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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727830
04/10/18 01:22 AM
04/10/18 01:22 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
In this particular event, teachers all receive performance schedules with students listed by teacher. Students who move on to the Honors Recital are also listed by teacher on the schedules. I recently heard of a parent who screamed at her child's teacher after a recital in which the student made mistakes. I'm sure there are many parents who think the teacher didn't prepare their child enough to win a competition, or award or perform well in a recital.

I've never seen teacher names attached to the student names, except in the case of a "winners list." And even if it is done, I've never seen a teacher getting yelled at. That's the most outlandish thing I can imagine.

Some parents do put way too much emphasis on competition results. Those are not the parents you want to work for, anyway. They are always the headache parents.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I believe it is my job to ensure the student learns enough to eventually not need me anymore. Isn't that the goal of teaching?

It can be a goal, but how many kids actually get there?


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727843
04/10/18 03:52 AM
04/10/18 03:52 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,653
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Opus_Maximus  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,653
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I've had many students for 5 - 10 years, which is a fairly good statistic in our music store. With those students, I am noticing I am less tolerant of disregard for instructions.

Over the years, I continue to work with some students on technique-- pre-teen boys who still play with flat, dented or flying fingers, resulting in uneven, unclear notes, concepts learned at the start. Through example, I stress that curving the fingers and keeping them close to the keys will aid in speed, but clarity comes first.

In particular, one student still focuses mainly on how fast he can play. I continue to remind students that fast does not mean good playing. Student played a piece so fast that notes were missed, it was uneven, dynamics, staccato and legato were not followed. . These are concepts learned in the first 6 months of lessons.At this point, I should not have to tell him this at every lesson. This student, and most of my male students ignore fingering notations in the music, despite my highlighting-- I shouldn't have to do this any longer. I was so frustrated, I told him the piece was a mess. I've tried everything, sharing videos, recording him, at every lesson I stress musicality, not speed, but I feel like they just go home and do what they want.

No matter how much I explain, or provide tantalizing presentations on how technique, fingering, etc. all are there for very good reasons, week after week, I find myself facing the same issues. I take some responsibility as I've always focused on a positive atmosphere, and handled critiques gently. As a result, perhaps those critiques were often disregarded because I wasn't taken seriously. How often, or much do you remind students, or insist that these concepts are followed?



Lots of great advice has already been given, so I'll just add two points that may be helpful:

1.) Try some reverse psychology with the speed daemon: Coax him into playing slowly by telling him that to play slowly, evenly, and with every detail intact is actually a lot harder than playing fast. Make it a challenge for him. I tell my students that Rachmaninoff used to practice for hours at one note per second or slower (True Story). Possibly offer him a reward of some kind for being able to play a certain section at a certain metronome speed and NO FASTER. A lot of teenage boys like the concept of a challenge. If the ability to play slow and controlled is looked upon as a skill in itself, (rather than a means to an end) students will be more wiling to take on the challenge. I have one student who is living proof of this method.

2.) For the really wild, out of control ones, I would just ignore hand position. It IS possible to play with speed, rhythmically correct, with unorthodox hand positions (low wrist, collapsing joints and bridge, etc.). Doing this is not ideal, but it's more ideal than trying to do the juggling act of having them focus on rhythm, tempo control, AND hand position all at once, which is likely too much. I'm a strong believer that bad physical habits at the keyboard are actually related to focus/motivation/rhythmic/attitude issues, and when these improve, space is freed up to work on the physical aspects.

And lastly, as AZN and Gary said, don't be afraid to be tough. Really really tough. (Maybe not for children, but for teens.) Tell them how selfish they are being for squandering their parents money by not taking their instruction seriously, while dozens of kids can't even afford piano lessons and would love to be in their shoes. Remind them that this is a privilege that most of society never had. Tell them that you dread coming to work because of them. Don't let them play even two beats incorrectly without sternly shouting NO!! Do that for weeks on the same page if need be (I know that seems tiring, but it's less tiring than having to listen to the same terrible performance every week). Don't be afraid to say things like "Terrible" "Worst I've ever heard" "Shocked how bad this was" "What are you not listening to me?" etc. This is not abusive, sadistic, or discouraging. It's called teaching.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 04/10/18 03:58 AM.
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727951
04/10/18 01:11 PM
04/10/18 01:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,258
South Florida
G
Gary D. Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Gary D.  Offline
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G
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,258
South Florida
Before someone jumps on me for all caps, I don't have time to go through the hoops that this system requires me to use to get italics. Normally I just underline and hit <control i>. That doesn't work here, and I don't have time to get around the clumsy coding.

