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anais77 Offline OP
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Hey everyone...just looking for some advice here. I've been studying piano for about 5-6 years, but probably only seriously for the last year or so. The first 4 years, I studied with Teacher #1 -- she was a really good performer and probably a good teacher, but a combination of my lack of commitment at the time and maybe a lack of overall chemistry made me feel like I wasn't progressing very much over the time. I also thought I was always disappointing her but didn't know how to improve.

Then I switched and Teacher #2 was great! I improved so much and he really pushed me and challenged me. He was also very good at identifying my problem areas and breaking them down for me to make the weekly practice more effective. Unfortunately, he stopped teaching after 6 months due to some personal issues.

So then I had to scramble to find another teacher and I came upon Teacher #3. Been taking lessons with him now for about 3-4 months, but I just don't find him that insightful. I've improved a little bit in terms of interpretation, but he doesn't seem to be able to identify problem areas well, or makes incorrect assumptions so gives inappropriate practice advice. He also has decided to take me backwards a bit...but I went along with b/c I know I'm missing some foundational skills...but an example is that he selected a piece for me that he thought would be very challenging and it ended up being really easy for me. And then I told him I really wanted to learn La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin ( and that Teacher #1 assigned it to me in our first 3 months) and he questioned if I could play it. So I'm relearning it now and it's come back to me quite easily...I played it in our last lesson hoping for some great pointers on how to express it better or make it SOUND better...less muddled, anything! But he always points out note mistakes (which I am well aware of -- I didn't read it wrong, I played it wrong by accident) or basic tempo issues (which for this piece happens b/c I'm trying to find the next chord and move my hand in time). I just don't feel like I'm getting much out of this but I dunno if I'm just being impatient.

Also, I ask a lot of questions that I would expect a teacher to be able to answer, but a few times, he's done "research" online after class, and then provides me an answer via email. Isn't that weird? Shouldn't a teacher with years of experience have an answer for such well known pieces or common problems (e.g. memory lapses, minor scales/thumb issues)?

So I'm just so frustrated but I was so committed and now I feel uninspired. Plus, I live in Asia and it's just very difficult to find a teacher who can communicate well in English and be well qualified and have chemistry with me.

Any advice? Or recommendations for good teachers in Hong Kong?

Thanks!

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Originally Posted by conmoto13
Been taking lessons with him now for about 3-4 months, but I just don't find him that insightful. I've improved a little bit in terms of interpretation, but he doesn't seem to be able to identify problem areas well, or makes incorrect assumptions so gives inappropriate practice advice. He also has decided to take me backwards a bit...but I went along with b/c I know I'm missing some foundational skills...but an example is that he selected a piece for me that he thought would be very challenging and it ended up being really easy for me.


reading this section of your post it strikes me we expect a lot from our teachers and perhaps too much at times. When I think of my teacher not being quite insightful enough to my issues or perhaps jumps to a wrong conclusion I am reminded there is only a limited amount of practical advice a teacher can give and not every problem has a solution or is the same old solution (practice more). I am also reminded how inarticulate or inaccurate I can be to problems which for my teacher leaves her trying to read my mind. But in summary, you had chemistry with teacher No 2 and you enjoyed lessons which made you much more receptive to learning (and listening) and no doubt you in turn contributed more as a student. The new teacher and you do not have much chemistry and even although you feel you are advancing you are not so happy and maybe not contributing as much. The answer is easy, find a teacher you get on well with.

It also sounds like you were a little resentful about going back to learn some fundamental skills (piano is never linear so there is no forward or backward). You should be happy your teacher is not willing to let you get away with what the previous teacher must have, and has decided to work on them with you. Remember that if the fundamentals are not right then sooner or later you are going to have to fix it. In addition, and I don't want to sound like an apologist for teachers, but you learning a piece easily he thought would be difficult for you is no surprise. My teacher has absolutely no idea from one piece to the next which ones I will find easy and which ones I won't. But you did use this in the context of it was assigned to teach you a skill, so even although you found it easy did you learn the intended skill?

