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#2040543 - 02/28/13 06:09 AM Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle  
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Saranoya Offline
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Hi everyone,

I'm not sure anyone here can really help me with this (it's more of an internal struggle, I suppose). But I'm hazarding a guess that I'm not the first adult beginner who has faced this particular internal struggle. I'd like to gauge other people's strategies for coping with it.

Basically, the situation is this:

I am an adult (re)starter who, after some spotty piano education in my youth (about eighteen months to two years or so of lessons, but not all in one stretch), started taking piano lessons again in September 2012. I am fairly dedicated. Under normal circumstances, I consistently get in twenty minutes to half an hour of practice before work, and an hour or more after. I'm pretty sure, though, that my practice is sourly lacking in efficiency.

My teacher is brilliant in many ways. She is most likely not among the best concert pianists out there (and if she were, I wouldn't know: I've never heard her play anything other than short fragments of relatively straightforward music). But I think that if she is, in fact, not a piano prodigy, then it actually helps her ability to teach. For even though there are clearly many things that come naturally to her, she also understands that some skills have to be acquired through long stretches of hard work and dedication, and that not every hurdle can be jumped in short order by every student, even with infinite amounts of practice. I've seen her interact with quite a few different students, and I know that she is willing and able to adapt the way she teaches to the goals, expectations and learning strategies of each student individually. On top of that, she is a very compassionate human being, and I like her a lot (which is always a plus).

These past few weeks, it's been hard for me to stick to a schedule of even one hour's practice a day. I have a piano at home which I can't use right now, because my apartment is basically still under construction and uninhabitable. As is known by all those who listened to my ABF recital entry, I do have a place to practice at a nearby pub. But practicing in public is not nearly the same thing as practicing in private, and my efficiency suffers even more. As a result, I've been playing the same two pieces for three weeks straight at lessons, and still haven't gotten them right.

There have been other instances in the past five months where I couldn't keep up with practice at the same level as usual, and each time, as now, I was afraid to go to my lesson. Twice, I even cancelled because I felt woefully underprepared. But worse, when I am *at* my lesson and I feel unprepared, I get so nervous that I literally start shaking all over, and then it becomes nearly impossible to play at all. (I get this when I *am* prepared, too, but then it isn't nearly so bad.)

I think the root of my fear lies in the fact that I don't want to disappoint my teacher. She has been nothing but encouraging ever since we met, but from conversations we've had before and after lesson time, I also know that she places a huge amount of importance on dedication and perseverance not just in playing the piano, but in every aspect of life. The thing I am struggling with is that, probably, in her estimation, I'm falling short in my dedication. I also sometimes think that if I told my teacher how much time I actually spend practicing each day, she'd laugh in my face and tell me it's not worth the effort, if this is all the progress I'm making on that kind of a schedule.

I know that these ideas are in my head, and don't necessarily correspond to reality. But when an idea like that, even if it's just me imagining it, prevents me from giving the best of myself in class, or worse, from even going at all, then it is an idea that I need to get rid of, somehow. I'm wondering if someone else here has conquered similar obstacles in their piano learning.


Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.
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#2040547 - 02/28/13 06:21 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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casinitaly Offline

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Italy
Saranoya, I can tell you that as a teacher of adults, I understand that my students don't always have time to study and do their homework. I get it. I'm sure your teacher does.

I strongly suggest you talk to your teacher about your current situation and explain that it isn't because you don't want to play (but believe me she knows that already!!!) but your life is topsy-turvy right now.

Never cancel your lesson because you haven't practiced.
You can still study theory, you can get a tip on something, you can do a lot of things even if you haven't practiced your set piece.

Trust that your teacher knows you by now, and appreciates the effort you usually put in.

Teachers love enthusiastic students - we cope with those who are less interested. You belong to the first group and I am sure she looks forward to seeing you each week!

Talk to her. She won't be disappointed in you - and you'll be able to relax and not worry.


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#2040548 - 02/28/13 06:28 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Allard Offline
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I think all of us here can see there is nothing lacking on the dedication department. Does your teacher know about your situation? The way you describe her, there is no way she is going to laugh at you. Why would any sensible person to that to their own student? Perhaps the content of the lessons need to be changed a bit, or maybe it's an idea to go to lessons every two weeks, giving you more time to prepare until your home situation is fixed. Maybe she knows a better place to practise.


David Lanz - Skyline Firedance Suite
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#2040565 - 02/28/13 07:24 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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justpin Offline
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Why are you fearful?