Here is how I deal with speed demons:

1. Cut down what I listen to: I start with the very last page, or last section, or last phrase. This, by the way, is how I have always worked myself.
2. Make sure the notes are in place first, because otherise this is what my students do:

Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.

I'm not exaggerating. Until I teach them to do otherwise, this is what ALL my students do. They believe that by endless repetition sooner or later they will "beat the horse to death", so they go around in circles. They are figuratively driving wrong information into their heads.

3. Make sure the fingering is right, because fingering that does not work is the single greatest cause of technical problems. WRONG FINGERING NEVER FIXES ITSELF.

4. Absolutely insist that until something is right, we SLOW DOWN AND GET IT RIGHT.

5. Wrong notes and wrong fingering while learning are absolutely disastrous. No one improves playing like this. NO ONE.

6. You can't count or track rhythm while you are struggling with notes and fingering. Even if you understand how something sounds, even if you can hear it perfectly in your head, you have to get the physical foundation first. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT WHILE YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHICH KEY TO PRESS NEXT OR WITH WHAT FINGER TO PRESS DOWN THE KEY.

7. You don't go to the next section until the last section is solid.

8 Once the end is learned, next go to the hardest section.

9. DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING, EVER, UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING PHYSICALLY .

If any student, of any age, for any reason starts playing something from the beginning and it is not working, I immediately stop that student. I don't wait 5 minutes, suffering through a mess.

There is not enough time. This is a waste of energy, for me and for the student. I check things in sections first. After we have worked in sections, THEN we see if the whole thing hangs together.

While preparing for any kind of performance - and this could be for a talent show, for church, for a wedding, for some kind of event - I do this sectional checking. There will always be multiple checkpoints, so we check the ending, we check the hardest part, then we work backwards from hard to easy. It is possible that the hardest spot may be at the beginning, but this is very rare. In anything that goes fast, usually the toughest part is near the end, and you always have to get THROUGH that part to get to the end.

No one speeds in my lessons. It just doesn't happen, because I don't allow it. I don't allow it because it does not work. It does not work because it leads to failure, and sometimes that failure includes great embarrassment, when things totally fall apart in front of an audience.

If teachers set up rules, and they always stick to these rules, those rules become second nature. But these rules need to be put into place when lessons start. When working with transfer students, it's a matter of retraining, because transfer students will come to us with the habits they have formed from previous teaching, and if the previous teachers have been inferior, the practice habits they come in with will be equally inferior.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/10/18 01:12 PM.

Piano Teacher
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2727988
04/10/18 03:34 PM
04/10/18 03:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 325
Z
Zaphod Online sad
Full Member
Zaphod  Online Sad
Full Member
Z
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 325
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Before someone jumps on me for all caps, I don't have time to go through the hoops that this system requires me to use to get italics. Normally I just underline and hit <control i>. That doesn't work here, and I don't have time to get around the clumsy coding.

Here is how I deal with speed demons:

1. Cut down what I listen to: I start with the very last page, or last section, or last phrase. This, by the way, is how I have always worked myself.
2. Make sure the notes are in place first, because otherise this is what my students do:

Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.

I'm not exaggerating. Until I teach them to do otherwise, this is what ALL my students do. They believe that by endless repetition sooner or later they will "beat the horse to death", so they go around in circles. They are figuratively driving wrong information into their heads.

3. Make sure the fingering is right, because fingering that does not work is the single greatest cause of technical problems. WRONG FINGERING NEVER FIXES ITSELF.

4. Absolutely insist that until something is right, we SLOW DOWN AND GET IT RIGHT.

5. Wrong notes and wrong fingering while learning are absolutely disastrous. No one improves playing like this. NO ONE.

6. You can't count or track rhythm while you are struggling with notes and fingering. Even if you understand how something sounds, even if you can hear it perfectly in your head, you have to get the physical foundation first. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT WHILE YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHICH KEY TO PRESS NEXT OR WITH WHAT FINGER TO PRESS DOWN THE KEY.

7. You don't go to the next section until the last section is solid.

8 Once the end is learned, next go to the hardest section.

9. DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING, EVER, UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING PHYSICALLY .

If any student, of any age, for any reason starts playing something from the beginning and it is not working, I immediately stop that student. I don't wait 5 minutes, suffering through a mess.

There is not enough time. This is a waste of energy, for me and for the student. I check things in sections first. After we have worked in sections, THEN we see if the whole thing hangs together.

While preparing for any kind of performance - and this could be for a talent show, for church, for a wedding, for some kind of event - I do this sectional checking. There will always be multiple checkpoints, so we check the ending, we check the hardest part, then we work backwards from hard to easy. It is possible that the hardest spot may be at the beginning, but this is very rare. In anything that goes fast, usually the toughest part is near the end, and you always have to get THROUGH that part to get to the end.

