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Need some advice from students and teachers out there alike. I’m very new to the piano and have had about 8 lessons from a teacher. He has a few students, but no formal teaching experience. Which is fine just as long as I’m learning? The only thing I am turned off about is during a lesson if I make a mistake he stops me and tells me what key I did wrong. After this happens a few times it kind of kills my flow and it’s hard for me to get back on after a few misses. Is this normal for teachers or do they usually tell you after the song you are practicing on? I guess another question I have is how do you know if a teacher is the right one for you? I have found that most piano teachers in my area charge about the same rate, but this one is more flexible on times we can meet. I do have to admit I do practice but having a full time job and another part time job for fun doesn’t allow me to practice as much as I would like. Thanks in advance

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I suggest you simply talk to the teacher about the stopping. The teacher maybe doesn't realise how distracting it is for you. (Especially if they only have limited teaching experience.) Teachers cannot read your mind, and you cannot read the teacher's, so it is important that you discuss possible issues. Unless the teacher knows there is an issue he/she cannot change, or if they have a good reason they might explain it to you and you stopp worrying because you understand why they want you to things in a certain way.

As for stopping, I think it is pretty common. It might simply be that your teacher is afraid to waste your time and tries to be efficient by working this way. But it is definitly not the only way to do it, and many teacher let the student play through, and take mental notes of problems which you later work on. Don't be afraid of asking if something is not working well for you.

As for which teacher is best for you, you will get a better understanding for this the longer you have played and the more teachers you have had. The essential thing is that you feel you are making som kind of progress. If you in general enjoy the lessons and are progressing, don't worry to much about it. If you are unsure, maybe try summer lessons from a different teacher just to what can be different.

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The standard in classical piano is note-perfect, exactly as written on the score, and ultimately from memory. So, to play in front of your teacher, hitting wrong notes as you play--but worse, not acknowledging that you are aware that you are hitting wrong notes, in order that you don't "interrupt your flow"--is sure to eventually get him on your back correcting these wrong notes.



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My teacher corrects me when I hit the wrong note at the time of the mistake, I prefer this so that I can start from where I stopped and do it correctly. Proper practicing of a piece is rarely smooth from beginning to end. Sometimes you have to practice one measure over and over again before playing the piece from beginning to end. By doing this you are actually working on your tough areas.

Practice is very important with piano. I practice 1 - 2 hours a day and I rarely take a day off. As for the question regarding your teacher being the right one for you, that's hard. My first teacher seemed to not have a passion for her job, nor did she seem interested in her students or their goals. I was never excited about going to my lessons. I tried a trial lesson with a different teacher and I new immediately that we would work well together. Maybe you should try another teacher and see how it works out?


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Originally Posted by Bragi_11
The only thing I am turned off about is during a lesson if I make a mistake he stops me and tells me what key I did wrong. After this happens a few times it kind of kills my flow and it’s hard for me to get back on after a few misses. Is this normal for teachers or do they usually tell you after the song you are practicing on?
I can't say if it is common or not, but my teacher doesn't do that. I usually play the piece (or the assigned part of it) twice, the first time uninterrupted. Before the second time he might give some general remarks (mainly phrasing and dynamics), and during the second time he will stop me where needed. If I make an honest mistake (like accidentally hitting the wrong note), he expects me to continue (and if I make an error and can recover gracefully, he will compliment me on it). If I played that same note wrong in the first run, he will probably stop me to check if I understood the score (did I practice that wrong note or was it really a fluke).


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Have a chat with them and explain that it really puts you off. I usually let my pupils play through their song, once they've finished I then go back over parts that need improving, and show them how it needs to be played e.t.c, if need be do just that section a few times, then get them to play it all again, and not comment through this.

I think as long as you are enjoying your lessons and learning then it doesn't neccessarily matter that they haven't been teaching for a long period of time.

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Disregard Gyro's advice - not useful again. There's a big difference between getting note perfect during your practice and the teacher interrupting again and again during lessons.

My teacher always has me finish the piece (or the major section as appropriate). Then she goes through the issues. It's almost always not the wrong notes either. It's dynamics, it's choice of legato, it's pedalling technique ... the wrong notes will get there with practice.

I believe this is a direct consequence of the teacher not having training.


