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#2188381 - 11/26/13 01:08 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: FarmGirl]  
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Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


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#2188412 - 11/26/13 02:29 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
Now imagine if these two things happen:
- The new student is being told (maybe repeatedly) about the 12 year old 'star', as though this were the teacher's real interest, and this is being told to him while he is struggling with the likes of "finding middle C"
- The new student is being told, unsolicited, that he will never amount to much.

I think you're reading too much into that post. I don't think the situation is quite like what you're describing, "that he will never amount to much."

None of us know just what the situation is, and that's the problem with this thread and so many others like it.

The fact is that there ARE teacher who go on and on about their start pupils. So what Keystring is talking about does happen, and it should not.

That said, we know nothing about the details of what happened to Mike.

It would be better to focus on situations that occur and not get side-tracked with guessing things beyond what we know about individuals posters, which is often and perhaps usually almost nothing.


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#2188419 - 11/26/13 02:43 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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That is the important thing - that it does happen.

This is a thing that happens mostly, or probably exclusively, to adult students. You can't imagine a teacher chatting away to a child about such things. Since that's a small minority, I have tried to stay away from the topic. There are other underlying attitudes and expectations behind it, as well as possible histories of the teachers' past experiences that may lead to those expectations.

We're discussing the question of teaching in a broad general manner. If someone pops in with a personal story - whether teacher or student - if they want help, maybe help can be given whether publicly or privately. If it's a rant fest, then that's another story. Or maybe one can draw some general situations out of that.

The particular behaviours that I highlighted happen to push my buttons because of what I witnessed with a dear friend. In the least it falls under the category of poor teaching choices.

#2188436 - 11/26/13 03:51 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring

The particular behaviours that I highlighted happen to push my buttons because of what I witnessed with a dear friend. In the least it falls under the category of poor teaching choices.

And that is why I want these behaviors presented as the destructive things they are.

They do happen. Whether or not that have happened to someone we as of yet hardly know is another matter.


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#2188494 - 11/26/13 09:03 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

And that's a good thing. It helps to laugh and move on, and not fall into the trap of measuring everything we do against somebody else.


gotta go practice
#2188501 - 11/26/13 09:22 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

What do you mean by this statement?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2188517 - 11/26/13 09:53 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

What do you mean by this statement?
Probably that we should stay rather unaffected by the above fact. That it doesn't matter too much, unless we ARE in a competition were youth plays an important role... wink

#2188539 - 11/26/13 10:31 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Nikolas]  
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

What do you mean by this statement?
Probably that we should stay rather unaffected by the above fact. That it doesn't matter too much, unless we ARE in a competition were youth plays an important role... wink


+1

I am impressed with the teachers on this forum is very sensitive to adult beginners' feelings. I would never be a good teacher even if I wanted to. I would probably say something like "what's the big deal! Get used to it. You will see many kids / adults play better than you ". As Nikolas mentioned we are not in competition but trying to make music on our own. Teacher's job is to help us achieve it better for both kids and adults, at least that's how I see it.


Pieces for this year to be decided soon.
#2188624 - 11/26/13 01:14 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Nikolas]  
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

What do you mean by this statement?
Probably that we should stay rather unaffected by the above fact.

In what way is it a fact? Who is "us"?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2188641 - 11/26/13 01:38 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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I personally don't think there's anything wrong with having a student play the same song on a later recital. If it's a good piece that each student enjoyed and learned a lot from, it's silly to think that you "own" it and no one else can play it. And presumably there's enough time in between recitals that no one noticed this except for the adult student. As an adult student, they have to get a better perspective and realize that there are children who are learning the things they are learning. That's OK. They took a different path, and who knows? Perhaps it's better this way. Best to learn to come to terms with that than the teacher having to tiptoe around them.


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#2188663 - 11/26/13 02:19 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I personally don't think there's anything wrong with having a student play the same song on a later recital. If it's a good piece that each student enjoyed and learned a lot from, it's silly to think that you "own" it and no one else can play it. And presumably there's enough time in between recitals that no one noticed this except for the adult student. As an adult student, they have to get a better perspective and realize that there are children who are learning the things they are learning. That's OK. They took a different path, and who knows? Perhaps it's better this way. Best to learn to come to terms with that than the teacher having to tiptoe around them.

+1 thumb


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#2188680 - 11/26/13 02:44 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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How many of your students are aiming for a "2.5" level on Nikolas's goal list earlier? I'd define that as a level of playing where the student is comfortable in playing in amateur performances, most likely with groups of other amateurs, at a level where the audience can enjoy the music.

This is a far more likely level for piano students to reach, and to be able to enjoy performing music at once they are adults. For me, none of my teachers and lessons have ever focused on any of the skills necessary here, including: collaborative playing, playing from a lead sheet, improvising...


