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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828629
03/19/19 10:55 AM
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This girl may be a talented teacher, just inexperienced - which her price should reflect. This does not means he will "ruin" kids in piano. I know many teachers that have decades of experience that ruin kids. One does not necessarily cause the other.


I guess that's the crux of the issue though. She is inexperienced, obviously, but that doesn't necessarily mean she will be any worse than an experienced, but still rubbish, teacher down the road. So when you think about it in those terms, why should she charge less? Obviously there are other considerations here, and very obviously you do have different levels of teaching and different rates as a result. But I'm also pretty sure there must be recommended minimum rates that all piano teachers should expect to charge, and be supportive of others (even newbies, and even youngsters) charging. Because otherwise you do get a situation where there's selection based on price and not on results/ability which isn't actually good for anyone in the profession. This isn't exclusive to piano teaching but to all professions, which is why there are normally recommended minimum rates (at least there are here in the UK in most professions).

Last edited by ShyPianist; 03/19/19 10:59 AM.

“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828630
03/19/19 11:04 AM
03/19/19 11:04 AM
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The violin teaching thing is interesting to me. From what I have observed, the physical actions necessary to produce a good violin sound are more complicated than for piano, and teachers need to pretty meticulous with beginners to ensure things develop in the right way.
To be able to teach well, you need to understand what you are doing on a "meta" level-- not just being able to play the instrument but understanding how you are doing it-- and I would be surprised if a young player possessed that level of knowledge. I started teaching a couple students while in high school, with the blessing of my teacher, who loaned me a pile of pedagogy books. Despite this, I'm pretty sure I messed up teaching those students how to read. Being a natural sight-reader I had no idea what goes into learning to read, because it just happened instantly for me. Keystring's point about students living with the effects of inept teaching seems really important, as I sometimes wonder how those first students felt about their lessons.
I also agree with Candywoman and Morodiene that the interpersonal dynamics may be most challenging to a young person. But perhaps that is a good challenge to face early in life!


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: pianist_lady] #2828633
03/19/19 11:12 AM
03/19/19 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
The violin teaching thing is interesting to me. From what I have observed, the physical actions necessary to produce a good violin sound are more complicated than for piano, and teachers need to pretty meticulous with beginners to ensure things develop in the right way.

You have just reminded me.

Peter - If she does go that route, can you please recommend this excellent course to her? It is free, though for a fee she can even get a certificate which in her case may be useful.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/teach-violin-lessons

I went through the course, in part to undo some of the damage from my own student experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the expertise. The head instructor worked with Mimi Zweig, which says a lot.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: pianist_lady] #2828637
03/19/19 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
The violin teaching thing is interesting to me. From what I have observed, the physical actions necessary to produce a good violin sound are more complicated than for piano, and teachers need to pretty meticulous with beginners to ensure things develop in the right way.
To be able to teach well, you need to understand what you are doing on a "meta" level-- not just being able to play the instrument but understanding how you are doing it-- and I would be surprised if a young player possessed that level of knowledge. I started teaching a couple students while in high school, with the blessing of my teacher, who loaned me a pile of pedagogy books. Despite this, I'm pretty sure I messed up teaching those students how to read. Being a natural sight-reader I had no idea what goes into learning to read, because it just happened instantly for me. Keystring's point about students living with the effects of inept teaching seems really important, as I sometimes wonder how those first students felt about their lessons.
I also agree with Candywoman and Morodiene that the interpersonal dynamics may be most challenging to a young person. But perhaps that is a good challenge to face early in life!


That's true pianist_lady (violinist here too). It's also a great deal more obvious at first when you have a bad violin teacher, because the results are very clear to see and to hear. I think from what I've seen there are possibly more poor violin teachers than there are good ones teaching at the early levels, and there's quite a lot of potential to do lasting damage. You also would have to contend with the shockingly terrible instruments that some poor learners have to try and play, or have the diplomatic skills to persuade the parents to get something better. I do actually respect anyone who teaches beginner level violin!

