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Students that exhaust my energy #2725119
03/29/18 11:10 AM
03/29/18 11:10 AM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725132
03/29/18 11:44 AM
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And I should mention that I finally emailed the parent and received this reply, "Thanks for the good information."


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725134
03/29/18 11:52 AM
03/29/18 11:52 AM
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Annoy them every lesson and at every point their fingers misbehave, they miss a staccato, they miss a rest, they play too fast with stopping the playing and mentioning the error. If you're pleasantly, but totally, consistent and constantly break their playing flow to correct their bad habits, they are very likely going to try to obey just to get through to the end of the piece. Use the whole lesson on one messy part until it isn't messy any more, and they are likely to start listening to avoid the frustration of not moving on. And use every lesson to continue cleaning up the same messy part until they start realizing they have to do it at home too just so they can move on.

Last edited by pianopi; 03/29/18 11:53 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725144
03/29/18 12:38 PM
03/29/18 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

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.



Teenage boys have high testosterone levels - which peak in the mid-teens - to contend with, and are more concerned with trying to impress than with musicality. ("I feel the need - the need for speed" - Top Gun grin). And they also want to assert themselves, to prove themselves worthy of being men. Thus, they are also prone to pushing their boundaries. (BTW, girls have testosterone levels ten times lower.)

When I was at that age, that was what I wanted to do too - play pieces as fast & loud as I could (even if I couldn't). But I also had ABRSM exams to do, and my pride wouldn't let me fail. So, I had to do what I needed to do to get the best marks I could (i.e. listen to my teacher), and therefore reserved my need for speed for the pieces I was learning for myself, which I never told my teacher about. Who cares how messy they are, when I'm just playing to please myself?

So, unless you put them up for exams or something similar, you might have to try some reverse psychological techniques to get them to do what you want. Or maybe show them how a 'real man' would play the music, if there are YT videos of the pieces.......


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725188
03/29/18 05:27 PM
03/29/18 05:27 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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bennevis, I hold 2 recitals a year, and enter students in a local Festival as well. This boy has been playing way too fast since he for the last 6 years- since he was 7 years old. I shudder to think of the future lessons as he is entering his teens! eek


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianopi] #2725189
03/29/18 05:28 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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Originally Posted by pianopi
Annoy them every lesson and at every point their fingers misbehave, they miss a staccato, they miss a rest, they play too fast with stopping the playing and mentioning the error. If you're pleasantly, but totally, consistent and constantly break their playing flow to correct their bad habits, they are very likely going to try to obey just to get through to the end of the piece. Use the whole lesson on one messy part until it isn't messy any more, and they are likely to start listening to avoid the frustration of not moving on. And use every lesson to continue cleaning up the same messy part until they start realizing they have to do it at home too just so they can move on.


Excellent suggestions and I plan to follow them!


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725190
03/29/18 05:31 PM
03/29/18 05:31 PM
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This is what I would do:

Give these students simple music full of patterns that make them sound more impressive than they really are. Here are some composers whose works are useful for this situation:

Kevin Olson
Melody Bober
Robert Vandall
Dennis Alexander

In particular, take a look at Vandall's Preludes or his Toccata in F Minor.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725195
03/29/18 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
bennevis, I hold 2 recitals a year, and enter students in a local Festival as well.

Unfortunately, he'd just take recitals as opportunities to play fast & loud. People tend to be impressed by that sort of thing, especially those in his peer group. I remember a few kids who did that in my student days, and they got the most applause.

What he needs are (written) assessments of some sort by adjudicators that don't involve performing in public. By people he respects - a sort of second opinion, if you like. I also agree with giving him pieces with lots of patterns to play. After all, if he can play something 'impressively' (= at speed) and under control, he learns the satisfaction of playing something well.

BTW, I don't think that aggravating him in the manner pianopi suggested is going to help a 13-year-old boy who's been speeding for six years. He's likely going to be confrontational or do the precise opposite of what you want, just to annoy you back........


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725205
03/29/18 07:08 PM
03/29/18 07:08 PM
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bennevis, my hopes that he would eventually "get it" and follow fingering, dynamics, articulation hasn't been realized by encouraging reminders. Perhaps if I'd been more the kind of teacher pianopi suggested from the start, these problems wouldn't still exist, We started out with simple pieces, moved to Bober's sharp and flat keys books, and he's played much simpler pieces for the Festival. It's always the same notations in his assignment book and on the music. How will the less difficult books AZN suggests change the student's mindset to ignore all of these important aspects of music?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725212
03/29/18 07:34 PM
03/29/18 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
This boy has been playing way too fast since he for the last 6 years- since he was 7 years old. I shudder to think of the future lessons as he is entering his teens! eek


That reminds me of the story about two kids playing a duet. One of them got up and left, because he was the fastest, and finished his part first.... ;-)


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725222
03/29/18 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
We started out with simple pieces, moved to Bober's sharp and flat keys books, and he's played much simpler pieces for the Festival. It's always the same notations in his assignment book and on the music. How will the less difficult books AZN suggests change the student's mindset to ignore all of these important aspects of music?

I don't know whether this will help, but the way I deal with 'recalcitrant' (for want of a better word) people (or 'clients') in my job is to put myself in their shoes. And I deal with many such people - adults as well as kids - on a daily basis.

I think you've been looking at this problem only from your own perspective. You are frustrated because he ignores what you ask of him, and he goes and does what he wants. You just want him to do as he's told. I don't know anything about him apart from what you've told us, but based on that, I can imagine that he is a kid who enjoys playing fast, probably impatient in nature, and perhaps sees music as more a means to impress his peers rather than for its musical worth. Continually nagging him with no real consequences (let's face it - there's not much you can do if he doesn't obey you) has proven to be counter-productive. 'Upping the ante' in the manner suggested earlier may turn an attitude of 'hey, I just like playing fast because I can, so what' to 'you're really pestering me and cramping my style, so I'll play even faster just to annoy you'.

So, you think 'laterally'. OK, he can't handle fast in the pieces you've given him, but he wants to play fast, and you want accuracy. So - why not give him stuff that sounds impressive but actually easier than what he can handle, if only he'd slow down. As you know, Rustle of Spring is actually quite easy to play - easier than the twists & turns of say, Schumann's Arabeske - but it sounds far more impressive. (Yes, I've played them both, one after the other in the same recital, and everyone in the audience thought the former must have taken a lot more hours of hard practicing, and applauded accordingly.... grin). So, you get something more like a win-win situation: he gets to play flashy-sounding stuff that he's capable of playing fast & accurately, while you get better playing because he's playing within his technical means. And you can then build on that step by step without making him feel you're continually finding fault with him. It may not fit your idea of how you want him to progress, but far better that than what's been happening, don't you think?

I can relate something from my own childhood to illustrate something similar. My mother used to keep nagging me to eat vegetables. The problem started because at the age of one or two, I was given, and ate some bitter-tasting greens which I instantly spat out, and from then on, refused anything of that color. Until age seven or so, when I had school lunches with other kids, and I didn't want to appear 'different', so I tried them - and I discovered that most greens were actually OK. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, 'lose face' in front of my mother, so I still kept refusing them at home. If she stopped nagging me at every mealtime and just ignored what I put on my plate and in my mouth, I'd probably start eating them a little at a time at home, but she didn't, so I didn't. In fact, she probably still thinks I don't eat greens to this day........ grin


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2725254
03/29/18 11:15 PM
03/29/18 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
BTW, I don't think that aggravating him in the manner pianopi suggested is going to help a 13-year-old boy who's been speeding for six years. He's likely going to be confrontational or do the precise opposite of what you want, just to annoy you back........

He's already annoying her. Now the ball's firmly in chasingrainbow's court.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725271
03/30/18 02:22 AM
03/30/18 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
How will the less difficult books AZN suggests change the student's mindset to ignore all of these important aspects of music?

First: You need to realize that some kids will never play halfway decent. Just live with it. It's OKAY that they don't understand all important aspects of music.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2725318
03/30/18 09:42 AM
03/30/18 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
How will the less difficult books AZN suggests change the student's mindset to ignore all of these important aspects of music?

First: You need to realize that some kids will never play halfway decent. Just live with it. It's OKAY that they don't understand all important aspects of music.


Yep. I have a few students like this. They like piano well enough, but don't really care about the details. No amount of nagging or reasoned explanation is going to make them care about playing with a refined technique etc. In these cases I aim for a middle ground-- a result that approaches a standard of playing that I can live with, while taking into account what the student finds interesting/satisfying. This could mean taking a piece in a style that the student likes, and focusing on only one element (articulation, or fingering or dynamics), while letting other details go... and being satisfied with the effort the student will put in. To the OP, do your best and remain positive, but direct your energy and enthusiasm where it will make a difference-- pouring it into these students is exhausting!


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: JohnSprung] #2725321
03/30/18 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
This boy has been playing way too fast since he for the last 6 years- since he was 7 years old. I shudder to think of the future lessons as he is entering his teens! eek


That reminds me of the story about two kids playing a duet. One of them got up and left, because he was the fastest, and finished his part first.... ;-)



No doubt, he shouted "I win!!" on his way off stage.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725345
03/30/18 11:34 AM
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I wonder if you teach using one or two pianos? Having two pianos could help in that you could play along with the student and ensure that an appropriate tempo is used (assuming that he’s listening to you and able to slow it down). Or could hands separate work - you play one hand and he play the other and then switch?
You could say “we’ll need a slower tempo so that we can play together more easily”.

It might also be fun to play some pieces for your student that are WAY too fast - maybe the national anthem, or something famous like Amazing Grace, etc. Say “I’m going to be the student, you’re the teacher.” Then rush through the piece at a ridiculous tempo. Then ask “How did you like it? What would you suggest I change?” When I do this, sometimes students are hilariously picky or focus on something else entirely - it’s really interesting to hear what stands out to them.

I have had teenage boy students who are only impressed by loud/fast music and only want to play loud/fast music, so I feel your pain! Require him to play at various more appropriate speeds at the lesson, and give him metronome numbers to practice at home. There are times when I’ve said - “Do NOT go faster than ___ on your metronome.” And don’t let him come to the lesson and play it ridiculously fast - work on the parts that need work, hands separately or together, find the appropriate speed, and then require him to play at that speed at the lesson. If he starts it too quickly, stop him and ask him to start again at the appropriate speed.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725359
03/30/18 12:18 PM
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Would playing a four hand piece with him force him to pay attention to tempo?


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2725423
03/30/18 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Would playing a four hand piece with him force him to pay attention to tempo?


We used to do duets. I think the source of my frustration is that we work on these concepts during each lesson, and yet, the following week, they return in full force. I truly feel it's time for "tough love." I've found that has worked with some of my biggest offenders. I could assign him a piece for 4 hands--good suggestion.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725424
03/30/18 04:48 PM
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dogperson, the Chopin quote in your signature is beautiful!


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725427
03/30/18 04:52 PM
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pianist lady and AZN, I am giving him one more opportunity to heed my suggestions and critiques over the last 7 years. Then I just throw in the towel. I've often told my male students, "Someday you will look back and remember when Miss ___ told you that ______ really works!"


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: piano2] #2725429
03/30/18 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by piano2
I wonder if you teach using one or two pianos? Having two pianos could help in that you could play along with the student and ensure that an appropriate tempo is used (assuming that he’s listening to you and able to slow it down). Or could hands separate work - you play one hand and he play the other and then switch?
You could say “we’ll need a slower tempo so that we can play together more easily”.

It might also be fun to play some pieces for your student that are WAY too fast - maybe the national anthem, or something famous like Amazing Grace, etc. Say “I’m going to be the student, you’re the teacher.” Then rush through the piece at a ridiculous tempo. Then ask “How did you like it? What would you suggest I change?” When I do this, sometimes students are hilariously picky or focus on something else entirely - it’s really interesting to hear what stands out to them.

I have had teenage boy students who are only impressed by loud/fast music and only want to play loud/fast music, so I feel your pain! Require him to play at various more appropriate speeds at the lesson, and give him metronome numbers to practice at home. There are times when I’ve said - “Do NOT go faster than ___ on your metronome.” And don’t let him come to the lesson and play it ridiculously fast - work on the parts that need work, hands separately or together, find the appropriate speed, and then require him to play at that speed at the lesson. If he starts it too quickly, stop him and ask him to start again at the appropriate speed.


We barely have room in the studio for a digital piano and 2 chairs. I do play along with students and switch hands, as well as play duets (for beginners). I also have demonstrated the difference between playing something super fast and messy, or slower and musically. They always pick the slower, more musical piece. And I provide metronome markings. I don't generally use them in the lesson, but maybe for this guy, I should.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725477
03/30/18 09:13 PM
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You might need to work with him during the lesson and write out a step-by-step process that he needs to go through during the home practice. The more detailed you can make this the better.
Could you type it up on a laptop during the lesson and then email it to him and his parents? Lots of students don’t really practice - they play through the pieces. This boy might benefit from having a list of tasks to complete during his home practice - maybe even a place to put a check mark to show that he has completed the task that day.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725478
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Oh yes, and then at the next lesson go through the practice tasks as you assigned them the previous week. If he did them enough times, he’ll be good at them. If he doesn’t know what they are, then you know it’s another week of poor practicing.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725480
03/30/18 09:25 PM
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piano2, great suggestions. Thanks! I generally write what needs to be worked on in the assignment book, but most students probably don't even look in there. frown


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725482
03/30/18 09:31 PM
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I'm not addressing this quote (attributed to Einstein) to anyone here in particular, but it's worth bearing in mind, because I see this time & time again in my work with people:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725500
03/31/18 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
pianist lady and AZN, I am giving him one more opportunity to heed my suggestions and critiques over the last 7 years.

Patience is overrated.

Earlier today I taught two of my late transfers (both came to me after level 8). I now can get both of them to produce what I want them to produce, because I am not patient with them, and I don't hesitate to point out what lousy teachers they've had until they found me. I use a combination of intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm. Mixed in there somewhere is an occasional joke that makes them roll on the floor laughing.

You might want to give intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm a try. I'm not being sarcastic here.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725509
03/31/18 01:52 AM
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The part I can relate to is knowing how a student could best proceed, but having to accept a far lower standard. I could have a student learn piano very effectively in ten years if they did what I ask. Instead, the process goes on and on due to their various impediments.

It might be: student can't handle criticism, student wants to put his own spin on everything he does, student doesn't really hear instructions, student doesn't practice effectively despite all the tips in the world. Boys in particular can sometimes have a hard time listening to others. My theory is they feel they have to take an action instead of consider the action I'm suggesting.

If you think about it, students don't want to be automatons so there's always an incentive to not do what the teacher asks. I would love if all my students used my fingerings, but I've given up on many of my fingerings. I suppose they want to make the experience their own.

I suppose the question we can ask ourselves is, how can we step back and allow the student some latitude?

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2725510
03/31/18 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
pianist lady and AZN, I am giving him one more opportunity to heed my suggestions and critiques over the last 7 years.

Patience is overrated.

Earlier today I taught two of my late transfers (both came to me after level 8). I now can get both of them to produce what I want them to produce, because I am not patient with them, and I don't hesitate to point out what lousy teachers they've had until they found me. I use a combination of intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm. Mixed in there somewhere is an occasional joke that makes them roll on the floor laughing.

You might want to give intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm a try. I'm not being sarcastic here.

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

I don't believe you are a bully. I believe at times you PRESENT yourself as one, which gives people here a very wrong impression. wink

But I do agree with you about being tough when tough is needed.

Most of my students are people I genuinely like. I want them to like music, even eventually love it. I don't want my students, especially the young ones, to fear me, or come to lessons dreading the time I am going to spend with them.

However, I do tell them that it is "Groundhog Day" when they come in utterly unprepared, unless it is a very rare thing and for a very good reason.

I also regularly talk about "Let's pretend," and what it means. That is my phrase for when anyone, including one of us, is imagining being on stage or in front of people and getting a generous amount of applause when what is really happening is just awful. And, by the way, I think it happens to the greatest players on the planet, but the great ones catch themselves after around 10 seconds, while students can go on this way for a very long time, lost in a fantasy.

Then there is "Go magic fingers," which is about trusting the fingers, reflexes and muscle memory to get the job done. Again, the best players in the world will do that, but the moment things go wrong, they immediately go into hyper-attentive mode and fix the problems. Most students will practice that way, over and over, day after day, until something happens that brings in reality. The most common thing is a horrible performance, a complete train wreck, but if it gets to that point, the more sensitive will be so embarrassed that they will quit.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2725511
03/31/18 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I'm not addressing this quote (attributed to Einstein) to anyone here in particular, but it's worth bearing in mind, because I see this time & time again in my work with people:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

You know much more about music history than most people here, so I'm sure you know that Chopin, an excellent teacher, was known to be very gentle sometimes, but stormy when he had a bad day. I SUSPECT that some of the stormy days were probably brought on by his students not listening.

As a teacher you don't want students who are easy-going. You want them to have spirit. You want them to have a drive that pushes them to play louder, softer, faster, slower. I'm sure you have also read about Martha Argerich, a notorious speed demon. Can you imagine what would have happened if someone had tried to intimidate the fire out of her?

It's a delicate matter.

As a teacher you are always trying to find the line between "too much" and "not enough". You have to be fairly harsh at times when working with strong-natured people, who are (of course) high strung and always push. But you also don't want to "break" these people. You don't want to break their spirits. That spirit is what makes them special, if they can master it.

My best students have ALL tried to play too fast. I did, when I was young. I still do at times, but I immediately catch myself, because things get out of control, and I am listening to myself. I will demonstrate something too fast, without the appropriate amount of practice, and I immediately say:

"There, that's a perfect example of 'out of control'. That was too fast, and it was faked. Now listen as I take what I just totally blew, and fix it."

Then, if a student does the same thing, plays too fast and ruins everything, I say: "Oops, out of control. You heard what happens when I tried to play too fast. But you're trying to play as fast as me. I've been playing the piano since the time of Fred and Wilma (Flintstones), and I can barely control it at that tempo."

If it's too fast, again, several times, I say: "It's still way too fast. It sounds awful because you can't play that fast. WHAT PART OF IT'S TOO FAST DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND!!!"

But I also smile when we fix it. And I finish up with, "Yup, now it's good. Before it was AWFUL. You were in Let's Pretend and Go Magic Fingers mode. Don't feel too bad. I've done it hundreds of time myself, and so have the greatest pianists on the planet."

Last edited by Gary D.; 03/31/18 02:16 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725543
03/31/18 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

As a teacher you don't want students who are easy-going. You want them to have spirit. You want them to have a drive that pushes them to play louder, softer, faster, slower.

.....You don't want to break their spirits. That spirit is what makes them special, if they can master it.

My best students have ALL tried to play too fast. I did, when I was young. I still do at times, but I immediately catch myself, because things get out of control, and I am listening to myself.

