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Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? #2818081
02/20/19 05:34 PM
02/20/19 05:34 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
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NYC metro
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bythecshore Offline OP
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When I turned 60 I decided to learn to play piano, something I’d always wanted to do. I have a decent digital piano and thought I’d try Skype lessons because I work full time (plus) and thought I’d rather spend my available time practicing rather than travelling to lessons.

Fast forward 2.5 years and I’ve been through 3 teachers and haven’t learned very much. I want to say up front that I'm a very agreeable person and easy to get a long with, so I hope you don't think a difficult person. I can run scales pretty well, know basic chords, but it’s just not working. My interest is in R&B & jazz mostly.

For one thing, they teach me a song, I barely learn to play it, and we move on. As a result, I can’t go back and play them, as I never really learned them in the first place. They all teach by rote, so I don’t really understand things like, why is a song written in a particular key? Are the chord sequences typical for this type of music? Why don’t we ever learn the intro? How can I play this with some type of background drums or other instruments, so I get a feel for playing in a band? I ask these questions and it’s always, we’ll get to that, or we spend 2 minutes on it and move to the next thing. They have a set way of teaching and I feel like I just don’t fit into it. On the other hand I need them to lead me forward; my first teacher kept asking me what I wanted to do and I didn’t really know how to respond except to say I want to learn to play.

I’ve liked each teacher, but after about 4-5 months I find I’m not looking forward to the lessons; in fact, I get nervous that I didn’t learn enough, or won’t play correctly, and I end up wanting the lesson to be over quickly. It kind of reminds me of my school days… I wasn’t a good student so maybe there are some bad feelings from then.

Meanwhile, I’ve stuck with it. I practice 6 days a week for about 45 minutes a day and look forward to it. For the past two months I’ve been teaching myself, working on just one song, which I pretty much have down. I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve been able to really learn each section, not have to practice 2 or 3 other things and worry that I’ll be ready for the lesson. I’ve done the chord inversions myself which has helped me understand how chords work and resemble each other.

Despite liking practicing by myself, I really would like to find a good teacher. I think what I’d like is a person who could teach me in a “project” way, like I’m doing by myself. For example, I’d like to pick a song that I like, talk about when & why it was written (briefly), what the style is, why the arrangement and key was chosen, and then thoroughly learn it. And learn why those particular chords work together, why these notes work with those chords, etc. Then, for the next song, learn something a little similar (e.g., same key or composer) but with new and/or different elements added.

Ultimately, I want to compose some ideas that I have but realize I need to learn to play first.

I know this is long-winded, but if anyone has good ideas, let me know. Again, online is preferred, but maybe that’s the problem. I just don’t know.

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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818090
02/20/19 05:47 PM
02/20/19 05:47 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,298
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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At the risk of sounding completely obvious and trite, you've clearly had the wrong teachers. Have you been interviewing your teachers before you engage them? I can imagine a first one that doesn't fit, and maybe a second one if you are very unlucky and they misrepresented themselves to you in an interview, but 3?!?! It sounds like you are doing something wrong in picking and working with your teachers. Because what you described, and especially your dissatisfaction with it (assuming you've expressed this dissatisfaction to your teachers) is not normal/usual in my view, and you shouldn't tolerate it since these are your lessons, not theirs.


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: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818095
02/20/19 05:56 PM
02/20/19 05:56 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
My interest is in R&B & jazz mostly.

For one thing, they teach me a song, I barely learn to play it, and we move on. As a result, I can’t go back and play them, as I never really learned them in the first place. They all teach by rote.....


I think what I’d like is a person who could teach me in a “project” way, like I’m doing by myself. For example, I’d like to pick a song that I like, talk about when & why it was written (briefly), what the style is, why the arrangement and key was chosen, and then thoroughly learn it. And learn why those particular chords work together, why these notes work with those chords, etc. Then, for the next song, learn something a little similar (e.g., same key or composer) but with new and/or different elements added.

I suggest you copy & post your complete OP in the Non-Classical Forum, where all the jazzers reside. One or two of them are teachers, but they don't come on here.

Personally, based on what you've said, I believe you'd be better off learning what you like by yourself rather than having a teacher who teaches by rote. There's plenty of stuff in books as well as YT for jazzers. Aren't some of the best jazzers "self-taught"?


"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: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2818098
02/20/19 06:00 PM
02/20/19 06:00 PM
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Maybe find a teacher close to your place of work. There are several ways to learn piano; you can try to aim at a given purpose such as learning r and b, or you can just learn to play the piano. My suggestion is the latter. Let the teacher take charge and follow the teacher.

Songs may be written in a particular key to help them sell. Or to accommodate the highest note that most people have. Keys also have different moods. D major is happier and more triumphal than F major. But who cares? Why not just play in the key you have?

As a piano teacher I encounter many students who have too many goals but who practice too little of anything to make any goal a reality. My suggestion is to put your goals aside and just learn to play the piano.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818113
02/20/19 06:39 PM
02/20/19 06:39 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 17
NYC metro
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bythecshore Offline OP
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Tyrone - Yes, I think I must be doing something wrong picking teachers. It's embarrassing to say I've had 3 in 2 years, but that's how it is.

Bennevis - you say it's better to be self-taught than to learn by rote, and I agree. What I'm looking for is a teacher that doesn't teach by rote, if there's such a thing.

Candywoman - my goal is to just learn to play. I actually like almost all genres, so that's not an issue. But to learn I need a project model, at least that's how I learn most stuff in life. Memorizing lists of number and vocabulary words was always difficult for me without some way of connecting them each other. Anyway I'll figure this out eventually, thanks.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818117
02/20/19 06:57 PM
02/20/19 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
Bennevis - you say it's better to be self-taught than to learn by rote, and I agree. What I'm looking for is a teacher that doesn't teach by rote, if there's such a thing.
.
But to learn I need a project model, at least that's how I learn most stuff in life. Memorizing lists of number and vocabulary words was always difficult for me without some way of connecting them each other.

If you're prepared to learn to play piano (as opposed to learn to play jazz & R&B, from day 1), you'd be far, far better off in the long run.

Learn to play piano properly first (including reading music and relevant theory - using lead sheets is a walk in the park after that), then you can branch out into your preferred genre later. Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Elton John all did.

Don't get too caught up with what you believe should be your route towards stardom (or whatever): get the basics mastered first, and then everything else comes naturally.

BTW, I've no idea what you mean by memorizing "lists of number and vocabulary words". I'm a classical pianist, and I never did that kind of memorizing. Is that a mysterious thing that jazzers are supposed to do?


"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: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bennevis] #2818127
02/20/19 07:35 PM
02/20/19 07:35 PM
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by bythecshore
Bennevis - you say it's better to be self-taught than to learn by rote, and I agree. What I'm looking for is a teacher that doesn't teach by rote, if there's such a thing.
.
But to learn I need a project model, at least that's how I learn most stuff in life. Memorizing lists of number and vocabulary words was always difficult for me without some way of connecting them each other.

If you're prepared to learn to play piano (as opposed to learn to play jazz & R&B, from day 1), you'd be far, far better off in the long run.

Learn to play piano properly first (including reading music and relevant theory - using lead sheets is a walk in the park after that), then you can branch out into your preferred genre later. Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Elton John all did.

Don't get too caught up with what you believe should be your route towards stardom (or whatever): get the basics mastered first, and then everything else comes naturally.

BTW, I've no idea what you mean by memorizing "lists of number and vocabulary words". I'm a classical pianist, and I never did that kind of memorizing. Is that a mysterious thing that jazzers are supposed to do?

He's talking about in school, I think. Not music. As for music, he just needs a good teacher. There are not many of them.

This is how I start all people, any age:

Lines and spaces, special drills to get that done fast.

Triads in each key, then ASAP 7 chords, name the chords. This is vital for later playing slash chords.

Scales.

You need these things for any style of music. And so on...