No one speeds in my lessons. It just doesn't happen, because I don't allow it. I don't allow it because it does not work. It does not work because it leads to failure, and sometimes that failure includes great embarrassment, when things totally fall apart in front of an audience.

If teachers set up rules, and they always stick to these rules, those rules become second nature. But these rules need to be put into place when lessons start. When working with transfer students, it's a matter of retraining, because transfer students will come to us with the habits they have formed from previous teaching, and if the previous teachers have been inferior, the practice habits they come in with will be equally inferior.



You sound like the kind of teacher I'd like to have.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728026
04/10/18 05:53 PM
04/10/18 05:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 463
P
pianoMom2006 Offline
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Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 463
My perspective as a piano parent....

* I'd hate to receive a technical email from a piano teacher. I don't know how to play piano and I wouldn't really know how to respond. If something is not working- please bring me in the lesson. While I might not understand everything- I'd get something from the lesson which I can remind my son each night. My son's teacher tells me all the time that it's her job to teach my son how to play piano. I bet many parents don't sit in lessons because the don't think they should. Now that my son is older- I just take his teacher's lead on whether I should sit in or not (mostly not as he's 11 years old).

* I want a piano teacher that's willing to work with the overall goals that our family has in terms of lessons (serious, casual learner, eg.)

* One thing you can do to cut down on the talking is when you call in a new student in is to direct all of your attention on the new student.

* I think the best piano teacher is both kind but firm.


Yamaha G2
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2728043
04/10/18 06:58 PM
04/10/18 06:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,340
Reseda, California
J
JohnSprung Offline
Unobtanium Subscriber
JohnSprung  Offline
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J
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,340
Reseda, California
Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Coax him into playing slowly by telling him that to play slowly, evenly, and with every detail intact is actually a lot harder than playing fast. Make it a challenge for him.


It's like riding a bicycle -- anybody can go fast, it takes skill to go very slow without falling.


-- J.S.

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Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Zaphod] #2728178
04/11/18 08:54 AM
04/11/18 08:54 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 844
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
500 Post Club Member
NobleHouse  Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 844
In the Ozarks of Missouri
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Before someone jumps on me for all caps, I don't have time to go through the hoops that this system requires me to use to get italics. Normally I just underline and hit <control i>. That doesn't work here, and I don't have time to get around the clumsy coding.

Here is how I deal with speed demons:

1. Cut down what I listen to: I start with the very last page, or last section, or last phrase. This, by the way, is how I have always worked myself.
2. Make sure the notes are in place first, because otherise this is what my students do:

Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.
Press wrong notes, correct.

I'm not exaggerating. Until I teach them to do otherwise, this is what ALL my students do. They believe that by endless repetition sooner or later they will "beat the horse to death", so they go around in circles. They are figuratively driving wrong information into their heads.

3. Make sure the fingering is right, because fingering that does not work is the single greatest cause of technical problems. WRONG FINGERING NEVER FIXES ITSELF.

4. Absolutely insist that until something is right, we SLOW DOWN AND GET IT RIGHT.

5. Wrong notes and wrong fingering while learning are absolutely disastrous. No one improves playing like this. NO ONE.

6. You can't count or track rhythm while you are struggling with notes and fingering. Even if you understand how something sounds, even if you can hear it perfectly in your head, you have to get the physical foundation first. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT WHILE YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHICH KEY TO PRESS NEXT OR WITH WHAT FINGER TO PRESS DOWN THE KEY.

7. You don't go to the next section until the last section is solid.

8 Once the end is learned, next go to the hardest section.

9. DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING, EVER, UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING PHYSICALLY .

If any student, of any age, for any reason starts playing something from the beginning and it is not working, I immediately stop that student. I don't wait 5 minutes, suffering through a mess.

There is not enough time. This is a waste of energy, for me and for the student. I check things in sections first. After we have worked in sections, THEN we see if the whole thing hangs together.

While preparing for any kind of performance - and this could be for a talent show, for church, for a wedding, for some kind of event - I do this sectional checking. There will always be multiple checkpoints, so we check the ending, we check the hardest part, then we work backwards from hard to easy. It is possible that the hardest spot may be at the beginning, but this is very rare. In anything that goes fast, usually the toughest part is near the end, and you always have to get THROUGH that part to get to the end.

No one speeds in my lessons. It just doesn't happen, because I don't allow it. I don't allow it because it does not work. It does not work because it leads to failure, and sometimes that failure includes great embarrassment, when things totally fall apart in front of an audience.

If teachers set up rules, and they always stick to these rules, those rules become second nature. But these rules need to be put into place when lessons start. When working with transfer students, it's a matter of retraining, because transfer students will come to us with the habits they have formed from previous teaching, and if the previous teachers have been inferior, the practice habits they come in with will be equally inferior.



