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#1708867 - 07/07/11 03:19 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by ando
I'm not claiming that my way is the only way, I'm just saying to those who claim that it's not possible to teach properly without touching that that is not true. I do it every day.


The question is not about whether it is possible. The question is this: what is the most effective way?

I don't think any of us are saying that physical guidance should be the primary way of teaching. And I don't think anyone is disputing that you get results.

But I can't help feeling that you are implying that the rest of us who do use even *some* physical guidance, even now and then, only do what *we* do because we don't know as much as *you*; that if only we took the time to learn the things you know, we would be more effective teachers.

For the record, to make myself clear to others: in general I do depend almost entirely on demonstration and words for adults AND teens, and I am very conservative about touching for kids roughly middle-school age. I use physical guidance a bit more for those still in elementary school, and even a bit more for very young children. But even with young children I depend more on demonstration and words.

An example of "touching" would be for teaching pedal. With adults and teens I always ask permission and make sure they are confortable before doing what I do. I gently put my toe on their toe the first time they begin pedaling while doing something to remind them to keep the hand down until the pedal is lifted and redepressed. Sometimes I will use the eraser of a pencil, barely touch the top of the hand, while gently moving my foot over theirs. Usually it takes just a few repetitions before I ease my foot away, and I only retouch the hands if the hands come up with the foot. And this is just for the very first time they are pedaling.

Sure, I could use a ton of words, but it takes much longer, and the result is not reached quicker, nor is it better understood because of all the words.

Am I saying you can't reach the same result with your method of teaching? No, I am not. I have not seen you teach. But you have not seen me teach either, nor have you seen many other teachers here in action, and I think that if you could find a way of expressing how you teach without also hinting at the fact that those of us who do not teach exactly as you do are somehow less knowledgeable, all of us would be more open to your ideas.

At least I would be.


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#1708879 - 07/07/11 04:10 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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ando Offline
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I was quite clear in stating my reasons for avoiding touching. I was also clear in saying that it might not always be the fastest easiest way in all situations. I do it because I have heard of cases where touching led to misunderstandings and problems/accusations against the teacher. I found an alternative way. It works efficiently overall. I do see some problems with using touch, but of course they can be avoided with a solid and well-rounded approach. There are no assumptions on the teaching of others on this forum from me at all. If you read the posts, there were a few accusations directed my way and I elucidated my approach to address those. I have no comments on your teaching at all. I choose this way because it minimises my risk and it's also effective. In an ideal world, I might use some limited amount of touching, but the world is not ideal, and I can do without it. There's nothing deeper in it than that. You shouldn't read any more into my posts than that.

#1708893 - 07/07/11 05:24 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]  
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Ando, some of what you said about touching could be understood several ways and I suspect that has happened. This in particular:

In my experience touching to correct something sometimes comes from not having put all the elements of good posture in place from the start (not saying that applies to you and your teacher, of course. Just speaking generally). Sometimes teachers are tinkering around the edges and getting somebody to concentrate on not doing something or doing something specific.

Despite the disclaimer ("not saying") there can be a general impression of a suspicion that teachers who use touch do so because they don't have better ways at their disposal, and this seems to relate almost exclusively to teaching posture (and proper form?). If it is read that way, then teachers using touch as an effective tool among their arsenal might feel slighted. I am thinking at this moment as both student and teacher. There were a few times when a touch told me exactly what I needed to know when all else failed. As teacher I am aware that people use different senses, and sometimes the sense of touch is simply the way to go. We use what works under that circumstance with that student.

You explained that the social times is one major reason for you not to use touch in your teaching. But it has gotten mixed up with these other statements I think.

I very much liked your explanation of teaching through experiences, where you have student do certain things such as tensing and relaxing shoulders or shrugging them so that they know what "relax" feels like, after which the word has meaning and leads to a response. I think that without such experiences words can be dangerous, because as students we can imagine that they mean something different, and then we do the wrong thing. That has happened to me more than once, and not with good results.

