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Re: Students that exhaust my energy [Re: piano2] #2725429
03/30/18 04:55 PM
03/30/18 04:55 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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
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
03/30/18 09:14 PM
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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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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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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
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
03/31/18 01:10 AM
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Orange County, CA
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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
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
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
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 ).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CitIXrkQfzo


"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] #2725552
03/31/18 07:34 AM
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
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
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
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
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
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
04/01/18 07:15 PM
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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
04/01/18 07:25 PM
04/01/18 07:25 PM
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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
04/01/18 07:31 PM
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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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