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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025094 09/14/20 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mareg
I was paying top dollars.

The very fact you _think_ you are paying top dollars shows that you don't understand the market very well.

Originally Posted by mareg
And also, I feel like there is probably a large amount of adult student like me that are more discerning of their teachers. The child that has been enrolled by his parent is less likely to find the teaching lacking. He doesn't pay and doesn't know any better. The adult that is paying a considerable amount to get private lesson has a great understanding of what is quality teaching. So yeah, a bet you get more "bad" adult student than "bad" child student.

This also shows that you don't understand the market very well.

Please continue to learn piano on your own. You might also consider pre-recorded lessons on YouTube, since you can pause and re-watch the videos as you wish. And since the videos are free, you have nothing to complain about.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025098 09/14/20 03:50 PM
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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025119 09/14/20 05:25 PM
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I am sorry you had a bad experience, but I think you sort of set yourself up for that by going to a music school and not looking for a teacher that suits your learning style directly.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025123 09/14/20 05:35 PM
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I wouldn't say teachers are good / bad. Many of them may be at the level of a concert pianist. Some follow old approaches when teaching. They are not always adaptable to what a student want to get out of the lessons.

Many parents enroll their kids in a music program or with a private teacher. The parents have no music training / background. The kids know next to nothing about a piano / violin they are asked to play so they learn everything from a teacher. Today some people are getting into software such as Flowkey, Simply Piano, Yousician, Musiah, Piano Marvel Playground Session or a similar learning system. When we get older, we have a lot of life experiences and we have some idea which genre of music we want to focus on and would find a teacher accordingly.

The first time I got enrolled in an adult group class, the teacher from level 1 said that I already know a lot of what she was teaching and should move up to level 2. A teacher is the stepping stone to help me get to a reasonable performance level. The pieces I worked on are for practicing sight reading & different techniques of playing. The end of the day I choose the pieces I want to play for an audience. I tend to treat a teacher as my mentor to enhance my knowledge than someone who teaches the basics to an absolute beginner. I know how to read music so the teacher fills in the symbols I don't come across very often.

Most of the time I'm on my own. The teacher had a summer break while I learned 3 short pieces on my own. These are pieces in the style of Jazz that my group is not familiar with. The teacher showed the class how to count in the Swing style and the pieces started coming together 1 after another.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
rkzhao #3025135 09/14/20 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
I'm not up to date on my piano private lesson prices but is $50 CAD (per hour?) really considered an "exorbitant" amount of money? Man, I feel bad for teachers then. I made more money than that as a college student tutoring math.

I’m not sure where OP is located exactly but $50 CAD/hr is actually on the low side, unless he’s in a more rural area. In the Greater Toronto Area suburbs, for example, $60/hr is the standard “music school” price, whereas downtown Toronto teachers go for $80+ per hour. More highly qualified teachers have even higher rates. Mine certainly is a bit more expensive but she is invaluable to me.

By the fact that OP keeps mentioning cost in his posts, I get the sense that he’s highly uncomfortable with the amount of money he is paying for what he perceives he is getting in return. I think that is tainting his view about teachers in general. If that is the case, then it’s hard to change his mind. It looks like he doesn’t think teachers “are worth it”. Which is fair. Everyone has their priorities, what is worth it, what isn’t.

Although the way OP describes his experiences with his first 2 teachers, I agree they were not ideal. In no way does this mean that good teachers don’t exist. They do. Many of us on this forum have good teachers.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 09/14/20 06:46 PM.

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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
AZNpiano #3025155 09/14/20 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Please continue to learn piano on your own. You might also consider pre-recorded lessons on YouTube, since you can pause and re-watch the videos as you wish. And since the videos are free, you have nothing to complain about.
Just a correction here. I work with pre-recorded lessons, esp. for my other instrument. They are not all free. Some involve an annual subscription, and various types of support. For someone who knows how to work independently, there are some excellent resources out there. Esp. considering the paucity of some local teacher experiences which, if you live in the wrong place, cannot always be overcome.

