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To quit or not to quit lessons #2798302
01/04/19 08:21 AM
01/04/19 08:21 AM
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RosemaryGirl Offline OP
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Hello all,

Thank you for contributing to such an informative forum.

A quick introduction before I dive in and ask my question: I started learning piano about 3 months ago with a teacher. Well, I'd had 3 lessons in April but only to get an idea, and at the time, I didn't have access to a good piano. I now live in a furnished house with a piano in it (for 6 months only), so I thought I would start learning properly with a teacher and see what happens. But now… I'm wondering whether to stop taking lessons; I feel I have a bit of a dilemma.

Here is why: I'm not sure how good my teacher is or whether the tuition I get from him is valuable enough. He seems to actually teach me very little. A lesson goes like this: he gives me a music sheet (an easy beginner study, or a watered down, simplified pop song along the lines of those "super easy" synthesia tunes, the best piece I've done so far being Schuman's Liedchen No.3 Op. 68), and then, as I know how to read music already (studied theory for 8 years as a teen), I practise it at home and come back the next week and play it for him. He says "very good" and gives me another piece. That's pretty much it. Three weeks ago he noticed that I was sitting in the wrong place (not in the middle of the piano) and told me about it, and I thought "that's the kind of thing he could have told me earlier!".

Anyway, I already had doubts about the tuition, but now my husband has offered me the "Piano for All" course. I'm on the last third of Book 1, and thinking maybe I should be doing that instead. When I had my first lesson with my teacher, he asked if I could play anything and I said I'd tried learning "Lean on You" (with that HD Piano video on YouTube) and he immediately said: "Chords are not for beginners, it's too early for you to play that", which he's repeated since. Now, when I opened the Piano for All course, which is all about chords and rhythms, I thought: "So, chords are not for advanced pianists after all, then!". It makes a lot more sense to me to learn how music works through chords, right? I did a bit of classical guitar as a teen, and the reason I stopped was that I never, ever understood how to just pick up a guitar and play. I was always relying on music sheets, and felt like I didn't truly understand music.

You guys on here know more than me about piano and music, so I thought you might have some advice. I now have to make one of two choices:
1) Carry on with the lessons (I only have about 6 lessons left in the next 3 months anyway, after which I'm moving to another country) and work on his easy pop songs, which in a way, is satisfying because it's a little challenging but I can still do it without any problem. However, it takes practice time away from Piano for all;
2) Stop taking those lessons and focus all my attention on Piano for all, and perhaps have lessons elsewhere when I've understood all books up to Book 7 and I have the basics down.

Would you have any opinion on this? My long-term goal is to be able to play well-known classical pieces like "Clair de Lune" or "Moonlight Sonata", and more importantly jazz standards and improvisation, as well as the odd film soundtrack and piano cover of rock/pop songs. I like all genres.

Thanks a lot for any advice you might have on this! smile

PS: Forgot to mention that my teacher also puts me off because he can't be bothered to answer emails. For example, he's given me a song to practise and I emailed him to ask whether he could give me an idea of fingerings for the first line (there are no fingerings at all), and I've been waiting for 10 days. I usually have to send him emails and texts asking to please answer before he does. The other thing that I find dubious is that the kind person who introduced me to him has been learning for 8 years (4 with him), and only ever seems to play things like the Amelie or The Piano soundtracks, or River Flows in You… Part of me hopes it's because that's what they like, part of me wonders if after all these years learning with him, that's the only thing they can play. Are my expectations too high, or is it okay to hope I'd be playing more elaborate pieces in 4-8 years' time? Again, you know more than me. Thank you.

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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798305
01/04/19 09:47 AM
01/04/19 09:47 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 381
Ireland
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I'd say your intuition is the best indicator here. If you don't feel comfortable with a teacher, it'll ultimately kill your enjoyment of the instrument.

I never had the type of tuition I often read about here, with equal parts of theory, technical practice such as scales, and pieces. I only ever practiced pieces, in increasing levels of difficulty, and on the side, got a working knowledge of music history and theory (but I'd gotten that in school already, so we didn't have to spend much time during my piano lessons). That's what I wanted, too - I loved my lessons.

However, my teacher always gave me detailed feedback, fingerings, advice, and made me practice a piece until I could play it really well. I learned a lot and progressed steadily.

What you could do is talk to your teacher. Tell him what you had expected, and find out what his ideas are. See if you can come go any agreement. Otherwise, I'd much recommend looking around for a different teacher - don't stop lessons altogether as it's really helpful, especially when you're just starting, to have someone to guide you.

Last edited by Sibylle; 01/04/19 09:51 AM.

Sibylle

My piano background

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798311
01/04/19 10:05 AM
01/04/19 10:05 AM
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Pennsylvania
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For me it is very simple ….

I try to explain to a new instructor what I am looking for with lessons and then ….

If I am not happy with the instruction or the instructor (for any reason), I quit and look for someone else.

After a bit, I will know if the problem is ME or the instructor.

You will too.

Good Luck


Don

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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798336
01/04/19 10:54 AM
01/04/19 10:54 AM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 365
Just outside London UK
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It doesn't sound like he is teaching you. With my teacher when I play a piece through, there are always bits which don't go so well, or I am not playing it correctly. We might spend the entire lesson on just one bar/measure (if its difficult to get right) and all along I am getting little tips as how to practice better.