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"Is this normal for teachers or do they usually tell you after the song you are practicing on?"

My teacher lets me play till I stop and then starts giving comments; sometimes by asking questions. Unfortunately I stop too often myself halfway because I make an annoying mistake. Even then the teacher does not say a thing and I just restart.

"I guess another question I have is how do you know if a teacher is the right one for you?"

If you like it and learn a lot it's right I suppose?


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Originally Posted by Andy Platt

My teacher always has me finish the piece (or the major section as appropriate). Then she goes through the issues. It's almost always not the wrong notes either. It's dynamics, it's choice of legato, it's pedalling technique ... the wrong notes will get there with practice.


Totally agree here. Given that your teacher doesn't have much training, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to say that you know your pieces aren't perfect yet, but you'd like to get through them once before going back and working on trouble areas. My kid's teacher marks trouble spots lightly with pencil as he goes and that might be an idea?


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My $.02: You shouldn't worry about the flow until you have the notes worked out. I know that 'boo boos' are inevitable, but when you practice the best way (in small sections, as slow as it takes to get all the notes right, and then gradually speeding up), you can't accept wrong notes.

It sounds like your teacher is being rude, and its jarring to be interrupted by someone when you're playing, but nobody would be doing you any favors if they let you plow right through. That would be allowing you to develop some bad habits.

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I've only been taking lessons for a few months but I'll just throw in my thoughts as well since we're somewhat similar in that respect. What my teacher will do is let me know when I've made a mistake while I'm playing, but let me continue with the piece until I've played it out so she knows what part of my playing needs the most work. She hums or sings along to the piece as I play so it sort of keeps the rhythm going when she calls out a mistake or possible improvement. She'll go over the mistakes made at the end and have me play again from where the mistakes were made until I get them right and we'll finish by playing the whole piece through to see if she's satisfied with it.

Being stopped at every mistake sounds really irritating but it might be what worked for his students in the past. Talking to him about it and seeing if he can correct you in a less abrupt way is probably best. If the lessons are uncomfortable for you, you might still learn but probably not as effectively or quickly as possible.

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I agree that you should probably try and work out the flubs at first but at some point you need to be able to cover your mistakes.

Stopping every single time you make a mistake is a bad habit in itself. What would you do in a live performance if you make a mistake? Stop and start over? No, of course not.

I remember seeing Jim Brickman live a few years ago and he made several semi-obvious mistakes in his performance. They were only obvious if you were intently listening to each note being played but you would have never recocnized them if you were passively listening, say during dinner conversation etc.

He covered up his flubs by instantly turning the sour note into a seemingly intended offshoot melody and then quickly returned to the main theme.

Having this ability to *cover* your flubs is something many performers do and probably something everyone wishes they could.

Having the mindset of thinking you can learn a piece so well that you don't need the ability to cover a mistake is like not having health insurance thinking that you will never get sick.

There are only two kinds of piano players; one that make unintended mistakes and liars! Creative covering could be seen as an insurance policy you hope to never use but could if needed.

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A good teacher will be clear on what s/he is focusing on at any given point in the lesson. If it's accuracy, then stopping at mistakes should be expected. If it's expression, dynamics, phrasing etc, then waiting to point out wrongs should be expected. These two different focuses might be described as a focus on accuracy versus a focus on fluency (terms used in language teaching). In any given lesson, the focus might more one than the other, or a bit of both. But across many lessons, each focus should be included. If your teacher never lets you play through, I think that might warrant a little discussion, or a reconsideration about whether the lack of teacher-training is a concern or not.

Good luck!


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I teach all ages. A beginner in his 70"s, a man with a PhD. in Education, recently taught me something very valuable. The brain of the adult learner is quite different from the developing brain of a child. Since most of my students (85%) are children, I teach them with interruption and they respond well. But for the older adult learner that interruption is frustrating. My very intelligent older learner talked with me about this and I am grateful for his insight. Now I let my older adults play their lesson all the way through, only commenting if they ask for help. When they show me what they practiced since their last lesson they feel ready to listen to my hopefully helpful commentary and then we go back over smaller sections of the composition to see what we can do in making improvements. They feel less frustrated, more respected as a alearner and more open to taking the next step in growing in their ability to successfully play the piano.

