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Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2867327
07/08/19 10:46 AM
07/08/19 10:46 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 88
M
mostlystrings Online content
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Originally Posted by AssociateX
I always learn a piece and just repeat, repeat and repeat the measures where I made a mistake until I get it right. Then I just move on to the next "trouble spot" and as my Juilliard teacher says "hover' over it and analyze where my fingers are, where they are going, and to make sure my thumb or pinky aren't sticking out

Just to expound on two things:
- Practice "after" you get it right, meaning if it takes 10-20 times to get it right, you then need to do double or more to "get out of the hole" of the bad repetitions so to speak and start counting correct ones.
- How fingers and hands get from where they are to where they're going, similar to checking your thumb and pinky, being intentional about that to develop technique.

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Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2867567
07/09/19 05:34 AM
07/09/19 05:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 19
Sydney
terentius Offline
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Sydney
What I like about my teacher:

Each lesson she presents a small number of ways I can improve my planning. I can thus remember and use these. E.g. slide the thumb down from A flat to G, don’t lift it.

She presents positive feedback - not ‘that’s the wrong rhythm ‘ but ‘improve rhythm by counting like this ...’

She focuses on a step by step approach which is really the only way to progress.

Overall she is positive and realistic- and also forty years younger than me!


“Modesty is a form of pride.”
Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2867655
07/09/19 11:13 AM
07/09/19 11:13 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,206
Canada
keystring Offline
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AssociateX - Your response to me (& thanks for smile )
Quote
I did but did not want to clutter the ABF board with this question because I there are more teachers on this board than over at ABF (and to be fair, i think there is a lot of duplicate posts, I happen to read all the subforums so felt that many piano teachers were obviously former students themselves and have had the benefit of experiencing more variety of teaching styles than other beginner/intermediate level students who have only had 1 or 2 teachers).

I see your reasoning.

I did similar research a decade ago for similar reasons, over a number of months. So:
- Quite a few teachers and musicians I talked to did end up having one or two poor quality teachers along the way, often at the first stage, and had to correct that once they found out what was going on. A few, however, got good instruction all along and so seemed oblivious to the experience. If you are well taught all along, everything seems "natural and obvious". I learned how to hold a pencil when I was little, and I never think about it now.
- Teachers do get transfer students who were not taught properly / who have holes in their basic learning, and have to try to deal with that. However, discussion tends to involve children.
- While a few teach adults, the majority of teaching still involves children, so that tends to be the focus and the experience. The focus on the teacher board is teachers sharing ideas on how to teach, helping each other teach or solve problems, or giving each other moral support - it's a lonely profession.

Otoh, the search for a teacher is not a thing that teachers are involved in. They are involved in having their students, following the progress of their own students, deciding which incoming students they will accept, knowing how to deal with students and their parents, how to advertise, manage workload, income, organize how and what they teach.

Here:
Quote
....than other beginner/intermediate level students who have only had 1 or 2 teachers)

You are cutting yourself off from a major resource. To start with, some ABFers have worked with more teachers than that. Some are also fairly advanced. Above all, they/we have gone through the steps you are going through, have sorted out things that many teachers don't encounter. There are other sides of your equation there. (Actually, you are getting feedback from ABFers right here in this thread).

Quote
I took lessons for so many years in junior high school/high school, I have never had a teacher really work on my technical issues (which happen to be flyaway fingers, I've always been aware of it and the minute a teacher first sees me play/hears me, they quickly tell me) and its been an uphill battle to fix some of the poor foundations I was given from terrible teachers in my youth..............

So it seems I have a pretty tall order for a teacher......


Sadly, there is nothing unusual about your story. It seems that good teaching, especially for getting actual foundations, is the exception rather than the norm.

"Teaching" and "lessons" often are nothing more than "going through" material at grade levels. You "do" the grade 1 pieces and etudes - if they sound good enough, you are "passed"; ditto for gr. 2, 3, 4 etc. Supposedly - if anyone thinks about it all (!) - the technique and approaches will come at you by osmosis out of nothingness. In fact, this is where my quest started. What is it that we actually need to learn in music, and how do we learn it? The "pieces, etudes, and scales" formula by itself is empty and hollow! Just at random

- What physical skills ("technique") do I need to get, and what are the foundations of that?
- What "theory" i.e. being able to read music, interpret in a basic manner, as pianists, what we see there -- this joining up with "technique"?
- How do I organize my practising? What kinds of goals do I create and work toward, over the month, week, and in a day?
- How do I approach a piece, part of a piece, or the acquisition of a skill?

With really good teaching, this is taught, and becomes part of the teaching. It is not a "pieces / scales / etudes"-producing enterprise, nor a grade levels checklist.

AT THIS POINT: Where many of us discover we're at - and you are discovering you're at - A student finds he has not gotten those sample things. There are holes all over the place when you look at that partial checklist. It becomes "What now?" That's a place a number of ABFers found themselves.

[quote ] I have basically worked more on learning repertoire than really doing Scales, Arpeggio, Hanon exercises because I did that as a child and that stage is over for me (learning the exercises, I still warm up with Hanon exercises a few times a week just to maintain finger flexibility)... [/quote]
There's a thing about etudes, exercises, etc. ......... How they're done, how they're taught. In the poorer teaching, these things are assigned, and the fact of playing scales, Hanon, etc., is supposed to do the teaching - as if an exercise were a magical pill you swallow, and you sprout technique. wink In fact ......... a lot of etudes and exercises are repetitive. The idea is that if you repeat a given motion or series of motions, they become "part of you", and then when that same series occurs in music, it's also "part of you". Which is a big trap, if you have ended up making "part of you" motions that are not optimal. The "how" has to be there .... and often is not.

