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#2268190 - 04/28/14 11:15 AM Should I find a new teacher?  
Joined: Nov 2011
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jc111 Offline
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We have been with our current teacher for about 2.5 years when my son started. My daughter started last October. He is originally from Russian then came to US for his doctoral degree. He teaches lesson in our house and has recitals twice a year. He uses Bastien books up to level 2 then he moves on to Bastien Easy Piano Classics. He also uses Hannan and Czerny op. 599 with my son. Mostly we are happy with him and my children progress well under his teaching. My son just finished up with Kabalevsky's Sonatina Op. 27 no. 18.

The complain I have is he seems not a very organized teacher. I don't see him keeping records of his students pieces and progress. When it's time to assign a new piece, he just flips through the book. I just wonder if the teacher should have a plan for his students like the area the students should work on hence the pieces he should have. He seems like not caring much about music theory either. He uses Level 1 Theory book with my son for couple weeks last year then nothing afterwards.

The trigger of thinking about changing teacher came last Friday. He came to give his lessons and told me that we are not entering the recital by Music Teachers Association on Sunday because he did not know there are more forms needs to be fill-out. I was shocked to hear this and my son was disappointed. We have been working for the recital for about a month and really looking forward to it. I quickly calmed my son so he can have his lesson. However, I couldn't help thinking how could the teacher drop the ball like this.

I know our piano teacher isn't very active in our local chapter. I feel my son now need to participate more in the festivals or recitals because he really enjoys performing. Last school year he got to play once a month during music class in school and he was always excited about it. This year he is in a different school and the music teacher doesn't allow students to play on her instrument. I can tell it took some of the fun out of his piano practicing. I talked to the teacher about my concern last year and he said that we can enter him for festivals or competitions. And it took him several months to come up with this recital which we ended up not going. That's why I am entertaining the idea of moving him to a more active teacher. However, my children like their teacher and are reluctant about the idea.

I would like to hear your thoughts on whether I should find a new teacher or not. Or any suggestions that I can work with our teacher.

Thank you very much!

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#2268198 - 04/28/14 11:23 AM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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hreichgott Offline
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I feel that if you are happy with the quality of teaching and the relationship between teacher and student, then don't move right away. It is not so easy to find good quality teachers who bond well with your particular student. Instead try a serious conversation with the teacher about how important performance opportunities are to you, and that if he is unable to increase performance opportunities then you may consider changing teachers in future. Also make sure he knows how happy you are with the other aspects of his teaching smile

About theory, how long are lessons? If just a half hour or 45 min. a week then it is probably just that one can't do everything in that short amount of time. If lessons are longer then theory could reasonably be included... & again, a conversation with the teacher about that might get you what you want more quickly than switching without comment.

About plan for student's progress, some teachers keep track of this without written records, but you can test it in a heartbeat -- just ask straight out at the lesson "What skills do you think my son needs to improve over the next few months, and what pieces will help get him there?" If he's been planning (mentally or in writing) he'll be able to answer right away and in detail.

Last edited by hreichgott; 04/28/14 11:25 AM.

Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
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Beethoven trios for an original ballet
Four-hands program of Mozart, Corigliano, Schubert and Barber
And... Nunsense II (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
#2268208 - 04/28/14 11:58 AM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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childofparadise2002 Offline
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I'm a very organized person, this would drive me nuts, especially that the kid has been practicing for the festival and ended up not being able to play because the teacher forgot some forms. That said, I think it's a matter of whether you can find a better teacher. If you are in an area with lots of good piano teachers, you can at least look around. You can make the decision later based on who else you find. It's important that the student, the teacher and the parent all enjoy the relationship, having grudges like this will create conflicts in the future. If your area doesn't have a whole lot of good piano teachers and you end up wanting to stay with this teacher, you can probably take over some of the tasks that the teacher is not so good at. For example, next time your son enters a festival, you make sure all the forms are filled out, you remind the teacher of deadlines, etc. Or you can suggest to the teacher the festivals/competitions that your son might enter (if you know of them).

#2268228 - 04/28/14 12:54 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I find it hard to believe that a student couldn't be in a recital because the teacher failed to fill out the forms by the deadline. It's not like a time slot is assigned and judges are hired, etc. It's a recital. Just add their name to the list, or announce it before everyone plays. It sounds like your teacher didn't really push for it, but I could be wrong. Some people really like their rules at the detriment of the child. Unless this was actually a festival where judges are hired and students given a time slot to play, etc. In which case, the teacher needs to be better informed on how to enter students to avoid this.

At any rate, your kids really like this teacher, you say and are reluctant to change. You might get a better organized teacher, but first why not try to change some things.

1) Tell him how disappointed you and your son were with not getting to play in the recital. Tell him you'd like to find another place for him to play the piece(s) he worked on for this event. Also let him know you want to try again next year, and then ask him for information on when the deadline is for entries around December/January. That should give plenty of time to make sure all his ducks are in a row before the deadline.

2) Let him know you'd like to spend more time on theory, what books you should get, and if he could spend some time each lesson on this.