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818139
02/20/19 08:32 PM
02/20/19 08:32 PM
Joined: Jun 2016
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Southern California
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If you are really serious and especially if you live near LA, you should look up Planet Mullins, Rob Mullins post on PW on occasion.
And I agree you may want to post this in the Non-Classical forum.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818217
02/21/19 12:55 AM
02/21/19 12:55 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,298
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content


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Originally Posted by bythecshore
What I'm looking for is a teacher that doesn't teach by rote, if there's such a thing.

Certainly there are. My teacher doesn't teach by rote. I'm surprised you haven't encountered any. That's why I was wondering about how you are interviewing teachers, because I'm mystified how you are apparently screening out ones that don't teach by rote.

What backgrounds did your 3 teachers have? Were the teachers or performers?


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: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2818221
02/21/19 01:33 AM
02/21/19 01:33 AM
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by bythecshore
What I'm looking for is a teacher that doesn't teach by rote, if there's such a thing.

Certainly there are. My teacher doesn't teach by rote. I'm surprised you haven't encountered any. That's why I was wondering about how you are interviewing teachers, because I'm mystified how you are apparently screening out ones that don't teach by rote.

What backgrounds did your 3 teachers have? Were the teachers or performers?

They problem here, which is something that Keystring talks about, is that students don't know what to ask for until they are armed with information.

Each adult who comes to me starts trusting that I know what I'm doing. Most just pick me at random, and I tell them that they are lucky, because that is NOT how to pick a teacher.

Of course we all know that a competent teacher at least tries to teach all students to read. Obviously there are some teachers who work only on ear, and for the right student that may work, but I don't think it's the right solution for most people.

But if you don't know that, how are you going to find out? Coming here would be one answer.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Gary D.] #2818230
02/21/19 03:00 AM
02/21/19 03:00 AM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 344
Quebec city, QC
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
They problem here, which is something that Keystring talks about, is that students don't know what to ask for until they are armed with information.

Each adult who comes to me starts trusting that I know what I'm doing. Most just pick me at random, and I tell them that they are lucky, because that is NOT how to pick a teacher.

That maybe should be an entire subject. I've bring up the subject recently, but it got lost in some intestine debates (in a way, that's ok, since the OP on the other subject haven't got back, if I'm not mistaken).

I picked my first teacher at random. Eh, I know nothing. Any teacher will know more than me, right?
But it was a mistake. And I only realized when I had to change.
Even now, I couldn't tell if my teacher is good. I like him and I think he helps me progress.

So, anyway, I'm not in a position to give advice. But the question is of interest to me, even though I don't have the same background and goals as you.
I hope you'll find useful answers in here.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: CadenzaVvi] #2818236
02/21/19 03:48 AM
02/21/19 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
Originally Posted by Gary D.
They problem here, which is something that Keystring talks about, is that students don't know what to ask for until they are armed with information.

Each adult who comes to me starts trusting that I know what I'm doing. Most just pick me at random, and I tell them that they are lucky, because that is NOT how to pick a teacher.

That maybe should be an entire subject. I've bring up the subject recently, but it got lost in some intestine debates (in a way, that's ok, since the OP on the other subject haven't got back, if I'm not mistaken).

I picked my first teacher at random. Eh, I know nothing. Any teacher will know more than me, right?
But it was a mistake. And I only realized when I had to change.
Even now, I couldn't tell if my teacher is good. I like him and I think he helps me progress.

So, anyway, I'm not in a position to give advice. But the question is of interest to me, even though I don't have the same background and goals as you.
I hope you'll find useful answers in here.

You don't know what a great teacher is until you have one. Then you know.

My grandmother was just a neighborhood teacher, but she gave me a lot. I got into trouble when I got to teacher #2, because my grandmother knew I was talented and that I was outgrowing what she could teach me. So I got a lady in town how had a rep. She studied with Harold Bauer (look him up), so on paper she was the best.

SHE WAS AWFUL.

But no one knew, because of her rep. She sat across the room on a sofa to get "the big picture". You can't even see details of the hand that far away, from that angle. When something was rocky, she said, "Did you study it carefully at home?" (No you stupid witch, because I didn't know how to do it myself because you sit every week on your fat butt across the room and never help me.) But I did not know this is NOT what a good teacher does.

There was not one fingering ever written in my music. She never gave me explicit directions. One week she asked me if I knew what "facile" meant, then said my playing was facile. Translation, after figuring it out years later - I was playing fast, but there was not enough shaping, lines, structure, architecture. That was because I learned by listening to records of famous players and I could not fully figure it all out on my own.

I finally got a really good teacher at age 20. After that I knew what a good teacher was, not before.

But she made me a good teacher, because I spent the rest of my life learning how NOT to ruin other players by knowing nothing, not caring, and being incredibly arrogant.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818237
02/21/19 04:02 AM
02/21/19 04:02 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
Fast forward 2.5 years and I’ve been through 3 teachers and haven’t learned very much.

Are you having weekly lessons?

Are you doing one-hour lessons?

How many lessons have you had, total?

I ask these questions because one of my adult students takes lessons every other week, for 30 minutes, and he misses MANY lessons throughout the year. If I'm lucky, I see him 15 times a year. I've taught him for more than three years going on four, and he's playing worse than my other beginners who started lessons less than a year ago.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818258
02/21/19 06:56 AM
02/21/19 06:56 AM
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Canada
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Are you having weekly lessons?

Are you doing one-hour lessons?

How many lessons have you had, total?

If the teaching ("teaching") is poor, then the less lessons, the better, the less frequently, the better, for less harm done. You teach carefully and well, so when your students come infrequently, they will do less well than if they avail themselves fully of your expertise and guidance. smile

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818291
02/21/19 09:07 AM
02/21/19 09:07 AM
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Canada
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bytheshore, Gary alluded to something that I stress for a reason (since I was that adult student quite some years ago) which I find ultra-important.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
They problem here, which is something that Keystring talks about, is that students don't know what to ask for until they are armed with information.


(Thx, Gary. smile ) It is an unfortunate fact that you cannot expect to just hook up with a teacher who will then guide you to learning what you need to know for playing an instrument, and the skills going with that. First, many people "teach" while a few teach. 2nd, you might get good teaching but your own preconceptions may get in the way. Meanwhile it is difficult to judge, without information - three teachers in 2.5 years is not that unusual; nor is being mistaught by one teacher for 5 years and having to relearn and undo from scratch. So info - my opinions. wink
Originally Posted by bytheshore
I need to learn to play first.

That is a good start.

If you say "I want to learn R&B and jazz", you are likely to get someone who will literally teach you one R&B/jazz piece after the other in the copy-me-for-instant-results that you have been encountering. "What do I need to learn in order to play R&B and jazz" may elicit a different kind of answer - and the teacher who says "Dunno. huh?" is the teacher you don't want. If you have this question in your mind, then as a prospective teacher sells his wares, you'll also be listening for this.

Be aware that a lot of good teachers get burned, because when they do give the real deal, the student drops out because it's too much work or not instant enough. We all become the walking wounded cautiously testing each other out after a few bad experiences. frown

Originally Posted by bytheshore
I think what I’d like is a person who could teach me in a “project” way, like I’m doing by myself. For example, I’d like to pick a song that I like, talk about when & why it was written (briefly), what the style is, why the arrangement and key was chosen, and then thoroughly learn it. And learn why those particular chords work together, why these notes work with those chords, etc. Then, for the next song, learn something a little similar (e.g., same key or composer) but with new and/or different elements added.


I have mixed feelings about this. Things such as "when/why written, style, reason for key etc." are things you can do on your own, and should do. What bothers me is that the format is too student-directed, and does not give the teacher room to truly teach. I'll try to explain.

