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#1882816 - 04/20/12 05:02 AM Taking A Break From Lessons  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Doug F Offline
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Doug F  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Victor, NY
I finally made the decision to take a break from lessons for at least the summer. I told my teacher at my lesson this past Wednesday and his policy is one month notice so I'll continue until the end of May but after that I'm on my own.

There were a couple reasons why I did this. First, I get busy with outdoor projects during the summer and find it very difficult to find enough time to practice enough to stay prepared for my lesson.

Second, I was becoming increasingly restless and bored by the material we were using for the lessons. I am about 3/4 through Alfred's Book 2 and was not at all motivated by the pieces coming up with the exception of the last two pieces in the book. Practicing the current pieces was becoming a chore instead of the enjoyment it used to be.

I have a lot of self teaching material that I have been itching to try but having to work on lesson material instead kept me from having the time to try any of it. By placing the lessons and Alfred's on hold I will have the time to work on some of my material at my own pace when time permits. I am very much looking forward to the change and think it will be somewhat of a new beginning for me.

I have been kind of disappointed at my progress over the course of my lessons (2 1/2 years, 1 hour every other week). I really like my teacher but I'm not sure if I will return to him if I start lessons again in the fall. It feels like there's something missing in what I've been learning that is keeping me from getting where I want to be. It will be interesting to see what happens when I try a different approach.

Wish me luck.


Doug

I have a great memory, it's just short.

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#1882828 - 04/20/12 05:30 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 6,730
casinitaly Offline

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casinitaly  Offline


Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 6,730
Italy
I do wish you luck - and I think you'll have fun looking at that material you've been itching to get at.

Just out of curiousity - did you discuss your frustrations with your teacher?

I've told my teacher a few times that I find certain pieces boring, or even irritating (at the beginning I really found that certain combinations of tones that we intentionally discordant really grated on my nerves and I actually refused (politely) to play a few pieces!

I think that there is enough material available out there that there should be flexibility in selecting material for a student. If you were so bored with the Alfred books, your teacher could have easily substituted something else once in a while to perk up your interest and stimulate you more.


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#1882849 - 04/20/12 06:33 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Feb 2010
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wouter79 Offline
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wouter79  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2010
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Sounds like a good decision to me. I decided to play only the pieces that I love and do exactly that is necessary to address any issues that I hit on there. It sounds like that might work for you as well.

The main catch here is that you really need discipline and persistence to make progress this way, and work on a piece till it is really good.

There are teachers supporting this approach (at least, mine does). All the better if you can find one.


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#1882850 - 04/20/12 06:38 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: casinitaly]  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Doug F Offline
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Doug F  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Victor, NY
Quote
did you discuss your frustrations with your teacher?


I did discuss it with him many times but he didn't really want to change much. He would suggest different ways to play the same thing and would explain the reasons why something was arranged the way it was but in the end it was just the same old thing over and over. We did work on pretty much anything I wanted to for supplemental pieces but I didn't always choose the best selections either. It was pretty much just keep plugging away at something until I got it good enough for him to say 'ok, lets move on' and then the process would start all over.

Some pieces took a couple weeks, some a couple months but it was getting too mundane. There were a few times I told him that I'd had enough of a particular piece and we would leave it behind without finishing it but I really didn't want to do that too often because I felt that I needed to learn whatever it was trying to teach.

I didn't suggest trying a different method altogether because I figured he would ask me what I wanted to use and I don't know what, if anything would have worked better. I could have asked him to pick something else that he felt would fit me but I still think Alfred's is a very good method and I really wanted to finish book 2. I will still try to keep working through it, just not with formal lessons for now.


Doug

I have a great memory, it's just short.

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#1882856 - 04/20/12 06:50 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,496
Andy Platt Offline
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Andy Platt  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,496
Virginia, USA
A couple of your thoughts stood out:

Originally Posted by Doug F
First, I get busy with outdoor projects during the summer and find it very difficult to find enough time to practice enough to stay prepared for my lesson.

Quote
By placing the lessons and Alfred's on hold I will have the time to work on some of my material at my own pace when time permits. I am very much looking forward to the change and think it will be somewhat of a new beginning for me.

I have been kind of disappointed at my progress over the course of my lessons (2 1/2 years, 1 hour every other week).



So firstly, hopefully you will rekindle your love for the piano. But two things strike me. Firstly you told us how often you have a lesson. But that's the minor part about playing (well, not really but ...): How much practice can you do and how consistent? Because it sounds like (and the comment about the summer reinforces this) that the problem with your progress might be you are unable to find consistent and good practice time.

If that is the case, you will find yourself unable to progress with the pieces you want to play anymore than the Alfred ones.

I may be completely off-base here, in which case I apologize. It's just you sound like I was a couple of years ago.


  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

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#1882874 - 04/20/12 07:36 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Doug F Offline
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Doug F  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Victor, NY
Quote
If that is the case, you will find yourself unable to progress with the pieces you want to play anymore than the Alfred ones.


I practice every day without fail. Sometimes its for 2 hours, sometimes 30 minutes but it's every day. What happens in the summer though is I make use of daylight for the outdoor projects and by the time I come in for the day I'm tired and it's easy to only do 30 minutes. Because the lesson material has to be done first that's my priority and it leaves little or no time for the things I want to work on.

So what I am trying to say is that by taking a break from the lessons, if I only feel like practicing for 30 minutes, I wont have the impending lesson hanging over my head impelling me to only work on the lesson material.

I'll be free to work on whatever makes me happy instead and piano will be a pleasure again instead of a chore.


Doug

I have a great memory, it's just short.