3) You'd like to know what goals he has for your son, and perhaps have more of a plan in mind when selecting pieces. Let him know what your son wants to get out of piano lessons, and remind him that he is happy, but that you'd like to see that there is a plan in mind.

These things will take time to come to an agreement on what is acceptable and necessary. I agree with childofparadise that you should take a more active role in making sure forms are completed in a timely manner, but some of these things need to be done by the teacher and not the parent. Seek out opportunities on your own, maybe at the school's talent show, playing prelude music at a church, or playing for entertainment in a mall or some event.


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#2268234 - 04/28/14 01:28 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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musicpassion Offline
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Theory is the biggest concern that I have after reading your post. It is very important (as I think you already realize) and must be taught. I'd suggest you talk with the teacher about their instructional plans for theory. Although I - and most piano teachers - teach theory on a regular basis (almost every lesson), there are some teachers who will have a time frame in the year for theory emphasis. During that time they would devote a significant portion of lesson time to theory.

About the missed recital: sometimes the registration requirements are complicated and different for each event. Mistakes do happen. As long as it's not a regular problem I'd suggest not moving just because of it happening once.

There is another question I would consider: is this teacher devoted to teaching piano to children, or is it simply a supplemental income?


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2268238 - 04/28/14 01:35 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Theory is very important. Find another piano teacher to supplement with theory. It is not a bad thing to have multiple teachers. If you end up liking the other teacher for piano too, you could switch later once you feel comfortable with that.

Pianists are people too; rarely are artist/creative-type people extremely organized...just something to consider.


Masters degree in piano technology, +factory(s) training, etc., blah, blah, yada, yada, yada...[uncensored break-out in song]..."it don't mean a thing, if you aint got that swing."
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#2268240 - 04/28/14 01:37 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: Morodiene]  
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musicpassion Offline
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I find it hard to believe that a student couldn't be in a recital because the teacher failed to fill out the forms by the deadline. It's not like a time slot is assigned and judges are hired, etc. It's a recital. Just add their name to the list, or announce it before everyone plays. It sounds like your teacher didn't really push for it, but I could be wrong.

Yes, in this case you are wrong. With most MTAC branches (although I can't be sure the organization was MTAC) the entry deadlines for recitals are strictly observed. With my branch's formal recitals, there is no "list" to add their name to, and we don't announce the names. There is a printed program and part of what we want to give our students at these recitals is the atmosphere of a professional recital. They have a printed program, wear concert attire (although not usually tuxedos for guys), sit in a backstage/green room before performing, perform from memory only, etc. Accepting late entries creates difficulties for the recital chair as they may have already printed the program. Pushing for the rules to bent would be rude and wouldn't get the teacher - or student - anywhere.


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#2268257 - 04/28/14 02:30 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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jc111 Offline
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Thanks for all your replies!

The recital that we missed is a judged recital by our local Music Teachers Association. So it does has a deadline and they do have judges and order for each performers. To tell the truth, I worried the teacher would mess up since he handed me the form so I went to their web site to see what we need. The other form I see was a copyright release form that I don't think apply to us. I also asked the teacher if he entered other students before and got a positive answer. I didn't want to be too aggressive so I trusted the teacher to handle it. Now I know what to do next time.

We are having 45 min. lesson now. I did ask the teacher about the theory and the answer I got was my son knows enough. Maybe he is just 9 and he asks a lot questions when he learns his pieces so the teacher think he doesn't need the extra does of theory. I do supply him with theory and other books after consulting with him so my son can play Jazz, Blues and Pop other than just Classics. Our teacher is a full-time teacher and he does love teaching. I just think he can use a bit more organization in his teaching. I am actually thinking along the line of Morodiene's suggestions and wanting to have a talk with him this week. I want to supply him with progress cards for my children that he can fill-out for me then we can check-off and add-on later. I just hope he won't feel that I am trying to force this thing on him.

We do have many teachers in our area however I found those with more reputations are far away from me and of course they are much more expensive. I was thinking I would move my children to an established studio after a year or two when my daughter plays at certain level. But I wonder would it be too late for my son?



Last edited by jc111; 04/28/14 02:41 PM.
#2268266 - 04/28/14 03:13 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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jc111 Offline
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And I also want to ask piano teachers here: Usually how many festivals, recitals and competitions do your students(age 10 and under) do every year? And what other kind of performance opportunities you find for your students?

Thanks!

#2268278 - 04/28/14 04:01 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by jc111
And I also want to ask piano teachers here: Usually how many festivals, recitals and competitions do your students(age 10 and under) do every year? And what other kind of performance opportunities you find for your students?

Thanks!

I give my students the option of entering as many recitals and festivals as possible, plus the annual CM test. On average, kids 10 and under will do 5-6 events per year. Not all events are competitive.


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#2268280 - 04/28/14 04:18 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Peter K. Mose Online content
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Originally Posted by jc111

I just think he can use a bit more organization in his teaching....I want to supply him with progress cards for my children that he can fill-out for me then we can check-off and add-on later. I just hope he won't feel that I am trying to force this thing on him.