Remember it is YOU paying for a service, not them paying you.


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#2040595 - 02/28/13 08:46 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: justpin]  
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Saranoya Offline
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Cas and Allard: thank you both for your input, and for expressing your personal confidence in my dedication wink. It's good to hear from someone who teaches adults herself. And yes, I do think my teacher 'gets it' when I don't always have time to practice the way I should. The problem is that there's been a little too much drama in my life lately, and I am always wary of people who come up with one excuse after another for not being able to perform up to snuff. When that happens too often, you're doing something wrong, I think ... not just having an 'interesting' life outside of piano lessons.

Last week, I told my teacher about my current living arrangements and piano practice compromises. But I think yesterday, she assumed the situation had been rectified, and I didn't want to correct her if she was in fact assuming that. I am physically disabled and epileptic, and my piano teacher has already had to deal with the consequences of my seizures and other health issues on multiple occasions -- once even going so far as to take me home and sit with me for almost an hour after my lesson. Point being: people worry about me enough as it is. I do not want to add to the drama if I can at all avoid it.

justpin: Yes, I am paying my teacher for her services (although, it's a government-subsidized school, so she gets payed whether I show up or not). That doesn't mean I have the right to squander her time, when she could be using it more efficiently (for instance, by giving more time to a student who did come prepared). But, I do get that this fearfulness is a problem. I'm trying to get over it, but don't know where to start. Which is why I started this thread.


Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.
#2040609 - 02/28/13 09:01 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Allard Offline
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Generally, the best way to get over fear is to face its source. One usually finds that it isn't so bad after all. When you're afraid of what someone might think or say, talking to them is really the only way. Worst case, you won't have to be uncertain anymore.

It's good that you have already broached the subject with your teacher. Please don't see yourself as comping up with excuses; both your living situation and your disability are -real problems- . Only if you could have reasonably done better could you think of it being an excuse. (As an aside, it occurs to me that your grandfather might have been wiser to rent you an apartment temporarily, instead of buying a piano, but I guess one doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Or a loan horse?) Instead, work with your teacher on a way that you can continue lessons. She's a compassionate person and highly knowledgeable on the matter. I'm sure she'll be happy to work with you.


David Lanz - Skyline Firedance Suite
Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy 7 Main Theme
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#2040670 - 02/28/13 10:51 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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torquenale Offline
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It's normal when you are an adult student, that life goes in the way of your practice, and you go to your lesson without homework done. But if you consider your teacher a good person, as you seem to do, try and speak to her of your problem, even of your fears. You are a dedicated person, you are even practicing in a pub!
I think she will be very supportive, and patient. You could also ask her to use the lesson for guided practice, so she can evaluate the way you practice and give you support if you don't use an efficient method.

Teachers are more experienced than we are in understanding students difficulties. Last week I had a really awful lesson, so my teacher told me: "ok, today you don't even know what you are doing, but in a sense I see an improvement: you don't mind when you make mistakes and you go on". In fact usually when I mistake I stop or "make faces".
The other good thing, she reduced the number of pieces to work on. Maybe, also your teacher, if you explain everything, can try a different approach for a while.

Good luck, and don't give up!





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#2040671 - 02/28/13 10:51 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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(Piano teacher of adults speaking here.) Clearly this is a rough patch for you, but I don't get any sense from what you have said that your teacher is anything but devoted to teaching you. With both skill and compassion.
It sounds like a wonderful relationship.

It's not uncommon that adult students feel they are disappointing their teacher, or wasting their teacher's time, or boring their teacher: it's almost the norm. I would think each of my adult students has felt this at one time or another, and some feel this way constantly. Is this feeling coming from me? Not one percent.

You *could* do one thing that has not been mentioned: take a break from lessons for awhile, until your home life returns to normal. Adult students do this often.

Do I recommend it as a teacher? No. But the adult student is the boss of his or her learning.

Keep us posted, and pm me if you wish. Cheers from Canada!




#2040673 - 02/28/13 10:51 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Allard]  
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I would certainly tell your teacher that your living arrangements are still problematic. I am sure she will be very supportive.

Another suggestion that I would make is to examine why you are so afraid in your lesson. Are you performing for her? I went through this with my current teacher as well. I always felt I was letting her down if I didn't play extremely well. I thought she would think I was not dedicated enough. I finally realized I was turning my lessons into performances and trying to impress my teacher. That just caused anxiety, and anxiety affected my playing. When I finally relaxed, my lessons went much better.

