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#1970117 - 10/08/12 12:38 AM Letting students play on new grand piano?  
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Amy B Offline
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Wanted any ideas for the situation I will have in a couple of weeks. I teach about 11 students out of my home. I currently teach them on my old Ivers and Pond upright, which still has great sound and I keep it in tune. I have recently ordered a Shigeru Kawai seven foot grand, which will be here in a couple of weeks! It will mostly be played by me, but I will use it for recitals, performance classes, etc. I will keep my old upright, as it's a family hierloom. What I'm trying to decide is when I should let students use the grand for their lessons, if at all! Even when I have them go and wash their hands right before the lesson, I STILL find some griminess on the keys after some of them leave! Wonder if any of you have this issue, and when do you let your students play the better piano?


Shigeru Kawai SK6 (as of 10/22/12!!)
Ivers and Pond upright
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#1970119 - 10/08/12 12:56 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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To be honest, I'd stop taking lessons with a teacher who wouldn't let me learn on a better instrument.


A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."
#1970126 - 10/08/12 01:42 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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You could keep the Shigeru locked, and keep the key around your neck while you're teaching on the battered old family heirloom upright. Then tell your students that if they work really hard, perhaps someday they too can afford to own a great piano that they can keep locked away from *their* students.

Tell them this is part of a long tradition of piano teaching. They'll understand.

#1970137 - 10/08/12 02:29 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Although I partly agree with the previous posters, I feel that allowing students to play on the grand, should not be a given.

They should demonstrate that they can respect a fine instrument, and earn the privilege of using it, just as Amy B has earned the privilege of owning it.

It could be a powerful motivator.


Rob
#1970196 - 10/08/12 07:15 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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I am happy to share my grand.

All my students, even the adults, wash and dry their hands before their lessons.

Congratulations on your new piano !!! - Pianos are tough.


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

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
#1970206 - 10/08/12 08:10 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Maybe with just 11 students this is not such an issue, but surely constant daily use for lessons would age a piano much faster? I know that when I was shopping for a used piano, it was not a positive selling point to learn that a piano had been used for teaching.

So I don't think it's just a question of grimy fingers or being willing to share. There's also some potential cost.


1989 Baldwin R
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Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
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#1970227 - 10/08/12 09:16 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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There is a cost. I have to have my Steinway rehammered after 11 years of teaching on it and it's not cheap, but I cannot imagine my students not playing it. Plus, the maintenance is tax-deductible. Do keep some money in a fund for maintaining your instrument.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1970230 - 10/08/12 09:25 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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I've thought about this, because I would like to replace one of my uprights with a grand. I think I would use my grand as a "reward" when students memorized pieces, etc. It is not so much an issue of not letting them play the grand as that the grand would be in a different room from my teaching room (which is too small for a grand.)

My sons' teacher had an upright and grand in the same room. I remember feeling very irritated when he explained to my sons that they would have lessons on the upright until they got good enough. (They were already good!) After a few weeks, he switched them to the grand, but I didn't like the attitude that the piano was more important to him than my sons. And he was old-womanish about checking that my (high school) sons had washed their hands well enough, etc. Maybe I could see keeping students on the upright when they were younger beginners. His grand had a very heavy touch, and smaller students might actually do better on the upright.

The piano I teach on is much "sadder" looking than my other one, (but fine condition internally) because the fall board gets scraped by lots of fingernails, the lower panel gets kicked, etc. Last week, one of my student bled on the keys (her dog bit her, and father had "told her to put a bandaid on it!" but she didn't, and I didn't notice till she started playing. My teaching piano definitely gets used harder.


piano teacher
#1970237 - 10/08/12 09:48 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Just to note, my old upright really is a fine old piano! My technician says that if I ever want to get rid of it, he would snap it up in a heartbeat. It really has a nice sound and tone....that's why I ended up with a higher end grand, as many of the low to mid-range grands didn't sound that much better than my sturdy old Ivers and Pond!

I've been leaning towards letting any adult student use it for all lessons, plus my couple of more advanced students. For the younger/beginner kids, I was thinking of using it as an incentive/reward....when they get to the next level book, that's when they can start using the grand.

Especially for times when I have them play silently on the key cover, I can't imagine letting them do that on the new one! :-)

Thanks for the input. I now need to get the room ready for our new arrival!


