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Originally Posted by keystring
That as a general thing, a teacher should have the prerequisite knowledge and skills in piano and music, and should have the ability to teach, plus the attitude to want to teach.

I have not seen this simple idea addressed - for or against - yet it is the central part.

Maybe it's so obvious that it is common sense, and thus nobody is talking about it?

This entire thread reminds me of this other recent thread about how to filter out bad teachers. That thread also descended into the ridiculous.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
That as a general thing, a teacher should have the prerequisite knowledge and skills in piano and music, and should have the ability to teach, plus the attitude to want to teach.

I have not seen this simple idea addressed - for or against - yet it is the central part.

Maybe it's so obvious that it is common sense, and thus nobody is talking about it?

What doesn't get talked about is that people "teach" who are missing at least one of what I have listed, or even all of them. That's why it has to be there. A discussion on elements making a good teacher that totally leaves out these three things? That is incomplete, having left out essentials.

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Hendrik42
I am quite sure that most of those teachers would state what you just stated "the student lacked desire to learn!". Because that is what bad teachers usually say.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one!

Think about that.

You might begin to arrive at the same conclusion once you've taught a number of students.

You might be one of the bad teachers. Think about that.

How would we know? We have only your words. We have even less than a parent looking for a teacher in you area, because they might find someone who has learned from you. But maybe they talked only to parents of prodigies that you were not able to ruin?

I am not talking about you personally, but I think it is clear what I mean.

The question is still, what elements make a good teacher AND how to find out about them.

I still think an interview only givens you so much, you have to observe the teaching process. By being there, if at all possible, or by observing the results.

For the interview, what are the questions that will reveal the standard that the teacher holds him/herself to? But then, the standard in ones area may be different than in others, so you always have to interview a few, no?


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Originally Posted by Hendrik42
You might be one of the bad teachers. Think about that.

How would we know? We have only your words. We have even less than a parent looking for a teacher in you area, because they might find someone who has learned from you. But maybe they talked only to parents of prodigies that you were not able to ruin?

I am not talking about you personally, but I think it is clear what I mean.

Actually, no, it is absolutely unclear what you mean. I can't follow your logic.

You might know me only through my words, but I can tell you that I've taught a lot more students than you have, and that experience is a little bit more enlightening than sheer conjectures and postulates.


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Sometimes the simplest explanation is the wrong one.

What I wrote before about the 95% thing (the simple explanation):

If you are a good teacher who teaches well, then 95% of fails and weaknesses may indeed be due to lack of interest, because if you don't follow good instructions and if you don't practise, you won't do well. In that sense, in that limited context, it is quite plausible. But we're not in that context.

But the question is not "Why do students with good teachers have problems?" It is, "what makes a good teacher". And in that question we automatically have "What makes poor teaching / a poor teacher." And WHEN you have poor teaching, you will also have problems caused by that poor teaching. In the event of poor teaching, 95% of weaknesses will NOT be due to lack of following instructions.

Almost every decent teacher in this forum has ranted at one time or another about badly taught transfer students, and the mess that they have had to try to undo. Yet suddenly, as if by magic, such teaching does not exist - the effects of such teaching have vanished - and no problems can be caused by poor teaching.

Why? Is this by any chance a defensiveness, a feeling that the teaching profession and thus you yourselves are being attacked by outsiders, rather than a mutual concern for good teaching? Because what I am seeing is not logical unless maybe such an emotion is involved.

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
.... I've taught a lot more students than you have, and that experience is a little bit more enlightening than sheer conjectures and postulates.

This is absolutely true - and it is true for me too - I have not taught music as a professional teacher; at best I have helped someone with this or that. BUT I think you are also addressing the wrong topic. Yes, we have no expertise or experience in the topic you are addressing - but it also is not the topic! We are NOT talking about a good teacher having students who do badly (because they don't follow what they're told, don't practice etc.). We are talking about choice of teachers. If a student lands with you, she'll be fine - but what if she doesn't land with you, but rather, becomes one of your future "transfer wrecks"? That is what it's about.

The experience here is not in teaching, but in being taught. There are students who have been mistaught or undertaught, and may have ended up with a 2nd and 3rd teacher who does the same thing. That student will have experience in this thing. The fact that a good teacher teaches well, and has taught many students well over years, that has nothing to do with the fact of poor teaching. However, a good teacher who himself was poorly taught or mistaught along the way ---- and/or who has had to undo the damages of poorly taught transfer students - that is relevant.

