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Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
#2900479 10/15/19 02:40 PM
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I am a strong believer that a good teacher is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for my piano education. Today, that belief was once again confirmed and validated.

This past week, I learned to play a simple 8 bar melody in RCM Prep B. I thought I learned it pretty well, right notes, pretty good tempo, etc. Come on, it’s just Prep B, how hard can it be, right? I played it for my teacher today and she picked out one minor mistake I kept making throughout the piece. It was such a stupid mistake but I had absolutely no idea I was making it! I played a staccato where there wasn’t one, but I swear the piece sounded great played wrong lol! Anyway, thank goodness for my teacher.

Then I played my stretch piece for her and again, she deconstructed my playing, taught me to play the phrases properly, fixed my fingering and boy, what a difference! I was literally just playing the right notes at the right time, but she taught me how to make it musical! There are so many nuances even in such a simple piece.

I can’t believe how much I learn from her. It’s amazing. Now, if only I can actually remember to do what she has taught me, wouldn’t that be great!


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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900490 10/15/19 03:25 PM
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No-one has ever gotten far on piano without a good teacher.

Though that doesn't stop many, many, many people from trying, trying, trying.......

A story from my childhood (which I've related before): I was staying with my uncle and his family (all his kids were learning piano), when his friend visited. He went straight to the piano to show us kids how it should be played, and embarked on a rendition of La Paloma which sounded distinctly odd to me. Basically, he got the RH tune about right, but the LH rocking accompaniment seemed to be in a different key.

That's because it was. (Actually, it was in a mixture of keys).

But hey, it sounded fine to him........ yippie

My uncle winked at me whilst he was playing it (with all due panache and expression), and later told me that he was self-taught, and rather fancied himself as a pianist. I never knew that pianists could be self-taught then, as everyone I knew who played had a teacher.

I know better now, of course.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900492 10/15/19 03:31 PM
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Another thing to do is record yourself and compare the recording with other pianist.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
Serge88 #2900506 10/15/19 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Serge88
Another thing to do is record yourself and compare the recording with other pianist.


Heck even with yourself over time. Really an eye opener to hear how much better you sound a few months later. Rinse and repeat. smile


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900510 10/15/19 04:22 PM
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Finally getting a good teacher has been invaluable. My first teacher really didn't care much for technique. It was always "you'll get it eventually". Perhaps I will, but at what cost?

My teacher will spend almost the entire lesson sometimes just walking me through the right mechanics for playing a single line of a song. Those principles I can then take to every piece that I play. The latest example being Bach Invention 13, and looking at the lines as set hand positions that move as needed, rather than chaotically moving my hand around during the entire piece. My playing and practice has become a lot more organized as a result.

Perceived development and actual development are two very different things. In the beginning, these lessons were frustrating because it all seemed unbearably slow, but the teacher that has a thoughtful, methodical, and patient approach to teaching can help turn those small initial steps into large leaps of development due to having a solid technique.

I'm not sure I would have ever gotten this far without a teacher forcing me to slow down and analyze the 'small' things in my playing. I almost feel like my first year of lessons didn't even count. Perhaps the only useful skill I developed was sight reading, as the rest had to be deconstructed and rebuilt. I've gone from Mikrokosmos Volume 1 to Bach Inventions in less than a year under her careful eye.

I can't imagine learning from the internet or book alone.

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900513 10/15/19 04:36 PM
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The crucial bit of course is recognising whether you have a good teacher or not. Some aspects should be obvious even to the unskilled adult student but there are many aspects an unskilled student will have no idea of whether a teacher is good or not. I'm trying a new teacher tomorrow and I will be evaluating their skills as best I can, but I am sure I will be left guessing to some extent as to whether my new teacher will be any good.

Seems that most teachers are on the other/richer side of town and I need to avoid going past the centre of town as far as possible, travel time becomes more than I have time so I am restricted in choice in the smaller selection on this side of town.

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
KevinM #2900557 10/15/19 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
I'm trying a new teacher tomorrow and I will be evaluating their skills as best I can, but I am sure I will be left guessing to some extent as to whether my new teacher will be any good.


In the UK, teachers teach kids to the ABRSM/Trinity syllabus and thus ensure everything is covered with no gaps. Kids tend not to be fussy and adapt to their teachers' style and manner of teaching - after all, they had to at school, with a different teacher for each of the eight or so subjects they are studying.....(All my four teachers had diverse teaching styles, and even different languages, but as a kid, I took them in my stride cool - it was my job as a kid to learn what they wanted to teach and not question or challenge anything they said. After all, I knew nothing and they knew everything).