I remember Heinrich Neuhaus, the legendary Russian pedagogue saying that his two greatest students Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels were both speed merchants and 'bangers' in their youth. In fact, they remained so well into adulthood, as anyone who has their live recordings from the 1950s-1960s will know. They explored and pushed their limits, and occasionally beyond - witness Richter's handfuls of wrong notes in Mussorgsky's Pictures (Sofia 1958) and his car crash in the coda of the Appassionata's finale during his first American tour (1960). Richter of course also went to the other extreme in pushing the limits of slow tempi (Schubert's D960 for instance). You could say that they lived their pianistic lives dangerously, and good teachers (as you say) don't want to break that spirit, but instead want to harness and build on it.

Students who never try to push beyond their limits may turn out to be good musicians, but they're unlikely to be the sort of performers one would make special efforts to go to hear, or even want to listen to. Slapdash and out-of-control playing needs to be reined in, but the predilection for speed and extremes should be nurtured in the right way, not nipped in the bud (as Tom Cruise showed us in Top Gun wink ).

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725552
03/31/18 07:34 AM
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There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with. You have to know your student, but I think since everything else has failed, it's time to just give them the truth about what they're doing. I use sarcasm, joking, encouragement, and bluntness to get it across to them. It's a delicate balance, however.

Try speaking more plainly with this student, especially confronting him about he didn't practice the way you've asked him to for the past whatever weeks or months on this piece.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2725583
03/31/18 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with.

Why not always be frank?

Just always be honest. Say when it is good and not good. You don't have to hurt feelings. Once you get a rep for being honest, that's what people expect. wink

And you don't have to tell them how bad it sounded. Most kids already have cell phones. Get them to record themselves, short portions, and simply listen to what is actually happening.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725624
03/31/18 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
You don't want to break their spirits. That spirit is what makes them special ...

And ditto for teachers: a broken-spirited teacher, either from trying students or trying peers, is of little help to anyone.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Candywoman] #2725702
03/31/18 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
The part I can relate to is knowing how a student could best proceed, but having to accept a far lower standard. I could have a student learn piano very effectively in ten years if they did what I ask. Instead, the process goes on and on due to their various impediments.

It might be: student can't handle criticism, student wants to put his own spin on everything he does, student doesn't really hear instructions, student doesn't practice effectively despite all the tips in the world. Boys in particular can sometimes have a hard time listening to others. My theory is they feel they have to take an action instead of consider the action I'm suggesting.

If you think about it, students don't want to be automatons so there's always an incentive to not do what the teacher asks. I would love if all my students used my fingerings, but I've given up on many of my fingerings. I suppose they want to make the experience their own.

I suppose the question we can ask ourselves is, how can we step back and allow the student some latitude?


Candywoman, thanks for your insight. I think that when I allow a student who's been with me for 7 years to ignore necessary fingerings, dynamics, articulation and tempo, I've failed. Particularly, after competitions, when these students who think that the ONLY reason they did not perform at their best is when they played a wrong note (no matter how often I stress that wrong notes are at the bottom of my priority list). I look at their playing sometimes through the eyes of another teacher. That teacher may very well consider my student a transfer wreck. I'm pretty sure AZN would. smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725703
03/31/18 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Morodiene
There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with.

Why not always be frank?

Just always be honest. Say when it is good and not good. You don't have to hurt feelings. Once you get a rep for being honest, that's what people expect. wink

And you don't have to tell them how bad it sounded. Most kids already have cell phones. Get them to record themselves, short portions, and simply listen to what is actually happening.


Gary D, thank you for demonstrating just what bullying is, I will be sure not to do the same with my students. If being encouraging, kind, gentle and easygoing, hasn't worked after 7 years, I was honest and critical, and have been accused of "bullying." Yet you say I should be frank. It was the first time in 7 years with this boy that I said that the piece was a mess. I've had teachers tell me that after lesson #2. Giving too much leeway to students in general makes for lack of self-discipline later in life and does not prepare them for this highly competitive and mostly uncaring world they'll be entering in a few short years.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725726
03/31/18 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman

It might be: student can't handle criticism, student wants to put his own spin on everything he does, student doesn't really hear instructions, student doesn't practice effectively despite all the tips in the world. Boys in particular can sometimes have a hard time listening to others. My theory is they feel they have to take an action instead of consider the action I'm suggesting.

Well, one can't give into every whim and sensitivity of every teenage student otherwise when they come of age and realize the world is not full of kind, forgiving piano teachers, they'll be in for a bit of an awakening. A person can't always pander to his/her ego just because it's less uncomfortable than not doing so, because they may find the competition has moved way ahead of them; and then they'll have to do all the avoided work and listening to teachers anyway.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725728
03/31/18 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Morodiene
There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with.

Why not always be frank?

Just always be honest. Say when it is good and not good. You don't have to hurt feelings. Once you get a rep for being honest, that's what people expect. wink

And you don't have to tell them how bad it sounded. Most kids already have cell phones. Get them to record themselves, short portions, and simply listen to what is actually happening.

I always am, but I was relating to where the OP is. smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725901
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Morodiene
There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with.

Why not always be frank?

Just always be honest. Say when it is good and not good. You don't have to hurt feelings. Once you get a rep for being honest, that's what people expect. wink

And you don't have to tell them how bad it sounded. Most kids already have cell phones. Get them to record themselves, short portions, and simply listen to what is actually happening.


Gary D, thank you for demonstrating just what bullying is, I will be sure not to do the same with my students...


I'm confused. Granted, everyone knows how stupid I am, but are you saying that Gary D. is bullying his students?

Is it not possible for students to have the strength to know that their worth as a human being is not commensurate with their competence at playing piano?

So if the Dalai Lama or the Pope or Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr. were unable to play the piano beautifully, their worth as humans would be diminished?

Or if Charles Manson or Adolf Hitler or (insert name of horrible person here) were able to play beautifully then they would be people to be admired and emulated?

Is it not important for students to separate their worth as humans from their ability to play piano?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2725904
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Morodiene
There have been times when I just have to be frank with a student and tell them how badly it sounded. There are some students - especially boys - that this works with.

Why not always be frank?

Just always be honest. Say when it is good and not good. You don't have to hurt feelings. Once you get a rep for being honest, that's what people expect. wink

And you don't have to tell them how bad it sounded. Most kids already have cell phones. Get them to record themselves, short portions, and simply listen to what is actually happening.

I always am, but I was relating to where the OP is. smile

Got it. smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725905
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

Gary D, thank you for demonstrating just what bullying is

I have no idea where this is coming from. I really don't.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: malkin] #2725906
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Originally Posted by malkin


I'm confused. Granted, everyone knows how stupid I am, but are you saying that Gary D. is bullying his students?

Is it not possible for students to have the strength to know that their worth as a human being is not commensurate with their competence at playing piano?

I honestly don't understand what's going on.

If my students are not playing well, and for some reason they think they are, doesn't it make sense that I want them to know what the reality is, when they are just with me, before they try the same thing out in public?

If I tell people to record themselves and listen, to find out what is actually happening, how is that bullying? I've done the same thing myself, for myself, since I was young. I already had a tape recorder when I was a pre-teen. I bought it with lawn money.

The fact is that we often have around a six month to a year honeymoon period with new students, including transfers, and if by the time a year is up people are not playing well and do not feel good about that good playing, they are very likely to quit.

I think being tougher in the first year or two leads to more relaxed and more success later on, because the most critical things happen in the first year.

By the way, I assume most people remember that I ask a parent to be present at all times for at least the first year, and often more. So nothing I do is covert, and sometimes, when parents are being too hard, I intervene on the side of the kids.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725910
04/01/18 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by malkin


I'm confused. Granted, everyone knows how stupid I am, but are you saying that Gary D. is bullying his students?

Is it not possible for students to have the strength to know that their worth as a human being is not commensurate with their competence at playing piano?


I honestly don't understand what's going on.

If my students are not playing well, and for some reason they think they are, doesn't it make sense that I want them to know what the reality is, when they are just with me, before they try the same thing out in public?



You're a bully and I'm a sarcastic pedant. Welcome to the internet.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725915
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Bullies and pedants? wink

My first teacher - a teenage girl less than twice my age - didn't lay down the law on me. She just made sure that I got my notes and rhythm right, using the correct fingering, from the first lesson, counting the beats (singing them in pitch) aloud with me, playing along with me an octave lower initially. Next lesson, she'd play the teacher's accompaniment along with me, improvising it herself if there wasn't any printed in the book. I had no choice but to keep time because she kept strict time always, and never used a metronome. I couldn't speed up even if I wanted to.

And she played me a nice, short classical piece at the end of every lesson to show me what good playing of good music is all about. I couldn't help but absorb everything by osmosis......


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725923
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I don't understand what's going on in the thread either.

I do want to say that I'm very grateful to my teacher for telling me right out when something is not good. There is never blame or sarcasm--just very clear feedback about what doesn't work and needs to change.

Early on I happened to be doing really well for a while, and I started to think he was so nice that he would always say something positive. Then I messed up and learned that I could trust him completely to give me the straight information I need in order to improve.

I'm not such a big fan of asking students to record and listen to hear what's wrong, unless the problems are really so obvious that they can't miss them. I depend on my teacher's expertise to hear things that I wouldn't. If he notices a problem, I'm glad he will just tell me.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725937
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Hi JDW
I do agree that my teacher hears things that I would not hear, but on the other hand, the more I listen to myself and attempt to spot areas that need improvement, the better I get at critical listening and working out the solution. Just a thought.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725939
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Maybe this seven year tenure has reached its natural conclusion. It's time he hears all the things you said from another teacher. Either that or you need a very slow thorough approach playing every phrase three times or more in the lesson. On each pass, focus on one thing, only timing, or only dynamics/ shaping. Or explain you are only going to fix system one and two with him. If he tries to play system three, stop him and say that's not the target area. If he wants to keep just running things through, explain that that's done more when all the problem areas have been addressed.

But essentially, I'd let this student go. I say,"I'm not interested in typing. A computer could be programmed to play the way you're playing and I'm not interested in mechanical piano playing." If you want this point to sink in, surprise him with the end of his lessons. Thank him for all his efforts but explain that you can no longer listen to typing. It's not bullying to state where things are at after seven years. I did once surprise a student who complained he didn't want piano lessons. I gave him exactly his wish. You don't want piano lessons? You don't get piano lessons then.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2725941
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
I have no idea where this is coming from. I really don't.


I think perhaps chasingrainbows thought you were being unfair when you accused her of bullying the student. I think she was might have been making the point that your comment was, itself, a bit like bullying towards her.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianopi] #2725944
04/01/18 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by pianopi
Originally Posted by Gary D.
I have no idea where this is coming from. I really don't.


I think perhaps chasingrainbows thought you were being unfair when you accused her of bullying the student. I think she was might have been making the point that your comment was, itself, a bit like bullying towards her.

My comment was to AZN, not to her:
Originally Posted by Gary

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

I don't believe you are a bully. I believe at times you PRESENT yourself as one, which gives people here a very wrong impression. wink

This was in response to something AZN wrote. It had nothing to do with ChaisingRainbows.

Before reposting what he said, I need to make clear that this was in reply to what he was writing. I've been talking to AZN a few years. He's actually a kind person. But this is what he wrote:
Originally Posted by AZN

Patience is overrated.

Earlier today I taught two of my late transfers (both came to me after level 8). I now can get both of them to produce what I want them to produce, because I am not patient with them, and I don't hesitate to point out what lousy teachers they've had until they found me. I use a combination of intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm. Mixed in there somewhere is an occasional joke that makes them roll on the floor laughing.

You might want to give intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm a try. I'm not being sarcastic here.

I was making the point that "intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm" can very easily turn into bullying.

The comment had NOTHING to do with ChasingRainbows. I assume she misread.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/01/18 11:57 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725950
04/02/18 12:45 AM
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I don't understand what's going on here, either. Weird turn of events.

However, I will say that when I use sarcasm with my students, most of them understand it's a joke.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2725952
04/02/18 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I don't understand what's going on here, either. Weird turn of events.

However, I will say that when I use sarcasm with my students, most of them understand it's a joke.

We've talked for years.

You've done many kind things for your students, things you never talk about in public.

That's was my point. You've almost created a legend here of a guy who heaps abuse on students, but that's about 99% humor. wink

My whole point was about setting up things right, from the start. Being tougher - not mean, just tougher - on students in the first year or so sets up a standard. I'm not talking about ridicule, sarcasm or intimidation, because those things mean (for me) instilling fear. That's the last thing I want.

Even my youngest students tell me immediately when I make a mistake. I might correct a note, and I'm in the wrong place, or I correct a finger number, forgetting that I changed it, or a thousand other things like that. Every time a young student catches me in a mistake I say:

"That's great. It's more fun when I'm wrong and you are right."

I'm only talking about setting up consistent standards. People like to know what is expected of them. They want to know what the rules are.

What does it mean to play well? What are the basics that all good musicians, even young developing musicians, have to follow to be successful?

I think the right notes, with a reasonable fingering, in tempo, without breaking down, is a reasonable goal. There are many other things that have to be added lately, but surely that is a reasonable start, right?

I also know, by the way, that correct technique is terribly important to you, as it is to me, so I am extremely careful of accepting playing, even when it sounds pretty good, that I know is going to physical walls and even to eventual injury.

If a young student is playing too fast, out of control, I know a whole bunch of ways of stopping that. One of those ways is an absolute insistence on counting, because I know of no student who does not slow down when made to count.

That counting, by the way, can be one and two and three and four and, but it can also be any set of sounds, scat.

None of what I do in lessons even remotely approaches bullying.

And one other thing: If I say something, even if it might be construed as sarcasm, and gets a laugh, I think it is in no way a negative thing. But then I'd be more apt to call it my "dry sense of humor". laugh

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/02/18 01:29 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: jdw] #2725954
04/02/18 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by jdw

I'm not such a big fan of asking students to record and listen to hear what's wrong, unless the problems are really so obvious that they can't miss them. I depend on my teacher's expertise to hear things that I wouldn't. If he notices a problem, I'm glad he will just tell me.

You are an adult. I never ask adults to do things they are not comfortable with.

Recordings can also be very positive. An example:

I have an adult who gets very nervous in lessons. Adults tend to say: "I could just play it perfectly right before the lesson. I don't know what happens."

So I said, "John (that's not his real name), you have an I phone, and you show me things all the time. Why don't you take one piece, divide it into four places, or spots, just as we work on here, and record those at home? See how it goes?"

That was a breakthrough, because he brought in really solid recordings. I then said, "I already know you can play these spots, so let's try them now that YOU know that *I* know that you KNOW them."

Turns out that at that point he started to get more relaxed. But he also shared with me that it was a lot harder to get them right with the record button on, which has always been my experience as a player and still is. I would often use recordings of rehearsals to judge what I could expect live.

When would I record a student in a lesson, a bit unexpectedly? Only if I continuously ran into arrogance combined with a continued insistence that what I am saying is happening is NOT happening. At that point as a teacher I have to do something to break through, because there is no acknowledgement of reality.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2725967
04/02/18 04:10 AM
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I cannot see how honest (but not unfriendly) criticism could ever go wrong if introduced from the start. Fortunately I come from a culture where people do not expect things to be sugar-coated and straightforward speech is more a rule than exception...

As an adult student I encountered two piano teachers who were very different in their initial approach to me: The first one said positive things and seemed to have little expectations but I felt something wasn't quite right and quit as soon as I found another teacher. The second one said immediately that there's a lot wrong in how I approach the keyboard, and asked me if I want to change it and then continued to point out things that needed to be fixed for as long as those existed...no matter how long it took. She would never just let something pass that she thought was not ok no matter how much I tried to convince her otherwise, which I certainly did every now and then.

When I started lessons I honestly did not think my playing was good, that is why I started lessons. But I did not have any idea what was wrong. So I would expect the teacher to tell me about it right away. The worst thing I could think of would be letting the problems be while the student is allowed to advance and then suddenly make it into a big deal later. But I do not believe in continuous nagging either. My teacher did not do that, she just told me bluntly that if I keep on doing something a certain way, the result will keep on being poor and it's my choice. And then reminded me if I forgot. And if I still couldn't/wouldn't change anything, she made it clear that there's no sense in her continuing to teach me that piece/technique. I found that approach working for me even if it did not include much of what I would call positive re-enforcement. My former teacher probably would be ok for someone who is less ambitious of the quality of playing and is content with impressing just those who know little...but had I been with him for a few years without other objective assessment and then meet my second teacher? I probably would have given up the whole thing if I felt I wasted so many years just to start all over...

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2725989
04/02/18 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Hi JDW
I do agree that my teacher hears things that I would not hear, but on the other hand, the more I listen to myself and attempt to spot areas that need improvement, the better I get at critical listening and working out the solution. Just a thought.




When I was in high school, I had a speech impediment, a bad lisp that made words with an "s" in them come out wrong, like "th". As James Whitcomb Riley said in the poem The Lisper,
Quote
"Elsie lisps so, she can't say
Her own name ist anyway! —
She says "Elthy" —like they wuz
Feathers on her words, an' they
Ist stick on her tongue like fuzz."


It sounded like an "s" to me, but the tape recorder (an old Wollensak reel-to-reel) did not lie. Feathers on her words, what an apt description!

The school speech therapist taught me to make a sound that sounded nothing like an "s" to my ears, but he assured me it really was. Then we worked on substituting that sound everywhere there needed to be an s. This was not quick or comfortable but I eventually succeeded. Somewhere along the line it began to sound like an S to my ears, which had become calibrated.

The same thing happens slowly when I record my practice sessions. My ear gets better at hearing what the microphone does. But this only works with going back and forth with short phrases. Listening to a half hour session may have benefits but it doesn't apply to ear calibration.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726017
04/02/18 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
pianist lady and AZN, I am giving him one more opportunity to heed my suggestions and critiques over the last 7 years.

Patience is overrated.

Earlier today I taught two of my late transfers (both came to me after level 8). I now can get both of them to produce what I want them to produce, because I am not patient with them, and I don't hesitate to point out what lousy teachers they've had until they found me. I use a combination of intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm. Mixed in there somewhere is an occasional joke that makes them roll on the floor laughing.

You might want to give intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm a try. I'm not being sarcastic here.

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

I don't believe you are a bully. I believe at times you PRESENT yourself as one, which gives people here a very wrong impression. wink

But I do agree with you about being tough when tough is needed.

Most of my students are people I genuinely like. I want them to like music, even eventually love it. I don't want my students, especially the young ones, to fear me, or come to lessons dreading the time I am going to spend with them.

However, I do tell them that it is "Groundhog Day" when they come in utterly unprepared, unless it is a very rare thing and for a very good reason.