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#1882889 - 04/20/12 08:06 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,014
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Peter K. Mose  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 2,014
Toronto, Ontario
Doug, we certainly do wish you luck, and you'll be fine as long as you keep playing on your own, and expanding beyond your Alfred book. I'm a teacher who specializes in the adult beginner. (I don't do Skype lessons, and I don't live near Victor, NY, so I'm not trolling for students.)

What I'd say is this. Taking a break is a good thing. It sounds like you're doing fine at this endeavor, despite its frustrations.

But after 2.5 years and your feeling stuck, it's probably time for a new teacher. Try to find someone who is not rooted in just one book, but willing to have you playing all over the map. Try to find someone in your area who teaches mostly adults. That may be difficult, because there are very few of us. But you could find a local church organist or retired school music teacher to work with you, instead of a piano teacher. Give this a year's commitment and you'll be having a blast the whole time.

Also I would encourage you to see a teacher weekly rather than biweekly. If an hour a week is beyond your budget, 45 minutes would be ok. Half an hour is too short, though.

One other idea is to find a pal in your area who plays at about your level, and try to get together regularly to play for each other and spur each other on. That could be lots of fun.
You could find someone via Craig's List, a library bulletin board, etc.

#1882900 - 04/20/12 08:34 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Doug F Offline
Full Member
Doug F  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Victor, NY
Peter, thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

I think my plan is exactly what you have suggested. I am going to take the summer to work on whatever excites me. In the fall if I decide to resume lessons I'll start looking for a new teacher that fits my goals and is willing to take on a challenge grin .

The reason I have been doing an hour lesson every other week isn't because of the cost but rather I just felt that I couldn't progress far enough in one week to make weekly lessons productive. Every other week seemed much more efficient for me.

My interests are mainly rock/pop, blues and country. I have a few classical favorites I would like to be able to play but generally not interested. I mainly want to play for my own enjoyment and the occasional victim, er guest. There is, I think, a studio nearby that specializes in those styles although not just adults. I may investigate them. I also know a couple accomplished pianists I can ask for suggestions or they may be willing to help me. One of them happens to be my daughter-in-law.


Doug

I have a great memory, it's just short.

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#1882950 - 04/20/12 10:34 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,385
jotur Offline
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jotur  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,385
Santa Fe, NM
I think you'll have a blast smile And if I'm right, that 1/2 hour that is all you think you have will turn into an hour in no time flat.

I have a book of 72 Country Greatest Hits or something like that (it's probably out of print, but I'd guess there's others) and it has lots of stuff that would be at your level. The rhythms alone are a hoot, and sometimes an introduction or something will grab me and I'll play it until there's no way to forget it it's so much fun. Then I have to deal with learning the rest of the piece laugh

I think you're doing exactly the right thing. JMO, of course, but have fun.

Cathy


Cathy
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#1882973 - 04/20/12 11:19 AM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: jotur]  
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Doug F Offline
Full Member
Doug F  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 186
Victor, NY
Quote
I think you're doing exactly the right thing. JMO, of course, but have fun.


Thanks Cathy, that's exactly what I plan on doing for a change.

I have a fake book with country songs, some old some newer. Most of them are at my level and I'm just starting to understand how to improvise the left hand chords with it. It will be challenging but fun too!

And you're right about the time factor. When it's a chore the time drags but when I'm having fun the time flies by.


Doug

I have a great memory, it's just short.

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#1883036 - 04/20/12 01:26 PM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,139
Brian Lucas Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Brian Lucas  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,139
Nashville, TN
Originally Posted by Doug F
My interests are mainly rock/pop, blues and country. I have a few classical favorites I would like to be able to play but generally not interested. I mainly want to play for my own enjoyment and the occasional victim, er guest. There is, I think, a studio nearby that specializes in those styles although not just adults. I may investigate them. I also know a couple accomplished pianists I can ask for suggestions or they may be willing to help me. One of them happens to be my daughter-in-law.

I'm going to go with Peter too. Even before you mentioned your music interests I had the sense that you were with a teacher who teaches a rigid method, and one you particularly didn't like. Once you said what you like I said to myself "no wonder he's not happy". I teach a lot of kids and adults, and it's not just adults that get burned out. The first question I ask any student is "What kind of music do you want to play?" That answer determines the course I set out to teach them. Unfortunately, a teacher's method can drive a student away from piano lessons, something I'm sure many on here can confirm. But I also believe a teacher's approach can get a student energized. Like when a student mentions a song and I play it for them. Then it's like "wanna learn how to play that?"

I hope playing what you want over the break helps you find the love of piano again, and when you look for a new teacher, be sure to tell them what you like and what you want the finished product to look like. If they're as excited as you, it'll be a better fit. Not every method is good for every student.

Good luck! And we'll all still be here for support.


-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#1883046 - 04/20/12 01:39 PM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,364
Sand Tiger Offline
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Sand Tiger  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,364
Southern California
Thanks for sharing the story. Some others have said that 80% of beginner piano students give it up after two years. Those that are active on the forum are mostly the enthusiasts that have stayed with it, or are still in the happy section of the two years, or teachers.

The plan sounds like a good one. Good luck.

#1883130 - 04/20/12 03:51 PM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Kymber Offline
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Kymber  Offline
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MA
Best of luck. Sometimes a change is just what you need. I have had a few teachers and self taught and its all been good. Well some of the teachers weren't so good but overall the journey has been a good so far.

Please share your experiences as you go through the self teaching. And most of all have fun!


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1995437 - 12/06/12 12:33 PM Re: Taking A Break From Lessons [Re: Doug F]  
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GracieCat Offline
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Ok, where are you now? I haven't been around here for a year, but stopped back to see where the people are that started Alfreds with me.


Started piano Dec 2009
----------------------
Working on:
-Anything composed by D. Nevue

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