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If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
#3028752 09/24/20 10:24 PM
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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?

Last edited by Candywoman; 09/24/20 10:26 PM.
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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028765 09/24/20 11:59 PM
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Is this observation pre-pandemic or post-pandemic? Or both?

I try to be compassionate with these "doorknobs" if they are pleasant kids who follow instructions. It's not their fault they were born this way. At one time my studio was filled with this kind of "doorknobs." We try to have as much fun as we can, even though I know they're not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, I transfer the attention and energy to the genius students. I still have 1.75 of them. I used to teach a LOT more of those.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028857 09/25/20 08:27 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.

It's unlikely you ever hang out on Adult Beginner forums, but something I've found interesting: Most will not say "I play piano." They say "I take lessons" or "I'm working on piano." That discussion has recurred many times, and it's a mindset thing that seems to happen. Personally I always said "I play piano, very badly." Even though my practice has currently shifted to other instruments, and what skills I had have faded, I would still say I play piano, even worse.


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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.

I think most of this is that children take piano lessons for their parent's reasons, and part of it is that it's taught a bit differently from other instruments.

But consider this. We make children take math beyond the arithmetic they'll need to make change, which they should learn in elementary school. I made my children take four years of math in high school. Very few of them will retain the higher levels, things like geometry, trigonometry, heaven forbid calculus. But even fewer of them would ever attempt to figure out something that required mathematical thinking. I think to 99% of people it's one of those arcane topics you have to learn that will never have any real world application, and maybe piano is like that too.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028858 09/25/20 08:41 AM
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As I've never been blessed with false modesty whistle, I called myself a pianist when I could play my first original, unadulterated, unsimplified piece by a great composer - Mozart. (OK, he was only six when he composed it, but his name was still Wolfie, and he would be great.....).

By implication, it meant that I could play the piano after six months of lessons.

As to whether I was in "command" of the instrument then, well, I'm still working on it....... cool


"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
Candywoman #3028874 09/25/20 09:27 AM
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candywoman
It is difficult for me to understand your students as I always loved to play around with new music that was not taught in my lessons: pop, Broadway, other classics

The only (probably poor) suggestion I can make is to ask them if they have any favorite pop singer, find a couple of suitable level arrangements and present it for them to take home and play. They just need to see what fun it can be. If you can find a musical wedge, maybe the parents could purchase a related anthology to give them lots of new material.


"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

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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028907 09/25/20 10:57 AM
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I've done this, writing out arrangements of Beethoven's Fifth, Tacos, anything they like. They still need every note fed to them. I'm starting to think everything needs to be written larger.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028943 09/25/20 12:53 PM
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I've always believed that being average equates to being second-rate. The average person is not athletic, the average person is not intelligent, and the average person is not musical. Quite frankly, the average person is a "doorknob".

So this then raises another interesting question in my mind for the teachers. Do you ever break the unfortunate news to a parent that their child is simply average?

Last edited by rkzhao; 09/25/20 12:57 PM.
Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3028945 09/25/20 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
I've always believed that being average equates to being second-rate. The average person is not athletic, the average person is not intelligent, and the average person is not musical. Quite frankly, the average person is a "doorknob".

So this then raises another interesting question in my mind of the teachers. Do you ever break the unfortunate news to a parent that their child is simply average?

Your definition of average is wrong. Doorknobs are two standard deviations below the mean.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3028946 09/25/20 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
I've always believed that being average equates to being second-rate. The average person is not athletic, the average person is not intelligent, and the average person is not musical. Quite frankly, the average person is a "doorknob".

So this then raises another interesting question in my mind for the teachers. Do you ever break the unfortunate news to a parent that their child is simply average?


You can be ‘average’ and still have interests that you want to pursue—- such as playing the piano😊
The majority of people in the world are ‘average’ but that is not the same as being a doorknob.


"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: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028949 09/25/20 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I've done this, writing out arrangements of Beethoven's Fifth, Tacos, anything they like. They still need every note fed to them. I'm starting to think everything needs to be written larger.

Tacos?