Do expect that he will resent your meddling. I certainly would.
Doesn't mean you are wrong to intercede, but it's probably better to switch teachers if he annoys you that much.

Stick it out until the end of the school year, for the sake of your children, and find someone new for the fall.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 04/28/14 04:24 PM.
#2268284 - 04/28/14 04:31 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Peter K. Mose Online content
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My students under ten are welcome to play once a year in my annual spring recital. Ditto for my students who are ten and over.

#2268406 - 04/28/14 08:41 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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hreichgott Offline
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Originally Posted by jc111
And I also want to ask piano teachers here: Usually how many festivals, recitals and competitions do your students(age 10 and under) do every year? And what other kind of performance opportunities you find for your students?

Thanks!

I hold studio recitals twice a year at a local church with a beautiful Steinway for as many of my students as want to play.

Students who are beyond the beginner stage are invited to participate in a local yearly competition. (Only one has ever taken me up on this. He happened to be under 10.)

Our piano teachers' association holds a twice yearly recital in a concert hall for a small number of highly motivated non-beginner students per teacher. About 2-4 of my students do this each time and I try to alternate who gets picked.

In addition I support students in other performances at school talent shows, music class, church etc. that I don't organize but having teacher support makes them feel more confident about taking the opportunity and playing well.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Fauré, Preludes Op. 103
Beethoven trios for an original ballet
Four-hands program of Mozart, Corigliano, Schubert and Barber
And... Nunsense II (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
#2268439 - 04/28/14 10:15 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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jc111 Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by jc111

I just think he can use a bit more organization in his teaching....I want to supply him with progress cards for my children that he can fill-out for me then we can check-off and add-on later. I just hope he won't feel that I am trying to force this thing on him.



Do expect that he will resent your meddling. I certainly would.
Doesn't mean you are wrong to intercede, but it's probably better to switch teachers if he annoys you that much.

Stick it out until the end of the school year, for the sake of your children, and find someone new for the fall.


So I definitely should give it a try. If he feels that's too much for him then I start looking for a new teacher for next year. If he agrees to it, I get to keep a good teacher whom my children like. Of course I would not just lay it to for him bluntly. I would let him know how much we appreciate his teaching and really needs him to work with us to get the children going. He knows I have been keeping notes for my children's piano class for the past 2 years. I doubt he would be too surprised when he hears my requests.

#2268453 - 04/28/14 11:44 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Originally Posted by OP
He came to give his lessons and told me that we are not entering the recital by Music Teachers Association on Sunday because he did not know there are more forms needs to be fill-out.


If I do not know which form to fill-out, I will do research to find out. It sounds that your teacher is not organize and very laid back.


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#2268597 - 04/29/14 08:50 AM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: bzpiano]  
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Originally Posted by OP
He came to give his lessons and told me that we are not entering the recital by Music Teachers Association on Sunday because he did not know there are more forms needs to be fill-out.


If I do not know which form to fill-out, I will do research to find out. It sounds that your teacher is not organize and very laid back.


Sorry that I didn't make it clear. He thought there is only one form in the application. He asked me to fill it out and a check for application fee. Then he mailed the application package in before deadline. But he did not get a package they supposed to send him. Later he found out there are other forms in the application. However, I don't buy this because I have check the requirements myself and there is only one form. But I don't think it's wroth finding out the real reason at this point.

#2268783 - 04/29/14 04:57 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Originally Posted by op
However, I don't buy this because I have check the requirements myself and there is only one form. But I don't think it's wroth finding out the real reason at this point.


You can do research better than him!!


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#2268837 - 04/29/14 07:25 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: bzpiano]  
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Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Originally Posted by op
However, I don't buy this because I have check the requirements myself and there is only one form. But I don't think it's wroth finding out the real reason at this point.


You can do research better than him!!


Unless (just to give the teacher benefit of doubt) he looked at the same requirements and sent in the one form, but they really didn't send him followup materials.


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#2268894 - 04/29/14 09:07 PM Re: Should I find a new teacher? [Re: jc111]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by jc111
Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
Originally Posted by OP
He came to give his lessons and told me that we are not entering the recital by Music Teachers Association on Sunday because he did not know there are more forms needs to be fill-out.


If I do not know which form to fill-out, I will do research to find out. It sounds that your teacher is not organize and very laid back.


Sorry that I didn't make it clear. He thought there is only one form in the application. He asked me to fill it out and a check for application fee. Then he mailed the application package in before deadline. But he did not get a package they supposed to send him. Later he found out there are other forms in the application. However, I don't buy this because I have check the requirements myself and there is only one form. But I don't think it's wroth finding out the real reason at this point.


Seeing as how this wasn't a simple recital but an adjudicated event, I'd be surprised if there is just one form. I know for WMTA auditions, we have one application form for each student, plus we need to make the judges forms and there is a form with the totals of all of our entries that we send with the checks. It can be overwhelming until you do it enough to have a system for it, so it's possible what he told you was true, and if you will be continuing it's best to give him the benefit of the doubt here, but next year it shouldn't happen.


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