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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Charles Cohen] #2664824
07/29/17 05:25 PM
07/29/17 05:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,835
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
. . .
If you are on disability and short on money, then you can honestly say that you're short on money. It will be absolutely understandable imo.


+1.

"I'm sorry, but I just can't afford lessons" is a very good reason. You're not to blame, and neither is the teacher. There's no reason _not_ to stay friends.



While I think honesty is the best policy, when a student tells me this, I think it's safe to assume that I'm no longer a good fit for them or they've moved on in their interests. Usually it's not due to something I've done, but oftentimes if there is something, students won't speak up about it.

Have you ever told your teacher that her criticism comes across as harsh and if she can try to be more positive? You have very right to say such things, and I know that personally if someone said this I'd feel bad, but then I'd be more conscientious about how I'm coming across, too.

If you haven't had that talk, then it's not really fair to the teacher. I you have and things haven't changed, then you can simply discontinue, and you DON'T need to explain why. Thank her for what she's taught you, and move on.

**edited to add an important missing work above: DON'T

Last edited by Morodiene; 07/29/17 11:29 PM.

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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664846
07/29/17 07:12 PM
07/29/17 07:12 PM
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Florida
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I just watched the video from your level 1 exam, and for a beginner one year in it sounded great to me! Expressive enough. Playing piano, IMO, is supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, and the teacher is the cause, I would think it best to make a change. Additionally, how can you be expected to play as expressively as an expert after just a year? I'm learning this takes time, and after four years, I'm just beginning to sense that I may be starting to get it. It also takes a mastery of music, and the time it takes to master music at this level might be better spent on learning more and varied material. That will keep it more fun and you will probably improve more. That's just my opinion.


Steinway A3
Boston 118 PE

Working On
Debussy Clair De Lune

"You Can Never Have Too Many Dream Pianos" -Thad Carhart
Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664855
07/29/17 07:53 PM
07/29/17 07:53 PM
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It is hard to play expressively and so you need to be able to invest that extra time to get it.

I would suggest you find a piece that really means something to you and you really like.

When you have that piece you love then you will be able to try and start expressing it through that.

You really don't need to do exams at all.

But even if you do taking time out of any music exam system may be helpful to get that freedom and enjoyment back.




Last edited by Moo :); 07/29/17 07:56 PM.
Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664865
07/29/17 08:45 PM
07/29/17 08:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 42
Canada
Notori Offline OP
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Thank you all for your replies!

As for talking to my teacher about it. I have actually brought it up once as more of a sit down talk, and from that point on I have been openly (but still civil) explaining each time it comes up in a lesson. At this point money IS also an honest issue for me. I've been struggling to afford these lessons but did so because I wanted to learn from another person and share music that way. But the experience during my level 1 lessons was not a fluke, it seems, and so I can't set myself up for another five months of paying. Not when it's not making me improve, and in fact is a hindrance.

It's a lot of advising me to play something a certain way and, in my mind I'm thinking "Okay good, these are notes I can work with over the next two weeks and come back to her with improvements." But she expects me to change it right then and there which simply isn't going to happen. When I'm paying a dollar a minute for this, and we spend minutes on stuff that I know is better to fix at home on my own time, I get even more stressed.

All in all... it's just not fun anymore. It's a shame because she's nice outside of this exact context - and she DOES know her stuff. But I'd rather get 80s on my exams and have fun than be miserable to get 90s.

Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664880
07/29/17 11:35 PM
07/29/17 11:35 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,835
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Notori
Thank you all for your replies!

As for talking to my teacher about it. I have actually brought it up once as more of a sit down talk, and from that point on I have been openly (but still civil) explaining each time it comes up in a lesson. At this point money IS also an honest issue for me. I've been struggling to afford these lessons but did so because I wanted to learn from another person and share music that way. But the experience during my level 1 lessons was not a fluke, it seems, and so I can't set myself up for another five months of paying. Not when it's not making me improve, and in fact is a hindrance.

It's a lot of advising me to play something a certain way and, in my mind I'm thinking "Okay good, these are notes I can work with over the next two weeks and come back to her with improvements." But she expects me to change it right then and there which simply isn't going to happen. When I'm paying a dollar a minute for this, and we spend minutes on stuff that I know is better to fix at home on my own time, I get even more stressed.

All in all... it's just not fun anymore. It's a shame because she's nice outside of this exact context - and she DOES know her stuff. But I'd rather get 80s on my exams and have fun than be miserable to get 90s.