You sound like the kind of teacher I'd like to have.


+1 thumb

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2728286
04/11/18 05:17 PM
04/11/18 05:17 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
C
chasingrainbows Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
chasingrainbows  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
My perspective as a piano parent....

* I'd hate to receive a technical email from a piano teacher. I don't know how to play piano and I wouldn't really know how to respond. If something is not working- please bring me in the lesson. While I might not understand everything- I'd get something from the lesson which I can remind my son each night. My son's teacher tells me all the time that it's her job to teach my son how to play piano. I bet many parents don't sit in lessons because the don't think they should. Now that my son is older- I just take his teacher's lead on whether I should sit in or not (mostly not as he's 11 years old).

* I want a piano teacher that's willing to work with the overall goals that our family has in terms of lessons (serious, casual learner, eg.)

* One thing you can do to cut down on the talking is when you call in a new student in is to direct all of your attention on the new student.

* I think the best piano teacher is both kind but firm.


pianomom, the dad initially sat in on his son's lessons for the first year. That was 6 years ago. He is well aware of his son's tendency to play too fast. He's also familiar with the basic concepts I emailed him about.

I'm not sure what exactly you are saying when you posted:

One thing you can do to cut down on the talking is when you call in a new student in is to direct all of your attention on the new student.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/11/18 05:20 PM.

Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2728315
04/11/18 07:22 PM
04/11/18 07:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 40
A
Adam. Offline
Full Member
Adam.  Offline
Full Member
A
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 40
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I've never seen teacher names attached to the student names, except in the case of a "winners list." And even if it is done, I've never seen a teacher getting yelled at. That's the most outlandish thing I can imagine.


Time's are a changing. When I went to school, if you got in trouble and your parents were called into the principals office - I would be the one getting in trouble by my parents. These days, it seems as though it's more common for parents to give the principal or teacher when their child get's in trouble.

Parents scream at umpires and coaches when something doesn't go well with their child the way they want. It's not a huge stretch for that to pass onto teachers as well unfortunately.

As for the teachers name on the list - I guess it depends where you're located. I know of a situation where a teacher was inundated with phone calls from a number of parents of a certain 'social class' wanting their child to change teachers to this teacher after their students took out the top positions. This teacher was fortunate enough to already have a full schedule, so there are places that do put teachers names on the list. (I don't think it's a good idea personally, but sometimes you don't get a say)

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I believe it is my job to ensure the student learns enough to eventually not need me anymore. Isn't that the goal of teaching?

It can be a goal, but how many kids actually get there?


I'd say those who enjoy playing enough to pursue it on their own. I guess it depends on how much interest the student has, and whether they're learning because it's their passion, or their parents. There is sooo much more information available to us today to expand our learning than there was when I started. The internet, along with forums like this, instructional video's on vimeo/youtube, learning apps on phones, etc - there's a huge increase in resources available to anyone with a keen interest if they want to get to a stage where they can start learning on their own.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2728396
04/12/18 04:15 AM
04/12/18 04:15 AM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,258
South Florida
G
Gary D. Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Gary D.  Offline
6000 Post Club Member
G
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,258
South Florida
Some thought after a very long day of teaching:
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
My perspective as a piano parent....

* I'd hate to receive a technical email from a piano teacher. I don't know how to play piano and I wouldn't really know how to respond. If something is not working- please bring me in the lesson. While I might not understand everything- I'd get something from the lesson which I can remind my son each night. My son's teacher tells me all the time that it's her job to teach my son how to play piano. I bet many parents don't sit in lessons because the don't think they should. Now that my son is older- I just take his teacher's lead on whether I should sit in or not (mostly not as he's 11 years old).

This has more to do with personality, independence and time playing. I started a 4 year old today. Quite obviously a child that age can't be expected to take a lesson alone. On the other hands, I have a few pre-teens who are so advanced and so independent that I'm fine with them being in lessons alone, although I like a parent to sit in at least once a month so that we are all communicating. I have some teens who just don't want their parents there most of the time, and that's just fine with me.

But I want the parents there every week when the kids are younger and they are in their first few months. I think the reason is obvious.
Quote

* I want a piano teacher that's willing to work with the overall goals that our family has in terms of lessons (serious, casual learner, eg.)

You never know which kids are going to be super dedicated to music. This becomes obvious, over time. You can't predict it. You might be surprised to know that how serious or casual things are is often totally out of your hands, as a parent, and certainly out of my hands, as a teacher.
Quote

* One thing you can do to cut down on the talking is when you call in a new student in is to direct all of your attention on the new student.

