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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
If you can get a new student to fork it over and sign the contract--- but wait--- we haven't heard anyone say they have! Except, maybe, John.

No, I only charge a month's tuition at a time.


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ezpiano, can students graduate out of FFAT and become regular students who practice regularly and follow instructions and show up weekly?


Yes! Of course! After one year of showing commitment, they can opt in into the regular weekly lesson only if they choose to. However, so far they are addicted to the flexibility and choose not to opt in.

I like this model a lot so that I do not need to take their attendance, or keep track of how many lessons has been missed and how many lessons they need to have make ups. There will be no makeups needed. I will have only happy adult students that will keep my sanity and also make my days happy too!!

The only downside of this model is that students in this group usually will take the time slots that no other people wanted. Since they are not paying me up front, so I am not obligated to reserve a slot for them.


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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
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ezpiano, can students graduate out of FFAT and become regular students who practice regularly and follow instructions and show up weekly?


Yes! Of course! After one year of showing commitment, they can opt in into the regular weekly lesson only if they choose to. However, so far they are addicted to the flexibility and choose not to opt in.



Do you think weekly lessons are optimum for adults?

They are wasted on me, as I take much longer to master a new skill. On the other hand, they do catch when you're going wrong before you've gone too far down the path.

The weekly lesson model that works for children may not be ideal for the adult.


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John, I had forgotten that our posts usually have different thrusts. You respond directly to the question by the asker. I consider the many people who may ponder the issue now and in the future, and go after a more comprehensive picture. In this sense we address "different things". This gives different angles, rather than conflict. Meanwhile reading your posts also gives me a better idea of what you are saying.

You are addressing a very basic thing: willing to spend 5 hours/week practising over several years with regular attendance of lessons. You are right that this requirement can be found anywhere on Google.

I was going to something coming after that point. Supposing your adult who has never had lessons commits to this, and is sincere about it. I don't know what percentage that is. This is the group I'm interested in. In teaching we foresee things. For example, a 5 year old has a lower attention span, small muscles and fine coordination are not fully developed, and thinking is concrete more than abstract. In teaching we keep these things in mind. If you teach a 5 year old using big words, spouting theories, in a 90 minute lesson you may have problems with the student for that reason. So the nature and level of your student is a factor. Can there be such things for adult students that trip things up even if they do commit?

I've listed a few such things. I won't repeat them since they are in this thread.

But what I'm understanding is that you are stopping before that point. It's at the simpler idea of agreeing to commit to those hours of practice consistently, the regular practice, and following through on it. Your point is that you are encountering people who throw themselves into things without thinking them through. Obviously no professional person wants to work that way. However, there are different scenarios and I tried to throw in the kitchen sink for those scenarios.




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You know, we'd actually make a fairly good team, covering all the angles! Have a great weekend. I've got to catch up on my PMs.


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Originally Posted by TimR
as I complete my 5th decade. Big 60 in a couple of months.


Hate to quibble, but if 60 is in a couple of months, you're completing your 6th decade.


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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
You know, we'd actually make a fairly good team, covering all the angles! Have a great weekend. I've got to catch up on my PMs.

That's a positive thought. I like it. smile

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
You know, we'd actually make a fairly good team, covering all the angles! Have a great weekend. I've got to catch up on my PMs.

That's a positive thought. I like it. smile


An internet forum at its best, to my way for thinking.
Thanks guys.


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Surely an adult would be enthusiastic and willing to learn because he or she makes their mind up to learn. Children are told by their parents that they must learn the instrument and therefore have to do as they are told whether they like it or not. My cousin in Australia is a music teacher. She teaches the flute. She can also play the piano. She has enrolled her 6 year old daughter in piano lessons and the child does not like it, won't practice and has temper tantrums. My cousin makes her do it for her own good and pracically forces her to sit at the piano to practice with the kid screaming I do not like it, it is boring. Her mother on the other hand tells her she will benefit in the long run if she sticks at it.

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Yes, you would have thought, but not always. Some adults are motivated. Some aren't. It feels all that more frustrating, because somehow you imagine adults would be more sensible.

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I felt the exact same way as the OP when I was teaching at a music school for three years and had to take every student they gave me. I found the vast majority of adult beginners extremely frustrating for many different reasons, with a few exceptions. I have to agree that the ones who come in with no musical background whatsoever and still want to skip over the lesson books are the worst. Now that I'm only teaching privately, I don't take any adult beginners.

What really helped me get through lessons with these types of students was just to relax and not pressure myself. Don't let the student manipulate the lesson. Teach her with whatever materials you find appropriate, don't just let her play whatever she wants. If she doesn't like it she'll quit or find a new teacher, and that's okay.

