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Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805704
01/23/19 10:54 PM
01/23/19 10:54 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,005
Canada
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Kingfisher, I have had several thoughts since this thread first came up. My first thought is that on the scheme of things, whether or not I am being taught as well or carefully as other students - whether the teaching is appropriate for me and my learning - is the first priority; what kinds of comments I get of the nature you described is a second priority. The two might interrelate, though. I also read the incident you described.

Starting here:
Originally Posted by Kingfisher
I started formal lessons with a piano teacher ~3 years ago, after playing the piano casually since I was a child.

If you were self-taught, or had a so-so teacher as a child so as to end up missing some underlying skills, or those skills slipped during the casual playing, this can create a situation. Our good playing and our growth rest on foundations that can be overlooked or missed. Not all teachers know how to look for these things, and rebuild things from the ground up where needed, so those foundations stay wobbly and unseen. Often such a student comes in playing pieces at a given level, the teacher gives more pieces at the same level, teaches the pieces, but the various underlying skills of the student remain unaddressed. Those missing elements continue to run interference, and this type of teacher does not know how to deal with it.

If Morodiene is around, (a teacher), she might be able to add some insights into this. smile

If such things are going on, and the teacher does not understand cause and effect in this area, or believes in talent, or is used to getting students who got good foundations from good first teachers that she can build on -- all of that can lead to the teacher being discouraged and frustrated. That is - if such things are going on. If they are going on and a teacher does see it, she would roll up her sleeves and say "You're missing these skills. Here's what we're going to try."

You submitted some pieces in the "40 pieces a year club", around when you would have had two years of lessons, so I poked around a bit. wink The pieces seem not beginnerish, a bit ambitious, and so might fit with the "came in playing pieces at level x, so continue at level x". I thought I might have caught some technical weaknesses that might be foundational - however I am a student getting out of my own nonsense so I can't tell - however, if the pattern I described exists, and if there are missing foundations or habits to be changed, then addressing these would also change the quality of your playing, and how much effort you have to put into it.

If there are learning needs that your teacher can't address, then a change of teachers may be an idea - or a consultation with someone - not because of attitude toward you, but because you are taking lessons in order to learn and grow. The attitudes may be a result from this, and your self-esteem doesn't need those kinds of hits.

Quote
The piano teacher I have teaches relatively well...

The problem I had the first time I ever took lessons, is that I didn't know what good teaching consisted of, nor of the kinds of things I needed to learn.

Quote
As a full-time working adult with kids, I consider myself a diligent student, practicing an average of 1-2 hours a day (from 10 pm - 12 midnight) for at least 5 days a week.

When I was in a situation where I was missing underlying skills, or some had gone awry, the work that I put in did not pay off in results. That was discouraging.
Quote
I am very interested in the piano but sometimes feel discouraged that my teacher does not really appreciate what I am putting in.

This, however, while important to our self-esteem, I would deem a distant secondary in importance.

Quote
After the event, she said she would send other adult students to the event in future. I asked why, as she wasn't supportive of my participation initially. The reply, probably answered too quickly but reflected her inner thoughts, was that she has adult students who are good players.

This does not sound good.

There are "negative comments" which are in fact positive, and they tend to be concrete. "Your timing tends to be off in your playing." "You rush when you get to easy sections." "You keep missing F# when the music modulates to G major." In these instances, if you have been told how to practise to get the timing, or that F#, you can review in honesty if you were following those instructions. If you don't know how to do these things, you can ask "Can you help me find a way of practising, so that I can get that sense of timing?" (though one would hope a teacher would state the problem, AND the solution.)

But general comments are things we cannot do much about.

I don't know if you can be proactive about this, asking if you have missing skills that affect your playing, and would she like to work with you on them (if that is the case) - some teachers think (from experience) that adult students aren't willing to do that. But I hesitate at the idea of a student needing to bring things in that direction.

Any of what I wrote might be dead wrong. wink


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Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805719
01/24/19 12:49 AM
01/24/19 12:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,410
Finland
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I do think it is important to know that your teacher wants to do her best to help you make full use of your potential. And if you practice as much as you say and try your best to follow her advice, the results probably do in fact reflect her teaching ability... Maybe she is just a bad communicator or maybe she has poor judgement. It might be time to look for a new teacher.

