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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by keystring
You teach it superficially only toward end results, maybe pushing two pieces per grade for the exams, not putting your attention to where the student's learning needs are, and instead going by what is literally in the list.

That's just a poor teacher, I don't see what the existence of a syllabus has to do with that.


That is the POINT. No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by keystring
You teach it superficially only toward end results, maybe pushing two pieces per grade for the exams, not putting your attention to where the student's learning needs are, and instead going by what is literally in the list.

That's just a poor teacher, I don't see what the existence of a syllabus has to do with that.


That is the POINT. No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.

I would say a good teacher creates a good system, and if that system is put down in writing you get a good syllabus. wink

But how well that works for OTHER teachers is the big question.

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Originally Posted by keystring
No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.

Let's get things in perspective, and define what we mean by good teaching and good results - as opposed to good teaching using a recognized syllabus, which gets all the basics taught properly.

I'll use my retired friend as an example. His teacher is undoubtedly a good teacher, who is used to teaching adult beginners (which was why my friend chose him), and went on to become a good friend.

But his teacher's experience is that adult beginners want to get into playing recognizable 'songs' right from the start, rather than having to plough through 'baby steps' and learning all the basic stuff without skipping anything. So he used an adult beginners book which aimed to do just that.

If his student didn't have his own ideas of what he needed from his teacher, and didn't have all those decades of experience of reading about, and listening to classical music, he'd not have known any better and just go along with what his teacher wanted him to learn. But because he already knew something about music, he rapidly realized that stuff was being left out - stuff that probably wouldn't be missed if he wasn't aiming high and was content with playing 'songs' (tunes in RH and chords in LH).

Was his teacher a 'bad' teacher because he didn't want his 60-year-old student to spend a lot of time going through all the basics, and follow a recognized syllabus? He 'tailored' his teaching to what he thought an adult beginner of that age would be interested in. What's wrong with that? Isn't that what 'good' teachers do? And his idea of a 'good result' is if his student learnt to play songs that he liked, and enjoyed the learning process, and kept on playing.

So, if you say that "good teaching creates good results", you're right. Unless those 'good results' aren't good from this particular student's perspective, because he was expecting a lot more.

BTW, I played no part in my friend's learning - he didn't ask for my advice, and I offered none. But I did follow his progress with interest over the years, from a beginner to the intermediate-advanced student he now is, and compared the way he was taught with the way I was taught decades ago.


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Originally Posted by bennevis

I'll use my retired friend as an example. His teacher is undoubtedly a good teacher, who is used to teaching adult beginners (which was why my friend chose him), and went on to become a good friend.

But his teacher's experience is that adult beginners want to get into playing recognizable 'songs' right from the start, rather than having to plough through 'baby steps' and learning all the basic stuff without skipping anything. So he used an adult beginners book which aimed to do just that.

I personally think that is a dead-end teaching system, and I personally will never do that. The assumption is that adults want things dumbed down. Some do, but I can't stand teaching that way, so I don't. That means that adults who start with me cover everything. It may take a lot longer but teaching pieces without skills is horrendously boring for me, and I think it cheats adults who potentially could learn to play well, like your friend.

But I see the main problem as being miscommunication. The teacher did not take the time to find out what his adult student was interested in doing, which to me seems rather sloppy.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by keystring
You teach it superficially only toward end results, maybe pushing two pieces per grade for the exams, not putting your attention to where the student's learning needs are, and instead going by what is literally in the list.

That's just a poor teacher, I don't see what the existence of a syllabus has to do with that.


That is the POINT. No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.


You are wrong.
Good results are given if you have a combination of good student, good syllabus, and good teacher.

Put a bad student in the mix and doesn't matter who teaches and how good is the program, it just doesn't work because the person who needs to learn, doesn't want to.

Put a bad teacher in the mix and the informations, are just going to be confused, BUT, a good student will get interested and will probably try to change teacher.

Without a good syllabus is the most dangerous proposition. Because you can have the radical religious homeschoolers who will deny anything that goes in contradiction with the scriptures.