I have also started listening more to my high school age students, with fewer interruptions, since their brain development is different than that of the grade school students who looks for guidance each step of the way. The results of my shift in teaching has been enlightening and satisfactory.

If someone wishes to inquire more about this interesting topic I would be glad to respond with personal messages.


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My situation is the same as Andy Platt's. The last thing my teacher is concerned about is a wrong note here or there. It's dynamics, pedaling, rhythm. She doesn't like it when I stop at a wrong note. Wrong notes are part of performance.


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My teacher says stopping to correct a wrong note is worse than playing a wrong note.
She takes note and asks me at the end - do you realize you played a B instead of a D here? (for example).

Of course there are 2 modes of playing - there is the study mode and the "after I've done my homework practice" mode, when , in theory, I know what I'm doing.
While going through a piece for the first time she might point out errors as I'm playing, but once it has been assigned for me to work on, she will not interupt me while I'm playing.

When we've reached that point, she verifies that I am aware of the error, but AFTER I've played it.

My assigned goal is to play for her as if I'm playing for a public - to not respond to errors as I'm playing but to focus on completing the piece as best I can.



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I've had teachers who do both and I also do both with my students; it depends on the situation. Are you still learning to read your notes or do you have a fairly good grasp of reading? Is it the first time you are playing the piece or the 5th time? What type of mistake is it (is it in the melody line, is it a dissonance, etc)?

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Originally Posted by Bragi_11
Need some advice from students and teachers out there alike. I’m very new to the piano and have had about 8 lessons from a teacher. He has a few students, but no formal teaching experience. Which is fine just as long as I’m learning? The only thing I am turned off about is during a lesson if I make a mistake he stops me and tells me what key I did wrong. After this happens a few times it kind of kills my flow and it’s hard for me to get back on after a few misses. Is this normal for teachers or do they usually tell you after the song you are practicing on? I guess another question I have is how do you know if a teacher is the right one for you? I have found that most piano teachers in my area charge about the same rate, but this one is more flexible on times we can meet. I do have to admit I do practice but having a full time job and another part time job for fun doesn’t allow me to practice as much as I would like. Thanks in advance


I used to do this too when I started teaching, until I realized how it disturbed my students when they were playing. I was teaching a very young sweet boy and when I corrected him his hands would shake and he was visibly flustered by it. I felt so bad that I decided to force myself to wait until the piece was over to correct notes. That works out for the better sometimes, because I can ask the student to replay that passage to determine if it was a simple mistake that one time, or if it's a wrong learned note.

Talk to your teacher. Tell them before you start playing that you feel like you lose your sense of flow when he corrects you while playing, and ask if he can wait until your'e done and then you can go back and correct them. As long as you treat like a problem you have (and not him) he should take it in stride and not have a problem with adjusting.


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I'd also suggest just simply talking to him about it.

I think its possible that there might be a legitimate reason for stopping you when he does. Maybe correcting the error as soon as it happens while it is the freshest in both your minds is more effective than waiting until after. Maybe making you lose your flow and having you practice sucessfully restarting in an arbitrary spot "is" the lesson (you yourself admitted it is difficult for - wouldn't it be nice if it weren't). I'm guessing, but I think your teacher knows the real answer.

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"Maybe making you lose your flow and having you practice sucessfully restarting in an arbitrary spot "is" the lesson (you yourself admitted it is difficult for - wouldn't it be nice if it weren't)."

Yes, Bragi_11's comment about "flow" does raise a bit of a red flag for me. I think it's common to depend a little too much on rather fragile muscle-memory to learn new pieces. One of the symptoms of that might be difficulty at restarting at arbitrary points in the middle.

If you're practicing mainly by playing the whole piece (or large passages) from start to finish, that tends to happen. You might ask about suggestions for more practice techniques--analyzing the harmony, looking for repeated motifs, sketching out the structure, etc., might all be ways to help your brain and ears (not just your fingers) learn a piece.

And to all the above (entirely reasonable) comments, I'd also be aware that a certain amount of frustration is a normal side effect of learning something new. When a teacher asks you to do something that's harder than you think you can handle, it's natural to be irritated with them, but if you go for it and let them coach you, you may you surprise yourself. As long as the frustration doesn't build up to the level where you stop looking forward to lessons.

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