I'm not there so I can't really say, but to tell a student to play expressively and not explain exactly how (and I don't mean by copying what the teacher wants to express musically) is not good teaching. And it's affecting your interest in piano. Time to say goodbye, I think.


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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664884
07/29/17 11:56 PM
07/29/17 11:56 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,382
western MA, USA
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Originally Posted by Notori
Thank you all for your replies!

As for talking to my teacher about it. I have actually brought it up once as more of a sit down talk, and from that point on I have been openly (but still civil) explaining each time it comes up in a lesson. At this point money IS also an honest issue for me. I've been struggling to afford these lessons but did so because I wanted to learn from another person and share music that way. But the experience during my level 1 lessons was not a fluke, it seems, and so I can't set myself up for another five months of paying. Not when it's not making me improve, and in fact is a hindrance.

It's a lot of advising me to play something a certain way and, in my mind I'm thinking "Okay good, these are notes I can work with over the next two weeks and come back to her with improvements." But she expects me to change it right then and there which simply isn't going to happen. When I'm paying a dollar a minute for this, and we spend minutes on stuff that I know is better to fix at home on my own time, I get even more stressed.

All in all... it's just not fun anymore. It's a shame because she's nice outside of this exact context - and she DOES know her stuff. But I'd rather get 80s on my exams and have fun than be miserable to get 90s.

Hi Notori,

Two thoughts. First: In my experience as a teacher, most students do not apply corrections that are given in the lesson unless they actually go through trying to play it that way in the lesson a few times. Just nodding and saying "ok" isn't enough to make sure they'll remember to practice it that way at home. So I have the habit of having students try to integrate corrections right then and there. It's usually hard for them, and that's part of the process, but they usually can do it at least a little bit and then it's better after a week of practice.
Now, if you really are different, and you can hear a verbal correction, say "ok" and then remember to practice it that way at home, AND you can bring the pieces back the next lesson showing the teacher that you integrated the correction, then you might actually get more out of your lessons if you have a shorter lesson during which you play everything once, the teacher gives corrections, and then you go home and work on the corrections on your own time. Less expensive lesson and less stressful for you and more efficient for the teacher too as she'd get to give you a lot more suggestions in a shorter time without taking the time to walk you through each one.

Second: In my experience as a student, being asked to change things about how I was playing was always difficult. And depending on the teacher, I often felt vulnerable, upset, or frustrated at the time as I struggled to do what the teacher wanted and wasn't even sure I liked the sound of what the teacher wanted. But 90% of the time, when I did get it, very often much later than the time of the lesson, I was grateful. The other 10% of the time I just said, ok, I don't like the sound of that particular idea and I will maybe play it that way in my lesson but nowhere else.
Maybe it's about being ok with the vulnerable and frustrated feeling, knowing that it will lead to growth.
But if the material isn't valuable enough to you to make you want to go through the frustration, or if the teacher is so unkind in lessons that it really feels yucky, then that is something else and maybe a change of teachers is in order.


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

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664927
07/30/17 08:20 AM
07/30/17 08:20 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 305
In the mountains of NC
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You've only been learning for a year and a half, still working on only 4 pieces over the course of one year, and you expect to be able to play with emotion, like your teacher? You're feeling disappointment, frustration, incompetence? Rightfully so.

It is totally unrealistic of you at your current stage to expect to play with emotion, because you simply cannot play with emotion until you have first learned to play the piano, which is entirely more complicated than most people here and elsewhere have the gumption or honestly to relay to the student of the piano. Only until you've obtained intimate familiarity with the piano and the comfort that is associated with such familiarity will you then have the extra room inside your mind to comfortably be able to add emotion to your playing as required.

The fact that you can reportedly play with emotion during events of improvisation is only so because well, you're only satisfying yourself, so of course it sounds good...to you. Others however, may have a different opinion. And other people's music only feels empty to you because you currently can't play it correctly, and if you can't play it correctly, how could you possibly expect to understand it emotionally?

Being trully and honestly successful at playing the piano requires years of study, with the student requiring an inherent or natural ability of better than average eye/hand coordination, while receiving the right training and expending great amounts of effort. And this doesn't come cheaply, sometimes not even at all. There is no amount of ca$h, musical book, YouTube video, nor words from a Piano World forum member with 25,138 posts which can magically transform a person into a virtuoso, in fact there are no guarantees whatsoever that any student will even be the least bit successful or excel beyond a certain point. Many will try and many will fail - even with the very best of instruction and the very best piano money can buy. Why do you think there is such a glutton of used pianos on the market across the globe, many of which can't even be given away?