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Adultpianist, a number of things can go wrong. The lessons can be started without thinking things through or getting basic information such as that it takes several years of lessons and consistent daily practice to get somewhere. So the student comes in with magical thinking, expecting to sound good in a matter of weeks, and dismayed that he doesn't sound like his teacher or favorite recording. He may think that learning happens in the lesson rather than in practice at home. He may also no know that it takes days of consistent practice for things to gel in any week: day 1 ain't great. There is a story which may be an urban legend, where a student says "I want to learn to play the piano. What date should I come?" (one-time deal). laugh

The result is a student who takes a few weeks of lessons, and quits.

Another: That adults have "busy lives", can only take lessons on unpredictable dates when they happen to be free, and cannot practice regularly because of adult responsibilities. This doesn't work well (ineffective), and it's inconvenient for teachers, who must organize their schedule among all students.
Some teachers make such arrangements, but know that you don't go far that way.

Another: "shopping list - pick 'n choose". I will do some of the things you tell me, not others, and I want you to do things I read about on the Internet. I want to do piece X now. - A good teacher develops skills in stages and has an overall plan combined with observation. He may ask you to do "thing x" knowing it will cause "thing y" to develop, and build on it. If a student picks and chooses that won't work. He may choose a piece because of what it teaches, and "piece X" won't do the trick.

If a student replaces the teacher's instruction with a whim of his own, then the teacher can't tell whether what he is teaching works for this student, and there is no chance for it to work. It's like building a piece of furniture and overnight the furniture knocks out some nails, reshapes the wood and in the morning the carpenter has to start with fixing things rather than continuing. Or maybe gardening or programming is a better analogy, where dynamics things happen.

Another thing again is a basic misconception. The result of practice is not expected to be perfection, while the result of homework should be as perfect as possible. You are building skills, refining the ability to hear, etc., and these are things in a stage of development. When a student comes in after practicing, a good teacher looks at "what do we build from this point on?". Weaknesses are "points to build on" and weaknesses are accepted and ok. Adults freak out if they don't know that, and may be discouraged to the point of no longer wanting to practice. They try to prove how well they can play so that the teacher won't abandon them as "untalented", which teachers often see as arrogance and showing off. That's a major misunderstanding.

These are the major things that go wrong, which results in many teachers not wanting to teach adults. By the time you come along, that teacher may have had 10 bad experiences, and expects the same from you.

Meanwhile there is also a niche that teaches toward those attitudes. I don't think one can get to any level of musicianship that way, and believe in being preemptive; to tell a prospective teacher from the start that you want to get the skills, and are willing to do the work. Then you have to prove it by doing so.
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My cousin makes her do it for her own good and practically forces her to sit at the piano to practice with the kid screaming I do not like it, it is boring. Her mother on the other hand tells her she will benefit in the long run if she sticks at it.

Adults don't have a parent forcing them to sit at the piano to practice. Very possible children are not gifted with a wonderful attitude that suddenly disappears when they grow up, making adults dread students, but rather they have somebody pushing them. We have to do our own pushing, as well as ignoring others around us who don't take us seriously.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Adultpianist, a number of things can go wrong. The lessons can be started without thinking things through or getting basic information such as that it takes several years of lessons and consistent daily practice to get somewhere. So the student comes in with magical thinking, expecting to sound good in a matter of weeks, and dismayed that he doesn't sound like his teacher or favorite recording. He may think that learning happens in the lesson rather than in practice at home. He may also no know that it takes days of consistent practice for things to gel in any week: day 1 ain't great. There is a story which may be an urban legend, where a student says "I want to learn to play the piano. What date should I come?" (one-time deal). laugh

The result is a student who takes a few weeks of lessons, and quits.

Another: That adults have "busy lives", can only take lessons on unpredictable dates when they happen to be free, and cannot practice regularly because of adult responsibilities. This doesn't work well (ineffective), and it's inconvenient for teachers, who must organize their schedule among all students.
Some teachers make such arrangements, but know that you don't go far that way.
Another: "shopping list - pick 'n choose". I will do some of the things you tell me, not others, and I want you to do things I read about on the Internet. I want to do piece X now. - A good teacher develops skills in stages and has an overall plan combined with observation. He may ask you to do "thing x" knowing it will cause "thing y" to develop, and build on it. If a student picks and chooses that won't work. He may choose a piece because of what it teaches, and "piece X" won't do the trick.

If a student replaces the teacher's instruction with a whim of his own, then the teacher can't tell whether what he is teaching works for this student, and there is no chance for it to work. It's like building a piece of furniture and overnight the furniture knocks out some nails, reshapes the wood and in the morning the carpenter has to start with fixing things rather than continuing. Or maybe gardening or programming is a better analogy, where dynamics things happen.

