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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
Stubbie #2836579 04/07/19 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
The first teacher I interviewed I found via a sign in her yard. I called the number and asked a few questions--literally a few, because she talked a lot. Still, I decided to go for a trial lesson/interview. She talked a lot then, too. I said I wanted to learn classical, but she was telling me how she was going to teach me to play old standards and improvise. Her piano needed regulation. Well before the end of the interview I knew she wasn't for me. Easy decision. On the way out, in what in retrospect was a faux pas, I asked her if she knew of other teachers in the area. But, hey, I was a noob.

After reading someone here on PW mentioning community colleges as a place to get recommendations, I visited and ended up studying with instructors there. The first year was with the "starter" teacher, and then I switched to the full-time professor, who I've been with since. She teaches classes in theory, teaches applied piano, and performs often (and excellently) throughout the area. But most of all, she has a love and enthusiasm for the piano that shines through and inspires me. Plus she is very patient with me.

This is not so much wha:t to ask, but what to look for:

1. Alignment of interests. You want pop and jazz, the teacher plays pop and jazz. Ditto for classical.
2. Alignment of personalities. Can you stand being around this person for an hour a week for years to come?
3. Credentials--a tie-breaker if all else is equal.
4. Above all, does the teacher love music and exhibit enough enthusiasm for it that it will help sustain you through the inevitable difficulties you will encounter.


I like this, especially since it makes it clear to the student that in order to check off question 1, they must have a discussion with the teacher about this. Now I've had adult students who don't really have a well-defined goal with piano - they just want to learn to play. That's fine, and I just tell them I will teach them what I think they should know, and if there are pieces they come across they want to learn, we can learn them or if they're too hard, I'll make sure we learn the skills necessary to eventually play it.

I also wanted to comment about teachers not rejecting students. When I interview a student, if I feel that there's something off - either I'm not the kind of teacher for them style-wise (although this is usually clarified over the phone), or I feel that our personalities would not go well together I don't try to set up a lesson day and time. I avoid talking about scheduling and if they press the issue, I don't officially sign them up, and I tell them to let me know if they're interested in signing up, and then end the interview. It's better if they arrive at the same conclusion I do - and most of the time they do. smile


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2836608 04/08/19 12:35 AM
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I think an interview is important; however, you can learn much more about a teacher after you spend 4-6 weeks taking some lessons.

I'm at the 6-week mark with a few of my beginners right now, and it's blatantly obvious to me which ones are keepers and which ones are merely filling out a spot in my schedule.


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836716 04/08/19 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I think an interview is important; however, you can learn much more about a teacher after you spend 4-6 weeks taking some lessons.

I'm at the 6-week mark with a few of my beginners right now, and it's blatantly obvious to me which ones are keepers and which ones are merely filling out a spot in my schedule.

Here is my experience the first time I had lessons as an adult. In my inexperienced eyes, the first six months were absolutely hunky dorey. It did bother me a bit that grade levels seem to go by rather quickly, but I figured that's how it works. Lessons were structured along RCM, so there was the technical side with the technical etudes, scales and arpeggios, and the pieces along three or so time periods. I passed my first exam with a very high grade, so it's all wonderful, right? Later the problems were cumulative. If you are a diligent and motivated older student, you can muscle yourself into success in the short run. I understand that you get "transfer wrecks" where parent and student were convinced initially that they were doing wonderfully until it fell apart mysteriously. Not mysterious to you as a teacher.

Can you give some tips on what to look for both in the interview, and also those 4-6 weeks? I think (hope) we can take for granted the advice that for a teacher's teaching to work, the student must collaborate consistently / daily with the instructions and guidance while practising (assuming the guidance and instructions are sound).

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836740 04/08/19 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I think an interview is important; however, you can learn much more about a teacher after you spend 4-6 weeks taking some lessons.

I'm at the 6-week mark with a few of my beginners right now, and it's blatantly obvious to me which ones are keepers and which ones are merely filling out a spot in my schedule.


Can you elaborate on what becomes obvious and what it means? Thank you.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2836839 04/08/19 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by stevechris
Can you elaborate on what becomes obvious and what it means? Thank you.

Remember--I am speaking as a teacher. As a student you would have a different set of expectations.

At the 6-week point, some students will start to exhibit signs of slow progress. That is the biggest issue for me. Slow progress could be caused by a number of issues, such as low intelligence, low musical abilities, and low interest (kids who are forced to take piano by parents). However, most of the time the slow progress is a result of poor home practice: parents who are so out of it, they can't enforce practice at home; or there's just NO practice at home, period. Often, I would have to repeat instructions seven times in a row and the student still won't get it. It's the same thing week after week.