Quote
one for "technique" work, another one for "performance" focus, etc. ...

But surely they are intertwined! If you interpret a piece - Say you want to bring out a voice .... Say you want to create an effect through a subtle blending of sound via pedal and sleight of hand ..... that requires technical ability. One shuttles back and forth. The "two teachers" are in the form of one teacher. That is, one can go off on a tangent with a second, even with a good teacher, when more advanced - usually with the good teacher's approval I'd think... (?)
Quote
(one is a Russian concert pianist who just launched a private studio in NYC) who heard me play and right off the bat told me what my weak spots were ...

Does this concert pianist also know how to work on these weak spots? Does this pianist also know how to teach?
Quote
....in search of these "qualities" that professional pianists who are interviewed always say they swear by

The question becomes: How do we get at those qualities? What things lie under those qualities?

Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: mostlystrings] #2867656
07/09/19 11:19 AM
07/09/19 11:19 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,206
Canada
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
Originally Posted by AssociateX
I always learn a piece and just repeat, repeat and repeat the measures where I made a mistake until I get it right. Then I just move on to the next "trouble spot" and as my Juilliard teacher says "hover' over it and analyze where my fingers are, where they are going, and to make sure my thumb or pinky aren't sticking out

Just to expound on two things:
- Practice "after" you get it right, meaning if it takes 10-20 times to get it right, you then need to do double or more to "get out of the hole" of the bad repetitions so to speak and start counting correct ones.
- How fingers and hands get from where they are to where they're going, similar to checking your thumb and pinky, being intentional about that to develop technique.


Yes.
There's "approach". Before you start a piece, you break it into sections and subsections. Identify the hardest parts, what is hard about them, and what strategies to use - maybe in stages over days - to get at these. Goals and subgoals. You may decide to go only at the notes and movement from one hand position to the next. From then on they will always be correct. Then pedal, timing, speeding up. Or whatever. Make sure each is correct and goes well. You've lain down foundations for that piece which will always be there. If there is a problem that you can't solve: if you always feel tension at the same spot of music that you can't solve - make note, bring this to the attention of your teacher, who should be working to solve this.

The "repeat until I get it right" is backward from good practice.

Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2867833
07/10/19 12:13 AM
07/10/19 12:13 AM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 173
Long Island, NY
AssociateX Offline OP
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Thank you keystring for your very insightful, informative and comprehensive post...its giving me a lot of food for thought. I think for now, I will stay with the 3 teachers I have worked with (except the copycat music school teacher, jury is still out). i am trying not to get too overwhelmed with all the advice I am getting, so lots of this will be trial and error; good thing this is just a hobby and not a livelihood!


~~~~~~~
Finished:
1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)
Working on:
1. Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/5
2. Schubert Impromptu Op 90/3
3. Misc nocturnes/Liszt Liebestraume 3
*****************
My YouTube Channel :

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2868029
07/10/19 03:09 PM
07/10/19 03:09 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 17,017
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by AssociateX
Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=AssociateX]

Quote
......a teacher from a local music school who simply sat down, played the section of the piece, and had me just repeat her hand movements.

That is no teacher.

Avoid her like the plague.


To her credit, I have had only 4 lessons with this teacher so far, she has told me I have a "good sound" and "good sight reading skills" (based on her having me sightread the first page of the Adagio section of Mozart's A min Sonata k330). She basically has me play the piece, stops me halfway through to tell me where I am failing (usually the rhythm or not holding certain notes longer/shorter), then sits next to me on the bench to play the piece and then has me repeat how she plays it. This is basically the bulk of the lesson, and if time is left- then she will have me sightread the next few bars so I know where potential trouble spots might lie). Not sure if I will stick with her, she teaches at a local conservatory that happens to be closer to my house than where I typically have classes (which is the evening division at Juilliard, but the semester there is only 10 weeks long). She does teach adult students, and besides pieces to play, she is also having me do Hanon Octave exercises.


I'm sorry, but based on this description, I would not call her a good or even effective teacher. I think a great teacher gives their students the ability to no longer need them. That means not just showing you what to do, but why and how they arrived at that conclusion. Ways of thinking outside of the current problem and coming up with a game-plan of how to deal with it. Skills in how to arrive at your *own* interpretation of a piece and not imitating someone else's.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2868466
07/11/19 05:26 PM
07/11/19 05:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 247
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Connecticut, USA
A good teacher:

  • Tries to help you get to where you want to go, rather than where they want you to go.
  • Does not compromise their method just because you don't like it.
  • Is willing to say "I don't know" and "I'm probably not the right teacher for you."
  • Is not personally emotionally invested in your success, outside of the lesson period.
  • Is willing to explore absolutely anything that might come up during a lesson, if it is in any way related to your piano playing.
  • Takes you as seriously as you need to be taken.


Progress in piano playing doesn't come from a teacher. It comes from experiencing everything you need to experience in order to understand exactly what is holding you back at the piano. In other words, it comes from practice. A good teacher can help you eliminate barriers that get in the way of practicing well, but remember that they are only human.

Stop blaming your teachers for not teaching you well. If you feel there is a problem, you should first address your doubts with the teacher. There may be a reason behind their pedagogy which you are unfamiliar with. If you are agreeing to study with a teacher, give their advice a try. Always keep in mind that if you want to improve, you will have to do at least some things that seem wrong to you. If they seemed right, you would already be doing them!

If the teacher cannot put your mind at ease, then find another teacher. Or hold off on finding a teacher until you have a super-clear idea of what you're looking for in a teacher. You can do a lot of good work on your own, if you truly take responsibility for your own progress.

And, I don't think it's smart to listen to strangers online who tell you to break up with your teacher. They don't know you or your teacher. This is the kind of advice people love giving, for some reason (although, it's entirely possible they're right...).

Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: MichaelJK] #2868809
07/12/19 03:26 PM
07/12/19 03:26 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,206
Canada
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Michael, I like a lot of what you wrote. It also helped me know where you're coming from by going through your free course yesterday. Without that, a lot can be misconstrued including "Fix your piano problems without a teacher" on the bottom of your post. In the way that you mean it I agree.

Originally Posted by MichaelJK
A good teacher:

  • Tries to help you get to where you want to go, rather than where they want you to go.
  • Does not compromise their method just because you don't like it.



These two things go hand in hand. There is a risk in the first one, which is especially great among adults starting piano later in life. A 5 year old starting lessons will not have the same kinds of ideas of where they want to go. Exploring this: If I am a novice, and "where I want to go" is particular pieces of music, then as a teacher, you will know what I will need to learn, in order to get at those pieces of music. (That's your method, as in methodology (not method book). But there are unscrupulous - or ignorant - or short sighted - teachers who will literally do what the student wants: start with that piece of music. Maybe dumb it down; maybe just stick in block chords; or maybe "copy me" --- note for note, measure for measure. What "going where you want to go" has to be looked at for what it may mean.

Quote
  • Is willing to say "I don't know" and "I'm probably not the right teacher for you."


  • I'd put in "or" instead of "and". The teacher who says "I don't know" may in fact be the right teacher for me. Followed by, "but let me find out" ... or "let's explore this in the course of time". The teacher that spooks me is "I know everything", and especially, "I know everything, and nobody else does".

    Quote
  • Is not personally emotionally invested in your success, outside of the lesson period.
  • Is willing to explore absolutely anything that might come up during a lesson, if it is in any way related to your piano playing.
  • Takes you as seriously as you need to be taken.


  • Yes to all.

    Quote
    Stop blaming your teachers for not teaching you well. If you feel there is a problem, you should first address your doubts with the teacher. There may be a reason behind their pedagogy which you are unfamiliar with. If you are agreeing to study with a teacher, give their advice a try. Always keep in mind that if you want to improve, you will have to do at least some things that seem wrong to you. If they seemed right, you would already be doing them!