If I still struggle she promises to go away and try to practice the piece I am playing and come back with something the following week. For the past month or so I have been playing Chopin Nocturne Op9 No2 and was struggling with playing the fast little right hand only cadenza near the end where 4 notes are repeated twelve times very fast. The previous lesson she had suggested playing two notes very fast then three notes very fast, then four notes very fast, then five and so on - I tried that, but couldn't get about 7 or 8 notes before I lost the rhythm. So this week she suggested trying different (deliberately) wrong rhthmn as an exercise and also promised to try practicing it herself so next week she can have even more ideas.

Also this week she noticed my left hand was playing some of the left hand chords slightly wrong. So we tried in the lesson to JUST play the left hand - and sure enough I found it hard to get it right without the right hand reminding me. So during this weeks practice I have a task to practice playing the whole piece left hand only just to try and make it more solid.

Sometimes those tips are repeats of what I have already been told but I forget to put them into practice. Practicing slowly is one. Stop at the error and play up to that and not beyond over and over till I always get it right is another.

One thing I think you could do, is bring your prepared piece AND some questions about what you felt was difficult to get right and you aren't confident about. If you teacher can give you valuable tips when you ask those questions then maybe he is ok - if he can't give you advice when you are hitting difficulties then he is definitely the wrong one for you.

Last edited by akc42; 01/04/19 10:55 AM.
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798343
01/04/19 11:18 AM
01/04/19 11:18 AM
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Georgia, USA
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What qualifications does your teacher have? Music degree? Diplomas? Piano Pedagogy training? Or did he just start calling himself a piano teacher one day and start taking money?

Sam

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons (teacher vs Piano for All [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798351
01/04/19 11:29 AM
01/04/19 11:29 AM
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Thank you for your answers so far.

Regarding what you say, akc42, I have told him before that there was a bit in a piece that didn't sound quite right, and he just listened again and said "no, it's fine". I think he's just satisfied that it sounds very good for a complete beginner. It sounded to me like he wasn't bothered, and to this day I think it was not fine, as I can now do it better, a couple of weeks later.

As for Sybille's advice to just talk to him, I guess I'm finding it a little difficult… On my first lesson, he told me what the monthly price would be for weekly lessons. I paid him. I later found out that you don't get lessons on school holidays or public holidays, so that month I had just ONE lesson. When I saw him again and asked him whether that means the monthly fee gets reduced, he answered a little carelessly that no, the price is the price however many lessons are in a month. So, I paid for a month's worth of lessons and got just one. He said I could have gone to his private studio on those days, but by then, it was too late. So, I don't find him particularly easy to talk to.

And I see what you're saying, Don. I forgot to mention in my original post that I move region, or usually, country, every 2-3 to 6 months, so I'll never have much regularity in terms of teachers. The question here is, am I wasting my time with this one?

And what about the musical aspect regarding chords? Is it right to say chords are not to be taught to beginners? That's the opposite view to Piano for All.

Thanks a bunch.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798361
01/04/19 12:03 PM
01/04/19 12:03 PM
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Posts: 2,107
Midwest USA
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Quote
So, I paid for a month's worth of lessons and got just one. He said I could have gone to his private studio on those days, but by then, it was too late.
This implies that you're taking lessons in a music school of some sort and not private lessons. Is that the case?

About your moving every few months--learning to play the piano well takes years, even with a good teacher. Changing teachers every few months is not going to be the most efficient way to learn. It will be difficult for the teacher to put into practice their longer term methods for teaching skills, and you as the student will be constantly starting over with a new teacher. Six months might be enough to get something done, but two to three months probably not. I am an advocate for having a teacher, but you might be someone for whom the self-teaching route works best, at least until you settle down in one place for awhile.

Learning based on chords. If you want to play classical music, you need a lot of other stuff as well. There is a long discussion (in two, separate threads) on that topic (with the usual straying off onto other topics). I am not familiar with Piano for All, but I would be very cautious about taking it as the final authority on the subject.

Adult only wants to learn chords?

Update on adult who only wanted to learn chords


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons (teacher vs Piano for All [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798362
01/04/19 12:05 PM
01/04/19 12:05 PM
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Ireland
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
I don't find him particularly easy to talk to.

There's your answer. A teacher should be someone you trust and get along with at least on a basic communication level.


Sibylle

My piano background

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798365
01/04/19 12:10 PM
01/04/19 12:10 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
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Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

I now have to make one of two choices:
1) Carry on with the lessons (I only have about 6 lessons left in the next 3 months anyway, after which I'm moving to another country) and work on his easy pop songs, which in a way, is satisfying because it's a little challenging but I can still do it without any problem. However, it takes practice time away from Piano for all;
2) Stop taking those lessons and focus all my attention on Piano for all, and perhaps have lessons elsewhere when I've understood all books up to Book 7 and I have the basics down.

Would you have any opinion on this? My long-term goal is to be able to play well-known classical pieces like "Clair de Lune" or "Moonlight Sonata",


Hi Rosemary, and welcome to ABF!

