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#2043063 - 03/04/13 10:59 PM Lessons - what's your process?  
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LizAnne Offline
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Hello all. I've just started private lessons, at last. I chose someone cheap and convenient, since it's only a temporary gig for a few months before I relocate. My new teacher seems very nice and well intentioned, but a little inexperienced. I don't think she has much experience at all - maybe none at all - teaching adults.

So, I'm trying to teach her to teach me. smile For example, I can hack my way through songs and figure out the notes and fingering on my own. I don't need her help with that. I do need her help with dynamics, technique, polishing, and that sort of thing.

She expects to spend the lesson guiding me as I hack my way through a new song, sight reading it. Stressful. Not helpful. Not what I'm paying her for.

Have I got it wrong? Should I be doing it her way, or should I be teaching her to teach me? What do y'all do in your lessons - how do you spend your time with your teacher?

Thanks for the help!


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#2043072 - 03/04/13 11:08 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Polyphonist Online content
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Originally Posted by LizAnne
Hello all. I've just started private lessons, at last. I chose someone cheap and convenient, since it's only a temporary gig for a few months before I relocate. My new teacher seems very nice and well intentioned, but a little inexperienced. I don't think she has much experience at all - maybe none at all - teaching adults.

So, I'm trying to teach her to teach me. smile For example, I can hack my way through songs and figure out the notes and fingering on my own. I don't need her help with that. I do need her help with dynamics, technique, polishing, and that sort of thing.

She expects to spend the lesson guiding me as I hack my way through a new song, sight reading it. Stressful. Not helpful. Not what I'm paying her for.

Have I got it wrong? Should I be doing it her way, or should I be teaching her to teach me? What do y'all do in your lessons - how do you spend your time with your teacher?

Thanks for the help!


What would you rather be having her do? I think it's appropriate to tell her how you would like your lessons to be run (provided you're polite about it and don't sound confrontational), since you are an adult, after all, and YOU are the one paying for your lessons.

But I still don't understand what the ideal lesson for you would be. What type of songs are you playing?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2043075 - 03/04/13 11:12 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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outo Offline
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Seems a bit odd to pay someone and then teach them to do their job smile

My lessons are mostly spend on looking at technical flaws in my playing and trying to teach me how to correct them. Sometimes going through fingerings together with the tricky spots. Depending on my ability to concentrate which varies a lot, we may sight read something new but usually I do the initial note learning at home, since reading is hard and slow for me.

So I play a little bit and then she stops me and we start on an issue that needs to be addressed. And there are lots of them, since my pieces are always a bit on the difficult side...

Of course I also get comments and advice on stylistic issues, voicing, dynamics and such.

#2043114 - 03/05/13 12:56 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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LizAnne,
It seems to me that you should discuss this with your teacher. Tell them that the way your lessons are being structured isn't working for you, and communicate what it is that you need. Maybe your teacher can explain her reasoning for what she's doing and convince you to do it her way, or maybe your feedback will help her make lesson plans that better suit your needs, or maybe you'll realize that you need to find a different teacher.

Warm regards


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#2043191 - 03/05/13 05:06 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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I have no doubt your teacher is inexperienced, both in general and specifically as a teacher of adults. But everyone has to start somewhere, and it sounds as if you don't actively dislike her, so stick with it.

Your idea of helping her to become a better teacher for you sounds fine, but be aware that doing so may just rattle her. Piano teachers are far from a flexible lot.

However, you could insist on bringing to her only pieces you have already roughed in on your own. Remind her that your time together is clearly finite, since you will be moving, and you would like to learn more from her about musicality than about notes and fingering.

That's reasonable.




#2043216 - 03/05/13 07:22 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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I had a teacher who rapped you on the nuckles if ya got it wrong. Used to be common years ago! I saw it coming; the keyboard took the rap better than I did but he never quite saw it that way.. I was only gonna play it the way I saw it anyway.

He died soon after.


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#2043230 - 03/05/13 08:36 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Maybe post this in the teacher's forum. Many of them sure knows how to teach and have experience handling variety of students including adults. Good luck.