People don't talk while they play. If you want to cut down on talking, it happens automatically when there are things to do.


Piano Teacher
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2728563
04/12/18 05:09 PM
04/12/18 05:09 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
C
chasingrainbows Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
chasingrainbows  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
Originally Posted by Andamento
Thoughts on fingering:

I'm friends with a contemporary composer of student piano music. She, in her straightforward way, has advised teachers to avoid being tied to printed fingerings in whatever edition a student is using.

Some fingerings will work better than others, obviously, but printed fingerings are only suggestions, not cast in stone. (And she has said that sometimes the fingerings she suggests for her pieces end up being changed by the editor by the time of publication, anyway. So what is printed may not even be the composer's intent, and might not work well with every student, given each one's unique physical characteristics.)

ChasingRainbows, how about if you said to your students who ignore fingerings, "I see you're not using the fingerings written in the music. How about you work out a fingering right now that works for your hand, and then you can use that each time you practice the piece?"

That way, you're giving the student some autonomy, but still guiding the process. You could suggest something like, "Here's one way some pianists like to finger a passage like this. What do you think?" If he comes up with something atrocious, ask, "How does that feel for your hand? What about something like this? [Suggest another fingering.] Does that feel better or worse?"

Go all the way through each piece, hands separately, letting the student write in the final decision on how to finger the piece. Letting the student be in the driver seat will make it more likely that he'll not ignore fingerings, because he's had opportunity to think through why certain fingerings do or don't make sense. Also, his own writing on the page, rather than yours or the editor's, may encourage him to observe the fingerings, rather than ignore them.

And for the students who both like to play fast and ignore fingerings, they might see the connection between using efficient fingerings and achieving more fluency. It's easier to play fast when you're not using awkward fingerings.

Or maybe do something silly, if this is up the student's alley, like writing in random, bizarre finger numbers and saying, "Can you play fast using these finger numbers?" "What's the best fingering that helps you play as fast as you like?"

Lighten the atmosphere with humor. smile



Great suggestions, Andamento. Sorry it took me awhile to get through all these excellent responses!


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728567
04/12/18 05:22 PM
04/12/18 05:22 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
C
chasingrainbows Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
chasingrainbows  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,804
NJ
Gary D. in response to your post, (Don't know how to insert quotes from other posts)

Quote
[/quote]I'm not exaggerating. Until I teach them to do otherwise, this is what ALL my students do. They believe that by endless repetition sooner or later they will "beat the horse to death", so they go around in circles. They are figuratively driving wrong information into their heads.

3. Make sure the fingering is right, because fingering that does not work is the single greatest cause of technical problems. WRONG FINGERING NEVER FIXES ITSELF.

4. Absolutely insist that until something is right, we SLOW DOWN AND GET IT RIGHT.

5. Wrong notes and wrong fingering while learning are absolutely disastrous. No one improves playing like this. NO ONE.

6. You can't count or track rhythm while you are struggling with notes and fingering. Even if you understand how something sounds, even if you can hear it perfectly in your head, you have to get the physical foundation first. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT WHILE YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHICH KEY TO PRESS NEXT OR WITH WHAT FINGER TO PRESS DOWN THE KEY.

7. You don't go to the next section until the last section is solid.

8 Once the end is learned, next go to the hardest section.

9. DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING, EVER, UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING PHYSICALLY .

If any student, of any age, for any reason starts playing something from the beginning and it is not working, I immediately stop that student. I don't wait 5 minutes, suffering through a mess.

If teachers set up rules, and they always stick to these rules, those rules become second nature. But these rules need to be put into place when lessons start. When working with transfer students, it's a matter of retraining, because transfer students will come to us with the habits they have formed from previous teaching, and if the previous teachers have been inferior, the practice habits they come in with will be equally inferior.[quote]


From the first lesson, I follow 1 through 5 above, but in general, I am not consistent every lesson in enforcing those guidelines. That is no longer the case. Thanks for your input, as always.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/12/18 05:24 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728568
04/12/18 05:24 PM
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I guess I figured out how to quote properly. smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728593
04/12/18 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by Andamento
Thoughts on fingering:

I'm friends with a contemporary composer of student piano music. She, in her straightforward way, has advised teachers to avoid being tied to printed fingerings in whatever edition a student is using.

Some fingerings will work better than others, obviously, but printed fingerings are only suggestions, not cast in stone. (And she has said that sometimes the fingerings she suggests for her pieces end up being changed by the editor by the time of publication, anyway. So what is printed may not even be the composer's intent, and might not work well with every student, given each one's unique physical characteristics.)

ChasingRainbows, how about if you said to your students who ignore fingerings, "I see you're not using the fingerings written in the music. How about you work out a fingering right now that works for your hand, and then you can use that each time you practice the piece?"

