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I assume this is a commercial music school. Is it possible the teacher is not really that qualified as a classical piano teacher? Anyway, if he is not the only teacher affiliated with that school, why not talk to the school management and ask if it is possible to try another one? They are about to lose a paying customer...
Itâ€™s a small school and heâ€™s the owner. There are only 2 other teachers and ine of them gave me a few lessons when I was growing up and lost interest. He got good reviews from adults on google but I donâ€™t know what they were trying to accomplish. I honestly donâ€™t think heâ€™d care about losing a student. I get the impression that he is as frustrated with me as I am with him because he just does not want to be questioned. That may work with children but Iâ€™m surpirsed other adult students havenâ€™t complained.
So now that we know what Faber your current teacher is trying to steer you towards, I would just say, "Just say no." No chord piano for you. No Alfred's. Nothing with the name of "ChordTime." Instead, if you are going to go with a big name method book series, go with Faber Adult Piano Adventures (links provided above), or the series ebonykawai suggested. Neither Alfred's or a book called ChordTime will get you to where you want to go on classical. That said, these books have their place, and if all you want to play is pop and rock, you might get there with Alfreds and ChordTime stuff. But if you have your sights set on classical, this is not the right way.
ChordTime is not more chord-based than anything else by Faber. It's just what they named that level's supplemental books.
I agree with the others. Even if the teacher is great, it doesn't sound like you're meshing with him. Dealing with teacher conflict is just another obstacle you don't need in your piano journey... You'll have enough as it is.
Mils, it seems that you've already got a lot of good advice from the other members. To me, it seems that you are being impatient. As others have pointed out, learning piano well takes a lot of time, several years, if not a lifetime of practice. At this point, it doesn't seem that you know what is best for developing your skills, so trusting your teacher is important. Of course, there are a lot of bad teachers and perhaps yours falls into the "bad teacher" category. It might be a good idea to find a new one that is more compatible with your personality and goals. But that will not change the fact that you are going to need a lot of time and practice to learn the instrument, especially if you want to play classical music.
Now, I just want to share my experience, as I think it might be helpful. I started as a kid and I had formal lessons for about 3 years until I dropped the piano to play the guitar. But I have always had a piano in my living room, so even though I wasn't practicing anymore I would play occasionally. That went on for most of my life, the neglected piano in my living room being played once every month or so. Until last year, I've decided to come back to it and learn it well, committing to a daily practice routine and hiring a teacher.
The first teacher that I got was very flexible and she would let me pick the pieces that I wanted to play, which were extremely hard and way beyond my reach. She did help me a lot, but after a while, I wasn't making any progress. I realized that my technique was fundamentally wrong and she wasn't doing anything to help me fix it. So I ditched her and started looking for a better teacher. It took me some time to find one, but from the very first lesson I could tell that he was the "real deal". He asked me to play something and I started playing a fragment from Debussy's Clair de Lune. About 5 seconds later he interrupted me and said: "too much tension... I am afraid that you will need to start learning the piano from scratch". From scratch means that I wasn't allowed to play even beginner tunes from the infamous Alfred book, I was downgraded to the most elementary level possible.
For about a month all the lessons were about fundamental finger, wrist and arm movements, using the very first pieces from Bartok Mikrokosmos to train those concepts/movements. In other words, very boring stuff. Have you ever listened to the first pieces in Mikrokosmos book 1? They are terrible, you should be grateful for starting from Alfred's. And despite the fact that I was doing elementary exercises, I was having a hard time doing them correctly! So, if you think you suck after having only 5 lessons of experience, imagine how I felt being unable to play those stupid pieces correctly after having played the piano for most of my life. Before that, I was attempting pieces like Beethoven's Pathetique sonata and playing around with some Chopin etudes. But my teacher told me I was doing everything wrong and I shouldn't practice those pieces anymore.
You can imagine the frustration in that, going back to the most fundamental, basic, pieces and exercises after a "lifetime" of piano "experience". But that was really what I needed to do to progress. I was patient and trusted my teacher, after all, he is a concert pianist with decades of experience performing and teaching. It wasn't long before I could start playing real pieces, at a beginner level. I was actually having fun with those easy pieces and I found that I could learn something new from each one of them. In reality, they were all challenging to play masterfully (at a very high level of musicality, which I could never reach). I noticed that there is always something to improve, even when playing elementary pieces, so they were very important preparation for the more "serious" pieces to come. A few months later and my teacher finally assigned me a challenging piece and now he is letting me choose my own repertoire.
