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Originally Posted by JazzyMac
[
None of my teachers knew what I did in my career. It's hard to explain, and so far separated from "piano," that I just usually just threw out a word when I was asked: "I'm a manager, blah, blah." Nothing specific.

I know what my students do, and I know what my young students like. I ask. I also answer questions. For instance, one of my adults travels a lot, and he plays tennis, so we share the love of that sport and sometimes talk a bit about tournaments. You seem to be talking about a particular kind of arrogance I've seen where very small-minded adults on respect other people who do what they do and who do it as well or better. The idea is that only music counts, and if you are not good at music, you're an idiot. Am I getting close?

There are various versions of this:

Arrogant athlete: he can make 5/10 three point shots in basketball, and you can't make a layup. So you are a failure because you are useless in sports.

Arrogant musician: He can play all 24 Chopin Etudes, and you are useless because you are "just a jock".

Arrogant mathematician: He knows pi to 200 digits and can solve any math problem in the universe, and you are useless because you are math-challenged.

And so on. This is not a teacher problem, or a piano teacher problem. It is something hugely important that is wrong, in general, where people only count as important what they are good at. It leads to a combination of incredible arrogance AND a total lack of empathy.

The main difficulty with what I teach - which I presume is what you are learning - is that most people approach playing the piano (or any other instrument) as if the world is divided up into Wizards and Muggles. "You have it or you don't." And then you get into a ton of magic thinking.

As a teacher it is an amazing thing to run into true talent combined with a ravenous hunger to learn. When you get a student like that, anything is possible - although ignorant parents will find a way to ruin that. For example, I worked with a kid I loved teaching, and his parents stopped lesson with me not ONCE but TWICE, the first time for almost two years, the second time a couple years ago. This is a kid who loved working with me, who loved music and who had tears in his eyes when said parents stopped lessons, but nothing could be done. These same parents "gifted" him one more month of lessons last December, but it was too late. I could do nothing. Game over. He can resume when he is an adult.

At least as an adult you are not dependent on getting the money for lessons from toxic family members.

One final word about flaky adults, who are such awful students: I'm still working with a lady 8 years older than me who I started working with when I was 32 and she was 40. I am now 70, and she is 78. We remain friends. She had to leave this area, but I still help her long distance. I have long friendships with adult students that go on for decades. Serious students are rare, but they are equally rare at any age. I don't agree with about 95% of what people are writing about ANYTHING to do with music, piano lessons, students or teachers.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.

One final word about flaky adults, who are such awful students: I'm still working with a lady 8 years older than me who I started working with when I was 32 and she was 40. I am now 70, and she is 78. We remain friends. She had to leave this area, but I still help her long distance. I have long friendships with adult students that go on for decades. Serious students are rare, but they are equally rare at any age. I don't agree with about 95% of what people are writing about ANYTHING to do with music, piano lessons, students or teachers.


Good for both of you on that one! Congrats!


Originally Posted by Gary D.

And so on. This is not a teacher problem, or a piano teacher problem. It is something hugely important that is wrong, in general, where people only count as important what they are good at. It leads to a combination of incredible arrogance AND a total lack of empathy.


Totally agree with this statement.


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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
None of my teachers knew what I did in my career. It's hard to explain, and so far separated from "piano," that I just usually just threw out a word when I was asked: "I'm a manager, blah, blah." Nothing specific.

You seem to be talking about a particular kind of arrogance I've seen where very small-minded adults on respect other people who do what they do and who do it as well or better. The idea is that only music counts, and if you are not good at music, you're an idiot. Am I getting close?

There are various versions of this:

Arrogant athlete: he can make 5/10 three point shots in basketball, and you can't make a layup. So you are a failure because you are useless in sports.

Arrogant musician: He can play all 24 Chopin Etudes, and you are useless because you are "just a jock".

Arrogant mathematician: He knows pi to 200 digits and can solve any math problem in the universe, and you are useless because you are math-challenged.

And so on. This is not a teacher problem, or a piano teacher problem. It is something hugely important that is wrong, in general, where people only count as important what they are good at. It leads to a combination of incredible arrogance AND a total lack of empathy.