One thing that shocked me is that on more than one occasion the fellow students also had a private teacher, and it was the on-line teacher who was fixing (successfully) technical problems that had existed over an extended time. There are some excellent, experienced teachers who have branched out into on-line. They are usually not free.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
keystring #3025194 09/14/20 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Just a correction here. I work with pre-recorded lessons, esp. for my other instrument. They are not all free.
The OP should go for the free ones.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
AZNpiano #3025207 09/14/20 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
Just a correction here. I work with pre-recorded lessons, esp. for my other instrument. They are not all free.
The OP should go for the free ones.

And why is that?
You seem to make it personal and being offended by OP's experience.

He is just sharing his experience, that's all.

OP's post is good in the sense that people get an alternative to "get a teacher"-choir here.
Very little about
- what makes a good teacher for you?
- you really should switch teacher if.....

All ads I've seen where people say giving lessons does not say anything about the process they work from.
- I have a fixed set of pieces all have to learn, and I adjust where in that line of pieces I put you!
- I have extensive talk with you over what you want to achieve before even starting
- I entirely go from what you want to learn, even if I as teacher have to learn new things too

A couple I've tried have first lesson free - which is to establish personal chemistry and things like that. And probably establish where this teacher fits into how they work and how that fits my goals.

But as beginning, maybe first teacher, you have less understanding what to expect.
And some as I call it "education money" is to be wasted before finding the right teacher.

Some YT:ers like Josh Wright often refer to teacher he had etc - so no doubt a teacher is really good thing on a certain level and to get further really good help. But it need to be the right one for what you need at your level.

I would not mind a sticky thread here "How to get a good teacher" or similar where everybody with extensive experience put their advise and also at what level they were and what they were trying to accomplish.

Somebody that is almost concert pianist need very different teaching than one that is a beginner etc. Josh Wright share a lot of good stuff - to get a relaxed but precise attack of keys.

Nahre Sol give a lot of interesting practise routines to make practising more fun.

But a lot of YT:ers are utterly crap teachers - and spend 10 minutes just talking. Just wannabies all the way through.

But YT might be a good way to find the type of teacher that anybody feel have an approach that fits their personality.

There is always a route to the current "good" teacher - that is also valuable information. To see what other people experienced.

So this thread as OP started is good to get perspective, I think.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
Nip #3025211 09/15/20 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Nip
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
Just a correction here. I work with pre-recorded lessons, esp. for my other instrument. They are not all free.
The OP should go for the free ones.

And why is that?

So there won't be more complaints.

Originally Posted by Nip
So this thread as OP started is good to get perspective, I think.

Not really.

There are many bad piano teachers out there. It's an obvious fact. There are incompetent individuals in all professions. Just because somebody got "board certified" does not guarantee the individual will be super good at what he does. It just means he got certified by somebody.

So the OP found two bad teachers. Does that prove anything?


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
AZNpiano #3025214 09/15/20 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
There are many bad piano teachers out there. It's an obvious fact. There are incompetent individuals in all professions. Just because somebody got "board certified" does not guarantee the individual will be super good at what he does. It just means he got certified by somebody.

So the OP found two bad teachers. Does that prove anything?

Well, it took OP a year to find that out - and to him a lot of wasted money.

I think it gives a more balanced view - also having this kind of posts and threads - than.
- Get a teacher

Where experienced people having had a load of teachers in their search - it would valuable information to know when to drop a teacher - not having to spend a year in hindsight seing this was wasted.

Don't be offended - share your experience of stupid pupils instead maybe?
When do pupils expect too much with no work, or similar.

Dialogs everybody had as pupil or teacher is good info IMO.
- I object to this "get a teacher" thingy going on

When starting out - as adult or otherwise - you have no clue what to expect and maybe "know" what kind of teaching is better at that level.

Those having taking a cumbersome route to find a good teacher - can share to shorten that route for somebody else, I think.

In my youth I had not the best motivation, pushed a bit by parents, as I recall.
And it was free in school to take piano lessons - so that get one kind of pupil.
Not that inspiring for a tutor, I think.