I would do neither of these options. Taking lessons from a teacher who is not teaching is a waste of your money and time. But neither would I focus all my attention on Piano for all, because of your long-term goal. If you want to play classical pieces beautifully, someone needs to teach how to play, how to sit, how to use your arms, wrists, hands and fingers. If their are no other teachers in your area, or if they are too expensive, you could consider an online "video teacher". That is what I would do. I mean, that is what I do. wink Take a look at this site

Tell us what you decide, when you decide. smile

Animisha


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798379
01/04/19 12:47 PM
01/04/19 12:47 PM
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48-49 High Street (WI, USA)
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Good Lessons > No Lessons > Bad Lessons. Dump this fellow and find a better teacher, or work on your own - from books, CDs, DVDs, and the helpful folks here. smile


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798403
01/04/19 01:26 PM
01/04/19 01:26 PM
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Posts: 33
MARINE CITY
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I talked to a few instructors before I started and chose the one that fit my personality, he lets me play through then corrects me but also made a binder with his own material to go along with using the Alfreds book to change things up constantly and keep me interested as well as he lets me pay for each lesson rather than the ones I had spoken with before him wanted 3 months in advance with no refund and had a set course.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798406
01/04/19 01:37 PM
01/04/19 01:37 PM
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Toronto, Canada
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It's not easy to factor in moving around. If you have a portable instrument like a flute, clarinet or violin you can take the instrument with you. Unless a keyboard is your choice of instrument you can find a few portable ones that you can carry around.

When it comes to a teacher, many would want a long-term commitment. There are some who teach through Skype and other means online. You can keep the same teacher except for the time difference.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798425
01/04/19 02:05 PM
01/04/19 02:05 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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It does sound like you two don’t work well together. However, I want to address some of your other concerns.

I do not believe beginners should do chords right away. I don’t like Alfred’s All in one for this reason, the chords come too soon and too often. Learning to use individual fingers is much more important at first, plus technically chords too soon can be harmful to play (though not always). So I agree with your teacher on this principle, especially if you want to play advance classical pieces like the ones you mentioned. Piano learning is not like guitar.

Secondly, I charge my students the same amount every month for however many lessons there are in the month including holidays. This is made clear before lessons begin, and so if a student started in December, then they’d probably only have 3 lessons that month. That’s because the average works out over the period of the entire semester or school year.

Many schools operate this way as well: everyone taking lessons pays the same monthly rate when there are only 3 lessons in the month or when there are 5 lessons. It averages out to getting 34 lessons from September through May, and that full cost of 34 lessons is divided into 9 equal payments. Just like you don’t get a break on rent in months where there are only 30 or 28 days vs 31. So it averages out if you continue lessons.

As for repertoire and direction of lessons, did you tell him you wanted to learn the Moonlight sonata and Clair de lune? He may be teaching you what he finds most adult students are looking for unless you make it clear what you want. He may be absolutely delighted to have a more serious student and change his approach. It’s worth having a conversation at least.

Lastly, the thing about emails: you are not paying for him to be on call 24/7. You are paying for 30 or 45 or 60 minutes per week and whatever prep time he may need for lessons, period. Some emails cannot be answered properly in email format and are better addressed in person. And there are some people who don’t read emails at all, so he may not even know you had those questions. Whatever the situation, I don’t think it is fair for you to expect him to take time out of his personal life to answer those questions.

What is best is to write down your questions and take them with you to go through them at the beginning of your lesson. Just say if he says, “play this piece for me,” is to tell him first you’d like to go through some questions you have first. This is the time you’re paying for, so pick his brain! It will become clear if he knows his stuff or not by how he answers wink


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: Morodiene] #2798433
01/04/19 02:15 PM
01/04/19 02:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,565
Canada
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Lastly, the thing about emails: you are not paying for him to be on call 24/7. You are paying for 30 or 45 or 60 minutes per week and whatever prep time he may need for lessons, period.....

I agree with this. I'd like to add a "however". ......... However, if a student who is a relative beginner goes home with a piece that has been assigned and has no idea about fingering, then a few things are missing in the lesson itself. At that level you should not be in a position of having to figure out your own fingering or at best, with the teacher's guidance during the lesson (which includes learning to figure out fingering).

All in all, what has been described sounds like things I have encountered and can barely be called teaching.

If you move around a lot, how about distance learning? The first name that pops into my head is Shirley Kirsten. If you only use books, there is no chance for feedback. You would only go by what you think you are doing, versus what you actually are doing.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: keystring] #2798441
01/04/19 02:20 PM
01/04/19 02:20 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Lastly, the thing about emails: you are not paying for him to be on call 24/7. You are paying for 30 or 45 or 60 minutes per week and whatever prep time he may need for lessons, period.....

I agree with this. I'd like to add a "however". ......... However, if a student who is a relative beginner goes home with a piece that has been assigned and has no idea about fingering, then a few things are missing in the lesson itself. At that level you should not be in a position of having to figure out your own fingering or at best, with the teacher's guidance during the lesson (which includes learning to figure out fingering).

All in all, what has been described sounds like things I have encountered and can barely be called teaching.

If you move around a lot, how about distance learning? The first name that pops into my head is Shirley Kirsten. If you only use books, there is no chance for feedback. You would only go by what you think you are doing, versus what you actually are doing.

Yes, but the sad truth is that often adults come to a lesson and they don’t want to learn fingering or technique or anything like that. It’s possible this guy is just doing what is typically expected until/unless he has reason to do otherwise.

That’s why asking questions in person is so helpful: how he responds will tell you exactly what kind of teacher you’re dealing with.