A good syllabus is not a guarantee of learning, but it's a way to keep the teacher in under control.

Being the devil's advocate. I can see a very good teacher who pushed the students on a path of very specific education for virtuoso pieces disregarding anything else just to create competition winners and kids who can impress in recitals. It's a winning business model in certain communities, but doesn't create good "musicians", it does creates trained monkeys for shows, nothing more.
It's just a matter of decisions, you can push in a direction with a very vertical approach to certain pieces or go for a broad education that give the foundation to all the future knowledge. To me the second is a preferred system, but to have a kid playing a chopin etude in a competition might take longer.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.


But I see the main problem as being miscommunication. The teacher did not take the time to find out what his adult student was interested in doing, which to me seems rather sloppy.

The problem is - you don't know what you don't know.

My friend was asked right at the beginning what he hoped to achieve in his piano lessons. He replied something along the lines of "I'd like to play easy Chopin nocturnes within a year." As a beginner, he didn't know how long adults normally take to achieve piano competence. He'd watched Benjamin Grosvenor on TV, playing Glinka/Balakirev's The Lark and Ravel's G major concerto to the manner born at the age of 11. When interviewed, the kid admitted that he only started practicing seriously from when he was nine.

Naturally, like many beginners, he didn't think that his aspirations were excessively optimistic - after all, he had unlimited time to practice, being retired. (Take a glance at ABF and you'll see near-beginners who think they can tackle Chopin ballades etc within a few months.....). I don't think his teacher was wrong to try to rush through the baby steps, having heared what his student wanted to achieve and knowing his age. How many teachers in the same situation would seriously want their student to learn theory, aural skills, lots of scales & arpeggios etc, and spend a lot of time on sight-reading?

But if the student had said: "I want to do ABRSM exams, just like all children who learn piano" or "I want to follow the ABRSM syllabus and do everything in it, even if I don't take exams", undoubtedly his teacher would have taken a completely different approach right from the start - i.e. the approach he eventually adopted.

But even though my friend is widely read on classical music, he had absolutely no idea what learning the piano entails, nor how much more is involved other than the ability to play, nor how difficult learning the language of music notation really is. How could he, with no experience of anyone else in the same situation? (He didn't ask me, and I didn't tell him, of my ten-year student period to get to where I am. In any case, as a ten-year-old beginner who didn't even know much English, I was hardly in a comparable situation to him as a beginner).

To me, that's typical of what often (or even usually) happens when a teacher is faced with an adult beginner. I don't believe that means the teacher isn't any good - after all, he is making up some sort of 'syllabus' based on what he thinks his adult student wants.

But that's also the sort of thing that can occur with children beginners - the kid isn't interested in classical, just wants to play a few pop songs to impress his friends, and his parents know nothing about music. Does the teacher then make up a 'syllabus' based on what the student (and therefore also his parents) want? Or does the teacher risk losing his student because he insists on all the basics being learnt, whether using a recognized syllabus or one of his own devising?

That's why, IMO, exam boards that are internationally recognized come in so useful, especially in countries where they're well-known. Parents expect results in the form of grade exam passes, even if they know nothing about music. And to get those passes, the students have to learn everything. That was the situation when I was a student - my parents cared nothing for music, but were willing to keep paying for lessons as long as I had exam results to show that they weren't a waste of money. My playing held no interest for them - my mother would rather watch TV than listen to me practice (not that I blame her for that wink ).


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Originally Posted by Ataru074
Quote
That is the POINT. No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.
You are wrong.
Good results are given if you have a combination of good student, good syllabus, and good teacher.

Ok, I made that last quoted post short. I have written half a dozen posts in this thread spelling things out, and each of them got ignored. In at least some of those other posts I mentioned the student being a factor. So let's assume we agree on this. smile

What I was addressing was the suggestion that a formal syllabus created by a large external body and applied across the board - say on a national scale - is a cure-all. I.e. ABRSM, RCM, AMEB etc. Such a system does little if the teacher doesn't know how to use it properly, or if other factors get in the way in how s/he uses it. That was the point I was trying to bring across. Do you agree?