Now I can see that it was worth the effort because I really needed to rebuild my technique. I am still at a beginner level (mostly), far from reaching the level that I want, but I can confidently say that I getting better and better every day. And despite having to do some boring exercises, practice stuff that I don't want to, and the frustration of not being able to play some piece well, even after months and countless hours practicing it, I am enjoying the process and having fun playing the piano.
So, maybe you need to "suck up" these terrible beginner level pieces that your teacher is giving you. If not those, some other pieces that could be equally boring. Maybe there is midterm in there and you can find appropriate pieces that you like, but at some point, we may have to play stuff that we don't want to, it is part of the process of learning (anything, really). About the corrections in technique that you mentioned, If your teacher points out things that you are doing wrong, you may want to fix those issues now, instead of building up a bunch of issues and having to solve them later when attempting much harder repertoire. Practicing the same boring piece/exercise over and over can feel frustrating, but it is important to get used to that if you want to make progress in the piano. If your teacher says you still need to practice those pieces, maybe it is because there is still something for you to learn with them. There is no magic method that makes you learn to play the piano fast. It takes a lot of time, a lot of mindful practice, and not all of it is fun, especially in the beginning stages.
If you can't deal with those things, I am sorry, but maybe learning the piano is not for you. Changing teachers can have a significant effect on what pieces you play and how you practice them, so maybe that will really help you start enjoying the journey. But you have to be patient and manage your expectations. You should be celebrating every baby step, every small improvement, instead of complaining of every difficulty and frustration. Having a good attitude about it is important, otherwise, you may not find the motivation to keep learning.
Unlike the previous poster I have always been allowed to choose my pieces as long as they were not inappropriate for my level (well, sometimes even then). My teacher had no problem with this and there really are fully classical methods and even pieces suited for a beginner. I also had frustrationa but not because of the pieces. I had a brief encounter with another teacher first, who wasn't very keen on teaching me classical pieces. Glad I found my present one. I still take lessons after almost a decade although I do feel competent to learn pieces on my own.
So don't get discouraged by the "if you cannot handle this or that, maybe the piano isn't for you" folks. Practicing boring things over and over is not the only way to learn to play...
I probably will. However, I donâ€™t know how your teachers work but this is a music â€œschool,â€ so you have to prepay for the lessons and cannot get a refund if you auit. So, I have to stick it out with him for 2 more weeks. In the meantime, Iâ€™ll try to find someone else.
It is about here I get a very nagging feeling that you are too impatient. This does NOT mean I don't think you should shift teacher because if you think you have a communication problem then you are probably right. Find a new teacher and sort out the details before you sign up for lessons. Many teacher offer a test lesson before you make a deal. With the teachers I have had, I have also had extensive discussions before we started. But I get worried because you complain about having to "stick it out with him for 2 more weeks". What is two weeks in this context? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Or what are your expectations on piano learning? After all my encounters with adult beginners I have noticed they have ONE thing in common: they say "learning piano was harder than I thought". Some say it with frustration, others with a grin. The basics in piano learning are so deceivingly simple. But it quickly gets tougher and very soon you realize that it is not just about pressing keys in the right sequence, just like classical ballet is about little more than pointing your arms and legs in the right directions all the time and jump on command.
When you write that you stink after 4 lessons I wonder what you expected and how you think it is for others? Yes, we all have got mad at lessons when everything sounded #Â¤%& even though it was soooo good at home the same morning. Been there, done that, countless of times. Also, it is hard to adapt to new kinds of pianos, although it gets easier the more experience you get. Go to piano shops and other places where you can find pianos, and play. Do it a lot. This is also the "curse" of being a pianist. Other musicians can bring their own instrument with them all the time.
From my recollection, after 4 weeks of lessons as a kid, I was playing the last few pieces in John Thompson's Easiest Piano Course Book 1: Theme from (DvoÅ™Ã¡k's) 'New World" Symphony, The Banjo Picker and Row, Row. All with single notes in each hand, passing from one to the other (- but never together), still with hands in 5-finger position with thumbs on middle C. And counting beats aloud all the while, each and every time. Far, far, far too slow? Nope - I needed to practice to get all my fingers moving independently (though not yet together) and get every note value spot on, as well as the actual notes. Boring? Not in the least - I was far too engrossed in getting my fingers working properly (and sounding as evenly as possible), getting my timing and counting right, developing skills - technical & musical. Regardless of whether I actually liked the tunes (which I mostly did, even in their bare-bones form). What I was learning every week was just about within my ability......