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798479
01/04/19 03:46 PM
01/04/19 03:46 PM
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Midwest USA
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The Skype suggestion above might be a good solution for someone who moves around a lot.


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: Morodiene] #2798481
01/04/19 03:49 PM
01/04/19 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
the sad truth is that often adults come to a lesson and they don’t want to learn fingering or technique or anything like that. It’s possible this guy is just doing what is typically expected until/unless he has reason to do otherwise.

That’s why asking questions in person is so helpful: how he responds will tell you exactly what kind of teacher you’re dealing with.

I've told the story of my friend (who started lessons at 60) several times, but it sounds like the OP's teacher is teaching the way his other adult students want to be taught, which is also the way my friend's teacher thought he wanted to be taught. That is, to start playing 'adult songs' straightaway, and not worry about technical stuff.

Luckily for my friend (who knew a lot about classical music even though he was a complete beginner at learning music), he persuaded his teacher during his first lesson that he wanted to learn everything from the basics up, and his teacher was amenable to it. (BTW, his teacher specialized in teaching adults). He switched to a beginner's primer targeted at children (the same book he used for his child students, who all did piano exams) - which prioritizes individual finger movement and control before playing any chords, just as Morodiene advocates. (That was also the way I was taught, as a kid).

My friend has been reaping the rewards from his thorough grounding in technical and musical basics - he's playing late-intermediate classical pieces (original ones, not simplified) with excellent musicality and technique, he has good aural skills and can play by ear, and has also recently joined a choir, where he met other amateur musicians of similar age, and is now planning on meeting up with them regularly to play chamber music.

However, he is only interested in classical music, and his teacher taught him accordingly. The OP may have different ideas about what she wants.

That's why it is so important for adult students to talk to their teachers to make sure that what they are singing from the same hymn sheet - right from the first lesson.


"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: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: Morodiene] #2798483
01/04/19 04:07 PM
01/04/19 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Yes, but the sad truth is that often adults come to a lesson and they don’t want to learn fingering or technique or anything like that. It’s possible this guy is just doing what is typically expected until/unless he has reason to do otherwise.

That’s why asking questions in person is so helpful: how he responds will tell you exactly what kind of teacher you’re dealing with.

You have just put your finger on a major problem. Not only are there teachers who have this experience, but also you will see "advice" to teachers to this effect. It is why adult students must be proactive. One would think that if you sign up for lessons, you would be taught what is needed and in some kind of logical manner - but that does not necessarily happen. So it may be necessary to tell a new teacher that you want to learn. That said, I find it irresponsible and unprofessional for a teacher not to teach because he thinks this group of students don't want to learn. Must teacher I have come to know and respect do their darndest to guide their students.

[quote ]That’s why asking questions in person is so helpful: how he responds will tell you exactly what kind of teacher you’re dealing with. [/quote]
That is a good idea. At least you'll be able to tell if he can teach and just didn't bother.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798485
01/04/19 04:10 PM
01/04/19 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl


And what about the musical aspect regarding chords? Is it right to say chords are not to be taught to beginners? That's the opposite view to Piano for All.

.


Sure beginners can learn chords but they are not the most important thing for a beginner. Coming to lessons with guitar background as I did, I definitely placed too much importance on chords, and had the same quandary as you at the lack of them in the music I was learning. When I did learn some chordal pieces it didn't make me any better or give me better insight (at the time) into the classical music I was interested in.

Piano For All, Alfreds All In One, and face to face lessons are all different ways of learning music, and nothing wrong with the first two. But to play Debussy and Beethoven pieces, the most efficient way is face to face lessons. I actually brought Alfreds book 2 to my first teacher and we used the pieces I was interested in, I also dabbled with Piano for All on the side.

Early lessons can be quite disappointing for a motivated and inquiring adult beginner. I guess because no matter our enthusiasm we are completely inept at actually playing piano, making it difficult for the teacher to keep us enthused while teaching to our glacial pace (sometimes one step forward, two steps back). So it can be easy to blame the teacher at this point for lacking a miraculous teaching style. Having said that there is a lot of trust and confidence needed in the teacher, and once that is broken there is no point going on. You start questioning everything, and you might even start to hate going to lessons, so I think it is time to move on. Even more so considering the behaviour of this teacher isn't what you would expect.

Looking back at my own six years of lessons with three different teachers, the first two were cheaper, but a lot less experienced than my current teacher. However depending on which day of the week you ask me, I think they were right for the time.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798499
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Thanks again for all this thorough advice.

Interestingly, the reason why I thought this teacher might be a good fit for me is that he has an online school, so I thought that if we built a good rapport, he could just become my teacher for the long term, at a distance. He seemed to rather be hoping for that as well as he "plugged" this idea on my first lesson. Clearly, that won't be happening. He has a fairly large following on YouTube, but from what I can see his "school" (which I have online access to as his student) consists in just supplying students with music sheets of well-known songs transposed into easier versions, with synthesia-style videos attached — without any actual Skype teaching as such.

The way he was introduced to me, he seemed to be a private teacher who uses space in a high school on some days of the week — and I happened to take the slot of a student who is away for 6 months, while I'm here just for 6 months, so I go to my lessons on that day. I seem to recall him telling me that he only teaches one other adult. I get the impression he has a skewed view of what people want, just because most people on YouTube want to be able to play the Amelie soundtrack for their cousin's birthday, but I might be mistaken. I had told him what my goals where on lesson 1, but another issue is that he forgets from one week to the next what he's already told me, what pieces I've already played him, etc. Literally, he has no recollection of what we did previously, which led my husband to quip that he sounds like he smokes too much pot!