    Some caveats, coming first from my own first experiences as an adult student, and then later working and talking with others - both students and teachers. This is a knotty issue. First, you need to have a teacher who is competent, knows how to teach, and is putting in the effort to do so. If you are a relative novice or have only been taught badly, you will have trouble distinguishing. With a decent teacher, he may indeed be giving you something to do which "feels odd / wrong / puzzling", but if you persevere it will bring you to new places. Example: You can't really read; you've been note guessing; you memorize music early and can anticipate a lot of things. Your new teacher wants you to get the skills of reading. At first this will be tedious, slow, hesitant, and you will not have anything like your old "fluency" from memorization. You have to stick with it long enough for your teacher's vision to gel. He will be observing and assessing his own approach the whole time.

    Otoh, there may be things that are wrong. Maybe you are rushed into a new grade level every few months with lots of pizzazz about your fast "progress", while something seems missing. Maybe you're doing one single piece for a whole year, only that piece, in a "copy me" mode, or even ..... (and I've seen it) .... copy the Internet. Even after 2 or 3 years you cannot approach any piece, even simpler ones, on your own.

    The thing is that as a novice who has never had lessons before: or someone who has had these "gray area" kinds of lessons: you can't tell. You don't know anything other than that little keyhole view of your own experiences.

    This is where research including going on-line does play a role. No, you don't drop a teacher because somebody on the Internet - including another teacher - says "drop this teacher". But you do start getting a perspective on how learning might happen; on what kinds of things get learned. Adult students, in particular, are isolated, with that one teacher, and you can't get oriented that way.

    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: keystring] #2868828
    07/12/19 04:28 PM
    07/12/19 04:28 PM
    Joined: Mar 2017
    Posts: 247
    Connecticut, USA
    MichaelJK Offline

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    Originally Posted by keystring
    Michael, I like a lot of what you wrote. It also helped me know where you're coming from by going through your free course yesterday. Without that, a lot can be misconstrued including "Fix your piano problems without a teacher" on the bottom of your post. In the way that you mean it I agree.


    Could you elaborate more on this? I'm very interested in understanding how my words can be misconstrued. I don't want to hijack this thread, though...

    Quote

    Originally Posted by MichaelJK
    A good teacher:

    [list]
    [*]Tries to help you get to where you want to go, rather than where they want you to go.
    [*]Does not compromise their method just because you don't like it.



    These two things go hand in hand. There is a risk in the first one, which is especially great among adults starting piano later in life. A 5 year old starting lessons will not have the same kinds of ideas of where they want to go. Exploring this: If I am a novice, and "where I want to go" is particular pieces of music, then as a teacher, you will know what I will need to learn, in order to get at those pieces of music. (That's your method, as in methodology (not method book). But there are unscrupulous - or ignorant - or short sighted - teachers who will literally do what the student wants: start with that piece of music. Maybe dumb it down; maybe just stick in block chords; or maybe "copy me" --- note for note, measure for measure. What "going where you want to go" has to be looked at for what it may mean.


    Yes, exactly!

    Quote

    Quote
    [*]Is willing to say "I don't know" and "I'm probably not the right teacher for you."


    I'd put in "or" instead of "and".


    It's funny you bring that up, because I remember going back and forth on whether to write "or" or "and". I settled on "and" because I wanted to convey that the teacher should have a willingness to say one, and also have a willingness to say the other, depending on the circumstances.

    Quote

    The teacher that spooks me is "I know everything", and especially, "I know everything, and nobody else does".


    Well, some of the best teachers I've had have talked like that (so there are at least some students who aren't really turned off by it...). They may not have been the happiest people, but they tend to be the ones with the strongest convictions, born of direct personal experience.

    I'm curious to know more about the impact it has on you.

    Quote
    Quote
    Stop blaming your teachers for not teaching you well. If you feel there is a problem, you should first address your doubts with the teacher. There may be a reason behind their pedagogy which you are unfamiliar with. If you are agreeing to study with a teacher, give their advice a try. Always keep in mind that if you want to improve, you will have to do at least some things that seem wrong to you. If they seemed right, you would already be doing them!


    Some caveats, coming first from my own first experiences as an adult student, and then later working and talking with others - both students and teachers. This is a knotty issue. First, you need to have a teacher who is competent, knows how to teach, and is putting in the effort to do so. If you are a relative novice or have only been taught badly, you will have trouble distinguishing.


    I'm not advocating for blindly trusting your teacher, and I have nothing against researching online.

    My point is that it is senseless to continue taking lesson after lesson with a teacher while harboring extreme doubts. Those doubts should be expressed, and the teacher should be given the opportunity to address them. This is not only for the sake of fairness. If you have doubts, it means you are not taking the teacher seriously, and thus you will not be doing what the teacher tells you to do. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where of course the teacher won't be helping you, because you're withholding crucial information from the teacher. I have been this student. At the very least, it's a huge distraction from learning music.

    Also, if you tend to be a skeptical person, as I do, it's helpful to recognize that doubt does not always need to be acted upon. You can put it aside for a limited period, while you give the teacher's methods an honest chance. In fact, if you're as skeptical as I am, this is probably a crucial skill to learn.

    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2868869
    07/12/19 07:57 PM
    07/12/19 07:57 PM
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 17,206
    Canada
    keystring Offline
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    Originally Posted by MichaelJK
    Could you elaborate more on this? I'm very interested in understanding how my words can be misconstrued. I don't want to hijack this thread, though...

    Well, your story is that had the full training from young on, right into the professional level. You found what is above and beyond all the formal and official things, including a degree of independence. But if one reads "fix your piano problems without a teacher", without knowing anything else, that could be some young fellow who self-taught, thinks the few tricks he picked up is enough, and imagines anything that people might learn formally is a bunch of hooey --- dabbler to would-be dabbler. But you have a background, and it's more a matter of perspective and balance.

    Quote
    It's funny you bring that up, because I remember going back and forth on whether to write "or" or "and". I settled on "and" because I wanted to convey that the teacher should have a willingness to say one, and also have a willingness to say the other, depending on the circumstances.

    Interesting. I can see it.

    Quote
    Well, some of the best teachers I've had have talked like that (so there are at least some students who aren't really turned off by it...). They may not have been the happiest people, but they tend to be the ones with the strongest convictions, born of direct personal experience.

