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Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
#3037012 10/18/20 01:22 PM
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Hello...32 years old beginner here. :-)

It's been barely into 5 months of my learning process at a dedicated piano school and I'm already being skeptical about my second teacher with whom I've had only 5 0.5 hour sessions so far.
I mean, I had not even finished the Beyer's book with the first teacher before this new teacher changed approach to teach from Aaron's first book and having not finished the book, he's giving me homework like Beethoven's Sonata No1.

It's not a difficult piece if I know the proper finger technique and rotation and stuff. However I have not quite learned those things yet. I mean I've only been through less than half of the Beyer's book, same with the Aaron's and a few preliminary simple scale exercises plus a few exercises from the Schmit's. Mind you, the first teacher did the same thing and asked me to learn a piece named "Romance" and I did the thing albeit in lower tempo however I still can't jump with ease between long distance keys like an octave apart when I try to practice that piece again.

The thing is, I feel he is as undisciplined as the previous teacher,like, they rush to teaching pieces that seems to me to be too much of a jump if you know what I'm saying. Like, they are not taking me through the baby steps so that it takes appropriate time and energy for me to learn a piece.

Another complain is that he tends to push me toward "real" tempos as indicated in exercises while ignoring finger techniques and jumps.

It just feels to me that they think since I am an adult beginner I should be able to figure things out on my own.

Anyone with similar experience here? Any recommendations beyond communicating this stuff with my teacher? Am I being lazy or am I making excuses?

Last edited by meghdad; 10/18/20 01:23 PM.
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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037021 10/18/20 01:59 PM
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To clarify, I don't really consider myself a lazy person. If all there's to learning piano can be summed up as following the fingering and notes practicing slowly etc etc then why do we need teachers?

Then again, I am just beginning and maybe I shouldn't expect much at this stage.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037025 10/18/20 02:04 PM
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I would stick with it a few more months. Being challenged is always good. Make sure you tell them of some of you’re difficulties and what they recommend for that. Did someone recommend this instructor to you, or how did you come across them?

You really raise the most important basics like rhythm and fingering. You sho7kd strive to be able to figure out both on your own. Fingering essentials are a big building block for your future with piano.

Best of luck to you.

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 10/18/20 02:07 PM.

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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Lakeviewsteve #3037031 10/18/20 02:17 PM
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Yeah well, I did like the challenge with the first piece, and yet even after beating it, I'm still doubtful whether that was an appropriate piece for my level because of the amount of time I had to put into it to make it with the lower than notated tempo.

Regarding fingering, I always tend to expect from the teachers to help me take my baby steps like a pre-adult beginner, but so far they have left me unfulfilled unless I explicitly bring it up with them the next session.

And no he was not recommended to me, nether was the first one. They all teach at a piano school and the arguable plus at such a dedicated piano school seems to me that I can jump from one teacher to another given there are many (perhaps mediocre ones) of them.

Thanks for wishing me luck. :-)

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037060 10/18/20 03:27 PM
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Beethoven sonata 1 - really?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5dL-65mKe0

Are you sure they recommend this after a few months or is it a simple reduction of one of these movements?

Yes that would raise major alarm bells. It is a complex piece and not for beginners or intermediate pianists.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037075 10/18/20 03:51 PM
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lol sorry I meant
Beethoven : Sonatina in G Major

Admittedly pretty simple piece. I just want to make sure it's a standard and appropriate piece for my level.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037080 10/18/20 04:00 PM
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Haha - no problem. Interestingly I had played this piece as one of my first pieces, however, I spent months completing the method book. I remembered the book. After that I did grade 1 exam, so I think it may be ok. Good luck.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Piano-Lessons-Book-Waterman-Harewood/dp/0571500242

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037081 10/18/20 04:01 PM
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The piece was at the end of the method book above.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037200 10/19/20 01:21 AM
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it is really hard to comment without also having the teacher's point of view. However, when a teacher asks you to learn a piece, it is not always that they expect you are going to learn it well. You are a beginner after all. There might be a particular lesson or technique within a piece they want you to learn. You might even find yourself learning many pieces but not quite mastering any, or few, for a long while such is the nature of being a beginner.

Above all, the advantage of being an adult is to ask questions of the teacher adult to adult.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037203 10/19/20 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
If all there's to learning piano can be summed up as following the fingering and notes practicing slowly etc etc then why do we need teachers?

.

It's a great question. The truth is you don't need a teacher to do those things, but it really helps having someone constantly looking over your shoulder (as long as they have your best interests in mind). In the initial years I would have thought of my teachers as guides, now with close to eight years of instruction, I look upon my teacher as more of a mentor. Some might not get that, but to me there is a vast difference between the two. Especially since my initial teachers could only take me so far before I needed someone much more in tune with my needs. My advice is just to hang in there and review every six months or a year, because nothing happens quickly with piano 😎.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
earlofmar #3037205 10/19/20 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Above all, the advantage of being an adult is to ask questions of the teacher adult to adult.
+1.

