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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2623542 03/14/17 09:54 AM
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FWIW, I would be extremely happy to have an adult student that could devote to an average of 30 minutes per day.

It is all too easy for a student to blame themselves for their teacher's shortcomings, rather than believe it's not them that's the problem.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
Peter K. Mose #2623807 03/14/17 09:38 PM
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I too agree with Peter's comment. I've just started learning as well and it was hard enough to take the time out of a day to go to a class and practice. This is your hobby that you'll have to continue for awhile. If the teacher made you felt discouraged already, it's not ok. People normally don't change and talking can make things feel even more awkward. Her teaching style just doesn't match your expectations. I hope your teacher didn't make you wanna give up piano. I'm sure there is a piano teacher out there that will help and guide you in a positive way. Good Luck.

Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
Richrf #2623812 03/14/17 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Richrf
I'm totally different. I totally, 100% enjoy every minute that I play. I appreciate all compliments but whether or not I receive any does not affect my enjoyment. Today I played for three hours, enjoyed every minute of it, and maybe the same tomorrow especially with a blizzard is coming through. I also have no problem enjoying playing when there are difficulties. I enjoy learning.

I also totally enjoy when I play. There are some ingrained difficulties that I am overcoming, and that is hard work to change. Not all practising is enjoyable in the way that playing is depending on what you are working on. The results are rewarding and the progress is rewarding. If enjoyable, then it is of a different order.

But again, if I didn't express it properly before - from a teacher you want feedback (rather than compliments). Did I reach what I was supposed to reach? If something is off, how do I fix it? Ok, I tried to work as you said - did I get there - did I reach what I was supposed to reach? Teacher feedback is a beacon that helps you steer your way.

I do NOT want sweet encouraging meaningless and insincere words. Feedback and guidance (Richard touched on the guidance, and that is very important) are the way to go imho.

***
Btw, I got back from the dentist today - snowstorm and all - and was told from the hygienist that with the new toothbrush and technique I had done a superb job, with nothing left behind. It did make me feel good. blush On a more serious note, I did actually want to know if I was doing it right.

Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
Morodiene #2623813 03/14/17 10:16 PM
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Morodiene .... thumb
Thank you for that packet of wisdom.

Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2624196 03/16/17 09:07 AM
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I have two feelings about this and they're opposite, so take it for what it's worth wink

As a Suzuki teacher I am trained to notice what is going well, praise what is going well, and work on what isn't going well one thing at a time. (Works nicely in other areas of life too, when I can manage it.) Praise is every bit as important as criticism just from a technical standpoint: students often don't notice what they do right, so what they're doing right needs to be reinforced. Praise is good for the work ethic too. Assuming they practiced properly, they did improve something over the course of the week and those things need to be reinforced in order to encourage future work habits. And of course we all know how the balance of praise and criticism can affect relationships. When I have a more advanced student who really wants to improve quickly and seems to have a thick skin, or with students I've had for several years and we have a good and well-established relationship, sometimes I am a little more critical, but praise is always there too.

The teacher I had in adulthood who may have been the best teacher I ever had was an extremely negative teacher. Lessons were an hour of rapid-fire criticism of everything I was doing wrong and we frequently spent the whole lesson on a page or less of music. I regularly left lessons wanting to yell or cry. There would often be a day or so after the lesson when I didn't even want to touch the piece because of how I felt. But then after a day or so had gone by, I'd pick up the piece again and I'd try to use all those critiques to get better. Which is what my teacher wanted. It's a very pure kind of teaching in its way; it's designed solely to make the student better at playing the piano, and doesn't waste time on other matters. The other thing that happened is I started preparing for lessons the way I used to prepare for performances. I got tired of being criticized for things I knew needed to be fixed and just needed to be practiced more... so I started fixing them in practice more effectively, just so the criticism in lessons would instead be on things I didn't know I needed to fix. Lessons therefore became more worthwhile for my money and emotional endurance. And I started progressing faster.
However, I was also playing for work during this time, and I was receiving a lot of positive but vague feedback from people there who weren't expert musicians and liked my playing and were glad to support me as a musician. That kind of thing feels good but isn't likely to help me get better. So it balanced well with having a teacher who was expert, specific, and critical.

So... I guess if you have a very critical teacher you can examine the situation and see if you think you're likely to become the kind of student who can benefit from that kind of pure teaching. Having someone else in your life who just likes your playing could help. Or if you don't want to work that way, or if your teacher is the only one who hears you play, a teacher who uses praise would be a better fit.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2624229 03/16/17 10:20 AM
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The ideal praise-to-criticism ratio has been studied quite a bit, and more than one study has suggested a 5-1 ratio - 5 instances of positive feedback for each instance of negative feedback.
(eg https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism)

Of course they are not suggesting that means 5 pieces of vague, non-specific praise for each piece of clear critique.