2. If a syllabus contains an overview of the skills and knowledge to be taught, and the materials to be used in that teaching, then there can also be syllabuses created by individual teachers. I would suggest that in a sense Laguna Greg's teacher ended up with a syllabus that he might be able to write up after the fact, which he contained in his head. In this sense, a "syllabus" is needed, otherwise you just have random dabblings, which is a thing that unfortunately we encounter in tales in the ABF.

Does this make sense and maybe put them into a different light?

Quote
A good syllabus is not a guarantee of learning, but it's a way to keep the teacher in under control.

Here we are back again to my notion of a good teacher, which was the start of your quote. A lazy teacher, or one who doesn't have a clear idea of things, needs some kinds of guidelines. A teacher who is capable of forming what needs to be taught - i.e. his own syllabus whether written out or not - does not need to be subject to this. In the ABF in one case there was an adult student whose teacher was basically goofing around while giving the kids solid instruction, so that student registered for exams and presto, suddenly the teacher was teaching solid things. His own reputation would be on the line. frown

But you were responding to my idea of a good teacher. My definition includes both competence and attitude - and immediately such a person does not have to be kept in line. I have not mentioned how prevalent or rare such a teacher might be. wink
Quote
Being the devil's advocate. I can see a very good teacher who pushed the students on a path of very specific education for virtuoso pieces disregarding anything else just to create competition winners and kids who can impress in recitals....

Here we have the problem of definition. Actually maybe my fault for not creating the definition I was after (in the post you quoted). To me that is not a "good teacher". Attitude has to be in there.
Quote
... you can push in a direction with a very vertical approach to certain pieces or go for a broad education that give the foundation to all the future knowledge. To me the second is a preferred system, but to have a kid playing a chopin etude in a competition might take longer.

But that kid might really know what he is doing by the time he gets there - might continue playing for the rest of his life - and above all, might know how to continue developing that etude for his entire life as he matures musically and personally. Which creates a particular satisfaction.

Is it possible that we are in more agreement than you might have thought. smile

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by keystring
You teach it superficially only toward end results, maybe pushing two pieces per grade for the exams, not putting your attention to where the student's learning needs are, and instead going by what is literally in the list.


That's just a poor teacher, I don't see what the existence of a syllabus has to do with that.

I would like to make a point. If *I* make up a syllabus, based on what I teach and HOW I teach (which I have done), that syllabus is far more likely to work for me than following the syllabus of someone else, no matter how it works for someone else.

I have no argument with the goals I see given in various systems, but I might have huge problems with the order in which things are presented. And that includes grading of music, which I often do not agree with at all.


Good evening, from the impression that I have of your teaching after reading your posts for years, Gary, is that if you were to teach in a French conservatory or a small-town municipal music school the so-called syllabus would pose no difficulty for you. You wouldn't feel that things cramp your style, as they say. You'd have a great time and so would your students.

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Originally Posted by keystring

I would suggest that in a sense Laguna Greg's teacher ended up with a syllabus that he might be able to write up after the fact, which he contained in his head.


Keystring, do you really think that you know anything about Laguna Greg's teacher?

Do you know where Laguna Greg was in his development when he started wth this teacher. Did she she teach advanced students who she judged talented and motivated and significantly prepared. Or tens of beginners who didn't know anything the day they walked through her door. Or if she interested herself in questions of pedagogy, or had some training in this regard or ...

These are questions you yourself have often asked posters on this forum.

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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by keystring
You teach it superficially only toward end results, maybe pushing two pieces per grade for the exams, not putting your attention to where the student's learning needs are, and instead going by what is literally in the list.


That's just a poor teacher, I don't see what the existence of a syllabus has to do with that.

I would like to make a point. If *I* make up a syllabus, based on what I teach and HOW I teach (which I have done), that syllabus is far more likely to work for me than following the syllabus of someone else, no matter how it works for someone else.

I have no argument with the goals I see given in various systems, but I might have huge problems with the order in which things are presented. And that includes grading of music, which I often do not agree with at all.