There are different types of teachers and sometimes a good teacher is not a good fit. What is good for one's technique may not always be good for your self esteem and enjoyment in your musical hobby. I often think my teacher overestimates my potential and that can create extra stress. I may have worked my butt off with a piece for the lesson to memorize and when I feel pleased to be able to play through, the comment I get is that a few middle voice notes are too loud smile It's like she expects me to sound like a pro when I am just an adult starter amateur. Most people would surely be impressed and not even notice those little issues. However I may feel about it at the lesson I will sit down and work my butt off again correcting those notes. And on my next lesson she will find something else to do better... That's the downside of getting high expectations from your teacher. But I still want to be better and the level of detail my teacher gets into seems to work in a long run. Maybe something like this is what you expect as well and not getting it from your present teacher? Or is it just her inappropriate comments that are the issue?

Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805829
01/24/19 09:38 AM
01/24/19 09:38 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 82
Twin cities MN US
pianosuzemn Online content

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All I can say to add to this is:
I just left my teacher of 3+ years and although it was very hard to get the courage to do this, I feel amazing and a huge sense of relief now that I've left! My teacher was always blunt and insensitive to my somewhat low sense of self esteem but as the years progressed it felt like it was getting worse---and then I felt like my skills were getting worse rather than better, and it all felt like it fell in on itself. The good news is that I finally realized that I don't need to leave a lesson feeling worse than when I went in, and I stopped lessons for now. My plan is to go without lessons for a month or so, while still playing daily for my own pleasure, and then figure out what to do for lessons. I may never again want to feel that vulnerable so I think I will go with Skype lessons. And I'm working on playing for fun with a violinist I know and an oboist, but I'm finding that I am super self conscious and kind of hearing negativity in my subconscious, so it will be a process. Anyway, I really encourqg you to leave your teacher. You'll be so glad that you did!


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Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805845
01/24/19 10:03 AM
01/24/19 10:03 AM
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I can empathise with the sense of relief pianosuzemn is describing, and my previous teacher wasn't even insulting!

I came on here a month ago asking for advice on staying with said teacher or not… I left him without looking back and it's the best decision I've made in a while! That, and the decision to start with my new teacher via webcam. I can't see what good it does you or your playing to feel dejected at the thought that your teacher might consider you somehow unworthy… If you're really not progressing, then as keystring says, there might be some underlying technical issues to address that your current teacher is not helping you with. And in any case, you shouldn't be feeling bad going into your lessons week in, week out — learning the piano is meant to be joyful and engaging, not depressing and discouraging.

I think you might feel relief when you leave this teacher, and joy when you find the right one. Good luck !

Re: "2nd class" student [Re: RosemaryGirl] #2805849
01/24/19 10:17 AM
01/24/19 10:17 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,410
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by RosemaryGirl
I can empathise with the sense of relief pianosuzemn is describing, and my previous teacher wasn't even insulting!

I came on here a month ago asking for advice on staying with said teacher or not… I left him without looking back and it's the best decision I've made in a while! That, and the decision to start with my new teacher via webcam. I can't see what good it does you or your playing to feel dejected at the thought that your teacher might consider you somehow unworthy… If you're really not progressing, then as keystring says, there might be some underlying technical issues to address that your current teacher is not helping you with. And in any case, you shouldn't be feeling bad going into your lessons week in, week out — learning the piano is meant to be joyful and engaging, not depressing and discouraging.

I think you might feel relief when you leave this teacher, and joy when you find the right one. Good luck !


+1 Really well put.


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Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805866
01/24/19 10:44 AM
01/24/19 10:44 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 396
Hershey, PA, USA
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Originally Posted by Kingfisher



I am not sure how to speak with her on this matter without straining the relationship. Or maybe I just didn't want to face the truth if she ever tells me that despite all my efforts, my playing still sucks.


Unfortunately, this might just be the reality that you will eventually have to face - not so much that your playing "sucks" (as you say), but that the teacher in all honesty is trying to let you know as patiently and diplomatically as she can that you - like any number of other students that she's had over the years - just don't seem to have the potential to be a good pianist...she might be wrong, but if not then the truth hurts...

Other teachers that you take on won't be this brutally honest with you - most of them will "string you along" indefinitely for any number of reasons, even if they come to the same conclusion about your natural abilities...

Maybe you do have potential that a really good, patient, sympathetic teacher can develop - but you have to be ready to accept the possibility that you don't...and move on to another instrument or hobby...we all have our specialties...

Also, you may be the type of person that benefits most from self-instruction. There are lots of us out here. But, then again, self-teachers can sometimes be their own toughest critics...it's the old, proverbial double-edged sword.