In the context of a piano lesson, there are lots of opportunities for positive feedback to give useful direction about what to work on. For example my teacher might say "great, the top notes are coming through much better than last week, but you could lean on them even more so they really sing out".



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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
barbaram #2624241 03/16/17 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by barbaram
The ideal praise-to-criticism ratio has been studied quite a bit, and more than one study has suggested a 5-1 ratio - 5 instances of positive feedback for each instance of negative feedback.
(eg https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism)

Of course they are not suggesting that means 5 pieces of vague, non-specific praise for each piece of clear critique.

In the context of a piano lesson, there are lots of opportunities for positive feedback to give useful direction about what to work on. For example my teacher might say "great, the top notes are coming through much better than last week, but you could lean on them even more so they really sing out".


I think we need to be careful here with these kinds of studies. The examples of negative feedback given were not necessarily the same kind a good teacher gives as constructive criticism.

These were also done in a group setting, where there is a different dynamic than in one-on-one lessons.

Thirdly, these weren't classes where there was an instructor and pupils, but teams where perhaps a colleague was in charge, or maybe even a boss. But I feel that is different than a teacher-pupil set up.

Quote
The factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams, Heaphy and Losada found, was the ratio of positive comments (“I agree with that,” for instance, or “That’s a terrific idea”) to negative comments (“I don’t agree with you” “We shouldn’t even consider doing that”) that the participants made to one another. (Negative comments, we should point out, could go as far as sarcastic or disparaging remarks.)

I think the negative comments they're talking about are also said in a negative way (at least, when I read them I think anyone hearing them would have a hard time listening without at least some bristling).

However, those same negative comments could very easily be couched in a way that is respectful of the hearer and also doesn't raise their hackles at being outright put down.
Something along the lines of, "I get where you're coming from, but I think in this instance, it might be better understood from this angle.." or something like that.

In the context of teaching, if I had to come up with 5 or 6 positive things to say for every point I wanted to make about what to fix, I'd run out of things to say and would resort to non-specifics or liking the color of their shirt - neither of which is helpful. wink


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2624245 03/16/17 11:12 AM
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If I received five positive comments in my lesson for every constructive criticism, my thought would be ...
'Balderdash, I know better'

I much prefer the heartfelt, very occasional, 'getting there' which is what I hear, followed by ways to 'get there'
Sometimes, if I am in need of an occasional pat on the head, I will ask 'better, yes?', so I can hear 'yes, better'.

Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
Morodiene #2624264 03/16/17 12:38 PM
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"5 compliments to every criticism" is of course an overly simplistic recipe for creating an atmosphere of positivity, it's a lot more nuanced than that, and a lot of non-verbal things feed into it too.

For most of us, an atmosphere of positivity is more effective in making us receptive to the constructive feedback, and too much negativity will tend to make people more defensive and demotivated (as seems to be the case for the OP's situation).

Originally Posted by Morodiene

I think the negative comments they're talking about are also said in a negative way (at least, when I read them I think anyone hearing them would have a hard time listening without at least some bristling).

However, those same negative comments could very easily be couched in a way that is respectful of the hearer and also doesn't raise their hackles at being outright put down.


I totally agree, and in the context of piano feedback I think that a lot of the time constructive criticism can be delivered in a way that goes beyond "respectful" and feels genuinely positive and encouraging to the recipient.


So best to deliver feedback in a positive way where it can be, and save the negative for those times when something just can't be sugar coated smile





Last edited by barbaram; 03/16/17 12:40 PM.

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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
barbaram #2624268 03/16/17 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by barbaram
"5 compliments to every criticism" is of course an overly simplistic recipe for creating an atmosphere of positivity, it's a lot more nuanced than that, and a lot of non-verbal things feed into it too.

For most of us, an atmosphere of positivity is more effective in making us receptive to the constructive feedback, and too much negativity will tend to make people more defensive and demotivated (as seems to be the case for the OP's situation).

Originally Posted by Morodiene

I think the negative comments they're talking about are also said in a negative way (at least, when I read them I think anyone hearing them would have a hard time listening without at least some bristling).

However, those same negative comments could very easily be couched in a way that is respectful of the hearer and also doesn't raise their hackles at being outright put down.


I totally agree, and in the context of piano feedback I think that a lot of the time constructive criticism can be delivered in a way that goes beyond "respectful" and feels genuinely positive and encouraging to the recipient.


So best to deliver feedback in a positive way where it can be, and save the negative for those times when something just can't be sugar coated smile




+1 And it sounds as though the delivery from the OP's teacher needs some work on feeling more positive, less antagonistic. When you know your teacher is "in your corner" then it's much easier to take constructive criticism.

And really, anything that isn't done in a constructive light, is destructive - which defeats the purpose of teaching at all.

