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Shall we move on to a new teacher?
#2565136 08/22/16 07:36 PM
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We have a decision to make.

My boys have been with the current (and their first) piano teacher for 4 years now. She is young but has been teaching since she was 15. She got her degree in piano major from a top university of our country (and the university happens to be local).
She teaches all style of music, from classical to literally the pop song of the week and anything in between.
The boys are progressing, the older one is 12 now, the piece he has been playing in the past couple of months are : Etude in A Minor Op.61 No.13 , by Hermann Berens , OP 36, no 6 by Clementi, Shooting Stars in Summer by Ikeda, Entertainer by entertainer by Scott Joplin and La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin by Debussy, and of course the Pokemon Go theme song.
The younger just turned 9, playing Chicken Talk by Mike Schoenmehl, Happy Farmer by Robert Schumann and Happy Time Jazz by Martha Mier.
The two boys are quite different, and I can see she uses different approaches.

To me, she seems to have everything you can expect from your neighborhood piano teacher, she has the qualification, the knowledge, the experience, the attitude plus the charm. But again, she is our first teacher, and she has been the world we know of piano teaching.

Now, due to personal reasons, she wishes to reduce her hours at the music school and encourage us to move to a new teacher.

He has a PHD degree in music, traveled around the world, won several international competitions, actively performing and is very well connected to the performance community. But I am also told he doesn’t like to teach beginners or "lazy" students.

We can stay with her but there is an opportunity presented to us to study with him, shall we take the offer?

The boys are typical recreational students, they don’t take exam’s, move on to a new piece quickly and don’t usually polish a piece to a very high degree, hate most of the etudes and almost never practise scales. They like music in general but I cannot say they love classical music.

For students like them, are there benefits to moving them on to a seemingly higher profile teacher?
Would a serious teacher focus on classical music soon fire the not so serious students who hate to practice scales?

Thoughts?

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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565167 08/22/16 10:21 PM
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I would schedule a meeting with the suggested teacher. State the truth as you see it without mentioning that the boys don't practice much. See what he does in that first interview. Does he listen to your kids or does he seem a bit aloof? If he understands that kids aren't always ready for an all-classical diet, he'll probably be great.

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565173 08/22/16 11:01 PM
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The pedigree of the fellow you describe sounds like a very poor fit for your family, quite frankly. I would either continue with your present teacher or start looking around pronto for other prospects.

My prophecy: he will cure your boys of their enjoyment of the piano, and a year from now you will be begging teacher #1 to find room in her studio for her two former students.

Is teacher #2 someone you found or someone recommended by teacher #1? Either way, you can do better.

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
Peter K. Mose #2565176 08/22/16 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Is teacher #2 someone you found or someone recommended by teacher #1? Either way, you can do better.

The answer is buried in the middle of the OP's rather lengthy first post.
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Now, due to personal reasons, she [the boys' teacher] wishes to reduce her hours at the music school and encourage us to move to a new teacher.

As I understand it, the present teacher has recommended this particular teacher.

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
keystring #2565183 08/23/16 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring

As I understand it, the present teacher has recommended this particular teacher.


Correct, they work in the same music school.


Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565186 08/23/16 12:29 AM
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Why don't you schedule interview lessons with five different teachers? Try several teachers out. Then, make a decision.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
AZNpiano #2565200 08/23/16 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Why don't you schedule interview lessons with five different teachers? Try several teachers out. Then, make a decision.


I don't trust myself being able to make a decision after interviewing 5 different teachers. It would only make me more confused. I don't know what to look for. Technically, I trust every qualified teacher would be able to teach them. Personal fit? It takes time to know each other, I don't think one lesson is enough.

At this moment, it is either stay with her or this new teacher she recommended.

She is the boys first piano teacher, led them to a wonderful world of music. Now she says, there are different ways to explore this world, shall we listen to her and go try a different path?

To be honest, I am pretty sure the boys would be transfer wrecks to at least some piano teachers, the fact that they don't practice scales at all probably will shock many.