    I'm curious to know more about the impact it has on you.


    The "I know everything" teachers I encountered tended to have a particular formula that worked, and if it didn't, it was the fault of the student's attitude, or lack of talent, or didn't work hard enough. There is also in teaching - and everything - the fact that you can have an idea of how things work, and continuing to assume that is how they are, rather than constantly observing, testing, and learning from those assumptions.

    Quote
    I'm not advocating for blindly trusting your teacher, and I have nothing against researching online.

    My point is that it is senseless to continue taking lesson after lesson with a teacher while harboring extreme doubts. Those doubts should be expressed, and the teacher should be given the opportunity to address them. This is not only for the sake of fairness. If you have doubts, it means you are not taking the teacher seriously, and thus you will not be doing what the teacher tells you to do. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where of course the teacher won't be helping you, because you're withholding crucial information from the teacher. I have been this student. At the very least, it's a huge distraction from learning music.


    Right. The situation with adult learners often is that there is little experience, little to go on. Until you have some knowledge, you cannot formulate questions, state anything, or even know how to go about things. Expressing doubts to teachers is also tricky, because many teachers are easily offended, and are also human and thus insecure and such. The first step I found, is to learn a bit about this endeavour, and then you can go about things more intelligently, and they'll make more sense.

    Quote
    Also, if you tend to be a skeptical person, as I do, it's helpful to recognize that doubt does not always need to be acted upon. You can put it aside for a limited period, while you give the teacher's methods an honest chance. In fact, if you're as skeptical as I am, this is probably a crucial skill to learn.

    I agree. If it keeps going on for years, however, with things not working .... erm. wink

    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869477
    07/15/19 10:35 AM
    07/15/19 10:35 AM
    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    AssociateX Offline OP
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    AssociateX  Offline OP
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    Long Island, NY
    I appreciate the latest replies, I really am getting great insight from you folks on what a good teacher should do/usually does.

    As a recent update, I had my lesson with the music school teacher last week and feel I am 75% leaning toward not staying with her for these reasons:

    (1). she started off our 1 hour lesson with 10 min of sight reading and this time it was reading 3 lines each from Alfred beginner books. Literally, had me play a line that only had 5 notes on them and chords (Bb-D--F followed by A, then Eb-Gb-Bb followed by CEG). Considering I was sight reading the E major Chopin Etude Op 10# 3 (for fun) a few nights ago, this exercise felt like a complete waste of time to me.

    (2). Then she spent the next 15 min having me play a Hanon exercise (detached 6ths) and brought out a metronome and had me play the same exercise 3x at different speeds (mind you, I had already done this at home). I had no trouble with this part because I learned 95% of all Hanon exercises by age 14 .

    (3). several times in the lessons she nudged me off the bench and played a passage of the piece I was working on (the Beethoven Sonata Op 2 # 1- a piece she just selected randomly at our first lesson). She then would say "ok repeat these 2 measures just like I showed you".

    (4). We spent the remainder of the lesson on just the 1st page & a half of the Sonata even though I had already learned all 5-6 pages of it. Since I skipped a dotted rhythm note in the 2nd line, she spent the rest of the lesson having me repeat the same measure 7x in a row. Basically I felt like I was practicing the piece in front of her, instead of playing it and having her give me pointers/feedback/ideas on how to approach certain passages. She did however give me better left hand fingering for some of the parts where I have to jump octaves and it modulates to a different interval.

    (5). She didnt address any dynamics in my playing, and every other minute she would pipe in "yes thats the correct note! GOOD! Ok stop here" and then would grab my hand from underneath and push my knuckles up. (I've never been told I had technical issues with collapsing knuckles, its just flyaway fingers and wrist tension). She did this so often I found it extremely distracting to play and just focus on other aspects of the piece like ritardandos, crescendos, shaping the melody, etc.

    I also left the lesson feeling (a) like I was a 12 year old student instead of an adult, (b) discouraged and dumb for not executing certain notes in the syncopated rhythm as it should be. I am sure maybe the above feelings are normal for post-piano lessons? Either way, I didn't practice for 24 hours later.

    Yesterday I had my 3rd lesson with the Russian concert pianist and played my Bach P&F and the Brahms piece, but the bulk of the lesson was working through trouble spots in the first 3 pages of the Brahms. Right away he asked me questions about the key signatures, the chromatic patterns in the Brahms piece, and then explained how to approach certain passages in the Brahms and then had me clap my hands in a rhythm exercise which cemented the polyrhythms in the 2nd section of the piece. He also rewrote fingering, added in 1 correct note, simply said "ok those are good for fixing for next time - lets hear it from the top again and I want you to tell me your mental THOUGHT PROCESS when you approach this measure. ....ok how about that section..?" He then took his pencil and walked through the piece, writing in little things for me to note as I read the piece such as "remember to move 3rd finger to 2nd in beat 3" - stuff I felt was very on target and specific to my mental blocks when playing. Only once did he say "ok no like this, let me show you how to play those arpeggio" and once i played it 2x correctly, he would move on and just focus on the measures where I was shaky.

    So thats where I am right now - apologies for the length of this post, it is starting to read like a Journal entry..lol! but I am very much leaning toward just staying w/ the Russian guy because i feel he "gets" me mentally and explains things more succinctly and doesn't have me play passages like I am some 10 year old student who doesn't know how to count or read correct notes. Another thing I noticed, after each lesson w him, I rushed back home and started practicing right away.



    Last edited by AssociateX; 07/15/19 10:41 AM.

    ~~~~~~~
    Finished:
    1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
    2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)
    Working on:
    1. Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/5
    2. Schubert Impromptu Op 90/3
    3. Misc nocturnes/Liszt Liebestraume 3
    *****************
    My YouTube Channel :

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869481
    07/15/19 10:55 AM
    07/15/19 10:55 AM
    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    AssociateX Offline OP
    Full Member
    AssociateX  Offline OP
    Full Member

    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    Ohh to add to my above post (stupid edit button only lasts a few minutes?!!), at my lesson w the Russian teacher, he had me play 2 lines from the Brahms piece omitting every 3rd note in the line and that completely felt like a "OMG A LIGHBULB JUST WENT ON" moment because once he explained the score patterns and Brahms in general, I felt I had a better understanding of why the cadences in the Brahms piece were what they were.