You clearly go above and beyond trying to get the most practice that you can under a less than ideal situation. I am sure you teacher is very aware of how hard you work.

#2040697 - 02/28/13 11:36 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Saranoya, when I first started lessons I constantly felt nervous and anxious during lessons. I would be so hard on myself if I made a mistake (which if course I did 2 minutes into my lesson!). And then my playing would deteriorate even more! I think like SwissMS I was putting myself into more of a "performance" situation than a learning one. I really did want my teacher to hear my progress and felt bad when I couldn't play as well as I knew I could. Then one day I read that exact thing and vowed that at my next lesson I would laugh off any mistakes. Well I did and immediately I felt more relaxed. I even told my teacher how nervous I was and she was surprised.

Now I feel more relaxed and will just tell my teacher what I did/didn't have time to work on. And we usually work on it during lesson time and she immediately sees where I struggle. Now it's almost like I think I WANT her to hear my mistakes so she can help me! (whereas before I would try hard to gloss over trouble spots).

It may be a good idea to take a short break from lessons to alleviate some of the stress in your life right now. Clearly your teacher will understand. I think you will feel immediate relief and can come back fully focused when your home situation is settled.

I believe she well knows your dedication already so no need to question that yourself! Also remember people generally want to help others and teachers even more so because it's what they love to do! You are not being a burden!

Hang in there. Things will settle and you can get back to playing in peace again!




#2040771 - 02/28/13 02:14 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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I have been down the "woe me, I have not practised enough" route, too. Been there, done that - it is a pointless one-way street.

A colleague of mine who is a music teacher told me a couple of things that helped me. He is a school teacher, not a private music teacher, but with music being his subject, he knows other private music teachers and is familiar with their situation.

One thing he pointed out to me is that any piano teacher worth his/her salt will be delighed to have a willing and motivated student!

In the ABF forum, we tend to take it for granted that ever piano teacher's student is as motivated an excited by playing as we are. Certainly nobody could sit down at a piano and not be enchanted by it.

My colleague's heart was always with the guitar, not the piano, but he had to take the piano because he knew it was a requirement to become a school teacher. And still he was one of the more motivated and willing students. Don't forget that a lot of students only take lessons because their parents force them. After several young students who had plenty of time to practise and did not, that rather be anywhere else than at the lessons, teaching a motivated adult must be a blessing.

Of course there are also youth and kids who study the piano, love it and have a valid reason not to practise. You as an adult have the advantage of maturity and the ability to consider the effects of long time efforts. You know that life can give you a hard time and that this means that you have to go more easy on you with practise. On the other hand, even if that stretch might last a year, or two or longer - that is a short stretch of life time of an adult. When you are 10 or 15, that is immeasurably long. When you are an adult, you have a better chance to realise that it might be really annoying to suffer through long stretches of difficult times, but you can approach such times with more patience and calm. As adults, we have a higher chance of returning to our full strength of engagement when the times get smoother.

Life has thrown me a curve in the last couple of month, too. Practise was close to impossible for a couple of weeks, simply for organisational difficulties like me having no access to a place with a piano. I trust that I will pull through that time with my enthusiams intact and I trust my teacher to have patience with me, too. Trust yourself and your teacher!


Currently working on: Venetian Gondola song by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
#2040815 - 02/28/13 03:27 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: justpin]  
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Originally Posted by justpin
Why are you fearful?

Remember it is YOU paying for a service, not them paying you.



I have to remind myself of this a lot, because I also tend to freak out when I'm underprepared!

#2040823 - 02/28/13 03:48 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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AimeeO Offline

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Like several others, I feel that just simple honesty will help you overcome this problem of feeling that you are disappointing your teacher. She sounds awesome, and I think a quick chat will make you feel a lot better. It sounds like a lot of the pressures about your lessons are ones you are putting on yourself, which is easy to do when everything else in your life is in upheaval. It sounds like she fully understands some of your struggles already. Instead of feeling stressed out about not being able to play up to par, how about asking her what you can do to make the best out of lessons with her until the dust settles? She might have other things for you to do. I think you'll certainly feel more comfortable around her if you do so. It's obvious how motivated and dedicated you are(I would never have the guts to go practice in front of people! Drinking people at that!).