A decent teacher will want to give you the skills and knowledge you will need, and build these in steps (though not necessarily rigidly lock-step). He may have a couple of important skills or concepts in mind, and knows that Pieces X, Y & Z are excellent for imparting these concepts. He may have worked with and taught these pieces, so he knows exactly what to bring out; what the typical hurdles are for students etc. If you are the one imposing the choice of pieces according to your tastes, you will impede this kind of teaching. Your choices may also have obstacles you are not aware of. The lesser kind of teacher that you seem to have had would be fine with that - but you want to actually get teaching.

For other things like why an arrangement or key were chosen, there may be some basic underlying things you need to be given first, to draw on. Certainly I think if a teacher knows you are actually interested in such things, he may volunteer such things while teaching. But give the teacher room to teach. smile

Those are some off-the-cuff thoughts on a snowy morning.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818292
02/21/19 09:14 AM
02/21/19 09:14 AM
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more loosely - on-line teaching etc.

Someone has already suggested a place to explore having to do with non-classical. They will know more than I do.

Some on-line teachers give some samples of what they teach on places like Youtube, to get a feel for what they are about. For my other instrument I've gone to some platforms, where you pay an annual or semester fee for access to their library of pre-recorded lessons and material which is organized, and some access to the teacher for feedback. In one platform, when students study lesson 5a, they can submit a video of themselves playing lesson 5a and it all goes into the 5a section, where you can see all fellow-students' attempts, along with the teacher's video feedback - I've learned a fair bit that way. This is not as good as one-on-one with a regular teacher but one can learn a fair deal.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818314
02/21/19 11:13 AM
02/21/19 11:13 AM
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Thanks to all for the ideas and feedback. Some answers to your questions:

The lessons were weekly or bi-weekly (every 2 weeks), ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. I liked 45 minutes the best, every two weeks, as the real learning took place during practice. That particular teacher gave me a lot to do every lesson, at least I think it was a lot; about 30 minutes of drills, then whatever time I had left over for 1 or 2 songs. Since I usually practice for about 45 minutes, I never really learned the songs very well.

All the teachers performed at some level. Two were local keyboardists in bands, one was a performing professional in a large metro area.

My first teacher never sat at the piano and would only show me stuff if I asked. The 2nd did sit at the piano. The 3rd never did, in fact, through about 4 months of lessons I never saw his. On the rare occasion when he'd "show" me how to play something, he'd walk off camera and play it in some other part of the room. So based on these lessons - my only piano experience - it seems that they didn't want to show me too much, rather they'd want to watch me play? I always wished they show me more. I’m still not sure what an ideal teacher should do. I’d always imagined that the teacher would show me some technique, then ask me to try it, then correct me and show it again, and back and forth. But none did. As a couple of you noted, a beginner doesn’t know what to look for and just assumes that what the first teacher does is the right way.

I agree with the "not instant enough" comment. Two of my three teachers clearly were in this camp. They each gave me very simple songs in the beginning with 4-5 chords, and after the first week or two they’d say, “See, you've learned your first song!" I get that they may be pressured to "show progress" especially to parents of kids, but that's completely opposite of what I want. I really want to learn to play, not just be able to “prove” I can play by knowing some simple pieces.

Based on your comments, I think I’ll spend more time looking at teachers' videos and really talk to some possible ones to discuss the things I have in this forum. I have gained valuable experience in having the 3 teachers and now have a much better idea of what to look for.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818324
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
Thanks to all for the ideas and feedback. Some answers to your questions:

The lessons were weekly or bi-weekly (every 2 weeks), ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. I liked 45 minutes the best, every two weeks, as the real learning took place during practice. That particular teacher gave me a lot to do every lesson, at least I think it was a lot; about 30 minutes of drills, then whatever time I had left over for 1 or 2 songs. Since I usually practice for about 45 minutes, I never really learned the songs very well.

All the teachers performed at some level. Two were local keyboardists in bands, one was a performing professional in a large metro area.

My first teacher never sat at the piano and would only show me stuff if I asked. The 2nd did sit at the piano. The 3rd never did, in fact, through about 4 months of lessons I never saw his. On the rare occasion when he'd "show" me how to play something, he'd walk off camera and play it in some other part of the room. So based on these lessons - my only piano experience - it seems that they didn't want to show me too much, rather they'd want to watch me play? I always wished they show me more. I’m still not sure what an ideal teacher should do. I’d always imagined that the teacher would show me some technique, then ask me to try it, then correct me and show it again, and back and forth. But none did. As a couple of you noted, a beginner doesn’t know what to look for and just assumes that what the first teacher does is the right way.

I agree with the "not instant enough" comment. Two of my three teachers clearly were in this camp. They each gave me very simple songs in the beginning with 4-5 chords, and after the first week or two they’d say, “See, you've learned your first song!" I get that they may be pressured to "show progress" especially to parents of kids, but that's completely opposite of what I want. I really want to learn to play, not just be able to “prove” I can play by knowing some simple pieces.

Based on your comments, I think I’ll spend more time looking at teachers' videos and really talk to some possible ones to discuss the things I have in this forum. I have gained valuable experience in having the 3 teachers and now have a much better idea of what to look for.

One point. Lessons every other week is lousy for a good teacher. Adults think they are more organized and process things better, so it's fine to come every other week. It's a trap, because in two weeks time they can get very good at doing things wrong. I absolutely refuse to teach that way. For me it just does not work. There are plenty of things to do every lesson, and I wish I could see my good students at least twice a week.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818351
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
[....]song!" I get that they may be pressured to "show progress" especially to parents of kids, but that's completely opposite of what I want. I really want to learn to play, not just be able to “prove” I can play by knowing some simple pieces.
But you do need to start with simple pieces. If you want to be able to play (based on the commonly understood meaning of 'play'), you need to start with simple pieces and work upward from there. It takes time (longer than months) and there's no shortcut around that.

Quote
[...]For the past two months I’ve been teaching myself, working on just one song, which I pretty much have down. I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve been able to really learn each section, not have to practice 2 or 3 other things and worry that I’ll be ready for the lesson. I’ve done the chord inversions myself which has helped me understand how chords work and resemble each other.

Despite liking practicing by myself, I really would like to find a good teacher. I think what I’d like is a person who could teach me in a “project” way, like I’m doing by myself. For example, I’d like to pick a song that I like, talk about when & why it was written (briefly), what the style is, why the arrangement and key was chosen, and then thoroughly learn it. And learn why those particular chords work together, why these notes work with those chords, etc. Then, for the next song, learn something a little similar (e.g., same key or composer) but with new and/or different elements added.
It seems to me that you have a bit of a mis-match between your level of playing (rank beginner) and the depth of theory and historical information you desire for a piece.

I think what you really want (and need) is (a) a teacher who will teach you the skills and techniques need to play music on the piano and (b) someone who will teach you (a person or a class) devoted to learning theory in some depth. If you want to compose (which you've said you do want to do), then you likely need more than most teachers can reasonably fit into a 45 min or hour lesson. A good teacher will be including appropriate level theory as the student moves along, but it sounds as though you want a deeper dive.

Last edited by Stubbie; 02/21/19 01:17 PM.

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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: keystring] #2818379
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Originally Posted by keystring
If the teaching ("teaching") is poor, then the less lessons, the better, the less frequently, the better, for less harm done. You teach carefully and well, so when your students come infrequently, they will do less well than if they avail themselves fully of your expertise and guidance. smile

Yes, that is correct. I just wanted to find out the mindset and the expectations of progress that the OP has.

My adult student who is making such horrid progress actually practices between lessons, but he pushes way too much and tries to get ahead, thinking it will save him money. Unfortunately, he practices incorrectly, so each time I see him, it's one deprogramming activity after another. I'm sick of it.

I see the OP has a similar line of thinking.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Gary D.] #2818381
02/21/19 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
There are plenty of things to do every lesson, and I wish I could see my good students at least twice a week.

Several of my students are seeing me twice a week. Most of them are splitting an hour lesson into two 30-minute lessons.