As for emails and not answering them, I might not have been expecting an answer if 1) he'd given me all the information I need and 2) he'd not told me that I can contact him anytime. He said that, he invited it. Plus, on a professional level, as a freelance service provider myself, I would expect that clients might contact me with queries that are outside my charging hours, I don't find that too imposing when it happens very occasionally. On a human level, it seems you could answer someone's emails when you know the person… But maybe that's me! He also upset the kid who's away for 6 months because he didn't answer a message of hers, and they've had a working relationship for 4 years, so I think perhaps it's not me being weird.

I tried the clarinet last year smile — loved it, but it's actually a lot more interesting to play when you can join a harmony orchestra, which I did and loved; but once I moved, I realised I don't fancy playing an instrument on my own that sounds a little "bare" without an accompaniment, hence the idea of the piano. I am thinking of purchasing a good portable digital piano when I move (under 15 kg). I'm not going to wait until I settle, as that might never happen… I'm a digital nomad.

So, it sounds from all your advice that Piano for All might be something I could do on the side, but that I need to carry on learning in the "classical" way with a teacher. I'm a little worried about the technical aspects of Skype lessons, but will look into cameras, etc. Perhaps I should stop with this particular teacher and find a good online teacher.

Thanks again, this is all very enlightening, and I can also see the standpoint of the teacher better now. Much appreciated.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798536
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
On my first lesson, he told me what the monthly price would be for weekly lessons. I paid him. I later found out that you don't get lessons on school holidays or public holidays, so that month I had just ONE lesson. When I saw him again and asked him whether that means the monthly fee gets reduced, he answered a little carelessly that no, the price is the price however many lessons are in a month.


Well, that episode would be the end for me.

But now you, at least, have learned to ask questions about fees and be very clear on that before "signing up".

Live and learn.

Good Luck


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: dmd] #2798566
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
On my first lesson, he told me what the monthly price would be for weekly lessons. I paid him. I later found out that you don't get lessons on school holidays or public holidays, so that month I had just ONE lesson. When I saw him again and asked him whether that means the monthly fee gets reduced, he answered a little carelessly that no, the price is the price however many lessons are in a month.


Well, that episode would be the end for me.

But now you, at least, have learned to ask questions about fees and be very clear on that before "signing up".

Live and learn.

Good Luck



Me too. I would have attended the "1" lesson and be done with that teacher.


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798584
01/04/19 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
..............He has a fairly large following on YouTube, but from what I can see his "school" (which I have online access to as his student) consists in just supplying students with music sheets of well-known songs transposed into easier versions, with synthesia-style videos attached — without any actual Skype teaching as such..........
This is a big red flag, in my opinion.

My advice would be to run, Girl, run! shocked


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: Stubbie] #2798656
01/05/19 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
The Skype suggestion above might be a good solution for someone who moves around a lot.


I was convinced beyond a doubt that Skype wouldn't work for me until I tried it. I was lucky enough to get an instructor I liked and who was actually capable of imparting information to me. It worked a lot better than I thought it would and it's definitely something I would consider if I knew I would be moving around. It take me a while to break in a new teacher. smile

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798667
01/05/19 09:10 AM
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So frustrating, RosemaryGirl.

I don't have a lot of different advice to add, but I began playing last year with Piano For All (with no prior training except some music theory in high school that I forgot). I found it to be a lot of fun, and what kept me motivated was the fact that I was playing chords from familiar songs. I went pretty quickly through the books (not all of them) and had a blast with it. It certainly helped with inversions of chords, I think.

I quickly realized that I learn a lot by ear, and was figuring out some songs I enjoy ("Sara" by Fleetwood Mac was an early one I learned, followed by "It's Too Late" from Carole King)--all without taking a face to face lesson or purchasing sheet music. I did purchase the music to a George Winston song I love, and was able to muddle through and at least learn the major chords for that. I decided I should probably get with a teacher since I was clearly enjoying myself and wanted to make sure I was doing it "the right way".

I talked with him before I started lessons, and told him what I had done so far. On the first lesson, I went through a few things I had learned. He basically said that what I was doing was quite advanced, but I would certainly need to scale back--especially to really learn how to read music (which was a goal of mine). He even told me that I might get bored (with the Alfred's All In One book), but that he would try to give me songs that he thought I would enjoy (or songs that I wanted to try).

I have not done scales (except for the ones that appear in the Alfred book). I go through the book lessons, and he does not look for perfection. We work on songs (not in the book), and build on them: perhaps I will do block chords in the left hand first, then maybe try to do open 10th chords instead. For Christmas, we stopped the book entirely to just work on Christmas songs. I had played the first few bars of "Christmas Time Is Here" (that I memorized in the original key), and he gave me an arrangement that was much more appropriate for my level. However, we changed a lot of the chords to 7th chords when appropriate so it sounded so much nicer, and did some different things with the melody (trying octaves, for example).

I guess my point is that the type of teacher you get should jive with what you want to do. No, I don't sit and practice scales and the Junior Hanon exercises. But, I am learning songs and doing things that a year ago I never thought I would be doing. I think as we get into more classical pieces, the more "traditional" teachings will come.