Another thing again is a basic misconception. The result of practice is not expected to be perfection, while the result of homework should be as perfect as possible. You are building skills, refining the ability to hear, etc., and these are things in a stage of development. When a student comes in after practicing, a good teacher looks at "what do we build from this point on?". Weaknesses are "points to build on" and weaknesses are accepted and ok. Adults freak out if they don't know that, and may be discouraged to the point of no longer wanting to practice. They try to prove how well they can play so that the teacher won't abandon them as "untalented", which teachers often see as arrogance and showing off. That's a major misunderstanding.

These are the major things that go wrong, which results in many teachers not wanting to teach adults. By the time you come along, that teacher may have had 10 bad experiences, and expects the same from you.

Meanwhile there is also a niche that teaches toward those attitudes. I don't think one can get to any level of musicianship that way, and believe in being preemptive; to tell a prospective teacher from the start that you want to get the skills, and are willing to do the work. Then you have to prove it by doing so.
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My cousin makes her do it for her own good and practically forces her to sit at the piano to practice with the kid screaming I do not like it, it is boring. Her mother on the other hand tells her she will benefit in the long run if she sticks at it.

Adults don't have a parent forcing them to sit at the piano to practice. Very possible children are not gifted with a wonderful attitude that suddenly disappears when they grow up, making adults dread students, but rather they have somebody pushing them. We have to do our own pushing, as well as ignoring others around us who don't take us seriously.


I am an adult with a busy life. However, when I signed up for lessons I asked which day the lessons were. I only had to choices because my teacher only teaches at the school two days a week. She teaches on a Saturday and a Wednesday. Since I work full time, and did not want to go after work to have a lesson, I opted for Saturday morning. I did early Saturday for a while because then that would leave the rest of the day free to do other things. That worked well for a while until I decided that I did not want to get up so early on my day off from work so I asked if I could swith to Wednesday evenings which I now do. In fact the school was glad because my lessons were originally at 9am on a Saturday and I was the only early morning student and the teacher came out to teach me at that time. Since I switched, they no longer accept pupils at 9am on Saturdays anymore as they now consider it too early and the earliest time they are prepared to come out and open the school is 9.30.

I never mess my teacher around, I always turn up for lessons (unless I am ill which is rare) and if I am on vacation which is pre-planned, I give as much advance notice as I can that I am not going to be around.

I figure that since I am interested enough to want to learn and the teacher is willing to teach me, then it is my duty to co-operate and turn up each week at the appointed time. I do all of my homework that is set and even go so far as to write down areas where I feel I am weak so we can work on those partiular areas the next lesson. I will mark in the score where I think I need extra help.

I am a model student lol whome

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Originally Posted by keystring
These are the major things that go wrong, which results in many teachers not wanting to teach adults. By the time you come along, that teacher may have had 10 bad experiences, and expects the same from you.

Nice summary, nicely put. And you'd be surprised how many potential adult students broadcast these problems when you're having an initial discussion.


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I see a couple of distinct things there, John. You can have the student who comes in with an attitude and his mind is made up. You can have a student who has misperceptions because it's new and he doesn't know better; there some guidance is needed - even if it's an 'assignment' to do his homework, learn more, and then come back. There is also the specter of EXPECTATION: our experience with many people can have us misread the individual. These words must mean this thing because we've "heard it all before". The last is the one I fear personally.

As students I think it is important for us to know of these things, because many teachers will be "once bitten, twice shy". Otherwise the reactions we get are puzzling. There are also many students who do not have these attitudes, and for them to not have a chance, or to be taught toward shallower things unknowingly, is not a good thing.

The main thing for me is awareness, communication, and probably working together because it's not that black and white. I got wordy before because there is a lot there.

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John, one of your early examples made me think. You juxtaposed an advanced young student (gr. 8 so maybe 6 - 8 years of lessons?) and an adult beginner of 2 1/2 months. It may have been by chance because you had just taught that experienced young student while having the older one quit on you. But normally we would't be comparing a well trained student and one who has barely started. Unless the thought is that adults should have at least as much maturity as a preteen?

This whole thing made me wonder: how about a child with 6 weeks of lessons, vs. an adult with 6 weeks of lessons? Are they taught the same things? Is the adult moved faster because she is an adult and can understand more things faster? Is it more physical and playful for the child, and more with explanations for the adult? Is it more abstract for the child in the sense that the adult will quickly recognize melodies and so can't stay in the world of individual notes, sounds, motions? See, my thought has been that to get somewhere in music we actually do need to go through "childish stages" and the fact of our ability to conceptualize as we get older can actually get in the way. Similarly, if we "can go faster", should we? Or skipping all that ...... what about our adult with 6 weeks of lessons, and our child with 6 weeks of lessons? How do they compare?