Wow. I finally understood what JazzyMac was getting at. I just didn't think about this type of person you are describing at all although now that you point it out, I do realize they exist. I guess I go through life assuming most people do not have the arrogance you describe, but of course you (and JazzyMac) are right in that they are indeed out there, and indeed I too have encountered them.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris
That's precisely what I told my teacher when I started lessons: that I wanted to learn in a formal and rigorous manner, and to do the ABRSM exams as a way of measuring my progress. As a life-long learner I've always had the view that it's pointless to try to build on shaky foundations.
A good teacher will do just that - if the adult beginner requests it.

A teacher should give foundations, even if the adult beginner does not request it.
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Unfortunately, it seems most adult students want to 'progress' as quickly as possible, regardless.

No, some do. The problem is that this is what we see teachers being told, and then by default, that is what an adult student is given. It is a formula for failure. That is why as students it is good to be proactive, and tell prospective teachers that we want to get the skills needed to play, unless they volunteer this or demonstrate it in some way.
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My adult beginner friend told me about his first lesson with his teacher, who specialises in teaching adults. Yep, he got completely lost trying to play three notes at the same time, both hands at the same time (one of them a chord), trying to keep time without counting beats aloud......you get the picture. Luckily for him, thing resolved immediately when he told his teacher that he really, really, really did want to start from the beginning, with the basics, and skipping nothing, and he wasn't in a rush, and wanted to follow the ABRSM syllabus and do the exams. (Guess what: his teacher saw the racks and racks of classical CDs - most of them of piano music - and the volumes of books about composers in his home, and assumed he already knew a lot. Yes, he did - but not about actual piano playing.)

That is exactly the point! What if your friend had not realized that this "specialist in teaching adults" was starting him on the wrong path and had not spoken up? What if he thought that this is the way piano is supposed to be taught? I've talked to quite a few students who couldn't figure out why it was working when they did everything they were told to do and why everything felt off. It was this kind of thing. This is the point that I'm trying to make here.

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Originally Posted by keystring
I've talked to quite a few students who couldn't figure out why it was working when they did everything they were told to do and why everything felt off. It was this kind of thing. This is the point that I'm trying to make here.

Why it was NOT working? wink

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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Wow. I finally understood what JazzyMac was getting at. I just didn't think about this type of person you are describing at all although now that you point it out, I do realize they exist.

I fail to see why this attitude would impact on teaching a specific subject, assuming the teacher knows how to teach - unless the student starts talking about something that's nothing to do with the subject in hand. As I said earlier, why talk about something which you're an expert in with a teacher who's teaching you something totally unrelated?

I meet a lot of people like this (people who are a hot shot at something obscure and think they are a hot shot at everything else too) - but only socially. If they get annoying, I just walk away. Or if I'm in the mood, I trade blows wink . With teachers - all the teachers I ever had, at any subject - , I never have this problem, because I'm a novice and they are the expert in the subject I'm trying to learn, and I'm there to learn from them, not to talk about things in which I'm an expert and which they're not. So, why would that crop up, as long as I don't start chatting about stuff which has nothing to do with what I'm there to learn?

Sure, plenty of teachers are arrogant because they are good at what they do - hot-shot climbers especially (in my experience). I don't have any problem with humility as long as I learn what I need from them, and they are willing to teach me. (I'm pretty sure they will bristle if I start throwing my weight around about what an important job I do, what degrees I have etc, etc...... smirk )


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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by keystring
I've talked to quite a few students who couldn't figure out why it was working when they did everything they were told to do and why everything felt off. It was this kind of thing. This is the point that I'm trying to make here.

Why it was NOT working? wink

Good catch. thx. smile Yes, I forgot the "not".

Should have been: "I've talked to quite a few students who couldn't figure out why it was not working when they did everything.... etc."

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I suspect my teacher Interpreted my decision not to do exams as not to be formal.

But at my last lesson where I felt like I was struggling to improve a piece I started a discussion about working on some fundamentals.