Then you have all the way to really advanced student doing a lot of classical pieces fairly, but not perfect. For a skilled teacher probably love this student - or find they are not qualified and should tell student to search another teacher - if serious enough, rather than pick their pocket of the money they have.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025223 09/15/20 01:48 AM
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I see this notion very often that you "have to get a teacher". You don't have to do anything, quite frankly. If you start playing as an adult, chances that you will get to a level where you will perform classical music on a stage for money are pretty slim. I would say most people who start as an adult learn for their own enjoyment.

As long as you are satisfied with your progress and enjoy your playing, you don't need a teacher for anything. I got a teacher because I felt that my musicality was lacking. My teacher is helping a lot with that, so I'm satisfied.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
AZNpiano #3025225 09/15/20 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
Just a correction here. I work with pre-recorded lessons, esp. for my other instrument. They are not all free.
The OP should go for the free ones.
Pardon me, but that sounds flippant. When you have read (I assume you read before answering) of the quality I've found in the subscription lessons, which also work well with independent learners, it makes little sense for you to advice a student to steer away from quality lessons.

Were you flippant? Or did you have good reasoning why free ones would be preferable? If so, can you explain that reasoning.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
keystring #3025227 09/15/20 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Pardon me, but that sounds flippant. When you have read (I assume you read before answering) of the quality I've found in the subscription lessons, which also work well with independent learners, it makes little sense for you to advice a student to steer away from quality lessons.

Were you flippant? Or did you have good reasoning why free ones would be preferable? If so, can you explain that reasoning.

Free YouTube "lessons" are a better fit for the OP.

If I have to explain my reasoning, it will sound like I'm bashing the OP.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
Nip #3025228 09/15/20 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Originally Posted by rkzhao
I'm not up to date on my piano private lesson prices but is $50 CAD (per hour?) really considered an "exorbitant" amount of money? Man, I feel bad for teachers then. I made more money than that as a college student tutoring math.

I’m not sure where OP is located exactly but $50 CAD/hr is actually on the low side, unless he’s in a more rural area. In the Greater Toronto Area suburbs, for example, $60/hr is the standard “music school” price, whereas downtown Toronto teachers go for $80+ per hour. More highly qualified teachers have even higher rates. Mine certainly is a bit more expensive but she is invaluable to me.

To be fair, Toronto is quite a bit more expensive in general than Québec (both the province and the city). Whether that is considered "exorbitant" is more a question of personal perception and priorities, as you noted.

Originally Posted by Nip
[...]
Dialogs everybody had as pupil or teacher is good info IMO.
- I object to this "get a teacher" thingy going on

You're right, everyone has different goals, experiences, expectations, etc. I can see why someone may not want to go that route. But what struck me as unfair in the OP's post and which I strongly object to is to call teachers "obsolete". With the current lock down almost everyone who has a teacher had the experience of moving to remote video lessons. We have discussed the topic extensively on this forum. I have also talked to many parents of school children who had remote classes. If there is one common consensus from all of this it's that remote teaching cannot replace in-person teaching. The methods that some teachers use might be obsolete, or may be inappropriate for the requested goals, but teachers and in-person lessons are most certainly not obsolete and basing one's entire world view of private lessons on two experiences is completely unfair.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
Nip #3025230 09/15/20 02:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Nip
Those having taking a cumbersome route to find a good teacher - can share to shorten that route for somebody else, I think.

Try interviewing many teachers and asking them specific questions.

If possible, ask if you can watch a studio recital in person, or on video.

Take some trial lessons, if the teacher offers them.

Let me offer an example. I didn't know much about piano maintenance, and up until college my piano had only been tuned and never voiced and regulated. I then launched a self-teaching campaign about how piano works. I also hired about a dozen different piano technicians and paid close attention to how they worked. The process took about ten years. Thankfully, many of them are also very eager to share their knowledge with me. Now my pianos are serviced by a wonderful, experienced technician and they are in tip-top shape. I do pay top dollar to make sure I get the best service done for my pianos. This is a necessary business expense.

Now, when I go to my friends' houses and play on their pianos, I feel obliged to "educate" them on the importance of regulating the piano's action, etc. It's no fun to play on a piano with uneven touch. Most people don't know this stuff. Heck, a lot of piano teachers don't even know this stuff. But since I care about my friends and their kids (some of whom are brilliant piano players!), I share my knowledge with them.