John

"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Handyman] #2805869
01/24/19 10:50 AM
01/24/19 10:50 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 438
Ireland
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Originally Posted by Handyman
Originally Posted by Kingfisher



I am not sure how to speak with her on this matter without straining the relationship. Or maybe I just didn't want to face the truth if she ever tells me that despite all my efforts, my playing still sucks.


Unfortunately, this might just be the reality that you will eventually have to face - not so much that your playing "sucks" (as you say), but that the teacher in all honesty is trying to let you know as patiently and diplomatically as she can that you - like any number of other students that she's had over the years - just don't seem to have the potential to be a good pianist...she might be wrong, but if not then the truth hurts...

Other teachers that you take on won't be this brutally honest with you - most of them will "string you along" indefinitely for any number of reasons, even if they come to the same conclusion about your natural abilities...

Maybe you do have potential that a really good, patient, sympathetic teacher can develop - but you have to be ready to accept the possibility that you don't...and move on to another instrument or hobby...we all have our specialties...

Also, you may be the type of person that benefits most from self-instruction. There are lots of us out here. But, the again, self-teachers can sometimes be their own toughest critics...it's the old, proverbial double-edged sword.

No, no, and no. If this was someone trying to become a professional pianist, it might be time to "let them down gently". But patently Kingfisher is a hobby pianist. Absolutely everyone can learn and improve, on their level. A teacher's job is to support, encourage, and guide a student according to the student's goals and abilities, not make judgments (unless, as stated, the student is trying to become a professional or pass a specific exam or simliar). As long as someone is putting in the work and willing to learn and take advice, there's no reason - no reason at all - why they can't progress steadily. A good teacher takes all these things into account and helps bring out the best in each student.

Last edited by Sibylle; 01/24/19 10:52 AM.

Sibylle

My piano background

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Handyman] #2805880
01/24/19 11:06 AM
01/24/19 11:06 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,005
Canada
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Originally Posted by Handyman
Unfortunately, this might just be the reality ..... but that the teacher in all honesty is trying to let you know as patiently and diplomatically as she can that you - like any number of other students that she's had over the years - just don't seem to have the potential to be a good pianist...

NO! (re potential etc.) smile My post may have been too long so that nobody read it. In shorter version: what I hypothesized, from some experience and past research (please read on):

If a student self-taught over the years, or was taught at one time but poorly in some respects ---- some foundational things may be missing, and/or be askew, and this will affect playing quality and ease. At the same time, such a student often comes in playing more advanced music, some teachers will base themselves on the level of the music and assign more music at that level, without ever addressing the foundational things, which will continue to impede quality and ease. Some teachers are blind to this for a few reasons:

- They are used to students, usually young, they started themselves, so that all the foundations are there
- They are used to getting transfer students who have been properly taught, so again if music is played at level X, the foundations again are there
- Therefore they don't have the mindset to look for or recognize what I just described. It doesn't come up.

If such foundational issues are indeed present, and if the type of teacher who looks for and knows how to address them is there, then both quality and ease will be the result of their working on it. That is the other side of the coin. At the same time, if a teacher is not used to looking for and working with these things, then she won't understand what is going on, will get discouraged as a teacher, or puzzled, and so on. That teacher might indeed "know" that some students "lack potential" because she has seen the pattern before (and not understood it) so that it keeps happening with transfer students, or self-taught students.

I have several reasons to suspect that this may be going on.

Last edited by keystring; 01/24/19 11:08 AM.
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Sibylle] #2805881
01/24/19 11:07 AM
01/24/19 11:07 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 5,140
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by Sibylle
No, no, and no. If this was someone trying to become a professional pianist, it might be time to "let them down gently". But patently Kingfisher is a hobby pianist. Absolutely everyone can learn and improve, on their level. A teacher's job is to support, encourage, and guide a student according to the student's goals and abilities, not make judgments (unless, as stated, the student is trying to become a professional or pass a specific exam or simliar). As long as someone is putting in the work and willing to learn and take advice, there's no reason - no reason at all - why they can't progress steadily. A good teacher takes all these things into account and helps bring out the best in each student.

Completely agree! Just because I don't have the potential to become a professional chess player doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good game at my level! The job of the piano teacher isn't to train a professional (well, most piano teachers, anyways). It's to teach an enjoyable activity. Her careless words to you probably have made piano less enjoyable and more anxious for you. She has therefore failed her primary duty in regards to you.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"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
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805886
01/24/19 11:09 AM
01/24/19 11:09 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,005
Canada
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I'm not usually that insistent, but this time round, I'd really like either of my two posts here to be read. The second (recent) one is shorter, summarized.

Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805893
01/24/19 11:22 AM
01/24/19 11:22 AM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 68
Ontario, Canada
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It is amusing the talk about the right fit.

Pianosuzemn mentioned teachers being blunt. I love that. I need that. Don't beat around the bush. If I have improved, tell me that. Then, tear apart what I did so I can make it better. I don't have patience for a lot of praise or insults, but I crave improvement in everything.

I couldn't deal with a teacher who was too easy going that I wasn't improving as fast as I could because they weren't honest with me. Honesty is number 1.


Q
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805908
01/24/19 11:40 AM
01/24/19 11:40 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 424
Brittany, France
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From what you've written here I think the lady is somewhat lacking in the tact department, but if she teaches well you may want to persvere. However, if you do, in my opinion it would be better to get to the bottom of what her problems are with your playing (treating it objectively, I know I'd struggle at that, but there are times when it needs to be done).
Personally, I'd treat it as I would treat any 'problems' when doing 'business analysis'. I would list the problems in language that we both understood and agreed to. Then, having listed them, go through those problems individually (assuming there are more than one) with her and ask how 'we' can overcome them, noting this 'solution' down on the list next to the problem - after all, you are paying her to teach you so this is where she should want to help!
Then work through the 'problem list' together during lessons over time. Sounds simple (and perhaps I am oversimplifying, but the approach works in business analysis, so it should work here), but having things down 'in black and white' with 'problem' and 'solution' to work from helps to focus the mind and it is very satisfying to 'tick them off' when they are done.
You also mentioned that she had said things before that upset you. Perhaps there is a 'communication gap' between the two of you and you misunderstood some things that were meant to guide but you didn't pick them up that way, perhaps they didn't come across that way, or of course they just were badly expressed or said in an innappropriate time, manner etc. Whatever the reason, keep and update the 'problem list,' including new problems that come up - and here the list helps with communication problems as well because before putting it on the list you both need to agree what the problem is! I used to do the lists on a spreadsheet, btw.
On the other hand if the things she said were not relevant to your playing it may be time to move on!
Just my point of view, and apologies for spelling it out in such a manner - I'm not good at explanations.

Last edited by petebfrance; 01/24/19 11:41 AM.

regards
Pete
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805948
01/24/19 12:25 PM
01/24/19 12:25 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 458
Just outside London UK
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Originally Posted by Kingfisher
Or maybe I just didn't want to face the truth if she ever tells me that despite all my efforts, my playing still sucks.


Don't ever believe this. Every one has the ability to improve and it is your teachers job to pull this out of you. If your teacher isn't they are not doing their job properly.

First read what @keystring wrote about making sure that the fundamentals are there and if not get your teacher to show you.
Secondly make sure you know how to practice so you use your two hours a day efficiently. Again if you don't know ask your teach how to (or search this forum there are plenty of thread on how to).
Thirdly I recommend the book "The Perfect Wrong Note" by William Westney. For me it was transformative for my attitude to practice. Rather than get worried I wasn't playing perfectly I now look forward to mistakes because it gives me a chance to explore what I am doing wrong.

Whether you should change teachers; I can only say that for me the fun of the journey is what keeps me going. A teacher should enhance the fun, not dampen it. If after asking about points one and two above nothing changes then the answer is clear.

Re: "2nd class" student [Re: akc42] #2805955
01/24/19 12:47 PM
01/24/19 12:47 PM
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Posts: 5,140
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Originally Posted by akc42
Whether you should change teachers; I can only say that for me the fun of the journey is what keeps me going. A teacher should enhance the fun, not dampen it. If after asking about points one and two above nothing changes then the answer is clear.

And you are still going akc42! Seems like you must have crossed your 2-yr boredom barrier by now, haven't you? Keep it up! smile


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"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
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2805974
01/24/19 01:15 PM
01/24/19 01:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,235
Midwest USA
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Originally Posted by keystring
....I don't know if you can be proactive about this, asking if you have missing skills that affect your playing, and would she like to work with you on them (if that is the case) - some teachers think (from experience) that adult students aren't willing to do that. But I hesitate at the idea of a student needing to bring things in that direction.
No, a student shouldn't need to do that, but I think it is worth a try in this instance, since the OP finds the teacher otherwise generally reasonable. Has the OP ever explicitly stated that he/she is willing to step back and work on fundamentals and has the patience to do so? As keystring wrote, the teacher might have some internal cliches about adult students not wanting to work on skills that need correcting. Or the teacher might be lazy and not willing to undertake the work. How the teacher responds to the OP would be telling.