The upshot: Piano For All certainly laid a foundation for me; at the very least it reinforced to me that I really love the piano. I concur with others that you should look for another instructor.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798670
01/05/19 09:22 AM
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I would like to add this: If you decide to go for the Piano for All without a teacher, have a look at this video. After one minute of talking and playing, Randall Faber shows how to let the "wrist take a bow" when you play a chord. At least you get an idea about the technique, so you won't just hammer on the keys, like I did when I started without a teacher... wink


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798694
01/05/19 10:49 AM
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Thanks a lot again!

To those of you who find it weird that I shouldn't have run away after the first lesson: I think it was partly a psychological thing. I thought it would average out my losses if I stayed, kind of thing! It sounds stupid now, I guess. Also, felt I had to stick it out once committed. Anyway, the more time passes and the more advice I read, the more I think I should call it a day with this guy. At the end of the day, I've spent the last month or two wondering whether I should stop with him, and my husband says that's enough to know you should stop, as questioning it repeatedly shows something's not right.

I will have to do a whole lot of research on how to find a Skype teacher now. Animisha, I looked at the website you kindly provided a link to: am I right in thinking it's a collection of tutorials, and not a site where I would find a Skype teacher?

I really appreciate all your answers, especially all the detailed ones on how you guys learn in your lessons and how your teacher is right for you. I really think I need to find the right person I can stick with for a while and make real progress. Thanks.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2798705
01/05/19 11:03 AM
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RosemaryGirl, you are right, these are a bunch of tutorials. I thought it would be useful to watch the video if you were going to play a lot of chords. However, finding a skype teacher is a much better idea! (But I cannot help you with how to find a skype teacher...)


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800810
01/11/19 11:31 AM
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Hello all,

I just thought I'd post an update for those who might be wondering whether I'm still sticking it out with my teacher: the short answer is no, which I think is for the best.

But initially, I felt really down about it, like I was breaking up with someone I should get along with, or something crazy

I started worrying (and even had weird dreams…) about finding a new online teacher and was freaking out that I might make a mistake again or not find anyone, etc. It even put me off the piano for a couple of days! Thankfully, I then decided to just let it be and resume enjoying sitting at the piano and practising my little easy pieces as I'd been doing before. Admittedly, even if I don't find a teacher straight away, that won't be much different to the experience of having a teacher who gives no feedback.

It seems to have chilled me enough so that I was able to send a couple of emails out today. Fingers crossed, I'll find somebody who's a good fit and start learning to lay the foundations right as I so wish to do!

Happy weekend playing to all!

PS: and thanks again for all the links; I've already learnt a lot from those… Yeah, I was totally hammering the chords! And I'm happy to resume more single note work if that's what's best!

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800811
01/11/19 11:33 AM
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RosemaryGirl, I sent you a PM a few days ago. See upper right of the webpage.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800828
01/11/19 12:04 PM
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Thanks for the update, RosemaryGirl. Getting a follow-up post from the OP adds a certain sense of closure to a topic--but doesn't mean you should be a stranger here! Best of luck in finding a new teacher who will teach.


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800853
01/11/19 01:26 PM
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Getting out of a situation that doesn't give you what you're looking for, is always a good thing - especially if it's something you pay good money for! Don't lose heart, there are amazing teachers out there. Fingers crossed you'll find one of those soon smile


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800954
01/11/19 05:48 PM
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Good luck, RosemaryGirl! You deserve it.


Q: Am I late beginner, or early intermediate? A: Yes!

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~ Henry Van Dyke
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2800996
01/11/19 07:25 PM
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I’ve just stumble upon your posts now.
I think you took the best decision, considering all you told us!
I can’t help concerning the online teacher, but that’s the idea I had reading through and, considering your situation, I think it is a wonderful idea.
Since it seems helpful, I might share a bit of my experience too.
I’m a beginner at the piano. I’ve started almost 3 years ago, having prior experience as a clarinet player when I was a teenager.
I loved my first teacher, which taught me for 1,5 year. But I realized, when I switched teacher, that I should have questioned more his approaches, and that I should have been clear on my goals right from the start (which you did, and everyone should do it when starting lessons). Considering my prior experience at music, my teacher was afraid to bore me out if he gave me childish pieces or so. But he went quite the opposite direction, with pieces that were way too challenging for my level. I developed quite a few bad habits. By the end, I was growing more and more dissatisfied because I couldn’t polish my pieces enough to enjoy playing them afterward. A step back was badly needed!
I should have told him that I was taking lessons to avoid getting bad habits. Maybe he would have been less fearful of boring me out.
On some aspects, though, I think that rough start made me discover many classical pieces and maybe that’s why I know want to learn the beautiful challenging pieces one day (I’m in no rush)! So it might not have been such a bad thing. But I wouldn’t advice anyone to go down that same route.
I then changed teacher. We took a small step back (from Rachmaninoff’s prelude in C# minor to Bach’s inventions, Mozart K545 sonata 2nd movement, some easier Chopin’s mazurka, etc.) and I feel like the level of challenge is right for me now (the pace could be a little slower too and that would probably be fine). I told my teacher, at last!, at the beginning of the (school) year what were my objectives at the piano, after a year of lessons, since talking to my former teacher made me realize I should have done that earlier! A bit like you, I want, on the long run, to play some of the well-known classical repertoire (I ambition Chopin’s ballades), but that can happen far in the future and that’s fine. And I feel like he changed his approach a bit, being a bit more punctilious. And I hope it will pay out in the end!
I also had another teacher last summer, to fill out the gap in July/August (and don’t want to stop lessons during the summer! What stopping good things!). And I was disappointed. I felt like he was giving me almost no “juice” to work on. One week, almost his sole advice was to exaggerate the nuances more. Ok, I’ll do that… what else? I was happy that this wasn’t my regular teacher and that I was going back to him in September. It made me appreciate even more my current teacher. I’m sure the other one is a good teacher, but he wasn’t the right one for me. There is a fit to be found with a teacher, and it can be hard to find.
I wish you the best of luck in your searches. And I hope to read you again in here to know how it goes!