Last edited by ShyPianist; 03/19/19 11:17 AM.

“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828658
03/19/19 12:34 PM
03/19/19 12:34 PM
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Plus, I find piano teaching very difficult emotionally, even after 22 years. There are some really dead students who give nothing back, even young kids. Sometimes they don't like piano. Sometimes they're depressed. Yes, I had a six year old boy student who was depressed and went on to be an adult on anti-depressants. Sometimes, kids are unkind. I've had students insult my hair. There's stuff you have to be able to take emotionally.

But even in the best case scenario, the students of the 14year old will not have the full range of her musical experiences to draw from. Because those experiences haven't happened. I'm speaking of things like performance experience, breadth of repertoire, encounters with strange time signatures and unusual editing, knowledge of harmony, analysis and composition, knowledge of conducting (which I teach my beginners in the first two months). Some people say you can't judge this girl, but you can judge her mother. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Candywoman] #2828662
03/19/19 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Some people say you can't judge this girl, but you can judge her mother. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Probably kinder not to judge anyone though?


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828730
03/19/19 03:39 PM
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Yes. But kindness doesn't result in learning anything. People make generalizations all the time because it's a survival skill. For example, snakes are generally to be avoided. Of course Steve Irwin was an exception in his expert handling of venomous snakes, but my rule still stands. People like to be right and think they are right more often than they are because it's a survival strategy.

Generally, parents of 14 year olds who plunge their children into teaching piano when they would be better off waiting can expect some censure from experienced piano teachers. It goes with the territory.

But they are free to continue on that course. I can't stop them. It's a free country and I will defend their right to teach prematurely if they want to.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828793
03/19/19 07:00 PM
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I have meant to address this part.
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Then I suggested that this young girl might first try teaching adult early intermediate piano students, not 7yo beginners at the piano. I figure the adults might be more pliable and accepting of a young teen teacher than a little kid would.


The idea of "early intermediate" makes sense, because setting students up with everything brand new, as one does with a beginner, is the part where you build every foundation for the future and that's not for a novice teacher with zero experience. The "early intermediate" will hopefully have that foundation to build on.

Ok, but - Who is your "early intermediate adult"? Best case, she had an excellent teacher as a child who gave her proper foundations, and something unfortunate stopped lessons. The novice teacher can build on that. If she started as an adult, and has had an excellent teacher recently, why would she switch to a novice? This student is unlikely. What's left? The student who self-taught for a bit, shows up with page 143 of a method book, and is thus "early intermediate" or playing a self-taught piece that is at that level. Technique may be haywire; reading skills may be missing but you're fooled by the winging it. We get tale after tale where experienced teachers have been fooled and rushed the student along, unable to catch the signs. How would an inexperienced teen catch this?

From everything I have read, adults are complicated and difficult to teach. How then does it make sense to suggest that a young novice begin with an age group she can't even relate to, that is especially difficult to teach? Being "pliable and accepting" is only fine if what the student ends up accepting helps that student. Btw, mostly what I read is that teachers find adults to be stubborn, want to have their own way, won't listen etc. (pliable?)

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828843
03/19/19 10:26 PM
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We are okay with 14 year olds babysitting, so I don't think it's out of the question to think of them as capable teachers, assuming we don't expect them to teach something they don't know.

I also think some children may prefer to be taught by someone closer to their own age. I used to train and supervise a number of teenaged soccer referees - when a 12 or 13 year old walked out to referee 6 and 7 year olds, the players seemed to love it, and listened really well to anything the referee had to tell them about the laws of the game and the practice of the game. Much better than getting refereed by their imposing parents.

Obviously we are not in possession of all the facts, but, looking at it optimistically, the 14 year old teaching a child the basics may have immense amounts of patience, and that might be just what a beginner needs. And right about when the child might need more advanced teaching, the 14 year old is probably heading off to college, so it could all come right in the end.