Originally Posted by conmoto13
But he always points out note mistakes (which I am well aware of -- I didn't read it wrong, I played it wrong by accident) or basic tempo issues (which for this piece happens b/c I'm trying to find the next chord and move my hand in time)


My teacher will not work with me on interpretation until I get the piece playing at a fairly polished level and with no rhythm issues, so I know how that feels. However you only played it at you last lesson so that is his first hearing of it? He may not be hearing much at the moment to work with and wants to hear it played better, who am I to say but one listening I would not expect to hear much. My teacher and I work on the same piece for weeks if not months and she knows when I am making progress and even when I am going backwards based on the many weeks of listening.

Personally, and I can only read the post as you wrote it, I do think you sound a little harsh on this teacher or even impatient. Which ever it is piano still has to be enjoyable and a good relationship between teacher and student is pretty much essential at the amateur level.





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I don't work with a teacher so keep that in mind. And I don't play classical so keep that in mind laugh

But - the one piece you mentioned that rang a bell with me was - knowing that the problem is that you have to find the next chord and move your hand in time.

Since you are advanced enough to recognize this problem, then it seems that now is the time to begin to find solutions yourself, because eventually that's part of "getting better", rather than always relying on the teacher to do that.

And PW's the right place to start!

Two fundamental practice habits that are recommended here (and in the Pianists Corner if you should happen to ask there, too) are: practice in chunks, and practice slower.

They are ideal habits for this particular issue, I think.

The "chunk" you want to practice separately is just moving from the previous hand position to that chord you need to find and the one directly after. And practice it slowly, or "slo-o-o-owly" as we say, because folks invariably try it too fast until they get the hang of "slow". Practice it hands separately at least a couple of times and focus on why it seems to not quite work, and be aware that sometimes fingerings that work slow won't work fast, so once it seems comfortable try it at speed and see if you want to naturally do it differently at speed. Then add the other hand, still slowly. And make sure that in the end you have practiced it more times right than wrong laugh

It's kind of an experiment that you figure out yourself, and the learning will last much longer, and the process of learning will come handy in the next problem, than relying always on someone else's suggestion.

So maybe - just maybe - having this particular teacher will turn out to have the unexpected, but very good, consequence of giving you more independence and more stake in your practice and its outcome - and real progress towards becoming an excellent pianist!

One never knows -


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I totally agree with Jotur about effective practice.. once you recognize you have an issue with finding your next hand placement, you can work through and correct that on your own. See if your working through these issues independently works to make your lesson more productive: your teacher may feel the finer points need to wait.

If you do this work and the lessons do not progress, try posting a message on the Piano Teacher's Forum: "Any piano teachers in Hong Kong?"


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Yes! And then you can go to the piano lesson and say "this is where I'm having trouble, and this what I've tried - can you give me other suggestions?" I used to love it when my math students did that laugh


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I'm a piano teacher. I spend most of the lesson time showing students practice ideas - something they could and should do for themselves. Interpretation learning gets done but not at the pace it could if the student actually 'tried' (as Cathy puts it) him/herself first. Saying that, your Clementi is missing the elegance - it is music you know. Maybe watch Pride and Prejudice?


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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I'm a piano teacher. I spend most of the lesson time showing students practice ideas - something they could and should do for themselves. Interpretation learning gets done but not at the pace it could if the student actually 'tried' (as Cathy puts it) him/herself first. Saying that, your Clementi is missing the elegance - it is music you know. Maybe watch Pride and Prejudice?


I am a returning adult who took many years of piano as a child. Some things, such as theory, ear training, etc., were great, but we never had a conversation about HOW to practice. I'm so glad this important skill is something you teach your students! I recognize now that a lot of time and energy were wasted.

Sadly I have had to learn as an adult about effective vs lengthy practice.


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I think you DO need a new teacher. It does not seem you mesh well with this one. I don't think you should waste time feeling bad about that, and there actually may be nothing that bad with this teacher. It's just a fact of life. Different people get along better with certain people depending on a mutually agreeable style.

I don't know the situation in Hong Kong at all but I would go out and try to interview at least 3-5 or more teachers. Keep trying until you find a good fit. The benefits and rewards you will reap in your progress are worth the upfront hassle.

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Every teacher has a different way of teaching, so it's no surprise that each of your teachers has taken a somewhat different approach to the task. Your mission is to find the one that best matches your style of learning and character traits, acknowledging that no one teacher will be perfect.