I think for adults returning to the piano after a long break there is also a different dynamic from the adult novice. Some of their childhood experience will be remembered better than others.

So now scales and arpeggios are being added to my lessons and practise. I was doing these prior to starting lessons but since then I have just focussed on the set pieces or pieces I have chosen.

I don’t feel the need to follow a strict regimen but at the same I don’t want one aspect to hold me back. But I like the motivation for working on fundamentals to be driven by my desire to play the pieces I am learning well. If practising scales and arpeggios helps achieve that goal I will do them.

There is probably always going to be more back and forth between adult students and teachers. But from both sides it needs to be constructive and directed at the goal of improving the students skills. I am not learning to pass exams, I am learning to play the piano, to enjoy the process.

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Originally Posted by KevinM
I suspect my teacher Interpreted my decision not to do exams as not to be formal.

But at my last lesson where I felt like I was struggling to improve a piece I started a discussion about working on some fundamentals.


I don’t feel the need to follow a strict regimen but at the same I don’t want one aspect to hold me back. But I like the motivation for working on fundamentals to be driven by my desire to play the pieces I am learning well. If practising scales and arpeggios helps achieve that goal I will do them.

There is probably always going to be more back and forth between adult students and teachers. But from both sides it needs to be constructive and directed at the goal of improving the students skills. I am not learning to pass exams, I am learning to play the piano, to enjoy the process.

Adults are definitely complicated compared to kids. I discovered that in my job (in which my 'customers' are split roughly 50:50 between adults and children) long ago, and have had to work out a strategy to cope with each, and do my best with them, no matter how young or old. Unlike piano teachers, I don't have the luxury of excluding a particular age group.....

Perhaps that's why, unlike some people, I don't have any problem being a student, and a complete novice at something, knowing exactly what I like in my 'clients' that makes my job easy for me. I believe I make life easy for my teachers, and make it easy for them to teach me without feeling they're always threading on eggshells, or conversely, being condescending or too authoritative or too prescriptive. It also happens to make life easy for me as a student, so it's a win-win situation, and I get the most out of my teachers that way too........ grin


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Originally Posted by TomInCinci
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand


As an aside, I was originally very wary (after reading some negative views here) about finding a teacher that would truly welcome adult students and is flexible enough to accept all of our "challenges". I think I lucked out and might have found one, but we're still in the early stages yet. I did not even ask but was offered weekly, biweekly or occasional lessons off the bat; plus a very flexible cancellation/rescheduling policy; plus an adults' only recital of sorts; plus an opportunity to play on a Bosendorfer grand; plus...I'm going to stop now before I jinx myself.


There is a piano teacher at the conservatory here who specializes in andragogy! They are out there.


Andragogy, theories and methods of adult learning, is a real field of study. I hardly ever use the word, though because people aren't familiar with it and get mixed up with "androgyny." One particularly memorable misunderstanding came when a listener somehow thought I was talking about The Andromeda Strain.


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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand

Morodiene, I don't disagree with you. I just think that if you are going to take adult piano students, don't complain about them online. Very bad form, bad for business and bad for the industry as a whole.

I never complain about my adult students. Only my former ones. wink

Quote
I'm not suggesting that EVERYONE should take adults, because you need to have a certain set of skills to do so successfully, as you've said. And I do agree that teaching adults is more challenging than teaching children. However, I do think that it's an untapped market, and if I was a piano teacher that wanted to carve out my own niche...I might decide to "specialize" in teaching adults.
You would think that based on how it appears here in ABF. However, I teach at a performing arts school, and the vast majority of students are children. I think of all the students there, there's maybe 5 adult students - and none of them mine. And I live in FL, where there are lots of retired people! Now if I just wanted to market to one 55+ community (a community for older/retired individuals) and drive there to teach a bunch of seniors, maybe I could make it worthwhile...


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It seems that adult piano students like to complain about teachers as much as teachers like to complain about adult students.

We did cover the topic in piano pedagogy class. There is a good discussion in the book "The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher". I urge you to get that book if are interested in all topics related to teaching piano. It will help you be a better adult student as well.

