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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038098 10/21/20 04:38 PM
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There seems too much resistance and navel gazing for someone five months into lessons. It is natural to have some doubts about, well, anything. Accept that you know nothing (I do not mean this as insult, as I also know just a little more than nothing) and assume teachers have something to offer. One never progresses as quickly as one would like, especially early on. My teacher studied in a conservatory in Kiev, and from his stories I would like to see the teachers and professors there respond to this attitude. Change teacher or don’t change teachers—I suspect today’s performing masters have more of a beginners mind (less ego, more learning) than you and many of us. Best wishes. Perhaps you might accept things as they are for a while. You aren’t there for an emotional bond necessarily; it is a professional situation. And the pros know more than us, one has to assume. Ask questions and communicate openly.

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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038170 10/22/20 01:08 AM
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I'm a bit with OP here
- he is paying for lessons
- teacher is set in his ways so he does not need to learn anything new
- that someone is taking lessons, does not mean that he is good at teaching
- quite a few take lessons of pure financial purposes, to pay rent and food
- teaching is also having pupil getting his moneys worth
- there is always personal chemistry in action as well
- skilled teacher can see how to reach and inspire pupil as well and suggest intermediate pieces/excersises
- does the chosen piece inspire to learn it
- there are loads of pieces that does not check any boxes

My image of a good teacher is
- checking out what pupil can play of course
- what is pupil targeting as musical preference
- give options of pieces that inspire enough by playing videos/audio as performed
- that pupil feel the urge to learn a certain piece is essential to walk the distance it takes


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038172 10/22/20 01:18 AM
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Just recently reading here on PW I bought Faber Adult Piano Adventures 1 and 2.
And there is such a different approach to his teaching and I love it.

Immediately start giving ideas to extend what is written, playing things i different octaves and whatnot.
I was sucked in and just doing this is fun and very good experience.
A lot of excersises that aim to reach keys in other octaves into your backbone - without looking even.

And this can be done beside taking lessons as well doing completely different stuff.
Anything that makes you spend time on the piano is working for you.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038177 10/22/20 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
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".

I don't know why. I burst out laughing when I read this one.

So, is it because he's so far away that he can't see your fingers to make corrections? You teacher would have to be blind. I can see the piano clearly 3 meters away.

You might want to work on 4 measures of music at a time. And if you still stumble frequently, work on 2 measures at a time. If you are the type that messes up frequently, then the longer you play the MORE mistakes you will make. There is a lot you can work on. I've taught this sonatina to the most brilliant 5-year-old boy and the most below-average teenager. It's a nice piece and you can learn a lot from it. Be patient and work on shorter segments. One idea at a time.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038180 10/22/20 03:11 AM
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Well one thing is for certain, I DO have knee jerk reactions too often and I'm aware of that.

However I stress that I can play the piece perfectly well at a slow pace (note and rhythm wise, not dynamics necessarily). I "recognized" the musical patterns and didn't memorize note by note.

Thing is, for some weird reason, I get pumped up in front of him and just can't seem to perform slowly or in rhythm and that messes things up.

I mean, shouldn't he force me to play at slow "comfortable" tempo? Shouldn't he at least play a metronome so I can focus better? Granted, I'm able to count the rhythm when I'm "concentrated" and alone, but I have mental anxiety issues and it gets worse in front of such teacher.

Do you think I need to ask him for such perhaps obvious things? Am I expecting too much? Is is that since I am an adult beginner, I should be able to correct my performance-related "mental" weak points arising from my developed personality that a kid being a kid isn't subject to? In other words, is it that the teacher will "break less sweat" teaching an adult like me versus a kid? Is that to be expected and should be taken for granted? What am I missing here?

And how did you get the idea that it's my ego that's to blame? If anything, I suffer from a very low self-esteem. I take goddamn medications for my anxiety issues. :-/

I'm just not your typical normal person. I have a fast paced mental rhythm, while speaking and doing things, and it gets worse with this teacher. Again, I find that when I practice at a very slow pace, I can play alot better. It seems kinda like the slow pace "counters" and "balances" my natural fast and anxious pace.

Last edited by meghdad; 10/22/20 03:18 AM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
AZNpiano #3038185 10/22/20 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by meghdad
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".

I don't know why. I burst out laughing when I read this one.

So, is it because he's so far away that he can't see your fingers to make corrections? You teacher would have to be blind. I can see the piano clearly 3 meters away.
It's not a good sign that of all the points I mentioned, you singled out this one.

Admittedly that point arose from an overreaction in a heightened emotional state that I had when I wrote it. It wasn't necessary.