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#2043234 - 03/05/13 09:05 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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LizAnne Offline
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Thanks for the thoughts. I'm willing to work with her inexperience, just because it's exceedingly convenient, a very good price, and only for a few months.

Outo - yours is the process I want. It's the stuff I can't figure out on my own, the finer technique, the trickiest fingering in tough spots, etc.

I will (gently) lead her toward this type of process. And then, y'all, I'll knock your socks off at the next recital!


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#2043266 - 03/05/13 10:20 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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In my opinion, a good teacher will adjust the lesson to work on those items most important for the student at the time. And I would suggest that the most important items that a teacher can impart are: How to practice; technique (including the ultra important relaxation / tension issues); musicality.

Sounds like you are hoping for musicality - I will say that the majority of my lesson time now covers those aspects, having made great progress with technical and practice issues.

Even cheap lessons need to be valuable so make sure you get enough back to justify the cost. My lessons aren't cheap but are worth every penny.


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#2043359 - 03/05/13 01:39 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Well my teacher is actually younger than I am so it was a bit odd but I think you can express what you need. Like my teacher usually has a plan to follow with me but I feel I need something , she is happy to hear me and work on that like I wanted to develop a practice plan for 1 hour a day besides the song I am working on, so we did that last week.
For the most part, while working on a song, I bring up any issues I am having and she works with me on that section and maybe recommend something to practice to help with that rough spot. Then I play the whole thing and she takes notes during my performance.
So far so good. Just feels funny when I am the oldest person during recitals laugh


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#2043419 - 03/05/13 03:54 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Originally Posted by LizAnne

For example, I can hack my way through songs and figure out the notes and fingering on my own. I don't need her help with that. I do need her help with dynamics, technique, polishing, and that sort of thing.

She expects to spend the lesson guiding me as I hack my way through a new song, sight reading it. Stressful. Not helpful.



Just to throw another idea out there: How about learning a new piece that you both agree on and try her method? You might pick up a few tips that could be quite useful. It sounds like learning new pieces are stressful to you, so maybe should give it a shot. Perhaps you could spend half the lesson on that, and the other half doing it your way.

My lessons are at a local music school. If my teacher has to miss a lesson, they send in a sub. While they aim to follow my teacher's method, I always ask how they might differ if I can sense that they might have a different idea about something. You'd be surprised at the random things you pick up that could help you.

#2043518 - 03/05/13 07:45 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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My teacher has been teaching for over 35 years, and here's how my lessons go.

We usually work on sight-reading and/or technique. When sight-reading, she chooses some tune, and has me play it. She almost always has some important observation about why I'm having problems, and what I can do to fix them. For example, she'll notice that I'm not leaving things out well, when I get into trouble. Or she'll notice that I sometimes have trouble instantly recognizing which octave a note is in (e.g. I'll play a C5 instead of a C6). Or she'll explain that I need to be recognizing which chords will be coming up in the piece.

I'm amazed at how many important things she finds.

With technique, she usually notices something that I'm not doing right, demonstrates how I should do it, and guides me. It's frustrating because it's hard to get it just right.

Hope that helps.

#2043604 - 03/05/13 10:32 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: AimeeO]  
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Originally Posted by AimeeO

Just to throw another idea out there: How about learning a new piece that you both agree on and try her method? You might pick up a few tips that could be quite useful. It sounds like learning new pieces are stressful to you, so maybe should give it a shot.


I don't doubt I could learn a few tricks. But learning new songs is not stressful when I'm doing it alone. It's when I'm trying to do it with her sitting there that it's just too stressful for words. It's like all that performance anxiety, on a song you're just picking notes out on for the first time. Fun and pleasant alone vs nightmarishly stressful with her. Not much contest there.

Maybe I'll go back to this at some point, but I think we'll be okay. I explained what I want tonight and she was adaptable. I'm not sure she really believes in the approach I asked her for, but she's doing it, so that's fine.

I'm okay with (gently) guiding her. I'm plenty of years older than her, so that probably makes it easier. I'm not intimidated by her. She's friendly and adaptable.

I just wanted to make sure with all of you that what I was asking for was not out to lunch. Sounds like it's not. smile Thanks!