    Whereas the Beethoven w/ the music school teacher, she harped on about counting out loud for every measure, making sure I executed my hand movements the way she had showed me in her "copy me" comments, and told me using a metronome would be helpful. I think also, she has had a good 15-20 years of teaching experience, primarily to children and a few adults beginners, that she doesn't have good approaches for intermediate or advanced level students perhaps (not saying I am advanced, I consider myself a very middle ground intermediate level player at best). I don't know, this is all conjecture at this point. Bottom line is, I am paying about $ 80-90/hour for lessons and I really want to get the most effective learning and tips as much as possible so I can best approach the classical repertoire I want to learn as I get older. (My goals are not very lofty, TBH, I want to eventually teach myself any Chopin Ballade or a Schumann piece correctly without having to see a teacher to do constant 'note checks' or "rhythm checks".


    Last edited by AssociateX; 07/15/19 11:01 AM.

    ~~~~~~~
    Finished:
    1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
    2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)
    Working on:
    1. Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/5
    2. Schubert Impromptu Op 90/3
    3. Misc nocturnes/Liszt Liebestraume 3
    *****************
    My YouTube Channel :

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869485
    07/15/19 11:06 AM
    07/15/19 11:06 AM
    Joined: May 2019
    Posts: 146
    P
    Pinkiepie Offline
    Full Member
    Pinkiepie  Offline
    Full Member
    P

    Joined: May 2019
    Posts: 146
    Originally Posted by AssociateX


    (3). several times in the lessons she nudged me off the bench and played a passage of the piece I was working on (the Beethoven Sonata Op 2 # 1- a piece she just selected randomly at our first lesson). She then would say "ok repeat these 2 measures just like I showed you".


    Not that the other points would be very gratifying, but this one is particularly awful.
    Oh dear...

    On the other hand, I am almost glad to hear, that I am not the only one who has issues with some "teaching methods".

    But to be fair, the teacher I am talking about is not near as bad as yours...

    Quote
    I also left the lesson feeling (a) like I was a 12 year old student instead of an adult, (b) discouraged and dumb for not executing certain notes in the syncopated rhythm as it should be. I am sure maybe the above feelings are normal for post-piano lessons? Either way, I didn't practice for 24 hours later.


    This could be normal...depending on the fragility of your ego grin

    (No, I really think that your feelings are a reliable indicator that something is wrong here. )

    Quote
    Yesterday I had my 3rd lesson with the Russian concert pianist and played my Bach P&F and the Brahms piece, but the bulk of the lesson was working through trouble spots in the first 3 pages of the Brahms. Right away he asked me questions about the key signatures, the chromatic patterns in the Brahms piece, and then explained how to approach certain passages in the Brahms and then had me clap my hands in a rhythm exercise which cemented the polyrhythms in the 2nd section of the piece. He also rewrote fingering, added in 1 correct note, simply said "ok those are good for fixing for next time - lets hear it from the top again and I want you to tell me your mental THOUGHT PROCESS when you approach this measure. ....ok how about that section..?" He then took his pencil and walked through the piece, writing in little things for me to note as I read the piece such as "remember to move 3rd finger to 2nd in beat 3" - stuff I felt was very on target and specific to my mental blocks when playing. Only once did he say "ok no like this, let me show you how to play those arpeggio" and once i played it 2x correctly, he would move on and just focus on the measures where I was shaky.


    That sounds pretty nice, actually.

    I like teacher, who encourage you to think (on your own)...and not just imitate. The latter is for monkeys, not for artists.

    Quote
    So thats where I am right now - apologies for the length of this post, it is starting to read like a Journal entry..lol! but I am very much leaning toward just staying w/ the Russian guy because i feel he "gets" me mentally and explains things more succinctly and doesn't have me play passages like I am some 10 year old student who doesn't know how to count or read correct notes. Another thing I noticed, after each lesson w him, I rushed back home and started practicing right away.


    Well, that is a clear sign of successful motivation....he seems to meet your needs pretty well. smile
    So why continue to waste time with the other teacher?


    Last edited by Pinkiepie; 07/15/19 11:09 AM.
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869556
    07/15/19 02:43 PM
    07/15/19 02:43 PM
    Joined: Dec 2016
    Posts: 308
    Tallahassee, FL
    Chopin Acolyte Offline
    Full Member
    Chopin Acolyte  Offline
    Full Member

    Joined: Dec 2016
    Posts: 308
    Tallahassee, FL
    After reading your experiences with music teachers I'd like to share mine...I'm not a beginner anymore, but I don't know how to classify my level of playing.

    I decided to get a teacher again after 10 years of practicing alone, because I felt there was a lot I wanted to discuss with someone and I don't know any pianists in real life. I found him online, thought I'd give him a try. There was a preliminary discussion about my goals, which seemed quite reasonable.

    The experience was, so far, very motivating and in some sort, esoteric laugh

    (We are working on the Heroic Polonaise by Chopin and prelude 23-5 by Rachmaninoff)

    He pays little attention to mundane details like fingerings: after I asked "so which fingering is the best? This one I figured with redistributed voices, your edition sheet music, or the one in my edition?" "yes." In other words: whatever works for me, he would provide some insight about fingerings, but ultimately it's up to me to choose which one works the best for me. However, he warns me when I'm holding a chord and the last joint of my finger collapses (arches to the other side).

    Instead he would pay attention to things like "the first chord is forzando, the note right after starts with piano, there must be contrast: your forzando is loud enough already, try to play the p more like piano" which I found motivating as I'm discovering more dynamic levels a piano can provide and I feel guided as he steers me around a bit the dynamics.

    Also, funny gimmicks like "please, don't say we hit notes! we play them gracefully", or (after I didn't know which one Chopin 25-12 c minor is exactly and he played a part of it and I exclaimed "oh, the Ocean etude!") "I hate these names..."


    Bottom line: a good teacher makes the lesson feel like a time well spent with discussions and contemplations about particular interesting details in piece that are being studied and the student feels motivated. I, in particular, felt motivated to sit down every day with paper and pencil and note down fingerings and also try a lot to produce dynamics that are needed on the quieter side of the spectrum (my hearing is not too well and I have a tendency to pound the piano quite a lot). Once I leave the lesson, I want to feel the urge to practice and think more about the concepts that we were discussing in the lesson. Note that I'm talking mostly about pianists that take lessons willingly, not kids that are forced into it by parents. The feeling I think must be closer to "I'm being helped", rather than "I'm being bossed around".

    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: Pinkiepie] #2869561