I get to catch mistakes before they crystallize. Most of these kids are making substantially better progress than the weekly students.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818385
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Originally Posted by bythecshore
I liked 45 minutes the best, every two weeks, as the real learning took place during practice.

No, the real learning takes place during lessons. The practice during the week is necessary to keep up with the learning, so you don't forget what you have learned.

If you try to practice by yourself for two weeks, numerous things can go wrong. At your beginner level, that is a death wish. This bi-weekly lesson idea might work for really really advanced students who need some "coaching" along the way of self-learning. You are clearly not at that level yet.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818411
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I can see where you are coming from.

You need a buddy who has been around the block, plays well and is knowledgable. One who can shoot the breeze with you about a lot of things pertaining to piano, jazz and such.

Barring that, I'd recommend a guy named Glen Rose. I'm not sure if he does Skype lessons but he's very knowledgable, has a lot of "real world gigging for 30 years" sort of knowledge and is open to other avenues of learning jazz and stuff without starting like classical guys do...dots on the page.


He's open to question answering also, I've corresponded with him and he's a great guy. Very down to earth.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818467
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Yes, that is correct. I just wanted to find out the mindset and the expectations of progress that the OP has.

My adult student who is making such horrid progress actually practices between lessons, but he pushes way too much and tries to get ahead, thinking it will save him money. Unfortunately, he practices incorrectly, so each time I see him, it's one deprogramming activity after another. I'm sick of it.

I see the OP has a similar line of thinking.


I see what you're saying and I would agree if that is going on, and it might also be. I tried to address some of the goals in my own response, and hope to hear back about that from the OP.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818536
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
There are plenty of things to do every lesson, and I wish I could see my good students at least twice a week.

Several of my students are seeing me twice a week. Most of them are splitting an hour lesson into two 30-minute lessons.

I get to catch mistakes before they crystallize. Most of these kids are making substantially better progress than the weekly students.

BINGO! It's not rocket science. Most of what we do is HOW to play, and people need continual reminders about how to do that. The idea that adults are better about not screwing between lessons is just absurd. My adult beginners get so much wrong between lessons that it makes my head spin, and it requires every bit of tact and patience I have not lose my cool when simple directions I write down are not followed.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818538
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by bythecshore
I liked 45 minutes the best, every two weeks, as the real learning took place during practice.

No, the real learning takes place during lessons. The practice during the week is necessary to keep up with the learning, so you don't forget what you have learned.

Many adults are thick as a brick about this. They insist that they can learn by themselves, at home. You don't learn learn new things at home when you are a beginner unless you are an undiscovered musical genius, which none of my students are. The learning takes place IN THE LESSON, then what is CORRECTLY LEARNED in lessons is practiced at home so that we don't have to baby-sit the exactly same lesson about 100 weeks in a row.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818585
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Some replies in here made me though: It is important to state your goals to your teacher too.
I've heard again and again that some teachers are afraid to give too easy stuff to adult fearing to bore them out. This is a thing that happened with my first teacher, with the exact opposite effect: things were too hard and I got discouraged at time.
Many adults don't want to go through easy stuff. If you are willing to do so, say it. Otherwise, your teacher might think you want the usual "adult-route" and give you that, when they could perfectly follow another route if they know you are open to it. smile


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Gary D.] #2818607
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by bythecshore
I liked 45 minutes the best, every two weeks, as the real learning took place during practice.

No, the real learning takes place during lessons. The practice during the week is necessary to keep up with the learning, so you don't forget what you have learned.

Many adults are thick as a brick about this. They insist that they can learn by themselves, at home. You don't learn learn new things at home when you are a beginner unless you are an undiscovered musical genius, which none of my students are. The learning takes place IN THE LESSON, then what is CORRECTLY LEARNED in lessons is practiced at home so that we don't have to baby-sit the exactly same lesson about 100 weeks in a row.


I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities. One does not have to be an undiscovered musical genious to understand music and be able to process things on your own. I don't know if you are just very unlucky or if it's your environment but I don't think all adults are that hopeless.

My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person. I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do. It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: outo] #2818621
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Originally Posted by outo
I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities.

Actually, that could potentially make things worse. I've taught people who can play violin already, so they can already read treble clef. But then their bass clef reading NEVER caught up, and it's a gigantic mess. Adult students also suffer from the fact that their brains tend to move quicker than their fingers, so they may conceptually know the information, but their fingers are not equipped to move as quickly as their brains.

Originally Posted by outo
My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person. I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do. It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

You are unique. Most people don't think that way.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818650
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by outo
I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities.

Actually, that could potentially make things worse. I've taught people who can play violin already, so they can already read treble clef. But then their bass clef reading NEVER caught up, and it's a gigantic mess. Adult students also suffer from the fact that their brains tend to move quicker than their fingers, so they may conceptually know the information, but their fingers are not equipped to move as quickly as their brains.

I guess I was more thinking about general musical education which includes singing, knowing the notes, meters and such at some level, not so much in depth instrument training. Everyone in my generation and before got compulsory musical education in school, so that's my reference group. Things may have been forgotten, but not fully lost.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Originally Posted by outo
My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person. I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do. It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

You are unique. Most people don't think that way.

It's not so much thinking, it's just what works. But you are probably right, I have some cognitive deficiencies that I had to learn to compensate from early on by myself and that made me develope problem solving skills most people probably never needed. I have no doubt that your experience has taught you what works and what does not and how your students respond. It's just not necessarily universal, so someone coming here may be ok with something different. Without being a musical genious, which I am surely not smile

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2818663
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I read about this sort of thinking all the time in ABF: adults starting piano but who know some musical concepts and theory etc from playing guitar, drums etc. Or just from watching lots and lots of YT videos, or reading books about it. And they think they can rush through the the basics of piano playing, or even dive straight into advanced beginner-intermediate stuff (or just plain advanced stuff, like Moonlight......) - with or without a teacher - and get burnt, when they realize that piano playing is really a very technical activity. They develop tension and frustration when they just can't get their hands & fingers to do what they want them to do (i.e. like what those whizz-kids do on YT).

Anything technical cannot be rushed, no matter how great your knowledge of its nuts & bolts. Would anyone think they can just go rock-climbing up a vertical cliff simply because they own lots of shiny new carabiners, camming devices, belay devices, nuts, hexes etc, and know what they're for, and how they're used?

It seems to me that my 'senior' friend (whose piano-learning story I've related here lots of times) is pretty unique: he started learning piano from scratch at 60, having had long experience of attending concerts and reading about classical music. He already had an immense knowledge of music - but no practical experience. Once he decided to learn piano, he jumped in at the deep end, and bought a Steinway upright (really). His teacher (who specialized in teaching adults) intended to start him on an adult beginner book (one of those that starts the beginner straight into playing adult 'songs' and is very popular in ABF), but he realized very quickly that wasn't the way he wanted to learn. Luckily, his teacher was understanding and accommodating, and switched him to a children's beginner primer (which he uses with his child students) that assumes no prior knowledge, no prior experience, no prior skills, goes at baby steps, and skips nothing. Not even the basics. His progress through the early stages was slow but sure. (A lot slower and surer than that of adult beginners who post about their progress in ABF). He followed a piano syllabus (ABRSM) to the letter, and though my friend eventually decided not to do the exams, he kept with it.......and now, several years later, he's playing like someone who learnt as a kid (and learnt properly). He can sight-read very well (and sight-sing: he joined a choir recently, and is currently preparing for a complete Messiah performance at Easter), play by ear, even improvise in classical style; but most of all, he plays very musically (Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms et al) and has no technical problems - he has never suffered from 'tension' or any sort of injuries. He still has weekly lessons with his teacher, who considers him to be the best adult student he's ever had.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bennevis] #2818666
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I read about this sort of thinking all the time in ABF: adults starting piano but who know some musical concepts and theory etc from playing guitar, drums etc. Or just from watching lots and lots of YT videos, or reading books about it. And they think they can rush through the the basics of piano playing, or even dive straight into advanced beginner-intermediate stuff (or just plain advanced stuff, like Moonlight......) - with or without a teacher - and get burnt, when they realize that piano playing is really a very technical activity. They develop tension and frustration when they just can't get their hands & fingers to do what they want them to do (i.e. like what those whizz-kids do on YT).