That way, you're giving the student some autonomy, but still guiding the process. You could suggest something like, "Here's one way some pianists like to finger a passage like this. What do you think?" If he comes up with something atrocious, ask, "How does that feel for your hand? What about something like this? [Suggest another fingering.] Does that feel better or worse?"

Go all the way through each piece, hands separately, letting the student write in the final decision on how to finger the piece. Letting the student be in the driver seat will make it more likely that he'll not ignore fingerings, because he's had opportunity to think through why certain fingerings do or don't make sense. Also, his own writing on the page, rather than yours or the editor's, may encourage him to observe the fingerings, rather than ignore them.

And for the students who both like to play fast and ignore fingerings, they might see the connection between using efficient fingerings and achieving more fluency. It's easier to play fast when you're not using awkward fingerings.

Or maybe do something silly, if this is up the student's alley, like writing in random, bizarre finger numbers and saying, "Can you play fast using these finger numbers?" "What's the best fingering that helps you play as fast as you like?"

Lighten the atmosphere with humor. smile



Great suggestions, Andamento. Sorry it took me awhile to get through all these excellent responses!


No problem, ChasingRainbows. It gets to be quite a few posts to wade through, especially on a popular thread like this. smile Good topic!

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728602
04/12/18 08:06 PM
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Sorry I’m not quoting but I’m typing on my phone. CR and Gary D.- A teacher stated that it was rude for a parent to talk at the end of a lesson as it cut into the next student’s lesson. I can’t find that quote anymore maybe it was edited out. It was for this reason that I suggested that the teacher direct their eyes at new student when it was the new student’s lesson time to cut down on that. Sorry for the confusion and not stating frame of reference.

Gary D with regards to seriousness I suppose I’m thinking of my two children. I have one child that plays violin but is in a very competitive HS program and sleeps often only 6-7 hours per night. While she practices what she can- on a really bad week it’s not much maybe 1.5 hours total. I need a teacher that can work with her under her this schedule. My son is in elementary school and he practices piano much more so his teacher expects more. In a nutshell I feel like both teachers are delivering what our family wants- and that’s different for both kids.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 04/12/18 08:15 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728831
04/13/18 03:46 PM
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pianomom, I am not sure who posted the comment, but this happens often to me in the store. Most of the parents come back from shopping, (don't care to sit in on lessons, or ever text or email me), but think it's ok to chat about the child's progress, ask questions about competitions (despite numerous emails sent out) when I am greeting and escorting the next student in. I state in my policy that questions should be directed during the last 5 minutes of the lesson, not during the next student's lesson, but as mentioned before, I doubt half my families ever read the policy. I know they don't read the store policy either.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728864
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CR- I understand your frustration... but do your lessons start late? I remember when my son was at a music store his lessons always started late but ended on time. I calculated that he received probably 23 minutes of instruction in a 30 minute lesson. So if hypothetically If I came and picked up my son on time I’d probably not feel bad talking very briefly after the lesson. I think it’s human nature too to want feedback after the lesson. Could you mentally build into your schedule that a 3:00 pm lesson is really from 3:05 to 3:35 eg? Do you think that would help solve the last 5 minute problem. You can maybe use to cues to help mitigate it too like the one I mentioned in my prior post if you haven’t done so.

Also again- I can’t speak for all parents but I had no idea whether my son’s teacher wanted me in or out of lessons when he first started. Most other activities parents aren’t supposed to be there. When I told a family member that is a school teacher that I sat in on my son lessons she was horrified thinking I was some crazy helicopter mom. She knows nothing about piano and when my son’s teacher went on a month vacation she also asked once if the teacher had a sub smile.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 04/13/18 08:00 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728870
04/13/18 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Gary D. in response to your post, (Don't know how to insert quotes from other posts)

Quote
I'm not exaggerating. Until I teach them to do otherwise, this is what ALL my students do. They believe that by endless repetition sooner or later they will "beat the horse to death", so they go around in circles. They are figuratively driving wrong information into their heads.

3. Make sure the fingering is right, because fingering that does not work is the single greatest cause of technical problems. WRONG FINGERING NEVER FIXES ITSELF.

4. Absolutely insist that until something is right, we SLOW DOWN AND GET IT RIGHT.

5. Wrong notes and wrong fingering while learning are absolutely disastrous. No one improves playing like this. NO ONE.

6. You can't count or track rhythm while you are struggling with notes and fingering. Even if you understand how something sounds, even if you can hear it perfectly in your head, you have to get the physical foundation first. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT WHILE YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHICH KEY TO PRESS NEXT OR WITH WHAT FINGER TO PRESS DOWN THE KEY.