I also regularly talk about "Let's pretend," and what it means. That is my phrase for when anyone, including one of us, is imagining being on stage or in front of people and getting a generous amount of applause when what is really happening is just awful. And, by the way, I think it happens to the greatest players on the planet, but the great ones catch themselves after around 10 seconds, while students can go on this way for a very long time, lost in a fantasy.

Then there is "Go magic fingers," which is about trusting the fingers, reflexes and muscle memory to get the job done. Again, the best players in the world will do that, but the moment things go wrong, they immediately go into hyper-attentive mode and fix the problems. Most students will practice that way, over and over, day after day, until something happens that brings in reality. The most common thing is a horrible performance, a complete train wreck, but if it gets to that point, the more sensitive will be so embarrassed that they will quit.



Gary D., this thread has morphed in the wrong direction entirely. I apologize if I misread your comments about bullying, but if you look at your post, you did include my quote about putting my foot down. I didn't know you were responding to AZN. Again, I obviously misinterpreted, and apologize. I was shocked,and offended, since the last word anyone would describe me as would be a bully. More like, a pushover, however, when pushed to my limits, I can resort to tough love tactics.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/02/18 11:02 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726043
04/02/18 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

Gary D., this thread has morphed in the wrong direction entirely. I apologize if I misread your comments about bullying, but if you look at your post, you did include my quote about putting my foot down. I didn't know you were responding to AZN. Again, I obviously misinterpreted, and apologize. I was shocked,and offended, since the last word anyone would describe me as would be a bully. More like, a pushover, however, when pushed to my limits, I can resort to tough love tactics.

I have looked at my post, and here is what was said:
You wrote:

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
pianist lady and AZN, I am giving him one more opportunity to heed my suggestions and critiques over the last 7 years.

AZN wrote:
Originally Posted by ASN

Patience is overrated.

Earlier today I taught two of my late transfers (both came to me after level 8). I now can get both of them to produce what I want them to produce, because I am not patient with them, and I don't hesitate to point out what lousy teachers they've had until they found me. I use a combination of intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm. Mixed in there somewhere is an occasional joke that makes them roll on the floor laughing.

You might want to give intimidation, mockery, and sarcasm a try. I'm not being sarcastic here.

I wrote, to AZN:
Originally Posted by Gary

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

I don't believe you are a bully. I believe at times you PRESENT yourself as one, which gives people here a very wrong impression. wink

But I do agree with you about being tough when tough is needed.

Please check the post.

At no time did I address you personally. I never called you a bully, never in any way asserted that you are a bully.

In addition, I said very clearly that I know, from talking to you personally, that AZN is NOT a bully. I said his words, in that particular post, made him SOUND as if he were.


Last edited by Gary D.; 04/02/18 12:58 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726080
04/02/18 02:19 PM
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Gary, I understand now that you weren't calling chasingrainbows a bully, and that your post on 03/31/18 at 02:02 AM was addressed to AZN. I think what made things unclear was this statement of yours at the beginning of your post:

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

The problem (for me, anyway, and I suspect for chasingrainbows, too, and perhaps other readers) was the quotation marks you put around the words "tough love." Chasingrainbows used those exact words in her post on 03-30-18 at 04:47 PM. Quotation marks give the impression of a direct quote, and at no time did AZN use the exact words "tough love." Chasingrainbows, however, did, so that made it appear as if you were speaking to her in your first sentence.

An honest mistake on your part, but one that contributed to the misunderstanding, IMO.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726100
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by jdw

I'm not such a big fan of asking students to record and listen to hear what's wrong, unless the problems are really so obvious that they can't miss them. I depend on my teacher's expertise to hear things that I wouldn't. If he notices a problem, I'm glad he will just tell me.

You are an adult. I never ask adults to do things they are not comfortable with.

Recordings can also be very positive. An example:

I have an adult who gets very nervous in lessons. Adults tend to say: "I could just play it perfectly right before the lesson. I don't know what happens."

So I said, "John (that's not his real name), you have an I phone, and you show me things all the time. Why don't you take one piece, divide it into four places, or spots, just as we work on here, and record those at home? See how it goes?"

That was a breakthrough, because he brought in really solid recordings. I then said, "I already know you can play these spots, so let's try them now that YOU know that *I* know that you KNOW them."

Turns out that at that point he started to get more relaxed. But he also shared with me that it was a lot harder to get them right with the record button on, which has always been my experience as a player and still is. I would often use recordings of rehearsals to judge what I could expect live.

When would I record a student in a lesson, a bit unexpectedly? Only if I continuously ran into arrogance combined with a continued insistence that what I am saying is happening is NOT happening. At that point as a teacher I have to do something to break through, because there is no acknowledgement of reality.


Just to clarify, I wasn't meaning to imply that it's not useful to record and listen to one's own playing (I do it myself)--just that it doesn't substitute for the teacher's insight. An earlier post--can't recall from whom--seemed to imply that it was a substitute for telling students that their playing doesn't sound good.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2726101
04/02/18 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Andamento
Gary, I understand now that you weren't calling chasingrainbows a bully, and that your post on 03/31/18 at 02:02 AM was addressed to AZN. I think what made things unclear was this statement of yours at the beginning of your post:

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

The problem (for me, anyway, and I suspect for chasingrainbows, too, and perhaps other readers) was the quotation marks you put around the words "tough love." Chasingrainbows used those exact words in her post on 03-30-18 at 04:47 PM. Quotation marks give the impression of a direct quote, and at no time did AZN use the exact words "tough love." Chasingrainbows, however, did, so that made it appear as if you were speaking to her in your first sentence.

An honest mistake on your part, but one that contributed to the misunderstanding, IMO.

My remark was in response to AZN's comment.

I'm totally in favor of "tough love", when it is necessary, and I think that if ChaisingRainbows is doing that, it's 100% appropriate. I can't imagine her being unpleasant. That does not seem to be her style.

I'll leave it at that.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/02/18 03:16 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2726162
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Originally Posted by Andamento
Gary, I understand now that you weren't calling chasingrainbows a bully, and that your post on 03/31/18 at 02:02 AM was addressed to AZN. I think what made things unclear was this statement of yours at the beginning of your post:

If this "tough love" is not tempered by some amount of support and praise, it's bullying.

The problem (for me, anyway, and I suspect for chasingrainbows, too, and perhaps other readers) was the quotation marks you put around the words "tough love." Chasingrainbows used those exact words in her post on 03-30-18 at 04:47 PM. Quotation marks give the impression of a direct quote, and at no time did AZN use the exact words "tough love." Chasingrainbows, however, did, so that made it appear as if you were speaking to her in your first sentence.

An honest mistake on your part, but one that contributed to the misunderstanding, IMO.


Yes, that explains much better how I misread it (than I explained),, Andamento. Thanks.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/02/18 08:32 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726227
04/03/18 09:02 AM
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I am a piano teacher to students aged 7-89. A few years ago I decided to take some voice lessons. I’ve also tried lots of different fitness classes and sports. What I have learned is that I’m not a perfect student either. My voice teacher often has to remind me of the same things week after week. Sometimes I don’t practice enough. Of course, it is a little easier to “fake it” since I can read music well.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can gain empathy and understanding by being a student yourself. Many of us learned how to play the piano so long ago that we don’t remember what it’s like to be a student and learn something new. It is refreshing, interesting, and reminds you of the steps involved in learning something and that progress doesn’t happen in a straight line.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726246
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piano2, This student is not following any of the fingering, dynamic and articulation markings, phrasing or tempo after 7 years! I have run out of empathy. He is a fairly intelligent boy.

I was thinking about myself as a student the other day--back to when I was in college and a piano student. My teachers would not tolerate complete disregard for their notations/instructions. I had juries every semester and practiced hours a day to play well. I've also taken swimming lessons periodically, to refine my strokes. I work hard on the drills given, and do my best to improve.

I know I was an exception - always driven to get "A"s, practicing hours a day, while going to college and working, so perhaps it's hard to understand why parents waste their money sending some of these kids to lessons who don't follow instructions.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726247
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At the core of my frustration is the belief that I have "failed" as a teacher with this boy. Our job as teachers is to prepare our students to be independent of us - to be able to look at a piece, follow fingerings, as appropriate, dynamics, etc. After 7 years, the teacher should not still have to highlight, notate, and repeat over and over these basic principles.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726249
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chasingrainbows, does the student want to play piano differently from how he currently plays? For example, does he want to learn to play harder pieces? Does he want to be able to impress his friends more than he currently does? Something else? Or is he content playing exactly how he currently plays?

Does he want to be taking piano lessons at all?

It seems to me that when people take lessons, the teacher relies on either (1) the student wants to learn what the teacher has to offer (because the student feels a lack in what they can do, or because they want to be well-rounded) or (2) the student agrees to obey the teacher, perhaps out of a spirit of compliance or agreeableness.

It seems to me clear that the student is not interested in (2), obeying for the sake of obeying. So one is left with (1), what does the student want to learn?

I have also met students who (3) do want to learn something, but can't get out of their own way enough to pay attention to the teacher trying to teach the student what the student claims to want to learn.

What do you think motivates your student? Do you think any of (1), (2), or (3) apply to him?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726273
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
My teachers would not tolerate complete disregard for their notations/instructions. I had juries every semester and practiced hours a day to play well. .

I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I've noticed that when you ask for advice here, you only take the advice of those who tell you to do very similar things to what you've already been doing, and disregard all others. Or to put it another way, you don't seem very willing to switch tack or change your methods, i.e. try something completely different to your own tried-and-tested methods.

What you've been doing for seven years with this kid hasn't got the desired results. It may be that nothing will. What I'm saying is that you have nothing to lose by trying something counter to your instincts, something you probably never thought of before and instinctively believe "that won't work, so why should I bother?"

Remember the Einstein quote I posted earlier? OK, he was into quantum physics, not music (though he was also an amateur musician). But he was willing to think completely 'outside the box', like: time is not a constant, because the velocity of light is, and they cannot both be constants.

So, how about trying something completely different? I quoted your post about having juries to satisfy every semester. So - why not put him up for an exam like RCM, and let him fail if necessary. At least he will have a written report by an independent assessor that bears out what you keep telling him, because he's obviously not listening to you. Does he respect you as a teacher?

And how about the advice AZNpiano gave about teachng him easier pieces with lots of patterns that sound impressive?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726295
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
At the core of my frustration is the belief that I have "failed" as a teacher with this boy. Our job as teachers is to prepare our students to be independent of us - to be able to look at a piece, follow fingerings, as appropriate, dynamics, etc. After 7 years, the teacher should not still have to highlight, notate, and repeat over and over these basic principles.

It sounds like the student is already independent of you, just not doing the things you want him to. For some students, our success as teachers is based on whether the student appreciates and enjoys music. I consider being kind and respecting a child’s spirit as part of my job as teacher. I don’t think it’s a good idea to sign a child up for an exam if I thought they would fail, or to teach them a negative lesson.

How do you ask the student to practice fingerings at home? Does he say the fingerings out loud as he plays so that he will focus on it. Does he point at the music so that he notices it? Have you told him that he can’t put a piece hands together until the fingering is correct when hands separate? If he puts it hands together before the fingering is mastered, don’t listen to it hands together at the lesson. Stick with the plan. Reinforce the plan at lesson until there is success.

Not everyone is going to be excellent at music after 7 years. But if they enjoy their pieces and music in general, then isn’t that the goal?

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: piano2] #2726304
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Originally Posted by piano2

For some students, our success as teachers is based on whether the student appreciates and enjoys music. I consider being kind and respecting a child’s spirit as part of my job as teacher. I don’t think it’s a good idea to sign a child up for an exam if I thought they would fail, or to teach them a negative lesson.


If a teacher believes that his job is done if the student "appreciates and enjoys music", that's not a problem. Though for kids, that might be a problem, as most kids "appreciate and enjoy music" anyway. So what is the point of having a teacher?

What about being able to play the instrument decently?

BTW, it looks like you haven't read all the posts in this thread. I posted earlier about how I reined in my predilection for speed as a kid, reserving it for the pieces I learnt and played for myself. And my improvisations. The reason for that was simply because I was doing piano exams and I didn't want to fail. No student I knew ever failed a music exam, and I wasn't going to be the first.

And I wasn't the only student who enjoyed speeding either. I played duos with like-minded students, one a violinist, the other a pianist. We frequently played stuff that was technically beyond us, often very approximately. Fast and loud. Why? Because we enjoyed the exhilaration, the wind in our hair. We were in our early to mid-teens and enjoyed challenges, and 'conquering' them, however imperfectly. Other kids (boys mainly, rather than girls) enjoyed running fast, playing hard at their favored sports. We enjoyed music in the same way - only not during lessons, because we had our regular 'assessments' (exams) to consider.

Incidentally, I also played chess for my high school - and I took the most risks of anyone in the team. I lost more games, but I also won a lot more. I just didn't like boring draws.


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2726316
04/03/18 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

What you've been doing for seven years with this kid hasn't got the desired results. It may be that nothing will. What I'm saying is that you have nothing to lose by trying something counter to your instincts, something you probably never thought of before and instinctively believe "that won't work, so why should I bother?"

One of the things I live by: "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

This simply means that if we are doing something that is not working, continuing the same thing is not going to change the results, which gets right back to "insanity is continuing to do the same thing expecting different results."

Sometimes we need to throw in the towel because we have already tried everything we know, it didn't work, and we are out of ideas.

I am in a situation a bit like that today, later, when I start teaching. I'm teaching a boy whose parents do not live together and who seem to quietly fight, behind the scenes. Sometimes the mother shows up but refuses to help, which is not the way I teach. She will use her cell phone for messages and God only knows what else while I'm teaching the lesson. Other times she sits outside the lesson, saying she has work to do.

The father came last lesson, when the mother was not there. It's not a happy situation. I asked him once if he ever works with his son. He said, "No." One word. No reason.

Working with these parents is like working with Pod People.

There is zero cooperation. I have asked for some kind of tracking of how many minutes the boy does, even an approximation. Nothing. It has been made very clear that the boy already has "other advanced things to do" and that no cooperation at all is going to happen re playing several times a week. These are parents who, apparently, just want their son "exposed" to music, and since my communication with them is very poor (they tell me nothing) and since I judge the situation to be potentially explosive, I'm letting it ride for the time being. It's been less than 6 months, but it is an awful situation for me.

I call a situation like this "Grouhog Day", after the movie. The reason I have not already ended the lessons is that the boy is making SOME progress. He's a nice kid. But he's moving at maybe 1/4th or 1/5th the speed of my average students his age, which means he will get to where my average students get to in one year in about four or five years, and where my really good students get to in 6 months.

The only thing I can state for certain is that this will not go on for 6 or 7 years unless there is a huge change, and most likely I will not even have to be the person who ends it.

There are times when nothing we do will change the eventual outcome.

I have two other students, both in their first year, whose parents make absolutely no requirement at all about work at home. They are cousins, two boys. I have told both mothers, separately, that if they send these boys to me, week after week, and they do absolutely no work at home, that they might as well take the money that they are paying me and flush it down the toilet. I used those exact words.

I have another brother and sister who are mostly the same, zero work, and for reasons I do not understand this is OK with the mother. She is not happy, but she is also not going to do anything about it.

In contrast, I have four or five teens who regularly put in somewhere between 250 and 350 minutes a week, sometimes more.

I don't require this. I simply tell them that the more time, the better, and the rest is pretty much up to me. All these students are a joy to teach.

Even the much young students usually come in with well over 100 minutes, which really is VERY little time. That's enough to make progress and may develop into a lot more time on its own.

I've thought about starting a thread called "Groundhog Day", and maybe I will do that later. I assume you all know of the movie with Bill Murray.



Last edited by Gary D.; 04/03/18 03:39 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2726319
04/03/18 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
My teachers would not tolerate complete disregard for their notations/instructions. I had juries every semester and practiced hours a day to play well. .

I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I've noticed that when you ask for advice here, you only take the advice of those who tell you to do very similar things to what you've already been doing, and disregard all others. Or to put it another way, you don't seem very willing to switch tack or change your methods, i.e. try something completely different to your own tried-and-tested methods.

What you've been doing for seven years with this kid hasn't got the desired results. It may be that nothing will. What I'm saying is that you have nothing to lose by trying something counter to your instincts, something you probably never thought of before and instinctively believe "that won't work, so why should I bother?"

Remember the Einstein quote I posted earlier? OK, he was into quantum physics, not music (though he was also an amateur musician). But he was willing to think completely 'outside the box', like: time is not a constant, because the velocity of light is, and they cannot both be constants.

So, how about trying something completely different? I quoted your post about having juries to satisfy every semester. So - why not put him up for an exam like RCM, and let him fail if necessary. At least he will have a written report by an independent assessor that bears out what you keep telling him, because he's obviously not listening to you. Does he respect you as a teacher?

And how about the advice AZNpiano gave about teachng him easier pieces with lots of patterns that sound impressive?


bennevis, with all due respect, as I always enjoy your input, unless you've tracked all my threads, how can you judge me in that way? How do you know I never use suggestions. I often respond tthat a member's suggestions were great, that I had never thought of that, and that I would use them. I ask you to go over ALL my responses before making an unfair judgment like that. Often, members don't read all of posts, in particular, the beginning of the thread, and miss that fact that I have already tried some suggestions.

This student plays in my recitals, and has entered Festivals as well.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/03/18 03:41 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: piano2] #2726321
04/03/18 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by piano2
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
At the core of my frustration is the belief that I have "failed" as a teacher with this boy. Our job as teachers is to prepare our students to be independent of us - to be able to look at a piece, follow fingerings, as appropriate, dynamics, etc. After 7 years, the teacher should not still have to highlight, notate, and repeat over and over these basic principles.

It sounds like the student is already independent of you, just not doing the things you want him to. For some students, our success as teachers is based on whether the student appreciates and enjoys music. I consider being kind and respecting a child’s spirit as part of my job as teacher. I don’t think it’s a good idea to sign a child up for an exam if I thought they would fail, or to teach them a negative lesson.

How do you ask the student to practice fingerings at home? Does he say the fingerings out loud as he plays so that he will focus on it. Does he point at the music so that he notices it? Have you told him that he can’t put a piece hands together until the fingering is correct when hands separate? If he puts it hands together before the fingering is mastered, don’t listen to it hands together at the lesson. Stick with the plan. Reinforce the plan at lesson until there is success.

Not everyone is going to be excellent at music after 7 years. But if they enjoy their pieces and music in general, then isn’t that the goal?



piano2, I used to have students say finger numbers in the Primer level, but not at his level. But I really like your suggestion about not listening to hands together until fingerings are followed (of course, there can be changes to fingerings if necessary). I should also use that method for students who refuse to do hands separate and come to each lesson playing mistakes in every measure.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/03/18 03:44 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726327
04/03/18 04:21 PM
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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?

Looking at this from the student's point of view: he's been disregarding your instructions for seven years, without consequence. Why should this time be different?