Also, this statement of yours bothers me:

"I'm 26 and started about a year and a half ago - first on viola, then switched to piano because I need it for the RCM composition and theory certificate."

Most people choose to learn to play a particular musical instrument for no other reason then they want to...not because they feel they have to. Motivation is a critical factor when it comes to ones yearning to learn, and if your mind isn't in it for the right reasons, your heart will surely not follow...

This may sound harsh and you have my most sincerest apologies, but I suggest you reevaluate your goals and include reality in your expectations. Also please stop blaming yourself for not having a skill that you yourself couldn't possibly expect to have acquired in such a short period of time while learning to play the piano.

Best wishes to you.

Regards,
Andy

Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664973
07/30/17 12:15 PM
07/30/17 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Notori
Does anyone have any advice on how to really connect with music you're playing?


One big factor is "Does the style of music you're playing really move you?"

I spent a lot of time in my early study being assigned classical pieces that didn't particularly move me. I am much more engaged in the style of music I play now and I am thus motivated to try to polish the pieces much more.

Regardless, even if classical is what you groove on, I consider it bordering on impossible to stay motivated by playing the same four pieces over more than the course of a year. For pieces that are getting tiresome, it can be helpful to set them aside for a while and then return to the later when they will seem fresher.

As other posters have also said, a lot of musical expression is really more about certain techniques and isn't necessarily about your inner emotional state. But those techniques--heck, even just learning to hear those things--take time to develop (at least in my case), so it seems a bit unfair to expect you to pick all that up right away.


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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2664984
07/30/17 12:42 PM
07/30/17 12:42 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 42
Canada
Notori Offline OP
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I'd just like to clarify a few things:

1) The whole "four pieces in a year" thing isn't relevant anymore. That was last year and ONLY because I injured my wrist and therefore couldn't play at all for a few months and then had to relearn technique. My teacher's style is not only assigning four pieces a year as a rule. It was an exception made for unfortunate circumstances. And again, I'm not even doing those ones anymore because I'm onto Level 2.

2) As for getting half hour lesson: Unfortunately it's just not worth it time-wise. It takes me an hour to an hour and a half to get to my teacher's home, and another to come back. Doing that for only a half hour is just too impractical for me. I started with her at half hour lessons and it just didn't work.

---

Anyway, re-evaluating my priorities is something that's been on my mind for a few months now. This isn't the first time I've considered stepping away from formal lessons - it's been on my mind for almost six months now if not more. I even had thoughts of quitting music altogether. But in that re-evaluating I discovered that I do still love it. It's still fun when I can do it on my own time. For all three - viola, piano, and theory - my teacher has given me a lot of good basic steps. But because of that there's nothing in my lessons that's news to me. When I play something off, I know it. I just need time to get better at it. But she makes me feel dumb for not being able to play like her, despite it being perfectly reasonable that I can't yet.

Personally, I do still like the exam system. It's a nice motivator and goal to work towards - as well as it pushes me along a path of formal education in something I'm interested in.

Thanks again for the advice and support, everyone. It's nice to know that the issue of being able to play emotionally will come with time, and that it's normal for me to not be able to do that yet.

Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665085
07/30/17 07:05 PM
07/30/17 07:05 PM
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I would just like to say that a bad experience with a teacher (or with the exam system!) does not necessarily correlate with not liking music. I will tell you my story - so hopefully you won't feel bad about your decision in the end.

In my own experience my first piano teacher I was with for about 10 years suddenly died. We had a lot of fun. I had done grade 5 exams and was started doing the grade 6. I had to get a new teacher which was quite a serious one. It was a horrible experience. I had to start having music theory lessons as my teacher would not teach my trinity exam system and in this new board I had to do 5 ! grades of music theory before being allowed to do grade 6 piano.

So there was me dutifully going for two seasons a week, one for piano and one for the theory, for several years. Music theory is very dull and makes you feel like you are going back to school. I had to do all sorts of strange things. I even got a distinction in the grade 5 theory but what a nonsense I thought it was. I don't think it helped my playing at all but it was a requirement of me doing my grade 6.

So some years later I did the exam but it was painful. We had to spend a lot longer doing the exam stuff because had a long gap doing the pieces. So I remember getting fed up with the pieces and playing just 3 pieces for months and months. I felt nothing for it, other than stress and anxiety.