Quote
.....He also has decided to take me backwards a bit...but I went along with b/c I know I'm missing some foundational skills...but an example is that he selected a piece for me that he thought would be very challenging and it ended up being really easy for me. And then I told him I really wanted to learn La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin ( and that Teacher #1 assigned it to me in our first 3 months) and he questioned if I could play it. So I'm relearning it now and it's come back to me quite easily...I played it in our last lesson hoping for some great pointers on how to express it better or make it SOUND better...less muddled, anything! But he always points out note mistakes (which I am well aware of -- I didn't read it wrong, I played it wrong by accident) or basic tempo issues (which for this piece happens b/c I'm trying to find the next chord and move my hand in time)...

IMO, La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin seems like quite a challenge piece that your Teacher #1 assigned in your third month of lessons, and in fact it is giving you problems even now. So you're somewhere between the easy, non-challenging piece Teacher #3 assigned you and this piece. I would fault Teacher #1 on this. Teacher #3 did in fact key in on problem areas in that piece.

As for the questions, some things every teacher should know, other things it might vary a lot from teacher to teacher. Can you give us some specific examples? Teacher #3 gets points for following up with an email response.


As Jotur and earlofmar mention, communicating problems to the teacher isn't always easy, but we have to make a stab at it, and at some point need to find our own solutions. Still, the teacher should be able to pinpoint problems and make apt practice suggestions regardless of our ability to put words to the problem. On the other hand, we, as students, may not always understand or agree with the practice suggestions, but we need to give them a chance to work. If time after time we try to make the practice suggestions work and they don't, then there's a problem.

If you lived in a location with loads of highly qualified teachers who communicated well in your language, then the recommendation would be to find a teacher with whom you have better "chemistry." Since you don't, you'll need to decide if #3 is good enough. Best of luck to you, and keep us posted!


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Originally Posted by conmoto13
(which for this piece happens b/c I'm trying to find the next chord and move my hand in time).


First, reconsider your fingerings. If you have a problem moving your hand fast enough, look at the problem chord and at what comes before and after it. See if there's a way to do it with a smooth motion rather than abrupt acceleration and deceleration of the mass of your hand and forearm. Most important, break the "positional" mindset and try out-of-the-box fingerings. Different people have different hands, so try many fingerings to find the best one for you.



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Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for your responses and varying perspectives. Yes, I am being harsh and impatient but I am a bit frustrated as well. I also don't think I have provided the best examples and context for why I think I'm not getting much out of Teacher #3. I felt this way from the first few weeks but then thought that I was comparing him too much to Teacher #2 so I wanted to give this relationship its all and decided to start new pieces with him. I agree that the Clementi is level appropriate and I'm still working on it. I'm on Movement 3 now, and the recording of Movement 1 in my blog is only from the first 2-3 weeks of learning it so I agree that version is lacking a lot! It's improved since then and I think he's probably taught this piece many times and knows how to teach it.

The piece that was easy for me was a Martha Mier jazz piece from her Book 3. I wanted to learn one from her Book 5 which would have been challenging but he actually suggested one from Book 2 for me! So we compromised and he said it surprised him that I had no problems with it.

Finally, with regards to La Fille -- I am just relearning it now after 4 years and only been doing it for a week so those challenges I mentioned in my original post are not due to Teacher #1 giving it to me too early - although I was intimidated when she assigned it. But I think she wanted to allow me to explore a beautiful piece of music that may be above my level at the time, but would also build my confidence a bit. Teacher #2 seemed to also apply this by assigning pretty challenging pieces -- I may not be able to perfect it but it did help build up my confidence quite a bit. Both of these teachers said that my confidence was the main thing holding me back.

So with Teacher #3, I felt like he was underestimating me quite a bit and then I would surprise him which feels good but also not as good as if it was a really challenging piece. And he's always suggesting that I play something else if I haven't practice something in a couple of weeks. But I work on 2-3 pieces at a time so I sometimes don't get to a new piece...but rather than work with me to get it started perhaps or just allow me the time to get to it, he'll assume that I can't do it and suggest finding another piece. Which really annoys me b/c I want someone to push me - not let me dictate the curriculum. Last lesson, he suggested that I didn't need to finish Movement 3 of Clementi even though the sonatina would feel incomplete to me if I didn't...but I just can't seem to get myself into it b/c I like the Debussy or the jazz better so naturally would practice it more.

