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Teacher Search
#2999570 07/06/20 07:05 PM
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What are some things I should look for in a teacher? The teacher recommended by my local music school has a rich musical background, but it looks like it’s mainly based in opera with piano as a secondary focus. It looks like his main focus is voice. I’m sure he’s more than capable of teaching me Piano and he’s been teaching for many years.

What are some things I should look for when finding a good teacher??

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Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999580 07/06/20 07:20 PM
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I think that, first of all, you should have some goals that you can articulate to the prospective teacher and hear if the answers comply with those goals and your expectations.

What sort of music do you want to play? Is the teacher comfortable teaching that kind of music?
Do you choose what you want to play, does your teacher, or is repertoire a choice made by the two of you?
Do you want technique to be taught along with repertoire?
Do you want theory as part of your lessons?
What will the expectations of the teacher be re: practice time between lessons and level of your lesson preparation?
Do you want to prepare for piano examinations, and will your teacher prepare you for them?
What is the payment schedule and what happens in the case of missed lessons?

I am sure you and others can think of more questions.

Regards,


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Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999589 07/06/20 07:50 PM
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Once you have narrowed down your search, evaluate how you are progressing—- not how quickly, as this can’t be a race, but whether the instructions are clear. Is your teacher able to explain/demonstrate a different way if you don’t understand?

You may need more than just one interview and one lesson to have a fair assessment as their may be an adjustment period

If you want to talk to more potential teachers, you can search for members of mtna in your zip code at mtna.org


"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
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Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999598 07/06/20 07:59 PM
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I don't think someone whose main "thing" is voice is usually the best choice for a piano teacher. Someone with experience and training teaching adult beginners is my recommendation. Someone who teaches mostly advanced students might not be the best choice.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/06/20 08:00 PM.
Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999614 07/06/20 08:29 PM
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Excellent questions, Bruce. I will use them!

I agree that clarity and getting the instruction across is important, dogperson.

Yes, pianoloverus, that’s what I was thinking, but I didn’t want to dismiss the man without at least meeting with him. But I’d like a teacher whose main focus is piano. I still have a couple shops to call, so I’ll see who they recommend also.

Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999621 07/06/20 08:40 PM
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It is difficult to find ''that perfect teacher'' and I wish you luck on that journey.

Experience in teaching piano is everything. If, when you make contact with a possible teacher they ask you sound questions, and they then tell you how they are going to get you there, that is a good sign. So it is important to think about the things that BruceD previously posted. Generally the more sought after teachers are the best, so don't be too disappointed if they don't even answer requests or can't fit you in.


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Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999638 07/06/20 09:32 PM
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If you're just getting started all teachers are basically the same so if all comes down to do communication, do they explain things in a way that you understand. Then personality is it someone you feel you comfortable to ask questions and they are willing to explain, or do they just want to keep assigning pages of book du jour and collect their money.

That is something a conversation will give you a little idea of but going to need to take a month or two of lessons to really feel out. Remember you're paying them so you need to have confidence in them and if not working don't be afraid to tell them this isn't working and move on.

A lot of people put their teacher on a pedestal and get afraid to ask questions or challenge the teacher, worse they get scared to quit. In the long run you're the one actually teaching yourself the teacher's job is to point you in the right direction and help you pace yourself. You are your own best teacher.

Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999656 07/06/20 10:19 PM
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A few thoughts:

It can take quite a bit longer than one or two lessons to get in sync with a teacher, and for the teacher to get in sync with you. That is why some teachers have an introductory period of a month or two after which you (and the teacher) can part company with no questions asked, or you can renew.

What sort of music you want to play is of little importance in the beginning, as the basics of playing music on the piano are the same regardless of the music played...it is the same fingers and hands, the same keyboard layout, the same method of music notation, the same basic time signature and counting regimen, the same body and hand posture at the piano, the same basic theory, etc.

Once you have gotten solid with the basics as mentioned above, which typically can take a year or more, the style of music the teacher can teach should match what you want to learn. That is why many students have had more than one teacher over their study years.


Piano teacher.
Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999662 07/06/20 10:34 PM
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Your first teacher will not be your last.

You pick one .... see how it goes ....

If you enjoy your lessons and feel you are getting better .... keep that teacher

Otherwise, pick another one ....

and so forth ...

You may eventually find that you "fired" one that was one you should have kept.

With that in mind, try not to leave a teacher on a bad note (no pun, intended) ... you may wish to return to that one.

Good Luck

Last edited by dmd; 07/06/20 10:35 PM.

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Re: Teacher Search
earlofmar #2999674 07/06/20 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Experience in teaching piano is everything.
Finally.

Re: Teacher Search
keystring #2999685 07/07/20 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by earlofmar
Experience in teaching piano is everything.
Finally.

I don't know about that. Everybody has to start somewhere. I'm glad some of my first students' parents took a chance on me when I was still in grad school.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999690 07/07/20 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by CajunJ
What are some things I should look for when finding a good teacher??

Ask how they teach reading music notation. Is it by letter names? Solfege? Or landmark notes + intervals?