I'm not going to quote extensively from the book, but here are some disadvantages of the adult student that are discussed that may seem familiar:
- unrealistic expectations
- often inhibited
- fears failure
- quickly frustrated and loses self-confidence
- does not realize how complicated an act playing the piano is
- believes that the application of earnestness or energy will compensate for the discipline of practice

Sound like anyone you know? Much more in the book...

One reason I recommend finding a teacher with some pedagogy training is that they will at least have been exposed to these topics, and won't have to learn from experience.

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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand

Morodiene, I don't disagree with you. I just think that if you are going to take adult piano students, don't complain about them online. Very bad form, bad for business and bad for the industry as a whole.

I never complain about my adult students. Only my former ones. wink

Quote
I'm not suggesting that EVERYONE should take adults, because you need to have a certain set of skills to do so successfully, as you've said. And I do agree that teaching adults is more challenging than teaching children. However, I do think that it's an untapped market, and if I was a piano teacher that wanted to carve out my own niche...I might decide to "specialize" in teaching adults.
You would think that based on how it appears here in ABF. However, I teach at a performing arts school, and the vast majority of students are children. I think of all the students there, there's maybe 5 adult students - and none of them mine. And I live in FL, where there are lots of retired people! Now if I just wanted to market to one 55+ community (a community for older/retired individuals) and drive there to teach a bunch of seniors, maybe I could make it worthwhile...


Not sure why you think my posts were directed at you specifically. They’re not. And if I wasn’t clear, forgive me. In fact, I came to the Adult Beginner Forum to specifically not direct my posts at teachers.

Regarding your second point, sounds to me like you’re upset. Not my business how you do your business. As you’ve said, your business is your business. I specifically also agreed with that, so I’m confused why my posts have struck a nerve.


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Originally Posted by Sam S
It seems that adult piano students like to complain about teachers as much as teachers like to complain about adult students.

We did cover the topic in piano pedagogy class. There is a good discussion in the book "The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher". I urge you to get that book if are interested in all topics related to teaching piano. It will help you be a better adult student as well.

I'm not going to quote extensively from the book, but here are some disadvantages of the adult student that are discussed that may seem familiar:
- unrealistic expectations
- often inhibited
- fears failure
- quickly frustrated and loses self-confidence
- does not realize how complicated an act playing the piano is
- believes that the application of earnestness or energy will compensate for the discipline of practice

Sound like anyone you know? Much more in the book...

One reason I recommend finding a teacher with some pedagogy training is that they will at least have been exposed to these topics, and won't have to learn from experience.

Sam


Yup, I familiarized myself with all that and recognized all the challenges I might pose to my prospective teacher. A quick Google search results in much info about pedagogy vs. andragogy, how to teach adults successfully, which I find a fascinating field. Turns out my prospective teacher also recognized these challenges and appears to be well-prepared for them.


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Originally Posted by Sam S

I'm not going to quote extensively from the book, but here are some disadvantages of the adult student that are discussed that may seem familiar:
- unrealistic expectations
- often inhibited
- fears failure
- quickly frustrated and loses self-confidence
- does not realize how complicated an act playing the piano is
- believes that the application of earnestness or energy will compensate for the discipline of practice


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Originally Posted by Sam S
the book "The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher".

laugh lol

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Originally Posted by Sam S

I'm not going to quote extensively from the book, but here are some disadvantages of the adult student that are discussed that may seem familiar:
- unrealistic expectations
- often inhibited
- fears failure
- quickly frustrated and loses self-confidence
- does not realize how complicated an act playing the piano is
- believes that the application of earnestness or energy will compensate for the discipline of practice

What I'd be interested in knowing is what solutions they come up with for this. I have my own thoughts, and I also am anticipating some things that I would not want to be there but probably are.

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ANDRAGOGY - I'm wondering if this should be a separate thread.
Originally Posted by malkin
Andragogy, theories and methods of adult learning, is a real field of study. I hardly ever use the word, though because people aren't familiar with it and get mixed up with "androgyny." One particularly memorable misunderstanding came when a listener somehow thought I was talking about The Andromeda Strain.