    07/15/19 03:03 PM
    07/15/19 03:03 PM
    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    AssociateX Offline OP
    Full Member
    AssociateX  Offline OP
    Full Member

    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    Originally Posted by Pinkiepie


    Well, that is a clear sign of successful motivation....he seems to meet your needs pretty well. smile
    So why continue to waste time with the other teacher?



    Good question, and I do ask myself that. It seems like it will take some time for me to really find a teacher I can stay with long term. It is still too early to say what will happen. The teacher I studied with for 2 years back in high school is MIA, I tried to locate her when I considered starting up lessons again in 2016 (which is when I first bought my piano and decided I could actually dedicate practice time !).

    She has a Bachelors of Music degree from Barnard College (Columbia Univ) and all I know is her name but her last name is very common and when I called the school where I took lessons as a child in the early 1990s (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, when it was located in Flushing, Queens), the secretary told me they didn't have records because their records room burned down years ago or something. So I hit a dead end there and would have loved to continue lessons w/ her because she is the 1 teacher who made a big difference in my decision not to quit piano in my teenage years (I had come from 1 teacher in junior high who made me cry at lessons and kept me on Kuhlau/Clementi Sonatinas for A WHOLE YEAR with NO attempt to motivate me to learn harder pieces). This is why I am pretty angry that I never learned any Schumann, barely any Debussy, zero Rachmaninoff/Brahms and not even a Bach Invention until I was almost at YEAR 9 of my lessons. It was thanks to Mrs. W that I learned Moonlight Sonata (all 3 movements, several Chopin Preludes, some Debussy Childrens Corner, and a ton of smaller Mendelssohn pieces in only a span of a few months-she was very encouraging and effective in teaching me how to sightread, how to bring out dynamics and a singing tone in my RH, etc). But thats another thread for another day, haha.

    One reason I gave the music school teacher another try is because she is affiliated with a conservatory that is only 40 min from my home and their schedule allows for Sat and Sunday lessons. I live in the suburbs of New York City and when I was taking lessons at Juilliard's evening division, it was just convenient for me to go from work to the lesson by subway, but my commute home is a nightmare (and the lessons are only 1 weekday evening after 7 pm when my brain is mostly mush from working at my F/T law firm job). So once lessons at J ended, I needed to find a local teacher.

    I found the Russian teacher online at the same time I signed up w/ the music school teacher so I said to myself "if they are both good, I can stay w them both but if not, I can just stop going to 1 of them". The Russian teacher is also located in NYC but a much further location than Juilliard (Harlem) so I only do lessons on weekends (he also travels to Yale School of Music during the week) and it is a pain in the butt to see him but I think I'd rather stick w him and travel a little more than stay local w/ the local music school teacher. The closer a teacher is to my house, the better for me since I travel a lot for my current job as it is (courthouses all over the NY/Long Island area).


    Last edited by AssociateX; 07/15/19 03:06 PM.

    ~~~~~~~
    Finished:
    1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
    2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)
    Working on:
    1. Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/5
    2. Schubert Impromptu Op 90/3
    3. Misc nocturnes/Liszt Liebestraume 3
    *****************
    My YouTube Channel :

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2869567
    07/15/19 03:15 PM
    07/15/19 03:15 PM
    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    AssociateX Offline OP
    Full Member
    AssociateX  Offline OP
    Full Member

    Joined: Aug 2016
    Posts: 173
    Long Island, NY
    Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
    After reading your experiences with music teachers I'd like to share mine...I'm not a beginner anymore, but I don't know how to classify my level of playing.

    I decided to get a teacher again after 10 years of practicing alone, because I felt there was a lot I wanted to discuss with someone and I don't know any pianists in real life. I found him online, thought I'd give him a try. There was a preliminary discussion about my goals, which seemed quite reasonable.

    The experience was, so far, very motivating and in some sort, esoteric laugh

    (We are working on the Heroic Polonaise by Chopin and prelude 23-5 by Rachmaninoff)

    He pays little attention to mundane details like fingerings: after I asked "so which fingering is the best? This one I figured with redistributed voices, your edition sheet music, or the one in my edition?" "yes." In other words: whatever works for me, he would provide some insight about fingerings, but ultimately it's up to me to choose which one works the best for me. However, he warns me when I'm holding a chord and the last joint of my finger collapses (arches to the other side).

    Instead he would pay attention to things like "the first chord is forzando, the note right after starts with piano, there must be contrast: your forzando is loud enough already, try to play the p more like piano" which I found motivating as I'm discovering more dynamic levels a piano can provide and I feel guided as he steers me around a bit the dynamics.

    Also, funny gimmicks like "please, don't say we hit notes! we play them gracefully", or (after I didn't know which one Chopin 25-12 c minor is exactly and he played a part of it and I exclaimed "oh, the Ocean etude!") "I hate these names..."


    Bottom line: a good teacher makes the lesson feel like a time well spent with discussions and contemplations about particular interesting details in piece that are being studied and the student feels motivated. I, in particular, felt motivated to sit down every day with paper and pencil and note down fingerings and also try a lot to produce dynamics that are needed on the quieter side of the spectrum (my hearing is not too well and I have a tendency to pound the piano quite a lot). Once I leave the lesson, I want to feel the urge to practice and think more about the concepts that we were discussing in the lesson. Note that I'm talking mostly about pianists that take lessons willingly, not kids that are forced into it by parents. The feeling I think must be closer to "I'm being helped", rather than "I'm being bossed around".


    Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts!! I am happy to read this, and I understand completely because I feel the same way! I definitely agree with your last point about feeling "helped" and not feeling "bossed around". I can see that there may be communication issues but having been self-taught for a few months before formally starting lessons back in 2018, I can sense such a divergence in approach and teaching style/philosophies between teachers. Before I started lessons at Juilliard's evening division, I had reached out to a local university's Music Department for a list of Faculty/Adjunct Faculty who taught piano lessons and most said "no they only teach enrolled students" or "a few who said they dont work with adults, only children". I had "trial" lessons with 2 teachers who have private studios and were graduates of local universities(BA/BM in Piano) but one said "you sound so lovely!! what do you feel like working on? I can suggest some fingerings but I think you have the piece down pat!" (this was a Chopin Raindrop prelude which I later played for my Juilliard teacher and told me there were 6 wrong notes, a wrong bass note, and the tempo was terrible, lol).