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- (Classical piece TBD)
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2801057
01/11/19 10:54 PM
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I had also PM'ed RosemaryGirl . . . and now thanks to the lieutenant she has discovered where those PM's are to be found!

It's good to get your update, RG - sounds like you're on track!

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801072
01/12/19 12:08 AM
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Rosemary, it is a business relationship. I realize factors come into play and you hope to form a constructive student teacher relationship. You are paying a fee for a service.
However, you are paying for their expertise and guidance and you may not always be in agreement. The teachers goal is to help you advance and you may not know the steps to get where you going. However, bad posture should be corrected in the beginning.

Regarding chords, I had taken theory with piano lessons for two and a half years. My first teacher (master's prepared music) was a classical pianist that is what I learned for the first. He played for a symphony. He left to pursue a career in computer science. I started with jazz chords after that with a jazz and gospel pianist (masters prepared). Took jazz theory for two summers. My point, the basics helped me to understand chords. Without the basics I would not have been prepared. July will be my 5th year of lessons, and we have not worked on inverting the chords while playing from the Fake Book. He said, that I need really internalize in the root position first and change chords easily.

I would expect my instructor to correct mistakes. He told me as you advance I will become more strict with technique and accuracy. He has me reverting to easier music to play through without stopping, better timing, dynamics etc. If you are a beginner, I am sure what you played could have used some sort of correction and not been deemed it was "good."

For me, I do not think online would replace a face-to-face lesson. For academics such as theory, I think online is fine. However, for a skill function it is hard to beat face-to-face with a teacher.

I would not expect the teacher to answer e-mail. In a university setting it is different than private piano lessons. I have 2 lessons a week. You may consider taking another lesson during the week if that is possible.

When I would have reviewed the pay structure I would not have been in agreement, therefore I would not have started. I would not expect to be charged when the instructor was not teaching.

People who play well, (there are exceptions) have been playing for more than a decade or two. To do anything well takes time, effort, dedication, and patience. Playing the piano is a highly complex skill if you learn to do it well. I think of it as a life long journey, enjoy the ride.

Just some thoughts!


Deb
"A goal properly set is halfway reached." Zig Ziglar
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: TheophilusCarter] #2801076
01/12/19 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

... My long-term goal is to be able to play well-known classical pieces like "Clair de Lune" or "Moonlight Sonata", and more importantly jazz standards and improvisation, as well as the odd film soundtrack and piano cover of rock/pop songs. I like all genres...


People who can do all these things well and teach them well are not particularly common, but the odd one does exist. Therefore, the first question I would ask a prospective teacher would concern this ability; most will be eliminated and you will save time.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: DFSRN] #2801107
01/12/19 05:32 AM
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Thank you all again for your thoughtful suggestions.

Originally Posted by Ted
Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

... My long-term goal is to be able to play well-known classical pieces like "Clair de Lune" or "Moonlight Sonata", and more importantly jazz standards and improvisation, as well as the odd film soundtrack and piano cover of rock/pop songs. I like all genres...


People who can do all these things well and teach them well are not particularly common, but the odd one does exist. Therefore, the first question I would ask a prospective teacher would concern this ability; most will be eliminated and you will save time.


In terms of this long-term goal of mine, I actually have this impression (but do please correct me if I'm wrong), that I would be better off laying all the foundations properly with a classical-minded teacher, and after a few years (5?), look for a jazz specialist to delve into that. Does that make any sense?

Originally Posted by DFSRN
People who play well, (there are exceptions) have been playing for more than a decade or two. To do anything well takes time, effort, dedication, and patience. Playing the piano is a highly complex skill if you learn to do it well. I think of it as a life long journey, enjoy the ride.

Just some thoughts!


For sure, I expect this ride to be a lifelong one. I think I take my piano practice as I do my meditation practice: not expecting anything too lofty as a result, but enjoying the daily practice and trying to do it in as focused a way as possible. Little by little, I'll turn around and realise I've got somewhere. That's partly why I chose to learn to play piano: I love learning new things, and with the piano, I thought I could spend the rest of my life learning around the same skill without ever being short of new challenges within it.

I like the idea of a "summer teacher", to change things up a bit. I might look into that too as the summer is the only time of year I spend in the same part of the world — I could have an in-person, long-term summer teacher as well as the online one.