No, you don't want to squeeze the exuberance out of your students, but you shouldn't allow your students to squeeze the energy out of you, either. It may be too late to change this student's ingrained habits, but perhaps some clear separation of pieces learned according to best practices (from the start, and strictly enforced) and the occasional piece played just for fun (as fast or slow as desired, improvisation, whatever) would be something to try with future students.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726328
04/03/18 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
but not at his level.

So, what "level" do you think your student is really at?

I've had students waltz into my studio having passed level 7, when in fact they are really at level 2. I don't hesitate to educate the parents about their kids' numerous deficiencies.

Most kids can advance one level per year. I've had the little geniuses that can do three levels. And I'm sure right now the dim-wits that fill my studio probably need four years to progress one level.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726334
04/03/18 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

Working with these parents is like working with Pod People.

There is zero cooperation.


I feel sad for this kid.
You may be the only adult who pays attention to him. Maybe the main thing he will learn from you is that humans can treat each other decently.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: malkin] #2726340
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Gary D.

Working with these parents is like working with Pod People.

There is zero cooperation.


I feel sad for this kid.
You may be the only adult who pays attention to him. Maybe the main thing he will learn from you is that humans can treat each other decently.

Me too, believe me. It's so sad.

And this is NOTHING compared to some things I've dealt with.

A few years ago I had a little kid, Sean, who was a moxy little guy. He was around 10 when he left me. He already had the kind of "swagger" that you expect at 13. He was SUCH a great kid.

His mother and father were going through a nasty divorce and argued right in front of both me and the boy.

The father kept bring him late to lessons, so one day I asked if he could please get the boy here on time. He went off the wall, screaming and cursing. It was awful.

Then he walked out with the boy.

The mother could do nothing because the father controlled money and was abusive. The father also drank.

It's a tragedy when you have a kid who loves music, loves lessons, and has these kinds of parents.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726363
04/03/18 09:12 PM
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We could start a new thread "Parents that exhaust our energy." smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726368
04/03/18 10:41 PM
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Well you know, you can lead a horse to water etc.

Free market - Just as your students have a right to pick a different teacher, you have the right to pick different students. I feel this current situation is unfair on you, as you seem to be interested in teaching someone who is actually rewarding to teach. I know there's loyalty and all that, but not when it's sucking the life out of things.

In my experience, which is limited, granted, compared to some on here, having had other practicing pianists around me for the best part of a decade when I was younger, some people respond and some don't. Hopefully I was one of the ones that did, or at least I tried to be. I was interested in playing the right notes at the right speed with the right musical interpretations according to the guides set up by the sheet music, at the very least. And piano was my second instrument, not even my first.

Just sounds like, to be honest these students are lemons. Lost causes, let's be "frank" again. You need to gradually phase them out, and phase new ones in. Or be stuck with them and have a frustrating time of it. But I don't think they magically turn in to responsive students. The choice is yours.

For the record, confusing thread, especially in that middle bit about the bullying stuff, but anyway, I'm used to having every minor discrepancy pointed out to me, every wrong note, every missed dynamic, speed discrepancies, wrong fingerings, everything. And that was when I was an early teenager. And I liked heavy rock music, and flashy fast guitar playing and stuff, but I took the piano seriously. I can't speak for anyone else, but my teacher would get irritated if I hadn't obviously put in my required amount of practice every week. To be taught by him was a privilege. Can't speak for other members of this board, but that was my experience. So I don't think a slightly stern style of teaching is bullying, so long as one keeps it to do with the piano, and doesn't start getting personal with it.

You wouldn't expect everyone to be the best who comes to you, but it just sounds like your current ones are not listening to you really, they hear you but they don't listen. Or understand, seemingly. What you want to see is effort, and it doesn't sound like they're really applying themselves.

I would like to see you trade these pupils for ones that were actually interested in making headway with the craft. And then be quite strict with them in your teaching. I'm sorry if that comes across a bit callous. But I'm sure this would result in great satisfaction for you.

One might also say on the flip side, if this is how you earn your living then you need them for your money, but you still have the right to sack them, there is a limit to what one can take, any job is like that.

Edit - Seems you work in a music store. Does this mean you don't get a say in which pupils you have? If so, the only thing I can think of is to give them stuff that suits their style, that's about all you can do really.

Last edited by Zaphod; 04/03/18 10:50 PM.
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726370
04/03/18 11:00 PM
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Great thread!
Just between us,
there has been a HUGE rise in autistic people coming into my studio in the past few years.
Sadly, many of the parents are not even aware of their own child's problems.
I'm not a doctor, but I've been doing this a long time...and here's some advice another teaching
once gave me about dealing with problem clients:
Tell them that you don't have any room in the schedule any longer.
This has worked for me in many problematic situations.
Nothing worse than being worn out from teaching, and it is tiring.
After I finish teaching for the day, I open my email to "hey, please listen to my song
and tell me what you think" and I really have to step away and recharge sometimes.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726383
04/04/18 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
We could start a new thread "Parents that exhaust our energy." smile

Frankly, that's where the real problem is.

I can't think of one time in all my teaching years when I've had a serious problem with a young student when a parent took responsibility for what happened in lessons.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Rob Mullins] #2726388
04/04/18 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob Mullins
Great thread!
Just between us,
there has been a HUGE rise in autistic people coming into my studio in the past few years.

This may be because people are told that music helps. I've noticed the same thing. But it is still unclear how Asperger's fits into the autistic spectrum. No one seems to agree, even the experts.

I have tried to work with a couple people who were clearly autistic, and I was not able to get anywhere. For me it was impossible.

But I have two students who are labeled as having Asperger's. One I can teach rather well, and the other is an exceptional young musician who is one of my favorite students.

So I am rather wary of labels.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726389
04/04/18 04:27 AM
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This thread exhausted my energy. wink

You mentioned that you were driven to get "A"'s. It sounds like you're more of a perfectionist or purist than what this person is :-)

It also sounds like that may have carried through from you learning the piano, to the success you want to see in your teaching with your own students. (That's not necessarily a bad thing at all).

I'm suspicious that it may not be this student is sapping your energy - but that it may be the way you're responding to him that is, maybe partly due to your desire to see people be the best they can be. . That you mention that you feel like you've failed and not the student only adds to that impression. It sounds like you are quite hard on yourself and have high expectations. (Again not a bad thing, but be aware that it's ok to have exceptions).

I'm not suggesting that this student doesn't have areas to be addressed, or that there's not practical things you can do to put in place (I'm impressed with some of the responses that might work).

But what concerns me is that you seem to be at a point where this is really exhausting you - I think first you need to find away to address the effect it's having in your own life first before worrying about how else you may be able to help your student.

May be by giving yourself and him a break by ignoring those 'fault' areas for a while, and focusing on the areas that he's improving with more if you're able to. If not it might be by separating yourself from this student.

Your satisfaction with what you're doing is just as important as your students. I do hope you find a solution that works well for you, and I hope I haven't been too forward in my thoughts. I just thought it might be helpful to respond from a different angle.

Last edited by Adam.; 04/04/18 06:17 AM.
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726471
04/04/18 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
We could start a new thread "Parents that exhaust our energy." smile

Frankly, that's where the real problem is.

I can't think of one time in all my teaching years when I've had a serious problem with a young student when a parent took responsibility for what happened in lessons.


I agree, Gary D. since I work in a music store, parents drop off the students, then pick them up after they've finished shopping. Many of these parents then expect me to chat with them during another student's lesson, if they ever bother to come into the store.

What frustrates me, is that I sent a detailed email regarding the ongoing issues and got a very brief thank you in response. I doubt that the parent even read it. I asked the parent to listen to his child play the song we are having so many issues with and give me his thoughts. Never heard from him.

The boy is a nice young man, but I find myself avoiding make ups and giving credits for missed lessons, and just generally not looking forward to each lesson.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726473
04/04/18 11:38 AM
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Adam, very thought provoking post.. Thank you! When I started teaching, as most of us on PTF, I was fresh out of college, trained by excellent teachers, and had such high aspirations for each of my students! Over time, as I dealt with students forgetting or losing their music, no shows, missing recitals for "lego" competitions, ignoring assignments, not doing theory work, playing too loud, too fast, etc, not liking any music offered to them, I realized those aspirations had to be lowered.

After some of the critiques some of the students received at the last Festival, I had to take some responsibility for overlooking students' lower evaluations--I have not been consistent at every lesson in assuring that the student follow the basic concepts, and have worried more about being "nice" and "positive" rather than being "honest" as Gary D. has pointed out.

I feel that I've failed in my duty to prepare this student to be independent of me on some level.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726479
04/04/18 12:17 PM
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A story: Around the time when I first joined PW, I decided to volunteer-teach rudimentary theory to a young woman I ran into on-line who was in a situation of poverty in some area of the world where no teachers or material could be had. She was very eager, and was mixing herself up by grabbing things willy nilly from the net. It was wonderful because of the combination of her attitude and my efforts. She was eager.

I told this student that I would teach her for free, but only if she followed my instructions. For me, I could review the theory I had learned and try out my thoughts on how I would have liked to have learned it. While we were in different countries and I had not done this before, I did have my teacher training in knowing how to organize course work which is what I did. In the beginning I guided her with some principles on how she was to work, and I gave feedback for every assignment including on how she had worked if the results were off for that reason. She applied herself each time, immediately. In the way she worked, persevered, manner of doing things, enthusiasm etc.this was a "gem of a student" (as one experienced music teacher told me, when I shared some of it). It was very rewarding.

At the end of this I had the material I had created for the course: sound files, resources and links etc.; an outline of how to proceed, what had worked well. I could have gone on to teach this, and even for payment, but opted not to. Why? Because I wouldn't get the same kind of student, and if it was commercially for money, I'd have to accept anyone, under all circumstances - like you guys (more or less).

There was actually a need for what I had created. I worked through the RCM syllabus using the Wharram book, and many private students over here do the exams for the three levels of rudiments. A British teacher, where ABRSM(?) has the same role, told me how it's hard for private teachers to squeeze this in as well. I saw at least one teacher in this country offer on-line group lessons for the three levels, doing what I had just done. His students would meet in a group lesson on-line once a week, send him their homework, for his feedback individually. I could do that. But I'd be getting students who had to study the material for the sake of passing an exam. They would not necessarily be wiling to work as hard or as hand-in-hand as my "gem of a student" had done. Some might be mistaught about theory or confused about some theory thing because of what had happened in private lessons, so there could be conflict. It might become quite a head-ache, and unpleasant. In volunteer-teaching I could drop a student if that person didn't want to do the work; or the student could drop the lessons if he/she discovered they weren't interested. You don't have that when you're teaching privately.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Zaphod] #2726530
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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Well you know, you can lead a horse to water etc.

Free market - Just as your students have a right to pick a different teacher, you have the right to pick different students. I feel this current situation is unfair on you, as you seem to be interested in teaching someone who is actually rewarding to teach. I know there's loyalty and all that, but not when it's sucking the life out of things.

In my experience, which is limited, granted, compared to some on here, having had other practicing pianists around me for the best part of a decade when I was younger, some people respond and some don't. Hopefully I was one of the ones that did, or at least I tried to be. I was interested in playing the right notes at the right speed with the right musical interpretations according to the guides set up by the sheet music, at the very least. And piano was my second instrument, not even my first.

Just sounds like, to be honest these students are lemons. Lost causes, let's be "frank" again. You need to gradually phase them out, and phase new ones in. Or be stuck with them and have a frustrating time of it. But I don't think they magically turn in to responsive students. The choice is yours.

For the record, confusing thread, especially in that middle bit about the bullying stuff, but anyway, I'm used to having every minor discrepancy pointed out to me, every wrong note, every missed dynamic, speed discrepancies, wrong fingerings, everything. And that was when I was an early teenager. And I liked heavy rock music, and flashy fast guitar playing and stuff, but I took the piano seriously. I can't speak for anyone else, but my teacher would get irritated if I hadn't obviously put in my required amount of practice every week. To be taught by him was a privilege. Can't speak for other members of this board, but that was my experience. So I don't think a slightly stern style of teaching is bullying, so long as one keeps it to do with the piano, and doesn't start getting personal with it.

You wouldn't expect everyone to be the best who comes to you, but it just sounds like your current ones are not listening to you really, they hear you but they don't listen. Or understand, seemingly. What you want to see is effort, and it doesn't sound like they're really applying themselves.

I would like to see you trade these pupils for ones that were actually interested in making headway with the craft. And then be quite strict with them in your teaching. I'm sorry if that comes across a bit callous. But I'm sure this would result in great satisfaction for you.

One might also say on the flip side, if this is how you earn your living then you need them for your money, but you still have the right to sack them, there is a limit to what one can take, any job is like that.

Edit - Seems you work in a music store. Does this mean you don't get a say in which pupils you have? If so, the only thing I can think of is to give them stuff that suits their style, that's about all you can do really.



Adam, I still require meet and greets before agreeing to take on a new student. We also have the ability to drop a student, however, the store really watches retention rates, so I hesitate to drop the students that exhaust me, which, right now, would be 4 students.

I just want my students to learn the basics of musicianship, to practice and to hopefully enjoy playing the piano as much as possible. I want them to look back on piano lessons with me with some level of joy, and not regret. However, that doesn't mean I should settle for disregard of most of basic concepts. Many of our students are "lemons" for sure. Transfer wrecks, students who never practice, lose music, forget their books, or are being forced to take lessons so parents can shop in peace.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726562
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

Adam, I still require meet and greets before agreeing to take on a new student. We also have the ability to drop a student, however, the store really watches retention rates, so I hesitate to drop the students that exhaust me, which, right now, would be 4 students.


I wish I could say "I'm Adam Madam". But unfortunately I'm Zaphod. Or did you mean "Adam and I", Adam being your boss? No matter, unimportant.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I just want my students to learn the basics of musicianship, to practice and to hopefully enjoy playing the piano as much as possible. I want them to look back on piano lessons with me with some level of joy, and not regret. However, that doesn't mean I should settle for disregard of most of basic concepts.


Quite right, and as you well know, the two go hand in hand. One without the other is no use.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Many of our students are "lemons" for sure. Transfer wrecks, students who never practice, lose music, forget their books, or are being forced to take lessons so parents can shop in peace.


I think you should have a word with your boss (Adam?) - you need to look after your own health first and foremost, both mentally and physically, and if you will allow me to say so, your tone in this thread is one of exasperation, although admittedly it is only written and therefore hard to judge, but I've noticed it. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but one worries about your health in this regard, and I think that it's more important for you to cleanse yourself of this purgatory that you seem to be in by ditching the waste of time students.

Perhaps you might want to have a word with your boss about a condition being attached to lessons - the student needs the right attitude. Talent is not necessarily required, but attitude and effort is. For example, I attend martial art classes, and this is the philosophy. If one is seen to be not taking it seriously, one will get asked to not return. I've seen it happen many times.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2726590
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
but not at his level.

So, what "level" do you think your student is really at?

I've had students waltz into my studio having passed level 7, when in fact they are really at level 2. I don't hesitate to educate the parents about their kids' numerous deficiencies.

Most kids can advance one level per year. I've had the little geniuses that can do three levels. And I'm sure right now the dim-wits that fill my studio probably need four years to progress one level.


He's playing Level 4-5 pieces AZN.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2726770
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
We could start a new thread "Parents that exhaust our energy." smile

Frankly, that's where the real problem is.


What the world needs is an academic innovation: a dual major in piano pedagogy and marriage counseling. ;-)


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: JohnSprung] #2726780
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
We could start a new thread "Parents that exhaust our energy." smile

Frankly, that's where the real problem is.


What the world needs is an academic innovation: a dual major in piano pedagogy and marriage counseling. ;-)



I find the whole teachers' is forum exhausting this week.

If I were visiting here, thinking this is typical of what goes on here, I'd run away. This can't be a good atmosphere for students.

The majority of my students, you and old, are cooperating very well with what I ask them to do. The kind of problems were are writing about in this topic are rather rare for me and are not typical of my teaching.

I also seldom write about such problems, because if a student refuses to try what the teacher suggests, lessons can't work. It's as simple as that.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/05/18 04:16 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726793
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Gary, I always thought (maybe erroneously?) that forums were a safe place to share experiences with others who may or may not have experienced those things and hopefully the OP can learn from others' suggestions and experiences. If all we ever posted were success stories, I doubt that forums would hold as much interest and information exchange as they do here.

Some teachers have the luxury to let students go when they don't practice or follow suggestions, but most that I know do not have the luxury. Retention rates are important in music stores and local music schools as well. I'm sorry that\ you felt this topic was exhausting. The reality is if I could, I would let at least 4 students go, but I cannot.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726796
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Zaphod, sorry, I had actually been replying to you, not "Adam." Thanks for your input.

I am frustrated with these types of students. Are there teachers here that are not frustrated with students like the subject of this thread? A student with almost 7 years of study who ignores everything I've tried to impart to him.

I never want to give up on a student, but I think after 10 years of music store students, it is starting to finally affect my tolerance level.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Adam.] #2726812
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Originally Posted by Adam.
This thread exhausted my energy. wink

You mentioned that you were driven to get "A"'s. It sounds like you're more of a perfectionist or purist than what this person is :-)

It also sounds like that may have carried through from you learning the piano, to the success you want to see in your teaching with your own students. (That's not necessarily a bad thing at all).

I'm suspicious that it may not be this student is sapping your energy - but that it may be the way you're responding to him that is, maybe partly due to your desire to see people be the best they can be. . That you mention that you feel like you've failed and not the student only adds to that impression. It sounds like you are quite hard on yourself and have high expectations. (Again not a bad thing, but be aware that it's ok to have exceptions).

I'm not suggesting that this student doesn't have areas to be addressed, or that there's not practical things you can do to put in place (I'm impressed with some of the responses that might work).

But what concerns me is that you seem to be at a point where this is really exhausting you - I think first you need to find away to address the effect it's having in your own life first before worrying about how else you may be able to help your student.

May be by giving yourself and him a break by ignoring those 'fault' areas for a while, and focusing on the areas that he's improving with more if you're able to. If not it might be by separating yourself from this student.

Your satisfaction with what you're doing is just as important as your students. I do hope you find a solution that works well for you, and I hope I haven't been too forward in my thoughts. I just thought it might be helpful to respond from a different angle.


Hi Adam, enjoyed your post. I am exhausted in general with these kinds of students, that, if I taught them privately, I would recommend they find another teacher. Many wonderful ideas have been suggested in this thread. smile

I think that the fault lies with me, in that I've ignored those "fault areas" and haven't consistently ensured that these basic concepts are observed.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/05/18 05:13 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726816
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

I am frustrated with these types of students. Are there teachers here that are not frustrated with students like the subject of this thread? A student with almost 7 years of study who ignores everything I've tried to impart to him.

I don't teach formally, but my job does involve educating people (adults more than kids), and with much greater things at stake (i.e. often life and death).