    So after that experience, I was left feeling as if "gee some of these teachers will just tell me anything I want to hear because they want to ensure I keep paying them $$ every week." LMAO!! But my goal isnt to just feel happy at a piano lesson, my goal is to fix my technique problems, learn how to analyze a piece PROPERLY with the correct notes, fingerings, rhythm and dynamics so I can feel confident playing it in public without feeling embarrassed, lol.


    ~~~~~~~
    Finished:
    1. Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2
    2. Beethoven Sonata Op 2/1 (1st mvmnt)
    Working on:
    1. Rachmaninoff Prelude 23/5
    2. Schubert Impromptu Op 90/3
    3. Misc nocturnes/Liszt Liebestraume 3
    *****************
    My YouTube Channel :

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNj0Yha5exOWuJMTezV3t8Q
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869593
    07/15/19 04:33 PM
    07/15/19 04:33 PM
    Joined: Mar 2017
    Posts: 247
    Connecticut, USA
    MichaelJK Offline

    Full Member
    MichaelJK  Offline

    Full Member

    Joined: Mar 2017
    Posts: 247
    Connecticut, USA
    Originally Posted by AssociateX

    So after that experience, I was left feeling as if "gee some of these teachers will just tell me anything I want to hear because they want to ensure I keep paying them $$ every week." LMAO!! But my goal isnt to just feel happy at a piano lesson, my goal is to fix my technique problems, learn how to analyze a piece PROPERLY with the correct notes, fingerings, rhythm and dynamics so I can feel confident playing it in public without feeling embarrassed, lol.


    Yes, that's true. Some teachers will do that. There's actually a lot of pressure on teachers to do exactly that, so try not to judge them too harshly...

    I think it's worth mentioning that it makes no sense to use any of the following to compare teachers with each other:

    - what school they went to
    - how well they play
    - how long they've been teaching
    - what school they teach at
    - what country they're from
    - judgments made by strangers online

    The only thing that matters is the effect the lessons have on you (keep in mind that they may have a different effect on another student...).

    You said that you feel more inspired after having a lesson with one of these teachers than with the other. That, to me, says a lot.

    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: AssociateX] #2869741
    07/16/19 06:44 AM
    07/16/19 06:44 AM
    Joined: May 2019
    Posts: 146
    P
    Pinkiepie Offline
    Full Member
    Pinkiepie  Offline
    Full Member
    P

    Joined: May 2019
    Posts: 146
    Originally Posted by AssociateX

    Good question, and I do ask myself that. It seems like it will take some time for me to really find a teacher I can stay with long term. It is still too early to say what will happen. The teacher I studied with for 2 years back in high school is MIA, I tried to locate her when I considered starting up lessons again in 2016 (which is when I first bought my piano and decided I could actually dedicate practice time !).

    She has a Bachelors of Music degree from Barnard College (Columbia Univ) and all I know is her name but her last name is very common and when I called the school where I took lessons as a child in the early 1990s (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, when it was located in Flushing, Queens), the secretary told me they didn't have records because their records room burned down years ago or something. So I hit a dead end there...


    It is a pity that you could not find the teacher from that time.
    I had to have a similar experience with my (then) favourite teacher. However, in my case it was my daughter, for whom I would have liked lessons.

    I could understand if this teacher left a big shadow in which everyone else stands now.

    It also may be that you idealize her (a bit?) in retrospect ... that would make it even more difficult to find a worthy "successor".


    Quote
    and would have loved to continue lessons w/ her because she is the 1 teacher who made a big difference in my decision not to quit piano in my teenage years (I had come from 1 teacher in junior high who made me cry at lessons and kept me on Kuhlau/Clementi Sonatinas for A WHOLE YEAR with NO attempt to motivate me to learn harder pieces).


    Oh, that sounds really bad.
    Did you hate the sonatinas or did you feel generally under-challenged?
    Since one year is not such a long time...maybe the teacher thought, you are not ready yet for harder stuff? (from a technical point of view, sonatins are a good preparation for later (more demanding) sonatas and pieces).

    But I was not there and you obviously suffered. Your teacher should have reacted.
    Being held down without reason, only for the convenience of the teacher, would be a shame indeed. I get your anger here.

    However, it does not seem so unusual that as a student you were not allowed to play the pieces that you liked best.
    It was the same with me. I played what my teacher wanted me to play.

    (He used to say something like:"Is the chick trying to be a hen now?" if you made suggestions...
    Lol...he really was a Sweetie.)

    But luckily he had a pretty good taste in music anyway (so I was at least happy with that....)
    And everything, that interested only me (but not him), I did in my free time.


    Usually, the more advanced you become, the more say you get. At least that was the case with my later teachers.


    Quote
    One reason I gave the music school teacher another try is because she is affiliated with a conservatory that is only 40 min from my home and their schedule allows for Sat and Sunday lessons. I live in the suburbs of New York City and when I was taking lessons at Juilliard's evening division, it was just convenient for me to go from work to the lesson by subway, but my commute home is a nightmare (and the lessons are only 1 weekday evening after 7 pm when my brain is mostly mush from working at my F/T law firm job). So once lessons at J ended, I needed to find a local teacher.

    I found the Russian teacher online at the same time I signed up w/ the music school teacher so I said to myself "if they are both good, I can stay w them both but if not, I can just stop going to 1 of them". The Russian teacher is also located in NYC but a much further location than Juilliard (Harlem) so I only do lessons on weekends (he also travels to Yale School of Music during the week) and it is a pain in the butt to see him but I think I'd rather stick w him and travel a little more than stay local w/ the local music school teacher. The closer a teacher is to my house, the better for me since I travel a lot for my current job as it is (courthouses all over the NY/Long Island area).


    I can understand these motivations well.
    Too long a distance would also scare me off.

    On the other hand, since you already have a certain level, less frequent hours might also be an alternative?
    Better a few very productive than many useless lessons.


    But take your time! As long as you're uncertain about it, I wouldn't make a final decision



    Last edited by Pinkiepie; 07/16/19 06:47 AM.
    Re: Qualities all GOOD/GREAT piano teachers posess [Re: Pinkiepie] #2869762
    07/16/19 07:51 AM
    07/16/19 07:51 AM
    Joined: Jan 2018
    Posts: 2,997
    In the Ozarks of Missouri
    NobleHouse Offline
    2000 Post Club Member
    NobleHouse  Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Joined: Jan 2018
    Posts: 2,997
    In the Ozarks of Missouri
    Originally Posted by Pinkiepie
    [

    But take your time! As long as you're uncertain about it, I wouldn't make a final decision





    Sage advice. Take your time in making a decision.


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