7. You don't go to the next section until the last section is solid.

8 Once the end is learned, next go to the hardest section.

9. DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING, EVER, UNTIL YOU HAVE MASTERED WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING PHYSICALLY .

If any student, of any age, for any reason starts playing something from the beginning and it is not working, I immediately stop that student. I don't wait 5 minutes, suffering through a mess.

If teachers set up rules, and they always stick to these rules, those rules become second nature. But these rules need to be put into place when lessons start. When working with transfer students, it's a matter of retraining, because transfer students will come to us with the habits they have formed from previous teaching, and if the previous teachers have been inferior, the practice habits they come in with will be equally inferior.
Quote


From the first lesson, I follow 1 through 5 above, but in general, I am not consistent every lesson in enforcing those guidelines. That is no longer the case. Thanks for your input, as always.

The single most important thing is to break the habit of playing through from the beginning.

The idea of playing the end first is a game changer. If you think about it, this is just as important for a Chopin Etude as for a simple method book piece. Even as a teacher, if you are short on time, playing the last big section of something, with a reasonable starting place, gives a very good idea of the piece.

I've always worked that way as an adult, with the single exception of picking the hardest section first, which may not be the end but is usually closer to the end. I get the hardest part, the end, and the bridge between the hardest part and the end.

If I have to prepare something very quickly, for instance and accompaniment, I will both practice and rehearse in the same manner. Running through the whole thing is like a dress rehearsal for a play, where you finally find out if it is all going to work together.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2729023
04/14/18 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
She knows nothing about piano and when my son’s teacher went on a month vacation she also asked once if the teacher had a sub smile.

I've subbed for several colleagues before. I also have two assistants who (very seldom) sub for me.

There are parents who are willing to pay for weekly piano lessons with the teacher PLUS planned practice sessions with an assistant, usually an older piano student in high school or college.

Or, in rare cases, there are parents who are willing to pay for more than one piano lessons per week. If I were given such luxury when I was younger, I would be so much more advanced as a player.

Right now, my semi-weekly lesson students are decent players, but they are not even close to being great students.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2729102
04/15/18 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
Sorry I’m not quoting but I’m typing on my phone. CR and Gary D.- A teacher stated that it was rude for a parent to talk at the end of a lesson as it cut into the next student’s lesson. I can’t find that quote anymore maybe it was edited out. It was for this reason that I suggested that the teacher direct their eyes at new student when it was the new student’s lesson time to cut down on that. Sorry for the confusion and not stating frame of reference.

OK. Got it.

I stay absolutely on time. When it is the next student's time, I simply say, "Sorry, I have to start the next lesson." I think all the parents and students are fine with this, because they don't want THEIR time delayed. When people come early, and I'm not busy, I usually start early, and when a lesson is going well, and the next student is not yet there, I don't think twice about going over. But never if another student is ready.
Quote

Gary D with regards to seriousness I suppose I’m thinking of my two children. I have one child that plays violin but is in a very competitive HS program and sleeps often only 6-7 hours per night. While she practices what she can- on a really bad week it’s not much maybe 1.5 hours total.

ARE YOU KIDDING? Only 1.5 hours of practice on a BAD WEEK? wink

I don't expect any of my students to give up their lives for music! 90 minutes a week is still three half hour sessions, or a bit more than 22 minutes in four sessions. That's not nothing.

I don't track in hours but in minutes, and I'd say my more serious students probably top out at around 300 minutes per week, and not always that much.

But I have some students I really like who are probably in the 120-150 minutes per week range. My philosophy: for the first year hopefully playing becomes fun. If it does, people are going to lose track of time. They will set out to play 15 minutes, and all of a sudden 45 minutes or an hour will go by.

If you never get to that point, as a player, then it never really becomes fun. Meanwhile, life goes on, and all sorts of things come up.
Quote

I need a teacher that can work with her under her this schedule. My son is in elementary school and he practices piano much more so his teacher expects more. In a nutshell I feel like both teachers are delivering what our family wants- and that’s different for both kids.

I think it's always harder with two kids, because they tend to compete. But if your two kids play two different instruments, that avoids that problem.

For example, my older cousin was doing quite well with piano. He was (and is) a bit more than two years older than me. We both took lessons from our grandmother. But once I caught up and passed him, I think he could not tolerate that, so he quit. If I had not been around, I think he might have continued.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729125
04/15/18 08:34 AM
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GD- With my daughter being older and my son having had a three year head start on piano- there’s no way having my daughter play piano ever worked. They are jealous enough of each other playing different instruments smile.