In the meantime, I would probably keep my eyes open for a new teacher. Part of the interview process would be a statement of willingness to go back to fundamentals, and a statement of willingness on the part of the teacher to do so.


Originally Posted by kingfisher
.......child students or adult students with better playing ability. There are certain comments that she makes which makes me perceive her preference.

I am starting to wonder if I should find another teacher who believes more about my ability. As a full-time working adult with kids, I consider myself a diligent student, practicing an average of 1-2 hours a day (from 10 pm - 12 midnight) for at least 5 days a week. I am very interested in the piano but sometimes feel discouraged that my teacher does not really appreciate what I am putting in.
Do you perhaps mean you would like your teacher to believe more in your potential? One's ability is what it is at any particular moment. Potential is linked to qualities or abilities that may be realized in the future. A teacher's job is to be a facilitator, to help you get there. You don't have to be a future virtuoso (almost none of us are). You do have to use your practice time efficiently and effectively, and a teacher should be able to tell you whether there are things you should be doing that you're not doing at present.

Playing the piano is a wondrous thing. There is always more to learn, more music to play. Never give up.


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Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2806013
01/24/19 02:00 PM
01/24/19 02:00 PM
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Philadelphia, PA
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I could not work with a teacher like Kingfisher's, whatever the reason for her attitude. Whether the teacher is unable to fill technical gaps or just generally unsupportive, to me either is reason to leave.

Most of my own teacher's students are professional or pre-professional pianists; I will always be an amateur. He never makes me feel as if my work and progress are devalued, no matter how much better his other students play.


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Currently working on:​
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Sinding, Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring)
Beethoven, Sonata no. 14 in C# minor (Moonlight)
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: akc42] #2806022
01/24/19 02:19 PM
01/24/19 02:19 PM
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48-49 High Street (WI, USA)
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Originally Posted by akc42

Don't ever believe this. Every one has the ability to improve and it is your teachers job to pull this out of you. If your teacher isn't they are not doing their job properly.


Very much this. And even if I (for example) did manage to hit a unbreakable ceiling of technical ability, there is always MORE (if not more difficult) piano I could learn, whether it's different styles, or even just more tunes at or below my level. I can't imagine ever "running out" of piano to learn ...


Decent upright bassist, aspiring decent pianist
Casio PX-160, Casio CDP-130
Roland KC-80
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2806023
01/24/19 02:22 PM
01/24/19 02:22 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,878
Philadelphia, PA
J
jdw Offline
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jdw  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
J

Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,878
Philadelphia, PA
And by the way, just to follow up on my own post: being supportive is completely compatible with being honest. My teacher will *always* tell me when I'm doing something wrong or there's a weak point I need to work on.

I think if the student has to ask whether there are technical problems that need to be addressed, the teacher has not been doing the job.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:​
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Sinding, Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring)
Beethoven, Sonata no. 14 in C# minor (Moonlight)
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Kingfisher] #2806078
01/24/19 03:48 PM
01/24/19 03:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 396
Hershey, PA, USA
Handyman Offline
Full Member
Handyman  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 396
Hershey, PA, USA
Again, as in other similar threads, we're only getting one side of the story here, and we're jumping to conclusions and making judgements and offering advice based on that - there might be misconceptions and misunderstandings in the reported interaction, or forgotten factors not reported that could be important.

It would be extremely helpful then for a complete understanding of the situation (and to be perfectly fair to both parties under discussion, including the teacher in question) to have input from that teacher about this situation. Only then would it seem reasonable to form opinions and offer advice.

Too bad this can't be arranged - or can it?


John

"Difficulties deferred and challenges unmet will eventually return with a vengeance to bite one in the butt." (paraphrasing Chopin)
Re: "2nd class" student [Re: Handyman] #2806090
01/24/19 04:26 PM
01/24/19 04:26 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,005
Canada
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,005
Canada
Originally Posted by Handyman
Again, as in other similar threads, we're only getting one side of the story here, and we're jumping to conclusions and making judgments....

I made no judgments and did not jump to any conclusions. I presented a possible and likely scenario based on some known facts which would require particular types of solutions if true. It is not a matter of judging anyone, but of helping the OP solve it. Have you had a chance to read either of my posts yet?

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