I do know once in a while I'll encounter an adult student who is extremely prideful and thus extremely sensitive to any constructive things to the point where all they hear is negative. So a bit of self-reflection in these situations is also helpful just to be sure.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
dogperson #2624407 03/16/17 08:31 PM
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Like Dogperson, I would not want to hear 5 positives for each correction in a lesson. When I was going to graduate school for Special Education, we were taught that and in fact had to keep track during our student teaching. However, I feel a private lesson is vastly different. I want my teacher to concentrate on helping me play as well as I can. I do not get a lot of praise but when I do get it, I know it is true. If a teacher was telling me something was good when I knew it was not, that would not make me feel good. In fact the thought that would go through my head would be if he is saying that is good, he must think I am not capable of playing it any better.

However different people need different approaches and sometimes it is just a matter of personality. I remember one teacher in college during a summer session where I was in tears by the end of every lesson. He did not yell but was very critical. We just were not a good fit. My teacher my junior year was a young teacher who when I think back as far as how hard you had to work and how much he expected, he was probably much harder than the other teacher. I don't know if it was true as it was just my perception but I felt the one teacher was very cold and while the other teacher was tough, he was not cold and I always felt he really cared. He made you feel as if you could do anything.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2624424 03/16/17 09:31 PM
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Like Morodiene said, I think I feel like piano lessons with adults never have enough time, especially beginners. I do try to get to the root issues and work on those. If my student ever mentioned though that he/she wanted more encouragement.. I would take note of that. I think before giving up on your teacher try to let her know what your learning style is. "I do better if I have more encouragement"?


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2955452 03/08/20 03:37 PM
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Hello,
For some reason I started reading some of my old posts and this one jumped out at me. I am sorry that I waited so long to find a new teacher! I have a WONDERFUL teacher now, and I started about one year ago with him. So I suffered through an additional 2 years with my previous teacher AFTER I had started to realize that I needed a new teacher. What an unfortunate waste of emotional energy and time! I guess I'm just wanting to encourage everyone out there to keep your teacher only as long as it feels like the relationship is healthy and as soon as it switches, either address the problem head on immediately, or find a new teacher. Don't be afraid to make a change no matter how hard it is emotionally. When I finally told my teacher I was "taking a break," we still needed to see each other one more time, as I was saving her a seat at a concert that had been planned long before. She walked into the concert and immediately told me that I had selected the "wrong" seats. So that was the nail in the coffin for me--I couldn't even select the "right" seats for her. I told her I was staying in my seat anyway, while she went to find a new one...

So....take the plunge! My new teacher now is entertaining, kind---extremely kind---and very helpful with tons of analogies that help me actually understand HOW to make changes in my playing. He talks about "gazelles" and "pointillism," "vines winding around trees", and works of famous literature and all of it makes total sense as a way to help me learn new ways to work on interpretation. And it works. And did I mention that he's nice and a kind person? It's amazing.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2955600 03/09/20 12:40 AM
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I can understand your frustration. I think a good teacher would be able to recognize what a student needs and where they are in their studies and cater their feedback accordingly. As I see it, you are an adult with a busy and full life who is taking piano lessons as an enjoyable hobby because you love it and you want to be challenged. Of course you would want balanced and constructive criticism. Thinking back to when I was younger and the lessons were less serious, that's exactly what I would have wanted and I had that kind of teacher. As I got very serious in my studies, I did want someone to be blunt and forthcoming with criticism and my last teacher was that to a T. Perhaps your teacher uses the same method to teach all types of students, or she teaches a lot of serious amateur players at very high levels of studies? Anyway, I agree with the many comments to have an open dialogue, but if you don't feel better about it there is nothing wrong with trying someone new just to see if you have a better rapport. Best of luck!!

Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2955609 03/09/20 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by pianosuzemn

So....take the plunge! My new teacher now is entertaining, kind---extremely kind---and very helpful with tons of analogies that help me actually understand HOW to make changes in my playing. He talks about "gazelles" and "pointillism," "vines winding around trees", and works of famous literature and all of it makes total sense as a way to help me learn new ways to work on interpretation. And it works. And did I mention that he's nice and a kind person? It's amazing.


nice to hear this story has a happy ending.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2955787 03/09/20 03:43 PM
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Your previous teacher sounds like a real piece of work! Glad you wizened up and found someone else - there's just no excuse for being abusive toward students.


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Re: Piano teacher never compliments me
pianosuzemn #2956549 03/12/20 02:00 AM
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I suppose it all depends on the personalities of teacher and pupil. My teacher never praised me to my face but after he died I learned he had been telling all and sundry how good I was. Possibly he realised that I would follow my own direction whatever he said, praise or not, so it wouldn't have mattered how many things he pointed out I was doing wrongly. I lapped it all up at the time, and whatever he said was wrong I corrected. I just assumed that music lessons were all about his finding things wrong and my fixing them, or trying to. It didn't apply to creative stuff though, and he took care not to mould or force my musical personality. I shall always respect him for that.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
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