I also share this piano maintenance knowledge with my own students and their parents. Some listen. Most don't care.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025231 09/15/20 03:03 AM
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Interesting discussion.

Without going into specifics or personalities. There is a wide spread problem in the adult/further/higher education industry in general, in determining where the meat-ware teacher fits in with available technology. For example, in the university setting, if a lecture is pure chalk-and-talk what's the value of a pretty average lecturer when the same material might be available on youtube or a MOOC platform from a Nobel laureate?
Equally with music learning, there are a number of things that, seems to me, are just better on a computer where you can, for example, watch and re-watch, slow down, loop, see two or three examples etc. of a demo of how something is played... at no cost and with infinite patience. Equally there's no end of "complete course" books with great curricular, detailed explanations and youtube support.

It's a question of residual value. What is left for a person to add when a lot of the "grunt work" of teaching is available from technology?

In the university sector chalk-and-talk is quite sticky for various reasons. But a lot of folks are coming to terms with the idea that their personal value is in supervision / tutorials rather than in front of powerpoint. It's all to the good for students. But here's the rub (having worked in the university sector a fair bit) - there are two types of prof/lecturer; those who see the students as individuals and those who don't. The latter are a liability when they have to step off the podium.

Equally, I suspect, when confronted with a dedicated adult self-learner (I'm one), many piano teachers don't adjust away from "no, but my curricular..." too "where can I add a some value?" And that isn't easy - it requires that you can really asses what's going on with the student and adjust.

Last edited by mizmar; 09/15/20 03:05 AM.
Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mizmar #3025233 09/15/20 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mizmar
What is left for a person to add when a lot of the "grunt work" of teaching is available from technology?

Feedback.

Playing an instrument is a practical activity with lots of subtlety that can only be precisely taught by someone looking over your shoulder and responding in real time to what you didn't do quite right or didn't know you were supposed to do. I don't think that comparing it to academic subjects is the right analogy. More like your woodwork teacher walking past and going "get the angle on that chisel higher, you'll never get a clean cut that way."

But as you say, much of the information is available from technology. And a large chunk of the learning at beginner level is just stuff you have to school yourself to do sitting at home practicing.


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Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025234 09/15/20 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Nip
OP's post is good in the sense that people get an alternative to "get a teacher"-choir here.

Maybe I haven't been here enough to notice it but I haven't really seen any thoughtless response of "get a teacher" for every issue.

If someone has issues with fundamental technique, then live in person tutoring can help. If someone is just starting out and has really no clue what they're doing, then they aren't experienced enough to separate out what's valid and what's not valid information online so having a teacher for fundamental guidance would help. These are really the cases I see getting a teacher recommended and in both cases, it makes sense.


Originally Posted by mizmar
Without going into specifics or personalities. There is a wide spread problem in the adult/further/higher education industry in general, in determining where the meat-ware teacher fits in with available technology.
...
Equally, I suspect, when confronted with a dedicated adult self-learner (I'm one), many piano teachers don't adjust away from "no, but my curricular..." too "where can I add a some value?" And that isn't easy - it requires that you can really asses what's going on with the student and adjust.

Not really, it's more just a simple matter of economics. People seem to want to pay $50 for an 1hr lesson from someone who's time is worth $50/hr and then expect them to spend additional time on top of the lesson to customize and personalize the curriculum for the student. As they say, there's little in life that is free.

Larger classrooms spread out the cost and can be both potentially more economical and profitable. The larger the classroom, the more potentially profitable it can be. The education industry has always understood this. Online classes are nothing new in the broader education industry as a whole. College lectures to hundreds of people is common across the world.

Good private lessons comes with a premium. People just tend to forget that with music lessons because one on one lessons seems to be the norm.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025235 09/15/20 04:02 AM
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I think the OP raised 2 different points. One is about his poor experience with 2 teachers and the second is about the necessity or not to have a teacher.

