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Re: How can I improve my relationship with my piano teacher? [Re: Miss Rhonda] #2694649
12/06/17 03:43 AM
12/06/17 03:43 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,530
Finland
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Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,530
Finland
Originally Posted by Miss Rhonda

For what it's worth, I learned to play at the age of 26 and went on to be a full-time professional musician for the next 25 years. I learned the same way you do -- with overly-challenging pieces. I stumbled around a bit in that first year, but then took off quickly. It never would have happened if I was forced to play typical beginner pieces.

I'm so glad I had a teacher who recognized that adults are adults. We know ourselves well, and not all of us fit into the box. Especially musicians. smile

I kind of agree, many adults do know themselves better than the teacher ever could and can apply the knowledge to their learning. But at the same time many don't, and should rely more on the teacher's judgement. I think it often takes a bit longer for both parties to see the reality behind the first impressions. If I say to my teacher on the first lessons "no, I won't learn that way" I would not expect her to believe me right away. But I have to say that I was lucky with mine too, she never seems to feel threatened with my opinions and ideas even if different to hers, she just expects me to produce the results before agreeing.

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Re: How can I improve my relationship with my piano teacher? [Re: Gary D.] #2694655
12/06/17 04:49 AM
12/06/17 04:49 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,965
London, UK
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
But when do children become adults? It's a gradual thing.


If someone asks "Can I borrow your shotgun?" and you can say "yes" without misgivings, you're dealing with an adult smile

I suppose in music education, I think of as an adult as somebody who is willing to take complete responsibility for his or her musical development. I'm sure it's gradual, but I suspect you know when it's happened. This is what I observed in my son, anyway. I couldn't tell you when he changed from a musical child to a musical adult, but I can see that he has. Unfortunately for him, he isn't actually an adult in the chronological sense, and I'm still the one paying his teachers, so he doesn't have the complete autonomy that he would prefer.

I think if you have a strong interest in music as a child, and a natural "good ear", as I had, it's all too easy to end up where I am today -- unable to play music that doesn't match the tastes you had as a teenager. On the other hand, I worry that forcing a child into conventional music teaching at a young age runs the risk of stifling the natural interest.

I had one piano lesson when I was about seven years old. But since I could already play everything I heard by ear, why would have I been interested in Hot Cross Buns? If somebody had told me that, when I was 40, I would regret not taking an interest in Hot Cross Buns, I wouldn't have been overly concerned.

My son went through the Hot Cross Buns stage at age seven, and came out unscathed, happily. However, I encouraged him to play what he really wanted to play as well, and helped him to do so. I had to work hard to keep him practicing scales and so on, but there was never any problem getting him to play movie themes by ear.

These days, because he's a musical adult, he practices scales and exercises himself because he's worked out that he needs to, not because anybody is telling him to. I'm still not sure I'd lend him my shotgun, however.

Re: How can I improve my relationship with my piano teacher? [Re: impendia] #2867414
07/08/19 03:52 PM
07/08/19 03:52 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 57
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Hello all --

Thanks to everyone who weighed in. Thought I'd share "the rest of the story", and offer some advice to anyone in a similar situation. Short version -- things got better.

One thing I found helpful was to be more assertive from time to time. For example, I was working on one of the Bach Little Preludes, and she recommended a legato playing style. I said that, actually, I would be excited to practice it more staccato (which is how I tend to like my Bach!); happily, she accepted my suggestion and gave me advice on how to play it in a staccato style. Indeed, all of a sudden I was doing different things wrong. smile

I realized that I had become very unused to assertive authority figures. When I was younger, I was used to people confidently telling me what to do, and I'd addressing them as Dr., Sensei, etc. Nowadays, as a tenured professor, for better or worse, no one bosses me! Except, my piano teacher did. wink

Our relationship never became perfect; it felt like the kind of relationship you might have with an ex if you were still trying to remain friends. Also, I was going through a lot of stress for other reasons, and this affected both my mood and the quality of my practice. But I did my best. She attended a "piano party" that I threw, and also invited me to participate in a group of students that played for the residents at a retirement home. Overall, things ended on a positive note.

In May 2018, we parted ways, and I've spent the past year in Boston. My temporary assignment is ending, and it's time to move back to South Carolina. I decided to try to continue with the same teacher. But -- as it turns out she left town earlier than originally planned. (She was a Ph.D. student in piano pedagogy; I guess she decided not to finish her degree.) So I'll be seeking out a new teacher through the university's program.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who spoke up and offered their thoughts.

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