However, I'd rather he doesn't "correct" my fingering at this early stage because it's too obvious for me when I make a mistake in this regard. I can recognize my fingering mistakes both tonally by hitting wrong notes, and physically by "awkward feel" in my finger movements. I do believe it's important to point out fingering mistakes when they are "due".

Rather than that point, you could have noticed my other complaints, such as the one about him "correcting" the formal fingering notation for the first 4 bars and leaving the rest untouched because I am an "adult" beginner and can figure it out on my own right? Needless to repeat that I have followed the notated fingering and I'm comfortable with it as opposed to the teacher.

I hope you all see my real point here. I can play the piece, it's not about that. It's not about laziness or excuses or nonsense like that.

That said, I'm still gonna give him a chance or two AND I am determined to communicate my concerns to him the next session. I swear I will.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038189 10/22/20 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Well one thing is for certain, I DO have knee jerk reactions too often and I'm aware of that.

Thing is, for some weird reason, I get pumped up in front of him and just can't seem to perform slowly or in rhythm and that messes things up.

I mean, shouldn't he force me to play at slow "comfortable" tempo? Shouldn't he at least play a metronome so I can focus better? Granted, I'm able to count the rhythm when I'm "concentrated" and alone, but I have mental anxiety issues and it gets worse in front of such teacher.

And how did you get the idea that it's my ego that's to blame? If anything, I suffer from a very low self-esteem. I take goddamn medications for my anxiety issues. :-/

I'm just not your typical normal person. I have a fast paced mental rhythm, while speaking and doing things, and it gets worse with this teacher. Again, I find that when I practice at a very slow pace, I can play alot better.


I understand and there are other people that have issues playing well in front of their teacher (or even in front of anybody else !). I think that seems to be the main issue that is causing the subsequent consequences including your reactions toward your teacher. As I said, there is a lot of psychology going on when teaching certain adults, and some teachers are not willing, not interested or not skilled to understand the blocking points and adjust their behavior.

So my sense is that you have a couple of options; either you open up frankly the subject with him and discuss the issue plainly and ask for his advice as to how overcome the issue (since if that continues that way, you will not learn a lot from these teaching sessions - there is no point continuing to suffer every week with no results); maybe for a time recording yourself or whatever. In any case you have to find a way to create a comfortable working session with your teacher and not going there with anxiety and fear. If that does not work (your teacher is not willing to accomodate his standard method) or you dont feel like having this open discussion, then you have to look for another solution. Solving relationship problems can only come from open communication, keeping the problem for yourself wont help ….

You can also look for a teacher that is less abrupt (ie more comfy ….) or you can try online sessions. Sometimes the distance changes things and you may feel more secure that way. if you record your playing and submit it, that can be an interim solution until you feel your playing is good enough to play in front of other people. You can also go self-teaching, or some sort of mix in between, even though full self-teaching works well only for a very particular category of people.

What is certain is that piano is a hobby, thus it has to be enjoyable for you. There is no point doing something that is an additional pain. Whether it is your behavior of your teacher (or likely the combination of both) that is causing the issue does not matter. My attitude, very personal, is that I never cared too much about pleasing my teachers, except the rare case when it became a personal friendship. If I feel dont get what I need, whether it is because of me or the teacher does not matter, I would look for other options; as an adult I certainly never expected anybody to judge me, be "satisfied" or "dissatisfied " with my progress, I dont need any external approval and I dont need encouragement or motivational small talk. Of course other people will have a different attitude and expectations, we are all unique !

Regarding the tempo, of course playing at slow tempo is easier. But eventually playing music is about playing it at the right tempo, slow or fast. You should be palying at a tempo that allows you to make a minimal amount of errors, but eventually the goal is to reach the proper tempo (or close enough) for each piece. you cant be playing a presto at a largo pace !

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Sidokar #3038193 10/22/20 04:14 AM
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Thank you for your balanced and mature advice.

@Nip: Yeah, I might buy some complementing material. I was learning acoustic guitar a few years ago, and after changing a few teachers, I ended up getting the Gibson's Learn and Master Guitar package and the difference was like night and day compared with the teachers that I had experienced. I found myself progressing faster with a committed schedule, however it's gathering dust now in a corner.

Last edited by meghdad; 10/22/20 04:15 AM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038205 10/22/20 06:02 AM
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While we're talking about this piece, may I ask a question about it?

Since I started practicing it, I had always sort of "hinderance" when I reached half way through the fifth measure since I had to make my both hands close to each in order to play those notes. Now, in my latest round of practice (which I have upped the tempo to 90 bpm), I found that if I move my elbows closer to my body so my forearms get closer as well, then I could play that part a bit easier and more legato.

Is that some kind of "technique" that I should remember for such cases? If so, am I right to think that the teacher is supposed to point it out, or is it something that should come "naturally"?