The intention is to provide them with the best musical education I can provide.

My question is, what are the risks and benefits to take this different path with a higher profile teacher. Should I just play safe and keep the boys in their comfort zone?


Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565212 08/23/16 03:07 AM
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Last year, four students actually transferred "down" to me, because they couldn't handle their previous teachers' high demands and/or teaching tactics. Two of them have been pushed so far ahead of their actual musical abilities and/or intelligence, it's almost impossible to bring them down to where they are without shattering some egos. It was a painful process, but since I'm the brutal teacher I did what I have to do.

So, to answer your question, it's not always the right path to go with the "best" qualified teacher. The student, teacher, and parents must be on the same page--and have common goals--for the experience to be a success.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565213 08/23/16 03:24 AM
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I agree with AZN: if you are thinking of transferring to a teacher that expects dedicated, practicing students, and receives 'casual' musicians who do not practice, are not in love with classical and are not interested in competitions, the result with be like oil and water. The likely outcome? your boys will quit. This possible new teacher will expect a degree of dedication and polishing that is not a fit for your boys.... there is absolutely nothing wrong with your sons' approach, it is just not a fit for this new teacher.

Advantage of changing teachers? I don't see anything but disaster. Stay where you are. Your boys are progressing, enjoy music and their lessons. You can't ask for anything more! Don't take that away from them.

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565256 08/23/16 09:19 AM
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[not a piano teacher]

I suggest interviewing new teachers until you find one that's a good fit.

When I was a young student, there were a number of teachers in my hometown who were good at bringing students up to a certain level, and then they'd suggest that they move on.

Unfortunately, when you get into the area of "advanced" teachers you often find people who are talented performers, but not talented (or motivated) teachers. After having many happy years with the same teacher, we (since my parents were involved) went through a series of teachers who, after a few lessons, didn't want to be my teacher for one reason or another because they were basically looking for younger versions of themselves to teach. This kind of routine can be very discouraging. It's worth taking the time to find a good fit for your kids.

I eventually found a wonderful teacher who was as talented as one could possibly be. Unfortunately I moved and she has since passed away. The good teachers are out there.


Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565274 08/23/16 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
...... she wishes to reduce her hours at the music school and encourage us to move to a new teacher.

He has a PHD degree in music, traveled around the world, won several international competitions, actively performing and is very well connected to the performance community. But I am also told he doesn’t like to teach beginners or "lazy" students.

We can stay with her but there is an opportunity presented to us to study with him, shall we take the offer?

The boys are typical recreational students, they don’t take exam’s, move on to a new piece quickly and don’t usually polish a piece to a very high degree, hate most of the etudes and almost never practise scales. They like music in general but I cannot say they love classical music.

For students like them, are there benefits to moving them on to a seemingly higher profile teacher?
Would a serious teacher focus on classical music soon fire the not so serious students who hate to practice scales?

Thoughts?

You've said it, and the decision is obvious.

Even with my background in strict classical and grade exams (and all that went with them - aural training, scales & arpeggios, sight-reading etc), I cannot recommend that new teacher for your boys, who've never had a focus on classical training, and don't love classical music. After four years of their current diet, that's not going to change.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565275 08/23/16 10:16 AM
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I do not recommend moving to a different teacher. Ask the current teacher if there's something that you can do to help - maybe if there's a different time for the lessons or something to make it easier for her to manage. But I would insist on the boys staying with her. It's clear from your post and they like her and are progressing well with her, so it's not a case of them outgrowing her at this point.

That day may come, but it's not here yet, and so if you can find a way to keep what's working going, that would be best for your boys.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565281 08/23/16 10:23 AM
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I would say that after 4 years with one piano teacher, another teacher can be a good thing. *IF* the fit is good with the new teacher, and that's a big if.