I think what this discussion went to was whether one can learn anything else than bad habits independently or if all the learning has to happen on lessons, thus requiring 1-2 lessons every week for any adult beginner? I don't think anyone who knows anything thinks one should rush things or jump into difficult repertoire too soon (although many of us did and survived). Except for those rare prodigies, whether child ot adult, who simply seem to know the right way by instinct wink

The physical side of playing is what definitely requires hands on teaching. However it is entirely possible to learn to understand written musical notation and count correctly on your own, if there's some background already. One can also learn to finger independently according to one's hands with some initial help from the teacher. These are some things that seem to be a big issue with the adults students of many teachers here, if I understand them correctly.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818702
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by outo
I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities.

Actually, that could potentially make things worse. I've taught people who can play violin already, so they can already read treble clef. But then their bass clef reading NEVER caught up, and it's a gigantic mess. Adult students also suffer from the fact that their brains tend to move quicker than their fingers, so they may conceptually know the information, but their fingers are not equipped to move as quickly as their brains.

Originally Posted by outo
My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person. I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do. It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

You are unique. Most people don't think that way.


I must be unique too because that's exactly how I am. I have 30 minutes to get some direction and some guidance and 99% of it is actually done at home. I can't focus clearly or imitate actions just as the other person said (unless I'm not paying for it, and we are just buddies sitting around together and have all of the time in the world then maybe this works for me.)

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2818807
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Originally Posted by PianoWVBob
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by outo
I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities.

Actually, that could potentially make things worse. I've taught people who can play violin already, so they can already read treble clef. But then their bass clef reading NEVER caught up, and it's a gigantic mess. Adult students also suffer from the fact that their brains tend to move quicker than their fingers, so they may conceptually know the information, but their fingers are not equipped to move as quickly as their brains.

Originally Posted by outo
My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person. I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do. It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

You are unique. Most people don't think that way.


I must be unique too because that's exactly how I am. I have 30 minutes to get some direction and some guidance and 99% of it is actually done at home. I can't focus clearly or imitate actions just as the other person said (unless I'm not paying for it, and we are just buddies sitting around together and have all of the time in the world then maybe this works for me.)

I think most of the adult beginner posters on this forum are unique and do not represent the vast majority of adult students out there.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Morodiene] #2818823
02/22/19 01:00 PM
02/22/19 01:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
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Sweden
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I think most of the adult beginner posters on this forum are unique and do not represent the vast majority of adult students out there.

Morodiene, in what way are we different than this vast majority? (I am just really curious smile )


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: outo] #2818835
02/22/19 01:20 PM
02/22/19 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by outo

I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities. One does not have to be an undiscovered musical genious to understand music and be able to process things on your own. I don't know if you are just very unlucky or if it's your environment but I don't think all adults are that hopeless.

Are you answering me? Where did I say ALL adults are hopeless? I'm working with three right now who are the exact opposite.
Quote

My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person.

You don't learn to DO things in lessons. You learn what to practice on at home, and how to do it. My job is to check if it's happening. Videos made at home are vital, because at home you can find a way to record your process. When adults (or children) show what is happening at home, I know instantly if it's going to work, or if not, why it will NOT work. The point is that when you go home and begin working in your own way, if for any reason your process is wrong, which can be any number of false ideas, the longer you continue working in this wrong way, the more there is to fix.

In addition, you are not a beginner, not even close. You are not in any way the kind of adult I'm talking about, an adult who is still fairly new to the piano.
Quote

I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do.

I understand that. But the average student, even a very good one, will work at home, thinking he (or she) has understood things well, but things need to be tweaked, and two or more weeks is enough time to get really "good at doing things wrong". For me just one day of playing or practice on something new is disastrous if I start off with wrong fingering or wrong notes. Obviously at this point it is my job to fix potential mistakes immediately. None of my students can do that.
Quote

It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

That's something different, and not at all what I am talking about. If you are close to a beginner, you are not going to figure out complex fingering on your own, or how to solve new rhythm problems, and so on. There are always an infinity of potential snafus like that.

Here is an example: Supposing you are working with me, and you just started a new Scarlatti Sonata. You tell me you are not sure what fingering you will use, and I agree for the most part, but I warn you about one or two spots that have unusual solutions you may not think of. Not all good fingerings are in any book, and you have to adapt fingerings to your hand and hand size. You then say you are going to work it out at home, and I agree. How long do you want to experiment with your own fingering before you want me to check to see if it is going to work? If you don't need me for that, you are very advanced and at a level I almost never see from students. In addition, we could be staggering several different projects, so let's say you want two weeks to think it out, and we agree you won't practice much with the fingerings until we agree, together, that they are wise and will work. We could have half a dozen things like that going, not all started at the same time. But the idea is that you show me where you are. You can do it by recording at home, in which case you are under no pressure in a lesson. But we are still examining fingering, including redistributing plus many other things, and we are monitoring to make sure you don't get into long range habits from doing the wrong thing too long.

Again, I know from painful experience that two weeks of doing something wrong is deadly for me in terms of future ease. Two DAYS screws me up totally, because I begin to absorb habits that get ingrained. The moment I do things wrong even 3 or 4 times that alternate wrong solution gets in my brain and creates a fork in the road. Thereafter, at any moment my brain my chose A, the initial wrong choice, instead of B, the one I want. And A/B are not always right/wrong for anyone else, but only one is best for me, and I need to know that from the first time I start on something.

90% of what I do with students is about fixing things that are already wrong. And that gets worse when the time between lessons is extended.

Last edited by Gary D.; 02/22/19 01:21 PM.

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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2818872
02/22/19 02:49 PM
02/22/19 02:49 PM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by PianoWVBob
I must be unique too because that's exactly how I am. I have 30 minutes to get some direction and some guidance and 99% of it is actually done at home. I can't focus clearly or imitate actions just as the other person said (unless I'm not paying for it, and we are just buddies sitting around together and have all of the time in the world then maybe this works for me.)

What's the point of having a teacher if 99% of the learning is done on your own?


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: AZNpiano] #2818936
02/22/19 05:49 PM
02/22/19 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by PianoWVBob
I must be unique too because that's exactly how I am. I have 30 minutes to get some direction and some guidance and 99% of it is actually done at home. I can't focus clearly or imitate actions just as the other person said (unless I'm not paying for it, and we are just buddies sitting around together and have all of the time in the world then maybe this works for me.)

What's the point of having a teacher if 99% of the learning is done on your own?


The 1% can be extremely important wink

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Gary D.] #2818968
02/22/19 07:13 PM
02/22/19 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by outo

I think this may apply to adult beginners without musical background. There are plenty of adults who are beginners with the piano but have a background in other musical activities. One does not have to be an undiscovered musical genious to understand music and be able to process things on your own. I don't know if you are just very unlucky or if it's your environment but I don't think all adults are that hopeless.

Are you answering me? Where did I say ALL adults are hopeless? I'm working with three right now who are the exact opposite.
Quote

My own experience is quite the opposite btw: I cannot really LEARN new things on lessons because it is too hard for me to focus on the things that are difficult when interacting with another person.

You don't learn to DO things in lessons. You learn what to practice on at home, and how to do it. My job is to check if it's happening. Videos made at home are vital, because at home you can find a way to record your process. When adults (or children) show what is happening at home, I know instantly if it's going to work, or if not, why it will NOT work. The point is that when you go home and begin working in your own way, if for any reason your process is wrong, which can be any number of false ideas, the longer you continue working in this wrong way, the more there is to fix.