There's one kid who took literally four weeks to remember where middle C is.

Another problem is the lack of follow through. I would show the parents an idea, and they got it. They said they'll work with their kid on it. A week later the kid comes back not having mastered the idea.

Other general issues--constant tardiness to lessons, request for change in lesson time, and forgetting payment (I left my checkbook at home).


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836866 04/08/19 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by stevechris
Can you elaborate on what becomes obvious and what it means? Thank you.

Remember--I am speaking as a teacher. As a student you would have a different set of expectations.

At the 6-week point, some students will start to exhibit signs of slow progress. That is the biggest issue for me. Slow progress could be caused by a number of issues, such as low intelligence, low musical abilities, and low interest (kids who are forced to take piano by parents). However, most of the time the slow progress is a result of poor home practice: parents who are so out of it, they can't enforce practice at home; or there's just NO practice at home, period. Often, I would have to repeat instructions seven times in a row and the student still won't get it. It's the same thing week after week.

There's one kid who took literally four weeks to remember where middle C is.

Another problem is the lack of follow through. I would show the parents an idea, and they got it. They said they'll work with their kid on it. A week later the kid comes back not having mastered the idea.

Other general issues--constant tardiness to lessons, request for change in lesson time, and forgetting payment (I left my checkbook at home).


Wow! Had no idea! This sounds like it's more about children. Do adults exhibit these same behaviors?

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2836869 04/08/19 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by stevechris
Wow! Had no idea! This sounds like it's more about children. Do adults exhibit these same behaviors?

If I were to answer this question truthfully, I would be inundated with hateful messages from other adult students.


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836875 04/08/19 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by stevechris
Wow! Had no idea! This sounds like it's more about children. Do adults exhibit these same behaviors?

If I were to answer this question truthfully, I would be inundated with hateful messages from other adult students.


I understand. No need.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836881 04/08/19 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
f I were to answer this question truthfully, I would be inundated with hateful messages from other adult students.

More likely messages by some adult students and some teachers to get real. wink

I responded a bit back, including with a question to you. Did you see it? smile

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
keystring #2836884 04/08/19 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I responded a bit back, including with a question to you. Did you see it? smile

I would be echoing what some posters have already written eloquently.

Just make sure there's a match of goal and methodology. Not so much personality type, because that can be adjusted. For example, in the other thread I alluded to a girl and her mother who both want to go for the CM exam, when the kid has severe hearing issues. I like their drive and the enthusiasm, but in this case I think the personality needs adjustment.


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2836888 04/08/19 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
I responded a bit back, including with a question to you. Did you see it? smile

I would be echoing what some posters have already written eloquently.

Just make sure there's a match of goal and methodology. Not so much personality type, because that can be adjusted. For example, in the other thread I alluded to a girl and her mother who both want to go for the CM exam, when the kid has severe hearing issues. I like their drive and the enthusiasm, but in this case I think the personality needs adjustment.

In your post, you wrote of being able to tell about a teacher after 6 weeks. I gave my experience up to 6 months. The goal for a beginner would have to be getting the foundations. I don't think we would be able to tell anything about methodology. It seems to be a tricky thing. You are right that there are already some good ideas out there. The goal and methodology definitely should match, of course.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2837009 04/08/19 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
I responded a bit back, including with a question to you. Did you see it? smile

I would be echoing what some posters have already written eloquently.

Just make sure there's a match of goal and methodology. Not so much personality type, because that can be adjusted. For example, in the other thread I alluded to a girl and her mother who both want to go for the CM exam, when the kid has severe hearing issues. I like their drive and the enthusiasm, but in this case I think the personality needs adjustment.


I wonder what you mean by personality can be adjusted? By whom and how?
Much of personality comes from temperament which is inborn and genetic. The rest is developed in the interaction with environment and while it can be changed to some degree, it is difficult and time consuming and gets more and more difficult with age. Personality is not a decision made by an individual (or parents). Habits and behavior can be changed a bit easier, but that too takes work and is more difficult for some temperament types.

Personally I cannot agree that matching between goals and methodology is enough. There must also be matching between learning ability/style and methodology if everyone is to progress. If it is enough to accept that those who are not a good match with the methods will not or will drop out, then your premise is fine. In addition to my own experiences with music leasons I base this on how things are in general education: There are ways to adapt teaching on an individual level so that everyone learns to an acceptable level. These however are only accessible to a minority and the difference in results are easy to see empirically.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
outo #2837032 04/08/19 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
empirically.

I am not heading down that rabbit hole again.

By personality, I mean the idiosyncrasies of behavior. For example, if I speak even a BIT louder, some of my students will break down in tears. I learn to adjust to these students by being the nicest person on the planet.