#1708894 - 07/07/11 05:28 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student

Last edited by wuxia; 07/07/11 05:30 AM.
#1708896 - 07/07/11 05:41 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: wuxia]  
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Originally Posted by wuxia
I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student


....which is why there are problems in this area wink If touching people was completely neutral, like saying 'hello', discussions like this would not even need to take place.

There does seem to be an increasing level of paranoia in this area. The kind of touching that is often necessary, or at least useful, in instruction (in sport as well as music) can be difficult to distinguish from inappropriate behaviour. Yet to institute a policy of no touching anything, ever, for any reason seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's jolly difficult to demonstrate many martial arts techniques without touching your students -- and Heaven knows I've tried.

In the days when I taught kids karate I would have preferred if their parents had hung around so that there could have been no allegations of improper behaviour. But they found it all too boring smirk

#1708901 - 07/07/11 06:12 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: keystring]  
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ando Offline
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Originally Posted by keystring
Ando, some of what you said about touching could be understood several ways and I suspect that has happened. This in particular:

In my experience touching to correct something sometimes comes from not having put all the elements of good posture in place from the start (not saying that applies to you and your teacher, of course. Just speaking generally). Sometimes teachers are tinkering around the edges and getting somebody to concentrate on not doing something or doing something specific.

Despite the disclaimer ("not saying") there can be a general impression of a suspicion that teachers who use touch do so because they don't have better ways at their disposal, and this seems to relate almost exclusively to teaching posture (and proper form?). If it is read that way, then teachers using touch as an effective tool among their arsenal might feel slighted. I am thinking at this moment as both student and teacher. There were a few times when a touch told me exactly what I needed to know when all else failed. As teacher I am aware that people use different senses, and sometimes the sense of touch is simply the way to go. We use what works under that circumstance with that student.

You explained that the social times is one major reason for you not to use touch in your teaching. But it has gotten mixed up with these other statements I think.

I very much liked your explanation of teaching through experiences, where you have student do certain things such as tensing and relaxing shoulders or shrugging them so that they know what "relax" feels like, after which the word has meaning and leads to a response. I think that without such experiences words can be dangerous, because as students we can imagine that they mean something different, and then we do the wrong thing. That has happened to me more than once, and not with good results.


I had hoped that by repeatedly using the word "sometimes" it would have avoided anyone in particular from feeling insulted by what I wrote. I certainly don't mean to insult any of the teachers here. It seems you are right and some teachers do feel aggrieved by my comments but I certainly didn't intend to do that. I certainly felt a bit of heat from a few posts myself. My intention wasn't to say that touching in an appropriate way is wrong, but rather to say that it is wrong to say that there is no alternative or that I'm cheating my students out of a thorough education by not employing touch. I don't find it that hard. Once you take that option off the table other methods fill the void. There are a number of teachers who don't understand the physiology of the human body very well - and it was to those people I direct my "sometimes" remarks. I've had students come to me for rehabilitation of physical problems on the piano and guitar. They had been instructed by their previous teachers to hold themselves in certain shapes, but not in a natural way that really works with their body, and without a sound understanding of why. That's what I try very hard to solve. Eventually you want a position that is very natural and easy to apply without concentrating on a set of posture rules.

I should note that here in Australia, they specifically tell you in teacher-training not to put your hands on a child if you can at all help it. They feel that lessons can be taught without contact and that there is a risk element with touching students. I teach several teenage girls and it was explained to me that there is particular risk in that age-group as they are sexually aware but not very mature. Wires can get crossed. With mature adult students, I don't worry too much. If my words don't reach them, I wouldn't have a problem with touching them. I would warn them what I was about to do first though. I just don't find that I need to go down that road too often.

So, to anyone who felt that I was having a dig at them. I really wasn't! I'm sorry if anyone felt offended. I was just trying to explain and defend my own approach.

