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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029236 09/26/20 07:59 AM
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There is something disconcerting to me about this thread.

It reminds me of the complaining flight instructors I used to work with. Granted I was a flight instructor and taught many students.However, iit was during a time when we could not go online to vent about our less successful students. The venting was still there, just in person with other colleagues. I noticed a recurring theme amongst the more frequent "ventors". And it was that as bad as some of their students were, they also seemed to be lacking something in the ability to teach. They didn't intrinsically love the teaching. It was a means to an end. Some of these lacking teachers became 777 Captains at United Airlines operating worldwide. They are good pilots. Just not good flight instructors.

I think some wonderfully gifted pianists fall into teaching for reasons other than the love of sharing the gift of piano. I wouldn't be surprised to see a very similar correlation to flight instruction.

It's always saddened me to see the teacher that has soured on their craft to carry on despite the unhappiness. Life is too short.

I would also add that I am not saying that this is the case with any teachers participating in this particular thread. Just some feedback from my experience and possible food for thought to add to the dialogue.

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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
dogperson #3029237 09/26/20 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by keystring
Musing:
Originally Posted by Candywoman
If my piano studio was compared to flight instruction, I'd say very few ever get off the ground, despite my best efforts at teaching. It's like they're stuck in ground school. If they do take off, there is no safe landing and no fuel to continue.
How is flight instruction done?


Why don’t you just assume it is ground school followed by cockpit training, instructor led. More details are found with a Google search, hardly relevant here.

I disagree.

That's kind of like saying well piano is just theory school plus some instructor lead piano playing. The point is that whatever flight instruction does it seems to succeed, as evidenced by how few people crash an airplane, and how many graduate. There does seem to be a contrast with piano, where so many don't succeed.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
TimR #3029238 09/26/20 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by keystring
Musing:
Originally Posted by Candywoman
If my piano studio was compared to flight instruction, I'd say very few ever get off the ground, despite my best efforts at teaching. It's like they're stuck in ground school. If they do take off, there is no safe landing and no fuel to continue.
How is flight instruction done?


Why don’t you just assume it is ground school followed by cockpit training, instructor led. More details are found with a Google search, hardly relevant here.

I disagree.

That's kind of like saying well piano is just theory school plus some instructor lead piano playing. The point is that whatever flight instruction does it seems to succeed, as evidenced by how few people crash an airplane, and how many graduate. There does seem to be a contrast with piano, where so many don't succeed.


The point was this is a Piano forum. The OP’s metaphor should not require a lot of discussion of the steps of flight training in order to understand the intent. Please let’s not discuss flight training.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029285 09/26/20 11:40 AM
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I think it's an interesting point that is rarely discussed:
Quote
... they don't feel like they're in command of the piano ...

What skills are required to feel like you're in command of the piano?
In my opinion it's first of all a good pitch, well-trained or inborn, and good music memory.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
dogperson #3029290 09/26/20 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
The point was this is a Piano forum. The OP’s metaphor should not require a lot of discussion of the steps of flight training in order to understand the intent. Please let’s not discuss flight training.
This is also the teaching section of that piano forum. Piano teaching involves factual things that need to be learned, as well as using one's senses together with that knowledge in real time, and physical skills. This is different than teaching academic subjects such as mathematics. These are also the characteristics of flight training, with dire consequences if it goes wrong. I am also a teacher among other things, and will sometimes grab things from parallel or similar disciplines for teaching insight or usefulness. I did not ask the question out of idle curiosity. The metaphor may be quite pertinent and lead to some insights. Or not.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029334 09/26/20 01:58 PM
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Ground school was later for me. I learned to fly by initially going for a ride with a flight instructor. You could call it monkey see, monkey do. I solo'd in about 15 hours.

I knew up front piano instruction would not be like that, so went on my own. As an adult one has wisdom and desire a child doesn't. Ima happy piano player. But i also know some folks just don't have"it." It would be great if there were a secret teacher's secret, but in 50 years i've not seen it. How do they say it? "The student must awaken." That is the student, not the teacher.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029344 09/26/20 02:36 PM
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I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The same as why learner drivers almost always succeed (eventually). If they don't pass the driving test, they can't drive. No big deal if you live in NYC or London, but a serious handicap if you live where there's no public transport. So - you try, try, try, try, try........try again, until you succeed.

As for piano - what's the big deal? Give it up, and play bongo drums instead, if you want to make a noise in the world.

