing your ideas. They are slow to form judgements and tend toward humility in pushing their own point of view. Their audience and interlocutors usually pick up on these traits in a flash. The result is genuine learning, and often a conversation instead of an authoritarian lecture. Their sincerity is easy to see, and it enhances their credibility.

#1575410 - 12/12/10 04:10 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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I'm not a teacher but I would imagine a teacher to have what I like to call a teacher's instinct (just like a mother would have a mother's instinct). I can imagine offering unsolicited advice if I were a teacher, who really cared about imparting knowledge to the next generation of pianists (and if I believe in my methods a 100% enough to know if I observed something that was obviously wrong technique). So I don't really agree with a blanket rule that says "any unsolicited advice is bad and reflects a huge ego and must be avoided".


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#1575419 - 12/12/10 04:21 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Yes, Liszt85, I think we can all imagine circumstances in which a discreet word might be appropriate. Yet I think many of us are coming from the opposite set of circumstances and experiences. Many of us can imagine (and personally recall) situations in which people have offered unsolicited criticism that is socially inept and/or downright inappropriate.

In this thread, the OP clearly contains lots of code suggesting that the poster thought the interference of the outside critic was problematic. But KBK jumps in and asserts without hesitation and without reservation that the child's welfare is paramount and all critics should jump in and save the little one. I think that just struck a lot of us as a rather presumptuous, aggressive, know-it-all attitude, which is usually unbecoming of people who actually have something to say.

#1575431 - 12/12/10 04:41 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
I think that just struck a lot of us as a rather presumptuous, aggressive, know-it-all attitude, which is usually unbecoming of people who actually have something to say.
Or maybe it's the attitude of someone who's had a pretty bum deal himself and doesn't see why others should have to suffer it too? Yes, the student's welfare is paramount and shame on anyone who questions that statement. Why a supposedly sensible discussion of principles should have to descend to the personal I wouldn't know, maybe if I knew more Nobel Laureates...

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 12/12/10 04:52 PM.

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#1575457 - 12/12/10 05:15 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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There are some people who have talked sensibly about principles. Just look above at what Dustin, Elissa and David_a wrote about how one might form a judgment about teaching technique.

What have you offered this discussion that would help people judge appropriate circumstances for intervention beyond asserting your right to do as you please in every situation you face?

#1575461 - 12/12/10 05:17 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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With comments like this ...

Originally Posted by Piano*Dad


I have spent some quality time chatting with and listening to Nobel Prize winners


... and this ...

Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
someone who's had a pretty bum deal himself and doesn't see why others should have to suffer it too


... the conversation is headed off to new heights ...

#1575469 - 12/12/10 05:23 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
What have you offered by way of helping people to judge appropriate circumstances for intervention beyond asserting your right to do as you please in every situation you face?
Judgements like that come with the territory and no, I don't think there's a manual.


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#1575472 - 12/12/10 05:27 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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landorrano,

Yeah, the Nobel stuff sounds a bit over the top, doesn't it. In truth, I have talked with at least four of 'em, and they fit the pattern I describe. They radiated professionalism. Chatting with laureates isn't so odd for someone in academia. There are a fair number of them wandering around. In any case, the point is that if people who truly know what they are talking about can be humble, and genuinely interested in what others have to say, perhaps the rest of us can try to avoid jumping to self-righteous conclusions about the handiwork of fellow teachers.

KBK,

Indeed, there is no manual. But there is no manual for being a buttinsky, either. That's a technical term, by the way.

#1575489 - 12/12/10 05:43 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
landorrano,

Yeah, the Nobel stuff sounds a bit over the top, doesn't it. In truth, I have talked with at least four of 'em, and they fit the pattern I describe.


No, it doesn't sound untrue. But it has nothing to do with anything and doesn't strengthen your point of view in the matter in question ... which is, by the way, my point of view as well. Yes, I am one of the "a lot of us" that you mention in another post, and I object to my spokesman invoking such an argument.


#1575493 - 12/12/10 05:45 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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Actually, it does. I edited the above post ...

"In any case, the point is that if people who truly know what they are talking about can be humble, and genuinely interested in what others have to say, perhaps the rest of us can try to avoid jumping to self-righteous conclusions about the handiwork of fellow teachers."

If you find that this does not add to the argument, fine.

#1575522 - 12/12/10 06:34 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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P*D I think I know what you were getting at. Maybe a useful message is for the student - If someone is offering criticism, ask yourself: what is the quality of the criticism? is there a useful suggestion? such as some useful questions to ask yourself, something to watch out for in future, a genuinely useful tip for positive action that you can actually use?

If the critic offers a short judgement such as "your teacher has no idea about how to play Mozart" then I would ignore this (file it away) until in future someone says something like "You should read Rosenblum's Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music, I think you would find it interesting".

Is your critc expanding your mind and future, or simply expressing his own discontent? But even the discontented critic could be useful to you, you'll have to ask lots of questions to get past rather thoughtless dismissiveness to real information. A very negative person may have a lot to offer, but be wary of their judgements.


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#1575533 - 12/12/10 06:53 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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If the student in question is nine, and the teacher is talking to the parent -- who may or may not know a thing about either pianism or pedagogy -- I doubt either of them will be able to think along the lines you are suggesting.

Your advice seems wise for an older student who can absorb or deflect unsolicited criticism. It still leaves part of the question begged ... why did the critic not approach the student's teacher with his advice, or perhaps the student together with the teacher? And on what basis did the critic decide to interject his opinion?

#1575622 - 12/12/10 10:05 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: Argerich5405]  
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You're right P*D. My post is directed towards PW readers generally and is a comment about the nature of criticism and advice. If the OP and friend are old enough to raise the question it may be of use to them too.



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#1575655 - 12/12/10 11:39 PM Re: Does a teacher have the right to criticize another teacher? [Re: ProdigalPianist]  
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Originally Posted by ProdigalPianist
... it's no big secret that there are quacks out there who got as far as John Thompson's Book One twenty years ago and now need a little spending money and decide to hang out their shingle as a piano teacher.
The trouble is, quite a number of these quacks are the most devoted givers of free advice.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
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