#1708906 - 07/07/11 06:35 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: kevinb]  
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wuxia Offline
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Originally Posted by kevinb
Originally Posted by wuxia
I have absolutely no problem with my gorgeous just graduated 24 year-old female teacher touching my hands =]

<- 22 year-old beginner student


....which is why there are problems in this area wink If touching people was completely neutral, like saying 'hello', discussions like this would not even need to take place.

There does seem to be an increasing level of paranoia in this area. The kind of touching that is often necessary, or at least useful, in instruction (in sport as well as music) can be difficult to distinguish from inappropriate behaviour. Yet to institute a policy of no touching anything, ever, for any reason seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's jolly difficult to demonstrate many martial arts techniques without touching your students -- and Heaven knows I've tried.

In the days when I taught kids karate I would have preferred if their parents had hung around so that there could have been no allegations of improper behaviour. But they found it all too boring smirk


I just wanted to brag about how fortunate I am ;/

#1708950 - 07/07/11 09:11 AM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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It's been shown that there are several different says that people learn. Some people learn best by hearing what they need to do. Some learn best by seeing what they need to do. Others learn best by experiencing what they need to do. And so thus, no one teaching strategy should be used for every student. This is part of why there is a growing education crisis in America- as class sizes get larger and larger, there is an increasing level of forced conformity across the learning spectrum.

#1709155 - 07/07/11 03:22 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by Vasilievich
It's been shown that there are several different says that people learn. Some people learn best by hearing what they need to do. Some learn best by seeing what they need to do. Others learn best by experiencing what they need to do. And so thus, no one teaching strategy should be used for every student. This is part of why there is a growing education crisis in America- as class sizes get larger and larger, there is an increasing level of forced conformity across the learning spectrum.

I could not agree more. That's what is so great about private teaching. We can do the opposite by doing everything in our power to adapt what we teach and how we teach it to each individual. smile


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#1709185 - 07/07/11 03:57 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Vasilievich]  
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Quote
This reminds me of once when my teacher asked me. "do you mind if I touch your arm?" and even then he used a pencil to hold a finger in place...... It's necessary I suppose but a little sad somehow.


Remember the McMartin Preschool witch hunt?

My problem is the opposite. I'm old enough to be my teacher's father. And an older father at that! We've been working together for a couple of years now, so there are no issues, but I'm careful to not do or say anything that might even possibly be taken the wrong way.


Gary
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#1709194 - 07/07/11 04:30 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: Plowboy]  
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ando Offline
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Originally Posted by Plowboy
Quote
This reminds me of once when my teacher asked me. "do you mind if I touch your arm?" and even then he used a pencil to hold a finger in place...... It's necessary I suppose but a little sad somehow.


Remember the McMartin Preschool witch hunt?

My problem is the opposite. I'm old enough to be my teacher's father. And an older father at that! We've been working together for a couple of years now, so there are no issues, but I'm careful to not do or say anything that might even possibly be taken the wrong way.


Now that is irony!

#1709220 - 07/07/11 05:11 PM Re: Private male piano teachers? [Re: ando]  
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Gary D. Online content
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Originally Posted by ando

I had hoped that by repeatedly using the word "sometimes" it would have avoided anyone in particular from feeling insulted by what I wrote. I certainly don't mean to insult any of the teachers here. It seems you are right and some teachers do feel aggrieved by my comments but I certainly didn't intend to do that. I certainly felt a bit of heat from a few posts myself.

Ando, I mostly agreed with you from the start. I ESPECIALLY agree with you about the dangers (legal) of being accused of "inappropriate touching".

In addition, when in doubt, even in instances where I think I can get somewhere faster with a small bit of physical contact, I do exactly what you do: I play safe. I use music designed to teach the concepts I am working on. I demonstrate. I explain.

Saving a bit of time, even if it *could* work, is not worth at the least bad feelings and a the worst accusations of "being inappropriate".

HOWEVER: I teach kids as young as five and with parents working with me, and that atmosphere is very different from working with older kids or adults, alone.


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