Good evening, from the impression that I have of your teaching after reading your posts for years, Gary, is that if you were to teach in a French conservatory or a small-town municipal music school the so-called syllabus would pose no difficulty for you. You wouldn't feel that things cramp your style, as they say. You'd have a great time and so would your students.

The problem here is that we all have only impressions, and not based on anything that we can actually hear. We do not hear each other play, and we do not hear the students of other teachers.

So anything I say may be a poor teacher speaking about poor students with a big ego and a total break with reality. wink

But in case someone here assumes I not "full of it", by nature I am a front-runner. I always figure that IF I am ahead of any kind of standard syllabus then I can do as I wish. So that's my thinking.

However, when people have to take standardized tests I have to take extra time to say this:

"The test is looking for answer A, B and C. And to pass this test you must give answer A, B and C. I prefer answer D, E and F, and this is why. And the reason the test does not accept answer D, E and F is _______."

If you are interested I can give you specific examples of where I give alternate views to what is normally on tests, and why I have to tell students NOT to use my alternate answers, because they will be flunked on written tests.






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Originally Posted by landorrano
Keystring, do you really think that you know anything about Laguna Greg's teacher?

I was referring to the things that LG described about his education. I do not need to know anything about his teacher, in order to consider what LH said he learned, and how he said he learned it.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.

However, when people have to take standardized tests I have to take extra time to say this:

"The test is looking for answer A, B and C. And to pass this test you must give answer A, B and C. I prefer answer D, E and F, and this is why. And the reason the test does not accept answer D, E and F is _______."






Come on, we're not talking Newton's Laws of Motion v Einstein's Theory of Relativity v String Theory here.

Questions in the ABRSM grade exams are black and white (like "clap this rhythm" or "sing the perfect 5th to this note" - and you don't even have to be absolutely on pitch, let alone worry about whether you're singing in equal temperament or some weird ancient temperament that you discovered in a monastery in Timbuktu).

And you can play your scales & arpeggios and chosen set pieces using any edition, any fingering of your own devising, any pedaling of your own devising. Usually, the examiner can't see your hands. You can play scales 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-4-5 if you like, as long as you can make it sound right.

Really, there's nothing to prevent any teacher teaching students to any syllabus he can devise when it comes to ABRSM exams: as long as the basics are covered, the student will pass.

Even if he plays Mozart like Glenn Gould.


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Originally Posted by bennevis

Come on, we're not talking Newton's Laws of Motion v Einstein's Theory of Relativity v String Theory here.

I was talking specifically about exams that ask for precise answers for theory.

Scales, chords and arpeggios are for playing tests and are very standard.

As for playing music, when students play well, generally there is no problem. Same thing for singing something. Either you can do it, or you can't.

But theory exams, later on, can get rather dicey.

I don't know exactly is on your exams because I don't teach to them, but every other system I've had to prepare for in the past has had some glitches.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.

I was talking specifically about exams that ask for precise answers for theory.


But theory exams, later on, can get rather dicey.

I don't know exactly is on your exams because I don't teach to them, but every other system I've had to prepare for in the past has had some glitches.

For ABRSM, you only need Grade 5 Theory to complete Grade 8 Practical. Most students don't bother going beyond Grade 5 in theory for that reason, unless they want to go on to diplomas etc.

And I can vouch that there's nothing remotely controversial about the Grade 5 Theory questions. You can easily get full marks (as I did) simply with a modicum of knowledge of harmony and simple melodic writing. If you can 'hear' what you're writing, no-one should fail to get full marks. (That's why ear training is as important for the theory as well as the practical). They even allow you to use any recognized method of notation when it comes to chords. Even Grade 8 Theory is straightforward, as long as you don't confuse classical style with jazz etc when it comes to harmonizing and composing music.


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Originally Posted by landorrano
As for the French guy

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Lucas Debargue, the French guy


He is most definitely a product of the French conservatory system. And he is the student in a French conservatory of a Russian teacher who has published works on pedagogy.

What's more, since last summer he has a paper to show, quite a few.


That would be all well and good, and I would not be arguing the point beyond this...