A few years ago I looked up "teaching adults" and similar, and came across some theories and advice geared mostly toward university or college courses. I made a mental note to make sure to never enter a classroom applying such methods: I might well walk out on such classes. So I was a bit trepidated about what new gems "andgrogogy" might serve up, but looked it up.

The ideas under that name were first put forth around in the early 1950's. Why there is interest now is probably economic: aging retiring baby boomers are a new source of revenue: loss of lifelong job stability leading to "continual education" also leads to adult learners. This here is probably a spin-off.

Androgogy was put side by side with pedagogy, which now loses its meaning of "teaching" and becomes "teaching children". Some of the principles of "androgogy" were ones I recognize as principles I apply to teaching children. Some principles presented as"pedagogy" were ones I saw as poorish practices which create problems in our learning systems. I was glad to see a summary conclude with the suggestion that this was not about child vs. adult learning, but about good and poor teaching practices: this was also my conclusion.

If I am learning a brand new thing, especially one that also includes skills, then I want guidance from a teacher who will give me the necessary skills and knowledge: who will know what is needed and around when, and have a path of getting there. To suggest that I be the person to determine this is ludicrous, and frankly, makes my stomach churn at the thought. If they propose intrinsic motivation, experience-based learning, as an "androgic" idea --- this is a principle of good pedagogy - and here I mean TEACHING theory: not the perversion of the word into "child-teaching theory". The idea of teaching toward grades, grade levels etc. - this is not a child-oriented teaching: it is an institutionalized teaching that in part is necessary for mass education leading to employment and categorizing people. As a teacher helping students one-on-one I have had to help students (children) recover from the effects from all of that.

My conclusion all along has been that if a child is being taught well and competently, then this competent teacher will also be able to teach me well and competently, as long as I work with that teacher. Secondly, that such a thing is a rarity: really good teachers are rare. Also, to beware of window dressing: students (of any age) who get high grades by going through exams super fast do not indicate anything.

I am super-cautious about this idea. There is something formulaic that makes me feel uncomfortable. Real pedagogy (teaching) is not a course on one group and what to do with them. The problem is that much of what I have read and seen in "how to teach adults" are things that would not work for me and seem misguided. In the old "teaching adults" advice I saw a few years ago, there were things like: the teens graduating from high school want to learn the subject. But get the older students to come in separately, introduce themselves to each other, talk about their experiences - have them find things about the subject they have come to study from the own experiences. No way! I've come to learn new things: not rehash what I know. It seemed close to condescending: and also a waste of my time and dollars.

I have also seen "advice" about adult learners in some method books geared to this, and again what I saw made me uncomfortable. I am not dismissing the idea, but I am cautious.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Sam S

I'm not going to quote extensively from the book, but here are some disadvantages of the adult student that are discussed that may seem familiar:
- unrealistic expectations
- often inhibited
- fears failure
- quickly frustrated and loses self-confidence
- does not realize how complicated an act playing the piano is
- believes that the application of earnestness or energy will compensate for the discipline of practice

What I'd be interested in knowing is what solutions they come up with for this. I have my own thoughts, and I also am anticipating some things that I would not want to be there but probably are.


Buy the book - the authors are not just complaining about students, but teaching teachers how to teach.

And if someone calls themselves a piano teacher, but has never heard of this book, or some similar book, and never made an effort to learn about piano pedagogy, then I would be careful about hiring them to teach piano.

The university I am attending in my old age devotes 4 semesters to the topic, and 4 semesters of required student teaching. This is the textbook that we used.

Sam

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Originally Posted by keystring

Androgogy was put side by side with pedagogy, which now loses its meaning of "teaching" and becomes "teaching children".


Etymologically, "pedagogy" always has specifically referred to children. The "ped" part of the word is from the Greek "paedos", "child", as in words like "pediatrics". The Greek word "paedagogia", from which we get the English "pedagogue", very specifically means "a child's tutor".



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