Shigeru Kawai SK6 (as of 10/22/12!!)
Ivers and Pond upright
MTNA, CAPMT
#1970240 - 10/08/12 09:52 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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I do not yet own my dream instrument but when I do I will gladly let my students play it. Especially with new pianos it can take several years before it is actually broken in to it's true souns. So, the more use, the better! Also, I think students would feel a sense of... power... or something when they sit at a beautiful new grand piano. I also think you could put forth a set of "rules" (especially for the young ones) ensuring they will not bang on it, etc. Really, they are constantly under your supervision. How bad can it be?

#1970260 - 10/08/12 10:55 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: kayvee]  
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Originally Posted by kayvee
To be honest, I'd stop taking lessons with a teacher who wouldn't let me learn on a better instrument.


thumb Me too. Maybe not as a parent of a young beginning student. But intermediate and up? Absolutely.


Amateur musician, piano and violin parent
#1970266 - 10/08/12 11:08 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: kck]  
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The instrument you're getting is in the Stradivarius category, and I assure you that any violin student who thinks he has some right to play on his teacher's Strad would be laughed out of the studio.

But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.


"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
#1970268 - 10/08/12 11:12 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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There is no right answer to this. There is a set of options, and you have to find one that fits your comfort level for all sorts of possible circumstances and levels of risk.

A friend of mine got a nice new top shelf grand. She does not use it for her regular teaching, though it's not forbidden territory either. But she has another grand for teaching. It's a rather old Steinway (from the 1920s), but it's still a decent instrument, and it has a grand action rather than an upright action. Your situation is your own, and your comfort level with the additional wear and tear the Shigeru might receive is your call.

#1970270 - 10/08/12 11:14 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Quote
But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.


Unfortunately, a strategy like this only works if there is a market for it. Simply acquiring a new piano does not mean that there exists a group of families willing to pay substantially more for lessons on the better instrument.

#1970273 - 10/08/12 11:30 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Amy, I wondered the same thing when I got my grand. Mine is a well loved entry level baby grand piano. All my students use the grand. I use the upright for my part in duets.

If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio. Otherwise it's like serving a meal, and giving a cookie for dessert, but having a chocolate mousse sitting on the sideboard tempting everyone but not being served. Just have the chocolate mousse out of sight if it's not being served.

#1970276 - 10/08/12 11:33 AM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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My students (all young beginners) have done quite a bit of surface damage to my piano over the last few years, so I can understand the hesitance in letting them playing your brand new grand! A new grand is in my future as well, so I have been putting some thought into this too.

My piano teacher has three grands -- two in her studio and a Steinway in her living room. Only her senior students play on the Steinway, and only when their pieces are performance-ready. Actually, one of her senior students broke the una corda pedal this summer, so that student probably won't be playing the Steinway anymore wink.

My theory teacher bought her grand 4-5 years ago, but keeps an upright in her studio as well. Beginners play on the upright. If they ask about the grand, she tells them it is for intermediate and advanced students. I'm not sure what her criteria is for being "intermediate" or how she decides a student is ready for the grand though.

#1970290 - 10/08/12 12:06 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Quote
But should you decide to move the new instrument into your teaching studio (literally or figuratively), then you need to adjust your monthly rates accordingly. Based on your current student load, projected inflation, and amortizing the instrument over 25 years, add $50/mo to their tuition.


Unfortunately, a strategy like this only works if there is a market for it. Simply acquiring a new piano does not mean that there exists a group of families willing to pay substantially more for lessons on the better instrument.

That's why I wouldn't get upset about not allowing students to play on it. If they don't like it, you always have the option of telling them that it's a premium performance instrument, not a teaching instrument.


"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
#1970314 - 10/08/12 01:14 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Originally Posted by Ann in Kentucky


If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio.


I always like Ann's advice on this forum. It's so reasonable and practical.

It's up to Amy whether her new piano will be for teaching or not. But there certainly could be problems!

#1970319 - 10/08/12 01:35 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by Ann in Kentucky


If you really are not ready to let everyone play your grand, then don't put it in your teaching studio.


I always like Ann's advice on this forum. It's so reasonable and practical.

It's up to Amy whether her new piano will be for teaching or not. But there certainly could be problems!


[Linked Image]

Thanks Peter!

#1970321 - 10/08/12 01:38 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: LadyChen]  
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Originally Posted by LadyChen
Actually, one of her senior students broke the una corda pedal this summer, so that student probably won't be playing the Steinway anymore wink.