In addition, you are not a beginner, not even close. You are not in any way the kind of adult I'm talking about, an adult who is still fairly new to the piano.
Quote

I cannot imitate someone's actions or follow someone's spoken instructions well. I get the idea and tools for learning from the teacher but the actual processing and learning needs to be done at home where I can focus on what I do.

I understand that. But the average student, even a very good one, will work at home, thinking he (or she) has understood things well, but things need to be tweaked, and two or more weeks is enough time to get really "good at doing things wrong". For me just one day of playing or practice on something new is disastrous if I start off with wrong fingering or wrong notes. Obviously at this point it is my job to fix potential mistakes immediately. None of my students can do that.
Quote

It took a while in the beginning, but my teacher soon learned when she had to stop "teaching" and let me figure out something on my own. That way always worked, no matter how impossible something seemed at lessons the next time I came had learned it. And something I figure out this way I don't forget as I would if spoon fed.

That's something different, and not at all what I am talking about. If you are close to a beginner, you are not going to figure out complex fingering on your own, or how to solve new rhythm problems, and so on. There are always an infinity of potential snafus like that.

Here is an example: Supposing you are working with me, and you just started a new Scarlatti Sonata. You tell me you are not sure what fingering you will use, and I agree for the most part, but I warn you about one or two spots that have unusual solutions you may not think of. Not all good fingerings are in any book, and you have to adapt fingerings to your hand and hand size. You then say you are going to work it out at home, and I agree. How long do you want to experiment with your own fingering before you want me to check to see if it is going to work? If you don't need me for that, you are very advanced and at a level I almost never see from students. In addition, we could be staggering several different projects, so let's say you want two weeks to think it out, and we agree you won't practice much with the fingerings until we agree, together, that they are wise and will work. We could have half a dozen things like that going, not all started at the same time. But the idea is that you show me where you are. You can do it by recording at home, in which case you are under no pressure in a lesson. But we are still examining fingering, including redistributing plus many other things, and we are monitoring to make sure you don't get into long range habits from doing the wrong thing too long.

Again, I know from painful experience that two weeks of doing something wrong is deadly for me in terms of future ease. Two DAYS screws me up totally, because I begin to absorb habits that get ingrained. The moment I do things wrong even 3 or 4 times that alternate wrong solution gets in my brain and creates a fork in the road. Thereafter, at any moment my brain my chose A, the initial wrong choice, instead of B, the one I want. And A/B are not always right/wrong for anyone else, but only one is best for me, and I need to know that from the first time I start on something.

90% of what I do with students is about fixing things that are already wrong. And that gets worse when the time between lessons is extended.


Yes, why would you bother spending time with things they already do right... But do they really get so much wrong between lessons? Do they not quite soon (after a few lessons) learn how to correctly study certain things on their own? I am not arguing with you or AZN. To me it just sounds almost like your students are lacking some basic life skills smile

BTW. I certainly felt like a beginner with the piano when I started lessons with my present teacher. I had 3 months of self learning and 3 or 4 lessons with another teacher. I remembered absolutely nothing from my not so successful childhood lessons and had not even touched a piano for 3 decades. But from day one my favorite thing about the piano as an adult was to carefully work on fingerings and counting new pieces so that I play them correctly the way they are written. My big weakness was lack of physical playing technique (and not understanding how to make it better) and what I have now I have my teacher and her patience to thank for.

When I go back to pieces I learned on my first years I do notice that in some places I now prefer different fingering. My weak fingers are better so I do not need to avoid certain fingerings as I did in the beginning. But I don't think the fingerings were horrible and I see all that fingering practice a useful learning process that I would have missed if my teacher helped me with every step of the way.

Sometimes my teacher and I would look at pieces together first and sometimes I would look at it beforehand alone first. I usually found the latter more efficient. As for bad habits, usually when my teacher points out something that I have done wrong, I will correct it in for next lesson and that's that. Seems I am not good at forming or keeping bad habits. Also I must point out that while I do often learn (=figure out) things on my own, I avoid continuous repeated practice on them until they have been reviewed by my teacher. That is just common sense... I very early learned not to practice for practice's sake, but only when I felt I knew how to and felt it was productive. So if I was overwhelmed by something I just put it aside and waited until my next lesson. Those times I of course wished it was sooner...

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: outo] #2818998
02/22/19 08:11 PM
02/22/19 08:11 PM
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This first:
Originally Posted by outo

When I go back to pieces I learned on my first years I do notice that in some places I now prefer different fingering. My weak fingers are better so I do not need to avoid certain fingerings as I did in the beginning. But I don't think the fingerings were horrible and I see all that fingering practice a useful learning process that I would have missed if my teacher helped me with every step of the way.

I could right at this moment show you a crucial mistake I made in the very famous F Major Two Part Invention. This could have been instantly corrected by a decent piano teacher - remember mine was an idiot - and as a result I still have think carefully not to revert to that wrong fingering as I demonstrate it. Each time I re-teach it, I get it right - again - but when I rest from it, the old fingering comes back. It is a permanent fork in the road, one fork going straight to fingering h e l l.

I can't tell you now long it is until these wrong forks become permanent, and to some extent it probably differs from person to person, but for me it happen very fast.

Here is a similar language thing. As a child I read the word "gauge" as "gawg", like raw. I had not heard the word, so for me it was passive. I did not put it together as the thing we call a "gauge", water, air gauge, which rhymes with cage. As a result, when I got to use the verb to this very day I have to remind myself of the correct pronunciation.

These wrong habits are so common in scales, chords and arpeggios that I think it is a fair statement to say that no student will learn all these things without critical wrong fingerings if not watched and correct, and you want to fix this ASAP. Here it he most basic one. Almost every beginning, all ages, tries to play a C major chord in the LH with 521.

Fingerings for weak fingers - this is complicated. On one hand, you can't always start people with the same fingerings they will use later, especially with kids, because things change physically. Even adult hands will sometimes stretch to some degree. Even so, I would say that smart fingering is the most important thing in good technique, because all the relaxation and good movements in the world will never come together with awkward fingering. What makes it worse is that for many MANY things there are alternate possibilities, and you only find out what is best for you by experimenting.
Quote

Finally this:
[quote]
I avoid continuous repeated practice on them until they have been reviewed by my teacher. That is just common sense...

Common sense? There is no such thing. smile

Probably one adult in 100 does what you are doing. You can't go by the people you talk to here, because they are atypical.

Of course it is smart, and necessary, but please believe me that most students of any age don't do what you are doing. If they did, I would not spend most of my teaching time fixing things that have been done wrong, over and over and over and over...
Quote

I very early learned not to practice for practice's sake, but only when I felt I knew how to and felt it was productive. So if I was overwhelmed by something I just put it aside and waited until my next lesson. Those times I of course wished it was sooner...

I will tell you that my best adults come up with questions queued up for every lesson, not because they are lazy or stupid, but because they work hard and are intelligent. I don't have them play things over and over for me, because that's what I do with the "toasters". Toasters are looking for a Personal Piano Trainer, and they won't play well if they become immortal and play for two hundred years. With the good ones I am trouble-shooting, often in advance. Look out for this section. That section has tricky fingering. You want to work on rhythm in those sections, because something really tricky is going on. And so on...


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Gary D.] #2819089
02/23/19 04:05 AM
02/23/19 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

I could right at this moment show you a crucial mistake I made in the very famous F Major Two Part Invention. This could have been instantly corrected by a decent piano teacher - remember mine was an idiot - and as a result I still have think carefully not to revert to that wrong fingering as I demonstrate it. Each time I re-teach it, I get it right - again - but when I rest from it, the old fingering comes back. It is a permanent fork in the road, one fork going straight to fingering h e l l.

I can't tell you now long it is until these wrong forks become permanent, and to some extent it probably differs from person to person, but for me it happen very fast.