Finally, I do find it strange that he doesn't have answers to my questions and needs to go online on forums to find answers. Here are 2 recent examples:

1. M6 of La Fille -- Teacher #1 taught me to play LH 2 lower notes in the large Eb chord first, then RH with the upper two notes of LH together. He told me that was wrong and that I should play LH 2 lower notes with RH then fill in with the LH two upper notes after. I went home and youtubed various performances of professionals and they all play it the way Teacher #1 told me. I ignore his instruction and plan to bring it up at our next lesson.

He emails me this morning and tells me he has done research on forums and that while its up to interpretation, most ppl play it the way Teacher #1 told me. But imagine if I had listened to him, changed it up, and now 4-5 days later, he tells me I was right to start and then had to re-practice to get it right again. I'm not good enough to just change things immediately like that -- I need to practice a certain way and then play it that way. So I wonder how many adult students he currently teaches and when was the last time he taught this piece.

2. I was playing a Bach piece and I could tell that after weeks of playing, I was no longer looking at the score and that my brain was starting to forget things. I mentioned to him that in the beginning when I was learning it, I would also think about what chords were being played and that helped me memorize and play better but I'm anxious that is slipping away from me the more I play. I asked him how to prevent memory lapses. Teacher #2 told me the best way is to know the overall structure of the piece and to analyze the chords so that I understand what I'm playing and why. He told me muscle memory was the least reliable.

But Teacher #3 told me that muscle memory was the main thing and most reliable and all the other more cerebral things will get in the way. I am skeptical but leave it b/c that's his opinion. Next week, he tells me he consulted with another teacher and that she recommends knowing what chords you are playing to reinforce the memory. So at this stage, I'm thinking "WTF?!"

I hope these 2 examples give more color to my situation and why I'm frustrated. I think he's a nice guy and he cares and he tries really hard to be a good teacher, but I'm not sure he's right for me with my expectations, etc.

My inclination is to find another teacher but I did speak to 3 before deciding to go with Teacher #3 so I'm not hopeful that I can find someone easily.

Oh - and I'm not resentful that he's taking me backwards a bit, although I see your point about it not being linear so that's not a great word to describe it. But I am resentful that I'm paying 2.5x what i was paying Teacher #2 and I'm not getting a lot out of it. Prices in HK are expensive but that's what Teacher #1 charges and she used to accompany the HK philharmonic here so her level is probably much higher. For reference, Teacher #2 charged middle range for HK and it would be considered expensive for most US cities (minus places like NYC or SF of course).


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Could you persuade Teacher #2 to resume teaching you? "Personal problems" don't last forever. Get back in touch with him, and tell him how fine a teacher he was for you, and how you miss working with him. See what he says. Tell him you could pay him more than before, if that is any enticement: you are paying 250% of his fee now, so clearly you can afford to pay more than he was charging.

Another option is to start making plans to attend an adult piano camp sometime, to get more perspectives, while continuing with teacher #3. You probably won't find such retreats in Asia, but there are a few in Europe and N. America.


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I waited a little bit before posting because I tried to understand a little bit more about you before coming down with something that might sound a little harsh.

I did listen to your recordings of the Clementi Sonatina, of Mendelssohn, Grieg (2), Bach, and Chopin.

I think you need to move back FEW steps and start from the basics. Debussy is going to be out of your league for quite some time.
At the very least you need to work on developing a steady tempo and be more accurate.

Honestly I had a very, very, hard time trying to listen the Bach invention until the end. I mean. If you really think that you had "few kinks" to work out, you are overestimating yourself quite a bit, I don't expect a metronome exact Bach, but this is at the level of a first reading.
And this goes pretty much for any other piece you have on soundcloud.

I think teacher #3 have a good idea of what needs to be done and is trying to deal with your personality.

Your last recording, the Clementi sonatina. It starts at one tempo, it does accelerate when you have fun, slows down when you are in some difficulties and closes in a tempo completely different from the beginning. The musical ideas aren't there, the articulation neither and your left hand is mostly too heavy.

You can learn the notes, I understand that, but you need to build a more solid musical foundation before getting into these pieces. Overall you are creating some musical gap that is going to slow you down and make you sound "not good."