There were also not very good pieces. In the book there was only three pieces and I was told to chose one. Some of the baroque or classical pieces don't interest me but I had two of them to play for this grade 6. Also for this exam you also had to learn millions of scales, l had to know every scale in every key, and we went over and over it. Painful.

That was not the worst. The worst with the ear tests. Basically one day I remember being really tired after school and going to my teacher. I spent 30 minutes singing. I could not get it. You had to do some daft nonsense in the ear tests but what I could not stand was the singing. Not singing even the tune - I still remember it was sing the base. I can't even sing but no she could not accept that. We went over and over and over it. This was the last straw. I decided from that lesson I would give up. I told my mum I wanted to stop. I was very unhappy with the teacher and felt like a complete tool. I finally did my grade 6. Mark was good but I could not careless.

My piano playing was somewhat in the wildness for a long time. I think I was preparing for an exam and this gave me the thought to take up piano again. Some years later I restarted as an adult. Progress now is very quick.

I tell you this as perhaps it is your experience with your teacher and with the frustration was something that made me stop, but it was not something I ever had with my first teacher or with my last. I hope this will mean you don't stop music, even if you decide to not have the lessons.

Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Morodiene] #2665099
07/30/17 08:22 PM
07/30/17 08:22 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
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Canada
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I want to bump this.
Originally Posted by Morodiene

I'm not there so I can't really say, but to tell a student to play expressively and not explain exactly how (and I don't mean by copying what the teacher wants to express musically) is not good teaching. And it's affecting your interest in piano. Time to say goodbye, I think.

Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665150
07/31/17 03:47 AM
07/31/17 03:47 AM
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Posts: 333
Pennsylvania
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Hello Notori (and followers),

Speaking to your original post :

Originally Posted by Notori
Hi! I'm new here and fairly new to music as a whole. I'm 26 and started about a year and a half ago - first on viola, then switched to piano because .... my main issue I'm having is I've been told I lack emotion when I play.... I don't really feel anything towards the pieces I'm playing for my exam either...



I just read the above portion of your original inquiry and stopped reading, unable to progress reading further due to having been interrupted with memory of a breakthrough of sorts that happened (very unexpectedly) around the period of 16 months from the time in Summer 15' of beginning (55 year old) beginner's lessons with an instructor. Roughly speaking, the breakthrough happened ( in late August, by the way) while approaching the middle section of book 2 of the two book course that was the main guide from which instructor was instructing.

Over a period of 7 to 10 days, I noticed two things that seemed to come together and happen out-of-the-blue (quite unexpectedly): #1, the ongoing sense of having been grinding away many weeks on end with lessons, practice and progress through the course (painfully slow at times ) suddenly changed to pleasant relief upon hitting a string of several consecutive practice pieces across two chapters for which I began playing correctly, in time with good rythm and dynamics; #2, all of these pieces were no-names outside the context of the book. They are not well-known compositions but simply pieces taylored and written by the course author to demonstrate particular concepts BUT I very much did connect, emotionally, with every one in the string. One of the pieces in the string "Autumn Breeze" took me back to memories over 40 years past. I did not plan for nor expect this, it just happened.

This may be something for which it cannot be "taught" or othetwise coaxed or contrived at the beginner's level ..... there may not be one size fits all ..... or possibly kinda like falling in love ( no guarantee it will happen for anybody but if it does, you know when it happens).

Also consider you are still quite young by comparisson .....sometimes people may need to get knocked around in this world a while longer before they have accumulated the right combination of experiences to be able to have deeply emotional connections to whatever pieces may happen to come along with the book/course/method from which you are currently being instructed.

Best wishes!

Last edited by drewr; 07/31/17 03:54 AM.

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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665216
07/31/17 01:03 PM
07/31/17 01:03 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,835
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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I think we are all emotional beings, and we all know how to feel, even if we never experienced a feeling first-hand. But being able to play in a way that it evokes a particular emotion in the listener is something altogether different. There is actually a technique to it. Some may happen upon it, but it *is* teachable, and if a teacher is asking one to do it, it can be taught how to do it, even if a student can't do it perfectly in the lesson.

I gathered from these posts that the teacher is simply trying to get Notori to play as she is playing rather than developing their own musicality and sense of style. This, I believe, can be taught at any level of playing as long as the student knows the particular piece they are playing well enough.

I've seen where a student's creativity can be squashed by a dominant personality (like a teacher) who demands a student play music a certain way, rather than helping the student understand how to express their own ideas. The student ends up feeling beaten down, like they are dumb for not getting it, or that they can't possibly have an idea different than the teacher, or not allowed to express it at lessons, etc. These are all negative feelings that build up over time and can cause the student to even quit piano (or whatever creative endeavor) all together.