Yes, the teacher does the adjusting most of the time. Students can adjust if they are capable. Parents can adjust if they are rational.


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
AZNpiano #2837035 04/08/19 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by outo
empirically.

I am not heading down that rabbit hole again.

By personality, I mean the idiosyncrasies of behavior. For example, if I speak even a BIT louder, some of my students will break down in tears. I learn to adjust to these students by being the nicest person on the planet.

Yes, the teacher does the adjusting most of the time. Students can adjust if they are capable. Parents can adjust if they are rational.


So you did not mean to adjust THE personality of either the teacher or the student but adjusting TO the personality of the other party? Sorry for being so particular but I see a huge different there smile

As for the other thing I can only say that old beliefs of human nature are really persistent and I see no other way ahead than trying to acquire some proof...

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
keystring #2838235 04/11/19 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
The irony is, JazzyMac, that in the teacher forum, your previous criticism here was mentioned, and as a negative thing - that teacher defended what you had had to say.

This thread was shut down because it got emotional and such. I and probably a few other people asked for it to be opened again, and it was for the sake of the advice and information that might flow from it. Don't fan the flames the other way again. We've already lost one member and frankly, I'm hurting.

A lot of people have put out some major effort in the OP's question, which I think is an important one, and good ideas are still coming in. I'd like the thread to stay alive for that purpose.


Don't blame me for all of the drama. I say what I say, and if you or others feel you will be overly defensive, then maybe just clench and walk off instead of responding. I've been flat out blamed for things I complain about, so...there's that.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2838239 04/11/19 11:45 PM
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As far as leaving for good, this is not an airport; one does not need to announce his or her departure. In most forums, there are "delete my account" buttons that makes it pretty easy to leave. One can also just message the owner, or moderator. To make a post saying, "let me know how to leave" is just more drama than it needs to be. From what I see is certain people cannot take a joke, or a snark without getting so touchy. And yet those same people are just as--or even more--offensive in other threads. Let it go; snark makes the world go round!

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2838243 04/11/19 11:58 PM
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And now that I've read the rest of the thread, I see we have the normal players who has to insert just how unintelligent (read: dumb and stupid) their students are. Just unbelievable how so many people that lack intelligence just seem to be only smart enough to find this specific teacher. Amazing really.

Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
JazzyMac #2838284 04/12/19 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by JazzyMac
Don't blame me for all of the drama. I say what I say, and if you or others feel you will be overly defensive, then maybe just clench and walk off instead of responding. I've been flat out blamed for things I complain about, so...there's that.
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
As far as leaving for good, this is not an airport; one does not need to announce his or her departure. In most forums, there are "delete my account" buttons that makes it pretty easy to leave. One can also just message the owner, or moderator. To make a post saying, "let me know how to leave" is just more drama than it needs to be. From what I see is certain people cannot take a joke, or a snark without getting so touchy. And yet those same people are just as--or even more--offensive in other threads. Let it go; snark makes the world go round!
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
And now that I've read the rest of the thread, I see we have the normal players who has to insert just how unintelligent (read: dumb and stupid) their students are. Just unbelievable how so many people that lack intelligence just seem to be only smart enough to find this specific teacher. Amazing really.

JazzyMac, this thread got derailed last time and was shutdown and a person quit. Did you have something to say concerning interviewing teachers, or related to that, without getting personal?


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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
Tyrone Slothrop #2838301 04/12/19 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
Don't blame me for all of the drama. I say what I say, and if you or others feel you will be overly defensive, then maybe just clench and walk off instead of responding. I've been flat out blamed for things I complain about, so...there's that.
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
As far as leaving for good, this is not an airport; one does not need to announce his or her departure. In most forums, there are "delete my account" buttons that makes it pretty easy to leave. One can also just message the owner, or moderator. To make a post saying, "let me know how to leave" is just more drama than it needs to be. From what I see is certain people cannot take a joke, or a snark without getting so touchy. And yet those same people are just as--or even more--offensive in other threads. Let it go; snark makes the world go round!
Originally Posted by JazzyMac
And now that I've read the rest of the thread, I see we have the normal players who has to insert just how unintelligent (read: dumb and stupid) their students are. Just unbelievable how so many people that lack intelligence just seem to be only smart enough to find this specific teacher. Amazing really.

JazzyMac, this thread got derailed last time and was shutdown and a person quit. Did you have something to say concerning interviewing teachers, or related to that, without getting personal?

Yes! People please STOP getting so personal and negative.



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Re: What to ask when interviewing a teacher?
stevechris #2838302 04/12/19 06:18 AM
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Enough.


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