The differences in brain functions are fascinating... You seem to have a good permanent memory. Mine sucks. Whatever I learn won't be fixed very well. Only the sound of music sticks in my head forever. The notes, movements, key positions and fingerings don't. That means those things are also rather easily changed. To get playing in my permanent memory for good takes so long it never happens on the first times. So every time I return to something to review it a lot can change for the better because I have become better. The downside of it is that my learning of repertoire is short lived frown

I have been playing this Scriabin prelude several years on and off, mostly by myself after initially learning it with my teacher. Took it up again and played it for my teacher recently and she noticed some voicing issues. Changed some fingerings and problem solved. BUT she also noticed that I play one part of the melody differently than written, because I added a note from the inner voice. THAT has been a nightmare to fix, because I need to change what I hear in my head and that is the base of my playing memory. Everything else is based on that, the fingerings, movements and all. So I have had to break down everything to scratch and build it up again. I later realized that my favorite recording of this piece has the same "mistake" and that's why smile

I also have a very weak and inconsistent muscle memory. Even if I have spend time drilling a fingering, if I later find something better, I cannot recall an incident that the old one would haunt me again after a week or so with the new one. Poor muscle memory is also a big handicap with playing the piano as you can imagine. Even scales I "forget" physically and need to relearn them each time.

Speaking of scales etc., again I am amazed: How can one learn them with silly fingerings when the correct ones are available everywhere? The first thing I did was to get a scales book. Because of my dyscalculia it would have been a nightmare to try to go through HT scales fingerings on lessons. I need absolute piece and solitude to handle such things. With my teacher we worked on how to play them physically after I learned the fingerings by myself. Maybe this is also why I always preferred to do the initial fingering on pieces alone: Someone else talking about numbers just gets me too overwhelmed...

Originally Posted by Gary D.

I will tell you that my best adults come up with questions queued up for every lesson, not because they are lazy or stupid, but because they work hard and are intelligent. I don't have them play things over and over for me, because that's what I do with the "toasters". Toasters are looking for a Personal Piano Trainer, and they won't play well if they become immortal and play for two hundred years. With the good ones I am trouble-shooting, often in advance. Look out for this section. That section has tricky fingering. You want to work on rhythm in those sections, because something really tricky is going on. And so on...


I wonder why they are called "toasters"? smile

I don't want to make it sound like I never did (do) stupid things by myself, of course I did. But I do not see that as a bad thing because I learn well from my mistakes. If I did not make the stupid mistake of trying to learn a Chopin etude when self learning, it might have taken me longer to understand that there's something more to playing than just learning the notes and playing them. That was what made me realize I need a teacher. I guess my handicap is also a blessing: I find it impossible to learn anything with internet tutorials. How can anyone follow those hands on keys videos is just beyond me...

Many times I have felt sorry for my teacher because I am so difficult, requiring her to change her teaching methods to fit my special needs. I can also be stubborn and thick headed on lessons and get frustrated easily when I cannot follow. I just need my private time to understand what she actually means. But she invited me back after her leave of absence and agreed to biweekly lessons which she usually does not offer, so I guess it's not too bad for her.

I can easily imagine ending up quitting like many adults after realizing the amount of work needed. Compared to my first teacher my present one has very high demands on quality and never lets me just settle for something less even if I sometimes would myself. I even considered at some point if I would be better off without lessons because they were so stressing at times. However there where also many good moments of enlightment so I stuck with it. Luckily I am able to just forget "bad" lessons, focus on the tasks and get to work...

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bennevis] #2819139
02/23/19 09:02 AM
02/23/19 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

It seems to me that my 'senior' friend (whose piano-learning story I've related here lots of times) is pretty unique: he started learning piano from scratch at 60, having had long experience of attending concerts and reading about classical music
.
His progress through the early stages was slow but sure
.
and now, several years later, he's playing like someone who learnt as a kid (and learnt properly).


This story deserves to be repeated more often. It is an example that adults can succeed, given the correct approach, and we see too many examples of the opposite.


gotta go practice
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: TimR] #2819161
02/23/19 10:22 AM
02/23/19 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by bennevis

It seems to me that my 'senior' friend (whose piano-learning story I've related here lots of times) is pretty unique: he started learning piano from scratch at 60, having had long experience of attending concerts and reading about classical music
.
His progress through the early stages was slow but sure
.
and now, several years later, he's playing like someone who learnt as a kid (and learnt properly).


This story deserves to be repeated more often. It is an example that adults can succeed, given the correct approach, and we see too many examples of the opposite.


I agree. Maybe there is hope for me yet.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: TimR] #2819185
02/23/19 11:45 AM
02/23/19 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by bennevis

It seems to me that my 'senior' friend (whose piano-learning story I've related here lots of times) is pretty unique: he started learning piano from scratch at 60, having had long experience of attending concerts and reading about classical music
.
His progress through the early stages was slow but sure
.
and now, several years later, he's playing like someone who learnt as a kid (and learnt properly).


This story deserves to be repeated more often. It is an example that adults can succeed, given the correct approach, and we see too many examples of the opposite.
It's not just the correct approach on the part of the teacher (a correct approach is necessary, but not sufficient). Success requires two somewhat unlikely things to come together: a student with a good learning attitude and aptitude, and an excellent teacher.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Stubbie] #2819393
02/24/19 02:36 AM
02/24/19 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Success requires two somewhat unlikely things to come together: a student with a good learning attitude and aptitude, and an excellent teacher.

BINGO.


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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: outo] #2819394
02/24/19 03:03 AM
02/24/19 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by outo


I wonder why they are called "toasters"? smile

You'd have to ask AZN. It's his term. I just used it because it makes me laugh. But if you teach you run into some students who make you want to run and hide from piano students at the end of the day.

About memory: It's just weird, and people are different. I think those of us who play well are a combination of strange talents. It seems logical to assume that two pianists who both play the same piece very well, in a way that is not only technically solid but also convincing, go through the same process. In fact, this is often not true at all.

It might surprise you that my memory of what my hands look like playing is relatively weak, and my memory of scores is non-existent. I remember nothing that is written, and yet I am very good at notation. I have a horrendously bad memory for spelling. I can't remember what color the walls are in our home, and I can't describe where things are either, except for a couple things that I use constantly. But I have very good facial recognition.

Everything about the way my brain works is a mystery. The only strong memory ability I have is sound. I can remember theme songs to TV shows I have not heard since the 50s, and I have perfect recall of brass parts from high school. But I don't remember the fingerings or the notes. They reconstruct themselves from the sound, as I recall the parts. I can then see the notes go down on the piano, and I see the fingerings.

I am more like you than you can possibly realize, and for that reason a lifetime of reading and learning fast has given me the reflexes to get a lot of things close to right the first time. But if I can't nearly nail something the first time, it takes me a very long time to work it out so that I can play it quickly, and like you this tends to go away. If I pick up something I played in college, the sound is all there. Most everything else is gone, so it's almost like I am playing it from scratch.

To get around that problem I have become a lightning fast reader, and my reading reflexes have saved my bacon countless times.

In spite of my poor memory, I can look at scores and hear everything, and very close to the exact correct pitch.

So the way I learn and process is probably as unusual as what you do. Furthermore, there is a huge range of skills and weaknesses in my adult students. In general adults are shyer, more self-conscious and more self-critical. This is why I teach them to record short sections, then show me what is working in lessons. IF they think they have things right, and they are not right, then I can help with all sorts of problems. When they think things are reasonably good, and they are, we can take some giant leaps forward.

Fingering - I THINK when I was a child the things I learned then stayed permanently, which is why I go right back to old fingerings when I play music I learned in my pre-teens and teens. That's what happened in the Bach Invention. I jumped finger 5 for two notes in a row on 16ths, and that is absolutely wrong. There are many other places where there are a number of solutions possible, and I chose one that works, but not the best one. So when teaching students, I DO teach the best one, logically, but continue to use the one in my fingers.