I think it's worth to talk to him seriously first. Tell him about the skills that you're missing now and that you would like to be taught before proceeding to more difficult pieces. Probably he will understand.

Consider that teachers talk to each other. If you change teachers too often it will affect your reputation in the music school.


*Although if he is really undisciplined it's a bad sign. Teachers working with beginners must be very disciplined in my opinion.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037767 10/20/20 02:02 PM
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I guess I jumped to conclusion and kinda acted on a whim because, guess what, I can now play it mostly from memory, albeit on a 60-70 bpm tempo for now; and I practiced about one hour for three days. Also it sounds really nice! Love it. :-)
Another note, I can recognize some patterns in the sheet and that helped me to move faster! laugh

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. smile

Last edited by meghdad; 10/20/20 02:03 PM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3037972 10/21/20 10:14 AM
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Got back from the class about one hour ago and I must say I am quite disappointed to the point of possibly changing my teacher again. smirk

Upon entering the class he "teaches" me the F scale. Ok, from a distance of 2 to 3 meters away he "teaches" me what I can learn by myself, i.e the fingering for scales. But because of this weird "emotional disconnection" between us, I stumble with the fingering and get disappointed a bit.

So next step is to play that aforementioned piece. OK, I started by explaining to him that I started practicing it on Monday so I effectively practiced for 3 days, almost one hour each. I asked him to be tolerate and not to disrupt my "focus" by pointing out my "obvious" mistakes before I correct them myself and to let me warm up a bit. His answer was like "Ok, let's see what you've got".

I started playing the piece as if I hadn't played in for a day or two, making mistakes too often and certainly more than the home practice, and I had to restart over and over. Upon 3rd time, he told me to stop and said he wasn't satisfied. I explained to him that I did much better at home and I can record the performance "to prove it to him", and he reluctantly agreed but insisted on in-class performance. Then I kinda gladly explained to him that I recognized some patterns on my own and that helped me to memorize the piece. His answer: "I see what you mean, but let's play Aaron's exercises".
Suffice to say, for the rest of the class I went downhill until he expressed his dissatisfaction once more. My time was up, time to leave.

My issues:

1. No tips, no "corrections" about the fingering or whatever whatsoever. In fact, NOTHING was pointed out whatsoever, NADA. All the time he sits 3 meters away because of the goddamn COVID "health concerns".

2. Worse still, last session he "corrected" the fingering for the first 3 bars, because "he felt easier playing such" and left the rest untouched. At home, I practiced according to the original notation and I didn't find it difficult to be honest. In the class, I "followed the book's notation".

3. About the Aaron exercises. "You had the video of me playing" he said along the lines of "so it's inexcusable not to perform correctly." Oh sometimes I wish cameraphones weren't invented. I mean, the teachers are becoming lazier and lazier as the technology progresses. At least, that's my experience with some of them.

4. Related to 3, what the heck am I supposed to learn from your video of performing at high "notated" tempo?

5. He always seems lacking energy and motivation and I, admittedly lacking self-esteem, lay the blame on myself, thinking he doesn't feel like teaching another "beginner".


I just don't like him. I don't think I will. It's not about being childish, it's about the gut feeling I think. I feel emotionally disconnected. His voice and manner and everything isn't inviting. He doesn't seem to like his job, unlike the previous teacher. Maybe I should've stayed with him.

Regardless, I'm gonna think about it more and there's a high chance of me trying a new teacher, again :-/ (Reportedly, there are 20 teachers teaching at this school), or maybe taking a different approach of learning altogether (online, self-study etc).

And I'm gonna practice the piece until it's "perfect".

Last edited by meghdad; 10/21/20 10:15 AM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3037992 10/21/20 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by earlofmar
Above all, the advantage of being an adult is to ask questions of the teacher adult to adult.
+1.

I think it's worth to talk to him seriously first. Tell him about the skills that you're missing now and that you would like to be taught before proceeding to more difficult pieces. Probably he will understand.

Consider that teachers talk to each other. If you change teachers too often it will affect your reputation in the music school.


*Although if he is really undisciplined it's a bad sign. Teachers working with beginners must be very disciplined in my opinion.

It's part of my "shy" personality that I have difficulty talking frankly to most people, especially "senior" ones. But I don't think he's the kind of person who accepts criticism to change his method.

Perhaps as earlofmar suggested, I might go for self-study at this stage of learning since I think everything I need to perform a piece is notated clearly on the sheet and the books are also good guides. Then whenever in the future and later stages I feel the need, I might get a teacher.

Mind you, I went through the beginner levels of blues harmonica all by myself using a great online course and I even learnt the bending and some other techniques on my own, before becoming interested in learning the piano. And don't think that it's easier than the piano for a beginner, it doesn't have sheet music like the piano does, however it needs completely different and challenging techniques to master.