I'm not teaching yet, but if you were going to be one of my students, I'd kindly suggest you open the book of Bach preludes and Fuguettas and Bartok Microcosmos volume 2 and start working on developing a rock solid tempo and control in your touch.

You are old enough to understand what needs to be done, as any other "mature" person, your biggest obstacle is going to be your own ego.


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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Could you persuade Teacher #2 to resume teaching you? "Personal problems" don't last forever. Get back in touch with him, and tell him how fine a teacher he was for you, and how you miss working with him. See what he says. Tell him you could pay him more than before, if that is any enticement: you are paying 250% of his fee now, so clearly you can afford to pay more than he was charging..........
Teacher #2 won't be teaching again anytime soon (per OP's blog). frown

Originally Posted by conmoto 13
1. M6 of La Fille -- Teacher #1 taught me to play LH 2 lower notes in the large Eb chord first, then RH with the upper two notes of LH together. He told me that was wrong and that I should play LH 2 lower notes with RH then fill in with the LH two upper notes after. I went home and youtubed various performances of professionals and they all play it the way Teacher #1 told me. I ignore his instruction and plan to bring it up at our next lesson.

He emails me this morning and tells me he has done research on forums and that while its up to interpretation, most ppl play it the way Teacher #1 told me. But imagine if I had listened to him, changed it up, and now 4-5 days later, he tells me I was right to start and then had to re-practice to get it right again. I'm not good enough to just change things immediately like that -- I need to practice a certain way and then play it that way. So I wonder how many adult students he currently teaches and when was the last time he taught this piece.

2. I was playing a Bach piece and I could tell that after weeks of playing, I was no longer looking at the score and that my brain was starting to forget things. I mentioned to him that in the beginning when I was learning it, I would also think about what chords were being played and that helped me memorize and play better but I'm anxious that is slipping away from me the more I play. I asked him how to prevent memory lapses. Teacher #2 told me the best way is to know the overall structure of the piece and to analyze the chords so that I understand what I'm playing and why. He told me muscle memory was the least reliable.

But Teacher #3 told me that muscle memory was the main thing and most reliable and all the other more cerebral things will get in the way. I am skeptical but leave it b/c that's his opinion. Next week, he tells me he consulted with another teacher and that she recommends knowing what chords you are playing to reinforce the memory. So at this stage, I'm thinking "WTF?!".....
These responses are troubling--perhaps he's a little too relaxed in his approach to teaching adults. Especially at the rates he's charging.

That teacher #3 has taken you back a bit, level-wise, can be a blessing in disguise if it helps you really nail a technique or interpretation or play pieces from all the musical eras rather than just one or two. Only you can decide if you can live with that.

People here seem all over the place when it comes to the student or the teacher choosing the pieces. For me, at not quite two years of lessons, I still want my teacher choosing the pieces. I want my teacher to choose based on what is appropriate for what I need to learn and work on. Sometimes she will play portions of a couple of pieces and let me choose between them. Conmoto, if you haven't, you should discuss this explicitly with your teacher.



From what you've written, it sounds as though you've taken several months of lessons from #3 and are still not happy, and that probably means you should find someone else, even though #3 may be a good (but not great) teacher. If you're unhappy, he's probably unhappy as well and that's not a good mix.



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One of the qualities of a really good teacher is that they can define a solution or action in a larger context. For example, in La Fille with the big left-hand split chords in a couple of places, a good teacher would start by describing the sound or effect that is desired. They might place that in a historical context or in the composer's context.

With those big split chords a teacher might demonstrate possibilities like:
- play the chord with right and left hands simultaneously, right hand part starting after
- split with the left hand (before or with the main right hand)
- arpeggio through it (before, with, or starting with the right hand)

One of the questions you get a ask as an adult student is "Why?", and you get to generally expect an answer. If a teacher doesn't generally have answers to the why question, that's when I leave them.


Part of a student's responsibility is to attempt the things the teacher is teaching. So a better response to the teacher advocating using the right hand for the lower part of the chord would have been to practice and play it the way the teacher is advocating, and in your own way, and then to supply a musical reason about why you have chosen one method over another. It's not enough to say that other people play it some way - you need to have a reason that matters to you and the music.

Last edited by carlos88; 10/18/15 05:11 PM.