If you still feel uncomfortable sitting down and telling her point blank (which is okay too - sometimes you just don't want to talk about your issues anymore), there are other approaches. You don't have to say "Oh, what a drama-filled week!" and go on about your problems to her. You can say things like, "Hey, I still haven't gotten my piano back. But I did want want to go over this part with you." Just ask questions about anything that you might have, and steer your lesson, so to speak.

Oh, and please don't put pressure on yourself about things like playing the same two pieces two lessons in a row! (Trust me, I've had periods where I'd be stuck on the same Hanon warm up for a month, because I haven't had the time or concentration to get it right.) It happens. Even if life is working out perfectly, you might have stretches where you're stuck on the same thing for a while anyway, so try to relax. Sometimes things just won't click for whatever reason, so maybe you can take the time to embrace this frustration now smile



#2040828 - 02/28/13 03:54 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Brian Lucas Offline
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One thing people always seem to forget (kids and adults alike) is that you WANT to make your mistakes in front of the teacher. That's because, as a teacher, it's our job to figure out WHY you are making the mistake, especially if it is a recurring problem. We're not just there to point out your mistakes. It's not just adults. Even kids don't always have as much time to practice, with all the after school activities. But even with minimal practice time, you can still overcome your obstacles and learn something. Just might take a little longer.


-Brian
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#2040840 - 02/28/13 04:09 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: AimeeO]  
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This is exactly why I really don't want to take lessons. I had lessons when I was a kid for maybe 18 months. I had no concept of how much work I needed to do - in piano or my other school work - what can I say? - I was just a kid. I practiced some but not nearly enough. As you can imagine my lessons were very stressfull for me because of my lack of preparation. Now I am 61 and just got a keyboard. Just the thought of lessons makes me cramp up inside - even now, 50 years later! The thought of the embarrassment, the feelings of inadequacy and stupidity, HAVING to practise - YUK! Right now I practise for about an hour a day and I'm loving it. I can't wait to sit down to practise and I don't want to spoil my enjoyment with the unnecessary stress of a teacher. And yes, I have read many of the posts that point out how important a teacher can be, but not for everyone in every circumstance.

#2040849 - 02/28/13 04:18 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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My piano lesson is the highlight of my work week. My teacher loves working with children, but she also likes being able to discuss music on a higher level.

She knows piano is not the be all and end all of my life. Some weeks I get in good practice, some weeks life interferes, quite a few of my weekends are spent hiking, backpacking, or climbing. Or working on the house! Ugh!

She has no problem with any of that, neither do I. I enjoy my time at the piano, and I'm making progress. As long as that continues, we are both OK with it.


Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
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#2040928 - 02/28/13 06:29 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Saranoya,

You are selling yourself way too short, and I'm sure your teacher would agree.

Quote
The thing I am struggling with is that, probably, in her estimation, I'm falling short in my dedication.


You have had to give up your home and put all of your belongings in storage somewhere... probably including many of the things that give you comfort and confidence.

Your new home isn't ready, indeed it is months LATE, which would throw anyone for a loop. Any plans you had for an orderly move and transition have been ruined, and you've had to scramble to adjust all the things that have to be coordinated to make such a move happen.

You are living out of a suitcase in some hotel and you have to go chasing around after the months-late builder to compensate you for the temporary quarters. We won't even mention that you had to hold at bay for a long time the folks that you had agreed to rent your old place to.

Because of all this you have no place to practice and have been forced to get in whatever time you can on the piano at a local bar. Need I mention bar patrons probably don't enjoy hearing five slow perfect repetions of one phase, even if it is HT!!??

You have a beautiful, brand new, never-been-played grand piano rotting in a frozen uncompleted construction project.

No worries, huh?

Saranoya, I can assure you that any teacher worth having would love to have a student who, under circumstances like yours, is upset to think that her teacher might think she is slacking off and not worth teaching.







Tarantella, Pieczonka
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#2040965 - 02/28/13 07:42 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: dagdvm]  
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Emissary52 Offline
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Originally Posted by dagdvm
This is exactly why I really don't want to take lessons. I had lessons when I was a kid for maybe 18 months. I had no concept of how much work I needed to do - in piano or my other school work - what can I say? - I was just a kid. I practiced some but not nearly enough. As you can imagine my lessons were very stressfull for me because of my lack of preparation. Now I am 61 and just got a keyboard. Just the thought of lessons makes me cramp up inside - even now, 50 years later! The thought of the embarrassment, the feelings of inadequacy and stupidity, HAVING to practise - YUK! Right now I practise for about an hour a day and I'm loving it. I can't wait to sit down to practise and I don't want to spoil my enjoyment with the unnecessary stress of a teacher. And yes, I have read many of the posts that point out how important a teacher can be, but not for everyone in every circumstance.