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
AZNpiano #3038229 10/22/20 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by meghdad
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".

I don't know why. I burst out laughing when I read this one.

So, is it because he's so far away that he can't see your fingers to make corrections? You teacher would have to be blind. I can see the piano clearly 3 meters away.

You might want to work on 4 measures of music at a time. And if you still stumble frequently, work on 2 measures at a time. If you are the type that messes up frequently, then the longer you play the MORE mistakes you will make. There is a lot you can work on. I've taught this sonatina to the most brilliant 5-year-old boy and the most below-average teenager. It's a nice piece and you can learn a lot from it. Be patient and work on shorter segments. One idea at a time.

I am curious. What do you mean by this:

If you are the type that messes up frequently, then the longer you play the MORE mistakes you will make.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Snowstorm #3038233 10/22/20 08:34 AM
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I believe he was referring to the number of notes one should play according his rate of mistake, here the example was measures.

However, I also read it as "if you find yourself making too many mistakes, then take a break and return back to it later."

Last edited by meghdad; 10/22/20 08:35 AM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038253 10/22/20 09:51 AM
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One "gift" I resolved to give to my teacher was to never say, "I played that better at home." Did I, in fact, play that better at home? Sure. But I'm not at home. I'm at my lesson.

Playing in front of someone or even recording (see "Red Dot Syndrome") puts stress on our playing and suddenly all the weak spots come to the forefront. This happens to me all the time and it is sooo frustrating. But I learn from it. I know the piece isn't as secure as the ability to play it well a time or two at home led me to believe. It needs more work.

One reason playing in front of the teacher is stressful is that we feel we need to perform the piece, rather than play it and receive instruction on how to make it better. To counteract the feeling of performing, I often say to the teacher that I'm going to play the first phrase (or some small section) and then I'd like for us to work on that. That helps me get out of the perform mindset and gets me immediate feedback on what I've just played. I don't care if we spend half of the lesson on that one phrase and don't get through the entire piece. That in-depth instruction is what is valuable to me. Try this with your teacher. If the teacher is unwilling to do it, then consider finding another teacher. Don't limit yourself to the pool of teachers in the music school.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Stubbie #3038279 10/22/20 10:44 AM
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Yes, I agree it's a good approach and I've read about it before while searching about the performance stress. However, at this stage of learning and with a simple piece, I'm doubtful he will agree and to be honest I don't think it's reasonable to expect it.

In general though, I'd ask him to be more flexible and it's important for me to verify that before setting him as my favorite teacher.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038283 10/22/20 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Yes, I agree it's a good approach and I've read about it before while searching about the performance stress. However, at this stage of learning and with a simple piece, I'm doubtful he will agree and to be honest I don't think it's reasonable to expect it.

In general though, I'd ask him to be more flexible and it's important for me to verify that before setting him as my favorite teacher.


This response shows some inflexibility on YOUR part: you seem unwilling to try a different apogoach to your lessons, you have pre-judged your teacher will not approve and you’re ok with that.

No matter how simple a piece is, problems are problems and there is no reason not to address them separately. ... and to try another approach yo lessons. I have been using exactly this approach to my lessons for quite a while and find it to be successful. You should try it before you dismiss it.


"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: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
dogperson #3038310 10/22/20 12:43 PM
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You are right about that point. I should make that suggestion to him. But don't call that inflexibility, because everybody gathers information from their surrounding and people before giving opinions. I'd call it speculation.

I can remember one instance where I asked him to use a metronome for a little exercise from the Aaron's book but he didn't approve of it and recommended me to count the rhythm. Not sure why.

By the way, I'm not dismissive of all teachers. I started learning the piano 10 years ago but it didn't last long, just a few exercises from the Beyer's book. That was my very first experience with a music teacher and now after 10 years I miss him because he left this school years ago. I know that because I asked the school's manager about him. I really liked him. He taught me little things that I won't forget. For example, to view the notes on the sheet like a graphical curve, to use visualization, to not start over after hitting a wrong note. And he always used a metronome for the simplest pieces.

He really enjoyed his job. I could feel it. He was not a typical teacher, the school's manager confirmed it by saying "he was kind of strange". Yes strage, in a good way.
I remember when I described my anxiety and mental issues to him, he replied along the lines of "many pianists and player had physical and mental issues."

Now 10 years later, I came to realize what he was talking about (I have read bits of some of the romantic pianists' biographies).

Last edited by meghdad; 10/22/20 12:45 PM.
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038325 10/22/20 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
I can remember one instance where I asked him to use a metronome for a little exercise from the Aaron's book but he didn't approve of it and recommended me to count the rhythm. Not sure why.
It's pretty obvious why, because it is the best way.

Why are you telling your teacher how he should teach, when he obviously knows a lot more than you?