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I think there are certainly disadvantages to being an adult student, but there are big advantages/strengths which you need to use: analyze, problem solve and question, and eat your vegetables! As adults, if we don't use these extra adult skills, we are really lost.

If you know that the 3rd movement of a sonata would be a good 'vegetable', but not as fun as something else, don't rely on a teacher to push you, just make the decision to do what is best for you in the long run... and practice it, leaving the more fun stuff for dessert.

Practice effectively which includes analyzing your progress and pointing out at lessons where you need guidance. If you know there are passages where you don't get your hands into position fast enough, work on that movement of the hands over and over.

Go back and listen to your recordings and Ataru's post: evaluate what you need to do and work on it.

Carlos has recommended you ask 'Why'. I agree but would suggest adding 'What other situations would this apply to? Don't be afraid to say, "would xxxx work here?" or 'Here are my thoughts, would this work?'

I don't believe it is reasonable to expect any teacher to have immediate answers to everything. Mine has a masters in piano performance, but there have been times she has made a photocopy and then we discussed her thoughts the next week. I respect that she wanted to think about it.

Yes, you are paying more, but I think if you pause and ask what you can do to increase the effectiveness you will get more satisfaction.

I would not recommend switching teachers until you do some thinking about what role you play in having effective lessons... I would make this same recommendation no matter where you lived, and whether there were many or few choices.

but like you, I am an adult student, so my thoughts should be considered with that in mind. Like any relationship, there are two people involved in the success or failure is my humble perspective..




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Originally Posted by conmoto13
Hey everyone,



1. M6 of La Fille -- Teacher #1 taught me to play LH 2 lower notes in the large Eb chord first, then RH with the upper two notes of LH together. He told me that was wrong and that I should play LH 2 lower notes with RH then fill in with the LH two upper notes after. I went home and youtubed various performances of professionals and they all play it the way Teacher #1 told me. I ignore his instruction and plan to bring it up at our next lesson.

He emails me this morning and tells me he has done research on forums and that while its up to interpretation, most ppl play it the way Teacher #1 told me. But imagine if I had listened to him, changed it up, and now 4-5 days later, he tells me I was right to start and then had to re-practice to get it right again. I'm not good enough to just change things immediately like that -- I need to practice a certain way and then play it that way. So I wonder how many adult students he currently teaches and when was the last time he taught this piece.

2. I was playing a Bach piece and I could tell that after weeks of playing, I was no longer looking at the score and that my brain was starting to forget things. I mentioned to him that in the beginning when I was learning it, I would also think about what chords were being played and that helped me memorize and play better but I'm anxious that is slipping away from me the more I play. I asked him how to prevent memory lapses. Teacher #2 told me the best way is to know the overall structure of the piece and to analyze the chords so that I understand what I'm playing and why. He told me muscle memory was the least reliable.

But Teacher #3 told me that muscle memory was the main thing and most reliable and all the other more cerebral things will get in the way. I am skeptical but leave it b/c that's his opinion. Next week, he tells me he consulted with another teacher and that she recommends knowing what chords you are playing to reinforce the memory. So at this stage, I'm thinking "WTF?!"

I hope these 2 examples give more color to my situation and why I'm frustrated. I think he's a nice guy and he cares and he tries really hard to be a good teacher, but I'm not sure he's right for me with my expectations, etc.





the two examples only identify to me how nothing is really black and white in the piano community. M6 for example of Girl With the Flaxen Hair, I learned that part from watching youtube and then my teacher told me I was wrong because she was taught another way. Then just like your teacher she later told me it was however I wanted to play it. I then changed it to her preferred way and honestly it was no big deal. I can sort of understand your teachers comment about muscle memory but doubt many would agree. I recently took three months of piano and it was muscle memory that resurrected all my lapsed pieces, I was stunned how muscle memory could be used after all I had read.

Just making the point there is no one teaching method, with so many opinions and bias in the mix. This can also be a good thing as it leaves the student with options to experiment and find their own way of what works and does not. Personally I like to do a bit of thinking, experimenting, and research on a problem before talking to my teacher. I may still ask the question but I will be ready for any answer and imho I am always taking steps to be my own teacher. Which obviously leads to the question what is the need for a teacher if you have self teaching motivation. The answer is another post entirely but in essence a teacher is really there to keep you honest and on track.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

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Here are some ideas from a fellow student:

First, I am so sorry that you lost a teacher you connected with well in such a manner.