dagdvm – I’m pretty much in the same boat as you. I’m an older adult and decided to take up learning piano 3 years ago. I’m now 60 and have been self-teaching since then. I went through Alfred’s Adult Book 1 the first year, but didn’t like book 2 and started Masterwork Classics series as an alternative. I’m basically a cheapskate and decided I could do without a teacher. Many of the pieces I work on can be found on youtube being covered by 6 and 7 year olds and I kind of used them as a benchmark to gauge my progress. I tend to get nervous when anyone is in hearing distance of my playing and I would have dreaded going to some piano teacher, sitting with kiddies young enough to be my grandchildren.

Well, to make a long story short, my friend and former boss at work (I’m retired) bought me an evaluation and six piano lessons as a Christmas present. I was a nervous wreck waiting for my teacher to arrive, but we “clicked”! She decided to come to my house for the lessons, since I have a new grand piano. She’s terrific … one of those rare people that has tons of theory in her head, but can play fairly complex music by ear and has perfect pitch! I was amazed … I thought I’d won the “Power Ball Lottery” of great piano teachers!

She quickly found major weaknesses in my playing, that I was “blissfully” unaware of, and has begun to set me on a course to correct them. I liken it to getting the “10 Commandments of Piano Playing” and then realizing that I memorized the odd-numbered ones on the front page, but forgot to turn it over to learn the even-numbered ones!

After my free lessons are up, I intend to continue with her for a good long time. You can teach yourself quite a bit on your own and I believe that it is a valuable trait. But as much as I used to dismiss the idea of having a piano teacher, I now realize that I’d probably be a year or so ahead of where I am now, with a lot better technique to boot! Plus the ability to be relaxed when playing in front of other people …is priceless! No more of being a “cheapskate nervous Nelly” for me! BTW, the cost of lessons isn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined!

I’m still a little nervous when I play for her, but that is lessening. Last lesson, she had assigned a couple of pieces to work on and I took it to mean she wanted them perfected in a week. I couldn’t do it and I felt really disappointed in myself. She had only wanted me to do a few measures in each …slowly! I was sooo relieved! As adults, we sometimes put unrealistic expectations on ourselves that a child wouldn’t. I’ve also learned to listen better ...both for homework assignments and in my playing! grin

Last edited by Emissary52; 02/28/13 07:44 PM.

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#2041013 - 02/28/13 09:17 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Reno, Nevada
Saranoya, thank you for posting. You have eloquently summed up my own feelings; worries that my teacher thinks my slow progress is due to lack of dedication rather than simple lack of skill. The very reason I'm taking lessons is to gain those skills so why should I feel awkward with the teacher... yet I do!

And yes, adults have adult lives that can interfere with music. Too many responsibilities: kids, housework, ageing parents, health issues. All can interfere with our practice time and it's not because we don't WANT to practice - sometimes life makes it impossible. Any teacher of adults worth their salt realizes that.

There's a lot of encouragement and kind words here; we have a lovely cyber community! I hope you take some comfort and strength from the group and sail through the rest of this little rough spot. This, too, shall pass!


Collector of sheet music I can't play.
#2041026 - 02/28/13 09:49 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Stubbie Offline
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Saranoya,
Lots of encouraging words in the responses you've received. I second (or third) the thought that you should talk to your teacher. Tell her your apartment is still a problem and will be for several more weeks, at least. Voice your frustrations.

Then ask her what she thinks is the best thing for you to do. Keep going as is? Take a break for a month? Come to lessons with poor quality practice going on in between the lessons and use lesson time for face-to-face instruction? What is her advice?

Try to come up with a concrete plan for the next few weeks or months. Write it down. It may change, but that’s okay.

Having a plan is a welcome relief to a mind worrying at an issue.

Best wishes.


[Linked Image]
#2041171 - 03/01/13 06:21 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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rnaple Offline

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rnaple  Offline

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Rocky Mountains
I can't help you with personal experiences with a piano teacher. I can, however help you with experiences with teachers and knowing the difference between winners and losers.

