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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
keystring #3032800 10/06/20 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
The turn toward who "is to blame" is a useless one. If something goes wrong, you figure out what, in fact, is going wrong, and what, precisely, needs to be done to fix or prevent it.

Useless it may be but here, and I suspect many other countries, the issue for schools has been politicised. The government won’t call out bad parenting so they point to bad teaching- as if a teacher can make up for an unsupportive home environment.

Music teaching is of course not a hot political issue but the same thinking carries over. Many parents won’t take responsibility for home practice for children. It’s anecdotal but several teachers have told me the drop out rate by grade 2 (around the first 2 - 3 years) is close to 90%.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
terentius #3032821 10/06/20 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by terentius
It’s anecdotal but several teachers have told me the drop out rate by grade 2 (around the first 2 - 3 years) is close to 90%.

It's not quite that bad. A lot of kids quit within 4 months because they are simply not interested at all, and neither are their parents. They are just testing the waters. However, if they stick it out past that, they'll last probably around 4 years.

Several years ago, on of the PW teachers who has since passed away (John) wrote that many kids quit at the juncture years, such as 5th-6th grade and 9th-10th grade. It's like when they are ready to move on to middle school or high school, they are allowed to drop one activity.


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
AZNpiano #3033080 10/07/20 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by terentius
It’s anecdotal but several teachers have told me the drop out rate by grade 2 (around the first 2 - 3 years) is close to 90%.

It's not quite that bad. A lot of kids quit within 4 months because they are simply not interested at all, and neither are their parents. They are just testing the waters. However, if they stick it out past that, they'll last probably around 4 years.

Several years ago, on of the PW teachers who has since passed away (John) wrote that many kids quit at the juncture years, such as 5th-6th grade and 9th-10th grade. It's like when they are ready to move on to middle school or high school, they are allowed to drop one activity.
I lasted about 4 years of organ lessons from 6 years of age to 10. Although I learned how to read the notes I had yet fully grasped the idea of subdividing and often played by ear and my internal sense of rhythm. My first teacher loved that I could play well by ear and that I had good hand/eye/foot coordination and she reassured my father that what I was doing was okay and there was time to fix any of these deficiencies. She kept telling my parents that I was talented. Every lesson from her was followed by a big hug and lots of smiles.

Unfortunately teacher #1 retired and when teacher #2 came into the picture he nearly destroyed my love for music but clearly destroyed any desire to continue music lessons. He was this geeky pencil neck teacher with thick rim glasses working at a Lowry Organ Shop in a mall who immediately was exasperated by what I was not able to do at 10 years of age versus what I was capable of doing. You could see he was immediately frustrated and though he tried to correct my playing by writing things out and talking about theory his approach was so off putting even to a 10 year old that I told my parents in tears that I wanted to stop lessons. I could understand how some may have viewed some of my weaknesses in subdividing needed a lot of work, but when you are working with a 10 year old who was clearly motivated to learn and who loved to play music you have to show patience and understanding. I don't have much patience with any teacher who show a lack of understanding for young children these days.

What happened years after that was I continued to play the organ and piano and decided to teach myself. For years I was convinced that I would never understand the concept of subdividing until a teacher came along and showed me how easy it was and took the time to explain it to me. From there I played the 1st clarinetist in the high school concert band and continued with piano lessons for adult learners at conservatories and continue with adult lessons today. (As an aside, I happened to be speaking with pianist Ian Hobson yesterday and he told me he also learned the organ as a 4 year old playing strictly by ear and like me also liked to arrange music we heard on the radio- so I feel good that I wasn't in bad company)

Those first 4 years with an enthusiastic caring music teacher was critical to me continuing to love music and to continue to learn the piano. So although students may only make it only to the first 4 years does not mean that a well meaning teacher had failed that student. Good teachers plant seeds that can grow a lifetime. Bad teachers are the worse thing that a young student can come across because they are so clouded in believing this perception of the train wreck student when the true train wreck was only themselves.

Last edited by Jethro; 10/07/20 11:45 AM.

Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


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Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3035829 10/15/20 08:01 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?

I'm an adult student of less than two years, so please bear that in mind. I also apologize for getting wordy.

Some things that helped me is simple repetition, and exposure to more music. Mnemonics are awful, intervals are awesome, but take a bit of time to seep in and stick, so to speak.

My teacher had me start on chords (Alfred's books occupied much of my first year) and told me to go home and practice these chord patterns 100 times (everything is 100 times). I'd audibly say the notes while I play them. C-E-G. After doing that enough times, it reinforced exactly where C, E, and G were on the bass and treble staff lines and where they were on the piano, to the point that they're my automatic reference point when looking at music.

Learning more songs outside of the basic fragments and simple songs got me more exposure to the notes above and below the C-E-G chord that I'd played an absurd number of times.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
The fundamental problem is the students do not practice either enough or effectively. Many of them are actually talented if not brilliant but they never get anywhere because they don't work at it.

The parents are very encouraging at the lesson but they don't have the kind of relationship with their child that leads to practice at home.

Not practicing at all is a problem that doesn't need explanation. Maybe the kid hates it and their parents are forcing them to play? Not much to do there but soldier on, I guess. Other than that, perhaps frame it differently like fifteen minutes minimum, try to keep it at the same time each day, and try to go for more bonus time on top of that. The prospect of an hour might seem daunting, but fifteen minutes is much more digestible and odds are they're likely to keep going once getting into it. It could also be the songs and music type that they're learning. Maybe they're learning classical and have no interest in it? Could try including more modern music arrangements alongside the normal stuff.