Only the OP can really say if this is the case, or if something else is going on as heather described.


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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665422
08/01/17 12:02 PM
08/01/17 12:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 42
Canada
Notori Offline OP
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Morodiene just described it perfectly. A lot of the debate between my teacher and myself comes in the form of her wanting me to make minor changes to the score to enhance musical expression, but they have to be HER changes. There are times that I - when I play a piece - emotionally feel it should be louder or softer, whatever it may be, and I play as such because I get into the moment. But then get criticized. And it goes back to her wanting me to repeat what she is doing.

For example, the study I'm doing for my level 2 exam. There's nothing that specifies it should finish off with diminuendo, and the way the piece goes - to me - sounds a lot better if I end it off dramatically. Not fortissimo hammering away at it, but having it rise to this grand finale. Ending it with diminuendo sounds more like it's just dying away and nothing is really there. but that's how my teacher wants me to play.

I didn't tell her this, but at my level 1 exam, I played how I wanted to. I left in the repeats that I wanted and played the way I always do at home. And I got 93%. My reason for quitting lessons is because I realized I am already choosing to - not ignore - but not follow a lot of what she says because it doesn't fit for me. If I had played how I wanted to and bombed my exam, then I would respect that I was wrong and she was right. But that isn't what happened.

So I'm stopping lessons, at least with her and at least for now, so that my creativity and joy for music doesn't get bashed down into nothing. I haven't touched my piano since my lesson on Thursday except for a few minutes of trying to go over the pieces but all that was coming out was "I give up." And a whole lot of doubt in what I heard. Whereas before my lesson, I knew where my faults were. Some places I always slip, I need to work on left hand jumps in some places, and so on. I'm not ready for an exam now and I know it. But I had the will to practice and get better. After a lesson with her I just don't care anymore. That's why I'm stopping.

Last edited by Notori; 08/01/17 12:35 PM.
Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665423
08/01/17 12:08 PM
08/01/17 12:08 PM
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Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by Notori
After a lesson with her I just don't care anymore. That's why I'm stopping.


I have not read any of the comments previous to this.

However, just this one statement is enough for me to agree.

If you are unhappy with your teacher to the point you would say that .... it is time for a change.

Good Luck to you


Don

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Re: Lacking Emotion [Re: Notori] #2665446
08/01/17 01:58 PM
08/01/17 01:58 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,835
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by Notori
Morodiene just described it perfectly. A lot of the debate between my teacher and myself comes in the form of her wanting me to make minor changes to the score to enhance musical expression, but they have to be HER changes. There are times that I - when I play a piece - emotionally feel it should be louder or softer, whatever it may be, and I play as such because I get into the moment. But then get criticized. And it goes back to her wanting me to repeat what she is doing.

For example, the study I'm doing for my level 2 exam. There's nothing that specifies it should finish off with diminuendo, and the way the piece goes - to me - sounds a lot better if I end it off dramatically. Not fortissimo hammering away at it, but having it rise to this grand finale. Ending it with diminuendo sounds more like it's just dying away and nothing is really there. but that's how my teacher wants me to play.

I didn't tell her this, but at my level 1 exam, I played how I wanted to. I left in the repeats that I wanted and played the way I always do at home. And I got 93%. My reason for quitting lessons is because I realized I am already choosing to - not ignore - but not follow a lot of what she says because it doesn't fit for me. If I had played how I wanted to and bombed my exam, then I would respect that I was wrong and she was right. But that isn't what happened.

So I'm stopping lessons, at least with her and at least for now, so that my creativity and joy for music doesn't get bashed down into nothing. I haven't touched my piano since my lesson on Thursday except for a few minutes of trying to go over the pieces but all that was coming out was "I give up." And a whole lot of doubt in what I heard. Whereas before my lesson, I knew where my faults were. Some places I always slip, I need to work on left hand jumps in some places, and so on. I'm not ready for an exam now and I know it. But I had the will to practice and get better. After a lesson with her I just don't care anymore. That's why I'm stopping.

This is really unfortunate that your teacher was doing this. You obviously have put thought into what you want to express, and in the end, it's *your* name on the line, not hers. I've had students do some crazy stuff, but it's what they wanted to do, and I wasn't going to squash that.

Take some time off, maybe look at some new pieces that aren't affected by how you were feeling when you are ready to start piano again. You will come to love it again. smile


private piano/voice teacher FT

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