I was taking classes in college. Having outside problems that forced me to not show up. When I did. There was a test. I bombed the test. Still showed a great attitude toward the class. Yes, I wanted to learn that. I liked and enjoyed the class. The teacher talked to me. Said he couldn't believe I had such a good attitude toward all this in his class. In spite of not showing up and doing badly on the test. The end result months later was he set me up for a job that turned into a career for many years. The point is... teachers love a great attitude from students. No matter how badly they are doing. No matter how many problems they are having.

Winners...are unpretentious. Extremely honest. Know there are always problems. Deal with them. Aren't worried about how things are going nearly as much as working toward the end goal. Are worried about the end result. Are not worried about appearing as if they are doing good. In the end, they do good.

Losers...are pretentious. Lie constantly to look good. Ignore problems. Don't deal with problems. Worried about appearing as if things are going good while the end goal is disappearing. Don't worry about the end result. Are worried only about appearing as if they are doing good. In the end, they fail.

The point I'm trying to make is. It sounds as if you've got a really good teacher. Sounds as if the teacher realizes that the end result with you is simply: What music does for you.
Think about it.....don't sabotage it.



Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon
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#2041173 - 03/01/13 06:39 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Eglantine Offline

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Another Country
Saranoya, improvement is not a perfectly gradual progression. It will go in fits and starts. Your teacher knows this, and their face will light up with joy when you do make a Leap Forward (great or small), which you undoubtedly will if you persevere.


Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)
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#2041264 - 03/01/13 10:30 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Ragdoll Offline
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Illinois
Quote
I think the root of my fear lies in the fact that I don't want to disappoint my teacher. She has been nothing but encouraging ever since we met, but from conversations we've had before and after lesson time, I also know that she places a huge amount of importance on dedication and perseverance not just in playing the piano, but in every aspect of life. The thing I am struggling with is that, probably, in her estimation, I'm falling short in my dedication. I also sometimes think that if I told my teacher how much time I actually spend practicing each day, she'd laugh in my face and tell me it's not worth the effort, if this is all the progress I'm making on that kind of a schedule.


Saranoya, I read this entire thread before I wrote this reply. I think the most helpful things suggested here is that you are considering your lesson time to be a performance. There is no better time to flub your playing than in the presence of your teacher because she may see things you need to correct causing you problems. ALso even despite your mistakes, a good teacher will be able to see you have improved in some areas.

I believe we all go through this at times but I think is usually when we "have" been practicing faithfully and often. Then we tend to think we'll be able to do it for her/him correctly resulting in embarrassment or frustration when we fail to deliver a good lesson well learned.

Please don't be too hard on yourself or even consider quiting. Learning piano is comparable to an erratic sine wave... ie: up and down, down further, up again, and up further still. Rinse and repeat. grin

I hope your living situation improves soo,


Ragdoll

At first, she only flew when she thought no one was watching.

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#2041377 - 03/01/13 03:05 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: rnaple]  
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Brian Lucas Offline
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Brian Lucas  Offline
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Nashville, TN
Originally Posted by rnaple
The point is... teachers love a great attitude from students. No matter how badly they are doing. No matter how many problems they are having.
That's very true. I like the students that tell me they didn't have much time to practice as if it's just a matter of fact, not an excuse. It translates to "I didn't have much time to practice this week, so let's get into it and see what I remember".

Those that win the game also tend to not only look toward an end goal, but also try to enjoy the journey, frustrations and all.


-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2041733 - 03/02/13 07:18 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Brian Lucas]  
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adultpianist Offline
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Can I just say that I have a busy life. However, I want to progress and learn. I am not a beginner but more of an average player. I have only just been shown how to pedal and have picked it up well. I am now forcing myself to play longer pieces with large stretches for notes which at first was difficult as I have short fingers, but there are ways of reaching the required notes by lifting your fingers and hands. I certainly could NOT play a chord across an entire octave. Ayway, getting back to the point. I am totally dedicated and am currently working on Bach Prelude in C major, which is not a hard piece but good for finger exercises as it has the stretches required to train the hand. Tonight I should be going out to dinner with friends, nothing fancy just a restaurat. I have cancelled in favour of staying at home and perfecting my Bach piece. Is that obsessive? After all, I am not aiming for a career as a pianist and I know you should not forget your friends but I so love the piece and want to be able to play it well that I am working on it instead of dining out and getting the piece finished and perfected is more important.

Am I mad lol ha

Last edited by adultpianist; 03/02/13 07:20 AM.
#2041901 - 03/02/13 04:12 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: adultpianist]  
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted by adultpianist
Tonight I should be going out to dinner with friends, nothing fancy just a restaurat. I have cancelled in favour of staying at home and perfecting my Bach piece. Is that obsessive?