And I use every trick in the book (and out of the book, out of the box, and even extra-terrestrial....) to try to get some people to do what they need to do. With many, it's been over a decade of futility. Some people will never change, will never learn, until it's too late. With others, suddenly something twigs (usually because of a tragedy, unfortunately), and they see the light (as it were)......

But I never blame myself. I can only do my best. Human nature is what it is.


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726852
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
He's playing Level 4-5 pieces AZN.

That's further than most kids ever get to.

You can relax and know that you've achieved more than what's feasible with this student. You should give him pieces that will make him sound bigger than he actually is.

I've made similar decisions for many kids who are much further along than your student. These students have maxed out. In lieu of musical depth, it's time for them to explore musical breadth. One kid has already passed level 10 (and not by the skin of his teeth, either) but he decided that classical music is not for him, so pop/jazz/contemporary music here we come!


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726855
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
[quote=Adam.]
I think that the fault lies with me, in that I've ignored those "fault areas" and haven't consistently ensured that these basic concepts are observed.


If you're drawing that conclusion now, then that's good. Some teachers never make such realisations. Probably a sign that you are indeed a competent teacher, willing to review and criticise your own methods as well as the students.

Make the tweak, increase your own value, it can only work out well for you.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726857
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows


I am frustrated with these types of students. Are there teachers here that are not frustrated with students like the subject of this thread? A student with almost 7 years of study who ignores everything I've tried to impart to him.

I never want to give up on a student, but I think after 10 years of music store students, it is starting to finally affect my tolerance level.


It's important to listen to your feelings of frustration-- it's a sign that something is not going well (which is why you've asked the forum for ideas). It's normal to feel frustrated and want to solve the problem. I don't see an issue with sharing your problems with other teachers, even if it seems negative. Most of my students are doing fine, but it's sometimes the difficult ones who make me think.

At a workshop I attended, a clinician compared teaching piano lessons to being in a rowboat with the student-- if one party is not pulling their weight, then the other has to put in more energy to keep the boat moving. If the teacher doesn't prepare for lessons or develop their skills, the student will struggle. If the student doesn't practice or take suggestions, then the teacher works harder to motivate and push things along.

If I feel like my energy is being drained, I try to examine what's been going on in lessons, with the student's life, and also with myself-- am I too busy? is my schedule stacked with too many "challenging" personalities on certain days, is my personal life stressed, etc. I also ask myself whether my goals for the lesson are aligned with those of the students, and if our goals aren't the same, then what can be done? Usually there's some common ground between my ideal (helping the student become the best musician they can be) and what the student finds interesting (learning fast pieces to impress friends, playing the complete works of Justin Bieber, whatever.) I don't think it's giving up on a student to re-orient your goals to something less than perfection. One of my students has taken 5 years to get to level 2B-- she is a lovely human of normal intelligence but often does not follow instructions. I have kept from going completely insane by accepting this and celebrating her small victories along the way.
Working harder than the student is tiring; better to have a destination that you can agree on and row the boat together.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726879
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Gary, I always thought (maybe erroneously?) that forums were a safe place to share experiences with others who may or may not have experienced those things and hopefully the OP can learn from others' suggestions and experiences. If all we ever posted were success stories, I doubt that forums would hold as much interest and information exchange as they do here.

I understand, but this is NOT a teachers' forum. I wish we had one. I really do. But we don't.

Instead it is "mixed group", where students are encouraged to participate, and such students may or may not have one minute of teaching experience. So if you or I post about problems we are having teaching, be prepared to get some pretty off-the-wall feedback.

Some of it will be excellent, but a lot of it is coming from people who haven't walked in our shoes.

I have held back making suggestions, analyses or giving opinions.

I have already said, clearly, that I have a few students who try my patience. It is true that I can cut them loose. You seem to be saying that you can't. But I assure you that I have bills to pay, so I put up with some situations that are far from ideal and hope that they will improve.

That said, I've never endured a situation that I don't think works for years.

For me everything that is really important happens in the first year, and the most important things happen in the first 6 months. If a good foundation has been laid down, if I'm getting cooperation, then things are going to work. I have said before that I am unusually careful about setting down exact instructions and being sure they are followed.

I don't bend, but I have to explain that this is IF students are playing at home. If I know that they ARE playing then I mostly consider it a flaw in my teaching if the playing is getting us nowhere. If there is time being put in, and I see continuing problems, I immediately start checking. What is really happening? Are my directions being followed? Are the students writing down times in which they do whatever they want, ignoring my lesson plans? Do parents report that there is a problem, meaning that they put down time that they are not doing? Are the students reading my directions? Are they trying to follow them?

I insist that a parent be present in lessons for small children. If they won't be present, I will only continue in the rather rare situations where the children work entirely on their own, with no supervision at all. This USUALLY means that a parent or parents want to drop kids off and want no other responsibility, and it just does not work.

As kids get older, or more advanced, this changes. Obviously there will come a time when children advance so far that the parents no longer have a clue about what we are doing, unless they are also musicians. At that point I'm fine with kids, of any age, coming by themselves to lesson - so long as I see progress continue.

But within reason I remain in charge. It can't work otherwise. My students are free to discuss fingering, interpretation, what they want to work on next. I'm open to any style of music, and to me becoming more advanced means that you have more choices. I have students bring in things I don't know, and sometimes things I don't really like much. But if they are good enough to play the music, I'm on board.

What I won't put up with is the kind of thick-headed stubbornness that you seem to be describing in this boy. I say what I want. I say how I expect to work. If I get no cooperation, I end the lessons.

This is important: IT ALMOST NEVER GETS TO THAT POINT, EVER.

I'm a man, I'm old, and I have a very strong personality. I have learned to use these things as advantages, because we can use gender, age and disposition as trump cards to intimidate and even bully. I don't believe in doing that. But I work from strength, and that's just who I am.

So I tell everyone, without exception: "If you screw things up, then I'm going to tell you how to fix them. I'll have answers. But if you don't listen to my answers, I'm the wrong teacher for you and you need to find someone else."

Then, when people show me cooperation, and when I see that they are making really good progress, I gradually let them play anything they want, with a huge amount of freedom.

I've never worked with a student for 6 or 7 years whom I did not like and with whom I have not felt comfortable. I've never made it past a couple years when things did not work, and usually things never lasted nearly that long.

That may make me seem like a dictator, a really unpleasant person, but one adult was with me for over two decades and would still be with me right now if she had not had to move several hundred miles away. We still talk on the phone weekly, and I am working with her on theory and analysis. She is 78.
Quote

Some teachers have the luxury to let students go when they don't practice or follow suggestions, but most that I know do not have the luxury. Retention rates are important in music stores and local music schools as well. I'm sorry that\ you felt this topic was exhausting. The reality is if I could, I would let at least 4 students go, but I cannot.

If you had let this one student go several years ago, would it really have changed your income or your relationship with the store?

If you were a bit more strict regarding people following your instructions, how do you know that you would not end up with more students, who played better? And a more secure relationship with your store?

How do you start small children? I'm assuming the boy you are talking about started quite young, and that an adult was not present in lessons to see what was really going on.

You say that parents just drop the kids off and take off. Well, parents TRY that with me too. The very first lesson I make clear to parents that I work with the parents too, and if there is no parent in the lesson, it may take five years to advance to where I get the average young student to in one year, when an adult is on board.

So I won't even start lessons without this agreement, and I can't remember more than a couple times over the last couple years where I have not gotten this agreement. It's the one "rule" I won't allow violated. There are, of course, emergencies when someone else brings the child. Those are not the usual thing. But if a parent goes back on our agreement, thinking he or she can just drop a small kid off and I'm magically going to make everything happen, we either get that straightened out or it's a deal breaker.

You could at least try to make that change for the parents who are open to having their kids progress much faster.

Last edited by Gary D.; 04/06/18 01:55 AM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2726970
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I am frustrated with these types of students. Are there teachers here that are not frustrated with students like the subject of this thread? A student with almost 7 years of study who ignores everything I've tried to impart to him.

This is called "expensive babysitting." Any typical piano teacher is going to have oodles of these students. I'd like to consider myself above average, but even I have to put up with these students. As long as all parties involved are content, I have no problem taking money from these people.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I never want to give up on a student, but I think after 10 years of music store students, it is starting to finally affect my tolerance level.

"Give up" might be the wrong word. Change your mindset about the type of service you provide.

Let's say I have 20 students in my studio. I'm okay with 18 of them being absolutely horrid at piano, with zero interest. All I need are those 2 brilliant kids who can make my job worthwhile. And at the rate it's going right now, that's the type of studio I'm going to have in three years. Almost all the beginners I teach right now are uniformly hopeless.

Also, are you able to raise your rates at the piano store? A higher paycheck may reduce the pain of dealing with deadbeat students. I recently started raising my rates (not insignificantly) to a certain portion of my students, and I'm surprised that almost all of them stayed on.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2726996
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

"Give up" might be the wrong word. Change your mindset about the type of service you provide.


I'd call this adjusting your expectations.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727008
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ChasingRainbows,

I've been thinking a lot this past week about your situation, and the various comments on this thread. (Lots of good thoughts expressed here.)

I have a few ideas for you, but may I ask you a few questions to make sure I understand first?

I'm not sure what you mean by this:

Quote
We also have the ability to drop a student, however, the store really watches retention rates, so I hesitate to drop the students that exhaust me, which, right now, would be 4 students.


Who is the "We" at the beginning of the quote? Do you mean the teachers at the store are allowed to drop students, rather than only the store owners/managers having the power to dismiss students?

Also, what do you mean by "the store really watches retention rates"? Have teachers been let go for losing or dismissing too many students? What does the store do when there are falling retention rates?

I have other questions, but will stop here for now. smile

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727015
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I don’t know if this helps, and maybe it falls under the definition of managing expectations:

My teacher’s philosophy is that she gives the best of herself to all of her students, and then she takes no credit for their successes or their failures. It’s managed to keep her sane through over 3000 students over five decades of teaching.

I don’t know how she got to this mindset, and I don’t know if I could


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Zaphod] #2727031
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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
[quote=Adam.]
I think that the fault lies with me, in that I've ignored those "fault areas" and haven't consistently ensured that these basic concepts are observed.


If you're drawing that conclusion now, then that's good. Some teachers never make such realisations. Probably a sign that you are indeed a competent teacher, willing to review and criticise your own methods as well as the students.

Make the tweak, increase your own value, it can only work out well for you.


Full disclosure- when my child was going through the terrible 2's and 3's, etc., sometimes I would get so tired of saying no, or later on, grounding, that I would go into denial mode. Pretty much what I do with some students, since, as others have said, I try to focus on what they do well, and be positive, but the result is not ideal.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2727036
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I am frustrated with these types of students. Are there teachers here that are not frustrated with students like the subject of this thread? A student with almost 7 years of study who ignores everything I've tried to impart to him.

This is called "expensive babysitting." Any typical piano teacher is going to have oodles of these students. I'd like to consider myself above average, but even I have to put up with these students. As long as all parties involved are content, I have no problem taking money from these people.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I never want to give up on a student, but I think after 10 years of music store students, it is starting to finally affect my tolerance level.

"Give up" might be the wrong word. Change your mindset about the type of service you provide.

Let's say I have 20 students in my studio. I'm okay with 18 of them being absolutely horrid at piano, with zero interest. All I need are those 2 brilliant kids who can make my job worthwhile. And at the rate it's going right now, that's the type of studio I'm going to have in three years. Almost all the beginners I teach right now are uniformly hopeless.

Also, are you able to raise your rates at the piano store? A higher paycheck may reduce the pain of dealing with deadbeat students. I recently started raising my rates (not insignificantly) to a certain portion of my students, and I'm surprised that almost all of them stayed on.


Teachers did recently get a tiny pay hike. Store gets 30 to 40% of that. You're right, AZN, those students who are committed and do the work make up for the deadbeats, but there are enough of those deadbeats to weigh down my enthusiasm when they come for a lesson. I usually do think, ok, if the family is all on board with this kid's progress, keep on doing my best.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/06/18 04:55 PM.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2727039
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Originally Posted by Andamento
ChasingRainbows,

I've been thinking a lot this past week about your situation, and the various comments on this thread. (Lots of good thoughts expressed here.)

I have a few ideas for you, but may I ask you a few questions to make sure I understand first?

I'm not sure what you mean by this:

Quote
We also have the ability to drop a student, however, the store really watches retention rates, so I hesitate to drop the students that exhaust me, which, right now, would be 4 students.


Who is the "We" at the beginning of the quote? Do you mean the teachers at the store are allowed to drop students, rather than only the store owners/managers having the power to dismiss students?

Also, what do you mean by "the store really watches retention rates"? Have teachers been let go for losing or dismissing too many students? What does the store do when there are falling retention rates?

I have other questions, but will stop here for now. smile


Teachers used to be able to have meet and greets prior to accepting a student. The store is attempting to do away with meet and greets. A few teachers have insisted on continuing with the meet and greet. For me, that enables me somewhat to "weed" out potential deadbeats. Likewise, we can dismiss a student. The store would never do that. However, corporate watches our student numbers and our retention of those students. If a teacher can't show a decent retention rate (not sure what the time parameters are), the store will just stop assigning students to the teacher, or can fire the teacher.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2727041
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I don’t know if this helps, and maybe it falls under the definition of managing expectations:

My teacher’s philosophy is that she gives the best of herself to all of her students, and then she takes no credit for their successes or their failures. It’s managed to keep her sane through over 3000 students over five decades of teaching.

I don’t know how she got to this mindset, and I don’t know if I could


dogperson, that mindset worked until i entered students into competitions. Who usually is to "blame" when a student does not do well? IMO, the teacher.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727043
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by dogperson
I don’t know if this helps, and maybe it falls under the definition of managing expectations:

My teacher’s philosophy is that she gives the best of herself to all of her students, and then she takes no credit for their successes or their failures. It’s managed to keep her sane through over 3000 students over five decades of teaching.

I don’t know how she got to this mindset, and I don’t know if I could


dogperson, that mindset worked until i entered students into competitions. Who usually is to "blame" when a student does not do well? IMO, the teacher.

What?? Since when? Is the teacher's name on the list of who is competing? Is the teacher performing? If not, then it's always the student who gets the acclaim or blame.

Perhaps this is indicative of part of the problem. It's fine to be a conscientious teacher who wants to improve, but there's a line one can cross that is not healthy for anyone involved. I think you may need to take a step back emotionally and let the chips fall where they may.

Ultimately, it's not your job to make sure a student learns. All you need to do is teach.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727044
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Gary D., thank you for sharing your expertise. You are an amazing teacher. I plan to respond within the next or so.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727068
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Quote
If a teacher can't show a decent retention rate (not sure what the time parameters are), the store will just stop assigning students to the teacher, or can fire the teacher.


If there are other piano teachers at the store besides yourself, how about a few student swaps between you and another teacher? Are there any other piano teachers there who are having similar problems getting their students to cooperate? It may be beneficial for each of those students to switch to another teacher at the store if they're not working well with their present instructors.

Swapping students within the store itself would not change the store's retention rate. I would hope corporate wouldn't have a problem with that, when swaps could be made in the best interests of the students (and their frustrated teachers).

Just a thought.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727085
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
dogperson, that mindset worked until i entered students into competitions. Who usually is to "blame" when a student does not do well? IMO, the teacher.

I used to get very uptight about piano competitions. My heart raced as my students played their one or two pieces in front of the judges. I was more of a nervous wreck than the kids.

I still occasionally feel that way, for a select few students that I tend to care more about. Otherwise, the best thing is to feel neutral about these competitions. Most of the time the judges are idiots, anyway.

There was this one time the student came to my house for a rehearsal right before the big competition. It was so good, I have the performance saved on video somewhere. And then came the actual competition; the student had a memory lapse the size of Delaware. Two of the three judges cared about "note perfect" performances and wrote very critical comments about not being ready for competitions. Gee. I'd rather not get into the blame game. Nobody wins.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2727127
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano


There was this one time the student came to my house for a rehearsal right before the big competition. It was so good, I have the performance saved on video somewhere.

Did you do a memory test? Did you make this student play his competition piece starting at multiple starting points?


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2727129
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Originally Posted by dogperson
I don’t know if this helps, and maybe it falls under the definition of managing expectations:

My teacher’s philosophy is that she gives the best of herself to all of her students, and then she takes no credit for their successes or their failures. It’s managed to keep her sane through over 3000 students over five decades of teaching.

I don’t know how she got to this mindset, and I don’t know if I could

I don't believe a lot of what people say, though in many cases I do believe that THEY believe the things they say.

I certainly give myself credit when students do well with me, just as I always gave good teachers credit for being good teachers for me. I think that's fair.

I don't feel any blame or sense of failure when students don't try. Some just want to be given knowledge, no work, nor responsibility. These are the "Groundhog Day" students. Every week is a repeat. Nothing happens in between lessons.

But I do take responsibility for "missing the boat". There are situations in which I most definitely could have done better as a teachers, with more knowledge.

An example: I have a student right now who drove me nuts for a couple years. She reversed her fingers. Every fingering was wrong. 2 was 4, 1 was 5. But I was at least 50% of the problem, because I had not noticed that she is very obviously mildly dyslexic. In desperation I made her say every finger number, for every measure, hands separate. It was torture for her, and torture for me. I didn't think it was working, but it did, eventually.

But I now know to do this with EVERY student, in the beginning. With some I can drop saying numbers very quickly, because my deal with students is that they don't have to say what they don't miss. But the moment they miss fingerings, I go right back to making them say them.

Now this gets fixed in the first month or so, with students who will have no problems. For those who have problems with fingerings, it takes longer, but no more torture as with this one girl.

The torture was because I did not check for the problem at the very beginning, and that's poor teaching, thus my responsibility to fix.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2727130
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There was this one time the student came to my house for a rehearsal right before the big competition. It was so good, I have the performance saved on video somewhere.

Did you do a memory test? Did you make this student play his competition piece starting at multiple starting points?

This is the kid who had a flawless memory, and he never messed up except for that one time. He literally embodied the music to such a deep degree, he probably could start from any note and play to the end. The memory lapse lasted maybe 3 seconds, enough for him to stomp his foot and let out an expletive. Then he continued as if nothing had happened.

Some judges have ZERO TOLERANCE when it comes to memory lapses.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2727144
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There was this one time the student came to my house for a rehearsal right before the big competition. It was so good, I have the performance saved on video somewhere.

Did you do a memory test? Did you make this student play his competition piece starting at multiple starting points?

This is the kid who had a flawless memory, and he never messed up except for that one time. He literally embodied the music to such a deep degree, he probably could start from any note and play to the end. The memory lapse lasted maybe 3 seconds, enough for him to stomp his foot and let out an expletive. Then he continued as if nothing had happened.

Some judges have ZERO TOLERANCE when it comes to memory lapses.