Think of it like your native accent, how you speak your own language. If you worked hard now to master another language, or to improve a 2nd language that you started as a an adult, you might find it easier to reprogram how you say certain words.

Last edited by Gary D.; 02/24/19 03:05 AM.

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Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: CadenzaVvi] #2826572
03/13/19 11:07 PM
03/13/19 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
Some replies in here made me though: It is important to state your goals to your teacher too.
I've heard again and again that some teachers are afraid to give too easy stuff to adult fearing to bore them out. This is a thing that happened with my first teacher, with the exact opposite effect: things were too hard and I got discouraged at time.
Many adults don't want to go through easy stuff. If you are willing to do so, say it. Otherwise, your teacher might think you want the usual "adult-route" and give you that, when they could perfectly follow another route if they know you are open to it. smile

That's unexpected, I saw some of your recordings I thought you were on your way to being a prodigy due to the extreme difficulty you were tackling as a beginner.


"the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." -- Chaucer.
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2826986
03/14/19 11:02 PM
03/14/19 11:02 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 140
Canada
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Vladimir Dounin Offline
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Vladimir Dounin  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 140
Canada
Originally Posted by bythecshore
When I turned 60 I decided to learn to play piano, something I’d always wanted to do. I have a decent digital piano and thought I’d try Skype lessons because I work full time (plus) and thought I’d rather spend my available time practicing rather than travelling to lessons.

Fast forward 2.5 years and I’ve been through 3 teachers and haven’t learned very much. I want to say up front that I'm a very agreeable person and easy to get a long with, so I hope you don't think a difficult person. I can run scales pretty well, know basic chords, but it’s just not working. My interest is in R&B & jazz mostly.

For one thing, they teach me a song, I barely learn to play it, and we move on. As a result, I can’t go back and play them, as I never really learned them in the first place. They all teach by rote, so I don’t really understand things like, why is a song written in a particular key? Are the chord sequences typical for this type of music? Why don’t we ever learn the intro? How can I play this with some type of background drums or other instruments, so I get a feel for playing in a band? I ask these questions and it’s always, we’ll get to that, or we spend 2 minutes on it and move to the next thing. They have a set way of teaching and I feel like I just don’t fit into it. On the other hand I need them to lead me forward; my first teacher kept asking me what I wanted to do and I didn’t really know how to respond except to say I want to learn to play.

I’ve liked each teacher, but after about 4-5 months I find I’m not looking forward to the lessons; in fact, I get nervous that I didn’t learn enough, or won’t play correctly, and I end up wanting the lesson to be over quickly. It kind of reminds me of my school days… I wasn’t a good student so maybe there are some bad feelings from then.

Meanwhile, I’ve stuck with it. I practice 6 days a week for about 45 minutes a day and look forward to it. For the past two months I’ve been teaching myself, working on just one song, which I pretty much have down. I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve been able to really learn each section, not have to practice 2 or 3 other things and worry that I’ll be ready for the lesson. I’ve done the chord inversions myself which has helped me understand how chords work and resemble each other.

Despite liking practicing by myself, I really would like to find a good teacher. I think what I’d like is a person who could teach me in a “project” way, like I’m doing by myself. For example, I’d like to pick a song that I like, talk about when & why it was written (briefly), what the style is, why the arrangement and key was chosen, and then thoroughly learn it. And learn why those particular chords work together, why these notes work with those chords, etc. Then, for the next song, learn something a little similar (e.g., same key or composer) but with new and/or different elements added.

Ultimately, I want to compose some ideas that I have but realize I need to learn to play first.

I know this is long-winded, but if anyone has good ideas, let me know. Again, online is preferred, but maybe that’s the problem. I just don’t know.


I invite you to take on line lessons from me right HERE, on this forum. My advantages:

1. I teach FREE (it is just demonstration of my NEW for you and other teachers way to teach..

2. You get the results IMMEDIATELY in a very first 30-60 minutes.

Details in my numerous posts here and on other sites.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...to-work-on-the-internet.html#Post2822947


Vladimir Dounin
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: Fidel] #2828871
03/20/19 12:31 AM
03/20/19 12:31 AM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 344
Quebec city, QC
CadenzaVvi Offline
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CadenzaVvi  Offline
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Joined: May 2018
Posts: 344
Quebec city, QC
Originally Posted by Fidel
Originally Posted by CadenzaVvi
Some replies in here made me though: It is important to state your goals to your teacher too.
I've heard again and again that some teachers are afraid to give too easy stuff to adult fearing to bore them out. This is a thing that happened with my first teacher, with the exact opposite effect: things were too hard and I got discouraged at time.
Many adults don't want to go through easy stuff. If you are willing to do so, say it. Otherwise, your teacher might think you want the usual "adult-route" and give you that, when they could perfectly follow another route if they know you are open to it. smile

That's unexpected, I saw some of your recordings I thought you were on your way to being a prodigy due to the extreme difficulty you were tackling as a beginner.


I'm not sure if it is sarcasm. I've butchered most of the way-too-difficult pieces I've tackled at the time. I had fun in the process, but not every day was made equal, and working on Le petit nègre from Debussy as my third piece on the piano really got me discouraged and made my teacher backtrack... for a time.

And this year, I'm feeling very on the limit with what I'm working on. Next year will be a year of pause from exam (if I'm able to manage to do them this year) to consolidate things a bit, even though my teacher (not the same as when I started) consider the exam-route to be fine for me. He admitted that level 7 to level 8 was a significant gap and that I shouldn't be discouraged to struggle more. I'll see what I can pull off, and I hope he will have some direction to give me in the next year. Otherwise, I have some ideas of pieces I'd like to work on, but I would prefer to rely on his judgement regarding what would be the best suited to my needs, blind spots and difficulties.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: bythecshore] #2828881
03/20/19 01:33 AM
03/20/19 01:33 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 185
Toronto, Canada
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WeakLeftHand Offline
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Toronto, Canada
I should not have read this thread. I am very discouraged by the negative stereotypes held by some teachers here. Makes me wary of getting a real piano teacher. Are they going to think I’m an idiot? I also get a strong sense of the inflexibility of some teachers. I hope that is not universal. I better get out of here before I totally get turned off piano.

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2828891
03/20/19 02:35 AM
03/20/19 02:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 16,778
Canada
keystring Offline
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keystring  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2007
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Canada
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I should not have read this thread. I am very discouraged by the negative stereotypes held by some teachers here. Makes me wary of getting a real piano teacher. Are they going to think I’m an idiot? I also get a strong sense of the inflexibility of some teachers. I hope that is not universal. I better get out of here before I totally get turned off piano.

Read again and switch your focus. smile
- Look to those posts that are helpful, and give useful advice. Note that advice and make use of it. Ignore the others.
- Also make a note of whether the bottom of the post identifies the writer as a teacher. Some of the biggest negativity seems to come from those who aren't, but can sound quite teacherish in tone.

Best of luck in finding a good teacher!

Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2828893
03/20/19 02:51 AM
03/20/19 02:51 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,033
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I should not have read this thread. I am very discouraged by the negative stereotypes held by some teachers here.

For example???


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Why can’t I find a teacher who is good for me? [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2828949
03/20/19 08:39 AM
03/20/19 08:39 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,255
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,255
Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I should not have read this thread. I am very discouraged by the negative stereotypes held by some teachers here. Makes me wary of getting a real piano teacher. Are they going to think I’m an idiot? I also get a strong sense of the inflexibility of some teachers. I hope that is not universal. I better get out of here before I totally get turned off piano.


Really? I read this thread and did not get that impression at all.

Caveat: the teachers on this forum do not represent the majority of piano teachers - the majority don't know what they're doing. The adult students on this thread are also quite different from the majority of adult students. Clearly it is possible for a motivated and capable adult student, with a competent teacher, to succeed. And clearly also since those two elements are small percentages of each population, they often don't end up connecting. It's hard, but it's not impossible.


gotta go practice
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