Seems the only answer to your issues is not to find a perfect teacher. It can actually be an impossible mission. Few teachers are great in everything. Those who are, usually teach in institutions with students who still have prospects of possible career in music. Or if teaching privately can be very selective of their students. If you can find a reasonably good teacher as an adult I think you are lucky.

But as an adult, you can compensate for the possible shortcomings of your teacher. You have access to a wealth of information through books and internet and should have the ability to use that information selectively and critically. You also have the ability to analytical thinking and can apply this information to you own learning.

Ataru gave a good analysis of your recordings. I also listened to some and agree. Seems you already are aware of what your main issue is at the moment (inconsistent pulse). It's evident in your playing regardless of the piece. So do you really need a first class teacher to tell you how to work on this? I don't think so. I am certain that you can figure out and already know many practice tactics to conquer that problem. I think it's just a matter of finding the willpower to actually address it rather than just let it be. If you find a teacher who can help you with this by not letting you get away with it, it could be really beneficial, even if that teacher is not the most knowledgeable in all the other aspects of music or playing.

I think you are too eager to play your pieces and let yourself get away with this issue in the initial stage of learning and then just don't want to or really know how to break down the piece again to correct the rhythmic issues. You do need better practice tactics, but do you need a teacher to "teach" you those? I don't think so. What you need is some patience and self-discipline to actually do what needs to be done.

I think a good way to start is to learn to play ONE piece correctly no matter how long it takes. It's easier if you pick a less challenging piece. If you pick something hard it might take too long or just won't be possible at the stage of your development. What you do is practice the piece in a way that you can play EVERY single passage with the tempo you have chosen. If that means slowing down a lot, you do. In every piece there are passages that are more difficult to play with performance tempo. Focus on these on your practice. Practice them as good as you can with different methods until you can play them with consistent tempo. THIS is the tempo you need to play the whole piece in. If it's slower than what you would like, so be it.

This is the way I learn every piece. If there are too many sections that require me to slow down or if I need to slow down to a tempo where the piece loses its essence, then the piece is too hard and I drop it. Sometimes when I cannot manage all the ornaments in tempo, I will simplify them so that I can. But generally I work until I feel comfortable with the tempo throughout the piece. Only then do I feel I have progressed to a stage where I can practice playing the piece as a whole.

I think you just need to understand and accept that to learn a piece means you do all this. The goal should not be to play through no matter what (this is what you seem to do now), but to work until you can play through without slowing down or speeding up when you feel like it or need to. I am confident that you have enough knowledge already to address this issue if you just decide to do it. As I said, it would be great help if you find a teacher who spots this weakness and does not let you get away with what you are doing now. IMO it's even more important at this point than having a teacher who knows everything about piano playing and music.

If you feel your present teacher can offer you value for your money, just accept his possible shortcomings and compensate with independent studying. As long as you realize where you need to do that, you are not in much danger. If you don't feel the teacher cannot offer you enough substance, then move on.

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Originally Posted by outo

If you feel your present teacher can offer you value for your money, just accept his possible shortcomings and compensate with independent studying. As long as you realize where you need to do that, you are not in much danger. If you don't feel the teacher cannot offer you enough substance, then move on.

I think we can agree that in this case a little bit more groundwork with a metronome would be beneficial. (joke)

I met few teachers that weren't a good fit for me, therefore I decided to stop the lessons with them in a month, but, on the other hand, any time I feel like I don't get a good value out of my lessons is because I did fail to practice at least 10 hours in between lessons and we don't have enough new material to work on.

My current teacher has a completely different approach than my "best" youth teacher but something they both have in common... sloppiness is not an option, ever.

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Originally Posted by dogperson


I don't believe it is reasonable to expect any teacher to have immediate answers to everything. Mine has a masters in piano performance, but there have been times she has made a photocopy and then we discussed her thoughts the next week. I respect that she wanted to think about it.




Yes, and another perspective on OP's teacher is that he is open-minded and conscientious enough to keep thinking about questions the student has raised and looking for different ideas. To me that's better than having all the answers.


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