I never use a metronome with my students, and none of my teachers used a metronome with me when I was a student. I learnt to play (and sing) in time by counting beats aloud, right from the first lesson, and that's also the way I teach (and the way used in the method book I use). Once learnt, never forgotten. And every student should be counting beats aloud from Day 1. Without a beat, there is no music. If you can't play in time without a metronome, there is something seriously wrong with the way you have been taught, or are self-teaching.

Have you not noticed how a group of performers - a band, an orchestra, a choir etc - are 'counted in' (3,2,1...) by their conductor when rehearsing, so that they all start together and play at the same tempo that was set. When performing, they will follow the beat. Do they ever use a metronome?

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By the way, I'm not dismissive of all teachers. .
No, you're just dismissive of any teacher who doesn't teach the way you expect them to, even though they are the ones with the skills & knowledge.

Seriously, I think you should go the self-teaching route.

Then, you have no-one to blame for your failings, but yourself.......... 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."
Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
bennevis #3038330 10/22/20 01:49 PM
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About the metronome, I was talking about it in the context of a beginner as I am, not an advanced beginner or an intermediate or a concert pianist gee. It helps me to get a sense of time,to get used to it perhaps, otherwise I might lose the tempo (bpm) in some measures. Though I've tried keeping track of the tempo by using my foot, it still can get out of hand.

About the rest of your post, no comment.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038338 10/22/20 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Thing is, for some weird reason, I get pumped up in front of him and just can't seem to perform slowly or in rhythm and that messes things up.

This in my personal experience is pretty common when you're nervous or anxious. It's not getting "pumped up"

Originally Posted by meghdad
I mean, shouldn't he force me to play at slow "comfortable" tempo? Shouldn't he at least play a metronome so I can focus better? Granted, I'm able to count the rhythm when I'm "concentrated" and alone, but I have mental anxiety issues and it gets worse in front of such teacher.

Well, I've never taught piano, but logically, I wouldn't add additional restrictions and pressure to try to solve a problem that's brought about by anxiety. Forcing someone to do something more strict isn't the exactly best way to help them relax.

Originally Posted by meghdad
And how did you get the idea that it's my ego that's to blame? If anything, I suffer from a very low self-esteem. I take goddamn medications for my anxiety issues. :-/

As someone that had suffered from low self-esteem as a child and someone that can likely get anxiety medication if I were to speak to a doctor, I would say your posts here all kind of fits.

I generally separate the idea of ego and self-esteem. If anything, it's the opposite. People that come across as egotistical generally have lower self-esteem because they feel the need to prove themselves and second guess others. On the other hand, people that are truly confident are comfortable with their own self image and comfortable with trusting that others know more.

Teaching is not a hard science. There's different schools and thought to go about the curriculum. Stop comparing different individual ideas and dwelling on the details so much. Just look at the bigger picture. Are you making meaningful progress? Do you trust that you will make better progress with this teacher than learning by yourself? If the answer to that is yes, then put some more trust in the teacher and stop second guessing everything.

Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
meghdad #3038343 10/22/20 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
About the metronome, I was talking about it in the context of a beginner as I am, not an advanced beginner or an intermediate or a concert pianist gee.
And I was talking about the metronome in the context of a beginner like you.

Didn't I say what happens on day 1 of lesson 1? Learn to count regular beats aloud.

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It helps me to get a sense of time,to get used to it perhaps, otherwise I might lose the tempo (bpm) in some measures. Though I've tried keeping track of the tempo by using my foot, it still can get out of hand.
.
That's because you never learnt to internalize the sense of a regular beat by counting aloud with every piece you learn, until you become so familiar with the 'regular beat' that you don't need to count aloud anymore.

Relying on an external source of regular beat to keep in time means that you never develop it yourself.

Watch this famous song, which is all about a rock-steady regular beat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tJYN-eG1zk

When they perform in front of thousands (of non-musicians), they expect everyone to clap in time........with no metronome to help.


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Re: Early stage beginner and doubts about teachers
Snowstorm #3038386 10/22/20 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowstorm
I am curious. What do you mean by this:

If you are the type that messes up frequently, then the longer you play the MORE mistakes you will make.

When you work on a piece during the lesson, you really should not play from beginning to end. That's a waste of lesson time.

A more meaningful use of lesson time is to focus on one or two passages. And work on the details.

I stole this idea from a choir director. She teaches 8 bars per song, per class. Her ideas are actually quite influential. I observed another choir director who did the same thing. I tried that with my choirs, but the kids are too immature to work on 8 measures at a time--they just want to sing through the whole song. So I had to find another strategy with them.

With the OP, who hopefully is a mature adult, the strategy of working on 4 measures at a time should work.


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