Some people are fools, and they are frequently chosen as judges.

You said "the size of Delaware". I would never associate a state, even a small one, as only 3 seconds long. Such memory lapses have happened to the greatest pianists on the planet. wink

I have a young student who can't memorize anything, not even a phrase. As impossible as this sounds, it's true!


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727192
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chasingrainbows,

Good choice of screen name.

I'm seeing your frustration as very natural part of teaching and also learning to teach.

You wrote that you are an idealist and a perfectionist. If you accept all types of students in your studio, I'd suggest developing the ability to shift your sense of idealism and perfectionism from standards of musicianship (learned from your teachers) to how you reach individual students at their level of readiness.

You won't change your personality (and why? it's a great personality!) but you can change your focus, at least in your lessons, from the art of music to the art of teaching. For some students remembering to bring their music to every lesson is a big step. Work on teaching something of value to every student. It's separate from teaching musicianship. Maybe we could say it's a prerequisite. Don't give up your standard, but shift your focus as needed. Try to excel as a teacher. It will happen with small improvements over time. That shift will lessen your feelings of frustration and failure.

(OTOH, want to be a teacher? Get used to dealing with failure, and try, try, try again another day...)

I taught what was considered, at our school, a difficult, intimidating subject. I experimented with lots of different approaches and materials and would briefly explain to the students how certain approaches might work. Those "experiments" worked better than I ever hoped. For me, it was fascinating and really got me engaged with teaching all different types of students. For the students, they started thinking about how they learn and took more initiative. Why not try to invite this boy into his own learning? It might work with him.

This is just one way of looking at it. There's lots of other good perspectives here which could work equally well. Anyone who has ever taught empathizes with your OP. It's not simple.

I hope this is clear. I'm trying to keep it brief. (I need to practice before the day slips by :-)


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727197
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Chasingrainbows, something has been niggling at me from the get-go. Your student comes in. He's supposed to play slowly enough, accurately, doing things he's been told for 5 years already. Yet once again he races sloppily through the piece like a happy speed demon. In this scenario, do you suffer through the whole thing and remind him afterward? Or do you stop him right away after the first 8 notes?

I don't usually watch reality shows but I got curious for a while about those court shows. There is one where the judge insists on instructions being followed, and it can go as follows:
judge: What colour was the car?
plaintiff: He's so unreasonable. He dashed off ...
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: As I was saying, he dashed....
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: It was an old rattly car. He's so careless.....
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: Red

The other person simply can't go ahead and do whatever he wants to do, because each time he's told "Stop". After a while the other person learns, "Every time I don't do as asked, I get stopped. It's easier to do the thing I'm asked to do." Would this work in that kind of situation?

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727227
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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

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727230
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Perhaps the best thing for fingering is for one to buy music without any, or at least too much fingering in it, and make custom fingering up that suits the particular student, after all everyone has different hands.

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You might also slow a student down by having him play the top staff with his left hand and the bottom with his right. What fingering would you use to do it that way? you could ask.

Nothing like playing Twister at the keyboard.

Right hand on the red circle.

Left foot green.

Left hand fifth finger three octaves above Middle C.

Right hand two on bass line 1 G.

YMMV, but you'd be having fun, anyway. laugh

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: keystring] #2727741
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Originally Posted by keystring
Chasingrainbows, something has been niggling at me from the get-go. Your student comes in. He's supposed to play slowly enough, accurately, doing things he's been told for 5 years already. Yet once again he races sloppily through the piece like a happy speed demon. In this scenario, do you suffer through the whole thing and remind him afterward? Or do you stop him right away after the first 8 notes?

I don't usually watch reality shows but I got curious for a while about those court shows. There is one where the judge insists on instructions being followed, and it can go as follows:
judge: What colour was the car?
plaintiff: He's so unreasonable. He dashed off ...
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: As I was saying, he dashed....
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: It was an old rattly car. He's so careless.....
judge (calmly): stop (pause) What colour was the car?
plaintiff: Red

The other person simply can't go ahead and do whatever he wants to do, because each time he's told "Stop". After a while the other person learns, "Every time I don't do as asked, I get stopped. It's easier to do the thing I'm asked to do." Would this work in that kind of situation?


keystring, I'm LOL over your example - a great one and I probably know what Judge you are talking about. I tend to do the opposite of the things teachers did to me that unnerved me. One of those was teachers who picked apart every single measure so that it was impossible to relax in some form and get into playing the piece. I usually have them play the piece first (unless it's more than 5 pages long) then play it again for issues to stop and work on. I consider the first playing to be their "warm up" since the majority of my students never play prior to their lesson. So, yes, I usually suffer first.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2727742
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by dogperson
I don’t know if this helps, and maybe it falls under the definition of managing expectations:

My teacher’s philosophy is that she gives the best of herself to all of her students, and then she takes no credit for their successes or their failures. It’s managed to keep her sane through over 3000 students over five decades of teaching.

I don’t know how she got to this mindset, and I don’t know if I could


dogperson, that mindset worked until i entered students into competitions. Who usually is to "blame" when a student does not do well? IMO, the teacher.

What?? Since when? Is the teacher's name on the list of who is competing? Is the teacher performing? If not, then it's always the student who gets the acclaim or blame.

Perhaps this is indicative of part of the problem. It's fine to be a conscientious teacher who wants to improve, but there's a line one can cross that is not healthy for anyone involved. I think you may need to take a step back emotionally and let the chips fall where they may.

Ultimately, it's not your job to make sure a student learns. All you need to do is teach.


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


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727754
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
keystring, I'm LOL over your example - a great one and I probably know what Judge you are talking about. I tend to do the opposite of the things teachers did to me that unnerved me. One of those was teachers who picked apart every single measure so that it was impossible to relax in some form and get into playing the piece. I usually have them play the piece first (unless it's more than 5 pages long) then play it again for issues to stop and work on. I consider the first playing to be their "warm up" since the majority of my students never play prior to their lesson. So, yes, I usually suffer first.

lol - I loved it myself.

Thinking: You don't want to be intimidating the way your teacher was, but this isn't working either. Your routine right now means that your student gets to rush through at least once, and in a way he's getting free rein. What if you establish a new routine with this student, and explain why. Something like: you want some kind of warm-up for him, but it can't be a piece because of what he does. When he does start a piece, then before he starts, perhaps one of the things you want him to start doing (play slowly, maybe with counting, at a tempo that you set) - and if he starts to race, you stop him and get him to start again. Might that put the ball back into your court? Maybe - if he does play this way, that you point out how clean it now sounds - how much better - so he has an incentive.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727764
04/09/18 06:44 PM
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Keystring, I will do exactly that at his lesson tomorrow. Thanks! BTW, he actually played really well at his last lesson (after email sent to Dad). Tempo was even, not too fast, no mistakes, almost every note articulation followed. I was elated and he agreed that it was the best he had ever played that particular piece. It was a good lesson.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2727830
04/10/18 01:22 AM
04/10/18 01:22 AM
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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?


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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2728043
04/10/18 06:58 PM
04/10/18 06:58 PM
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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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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Zaphod] #2728178
04/11/18 08:54 AM
04/11/18 08:54 AM
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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
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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
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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
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Gary D. Offline
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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
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729517
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Clearly this is something to take up with the store administrator/owner, or in the forum of a faculty meeting. In the meantime, I agree with Morodiene: just give the kid abbreviated lessons that start late and end promptly.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2729599
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Clearly this is something to take up with the store administrator/owner, or in the forum of a faculty meeting. In the meantime, I agree with Morodiene: just give the kid abbreviated lessons that start late and end promptly.

Peter, being late is a habit. and as a person who is always on time, I find it intolerable.

My grandmother was always late, and the whole family joked about it. But what it comes down to is that "MY time is more important than YOUR time", so if one of us has to wait, it's going to be us waiting for the other person. By that, I mean it is a mindset. I think it's also a way of controlling.

My first college teacher was the same way. He was always 5 to 15 minutes later. He was late for the first lesson, and late the rest of the day. Always. I remember having a horrible problem trying to play because I would warm up and arrive exactly on time, then I'd have to wait.

Every lesson.

I suppose how we handle this is part of our personality. Some people put up with it.

I don't.

When my students arrive late, they lose lesson time. On rare occasions, when it is not habitual and there is a good reason, I will go over a bit if there is no student following. But when the next student is on time, that student starts on time, and it's tough luck for the previous, late student.

In the rare situation where I've had to wait for a student, because of another teacher, I simply say: "You have to talk to the other teacher about being late," if we are not in the same building. In the same building I walk to the other class and give the other teacher are very hard time.

This REALLY ticks me off...


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2729615
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The director of our community orchestra while I was in college began rehearsals right at 6:30 pm on the nose. If you weren't in your seat, ready to play your instrument, you could expect (and would unfailingly receive) a firm reprimand in front of the group.

It didn't happen often -- people learned very quickly.

And I'll add that he himself never dismissed us late, either. He held us accountable to start on time, and himself accountable to end on time.

That's respect.

Last edited by Andamento; 04/17/18 12:57 PM.
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2729646
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I agree, Gary D. and Andamento. My families are very punctual and I am as well. This teacher is much more laid back - comes in late, goes over, keeps next student waiting, until it's escalated to the point where the last student really being kept waiting. I will stand at the teacher's door, pointing to my watch, and this teacher's next student is standing next to me waiting. Teacher just isn't getting it. And is very friendly with staff, so going to manager is pointless.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Andamento] #2729730
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Originally Posted by Andamento
The director of our community orchestra while I was in college began rehearsals right at 6:30 pm on the nose. If you weren't in your seat, ready to play your instrument, you could expect (and would unfailingly receive) a firm reprimand in front of the group.

It didn't happen often -- people learned very quickly.

And I'll add that he himself never dismissed us late, either. He held us accountable to start on time, and himself accountable to end on time.

That's respect.


+1 That really is RESPECT!

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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I agree, Gary D. and Andamento. My families are very punctual and I am as well. This teacher is much more laid back - comes in late, goes over, keeps next student waiting, until it's escalated to the point where the last student really being kept waiting. I will stand at the teacher's door, pointing to my watch, and this teacher's next student is standing next to me waiting. Teacher just isn't getting it. And is very friendly with staff, so going to manager is pointless.


Not wanting to change the subject, but I find myself wondering if the teacher you describe is originally from a different culture.

There is a blogger I read who has lived most of her life in the US, but is now in the Philippines. She writes that, at least in the area of the country where she is, people's concept of time is far different than Americans'. Conversations go long, without concern for what time it might be, or when someone you're speaking to might have to be somewhere else at a given time. It's a more relationship-based culture than a time-based one; unhurried regarding moving on to the next thing or the next person.

Anyway, our culture, of course, is not like that, but I would imagine that assimilating into a culture whose concept of time is far different than one's own would be quite a challenge for a while.

If the teacher you're referring to is American, CR, she just might fit better into a culture that doesn't live so much by the clock. smile

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2739236
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I think it may help if teachers understand they are still kids. I heard that our brain is not fully developed until the age of 20s. Students age 5 - 10 are very different from adults, and it helps them understand lessons better if we understand how they learn. In my case, if I like to teach a concept, I tend to choose a repertoire that the student likes. Even pop melodies could work. If a student wants to play the song, they will listen to you smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2739372
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Kenji, I think that is why my retention rate is so good. Most of my students started with me at age 6-7 and are teens now. As soon as they can read a few notes, I put them in books that have songs they are familiar with and like. The majority of each student's assignments are pieces they select, based on the kinds of songs they like that I play for them (Harry Potter, Disney, Katy Perry, etc.). They do technical pieces (short ones) and a lesson book song as well. The students I have difficulty holding interest in lessons are those who have no musical exposure--they never listen to music at home, in the car, or can name movies that they like, for example.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2739843
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Hi Chasingrainbows, I totally agree with what you described. I think it is important to include pieces that students like in lessons, in addition to etudes.

I am so glad that you pointed out that it is difficult for students who have no musical exposure in their life to hold interest in lessons. I think environment are so important to keep motivating students. Do you do anything about it? For example, Suzuki method requires parents to listen to its repertoires. Based on my teaching experience, I see good results. My only concert is that each family has their own music preference. And Suzuki repertoire is not for all. Teaching tradition is important, but I feel it is not enough for non-professional musician to keep enjoying music.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Kenji13] #2739899
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Originally Posted by Kenji13

I am so glad that you pointed out that it is difficult for students who have no musical exposure in their life to hold interest in lessons. I think environment are so important to keep motivating students. Do you do anything about it?

I had absolutely no musical exposure (except by accident, e.g. in movies, or overhearing friends' pop songs on their radio-cassette recorders) in my life when I was a piano student in my home country - my parents knew and cared nothing for any sort of music, and I even had to do my practicing in competition with the TV most of the time.

My first teacher supplied me with everything musical - including introducing me to the delights of great piano music by playing it on the piano for me - a new classical piece after every lesson, each one memorable in its own way, but none of which I had the ability to play until several years later. It was my highlight of the week during that time, and I got her to write down the titles and composers of all of them. Eventually, I did learn them for myself.

It wasn't until several years later that I realized how much influence that teacher had on me, because I thought that everything she was able to do - sight-read and sight-sing easily, play by ear, improvise - was completely 'natural' and 'expected' of every competant pianist. And I also realized that my musical tastes were pretty much identical to hers....... grin


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2739906
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I also had no musical exposure at home, unless you want to count the classical music on Looney tube cartoons, which in retrospect I think must have been a huge influence.

I began by just noodling around on the piano and listening to the sounds. I know I saw sheet music in the piano bench that was never played and I knew I wanted to play it. It was like seeing a book and not knowing how to read.. A mystery to be discovered....And so lessons began

One of my adult teachers, who teaches Dalcroze, does a small exercise as a piano duet. The secondo plays all black note chords. The Primo improvises with black note melodies. I would have found that very motivating as a young child student.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2739920
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Originally Posted by dogperson

One of my adult teachers, who teaches Dalcroze, does a small exercise as a piano duet. The secondo plays all black note chords. The Primo improvises with black note melodies. I would have found that very motivating as a young child student.


This is what I do and kids love it (adults too). We are all musical beings, it's just something that needs to be awakened and cultivated. It's difficult as a piano teacher, however, to not be able to reach someone like this. There's a part of me that wants to reach everyone and thinks, "If only they'd give it a chance, they'd love it!" But as I have learned over the years, I can't be that person for everyone.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2739922
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by dogperson

One of my adult teachers, who teaches Dalcroze, does a small exercise as a piano duet. The secondo plays all black note chords. The Primo improvises with black note melodies. I would have found that very motivating as a young child student.


This is what I do and kids love it (adults too). We are all musical beings, it's just something that needs to be awakened and cultivated. It's difficult as a piano teacher, however, to not be able to reach someone like this. There's a part of me that wants to reach everyone and thinks, "If only they'd give it a chance, they'd love it!" But as I have learned over the years, I can't be that person for everyone.


No you can’t motivate everyone. I find my piano teacher highly motivating, And most of her young students love learning. But there is one little girl that occasionally takes immediately before me, and I can see from the look on her face how much she hates it. Never mind that she’s learning music from the beauty and the beast, which most little girls would find highly motivating. She wants to be a gymnast and her mother wants her to be a musician. ..... a hard battle to win


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2739924
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Kenji13

I am so glad that you pointed out that it is difficult for students who have no musical exposure in their life to hold interest in lessons. I think environment are so important to keep motivating students. Do you do anything about it?

I had absolutely no musical exposure (except by accident, e.g. in movies, or overhearing friends' pop songs on their radio-cassette recorders) in my life when I was a piano student in my home country - my parents knew and cared nothing for any sort of music, and I even had to do my practicing in competition with the TV most of the time.

My first teacher supplied me with everything musical - including introducing me to the delights of great piano music by playing it on the piano for me - a new classical piece after every lesson, each one memorable in its own way, but none of which I had the ability to play until several years later. It was my highlight of the week during that time, and I got her to write down the titles and composers of all of them. Eventually, I did learn them for myself.

It wasn't until several years later that I realized how much influence that teacher had on me, because I thought that everything she was able to do - sight-read and sight-sing easily, play by ear, improvise - was completely 'natural' and 'expected' of every competant pianist. And I also realized that my musical tastes were pretty much identical to hers....... grin


What a great story! And obviously a great piano teacher you had!

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: dogperson] #2739940
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Originally Posted by dogperson
No you can’t motivate everyone. I find my piano teacher highly motivating, And most of her young students love learning. But there is one little girl that occasionally takes immediately before me, and I can see from the look on her face how much she hates it. Never mind that she’s learning music from the beauty and the beast, which most little girls would find highly motivating. She wants to be a gymnast and her mother wants her to be a musician. ..... a hard battle to win


So true! I usually have a conversation with the parent discussing this, as sometimes the kid really loves lessons and doesn't want to quit, but maybe has a hard time showing it. If not, then the parent knows that it's not working out, and usually they eventually decide to quit. I try to make it as painless as possible until they arrive at the conclusion that I think they will arrive at. wink


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2739962
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I've taught several kids with zero music exposure. They have no inclination toward music, and they have very little innate musical ability. They are also quite difficult to teach.

On the other extreme, I've also taught students whose ears are so well honed to sound due to frequent exposure to music, they almost rely on their listening skills to compensate for the lack of reading. That can also be difficult to overcome, especially when the reading skills fall far behind their listening skills.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2740345
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Hi Bennevis -

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree that showing/demonstrating students what a professional musician can do is very inspiring.

You mentioned that your first teacher had great influence on you. I am wondering how long you took lessons from her. Also, I am wondering if you wish you had taken lessons from other teachers back then.

I am asking this, because I have many students whom I have been teaching for over 7 years and I sometimes feel that I may be narrowing their musical path. In other words, each teacher has his/her own strengths and weaknesses, and I know that other teachers can show them other things that I don't teach, which my students are missing.

When I think about any schools, usually classroom teachers changes every year. Some teachers are good and some are bad. Maybe it is good this way, so that students can learn what is good and what is bad. Also, students learn something useful from bad teachers.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Kenji13] #2740360
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Originally Posted by Kenji13
Hi Bennevis -

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree that showing/demonstrating students what a professional musician can do is very inspiring.

You mentioned that your first teacher had great influence on you. I am wondering how long you took lessons from her. Also, I am wondering if you wish you had taken lessons from other teachers back then.

She was just nineteen (nine years older than me) and newly qualified with a teaching diploma from the ABRSM, and I was her first student. My mother hired her because her fees were the lowest of all the teachers in the neighborhood smirk .