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Interesting. I haven't taught music for about 5 years, so maybe, especially with Internet lessons becoming popular, there has been some kind of drastic change during that time. However, I taught for about 3 decades before that, and I doubt human nature has changed a whole lot. I mostly taught adults and teens. I didn't have problems with most adults, and I'd still prefer to teach them rather than kids. (Nothing against kids, though!)

I've never quit lessons myself, throughout my adult life, for any long period of time. A professional player who is my patient is in her early 80s and still takes lessons. My own teacher still takes lessons whenever possible. OK, we're not average, but we're not so far off the beaten track, either.

My daughter grew up with two musicians for parents, and didn't really appreciate lessons much when she was a kid. Now that she's almost 25, she's been expressing a desire to get more organized and proficient with her musical skills (she's a naturally able multi-instrumentalist but doesn't play anything at a very advanced level). And now she's asking me for help and valuing my advice more. I think that's maturity.

One definite plus with adult students is that since they're paying for lessons themselves, they are not likely to want to waste that time.

A great many adult students already have issues with some sort of perceived or real musical failure in their past. I can't count how many times someone called me and said something like, "I've always loved music, but when I was in kindergarten the teacher told me to just mouth the words because I was singing out of tune. I know I'm not going to be any good, but do you think you could put up with me for a little while and I'll try to learn something?" It horrifies me that so many of you are already expecting that an adult is going to be some sort of worthless deadbeat before he or she has even shown up for the first lesson. Those expectations are surely going to get through to the student. I'm very sad for both the student and the teacher in that situation.

I'm going to shut up and go practice now, because I take my lessons damned seriously.

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When I decided to learn piano, I thought it would be easy. I did not realise how hard it would be and how much work was involved. I only watched the professional concert pianists who make it look so easy but did not really think about the hard graft that even they had to adhere to in order to get to where they are. Some are fortunate to learn like water off a ducks back. The Chinese enrol their kids in lessons at a very early age and I have watched some of them on Youtube and they are as young as 4 years old, playing very advanced classical music. Where do they get the discipline at such an age to be so advanced? The youtube link below shows such a kid and let me tell you that after four years of lessons myself, I could no more play what this kid is playing than fly to the moon. If this child is playing stuff like this as such a young age, imagine what he will be like when he grows up?




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There are some really nice adult students on this thread. I always imagined everyone must be like us too, but sadly not. I have gathered this from my teacher's sheer delight that I complete all my homework to a high standard, turn up reliably, pay on time, express my genuine thanks and enjoyment, do all my work etc. I'm not saying I'm a great student, just that I do the things I'm supposed to, but evidently it's not unusual for others not to which really surprised me. I don't know how quickly it's possible to tell how someone will turn out though, so don't write us all off too quickly:

I started off exactly like the students described in the first post myself - I groan when I read this stuff now, because my teacher must have found me quite terrible. I was quiet and awkward (because I'm shy and because it's true that it really is hideous to suddenly be so bad at something at this age), but I must have seemed miserable and surly like I didn't want to be there. Also I asked every dumb question in my first lesson that people complain about on here. I even said that I didn't want to read music, that I didn't have long to spend practising each day and insisted that I only wanted to learn pop songs. I said all these things because i didnt know anything about piano or what I wanted. Thankfully my teacher listened to all this very seriously (whilst probably cringing on the inside) and then gently - not immediately - made me a bit more informed on what I really needed to do. And then.... I went out and immediately bought myself a 61 key unweighted keyboard (the horror). This reads like a nightmare doesn't it, yet I am glad my teacher didn't write me off as just another dreary adult student, as now I have my own piano, practise all the time, think/talk about piano non-stop and really love my lessons.

Though I think if I had been asked to pay a year's tuition in advance as someone suggested then i wouldn't have done it. The commitment involved in an annual magazine subscription freaks me out a little to be honest, and that's way smaller than spending half an hour every week in someone's home who you may or may not like, doing something you may or may not enjoy. Even a monthly gym pass is the surest way to make sure I NEVER attend the gym. A year's payment would have scared me off!!

P.S. I wrote this yesterday, forgot to hit submit, the discussion has moved on and I'm not really sure this fits in now, but have added it anyway.

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Originally Posted by Toastie

I started off exactly like the students described in the first post myself - ... (because I'm shy and because it's true that it really is hideous to suddenly be so bad at something at this age),


You weren't 'bad' you were a beginner. I was a beginner once too. If I took up violin, I would be a beginner at that.

If you are a teacher it is your professional duty to see a beginner as a beginner and not as 'bad'. That is my opinion anyway.

The difference between adults and children is adults have more experience and children have great imaginations. Children imagine they sound great, so they keep going, and amazingly, they make progress. Adults know they sound like beginners, they aspire to better, and they think they may get there by being clever, concentrating hard, playing a difficult piece. Some work out they can only get there by hard patient graft. And some just go on in their fantasy world, and they can be really hard to deal with.

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