I've never had a teacher talk about pedaling techniques, besides one lesson long, long ago on syncopated pedaling. It's unclear to me if pedaling is something that isn't taught, or just something that my teachers have not been able to convey or just haven't thought about.

I'm starting on the book "The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling" this week to try to make up for this lack of information and teaching.

Or another possibility is that piano teachers are generally less aware or less analytical about the physicalness of playing the piano, compared to teachers of other instruments. My 2 viola teachers, and 1 guitar teacher were all excellent teachers of being able to convey how the student's physical interactions with the instrument result in music being produced. For example, for viola, even after 6 years of lessons, my teacher would still have weekly information about bowing technique.


From my piano teachers, I've had about 4-5 minutes total on physical technique, mainly staccato and legato years ago. My adult piano teacher talked once about playing sforzando with a high hand drop.

I've instead turned to DVDs and videos to learn more. For example, Maurice Hinson's DVD, Performance Practices in Impressionistic Piano Music, was pure gold for me. Even simple statements like - "The quieter you play, the firmer your fingers have to be" - were completely new and very useful pieces of information.


I'd call my last piano teacher more of a conformance evaluator than a teacher. For the first two weeks of a piece, I'd usually be told "That's not music" (for everything but Bach), or "That's not Bach" (for Bach). By week 3-5, she'd usually say "I don't want to hear that anymore", once the piece was at about the 80% level. This usually meant that the specific technique issues for the piece, or more general issues (like trilling with 3-4) had not been resolved.

I don't believe there is often much growth or transferable knowledge until that last 10-20% is worked through. With the 3-4 trilling example, or with something like triplets versus straight eighth notes in Philip Glass's Mad Rush, once you've worked through the technique issues, they're something that you can apply to future pieces.


One major difference between adult piano lessons, and all of my other lessons, is that the adult piano lessons were more about teaching and enforcing the teacher's 3-part philosophy towards the playing of piano music.

I understood this 3-part philosophy as:
1) The only goal of playing music on the piano is the repeated exact conformance to the written page.

2) The adult (or advanced (I was never sure which)) student is responsible for choosing all of their own music, but must do this correctly. Music that is popular (like Clair de Lune) was off-limits, as was music not at the correctly perceived difficulty level. Picking the "wrong" music resulted in more ridicule.

Especially if you're shooting for goal level "2.5" - being able to play possibly known piano pieces - this part of the philosophy is a complete blocker.


3) Listening to other people play the piece you're working on corrupts you or makes you incapable of thinking about the piece. And anyway, they're all playing it wrong.




For me, I don't understand how this kind of philosophy towards music leads to any desire to play the piano, or to have a lifelong engagement with the piano. When I finally quit, it was because I finally never wanted to play anything for that teacher ever again.


And yet, I had asked around about teachers before starting lessons, and people (parents) liked her. I suspect she was a good guide with young students though the series of lesson books. The few lessons I overheard were conducted very differently than my own lessons.


I'd rather play badly than not at all...
#2188727 - 11/26/13 04:15 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Great dress, Diane!!


Thank you!!!!! smile


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#2188735 - 11/26/13 04:32 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Mike.]  
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REGARDING TEACHERS WHO WATCH THE CLOCK

TO MIKE: Lessons should begin and end on time or are you expecting to get something for nothing? It doesn't work that way for most teachers if they are teaching full time. Questions and answers should be addressed at the beginning of the lesson and not when the lesson has ended and you aren't paying for it. I had a mother who wanted me to go over the entire lesson that I had with her son and the end of the lesson and was constantly making me late for the next student. I suggested that she sit in on the lessons so she would know what is going on or email me during the week if she had questions. I begin each lesson by asking how practice was for the week and if there were any questions or problems and it's on their dime. She finally figured it out. Good luck finding a good teacher.

Last edited by RG55; 11/26/13 04:37 PM.
#2188748 - 11/26/13 04:52 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by FarmGirl
I once knew a woman (older than 40) broke down in tears just because a six years old child played the same piece she played in the last recital. We have to start from somewhere.

grin Funny story. It's the teacher's fault for programming the same piece.


On any known instrument playing any known piece of music, there's an eight year old on youtube playing it better than any of us ever will.

What do you mean by this statement?
Probably that we should stay rather unaffected by the above fact.

In what way is it a fact? Who is "us"?
Trying a bit harder to understand what the other means, would probably mean less posts from you... thus less post count! wink

"fact": That there IS an 8 year old on youtube plaing beter than any of us will on any known instrument. I can bet that there's some 8 year old better than most of "us" (not us, but "us") playing the piano. For the rest of the instruments I'm pretty darn sure of it!

And try, next time, to notice the "probably" word in my post! It does have a meaning, you know...

#2188796 - 11/26/13 06:05 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Nikolas]  
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
I can bet that there's some 8 year old better than most of "us" (not us, but "us") playing the piano.