We live in a super competitive area for everything. So many kids sound professional in HS in their instruments.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 04/15/18 08:37 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2729163
04/15/18 01:16 PM
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[quote=Gary D.] My philosophy: for the first year hopefully playing becomes fun. If it does, people are going to lose track of time. They will set out to play 15 minutes, and all of a sudden 45 minutes or an hour will go by.

If you never get to that point, as a player, then it never really becomes fun. Meanwhile, life goes on, and all sorts of things come up.
[quote]

Gary = our forum sage! He has encapsulated the whole piano teaching enterprise for many of us.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2729211
04/15/18 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
CR- I understand your frustration... but do your lessons start late? I remember when my son was at a music store his lessons always started late but ended on time. I calculated that he received probably 23 minutes of instruction in a 30 minute lesson. So if hypothetically If I came and picked up my son on time I’d probably not feel bad talking very briefly after the lesson. I think it’s human nature too to want feedback after the lesson. Could you mentally build into your schedule that a 3:00 pm lesson is really from 3:05 to 3:35 eg? Do you think that would help solve the last 5 minute problem. You can maybe use to cues to help mitigate it too like the one I mentioned in my prior post if you haven’t done so.


pianomom, no, my lessons start right on time. I know how frustrating it is to have to wait when you have an "appointment,." and I know my families expect their lesson to be on time. My students are very rarely late. There is a teacher who gives a lesson to my student before he comes to me. This teacher is routinely late, and goes over time to give him the full half hour. Consequently, he starts 5 minutes late. If I spoke to his family after his lesson, we have now finished 10 minutes over, making the next student wait for 10 minutes. By the end of the night, the last student could literally have to wait 1/2 hour. Teachers do not have breaks, and lessons run until closing. We have to stay on time..


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianoMom2006] #2729216
04/15/18 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
GD- With my daughter being older and my son having had a three year head start on piano- there’s no way having my daughter play piano ever worked. They are jealous enough of each other playing different instruments smile.

We live in a super competitive area for everything. So many kids sound professional in HS in their instruments.

That's typical. When there is a lot of age difference, it can be a bit different. If the older is playing well, and the younger hears and wants to do the same thing, there is time.

Two siblings nearly the same age is trickier.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729256
04/15/18 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
There is a teacher who gives a lesson to my student before he comes to me. This teacher is routinely late, and goes over time to give him the full half hour. Consequently, he starts 5 minutes late. If I spoke to his family after his lesson, we have now finished 10 minutes over, making the next student wait for 10 minutes. By the end of the night, the last student could literally have to wait 1/2 hour. Teachers do not have breaks, and lessons run until closing. We have to stay on time..

I had this problem, and so I would knock on the door when it was time for my student's lesson. The previous teacher got the hint (and actually, I think she would just lose track of time since she had a class to be at right away). So that's pretty much stopped it and it doesn't happen anymore.

When you only have 30 minutes with a student, every minute counts. There's really no time for consultations. I often have to cut off parents and ask them to text me later.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729363
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Morodiene, I knock on the door and have told this teacher on numerous occasions that I have to start on time.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729391
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Morodiene, I knock on the door and have told this teacher on numerous occasions that I have to start on time.

If a parent does not like that your lesson ends on time without having had the full length of time because of the prior lesson's lateness AND your communication with your colleague has not gotten anywhere, the next step might be the parent addressing that with the prior teacher. If the parent is not around during the change of lessons to notice (maybe dropped off and went shopping?), I would say one after-lesson conversation about the subject is appropriate, then the ball is in the parent's court to take the matter up with the other teacher or with management. You do your best but at some point it's out of your hands.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729394
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Rainbows, do you mean your student has two different instrumental music private lessons back to back? Isn't that difficult for the student to process? Or is it a private music theory lesson that spills over into your piano teaching slot? Or is it something else?

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729455
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Peter, I will PM you.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: mostlystrings] #2729512
04/16/18 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Morodiene, I knock on the door and have told this teacher on numerous occasions that I have to start on time.

If a parent does not like that your lesson ends on time without having had the full length of time because of the prior lesson's lateness AND your communication with your colleague has not gotten anywhere, the next step might be the parent addressing that with the prior teacher. If the parent is not around during the change of lessons to notice (maybe dropped off and went shopping?), I would say one after-lesson conversation about the subject is appropriate, then the ball is in the parent's court to take the matter up with the other teacher or with management. You do your best but at some point it's out of your hands.

It may depend on the parent, but ya, if that doesn't work or they don't want to address it, then speak with the management. Or end the lesson on time and leave it at that. I would not let a late student set everyone else who is on time behind.

That happened to me once, and after apologizing for this for a few weeks, I realized that I was inconveniencing a bunch of people for the sake of one, which didn't make much sense and made me look behind even though I like to run on time.

Last edited by Morodiene; 04/16/18 09:43 PM.

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