I've finally confessed to my friendly acquaintance that I had stopped taking lessons from her teacher. I was fearing her reaction… Well, it turns out she's thinking of ditching him too, after years with him! It seems he's behaved rather oddly with her too, so perhaps he has stuff going on and his head is not in the game anymore. Certainly, I think he should have told me about the pay structure before I paid the whole first month during which I saw him once…

And thanks again for alerting me to the existence of PMs…

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801122
01/12/19 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl


For sure, I expect this ride to be a lifelong one. I think I take my piano practice as I do my meditation practice: not expecting anything too lofty as a result, but enjoying the daily practice and trying to do it in as focused a way as possible. Little by little, I'll turn around and realise I've got somewhere. That's partly why I chose to learn to play piano: I love learning new things, and with the piano, I thought I could spend the rest of my life learning around the same skill without ever being short of new challenges within it.



Beautifully put... that is pretty close to the reason why I'm doing it, too.


Q: Am I late beginner, or early intermediate? A: Yes!

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~ Henry Van Dyke
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801156
01/12/19 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
In terms of this long-term goal of mine, I actually have this impression (but do please correct me if I'm wrong), that I would be better off laying all the foundations properly with a classical-minded teacher, and after a few years (5?), look for a jazz specialist to delve into that. Does that make any sense?

I am in the first 12 months of my own journey, and have no interest in jazz myself, but my beginner-level understanding is that if your ultimate goal is to play jazz, you might be better off starting with jazz piano. The more I learn, the more different jazz piano seems than classical piano. Something I had always assumed was that the piano technique (e.g., arms, wrist, fingers) is the same and applicable. But a few months ago, I read that jazz piano even uses a different piano technique!

If you are interested in jazz, there are a few teachers that post in the non-classical pianist forum. You should post and ask there about this. Certainly as an adult, one wouldn't want to take a five-year detour if one's ultimate goals were already clear to oneself.


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801175
01/12/19 10:34 AM
01/12/19 10:34 AM
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If you decide you wish to go the online course route ….

AND you are interested in pursuing jazz/improvisation type of playing ….

Here is a site that I think might work for you ….

https://pianowithjonny.com/


I am currently a member and believe it offers quality instruction.

It has material for complete beginner through advanced.

You get a 14 day free trial just to check it out.


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801182
01/12/19 11:03 AM
01/12/19 11:03 AM
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Thanks!

I'm half wondering whether this jazz/classical question deserves its own thread or not, not sure… Certainly, if I'd be better off learning jazz straight away, I'd rather do it.

But there's an interesting point, dmd: there is a difference between an online course, and webcam lessons. So far, people on here have praised in-person lessons and Skype-type lessons, but this looks different altogether, like a series of video courses.

Is an online course as effective as having an actual teacher on one-to-one, I wonder?

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801200
01/12/19 11:33 AM
01/12/19 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl

Is an online course as effective as having an actual teacher on one-to-one


Generally speaking …. No.

Of course, everything depends upon the quality of any of those choices.

Bad teacher ? Not effective.

Good teacher …. Effective.

Good Online course …. Effective.

Bad Online course …. Not effective.

You can wonder and consider all those factors, but bottom line you just have to do something and find out how it goes.

I have had live one-on-one teachers, online courses, online teachers, you name it …… nothing has proven to be perfect forever.

So ,.... Good Luck to you


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: dmd] #2801327
01/12/19 05:16 PM
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You're absolutely right, there, Don!

At this point, I'm spending more time researching options than actually practising the piano, so I will now go with the flow: thanks to the lovely people on here, I have a Skype meeting set up for next week, and if that fails, plenty of other options that I've been given through PMs, etc.

Off to practise my "interview" piece now laugh

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801408
01/12/19 10:02 PM
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Just a comment: I spent a lot more than a week or two sorting things out before I started with a teacher after my first set of experiences. Had I done so first time round, there are years of going round in circles that I'll never get back that could have been spared. It's a minefield out there, and taking as long as one needs, and a touch of gut feeling is a pretty good idea.

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2801418
01/12/19 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
You're absolutely right, there, Don!

At this point, I'm spending more time researching options than actually practising the piano, so I will now go with the flow: thanks to the lovely people on here, I have a Skype meeting set up for next week, and if that fails, plenty of other options that I've been given through PMs, etc.

Off to practise my "interview" piece now laugh


Sounds good.


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2804672
01/21/19 11:36 AM
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I've come to give closure. laugh

I have found my piano teacher, hurray!!! I am now also a convert to webcam lessons. I've had a great experience so far, and in any case, so much better than the lessons I used to have, it's really night and day. I'm now hearing about phrasing, nuances, legato, and how to play the melody louder than the harmony… Crazy, isn't it? crazy I can't believe I nearly carried on with tuition that was about to put me off the piano.

Thank you for your support and advice, and for pointing me in the right direction via PM.

I'm so happy and super excited to start learning properly, including scales and technique exercises! Carnegie Hall, here I come! cool In this life, or more likely the next. grin

Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2804675
01/21/19 11:52 AM
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Thank you for the update! It sounds as though you've made a big change for the better. thumb


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2804731
01/21/19 03:17 PM
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Good for you!


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Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2804750
01/21/19 04:20 PM
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I love a happy ending! Or in this case, a new beginning smile Thanks for the update, and good luck with your new teacher.


Sibylle

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"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: To quit or not to quit lessons [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2804759
01/21/19 04:42 PM
01/21/19 04:42 PM
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Brilliant! Long may it continue.

And I'm happy to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, for once in my life laugh laugh wink


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