She only taught me for just over a year, by which time I obtained my Grade 1 ABRSM. Soon after that, she had a scholarship to study abroad, and left the country - but not before gifting me with a lovely volume of selected piano pieces by Mozart (whom she knew was my favorite composer) - and told me that she hoped I would one day play all the music in that book. Considering that the book included K310, K331, K457 and K475 (in their entirety), that was a tall order for a kid just starting out, and barely able to play the pieces in Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns (the first book she gave me after the beginner primers) which also helped to hook me on to the original piano/keyboard music of the great composers. (I told her that I only wanted to play original piano music by great composers after that, and she happily obliged.) But I did eventually - several years later - play all the pieces in that Mozart volume, and I still use it to this day grin.

I didn't appreciate fully at the time how much she inspired me - a kid with no talent who didn't much care for music and knew nothing about it, and only started lessons because my parents wanted to keep up with the Joneses. By the time she left, I knew the life story of little Wolfie and his travels through Europe, the grumpiness of Luddy (Beethoven) and his deafness, Chopin's exile & Polish nationalism, Schumann & Clara & Brahms, Rachmaninov's life and how it changed from USSR to USA etc - she told me them, when she played their music for me.

In a way, she was almost like an older, wiser sister who never talked down to me - and she did everything along with me, including singing the beats in tune while counting (ABRSM requires aural skills in its exams, and she obviously used that opportunity while teaching me to count beats when playing), playing accompaniments (never letting me run away with my notes or stop-start from mistakes) etc, which helped to minimize my self-consciousness. She also indulged me in the first few lessons by playing (by ear) - at my request - the theme from Love Story (the only "piano music" I knew and liked then) after the lessons. I never forgot how she could just throw in those rippling arpeggios entirely by ear, and vary them on a whim each time she played the music.......

I had another teacher after she left, older and not quite so inspirational (she only ever played me the pieces I was learning, and didn't tell me any stories), but by then, I was already hooked on classical music and the piano. Then another teacher after I went to a boarding school abroad. Every one was good in their own way. My first teacher was by far the youngest and least experienced (i.e. no experience wink ) but also definitely the one I needed most as an unmotivated beginner. So, I consider myself very lucky that she happened to be the one my mother took on (even if for the wrong reasons).

These days, I perform a monthly recital for a small non-musical audience (following the example of that first teacher in my own small way), hopefully to inspire them to enjoy classical music, with some success. Like her, I discovered that hearing good music played live in front of you by a familiar person (or peer) can inspire a love for it in a way that YT videos, recordings etc can't. And I'm playing a lot of the pieces that she once played for me - Bach's Goldberg Aria and Partita No.1, Mozart's K330 & 331, Beethoven's Pathetique, Chopin's Waltzes, Etudes and Polonaises, Brahms's Op.118, Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte, and Grieg's Lyric Pieces, Schumann, Debussy, Rachmaninov etc.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740362
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I was so fortunate to be immersed in music since as far back as I can remember. My grandmother always had Lawrence Welk or Liberace on the TV, my home was filled with music of Barbara Streisand, Sinatra, Judy Garland, Tony Bennett and of course, movies such as the Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, etc. inspired me to join in choirs, school musicals and eventually, college to become a music major. As a young teen, I often listened to anything from Bowie, Petula Clark to Brahms and Rachmaninoff. My piano teacher only played the new pieces I would learn. I always had an insatiable desire to learn music and still do. It's hard to imagine kids today who can't even think of one song they would like to learn--even a popular song.

I always do duets with my beginners, and with older students, they love to work on more advanced duets with one another. I often play bits of advanced repertoire to keep them coming. smile

But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740374
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows


But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"


If they can’t answer the question of what kind of music they like, can’t you just play a big variety of music for them, until they say “I like that “?
There were a large number of common composers to whom I had no exposure as a child. But even just listening to YouTube now as an adult, I can identify what I like even if it was unfamiliar to me before


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" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740377
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"

I was raised in a virtually music-less family. Because my parents largely lacked any interest or appreciation for music and consequently we never listen to music, neither classical nor popular, I could not truthfully answer your question at age 10. But because it was asked to me so many times, mostly by other kids, I cultivated an answer for just such occasions, and for me that was the rock group "Styx" because I knew that Styx was the ancient Egyptian mythological river that souls should cross in the afterlife, and I was very keen on anything to do with ancient Egypt. (BTW, this group definitely "dates" me! You can probably guess my age now. LOL laugh ) So when asked what my favorite band was, I would whip out "Styx", whereupon the asker would say, cool, and maybe ask if I also liked XYZ band, and I could mumble some agreement. To this day, I have never heard a single song Styx has ever performed, and frankly, I'd like it to stay that way!

(BTW, you can only imagine the hilarity that ensued when lacking any musical background, I decided it would be "cool" to volunteer as a DJ for my college radio station... I did improve my public speaking through that experience, if little else! laugh )

Today, I am a big opera fan, listen to classical music, and am learning piano these last 104 days. My point here is that humble beginnings in music and music appreciation may be because of the child's environment and family, not because they themselves completely lack any musical interest or aptitude... or perhaps more importantly, would still continue to lack musical interest and/or aptitude if properly exposed to it.

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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740426
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On the last (saying what your favourite music is) ..... A while back I happened on a music store (books, a few ukeleles and drums) and went in to browse. I saw they gave music lessons. I have a teacher but was curious about approaches and such. The lady at the counter was one of the piano teachers. I told her that I'd played piano before, but mainly self-taught (true, a few years back) and how does this work. She said that I should bring in my favourite music so they could teach from there. I responded, "If you didn't have to consider student wishes like that, and could teach the things that you personally find the most important as a teacher, what would you teach?" She got animated, and started to talk about loose wrist motion, real reading skills, ability to listen. I responded, "That is what I would want to be taught."

This is as an adult student, not child. One reason I don't want to go by my "favourite music" is growth: I want to learn what I don't know, get well-rounded in genres etc. Also, if music is very familiar, my ear may take over and then I'm not reading. I also want the teacher to choose those pieces that are best suited to what I need to learn. And I have some gigantic holes in terms of music I am familiar with.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740458
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"

Are you struggling WITH THE FACT that some kids have no intrinsic propensity toward one particular piece of music? Or are you struggling BECAUSE you have such students and they are such lousy learners?

I've got both.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: keystring] #2740544
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Originally Posted by keystring
On the last (saying what your favourite music is) ..... A while back I happened on a music store (books, a few ukeleles and drums) and went in to browse. I saw they gave music lessons. I have a teacher but was curious about approaches and such. The lady at the counter was one of the piano teachers. I told her that I'd played piano before, but mainly self-taught (true, a few years back) and how does this work. She said that I should bring in my favourite music so they could teach from there. I responded, "If you didn't have to consider student wishes like that, and could teach the things that you personally find the most important as a teacher, what would you teach?" She got animated, and started to talk about loose wrist motion, real reading skills, ability to listen. I responded, "That is what I would want to be taught."

This is as an adult student, not child. One reason I don't want to go by my "favourite music" is growth: I want to learn what I don't know, get well-rounded in genres etc. Also, if music is very familiar, my ear may take over and then I'm not reading. I also want the teacher to choose those pieces that are best suited to what I need to learn. And I have some gigantic holes in terms of music I am familiar with.


hi keystring, I only supplement with music they are interested in (so i can work my way into giving them sonatas, inventions, etudes, etc.) They also have technique and lesson books. It's merely a way to bond with the student - I remember one child smiling and saying she loved Christmas music. When I told her I had boxes of Christmas music, she was very excited to start lessons.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2740546
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"

Are you struggling WITH THE FACT that some kids have no intrinsic propensity toward one particular piece of music? Or are you struggling BECAUSE you have such students and they are such lousy learners?

I've got both.


I've got both, as well. But I struggle with students who have no music exposure, interest or imagination.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: bennevis] #2740654
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Thank you so much for sharing your story with your first teacher. Wow, you had a wonderful teacher! I tend to care about teaching technique and musicality, but after reading your story, I realized that the story behind music is as important as the music itself.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: AZNpiano] #2740679
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
But I still struggle with students who are unable to name on song they like. (one of the first questions I ask in a meet and greet and periodically thereafter is , "what kind of music do you like?"

Are you struggling WITH THE FACT that some kids have no intrinsic propensity toward one particular piece of music? Or are you struggling BECAUSE you have such students and they are such lousy learners?

I've got both.


AZN, adding to my last post, "But I struggle with students who have no music exposure, interest or imagination", and who don't practice more than once a week.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740742
05/30/18 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, adding to my last post, "But I struggle with students who have no music exposure, interest or imagination", and who don't practice more than once a week.

Perhaps I should ask you to clarify your usage of the word "struggle."

You are naming several symptoms of students that we ALL have. But what part of your teaching would you define as a "struggle"?

There are things that are clearly out of your control, and there are things that you can TRY to control. At some point I think it's safe to say that we can just give up.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740765
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Hi AZN, I loathe just putting students in lesson, technique, performance books. I find students are less motivated to practice and move significantly slower than students who also have supplemental pieces of the "kinds" of music they like. One student loves minor, fast,energetic pieces and always learns them quickly and well. Another loves Star Wars and plays songs at a Level far above his lesson book level. Beginners learn familiar nursery rhymes quickly, yet plod through 2 short lesson book pieces. Then there are students who just have no familiarity with traditional nursery rhymes, classical, pop, jazz music. They don't like music most of my students love playing. So, I struggle trying to find the "secret" door to open them up to the world of music out there.

As a side note: I find it interesting that most students want to learn Fur Elise b/c it's on demo on their keyboards, and Carol of the bells because they hear in commercials at Christmas. smile


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2740795
05/30/18 04:19 PM
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I think one main struggle is to get the kids to a level where they are "good enough" to play the music they like, and make it SOUND LIKE the music they like. Even the most talented students need at least 2 or 3 years of steady lessons to get there.

I used to think the trick is to find music that motivates each student--there is a lot more to it. You have to keep the other skills advance somewhat concurrently. That, to me, is a struggle. It's ever so easy to fall into a trap of teaching just whatever the kids like. Several of my students would practice ONLY their pop music piece, and all the other stuff gets dumped in the trash. For the younger ones I can threaten to take away their favorite song, but since they already memorized it, they don't care if I took the book away. And at home that's ALL they ever practice.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2740896
05/31/18 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Clearly this is something to take up with the store administrator/owner, or in the forum of a faculty meeting. In the meantime, I agree with Morodiene: just give the kid abbreviated lessons that start late and end promptly.

Peter, being late is a habit. and as a person who is always on time, I find it intolerable.

My grandmother was always late, and the whole family joked about it. But what it comes down to is that "MY time is more important than YOUR time", so if one of us has to wait, it's going to be us waiting for the other person. By that, I mean it is a mindset. I think it's also a way of controlling.



Just want to interrupt and give another point of view -- it is not always this way. It could be ADD and basically a weakness. I have it, had no idea until I was in my mid twenties, and have always been chronically late. I do not like it, but I have tried to change since I was a child and it still happens. Since elementary school, I was a stellar, A student, goody-two-shoes, never ever wanted to get in trouble by my teacher, so it was not a matter of "my time is more important", I simply did not and still do not have a good grasp of time and easily am distracted. My first and only detention I ever got was in first grade, for, you guessed it, being late. My high friends still joke about whether I will be late or not. Years later I went to Bible school where I tried very very hard to follow every rule including making it to every single roll call not a second late, but still would manage to be late to things and have to write up papers for discipline lol. I just literally do not have a good sense of time. It should be common sense, but trust me for my brain it is not. I cannot tell you with much certainty how long certain things should take, or how long has passed. I set timers religiously while cooking for every single step (probably would be ridiculous for anyone to watch me cook these days, thanks Alexa) because if I don't, I will easily become distracted and something will burn. So if you can be more forgiving of the late ones, some of us would appreciate it smile My poor husband finds it intolerable as well. Some days, when I have less overwhelm going on in my brain, it is better than others.

Back to chasingrainbows. I think a lot of us musicians tend to strive for perfection, but some things you just have to do your best and let the struggle go for your energy levels and sanity.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: hello my name is] #2740900
05/31/18 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Clearly this is something to take up with the store administrator/owner, or in the forum of a faculty meeting. In the meantime, I agree with Morodiene: just give the kid abbreviated lessons that start late and end promptly.

Peter, being late is a habit. and as a person who is always on time, I find it intolerable.

My grandmother was always late, and the whole family joked about it. But what it comes down to is that "MY time is more important than YOUR time", so if one of us has to wait, it's going to be us waiting for the other person. By that, I mean it is a mindset. I think it's also a way of controlling.



Just want to interrupt and give another point of view -- it is not always this way. It could be ADD and basically a weakness. I have it, had no idea until I was in my mid twenties, and have always been chronically late. I do not like it, but I have tried to change since I was a child and it still happens. Since elementary school, I was a stellar, A student, goody-two-shoes, never ever wanted to get in trouble by my teacher, so it was not a matter of "my time is more important", I simply did not and still do not have a good grasp of time and easily am distracted. My first and only detention I ever got was in first grade, for, you guessed it, being late. My high friends still joke about whether I will be late or not. Years later I went to Bible school where I tried very very hard to follow every rule including making it to every single roll call not a second late, but still would manage to be late to things and have to write up papers for discipline lol. I just literally do not have a good sense of time. It should be common sense, but trust me for my brain it is not. I cannot tell you with much certainty how long certain things should take, or how long has passed. I set timers religiously while cooking for every single step (probably would be ridiculous for anyone to watch me cook these days, thanks Alexa) because if I don't, I will easily become distracted and something will burn. So if you can be more forgiving of the late ones, some of us would appreciate it smile My poor husband finds it intolerable as well. Some days, when I have less overwhelm going on in my brain, it is better than others.


Yes, some people were not given all the tools needed to manage time. My problems now as an adult are sligthly different, because I am almost obsessive about never being late from meetings. I think it's because I suffered so much due to my mother being so consistently not in time and when I was a child there were no cellphones...you just had to wait never knowing if something had happened. So I always just make a schedule that is too early to avoid being late. But I do not have any sense of time either so I only cook foods that do not spoil much if forgotten on the stove...

My biggest issue has always been general forgetfullness. I always forgot my books, assignmens or whatever. And since I was a rather smart kid in other ways most adults were annoyed and thought I was just being stubborn or deviant. But I simply could not help it. And I still cannot remember things to do. I have gradually built a system of lists, notes and reminders on electrical devices. Everything has to be written down AT ONCE, otherwise it's forgotten. And it makes no difference how important I feel the task or a person is. Of course I also forget to look at the lists I make, so the smart phone has been quite a life saver. I sent myself an e-mail every time I need to remember something, that works.

I also tell every new employee at work about my deficiency so that if I forget something it's not because I do not care and they should feel free to remind me if something does not seem to happen as promised. And I think I am doing rather well, my perfectionist nature helps. But it's still a source of stress and a lot of extra work that "normal" people hardly can imagine. Expecting a child to handle things well that way is a bit too much to expect imo. Then again if my parents had taken care of things for me, would I have created all the methods I now use to manage? I sort of learned the hard way...

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: hello my name is] #2740950
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
My high friends still joke about whether I will be late or not. Years later I went to Bible school where I tried very very hard to follow every rule including making it to every single roll call not a second late, but still would manage to be late to things and have to write up papers for discipline lol. I just literally do not have a good sense of time. It should be common sense, but trust me for my brain it is not. I cannot tell you with much certainty how long certain things should take, or how long has passed. I set timers religiously while cooking for every single step (probably would be ridiculous for anyone to watch me cook these days, thanks Alexa) because if I don't, I will easily become distracted and something will burn. So if you can be more forgiving of the late ones, some of us would appreciate it smile

I hope you don't mind me saying this, but if you can set a timer for cooking, you can set a timer or watch alarm for everything else. And give yourself extra time by simple tricks. There is a prominent clock tower next to a train station I once saw, which is always set five minutes fast, because tourists used to keep missing their last train home, and got stranded. (The staff at the station told me that). Since someone had the bright idea of giving them an extra five minutes to get to their platforms, that problem had largely been resolved.

And I do the same with my own main clock at home, and with my bedside radio set to a timer which wakes me up. For me, most things take longer than I envisage - including playing the piano. The latter is just about the only thing I do for which I don't set myself a time to finish. Two hours' practice can easily run into four hours, but if my bedtime or dinner is delayed by two hours, no big deal. But it's a big deal if I'm late for work by two hours - or five minutes......


"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: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: outo] #2740988
05/31/18 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Clearly this is something to take up with the store administrator/owner, or in the forum of a faculty meeting. In the meantime, I agree with Morodiene: just give the kid abbreviated lessons that start late and end promptly.

Peter, being late is a habit. and as a person who is always on time, I find it intolerable.

My grandmother was always late, and the whole family joked about it. But what it comes down to is that "MY time is more important than YOUR time", so if one of us has to wait, it's going to be us waiting for the other person. By that, I mean it is a mindset. I think it's also a way of controlling.



Just want to interrupt and give another point of view -- it is not always this way. It could be ADD and basically a weakness. I have it, had no idea until I was in my mid twenties, and have always been chronically late. I do not like it, but I have tried to change since I was a child and it still happens. Since elementary school, I was a stellar, A student, goody-two-shoes, never ever wanted to get in trouble by my teacher, so it was not a matter of "my time is more important", I simply did not and still do not have a good grasp of time and easily am distracted. My first and only detention I ever got was in first grade, for, you guessed it, being late. My high friends still joke about whether I will be late or not. Years later I went to Bible school where I tried very very hard to follow every rule including making it to every single roll call not a second late, but still would manage to be late to things and have to write up papers for discipline lol. I just literally do not have a good sense of time. It should be common sense, but trust me for my brain it is not. I cannot tell you with much certainty how long certain things should take, or how long has passed. I set timers religiously while cooking for every single step (probably would be ridiculous for anyone to watch me cook these days, thanks Alexa) because if I don't, I will easily become distracted and something will burn. So if you can be more forgiving of the late ones, some of us would appreciate it smile My poor husband finds it intolerable as well. Some days, when I have less overwhelm going on in my brain, it is better than others.


Yes, some people were not given all the tools needed to manage time. My problems now as an adult are sligthly different, because I am almost obsessive about never being late from meetings. I think it's because I suffered so much due to my mother being so consistently not in time and when I was a child there were no cellphones...you just had to wait never knowing if something had happened. So I always just make a schedule that is too early to avoid being late. But I do not have any sense of time either so I only cook foods that do not spoil much if forgotten on the stove...

My biggest issue has always been general forgetfullness. I always forgot my books, assignmens or whatever. And since I was a rather smart kid in other ways most adults were annoyed and thought I was just being stubborn or deviant. But I simply could not help it. And I still cannot remember things to do. I have gradually built a system of lists, notes and reminders on electrical devices. Everything has to be written down AT ONCE, otherwise it's forgotten. And it makes no difference how important I feel the task or a person is. Of course I also forget to look at the lists I make, so the smart phone has been quite a life saver. I sent myself an e-mail every time I need to remember something, that works.