It depends who "us" is, and you've just confused me more - what distinction are you making between "us" and "'us'"?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2188844 - 11/26/13 07:15 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Polyphonist]  
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The topic of good and bad teaching is complicated enough when it involves the "standard" scenario of children starting at the usual time, doing the "usual" things. Why it's complicated has already been discussed. The adult student scene is much more complicated. I don't even know if it is a good idea to be part of this thread. But it's come up.

Borrowing from what I wrote before:
Quote
When a student of any age starts a new instrument - or even, starts music for the first time - everything is unfamiliar. He is uncoordinated with the piano, and the simplest things are hard just like for a five year old. You guys know this. The new student doesn't know how to sit, how to move, where to find middle C - anything. The new student (any age):

- needs to be given these most basic skills
- the teacher must have the attitude (and convey it) that it is normal to be clumsy in the beginning
- that all students start out this way, and the abilities come with time
- that mundane, simple things, such as reaching for that middle C, are actually important achievements. The teacher should have this attitude and convey it. The student must have the same in order to grow.


It is normal to feel shy about children doing things much better than oneself as an adult and really not surprising to read that it happens. The best is to acknowledge that feeling, and then get on with it. Every musician focuses on the task instead of comparison, and that is how they grow. Pavarotti said at the end of his life "I am still a student." And Nikolas pointed out that everyone, no matter how good, will find someone whose playing is superior. smile

It does happen from time to time that a teacher will think that an older student is not to be taken seriously, and some do spend part of the lesson chatting about their star students. Since this thread is about good and bad teaching, clearly this would be poor teaching. At best, it is unwise.

The adult student needs what beginner students of any age need: guidance in the skills and how to work (practice) to acquire them. And then, to succeed, he has to apply himself intelligently over the long haul.

If there are immature individuals among use, of course they should "grow up". But for the rest, "become informed" and keep learning - whether student, teacher, or musician - seems to be apt.

#2188894 - 11/26/13 08:42 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: carlos88]  
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Carlos,

Sounds like you had some bad teachers.

All my teachers worked on pedalling technique with me. My teacher in college worked on mostly very specific technical procedures and not much else with me, although I have to admit what I did was highly specialized.


Laguna Greg

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#2188909 - 11/26/13 09:24 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: laguna_greg]  
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I have 2 teachers. I have 1 lesson a week with each. (Neither knows about the other).

In each case I pay for an hour and expect an hour. If either wants to chat, that is fine, but it happens after the lesson.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
#2188914 - 11/26/13 09:27 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: carlos88]  
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Originally Posted by carlos88

I've never had a teacher talk about pedaling techniques, besides one lesson long, long ago on syncopated pedaling. It's unclear to me if pedaling is something that isn't taught, or just something that my teachers have not been able to convey or just haven't thought about.

I mention it in every lesson with every student. Unless you are playing something that uses no sustain pedal, the sustain pedal is going to be hugely important, and I talk a lot about the "soft" pedal too.

How you pedal changes everything you do.


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#2189019 - 11/27/13 02:58 AM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Carlos,

Sorry to hear about your experiences. All your piano teachers sounded quite bad. I hope you can find a good one someday!

#2189197 - 11/27/13 01:52 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: carlos88]  
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Originally Posted by carlos88
I've never had a teacher talk about pedaling techniques, besides one lesson long, long ago on syncopated pedaling. It's unclear to me if pedaling is something that isn't taught, or just something that my teachers have not been able to convey or just haven't thought about.

It's tough to teach pedaling, and many teachers have different philosophies on how to teach pedaling. A lot also depends on the student's sense of hearing and coordination between the hands and the right foot.

I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

Originally Posted by carlos88
Or another possibility is that piano teachers are generally less aware or less analytical about the physicalness of playing the piano, compared to teachers of other instruments.

You must have had some awful teachers. Each of my last three piano teachers said something about how to play the piano, and they are all very different in their approaches. But at least they all have an approach, at the very least. And it's up to me to absorb some ideas and reject some ideas.

There are good teachers out there--you just have to do some hunting.


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#2189206 - 11/27/13 02:07 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

hahahahahahaha
This is when a one-day seminar to teach pedaling comes in very very handy and helps to eliminate teaching each student one by one. Just have all the student come for an hour to teach the art of how to properly pedal, ONCE!

I attended a pedalling class where my teacher and other piano teachers got together with all students for a one-hour class.

Thank GOD for churches! They most often have a piano and lots of seating! grin


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Diane
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#2189211 - 11/27/13 02:15 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Diane...]  
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Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

hahahahahahaha
This is when a one-day seminar to teach pedaling comes in very very handy and helps to eliminate teaching each student one by one. Just have all the student come for an hour to teach the art of how to properly pedal, ONCE!