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828849
03/19/19 10:43 PM
03/19/19 10:43 PM
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In my career I've only rarely found adult learners at the piano to be stubborn; generally they are very grateful for anyone taking them seriously and being willing to offer them help.

But as for little Janey the studio music teacher, I just scratch my head and hope she doesn't cause too much mischief or bad feelings among her students.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828872
03/20/19 12:37 AM
03/20/19 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
In my career I've only rarely found adult learners at the piano to be stubborn; generally they are very grateful for anyone taking them seriously and being willing to offer them help.

But as for little Janey the studio music teacher, I just scratch my head and hope she doesn't cause too much mischief or bad feelings among her students.

I certainly was. Unfortunately adult students can also be too trusting, too careful to do everything to the letter as they are told to do, and get ruined by the results if the teaching is not good. Your "early intermediate" adult may be a self-taught or badly taught student with a dozen holes which the inexperienced young student will not be able to recognize. If it's a child with a parent, at least there as another guide who can say "Wait a minute - this doesn't seem right." Some adults have had to wait decades to finally try to realize a dream, and you don't want that dashed through carelessness.

Btw, did you see my reference to the coursera teaching course (violin)? It really is beyond excellent.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2828959
03/20/19 09:03 AM
03/20/19 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
In my career I've only rarely found adult learners at the piano to be stubborn; generally they are very grateful for anyone taking them seriously and being willing to offer them help.

Lucky you. Most adult students I've had are very prideful as they are accustomed to being good at their profession. So to humble themselves and submit to what a teacher is telling them is very difficult. Some are thus subconsciously resistant to learning while outwardly being pleasant.


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829018
03/20/19 11:03 AM
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As an adult student, I so appreciate the direction my teacher provides. When I practise in the following days following her direction of what she tells I notice improvement. She seems to also appreciate the obvious practise I do between lessons. My lesson yesterday provided an interesting insight to her thinking.

On one piece she initially said she wasn't going to direct me on dynamics yet because I needed to get more practise on keeping the fingering right and consistent and less stumbling. But she then asked me to play the piece through a second time before moving on to the next piece, and this time I played it noticeably better and more like I had played at home recently and suddenly she switched to you need to start thinking about bringing out the melody and adding the volume ebb and flow. These sound like simple things but you can only move on to thinking about the next stage once you have progressed far enough with the previous stage and she helps to judge that for me.

My teacher is less than half my age, I suspect I'm older than her parents. But I only have respect for her skill in knowing what needs to be done and how quickly to progress.


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Morodiene] #2829019
03/20/19 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
In my career I've only rarely found adult learners at the piano to be stubborn; generally they are very grateful for anyone taking them seriously and being willing to offer them help.

Lucky you. Most adult students I've had are very prideful as they are accustomed to being good at their profession. So to humble themselves and submit to what a teacher is telling them is very difficult. Some are thus subconsciously resistant to learning while outwardly being pleasant.

I gladly admit I am stubborn and my teacher agrees...however my stubbornness also means I do not give up easily when things are difficult smile

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829043
03/20/19 12:29 PM
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Fourteen years old could mean just about anything with respect to general life maturity, which is important here. It's the Wild West where anything from the mad gunslinger to the wise, experienced sheriff roam. Hopefully she falls on the wise side of the spectrum, given that her teacher has given her the okay.

For myself, I would not want to be the "training student" for a new teacher, particularly one that age who likely is still young herself in musical experience and maturity. It might work out fine, but maybe not and then you, the student, have to deal with the results.


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829098
03/20/19 01:58 PM
03/20/19 01:58 PM
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I don't think there is an age limit on people teaching piano. There are people who attends university at a young age skipping many primary & high school levels. There are people like Alma Deutscher who are young music prodigies. They have the technical know-how and the concert performance experience before age 20. Do we assume kids should socialize with people of their age group or do we break the generation gap?