Adults can be a problem for teachers, as I know from chatting to some piano teachers I've met over the years. Most just don't teach adults to avoid being scrutinised and challenged at every turn, and hassles with questions like: what do you want to learn, do you want to learn only what you want to play, do you want to follow the syllabus and/or do exams, do you want to learn theory and aural skills and so forth; not to mention being made to feel with some students that they have to justify everything they want to teach.

If you're willing to follow one of the exam syllabus (whether or not you want to do the exams themselves), you won't have any trouble finding teachers. It will be more problematic if you want to dictate what you want to learn, as many adult students do........and teachers then feel like they're threading on eggshells having to do their students' bidding.

In fact, if you want to learn everything properly, you might want to be careful of teachers who 'specialise' in teaching adults, as they often just teach what (they think) their students want to learn, no more and no less. Never mind the resulting gaps in skills, technique and knowledge, it's more important that the student gets what he asks for........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900583 10/15/19 08:45 PM
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"But now, with the internet, you just have to watch youtube tutorials to learn and in no time you be playing advanced level pieces, like Fantasie Impromptu, Moonlight Sonata 3rd and La Campanella. Heck, you don't even need to learn how to read music, there are detailed tutorials for all pieces."

It is crazy how many beginners actually go for that approach. Having a good teacher will always be essential if you are serious about learning the piano. For those who just want to mess around with the instrument, yeah, sure, just watch some tutorials and learn by yourself. The problem with that approach is that once the student is hooked and really wants to learn how to play well, his technique is all wrong and he has so many bad habits that it is very difficult to fix. But again, a really good teacher can solve that, with a lot of patience. He may even need to go back to basics, as I did (and I actually had a teacher before... Not a very good one, as it seems).

So many beginners talk about waiting before getting a teacher, like if the early stages were easy and you don't need someone to guide you there. I don't know at what point a student wouldn't need a teacher anymore, but I think at the very beginning it is very important to get one, to build the proper arm, wrist and finger coordination. It is best to form good habits right from the beginning than to correct those issues later, right?


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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900590 10/15/19 09:00 PM
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I'm sure a good piano teacher is always a good thing. I'm sure a good piano teacher can give you some unvaluable tips and teachings that can make you play much better and learn faster, avoid mistakes that are difficult to "correct" after you played many times in the wrong way, etc... But I don't think it's "essential" for anyone.
For example, I play just for my pleasure... To relieve some daily stress. I don't want to play in public. I don't have to pass a piano exam.

Recently I learned a little piece and being that I'm very bad at sight reading because I started very very late with the piano, I misread a note and now I always play the piece with that wrong note. I had no teacher that could tell me that was a wrong note. But after listening to that piece on a video I found the mistake. Now, the strange thing is: I tried to play it with the right note but I didn't like it... I like it more with that "wrong" note! So, I thought: "Hey, my target is not to play that piece exactly as the composer wrote it... My target is to have fun in playing the piano!". And so, I went further: I imagined in my mind that piece played with a different dynamic from the original musical score. I tried. I liked it. Now I play that piece with the wrong note and the different dynamic. What's wrong with that?

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900592 10/15/19 09:14 PM
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MagicPiano
You will find every response to your post asking about leaving in a wrong note and changing the dynamics from aghast to ‘two thumbs up’. Each of us can make a personal decision about our own faithfulness to the score. None of us need to take a group vote. ..... enjoy the choice that works for you.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
magicpiano #2900597 10/15/19 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
MagicPiano
You will find every response to your post asking about leaving in a wrong note and changing the dynamics from aghast to ‘two thumbs up’. Each of us can make a personal decision about our own faithfulness to the score. None of us need to take a group vote. ..... enjoy the choice that works for you.


Exactly.

Originally Posted by magicpiano
I'm sure a good piano teacher is always a good thing. I'm sure a good piano teacher can give you some unvaluable tips and teachings that can make you play much better and learn faster, avoid mistakes that are difficult to "correct" after you played many times in the wrong way, etc... But I don't think it's "essential" for anyone.
For example, I play just for my pleasure... To relieve some daily stress. I don't want to play in public. I don't have to pass a piano exam.

Recently I learned a little piece and being that I'm very bad at sight reading because I started very very late with the piano, I misread a note and now I always play the piece with that wrong note. I had no teacher that could tell me that was a wrong note. But after listening to that piece on a video I found the mistake. Now, the strange thing is: I tried to play it with the right note but I didn't like it... I like it more with that "wrong" note! So, I thought: "Hey, my target is not to play that piece exactly as the composer wrote it... My target is to have fun in playing the piano!". And so, I went further: I imagined in my mind that piece played with a different dynamic from the original musical score. I tried. I liked it. Now I play that piece with the wrong note and the different dynamic. What's wrong with that?