As far as teachers, there are certainly more or less good people out there. And in fact, the match between the personality of the teacher and the student character and expectations is critical. For example if the student has little time or is a slow learner, a teacher that takes its time, is patient and not overambitious will work fine. Maybe that online sessions with regular feedback will work even better. That same teacher put in front of a fast learner, ambitious student who wants to progress fast and has enough time for it will be inadequat, unless he can change completely his teaching method (which is unlikely).

So thats why i think it is very difficult to find the proper match, even more so if one is concerned with the cost or is leaving in an area where there is little choice around. To a large extent, kids dont have that problem. They are just following a predefined path, with a given method and thats it.

That said, i think that personal interaction and being also confronted with other students is beneficial vs working in isolation. Reflecting on my university years, to be honnest the courses given in a class by my teacher (math for example) were 100% equivalent to what i could find in a book. And to a large extent, my personal work at home probably represented 80% of what i eventually learned. I think properly organized with a little online support one could get to 100% equivalence. But that will not replace human interaction (preferably face to face) which is also an element in the learning process.

Regarding the necessity of a teacher, i think that for adults, it is quite possible to get without one, or just with some online assistance case by case. Certainly many students are not considering to become super performers, and others are interested in various other areas like compositions, which does not imply to be super proficient in piano technique.

There are enough material out there by now, that anything that can be covered by a teacher is already described in a book or a method and probably more than what a teacher could cover given the time constraints. But the point is that it does not work for eveybody. The teacher essentially saves the time needed to figure out how to go and help to get organized. People on their own have to figure out what to study and how. They also have to be extremely lucid when they record themselves so that they can figure what is wrong and how to fix it. It requires a very particular profile of people who are used to learn by themselves. But i do think it is possible, in particular if the student is doing it for his own pleasure and is not pressured to achieve any particular goal in any particular frame of time. The amount of technique required is not infinite and turns around a number of well defined areas which are described in numerous books and online materials.

And of course, the self learner has also to find a solution to get some kind of human intereaction, sharing with other students, possibly playing with other people. All that also contributes to speed up the learning.

But all of that said, i think in reality very few people have the time and the profile to be fully self independant. For the very very large majority some kind of teaching, physical or online is by far the best solution.

Re: Unpopular Opinion : Piano teachers (my honest experience)
mareg #3025238 09/15/20 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mareg
I've been self teaching myself piano for about 2 years now. Recently, with the pandemic giving me more opportunities to organise my work hours, I thought I would seek out a "real" piano teacher in order to point out issues in my technique. Or to show me shortcut to achieve my goals. To say my experience has been disheartening would be a very mild way to phrase my experience.

I've takend 12 * 1h session of 1-1 private teaching. I even tried two very different teachers from a reputable school I enrolled in. The cost was exorbitant. Around 50$ CAD for every sessions if I put in the initial cost of registering with the school (a 5 min process) 500$+.

I've made my goals very clear to the teachers from the get go. Letting them know what I liked in the piano and why I was enrolling with a private teacher.

Recently I took a year of piano lessons following five years of practicing on my own. The cost is north of 50 EUR per hour for adults at a public conservatory. Children get subsidized and pay half. Considering the average income and cost of living in Canada 50 CAD is a real bargain.

After getting some pointers on song accompaniment (something I couldn't wrap my head around, so I asked a teacher), I followed my teachers suggestions on classical repertoire and what to practice. Even the pieces I didn't prefer served well as etudes and increased my hand span (I can now reach a tenth). The experience made me a more complete pianist overall.

I stopped piano lessons, because my teacher retired and I took the opportunity to switch to guitar lessons. I took a few last year on the side, so I had total of three guitar teachers so far. Guitar is now main instrument.

My method of working with others instead of my own is that I treat each teacher as a human with their own approach, interests, strengths and weaknesses - which naturally are all different from mine. While a teacher usually asks, where I come from and where want to go, I try to figure out what they do best and how teach me that, so I get as much as possible out of their specific knowledge, talent and abilities.

I usually end up doing something entirely different than what I thought of before enrolling, but each time it turned out being fully worth it. Needless to say that all my teachers love working with me and my reputation with my piano teacher helped me with getting my new guitar teacher as well.


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