Except Debargue 1- did not study in the conservatory system consistently enough beyond the 4th year of the conservatoire municipale (do any of you even know what that means) for it to have done any good, and 2- his major teacher is a Russian he met exactly 4 years before the Tchaik '15, outside of any school or exam system.

Are you really going to persist in this ludicrous and delusional idea that your vaunted conservatory system is really so implacable and omnipresent that NO ONE can possibly advance without it???

I really have to ask, because it seems that that is exactly what you are saying...

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by landorrano
Keystring, do you really think that you know anything about Laguna Greg's teacher?

I was referring to the things that LG described about his education. I do not need to know anything about his teacher, in order to consider what LH said he learned, and how he said he learned it.


I must agree with keystring. And I must criticize the rest of you who think they can explain my 1st teacher's ideas through the very narrow lens of what you think, or fantastically insist, that must mean in your limited idea of what music education actually is.

I spent many hours with my first teacher, discussing what the the limits of the syllabi and exams were that she was often asked to adjudicate. We both agreed, after she gave me a thorough grounding in the literature, what those problems were.

And I'll thank the rest of you who obviously did not benefit from that kind of review not to put words in my mouth, or pretend what that actually was, what my teacher meant, or how she came by the information. Because you really have no idea of it at all.

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Originally Posted by landorrano
Also, greg I'd like to ask what you mean by this. How does a course syllabus make a bad teacher worse?

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Sometimes a course syllabus in the hands of a bad teacher can make things a lot worse.


Are you an idiot? Do you really need me to spell it out for you? Or are you so inexperienced that you have NEVER run across a student ruined by a bad teacher? Regardless of their method??

If "yes" to the last, you need to get out more.

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Originally Posted by landorrano
This sounds like politics to me, not a discussion about teaching.

Nothing impeaches an instrumental teacher who follows a syllabus written in some way by the governement to do "more" than what is in the syllabus. I know many who do. In fact all of the music teachers that I have known do.


Then you know a lot of mediocre teachers. I have been in France, for a while. And I know a number of mediocre teachers there as well.

Perhaps that's why only a few major pianists have come from there in the last 50 years.

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Originally Posted by keystring


That is the POINT. No syllabus or system (ABRSM, RCM etc.) creates good results. Good teaching creates good results. I have written that repeatedly and I can't remember getting a single response to what I have written in any of those posts.


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Originally Posted by landorrano


Keystring, do you really think that you know anything about Laguna Greg's teacher?

Do you know where Laguna Greg was in his development when he started wth this teacher. Did she she teach advanced students who she judged talented and motivated and significantly prepared. Or tens of beginners who didn't know anything the day they walked through her door. Or if she interested herself in questions of pedagogy, or had some training in this regard or ...


Well let's just be clear about that:

1- I started with my first teacher from nothing. I couldn't read a single pitch or count time, and I had never touched a keyboard at all.

2- Out of about 50 students when I began, my teacher had about 10 beginners, and the rest intermediate or very advanced students. She also coached professionals and even conductors when she had time.

3- She taught EVERYONE and ANYONE. Her method worked for all students at all levels. She had a 3- year waiting list when I started working with her.

4- Her method had NOTHING to do with any of the courses offered by any of the major conservatories, technically or pedagogically. It was considerably better, and highly flexible.

5- While she understood the literature in its entirety (a claim I certainly can't make for the posters here), her success was due almost entirely to her singular abilities as a teacher, and her more than 50 years of teaching. She used to tell me that picking the right piece for a student was 50% of the battle, but I think it had more to do with her teaching than anything else.

My first teacher was an extraordinary person. If you'd like to read about her, there's a good article here in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frieda_Belinfante

Also, here's her obituary in the LA Times:

http://articles.latimes.com/1995-03-07/local/me-39790_1_orange-county-philharmonic-society

There is also a new biography that came out about her last summer in the Netherlands, in Dutch.

While it's quite rare to meet a person of this level of ability in daily life, it's a standard of excellence we should all strive to meet. If not for ourselves personally, then in the people we choose to work with if nothing else.

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