Kids who love classical music (like I did, and still do and will always do) will keep trying until they succeed, because they can see that a whole new world opens up to them as they get better and better, and it's a never-ending source of pleasure. Those who don't are very likely to give up when the going gets tough.....especially when they find that pop songs on the piano are just rubbishy arrangements that sound like rubbish. Much better to strum a few chords on the guitar and get singing. Takes about ten minutes to learn to do that, compared to ten years on the piano to get to the level where they can play like Elton and make up flashy and idiomatic song accompaniments for themselves.


"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: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
bennevis #3029382 09/26/20 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The question is not why or whether, but how.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
TimR #3029402 09/26/20 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
That's kind of like saying well piano is just theory school plus some instructor lead piano playing. The point is that whatever flight instruction does it seems to succeed, as evidenced by how few people crash an airplane, and how many graduate. There does seem to be a contrast with piano, where so many don't succeed.

The comparison is fundamentally flawed. You can die from flying a plane. You won't die from piano piano.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029405 09/26/20 07:04 PM
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The flight student has the intention of someday flying, commercially or for pleasure.

I'm not sure any but the rare piano student intends to ever perform - busking, church service, cocktail lounge, family singalong, whatever.

How the student approaches the task likely has a lot to do with it.

The question here though is whether the teaching methods themselves are significantly different.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
keystring #3029407 09/26/20 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The question is not why or whether, but how.
How what?


"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: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
bennevis #3029415 09/26/20 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The question is not why or whether, but how.
How what?

how now brown cow laugh

Last edited by rkzhao; 09/26/20 07:53 PM.
Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
bennevis #3029422 09/26/20 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The question is not why or whether, but how.
How what?

How are you going to get through doors without a few strategically placed door knobs?


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
IntermedPianist #3029430 09/26/20 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by IntermedPianist
It reminds me of the complaining flight instructors I used to work with. Granted I was a flight instructor and taught many students.However, iit was during a time when we could not go online to vent about our less successful students. The venting was still there, just in person with other colleagues. I noticed a recurring theme amongst the more frequent "ventors". And it was that as bad as some of their students were, they also seemed to be lacking something in the ability to teach. They didn't intrinsically love the teaching. It was a means to an end. Some of these lacking teachers became 777 Captains at United Airlines operating worldwide. They are good pilots. Just not good flight instructors.

Interesting. In my first teaching assignment in public schools, I did a number of observations to fill my required hours. It seemed like the teachers who complained the most and the loudest are also the best teachers. They actually cared about how their students progressed, and they fought the administration vociferously (we were going through a change, in which all four administrators left at the same time). The loudest complainer got stuck with an assignment teaching 40 kids per class without a prep period, but I learned the most by observing her masterful teaching.

There were also other great teachers who didn't complain about anything and stayed away from those carping conversations in the lounge. I was new so I just listened.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029437 09/26/20 11:48 PM
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Both highly skilled teachers and poor teachers end up with doorknobs. Actually, I bet poor teachers end up with fewer doorknobs because they have better marketing skills. They don't know what they don't know, so they very proudly put up their ads, often stating, only taking beginners up to level "x" pupils. And humble parents with bright kids do respond to those ads.

Whereas, highly skilled teachers know what they don't know and have some trouble articulating what makes them unique. And parents shy away from benefitting from their high qualifications. They don't want to spend the money, or don't think their child is good enough.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029445 09/27/20 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I find very few of my students actually ever "Play" the piano, in the sense that they get somewhere and feel like they're in command of the piano, and can find their way around a piano, and can improvise.

If my piano studio was compared to flight instruction, I'd say very few ever get off the ground, despite my best efforts at teaching. It's like they're stuck in ground school. If they do take off, there is no safe landing and no fuel to continue.

If I let go of fingering as a principle, I'm sure more of them could play around on the piano. But atrocious fingering would be the result, and impossible to correct in my opinion.

So I continue to plod away with them. I try teaching intervallic reading, explaining that thirds are from space to space. I try comparing the starting note to a note they have encountered in a beloved piece. I try describing left hand b as being above the staff, like a boat on water. I try to get them to circle all g's on the treble clef. Whatever I try, it takes them forever to learn to read music. How many times do they need to see a c below middle c? I show them the piece Two New C's long after they've learned it. I say all cows eat grass for the bass clef spaces.

To me, they seem as dense as doorknobs. When they leave the studio, I often comment to myself, "dense as doorknobs."