Ask what method book series they use. If they use something really outdated like Czerny Op. 599 or Beyer Op. 101, then politely decline. Even stuff like John Thompson and Schaum are extremely outdated by now. Some teachers have created their own curriculum, so don't discount that effort.

Ask if they have videos of student recitals. Self-explanatory.

Ask if the students from the studio take piano tests or do competitions. These are optional, of course, but they could mean the teacher is more focused on performance rather than playing for leisure.

My personal belief is that intelligence trumps experience. It'll be great if the teacher has both.


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Re: Teacher Search
rocket88 #2999764 07/07/20 06:43 AM
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This is very helpful. I was wondering if I had to pick a teacher who works in the genre I plan to play, but I don’t even know which genre I want to play. I want to play them all! Good to know it won’t matter for a while.

Re: Teacher Search
MrShed #2999937 07/07/20 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
If you're just getting started all teachers are basically the same...
I can't emphasize how wrong I think this is. Some teachers will emphasize the technical aspect of playing far more than others, even for absolute beginners. That is only one of the many possible major differences.

Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999949 07/07/20 03:26 PM
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I have a phone consult with a lady who has her doctorate in piano and who has taught for almost 30 years. She teaches at the local university also. Very, very, accomplished. Looking forward to talking with her.

Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999952 07/07/20 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by CajunJ
I have a phone consult with a lady who has her doctorate in piano and who has taught for almost 30 years. She teaches at the local university also. Very, very, accomplished. Looking forward to talking with her.

😊


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #2999958 07/07/20 03:52 PM
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The quickest way to judge a teacher's competence is what happens in the first lesson.

Does the teacher teach you to count beats aloud - right from the get-go? That is, he/she makes sure that you start with a sound grasp of time and timing in music, and therefore rhythm.
If nothing remotely resembles that teaching (or, if you already have a grasp of music from playing other instruments, an assessment of your ability to keep time in music), be afraid. Be very afraid.

I've heard lots of beginners and intermediates (both young and old) play various instruments or sing over the years, and it's very easy to separate those who have been taught properly from those who are self-taught or not been taught by qualified teachers. The former plays in time (with no help from a metronome or drummer); the latter generally don't (i.e. cannot), unless you clap or tap the beats for him - and usually don't even realize it. If someone has been copying Synthesia or similar very carefully, he might play a simple song with correct timing - in which case try him with something like Happy Birthday, and watch his timing go to pieces.

Without melody or harmony, you still have music. Without rhythm.......none.


"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: Teacher Search
pianoloverus #3000004 07/07/20 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MrShed
If you're just getting started all teachers are basically the same...
I can't emphasize how wrong I think this is. Some teachers will emphasize the technical aspect of playing far more than others, even for absolute beginners. That is only one of the many possible major differences.

I think that the point that’s being made is still valid, though. Of course there will be differences between teachers, but absolute beginner piano is very simple. It has to be. Little kids can learn it. For an intelligent, educated adult beginner with an enquiring mind 99% of the challenge is not understanding what to do, it’s doing it. A teacher can’t get inside your head and make your fingers do things. Only you can do that.

Teacher A compared with teacher B only matters from the point of view that you can get on with them, assuming they are basically competent in the first place.


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Re: Teacher Search
scirocco #3000015 07/07/20 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by scirocco
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MrShed
If you're just getting started all teachers are basically the same...
I can't emphasize how wrong I think this is. Some teachers will emphasize the technical aspect of playing far more than others, even for absolute beginners. That is only one of the many possible major differences.

I think that the point that’s being made is still valid, though. Of course there will be differences between teachers, but absolute beginner piano is very simple. It has to be. Little kids can learn it. For an intelligent, educated adult beginner with an enquiring mind 99% of the challenge is not understanding what to do, it’s doing it. A teacher can’t get inside your head and make your fingers do things. Only you can do that.

Teacher A compared with teacher B only matters from the point of view that you can get on with them, assuming they are basically competent in the first place.
Not really.

Some teachers are very interested in teaching excellent technique(in terms of movements of the fingers, hands, arms and how to create a beautiful tone) even when the student is playing the simplest pieces. A teacher can't "make your fingers do things" but can show you very specifically how to do things even from the very beginning. This may not be the best approach for all students(although I personally think it is for serious students of classical piano), but it builds a very solid technical foundation. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0eY0nTJuaA

There can be so much more to teaching beginners than things like learning the notes, how to count, playing one piece after the other in a beginner's book, etc.

I was a tennis instructor for more than a decade in my distant past, and it was often easier to get beginners stroking the ball correctly because I didn't have to try and undo many years of incorrect tennis strokes.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/07/20 07:44 PM.
Re: Teacher Search
CajunJ #3000031 07/07/20 08:39 PM
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I agree with bennevis and pianoloverus. A good teacher is very important in the beginning. As mentioned, there should be a lot of attention to detail, musicianship. I'd also put it as striving for a musical ideal and being serious and uncompromising. Every note must be so. These things make it worthwhile to work hard. If not, and all I do is mindlessly press the right button like a monkey, I'd have quit long ago, got better things to do. What I'm saying is, your teacher should inspire, and make you a believer too.

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