I wonder if the student broke the una corda pedal, or if it happened to break while s/he was playing? That is, was the student doing something unusual or rough with the pedal, causing the breakage? Or was the student using it normally, and there was something wrong with the pedal that happened to give out while the student was playing, rather than, say, while the teacher was playing?

I don't expect you to know the answer, but this is the question that came to mind.


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#1970322 - 10/08/12 01:41 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.

#1970324 - 10/08/12 01:44 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Oh! How awful! mad


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#1970378 - 10/08/12 04:06 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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Where do these students come from? Arg! I have never, ever, in my 30 years of teaching, encountered any of the behaviors so many people talk about with students.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1970383 - 10/08/12 04:17 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: LadyChen]  
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Originally Posted by LadyChen
The student had a little temper tantrum and stomped on the pedal frown.

Did you show the student the door, and notify the parent that lessons are terminated?


"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
#1970394 - 10/08/12 04:42 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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A few years ago a student who had stopped lessons at an advanced level (gr. 8 or 9?) resumed lessons, and wrote in this forum on the issue. She had a grand at home, and was not able to produce the nuanced playing on her teacher's upright, and would have liked to play on her teacher's grand. So wouldn't the student's level be a factor, rather than it being a reward for good practicing (i.e., need)?

In terms of the Stradivarius, when students reach a certain level they are advised to upgrade to a better violin since greater responsiveness is needed. That same responsiveness means that weak player will not be able to draw a good sound out of a top quality instrument: it responds to poor playing as much as to good playing. I know of one teacher who did let his student try his instrument in order to drive home the point of what kind of practicing was needed - it was less forgiving that a student instrument and squawked.

#1970407 - 10/08/12 05:10 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: keystring]  
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I believe there are several factors at play here. First, the instrument. The OP's grand is no ordinary grand. It is one of the finest being crafted today. And the price shows it. Just because she now owns one doesn't obligate her to use it in the studio or use it for lessons. She has a very fine upright which she uses for teaching, and a quality upright, well maintained, can be used in lieu of a grand for all but the most exacting detail. Her upright probably matches the performance of most grands.

The second issue, which I addressed, is that when more expensive instruments are introduced into the studio, the tuition should reflect the upgrade. As P*D pointed out, the market may not support that, but that's a business decision. If a teacher chooses not to raise fees after significant upgrades, they are selling themselves short, or to rephrase it, undermining their business, income and future.

The third issue, which I've addressed in the past, is the presumption of students that piano teachers somehow owe them the use of premium instruments at no extra charge. This really doesn't need amplification.


"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
#1970409 - 10/08/12 05:16 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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I was asking whether a student at an advanced level should be playing a better quality instrument. This has nothing to do with the notion of a teacher "owing" anything to the student. My thought is that teaching decisions are based on teaching needs: what do I need in order to teach this student at this level?

#1970411 - 10/08/12 05:21 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: kayvee]  
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I have to agree with Kayvee. I would not want lessons on a piano that was not a grand. I have always had lessons on a grand, both way back in college and at the school where I take lessons now. All private lessons at the school where I take are on either Steinway or Yamaha grands.
Judy


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#1970425 - 10/08/12 05:47 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: keystring]  
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Quote
I was asking whether a student at an advanced level should be playing a better quality instrument.
Well, that's a given, but it sounds as if she's already offering lessons on a better quality instrument.

Quote
This has nothing to do with the notion of a teacher "owing" anything to the student.
Several students here seem to think otherwise, that we owe them to let them use our grands.

Quote
My thought is that teaching decisions are based on teaching needs: what do I need in order to teach this student at this level?
Absolutely, but within the economic confines of what/where we are. To expect a teacher to offer you lessons at $50/mo but then offer lessons on an $80,000 grand shows total economic ignorance.


"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
#1970434 - 10/08/12 06:08 PM Re: Letting students play on new grand piano? [Re: Amy B]  
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<just thinking out of left field here>

If you're not using the grand for teaching, I assume its just for personal use. In which case doesn't it call into question whether this is a work tool?

If its a work tool (and I'm guessing US tax law here - so could be WAAAY off) then presumably its a valid expense for tax deductions. If its not a work tool then its may not be a valid expense for tax deductions.

It may be cheaper for you to use it in lessons than to not use it - IF you want to remain compliant beyond question with tax rules.

[Of course whether the IRS would audit down to the level of making sure that you do actually *do* use a particular piano for your teaching is pretty unlikely - so you can probably safely commit tax fraud without any fear of being caught by anything more than your conscience!]


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