I looked forward to the lessons because my teacher would play the 'teacher's accompaniment' (printed in the pages) as a duet alongside me whilst I was playing those simple tunes. I sounded good too ......when my teacher played with me, and it certainly helped to make me look forward to what I'd be learning next.
Some three months later, I was playing Mozart (from Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns - a volume I cannot recommend too highly for any near-beginner interested in classical). OK, very easy child Mozart, but still original and unadulterated Wolfie, by his own fair hand (helped by Leopold, of course ). From then on, no more simplified arrangements - only original keyboard/piano pieces for me. I told my teacher that, and she was only too happy to oblige. I never looked back after that.
In other words, my advice is: learn the basics slowly & carefully, and properly. The slower and more thoroughly, the better to cement the required skills into the brain. All that will pay dividends in the months and years and decades to come. Impatience is the worst enemy of learning such a difficult musical instrument as the piano, yet almost every post by a new beginner here in ABF exhibits the same impatience. The question is - do you want to learn to play well?
Because it really does take decades to master the piano to a high level.
"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."
But I get worried because you complain about having to "stick it out with him for 2 more weeks". What is two weeks in this context? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Or what are your expectations on piano learning?
For the OP having a lesson with this teacher is an unpleasant experience, and she cannot get any money back for the series of lessons paid for. If one was planning to change teachers because of this kind of experience I think most people would find taking the last two lessons a drag.
From my survey of Russian piano teachers, my own, and comments from others with Russian teachers on this forum, Bartokâ€™s Mikrokosmos is not held in high regard. I showed up with it to my first lesson and had it taken away from me, LOL. This was after I had tried to teach it to myself, a big mistake. I was told, we wonâ€™t be working on that. Hahaha. Maybe Bartok liked to torture his son, I donâ€™t know. Imagine John Cage writing a book of piano pieces for prepared piano for his son!
Anyway, I like my teacherâ€™s taste in music, she favors lyrical pieces that are musical and stick in your ear, something that is helpful for memorization. I like the book of easy classics that she chose and I am always amazed at how wonderful she can make them sound. She never throws a piece away, even if it is easy.
Mils I started lessons at 52. I tried self teaching for three months but got very overwhelmed by the tons of competing methods videos etc and where to even begin. When I started lessons I told my teacher to start at the beginning. This was not only humbling but painful. I still dislike half the method stuff I need to get through but I slog through. 4 lessons is just a baby step toward the Marathon you want to run. My suggestion is just keep your eyes in front of you. Digest the material that is just above your competence and try to feel good about the Iincremental gain because they come. I assure you they will not come fast enough for your liking but if you slow down and accept the pace that your fingers teach your brain you will progress more than you expect. Enjoy the process and the results will follow.
I think there are a lot of issues and that this particular teacher is not a good match. I donâ€™t think his teaching method works because, as Iâ€™ve stated, I practice but get to the lessons and nothing is right i donâ€™t think he demonstrates things enough. I need to see and hear to understand. Telling me that something is wrong and even telling me how to correct it wonâ€™t help because I need to see and hear it correctly to know ehat itâ€™s supposed to sound like and how to get it to sound that way. He may think itâ€™s challenging and maybe for a more advanced player it would be but for a beginner, itâ€™s frustrating and it isnâ€™t helping me to progress. He told me that he prefers songs that students havenâ€™t heard before because then rhey have to work everything out for themselves. I believe that if you have an idea of the way something si supposed to be played or sound, then you can see the notes and relate them to the song. Telling me what a dotted quarter note is, followed by an eight note makes more sense if you also let me hear it in the context of the song. I just started. At times, itâ€™s so agonizing and nerve racking that my brain shuts down completely. In the last lesson, I looked like a moron because I was in such a state that I couldnâ€™t even add fractions to figure out what a dotted eighth note is worth! It was mortifying but even after he broke the fractions down for me like I was a third grader, as my brain refused to function, it didnâ€™t make sense. What is 3/4 of a beat? I donâ€™t want to play mind games. Struggling for half a lesson is neither enjoyable nor productive.