I attended a pedalling class where my teacher and other piano teachers got together with all students for a one-hour class.

Thank GOD for churches! They most often have a piano and lots of seating! grin

But how does that solve the problem of students who literally, physically, cannot play a note and then pedal a half second later? Haven't you encountered these kids? Every single movement has to happen at exactly the same time for them.

These uncoordinated kids also don't get very far in piano.


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#2189218 - 11/27/13 02:21 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

hahahahahahaha
This is when a one-day seminar to teach pedaling comes in very very handy and helps to eliminate teaching each student one by one. Just have all the student come for an hour to teach the art of how to properly pedal, ONCE!

I attended a pedalling class where my teacher and other piano teachers got together with all students for a one-hour class.

Thank GOD for churches! They most often have a piano and lots of seating! grin

But how does that solve the problem of students who literally, physically, cannot play a note and then pedal a half second later? Haven't you encountered these kids? Every single movement has to happen at exactly the same time for them.

These uncoordinated kids also don't get very far in piano.


Have you tried crawling under the piano on your knees and controlling their foot for the whole lesson? I had a teacher to this to me once, no joke!

#2189224 - 11/27/13 02:27 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Diane...]  
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Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

hahahahahahaha
This is when a one-day seminar to teach pedaling comes in very very handy and helps to eliminate teaching each student one by one. Just have all the student come for an hour to teach the art of how to properly pedal, ONCE!

And then the student who is uncoordinated, like the ones AZN described, will be able to go home and apply it? I don't see it. My area of difficulty is in coordination, and it combines with a mild learning disability where this is common. I am actually able to develop quite good technique, but it must be in stages, must be one-on-one, and there has to be a plan for how to work on it at home to develop it.

Years ago I attended a group Tai Chi class, where we faced the instructor. I cannot translate visual spacial stimulus. That is part of the LD. I work with a personal trainer, and I have to ask "Where do you feel...." It takes me longer to learn such things, but when I do have it, then it is thoroughly there.

I can see group classes for students who are already precocious (maybe), but not for those who have problems in these areas.

#2189226 - 11/27/13 02:29 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Diane...
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm very specific when it comes to teaching pedaling techniques, but I've also run into walls when students can't play a note and then pedal--they are seriously uncoordinated, and they just HAVE to play the note and pedal simultaneously.

hahahahahahaha
This is when a one-day seminar to teach pedaling comes in very very handy and helps to eliminate teaching each student one by one. Just have all the student come for an hour to teach the art of how to properly pedal, ONCE!

I attended a pedalling class where my teacher and other piano teachers got together with all students for a one-hour class.

Thank GOD for churches! They most often have a piano and lots of seating! grin

But how does that solve the problem of students who literally, physically, cannot play a note and then pedal a half second later? Haven't you encountered these kids? Every single movement has to happen at exactly the same time for them.

These uncoordinated kids also don't get very far in piano.


Well, you and I know that even piano teachers can differ on proper pedalling. But if attending and watching proper pedalling, learned by watching others pedal properly, or hands on (or is that "feet on"!) by getting other teachers who are there, to maybe explain to your student by giving "your" student their take on proper pedellig.

I have more often than not, to get the student to "feel" the correct way of pedalling, I have gotten down under the piano and worked their foot with my hand as they play and pedal! Wear latex gloves in this situation! grin


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Diane
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#2189233 - 11/27/13 02:36 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: Opus_Maximus]  
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Have you tried crawling under the piano on your knees and controlling their foot for the whole lesson? I had a teacher to this to me once, no joke!

Yes.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#2189259 - 11/27/13 03:44 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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carlos88  Online Content
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...
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

You must have had some awful teachers. Each of my last three piano teachers said something about how to play the piano, and they are all very different in their approaches. But at least they all have an approach, at the very least. And it's up to me to absorb some ideas and reject some ideas.

There are good teachers out there--you just have to do some hunting.


My two viola teachers were quite good on the other hand, and I use what they taught now for approaching the piano.

One of the differences in their teaching methods is they would focus first on the desired sound and producing the desired sound.

So where my piano teachers might have said "That's a phrase mark" or "Bach didn't have a piano so you can't use the sustain pedal", my viola teachers would say "This should be a dry, sharp staccato, light, light, light ... so use a series of up bow strokes".







I'd rather play badly than not at all...
#2189438 - 11/27/13 11:58 PM Re: Bad Teachers [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Mike doesn't want a clock-watcher. But I could say I don't want students who can't ask their questions in the lesson time allotted. They play to the bitter end and then start asking questions after their lesson time. Isn't that selfish, as well as undisciplined?

Anyhow, Mike, you're using all these things as ways to avoid commitment.
Get a piano teacher and let us know how it's going. End of story. Ten minutes extra here or there won't make an ounce of difference either way.

Last edited by Candywoman; 11/27/13 11:59 PM.
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