They have no curiosity, nor ability to start a piece on their own.

Any suggestions?

Isn't improvisation a specific thing that is difficult for many classically-trained pianists who are taught to read what is on the page? Many excellent players can't improvise. But the basis of improvisation is to understand chord structures etc - are you teaching the theory that would allow for that?

On the other hand, lots of kids struggle to read music because they have good ears and are relying on them. I have a kid who is slow at reading (not as slow as you describe, but slower than I would like!) The main thing that seems to be helping this kid read is the music getting harder - the harder and longer pieces get, the less you can completely memorize them and the longer it takes (though this kid still surprises me with how quickly it can be done.) They are playing RCM gr.3 when sonatinas start, and you need to pay attention to chord patterns and modulation, and I notice that the reading is definitely coming by leaps and bounds. I think some teachers make the mistake of keeping the so-called doorknobs down too long, expecting perfection in reading at the lower levels before moving on. The kid then lacks confidence seeing how long they have been playing and they are still at the baby level. I have so many friends whose kids take 6 or 7 years to take gr.1, by which time they are 12 or 13 and decide to quit. I remember that dilemma from when I was teaching - when to hold them back and when to move them on, but I found that moving them ahead a bit usually doesn't hurt and they may rise to the challenge.

Doing theory also has helped this kid - they get LOTS of it as they are at an arts school, and their piano teacher also makes them do it. Writing out the notes yourself is a very good teacher, as is ear training - being able to recognize the sound of line to line/space to space, etc.

The other issue, of course, is that many kids simply don't practice consistently or properly (or at all...)

Last edited by joplinlover; 09/27/20 02:01 AM.
Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
IntermedPianist #3029447 09/27/20 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by IntermedPianist
There is something disconcerting to me about this thread.

It reminds me of the complaining flight instructors I used to work with. Granted I was a flight instructor and taught many students.However, iit was during a time when we could not go online to vent about our less successful students. The venting was still there, just in person with other colleagues. I noticed a recurring theme amongst the more frequent "ventors". And it was that as bad as some of their students were, they also seemed to be lacking something in the ability to teach. They didn't intrinsically love the teaching. It was a means to an end. Some of these lacking teachers became 777 Captains at United Airlines operating worldwide. They are good pilots. Just not good flight instructors.

I think some wonderfully gifted pianists fall into teaching for reasons other than the love of sharing the gift of piano. I wouldn't be surprised to see a very similar correlation to flight instruction.

It's always saddened me to see the teacher that has soured on their craft to carry on despite the unhappiness. Life is too short.

I would also add that I am not saying that this is the case with any teachers participating in this particular thread. Just some feedback from my experience and possible food for thought to add to the dialogue.

These are the thoughts I had. It's kind of sad, even in jest, to see the comments about average or below average kids. Most of the world is like that and no one can help the ability they were born with. School teachers have to give those kids the skills for life just the same as the above average kids, and the good ones figure it out.

We need to stop thinking of piano as something only for geniuses and the very gifted. Music is for everyone - even if they aren't going to play concerti with orchestra, they can love and appreciate it. They can make music at an amateur level in their community or just be a patron of the arts. The arts need these people. Make learning piano joyful instead of a struggle or a resentment that every kid isn't a Lang Lang. Not all kids taking science and math are Einstein, or need to be. Music should be the same.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
joplinlover #3029452 09/27/20 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by joplinlover
We need to stop thinking of piano as something only for geniuses and the very gifted.

I don't think anyone thinks that, but we need to set realistic expectations.

Average or below average kids shouldn't be held to the same standards as gifted children. That's the first step in keeping learning joyful.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3029465 09/27/20 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
Originally Posted by joplinlover
We need to stop thinking of piano as something only for geniuses and the very gifted.

I don't think anyone thinks that, but we need to set realistic expectations.

Average or below average kids shouldn't be held to the same standards as gifted children. That's the first step in keeping learning joyful.
Rkzhao, I'm trying to get a proper perspective on the various things you've been writing. Do you teach? Do you teach piano or music? Or are these more general ideas?

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
malkin #3029466 09/27/20 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
I don't think there's any big trade secret as to why more flying students succeed than piano students.

The question is not why or whether, but how.
How what?

How are you going to get through doors without a few strategically placed door knobs?
By gentle persuasion.

Failing that, by using a sledgehammer. Never fails whistle.


"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."
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