I'm afraid that you are talking about two very different topics, and that's why it's going astray.

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
This entire thread reminds me of this other recent thread about how to filter out bad teachers. That thread also descended into the ridiculous.

In both threads there is a common pattern. As soon as anyone writes anything useful, concrete, and with substance, we soon get another post. That post will quote a post that is off, and highlight the wrongness of it. Or it will quote a small portion of a post to make it appear weird, and comment on that. Each time, the useful post with substance then gets buried.

Last night I read a post by Bennevis and by Gary - both having good and concrete ideas, and one of them by an experienced teacher. This morning I read responses to a parent, and no support of what the previous people have written.

My own summary of several concrete things was dismissed as being too obvious to need mentioning, and so far my response on that has been ignored.

Tbh, I did not find the Bastien paraphrase to be helpful. It basically says that you can't tell anything: credentials may not mean anything, and ability to play may not mean anything. That is not helpful. But there HAVE been some good posts in this thread. And the pattern is to ignore them, rather than support them.

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Maybe it is time for other teachers that read this forum to discuss what makes a good teacher or how does a parent/student know they have a good teacher.

Without that input from a different perspective.. what is here? There is no REAL, concrete discussion: ideas are ignored, summarized inappropriately... or....

There has been a lot of posts but little discussion from those that should be participating.
Reminds me on the generalizations in a corporate Mission Statement.


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
keystring, I cross-posted with you. Suppose we stipulate that this is true:

Originally Posted by keystring
That as a general thing, a teacher should have the prerequisite knowledge and skills in piano and music, and should have the ability to teach, plus the attitude to want to teach.


How can someone determine if a teacher has these qualities, when deciding whether to start lessons with that teacher?

The only thing that I did was to bring in some qualities that were not mentioned at all in this thread, for whatever reason the original post starting it was posted. I wrote them out because at least they should be there.

What I have told fellow students and parents over the years is that they should have an idea about what music learning is about, simply because it's such a crap shoot out there. If you know that you are after skills and knowledge for the purpose of learning to play, and that it takes time, then if some teacher tries to wow you with how impressive he can sound, promises that you'll be amazing within a year, and what high grade level you will reach - then you will know enough to run. If a teacher states that he wants to give skills and expects you to work with him, that is a good sign. When I talked to people who made it in music, quite a number of them had had at least one bad teacher - some had to go through several before getting a good one. So I don't know if there is any good answer.

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I suspect that teachers in general have no interest in the topic. Think about it --- why would a teacher need to know how to find a good teacher, or what that means? Unless that teacher takes up a new instrument, s/he doesn't need to find a teacher.

It is a vital topic for students and parents, but I don't think much help would be forthcoming in this forum. It is probably a combination of no easy answer and lack of interest.

I still think that a teacher / non-teacher interface forum where those interested in such topics could meet, would have been a good idea. I suggested it years ago.

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Conscientious teachers might want to be sure they possess the elements of a good teacher.


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I am sorry that I been a disappointment to all of you because I do not know that if it is my responsible to draw a summary from all of these posts?
If yes, please give me a little bit more time.
Thanks!


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Originally Posted by bzpiano
I am sorry that I been a disappointment to all of you because I do not know that if it is my responsible to draw a summary from all of these posts?
If yes, please give me a little bit more time.
Thanks!


Thanks for the thought, Bz, but you do need to try to draw a summary! Thanks for posing the question on the forum.

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I went back to teacher responses to see what suggestions they had. This is the first one I found:
Quote
I think the most important factor is to have the parent, the child, and the teacher to be on the same page: same goals, similar values, and compatible personalities.

This may guarantee a good working relationship between the parties, a smooth collaboration - but imho it does not define elements of a good teacher. (Otoh when I tried to define such elements it was ignored and then dismissed as not mattering since we can take those elements for granted. (can we?))

Let's look at some possible scenarios that can arise from the suggestion - parent, student & teacher have the same goals.