Once a cousin tried to teach me the basics of playing piano. I was older 11 and she was 8. She passed a few conservatory levels already but I don't think she had the confidence to take on paying students.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829112
03/20/19 02:30 PM
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When I was a high schooler dabbling in teaching, I had no intentions/delusions of going much beyond neighborhood kids and family friends (parents' friends' children, who were not old enough to be my social peers). I too was accomplished on two instruments and had a teacher mom to consult on teaching issues. I don't remember what my teachers thought, but now as an adult professional, there's no way I would consider a teenaged, new teacher to be "competition" because such a teen simply serves a different market - perhaps those choosing based on price or convenience or family relationship. (As a college non music student, I did teach adults if the opportunity arose.)

Why a new young teacher could end up charging less is a reality of economics. For example, if you set out to spend $50, would you willingly buy the "lower quality" option when the "higher quality" is available? If yes, then evidently it's not lower quality at least to you because it has something appealing that the so-called higher quality doesn't have - maybe you want the youngness/freshness of the young person, want to support the young person in her new endeavor, etc.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829250
03/20/19 09:26 PM
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Mostlystrings - here is one reality. Someone setting out to have music lessons for the first time literally doesn't know anything. If the lower priced lessons are also lower quality, and if it is of a kind that will set the student up for failure, or years of very difficult fixing of what got set up, the student will not know about this. I would prefer a novice student get mentorship or guidance of some kind, or really have some idea about teaching that they get somehow, because lessons must be adequate enough. You're not making cookies where you can throw the first batch away. These are people who are learning. It is also why Peter rightly suggested that the first students be early intermediate, not beginners, so that they have some kind of first foundation.

Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: outo] #2829295
03/21/19 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by outo

I gladly admit I am stubborn and my teacher agrees...however my stubbornness also means I do not give up easily when things are difficult smile

I am persistent. When I make up my mind to do something, I do everything in my power to succeed. I'm also a person who examines all possibilities.

These two things together in an adult student makes things fantastic. There will be success.

But lets differentiate between this persistence and something else, a very thick-headed, self-destructive stubbornness that I also see in adults - and by the way children and teens can be this way. With such people nothing works.

I'm assuming that if I were working with your clone, and I could give you solid reasons for things I recommend, you would probably cooperate.

I don't expect anyone to take my word for anything I say unless I can either prove I'm right or give very strong evidence that I am right.

This is very different from looking for blind obedience or acceptance. I don't expect that from anyone, of any age, and no one ever got that from me when I was any age.


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Re: Piano teacher at age 14: thoughts? [Re: Peter K. Mose] #2829300
03/21/19 12:58 AM
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The bottom line: We can talk about age 14 or 16 or 18, and then we can generalize about teachers. Is it possible that somewhere there is a 14 year-old teacher who is clearly better than most teachers a decade or decades older?

I'd say yes. Without a doubt. I say that having seen what other teachers do who are clearly incompetent both as teachers and as musicians, sometimes with zero playing ability. As I have mentioned before, anyone in the US can charge any amount of money for teaching and there is no requirement for credentials - caveat emptor.

I first taught at around age 15, and I know very well that I was already better than some of the terrible teachers I've met or heard about. I taught again at around age 21, and I was way better then than most teachers many years old than me. First of all, I played by then on a very high level, with extensive performance experience. And I was interested in teaching, enjoyed doing it, so I was searching for out of the box answers from day one.

HOWEVER: in comparison to the teacher I became by age 31, I was vastly inferior. And any teaching I did at 31 was vastly inferior to what I did at 41 and 51.

At any time a teacher can become burnt-out, no longer interested in improving, so peak teaching can be at any age. But for those of us who care and continue investigate and ask questions, we continue to improve so long as we are physically able to move well and mentally able to function at a high level.

What disturbs me in this thread is the idea that people who have not played have no idea of the damage that is done by teachers who do not know what they are doing. There are others talking about this, and I believe next to no one is listening.

Last edited by Gary D.; 03/21/19 01:00 AM.

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