I need to ponder it a bit.

Last edited by meghdad; 10/21/20 11:10 AM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038054 10/21/20 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Mind you, I went through the beginner levels of blues harmonica all by myself using a great online course and I even learnt the bending and some other techniques on my own, before becoming interested in learning the piano. And don't think that it's easier than the piano for a beginner, it doesn't have sheet music like the piano does, however it needs completely different and challenging techniques to master.
Comparing playing piano to playing the harmonica is like comparing riding a bicycle to flying a plane.

There's a lot, lot more to piano playing, which you've hardly scratched the surface so far. As you progress, things will become more and more difficult to master.

BTW, I taught myself the harmonica (and pop guitar) when I was a kid - I could easily play staccato and bend notes on the harmonica within a few weeks. It was two years before I could play a staccato scale on the piano evenly and reliably with all fingers. I still can't bend notes on the piano cry.


"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: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038058 10/21/20 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Got back from the class about one hour ago and I must say I am quite disappointed to the point of possibly changing my teacher again. smirk

I just don't like him. I don't think I will. It's not about being childish, it's about the gut feeling I think. I feel emotionally disconnected. His voice and manner and everything isn't inviting. He doesn't seem to like his job, unlike the previous teacher. Maybe I should've stayed with him.

Regardless, I'm gonna think about it more and there's a high chance of me trying a new teacher, again :-/ (Reportedly, there are 20 teachers teaching at this school), or maybe taking a different approach of learning altogether (online, self-study etc).

I wont comment on the issues, as there is always a second side on any coin, so maybe some of his comments make sense in a certain perspective. But it is clear that you do not like him and dont feel much value taking the course. So you may as well drop that teacher as it is unlikely you will make much progress given the current relationship.

It is important that you find one that suits your style and personality, someone with whom you will feel comfortable working with. But that said, you also have to trust what he will say, even if you dont necessarily see the obvious reason immediately.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038067 10/21/20 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
It's part of my "shy" personality that I have difficulty talking frankly to most people, especially "senior" ones. But I don't think he's the kind of person who accepts criticism to change his method.

To be blunt, that sounds more like a confidence issue than a shyness issue. Concluding someone is not going to listen without even trying to speak up is just an internal excuse to avoid that perceived confrontation.

With regards to the topic of liking the teacher, I generally feel like in any subject, there should be a sense of mutual respect. You don't have to like a teacher for them to be a good teacher for you but you need to feel some level of respect for their methods and lessons. If you find that you are always second guessing the teacher and can't respect their work, then it may do you good to either change teachers or reflect on whether there's something to change with yourself.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038078 10/21/20 03:03 PM
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Meghdad:

It's so hard to be sympathetic and make an effort to be helpful when one reads these comments in your posts:

he is as undisciplined as the previous teacher,

I can jump from one teacher to another given there are many (perhaps mediocre ones)

because of the goddamn COVID "health concerns".

I mean, the teachers are becoming lazier and lazier as the technology progresses.

But I don't think he's the kind of person who accepts criticism to change his method.


While there may be truth in what you write, it's hard to get past your attitude towards teaching and teachers without suggesting that perhaps there needs to be some change in your approach to learning.

I hope it eventually works out for you because the journey - and not necessarily the ultimate goals - in learning to play the piano can be one of the most satisfying that some of us take.

Regards,


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
BruceD #3038083 10/21/20 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Meghdad:

It's so hard to be sympathetic and make an effort to be helpful when one reads these comments in your posts:

he is as undisciplined as the previous teacher,

I can jump from one teacher to another given there are many (perhaps mediocre ones)

because of the goddamn COVID "health concerns".

I mean, the teachers are becoming lazier and lazier as the technology progresses.

But I don't think he's the kind of person who accepts criticism to change his method.


While there may be truth in what you write, it's hard to get past your attitude towards teaching and teachers without suggesting that perhaps there needs to be some change in your approach to learning.

I hope it eventually works out for you because the journey - and not necessarily the ultimate goals - in learning to play the piano can be one of the most satisfying that some of us take.

Regards,

+1

Originally Posted by rkzhao
With regards to the topic of liking the teacher, I generally feel like in any subject, there should be a sense of mutual respect. You don't have to like a teacher for them to be a good teacher for you but you need to feel some level of respect for their methods and lessons. If you find that you are always second guessing the teacher and can't respect their work, then it may do you good to either change teachers or reflect on whether there's something to change with yourself.

Also +1

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 10/21/20 03:35 PM.

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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038086 10/21/20 03:40 PM
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Sorry but at your stage of the game Meghdad you have to just go with the teacher. Plus you do need to change your negative attitude.

Piano for 99% of us is a long journey. Yes there are the 1% that are the exception and you see them on YouTube videos that make it look easy.

Hope you stay with it.

Peace


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
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