How often do you focus on teaching students how to practice? How to analyze their playing throughout the week and adjust accordingly? I'd also recommend including them in the discussion of the music and their practice sessions beyond just a general "How'd your week go" or "How was practice?", but probe a little bit more and get them to self-analyze how they did and where they had difficulties. That might carry over to home and spring to mind when they're not around your influence.

Last week I was on vacation and even though I spent it at home, I was not too terribly interested in practicing day to day. I've video games to play (Control), books to read (I'm eight behind for the year!), and a messy apartment to clean. So what I would do would be to do my techniques, then do my various songs I was playing through five times each, then I was home free. I was aware of the problem sections, where I'd either trip up on the notes, or needed some more time to focus on a transition or something, but mostly ignored that. The sections that I had down I played as much as those I didn't.

This week, I've been trying to correct from that. Techniques and whatnot, then go into each song once through, or maybe twice through, once slow then once at speed. As I played I saw the same issues as the previous week. My teacher discussed some of them with me during our lesson noting some things. Then ignore the sections that I had down, and slow practice the areas I had problems with. One section I played through fifty times, a few others twenty times. Then once more all the way through. The difference between beginning of the week and mid-week has been dramatic.

Hopefully that helps! Good luck.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3036848 10/18/20 01:09 AM
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Thanks, but Blague, adult students learn very differently to children. They also do not have the vantage point of a piano teacher with twenty five years experience teaching.

Very few children dislike piano lessons or are forced to take piano by their parents. This is a common misconception. Rather, what they dislike is working at it at home when other alluring things take their fancy, such as video games.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3037628 10/20/20 05:25 AM
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I took music lessons years ago. In my younger days the Internet wasn't available and coming from a non-musical family I didn't know where I would be heading and had no expectation of achieving a certain level. The only info I got was from my music teacher.

The 1 thing that stopped me from continuing lessons after 4 years was money. In my younger days my parents paid for the lessons and they got frustrated the kids weren't getting anywhere. Many kids are in the same situation. The parents pay for the music education and they don't want money wasted. When parents don't see results, they would stop the lessons.

I know 1 kid (friend of the family) who was enrolled in the Yamaha music program 2 years ago. His mother went with him to the lessons and learned alongside her son as a requirment so she could coach him at home. After a year the boy's parents said forget it. The mother was spending more time practicing at home and the kid wasn't getting very far.

When we get older, we pay for our own lessons. Some of the students that are enrolled with my piano teacher are retired in their 60s & 70s. Older people want to engage in activities to keep their mind sharp. Some seem to take a leisurely approach to learning. They're not learning pieces like they are preparing for an upcoming recital or conservatory exam. Some would work on an easy song for a month or longer.

I belong to a music group and would pick up unfamiliar music all the time. I tend to be very time conscious even when I'm not practicing a piece for a performance. I'd be pushing myself to finish an intermediate level piece in 2 - 3 weeks at most. I'd download a new piece off the Internet occasionally.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3047208 11/18/20 01:31 PM
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Candywoman; I hear your frustration.

I believe that "playing the piano" and learning to read music should be considered as two entirely different learned skills. Learning to Improvise should be the first priority followed later by note reading training. Tapping into a students innate playfulness and freedom should be lesson one. Improvisation should not be thought of as a facility gained only after years of formal training.

Improvising can be as simple as holding a couple of left hand triad chords while the right hand doodles an arpeggio of random notes. For a beginner to hear themselves playing just that can be very rewarding and motivating.

The goal should always be to give a student the gift of being able to play alone to entertain themselves for a lifetime; never prioritize the notion of being a concert pianist.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3047293 11/18/20 05:09 PM
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The problem with your method, Will, is that parents are paying for the lessons. You can't have students do much doodling during the lesson because you cannot maintain discipline during the lesson. You need to give specific instructions towards a goal. Even when I teach things like a Blues progression, they don't try the same thing at home later. In fact, with your method, the parent would not know whether they were progressing, and you wouldn't be on the road to the recital either (if that was relevant).

I keep my students for a long time, but that isn't the point here. And the notion of concert pianist wasn't mentioned in my posts. I couldn't even be a concert pianist.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3049586 11/26/20 04:51 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.

....

Any suggestions?
I am not a piano teacher, this job seems one of the top difficult jobs to do it well.
But I think a good piano teacher should:

-understand his/her interests about the music.
-keep his/her interests about the music.
-understand what he/she can understand and what he/she cannot understand (feeling is important).
-just guide his/her attention, explore what he/she can do the best,
-what is his/her bottleneck, doing little thing at some point to get great improvements.

the foundation is the interests of the music, but it is not always possible.

If the above doesn't happen then ask him/her play Hanon, Czerny, piano scales intensively. And it may looks like a boring pilot training center.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
zonzi #3049591 11/26/20 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by zonzi
...

If the above doesn't happen then ask him/her play Hanon, Czerny, piano scales intensively. And it may looks like a boring pilot training center.
In this case, the bellow should be the teaching objective:


100 Most Difficult Piano Pieces
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...-difficult-piano-pieces.html#Post3023427

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
Candywoman #3049860 11/26/20 06:06 PM
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The last makes even less sense than the first. Actually, it makes no sense at all.

Re: If piano teaching were compared to flight instruction
zonzi #3050071 11/27/20 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by zonzi
But I think a good piano teacher should:

-understand his/her interests about the music.
-keep his/her interests about the music.
-understand what he/she can understand and what he/she cannot understand (feeling is important).
-just guide his/her attention, explore what he/she can do the best,
-what is his/her bottleneck, doing little thing at some point to get great improvements.

You've made a nice nod to gender, but it isn't clear if the pronouns are referring to the teacher or the student.


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