Scenario 1: Parent, who knows nothing about music, wants child's playing to wow him within a short period of time and thinks that anything she will hear in practising must within a few weeks sound "beautiful". Her child is a genius, she can just feel it in her bones, and must not be stressed by demands or discipline. The child is certainly not averse to be seen this way. ---- What about the teacher here? If he is not a proper teacher with enough skills and knowledge he might actually be carried away by the fantasy and surely this would have to founder quickly. If he is a proper teacher he could cynically make a go of it. Find music that is easy to play but sounds impressive; give little tricks; choreograph - don't point out and correct weak things that that parent can't hear anyway, and the child won't be taught to hear.

Um - Doesn't that give you the dread transfer wreck? The kid with 3 years of lessons who mashes and bunches notes together carelessly and thinks he is a genius because he has been told so? The one would cannot match one note in a score to a piano key?

This is one of many possible scenarios. While it might keep parent and child happy with the teacher for a while, I can't see this as a definition of "good teacher", much less good teaching, IF teaching involves giving students the skills they need to play the instrument.

I suspect that what you are actually thinking of is this:
- good teacher knows how to teach (how to give the needed skills); needs a student who will work in the manner that the teacher gives, both in the studio and in practising at home.
- parent is willing to work with the teacher, ensuring that the child has the support that the teacher has in mind, both in studio and at home
- the teacher has the goal of forming skills (and this also goes with wanting to do well at competitions or in exams --- the skills must be formed), and parent and child go with it.

Am I correct?
If so, then you have defined a good working relationship between a good teacher, student, and parent - the teacher having a leading (leadership) role. But this does not in itself define the attributes of a good teacher.

I actually disagree with the premise of this shoe-sock fitting thing. A teacher must have the expertise, and then that teacher must take a leadership role. That can mean bucking what a parent or student "want" when they don't have the knowledge to go with it. The above scenario is deliberately extreme to drive the point home.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis
What you don't want is a teacher who teaches a student pieces by rote (apparently, there are teachers like that), or disregard reading skills, aural skills, theory, and all-round technique and musicianship.

And this...
Quote

And the teacher must be able to do all that, and have the kind of empathy to 'connect' with the student, and instil in him the love of making music that lasts a lifetime, which is strong enough to get him through the several hurdles (technical & musical) that will inevitably cross his path. Beware of any teacher who says that playing 'songs' from memory is what all his students achieve, or who believes that playing from memory is more important than reading skills.

And this...
Quote

Avoid like the plague any teacher that claims to be able to teach you to play a certain piece (any piece) within a few months. Because that teacher is almost certainly just going to teach you to copy him note-by-note.......

These are cornerstones of my teaching.

The biggest problem I have, especially with adults, is that students will push to learn piece A, B or C before they are ready, before the have the skills. I won't give in, but many teachers will simply because they get tired or the endless tug or war.

Not all adults are this way, and certainly not all kids....

This is what I want to see, whether it is for myself as a student, or for my child were my children still young. It is also what I mean by leadership by the person who is in the know.

I have a problem with the term "good fit". The "fit" that I think should be there is for the teaching to fit what needs to be learned, and the strengths and weaknesses of a student at any point in time, along with how that student learns - not to whims and ill informed wishes.

What was pointed out about adults has another side: the teacher who assumes that is what any adult student wants and then gears lessons toward that, rather than what the adult student needs in order to get the abilities that will allow him or her to play music on the piano. I feel rather strongly about this because I was caught out in my first music studies. Three years in when I asked about one element of music I was told "I didn't think you'd be interested." What does my interest have to do with the necessity of learning something? Does a school child get asked if he wants to learn math, but not reading, geometry but not arithmetic? Shall he grow up as an illiterate mathematician who needs somebody to read word problems out to him, because he was indulged in the "lack of interest" in learning to read?

If I study an instrument with a teacher, then I expect that teacher to understand his subject, what needs to be learned in roughly which order, how to guide me, and TO guide me there. I do not want my "feelings" to be "read" for what I "love" and "hate" to do - and then discover several years in that what was needed wasn't taught due to this.

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I think being a good "fit" and being "on the same page" are different things. They connote different positions and expectations. I think we can make compromises and somehow "fit" together without being fundamentally being on the same page--i.e., having the same outlook, expectations, desires, and goals.

So, would adaptability be an element of good teaching? The ability to adapt to different needs, different expectations, and different situations?