I wouldn't waste my time writing anything out. There is already a plethora of publications aimed at this group of students. I have about 30 of these books sitting on my shelf. About three weeks ago, I had to dig something out of my old Schaum books and let my doorknob play one piece out of it. The kid mastered it in three weeks, which is a record. He's been in the same book for about a year now and I can just see where his intelligence ran out.

Find something the kid will enjoy.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3028950 09/25/20 01:13 PM
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Time to recommend a book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KT104RI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Available at your local library, or on Overdrive or Hoopla if your library is still closed.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
dogperson #3028979 09/25/20 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
You can be ‘average’ and still have interests that you want to pursue—- such as playing the piano😊
The majority of people in the world are ‘average’ but that is not the same as being a doorknob.

Of course, being average doesn't limit someone from pursuing hobbies. It might limit their progress but the pursuit itself is available to just about anyone.

Everyone has a different definition for what one would consider a "doorknob".

Throughout my life, I've learned to continuously lower my expectations of people's capabilities. At this point, I simply expect the average person to be a "doorknob". Sure there are people that exceed my expectations of them, but often there are just as many if not more that have demonstrated my expectations to be unreasonably high.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3028984 09/25/20 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
Throughout my life, I've learned to continuously lower my expectations of people's capabilities. At this point, I simply expect the average person to be a "doorknob". Sure there are people that exceed my expectations of them, but often there are just as many if not more that have demonstrated my expectations to be unreasonably high.
Me, I just assume every other person I meet is a moron until proven otherwise. All the rest, of course, are merely imbeciles. smirk

However, I consistently find that my expectations of my own capabilities are unreasonably low. It makes me realize that I'm actually not far off genius level, but of course, I'm far too modest to allow that to go to my head (which is over-bulging with grey cells)....... cool


"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
Candywoman #3029120 09/25/20 10:23 PM
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Isn't that a rather big gap between your expectation of the student being able to improvise on the piano, and the reality of the students trying to find middle C?

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3029154 09/26/20 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
Throughout my life, I've learned to continuously lower my expectations of people's capabilities. At this point, I simply expect the average person to be a "doorknob". Sure there are people that exceed my expectations of them, but often there are just as many if not more that have demonstrated my expectations to be unreasonably high.

So, what do you do if you meet people who are obviously way smarter than you?


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
AZNpiano #3029175 09/26/20 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by rkzhao
Throughout my life, I've learned to continuously lower my expectations of people's capabilities. At this point, I simply expect the average person to be a "doorknob". Sure there are people that exceed my expectations of them, but often there are just as many if not more that have demonstrated my expectations to be unreasonably high.

So, what do you do if you meet people who are obviously way smarter than you?

What do you mean? If people exceed my initial expectations, then I adjust my expectations accordingly, just like when people fall short of my initial expectations. Isn't that what everyone does?

Like your first post essentially said, treat the doorknobs like doorknobs and treat the geniuses like geniuses.

I've never met anyone that I can safely assume to be way smarter than me without any form of interaction. Even for individual that I know enough to assume some level of competence before I interact with them, it's often safer for me to lower my expectations by a few degrees in reality.

Last edited by rkzhao; 09/26/20 04:58 AM.
Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3029204 09/26/20 06:26 AM
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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?

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
rkzhao #3029206 09/26/20 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
Like your first post essentially said, treat the doorknobs like doorknobs and treat the geniuses like geniuses.
.
In the area of teaching, how do you treat doorknobs and geniuses? How do you teach each of them. At the initial and intermediate stages? (Do you teach?)

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
keystring #3029220 09/26/20 07:03 AM
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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.


"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: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
keystring #3029224 09/26/20 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by rkzhao
Like your first post essentially said, treat the doorknobs like doorknobs and treat the geniuses like geniuses.
.
In the area of teaching, how do you treat doorknobs and geniuses? How do you teach each of them. At the initial and intermediate stages? (Do you teach?)

Oh heck no, I'm not qualified to teach piano.

Even if I were qualified, while I like teaching and mentoring people, I don't want to ever put up with the crap teachers have to go through. There's a lot of patience, dedication, and creativity needed to try and effectively teach different people.

I replied to this thread more because I was wondering how people choose to deal with the doorknob parents because that to me is the tougher task in teaching a doorknob.

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