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#2043620 - 03/05/13 11:13 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Hee, just show her your homework and then ask for help with the problems you encouter. If you look very deeply into two or three problems (i.e. dynamics, technique, etc), then the lesson will be finished in no time.

And it's teacher who needs to adjust, not the student. Every student has his own way to learn. Some students need a different approach.


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#2044018 - 03/06/13 05:18 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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I had awful nerves when I first started with my teacher, but it is much better now. Though maybe you won't really start to feel comfortable in the short time you have with her.

If I only got feedback on musicality from my teacher after learning all the notes, I'd probably only need a lesson once a month! I think it's a good idea to build it in early in the process. And, if you have any interest in improving your sight reading and in calming stage fright, working with your teacher right from the beginning is a good idea. This will allow them to observe what issues you hit in learning a piece and give you practice tips.

But anyway, I do agree that you're paying for lessons and it's perfectly reasonable for you to request a certain style of instruction and be upfront about what you expect to get out of the lessons.

#2044217 - 03/06/13 11:59 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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No teacher is a mind-reader. It sounds to me like she's trying to hep you with sightreading. Is that something specifically you listed as what you thought you needed work on? It is a common thing adult students ask for.

Have you communicated to her what you'd like to focus on?


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#2045216 - 03/08/13 07:19 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Your teacher works for you. You are her employer. While he or she should have knowledge on what you require, if they don't, you have two options:

1. Communicate exactly what you are looking for in your lessons.
2. Find a new piano teacher.

#2045233 - 03/08/13 07:55 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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I think I would go to my lesson with a piece that is 'learned' but needs polishing and see how she can help in that way. Unless it's a sight reading exercise, my teacher will usually comment that he can't do much until I've learned the notes....grant it I have been taking lessons for a looooong time with him - which makes a difference for sure.


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#2045317 - 03/09/13 01:25 AM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: pianoSD]  
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Originally Posted by pianoSD
Your teacher works for you. You are her employer. While he or she should have knowledge on what you require, if they don't...


It's generally not a question of whether or not the teacher knows what adult beginners need, but more often an ignorance - and oftentimes, a hubris (I was very guilty of this starting out as I'm sure many are) - on the student's part as to what they think they need. One is and one isn't a professional - this must come to be fully understood if any progress is to be made.

I ignored posting on this thread, because saying this to an adult beginner, while certainly true, can easily come across as insulting (which I've done prior to an unnamed member), even if intentions are nothing but good. While you may not have learned as an adult beginner with a teacher, pianoSD, you may benefit as a teacher to know this. Sometimes it's best to leave such a beginner alone with their thoughts in order for them to experience difficulty on their and then learn humility from it as I'm thankful my teacher did for me (I certainly wouldn't have held it against him for just telling me I was pretty awful and then just proceeding to tell me how I could improve, though laugh ).

Last edited by Bobpickle; 03/09/13 01:37 AM.

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#2046032 - 03/10/13 04:22 PM Re: Lessons - what's your process? [Re: LizAnne]  
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Bob - but what if the teacher is young and inexperienced? Has only worked with little kids, whose needs are different from an adult? And whose goals are different? And whose cognitive processes are different?

I have no need to be humiliated as someone watches me try to find the notes on a song I've never seen before and I don't like, that has cartoons all around it to entertain a six year old. That's how we started out. If that's what I "need", and my dissatisfaction is just a lack of "humility", well... then I'd be quitting piano.


Quote
I think I would go to my lesson with a piece that is 'learned' but needs polishing and see how she can help in that way. Unless it's a sight reading exercise, my teacher will usually comment that he can't do much until I've learned the notes.


This is the approach I'm taking. It worked nicely last week. It may not be what some people need, but it's what I need right now to enjoy this hobby and feel like I'm learning. That may change some day, but this is what it is now.

I am also a teacher (not of piano, of course). I know that as a teacher, the most important thing to do is listen to the students. No, they're not always right, but you need to work with them if you're going to connect and make a difference. It doesn't help anyone if you just try to something on them that they hate, because you're the professional and they're not and they just have to suck it up and bow down to you. That's not what I want from my students, and that's now how I will behave as a student of piano.

Last edited by LizAnne; 03/10/13 04:25 PM.

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