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There are MANY kinds of "good teachers" out there. It would be stupid to think otherwise.

I think if the thread stopped there, it wouldn't have to go on for pages and pages. I stand by my words, and I think any attempt at narrowing the criteria of what makes a "good" teacher would be an exercise in futility, as the entire concept of "good" is a subjective one, and what is good for me isn't necessarily good for another--and any common ground among the "good" teachers can basically be categorized under common sense:

1) know how to teach

2) know how to diagnose problems and offer solutions

3) know how to implement solutions and explain the steps involved

4) know how to choose repertoire in a sequential order that develops skills from basic to advanced

5) know how to inspire


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Originally Posted by keystring

I have a problem with the term "good fit". The "fit" that I think should be there is for the teaching to fit what needs to be learned, and the strengths and weaknesses of a student at any point in time, along with how that student learns - not to whims and ill informed wishes.

You did not quote me. I said:
Quote

And it doesn't always happen the first time around, because there is a matter of "fit". I may be the best teacher in the world from one student, and that student may be an ideal student for me. That doesn't mean that at some point I don't work with a student who might not do better with a different teacher.

I stand by what I wrote.

It's not only a matter of what the teacher knows, or the student wants. There are also personalities. Some people click. Some don't.

How you got from there to "whims and ill informed wishes" is not clear to me.

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There are MANY kinds of "good teachers" out there. It would be stupid to think otherwise.

I think if the thread stopped there, it wouldn't have to go on for pages and pages. I stand by my words, and I think any attempt at narrowing the criteria of what makes a "good" teacher would be an exercise in futility,...

Let's stop at "narrowing down" because I proposed some broad general baselines, no narrowing down. If you expect one thing while I write of another, there will be miscommunication.

Again, the broad baseline is this:
- the teacher understands the piano, the physical playing of the piano, and elements comprising piano music
- the teacher has some idea generally of how this might be taught, including the basic elements
- the teacher knows how to teach
- the teacher who has these abilities actually will use them to help the student learn

These are broad elements, and encompass many teaching styles.

It is not that you disagreed with these elements when I listed them: you found them too obvious to list. Yet if someone is asking "what elements make a good teacher" surely every one of these must be there.

We cannot assume that they are there.

Let's look at some examples that I have seen in the forum:

- The teacher who is making extra money teaching, but is totally into his performing. Student is confused about lessons which seem haphazard, cancellations with last minute notice. This person may not know how to teach, or may just not care (4th point in list).

- A teacher whose students all have problems with say reading, and in discussion it becomes clear that the teacher himself doesn't understand the thing the students have problems with. (1st 2 points)

When I first joined, there was someone who taught on the side, and complained about all his students, esp. the handful he was "preparing" for a grade 8 exam. With a bit of probing it turned out that he did not know how advanced music was approached - let alone knowing how to teach it - and his teaching seemed to consist of playing an advanced piece through fast to "inspire" his students. This man or woman was excited to learn in the forum about things like chunking music, isolating difficult elements, etc., and couldn't wait to try them. Point being that he didn't know of them, and therefore couldn't teach what he didn't know, and that is why all the students were having problems.

There has to be a minimal presence of the above four points for teaching to be effective. Can anyone say otherwise? I do not mean anything like omniscience or perfection. Everyone is always learning and improving. I respect and trust the teacher the most who says "I don't know." rather than the one who says "I know everything." and drives things into a dead end hole through that hubris. I even trust the beginning teacher who is still learning, including her own craft, but keeps asking, and exploring, and learning.

I hope that I made myself more clear. smile

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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There are MANY kinds of "good teachers" out there. It would be stupid to think otherwise.

I think if the thread stopped there, it wouldn't have to go on for pages and pages. I stand by my words, and I think any attempt at narrowing the criteria of what makes a "good" teacher would be an exercise in futility, as the entire concept of "good" is a subjective one, and what is good for me isn't necessarily good for another--and any common ground among the "good" teachers can basically be categorized under common sense:

1) know how to teach

2) know how to diagnose problems and offer solutions

3) know how to implement solutions and explain the steps involved

4) know how to choose repertoire in a sequential order that develops skills from basic to advanced

5) know how to inspire


thumb It would be good for others to read this as there is concrete information, concisely written..

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