I also tell every new employee at work about my deficiency so that if I forget something it's not because I do not care and they should feel free to remind me if something does not seem to happen as promised. And I think I am doing rather well, my perfectionist nature helps. But it's still a source of stress and a lot of extra work that "normal" people hardly can imagine. Expecting a child to handle things well that way is a bit too much to expect imo. Then again if my parents had taken care of things for me, would I have created all the methods I now use to manage? I sort of learned the hard way...


I appreciate these perspectives--a good reminder not to assume that we know the reason, when people do not meet expectations. My ADD daughter is now an adult and has devised various strategies and structures that usually work for her. But as Outo says, I think "normies" often have no concept of how much extra effort it can take to do things they find effortless, or how all those extra steps create many more opportunities for error to slip in. So failures will happen, people may be late or forget (possibly causing more distress to themselves than to those expecting perfection).

Anyway, going back to the original piano subject, I think it's very fair to just end a latecomer's lesson at the scheduled time. But I hope it can be done with compassion.


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Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Mendelssohn, Op. 19 no. 2
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2741049
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jdw, was there a post about latecomers? I read through 13 pages of replies and couldn't find anything. My original thread is about students who ignore fingerings, tempo, assignment book notations, forget their books and don't practice. It is extremely rare for any of my students to be late. OTOH, the teacher who teaches my piano student before me, arrives late, so my student's lesson with that teacher starts late, which in turn, ends up with me not starting on time with him. By the end of the night, it has snowballed into a huge delay for the later students. I finally had to knock on the teacher's door every week and let the teacher know I had to start on time.


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2741064
05/31/18 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
jdw, was there a post about latecomers? I read through 13 pages of replies and couldn't find anything. My original thread is about students who ignore fingerings, tempo, assignment book notations, forget their books and don't practice. It is extremely rare for any of my students to be late. OTOH, the teacher who teaches my piano student before me, arrives late, so my student's lesson with that teacher starts late, which in turn, ends up with me not starting on time with him. By the end of the night, it has snowballed into a huge delay for the later students. I finally had to knock on the teacher's door every week and let the teacher know I had to start on time.


I haven't gone through the whole thread, but I thought Peter's post implied a student was late. Of course, a teacher who arrives late really needs to get her/his act together, and as you say should not be allowed to run over into other people's time.

However, the posts questioning assumptions about what makes people late are still valid.


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Currently working on:
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Mendelssohn, Op. 19 no. 2
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2741905
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oh bennevis, you just can't understand, timers don't work if you don't remember to set timers. Planners don't work if you forget to plan or look at the planner. Appreciate it Jdw, there is an enormous amount of energy required to do things that normies find, with often a tone of annoyance, "not that hard"..
I'm the same way as you Outo at work! I'm a perfectionist and know I will forget so I write everything down too. I would love to maintain that level of perfection in my non-work life but it would require an enormous amount of energy and that's probably why I haven't done it yet. But will keep trying.

ok last hijack of this thread..


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: hello my name is] #2742271
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
oh bennevis, you just can't understand, timers don't work if you don't remember to set timers. Planners don't work if you forget to plan or look at the planner. Appreciate it Jdw, there is an enormous amount of energy required to do things that normies find, with often a tone of annoyance, "not that hard"..
I'm the same way as you Outo at work! I'm a perfectionist and know I will forget so I write everything down too. I would love to maintain that level of perfection in my non-work life but it would require an enormous amount of energy and that's probably why I haven't done it yet. But will keep trying.

ok last hijack of this thread..

Well, if you have a problem and others don't have that problem, they will never fully understand that problem.

But the flip side is that having a problem often becomes an excuse for not doing something about the problem.

I understand though. A few weeks ago I knew I had to be up the next day early. It was on my mind. I stuck past on the stove, set the timer for 11 minutes, then forgot about the pasta and the timer, went to bed, fell asleep. Not good for the pasta, the pan or the stove. wink


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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2742291
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I'm going to try something - to go on a tangent to try to get at what's being talked about. I don't know if it will work.

Aeons ago I took a course on a bunch of things lumped together under a title "learning disabilities", which has become a misused and misunderstood term. A lot of it had to do with how people process things and function. For example, we have the thing popularly called "dyslexing" where "cat" "tca" "tac" jumble because visual sequencing/orientation doesn't work. Or "p b q d" mix up - I have a bit of that. Then there is sequencing (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th.....) - a guest speaker described to us that he switched to zippers because buttoning buttons (and remembering shopping lists, or following step-wise instructions, or order of operations in math) was impossible for him. The point is this: When a person's "processing of things" is different in these kinds of ways, then things that are "easy" to everyone else, are extremely difficult for them. The most frustrating and infuriating thing for these folks is to be told, "All you have to do is ..... Why can't you just do so." What makes it even harder is that many of these folks are not stupid - in fact many are highly intelligent. So it's "You're not stupid. Why can't you get this?!"

We usually talk about these things in terms of education. But they affect real life as well.

An incident I will never forget. The school I taught in thought it a good idea to have "family week" with activities that were supposed to promote self-esteem in a troubled rural area. Kids from K-7 were lumped together, with family (siblings, cousins) in the same group going from classroom to classroom with the same activity. Mine was this: Get a partner to trace your silhouette (head) on black paper with white chalk. Cut it out, glue it on white paper, and write "I'm proud to be me." So this very intelligent 15 year old boy from Special Ed is in one group - I know nothing about him. He's just a kid in this group. His LD is that he cannot trace or follow shapes. He literally cannot cut out the shape of his silhouette. He's 15. Little 5 year olds are doing what he can't do. So he covered by being a smart-ass, and I told him to "behave". After our class, while standing outside the next classroom he put his fist through the window of the door. Was rushed to Emergency to have his hand stitched up. Nobody had told me!

Later his LD teacher told me about him. Very intelligent, articulate, and extremely aware that he couldn't do things that were easy for others. It affected being able to write letters and numbers, even if he could read at a high level and do math beyond his years. I could picture how humiliating my "proud to be me" activity (that I'd been told to do) had been for him, and how ironic! Mortifying.

Sequencing: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th ..... Planning your time and staying within a schedule in a linear, scheduled world .... big problem. I've got it in spatial things. I have walked on an unfamiliar route in a neighbourhood I've been in for 30 years, come upon a familiar street at an unexpected angle, and not recognized it. I stopped accepting interpreting assignments after I was an hour late for one when I got lost: on another, there was an hour lunch break and I knew I wouldn't find my way back to the hotel conference room. I was in my fifties and aware. I told staff "I have a learning disability that disorients me in spaces. Please lead me to the conference room." After that, I declined work where I'd have to travel.

The person who has an "LD" of this kind, often also has abilities that most others don't have. The "non-linear" person, who cannot follow lessons or courses that go 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th - and at the end finally puts it all together --- That same person might be "global" - seeing "the whole picture at once", and how everything interrelates. He may be able to work with things and solve things in "mysterious ways" - have an unusual grasp (but not be able to explain any of it to a linear world). He may be a brilliant teacher, or inventor, or gardener.

One of my parents was like that. Absolutely brilliant in things like gardening. Folks drove miles to show their guests the beautiful garden. S/he would be in a nursery or seed catalogue and know which plants to choose, but had to just "do it". Literally didn't know the plan already"there" until in action. It was an absolute nightmare trying to follow instructions, because they could not be set out in any kind of order or list. It came close to fights from mutual frustration. Time and schedules? Really, really hard. Things like supper time, regardless of who cooked.

When I took that LD course over 30 years ago, a lightbulb went on in my head about some of my own quirks. We also learned in an extra workshop that many such people would be labeled "lazy" - report cards abounded with "can do better", "needs improvement", "is certainly capable of doing more". (My early report cards had that.)

Think also of our modern world, and then think of other societies. We are digital, linear,regimented, scheduled, factory-ready-streamlined. That favours one way of functioning over others. A lot of these "disabilities" would be the norm and and advantage in other environments, and those who do really well in our present society might be the ones with a problem. I don't like the word "disability" as in LD - it's more like a "other-thinking" or "other-functioning" of which there are probably many. I also suspect that all of us have quirks, but to varying degrees.

(End of stream of consciousness.) laugh


Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: keystring] #2742433
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Originally Posted by keystring
I'm going to try something - to go on a tangent to try to get at what's being talked about. I don't know if it will work.


It works for those who are interested in researching and learning about the reasons behind other people's "strange" behavior and who are able to imagine things outside their own personal world experience. But a lot of people are not, they find it much easier to label and judge other people from their own existing frame of reference. And they will read whatever you write in a way that fits that frame of reference. Of course we all do that to some extend, otherwise we would go mad. We also tend to have very strong beliefs guiding our perception that do not necessarily develop through extending information, especially when not coming from a strong authority. So basically, you may be have wasted your time providing such anecdotal information, but interesting anyway smile

Anyway, it is of course true that disability is not the best word always in learning, because one can indeed be intelligent, successful and have abilities most people don't, while struggling with something very basic for the whole life. Deficiency is a word often use. Of course the severity also differs greatly and that should be taken into account. I think to call it a disorder or disability is appropriate in some cases.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: keystring] #2742463
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Originally Posted by keystring
Think also of our modern world, and then think of other societies. We are digital, linear,regimented, scheduled, factory-ready-streamlined. That favours one way of functioning over others. A lot of these "disabilities" would be the norm and and advantage in other environments, and those who do really well in our present society might be the ones with a problem. I don't like the word "disability" as in LD - it's more like a "other-thinking" or "other-functioning" of which there are probably many. I also suspect that all of us have quirks, but to varying degrees.

(End of stream of consciousness.) laugh



Well said, nice job (and we know how thread drift makes you uncomfortable!)

My disabilities would seem to not suit my current job, but some of my strengths let me work around them. There is always some stress from that though.

One of my management classes required that "360 assessment" that's supposed to show strengths and weaknesses. Of course it only shows those that apply to your regimented scheduled description of work. But the evaluator said something interesting to me. He said people worry too much about fixing the weaknesses, but it's the strengths that make us successful. Only worry about the weakness if it's a "fatal flaw."


gotta go practice
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: outo] #2742500
06/06/18 10:22 AM
06/06/18 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by outo

...disability is not the best word always in learning...


It just happens to be the word we use right now. Just as "idiot," "imbecile," and "moron" were once technical terms for what are now described as degrees of intellectual capacity, all the current terms are likely to be replaced. Maybe this shows the evolution of our thinking about the issues, or maybe it is just academic fodder.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: pianopi] #2742883
06/07/18 06:26 PM
06/07/18 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by pianopi
Annoy them every lesson and at every point their fingers misbehave, they miss a staccato, they miss a rest, they play too fast with stopping the playing and mentioning the error. If you're pleasantly, but totally, consistent and constantly break their playing flow to correct their bad habits, they are very likely going to try to obey just to get through to the end of the piece. Use the whole lesson on one messy part until it isn't messy any more, and they are likely to start listening to avoid the frustration of not moving on. And use every lesson to continue cleaning up the same messy part until they start realizing they have to do it at home too just so they can move on.


Excellent post, I was going to suggest the same until I read yours! An instructor I had one time kept me on a Bach Invention for over a year and it irritated me to no end. Now I realize what a great lesson that was because every time you play a piece there could be some little thing you don't realize you are doing wrong and unless you identify and fix the problem you will never realize it is a problem much less solve it.

All the best to you / Steve

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 06/07/18 06:27 PM.

Bösendorfer 170
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Lakeviewsteve] #2743014
06/08/18 10:39 AM
06/08/18 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Lakeviewsteve
[quote=pianopi]Annoy them every lesson and at every point their fingers misbehave, they miss a staccato, they miss a rest, they play too fast with stopping the playing and mentioning the error. If you're pleasantly, but totally, consistent and constantly break their playing flow to correct their bad habits, they are very likely going to try to obey just to get through to the end of the piece. Use the whole lesson on one messy part until it isn't messy any more, and they are likely to start listening to avoid the frustration of not moving on. And use every lesson to continue cleaning up the same messy part until they start realizing they have to do it at home too just so they can move on.


I agree. If this doesn't resolve the problem, you have one final recourse and I would not hesitate to use it. There comes a point where you are respected by your students or you are not. I refuse to have students treat me with disrespect.

I had a student who argued just about every point with me if I corrected her on something or if I worked with her on one technique in a piece. This went on for a couple of years with me thinking again and again about letting her go. Finally we came to one of her recital pieces that she was bound and determined to take at her super fast tempo no matter what I said or examples we listened to on YouTube. She slowed it down the last few lessons, but she let it fly at the recital. I had had enough. I told her at her next lesson after the recital and before she was leaving on a long family summer vacation that she had a choice: either she would respect me and I would continue to teach her or she would not and I would not continue to teach her and that the choice was completely hers (she was in middle school by this point and a very mature young lady.) I told her to think about it over the vacation and come back with her answer.

Her answer - she has been a joy to teach ever since. She just completed her 8th recital with me. We still knock heads every now and then, but she has greatly improved. Some kids you just have to lay it on the line.

Last edited by bmbutler; 06/08/18 10:41 AM.

Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2743021
06/08/18 11:18 AM
06/08/18 11:18 AM
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Hi bmbutler, haven't seen any posts from you in awhile. Hope all is well. I am definitely going to follow pianopi's advice, as nothing else has seemed to resolve the issues. BTW, interestingly, the student mentioned in my early posts (guilty of playing too fast, ignoring fingerings, articulation and my instructions and suggestions) is stopping lessons with me after 7 years! I had sent a lengthy email to Dad regarding the issues and noticed significant improvement over the last month. After the lesson last week, dad said they are on vacation for the summer, then stopping lessons due to reasons that I find doubtful (don't want to go into it). Oh, there happens to be a music school closer to home. As has been the case in the past, the next teacher will probably benefit from all the hard work I've devoted to get this child on the right track. smile.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2743022
06/08/18 11:19 AM
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Just want to remind posters who defend those who are chronically late, the person is a teacher. Would this teacher hold a job in a school if she/he were late everyday?


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2743023
06/08/18 11:26 AM
06/08/18 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Just want to remind posters who defend those who are chronically late, the person is a teacher. ...

Staying with this OT for a second. I wouldn't be "defending" - but understanding is in order. What is not helpful when a person has such problems as we were discussing, is to say "Well all you have to do....". For example, people who have learning disabilities of various kinds often develop or learn strategies. What others without that problem do will not work for them - and it is not easy for them as it is for others. If you use it as an excuse, that's a poor attitude. But if you recognize a problem rather than hiding it, or hiding from it, that's different.

Otoh, if this can lead us to have some understanding of students with such difficulties, that may be a good thing.

I don't know if it applies here - probably not. As I said, this is sort of OT.

Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: Kenji13] #2750137
07/07/18 11:05 PM
07/07/18 11:05 PM
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Some posts around here on which I wanted to react (hope no one gets offended).

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
This boy has been playing way too fast since he for the last 6 years- since he was 7 years old. I shudder to think of the future lessons as he is entering his teens! eek


That reminds me of the story about two kids playing a duet. One of them got up and left, because he was the fastest, and finished his part first.... ;-)

I'm wondering what was the reaction of the other musician through all this. Did he try to catch up? Did he watch at the other thinking he was a moron and didn't understand the meaning of "playing a duet"?

Originally Posted by Gary D.
My whole point was about setting up things right, from the start. Being tougher - not mean, just tougher - on students in the first year or so sets up a standard. I'm not talking about ridicule, sarcasm or intimidation, because those things mean (for me) instilling fear. That's the last thing I want.


I agree so much with you!
I'm a little dissapointed that my first teacher let go so much of my bad habits.
If I decided to take lessons in the first place, it was so I won't get bad habits, because someone will be pointing them out to me. But this it is not what happened.

I get that teaching to aldults is not the same as teaching kids though.

Originally Posted by Kenji13
Maybe it is good this way, so that students can learn what is good and what is bad. Also, students learn something useful from bad teachers.


You are making me realise that I did learn some things about myself from my first teacher and maybe, in fact, it was ok to start the way I did.

Yes, my first teacher was giving me way too challenging pieces for my level, but I had so much fun that maybe I wouldn't have gotten that passion for the piano without this. I've butchered Rachmaninoff's prelude in C# minor, but I had fun playing it and I'll go back to it in a few years.

And, at it end, I realised that I wasn't happy with the fact that I wasn't able to "finish" my pieces. I had to stop practicing them because I couldn't get any further, but I couldn't play them to my satisfaction. And that makes me more cautious now not to tackle pieces that are way too challenging because I know I can't take them to performance level.

I'm also happy that life had made me change teacher early. I haven't realised until I changed teacher that I was lacking so much technical abilities and that I had so much bad habits. Having the chance to take the right track only after 18 months of piano playing was almost a blessing. Because I wasn't going to change if life didn't make me to. I was perfectly happy with my teacher, because I wasn't concious of all this.
My former teacher moved out of the city and gave me the reference to my current teacher. And he choose well!

First lesson with my current teacher was hard. We had some email exanges before the first lesson. I told him a little bit about my background (piano experience, previous musical experience, pieces I've played on the piano, pieces I was currently working on, etc.). At the first lesson, I've played him Bach's invention no 8. He was impress that I was playing that with 18 months of piano experience, but he also told me that I wasn't pressing the key correctly, that I was lifting my fingers to high, etc. This made me feel like a fraud. I've told him all about those pieces I could play... but I felt like it wasn't true, in fact, that I could play them. Pressing keys, isn't the most basic thing about playing piano? Shouldn't I know how to do that properly after 18 months? I've started to be embarassed to play in front of him.
(Looking back at last year recording, I see how bouncy my fingers were!).

In the following week, I had to get myself together and just tell myself that it was an opportunity, that I was lucky I've been point out my problem now and not 10 years later, that it will be easier to fix it now than later and that I was better starting working on it right away!

So I guess, all in all, my first teacher did bring some good things, like the willingness to play advanced repertoire and some conciousness of the bad that can come from tackling to hard repertoire compared to our level.
And I now love my current teacher, who is very thorough (we took the whole hour today on one page of music I'm starting to learn. Placing the fingerings, the nuances, the articulations, the dynamics, ...). Maybe sometimes too much grin , as we never go through more than 2 pieces a week and I'm practicing 5 pieces at once for my exams. So it can easily take a month before we check a piece again, which is a long time when there are mistakes to fix.

That doesn't answer at all the question you were asking though.
I think that if you feel you are hindering your students, you should refer them to someone else.
But it is a tricky question.

In my current situation, I don't see the day my current teacher will be hindering my progress. But I feel like it is easier for the teacher to be concious of than it is for the student. At the piano, often, you don't know what you don't know. So you don't know what you have still to learn, what your teacher can teach you, and so on. And I would always be grateful to a teacher that recognize his limits to help me go further in my playing.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Mozart's K545, 1st and 3rd mov
- Tina's theme from FF VI piano collections
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