You will notice that I specifically said in the OP that a good piano teacher is absolutely essential FOR ME. That’s my style and my approach to the piano and I like it that way. There’s no other way for me.

If my husband was a piano player, he’d definitely be of the same attitude as magicpiano. Totally opposite from my style, and yet we are still married. grin

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 10/15/19 09:31 PM.

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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900598 10/15/19 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
If my husband was a piano player, he’d definitely be of the same attitude as magicpiano. Totally opposite from my style, and yet we are still married. grin

It's the same in my family. smile


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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900604 10/15/19 10:07 PM
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I really like my teacher, too smile Not only is she really helpful, but she's really motivating and encouraging. Even if I play like poorly, I always leave my lesson happy and feeling like I've taken another step in the right direction.

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
magicpiano #2900608 10/15/19 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by magicpiano
I'm sure a good piano teacher is always a good thing. I'm sure a good piano teacher can give you some unvaluable tips and teachings that can make you play much better and learn faster, avoid mistakes that are difficult to "correct" after you played many times in the wrong way, etc... But I don't think it's "essential" for anyone.
For example, I play just for my pleasure... To relieve some daily stress. I don't want to play in public. I don't have to pass a piano exam.

Recently I learned a little piece and being that I'm very bad at sight reading because I started very very late with the piano, I misread a note and now I always play the piece with that wrong note. I had no teacher that could tell me that was a wrong note. But after listening to that piece on a video I found the mistake. Now, the strange thing is: I tried to play it with the right note but I didn't like it... I like it more with that "wrong" note! So, I thought: "Hey, my target is not to play that piece exactly as the composer wrote it... My target is to have fun in playing the piano!". And so, I went further: I imagined in my mind that piece played with a different dynamic from the original musical score. I tried. I liked it. Now I play that piece with the wrong note and the different dynamic. What's wrong with that?


I think that if you don't have very high expectations about the level that you want to reach, and you are having fun playing, then, by all means, keep doing what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with that. I just think self teaching is crazy for those who want to play at a high level. I can't see how it is possible to get there without a teacher.


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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900645 10/16/19 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I am a strong believer that a good teacher is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for my piano education.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

For more than two months now PCA has had a feedback teacher, and there is such a different feeling in my playing since she pointed out several things to me. Quite a different whole-arm feeling - not just fingers that play, but all of me. I love that feeling.


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Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
dogperson #2900657 10/16/19 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
MagicPiano
You will find every response to your post asking about leaving in a wrong note and changing the dynamics from aghast to ‘two thumbs up’. Each of us can make a personal decision about our own faithfulness to the score. None of us need to take a group vote. ..... enjoy the choice that works for you.

Yes, I wasn't looking for votes, I wanted just to share my recent little experience.

I know the OP said in the first post that a teacher is essential for "her" piano education, but the title of the post could suggest that a teacher is "always" essential, so I felt I had to say something about it.

I think that if you want to be a Pianist* you absolutely must have a (good) teacher. But not all who play the piano want to be a "Pianist". That's what I meant. wink

*my definition of Pianist: who makes a live from playing the piano and/or teaching/composing for the piano or, in any case, who reached an high level in piano playing (i.e. play fluently even the most technically difficult pieces).

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900659 10/16/19 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
[...]If my husband was a piano player, he’d definitely be of the same attitude as magicpiano. Totally opposite from my style, and yet we are still married. grin
So it's true that opposites attract! laugh

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
enw10 #2900661 10/16/19 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by enw10
I really like my teacher, too smile Not only is she really helpful, but she's really motivating and encouraging. Even if I play like poorly, I always leave my lesson happy and feeling like I've taken another step in the right direction.
That's a good teacher. wink

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
facdo #2900664 10/16/19 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by facdo
[...]I just think self teaching is crazy for those who want to play at a high level. I can't see how it is possible to get there without a teacher.
I think so too.

Re: Why I’m convinced a good teacher is ESSENTIAL
WeakLeftHand #2900677 10/16/19 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
I am a strong believer that a good teacher is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for my piano education. Today, that belief was once again confirmed and validated.



I have had quite a few lessons like that will my current teacher. To find such a teacher is not always easy, and my one regret was not finding her in the beginning. smile


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