Obsessive is a loaded term; let's call it frugal.

#2041921 - 03/02/13 05:12 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Scotland
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose


You *could* do one thing that has not been mentioned: take a break from lessons for awhile, until your home life returns to normal. Adult students do this often.


Or, continue lessons but explain you have limited chance to practice so could you usefully use the time to go over theory and aural instead.

As another teacher of adults, one of the hardest things sometimes is to get them to stop apologizing!

Be at peace and cheer up - things are good! smile

#2041993 - 03/02/13 07:40 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Scottsdale, AZ
Saranoya - you and I seem to have taken sumilar piano journey. Im a restarter too and have full time job. One of the differences is that my current teacher is teacher #3. When I had my first teacher, I recall I was more sensitive about disappointing her. It's different now. It does not mean she does not affect me - she does! But I don't mind disappoint her. I'm not as talented as her or many of her students, so of course, I would let her down. When I'm busy, I have to put my work first! I think she understands this, so many times my lesson becomes sight reading sessions. I don't like to play any material at first sight but I cannot help it sometimes. I tell her that I did not make progress at all, then, she says "well then, let's start reading it together". I Then get mad because I am not good at it. But I have to admit I do make progress much faster than i normslly make. In a way I learn how to practice. If you can put up with the awkward feeling of sight reading, this may be a way to handle the situation. Of course, please ignore this if it's not for you. Just an idea.


Pieces for this year to be decided soon.
#2042357 - 03/03/13 03:04 PM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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Saranoya Offline
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Brussels, Belgium
I thank you all for your detailed and well-considered responses. When I started this thread, I hadn't expected nearly this much feedback on it.

I do think those of you who believe that part of my fearfulness comes from wanting to 'perform' for my teacher are definitely on the right track. I should be comfortable making mistakes in front of her, because that's probably the fastest way to learn, but I'm not. I am severely uncomfortable making mistakes in any situation where others can observe me. My teacher knows this. She observed during one of the early lessons that I acted as if making mistakes was not allowed, and she was right. I'm trying to keep in mind the fact that she doesn't mind me making mistakes, but it's not so easy. I was conditioned from early childhood to avoid ever being caught in a mistake.

So the 'winners-losers' comparison really hit home with me. As far as I know, it is humanly impossible to never make a mistake — even to never make a mistake in front of someone else. So I've developed all kinds of 'loser' strategies to try and hide the fact that I make mistakes all the time. In the case of playing piano, that strategy happens to be never to play in front of someone unless I've 'perfected' the piece — which, now that I'm taking weekly lessons, almost never happens. There just isn't enough time in a week to have a piece (or even part of it) perfected each Wednesday.

Until recently, I could somewhat avoid the problem by practicing like crazy. Now, with the apartment unfinished, I can't do that anymore. So I'll have to deal with the real issue. Thank you all for helping me get it into focus.


Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.
#2042634 - 03/04/13 01:40 AM Re: Fear of teacher's disappointment becoming major obstacle [Re: Saranoya]  
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MaryBee Offline
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MaryBee  Offline
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Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted by Saranoya
I should be comfortable making mistakes in front of her, because that's probably the fastest way to learn, but I'm not. I am severely uncomfortable making mistakes in any situation where others can observe me. My teacher knows this. She observed during one of the early lessons that I acted as if making mistakes was not allowed, and she was right. I'm trying to keep in mind the fact that she doesn't mind me making mistakes, but it's not so easy. I was conditioned from early childhood to avoid ever being caught in a mistake.
Oh, Saranoya, I understand your feelings. One of the most difficult things for me when starting lessons was learning to accept the fact that not only was I going to make mistakes, but that someone was going to point out and focus on those mistakes! These were not just musical lessons, but lessons in humility. One thing that helped was that I talked about this problem with my teacher early on. He said, "There are only two of us in this room. If you make a mistake here, even a big one, I'm not going to go out and tell anyone else about it. Although you can, if you'd like."

I can only say that it gets better as you get used to it, but you have to let yourself get used to it. In my last lesson, I was trying something new and I failed miserably. It felt as awkward as when I was a little kid first learning how to hold a pencil and print letters. But I just acknowledged that, and laughed about it, and tried again.

Maybe we need to be more like children who are able to try things without fear of failure.


Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
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