Don't feel obliged to stay with the present music school. But if you do, don't feel obliged to move to recommended teacher #2, about whom you already have valid misgivings. Talk to the school's director, and get a list of other available teachers, and then interview them. If you haven't found someone, then move outside your school, and start interviewing other teachers.

You will have to start trusting your insights: they have worked for you very well for 4 years.

Frankly I cannot understand why the choice for you must be confined to teacher #1 or teacher #2. You need to be firmer with #1, and tell her that you need at least two or three recommendations from her. Or else be even firmer with #1 and just say, "We're staying with you - you're the best!"

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565377 08/23/16 03:06 PM
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This line has been bugging me:

Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Now, due to personal reasons, she wishes to reduce her hours at the music school and encourage us to move to a new teacher.

What are the "personal reasons," exactly? Is she getting married? Having kids? Or is she considering leaving the music school?

If she's staying at the music school, and your kids are on her chopping block, have you considered why?

1) Is she no longer interested in teaching your kids?

2) Is she no longer capable of teaching your kids, and she wants to pass your kids up to a "higher authority"?

You might want to probe further.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
AZNpiano #2565427 08/23/16 05:09 PM
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She has been teaching in the music school 6 days a week, but in the past few years, she has gradually reduced it to 2 days a week, and we adjusted to her new time a couple of times already.
Now she will reduce the time to only 1 day a week, and it is not the day we take lessons. It would be quite a bit of hassle for her to make room for the boys in her only remaining day and also for us to re-arrange everything all over again.

And even if we go through all these troubles, we might eventually lose her altogether, and this prompts me to seriously consider making a change.

Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565440 08/23/16 05:52 PM
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I would ask your teacher for other recommendations. It's possible the reason teacher #2 was selected because your teacher doesn't have enough trust in the other teachers and has to recommend someone from the school. Otherwise it seems strange she would recommend someone who based on your description and reaction is not a good fit.



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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565502 08/23/16 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
She has been teaching in the music school 6 days a week, but in the past few years, she has gradually reduced it to 2 days a week, and we adjusted to her new time a couple of times already.
Now she will reduce the time to only 1 day a week...

It would seem that the writing is on the wall. The choice seems to be clear. You can view it from either of these two points of view:
1. Your children are in the bottom 50% of her students and she is downsizing them out the door.
2. Your children are in the upper 50% of her students and she is trying to help them move on so they don't get dropped when she closes down completely.
To me, it sounds like view number 2 is more likely, and even if it isn't, it's the one I would choose to believe and just move on.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565546 08/24/16 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
It would be quite a bit of hassle for her to make room for the boys in her only remaining day and also for us to re-arrange everything all over again.

In other words, the teacher doesn't want to teach your kids anymore. cool

Sounds like you should find your kids another piano teacher. Good luck!


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565561 08/24/16 06:01 AM
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I would recommend trying to find a dedicated teacher that teaches out of his/her home. My son's first teacher taught at a music store but she moved out of the country. She couldn't recommend another teacher due to conflict of interest but she STRONGLY recommended that we find a teacher with a home based studio. I don't think she was really supposed to say that to us but she did.


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Re: Shall we move on to a new teacher?
The Monkeys #2565588 08/24/16 08:19 AM
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I would find out more about teacher #2 and the type of students in his studio. If he has other recreational students and they are happy with him, then everything might be fine. If all the other students are serious with professional goals, I'd say you'd better look for other options. There are a lot of teachers "in between", who teach mostly recreational students but are able to send the few serious students to good conservatories.

My children's teacher had a conversation with me last year about the possibility of my children needing another teacher. He had been downsizing for a while because he took on so many other responsibilities (he had only a few K-12 students anyways). We ended up agreeing that, if my children and I felt that he wasn't giving my children enough time, we could ask him anytime about switching teachers and he would arrange it for us. But since that conversation, he actually put in more time teaching my kids, so we are still happily with him. My point is that as long as you don't feel that you or your kids did anything wrong, don't think too deeply about why the current teacher recommends someone else. You can never know for sure and the important thing is to find the next good fit.

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