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I haven’t posted in a while. I had taken lessons with 2 different adult teachers, neither of whom really worked out. I was supposed to start online lessons with a teacher on this forum but my mother became ill and passed away (not covid), unexpectedly, and I haven’t touched the piano since last year.
The teacher I mentioned doesn’t have any space now, so I’m looking for an in-person or online teacher. I’m in southern, NJ. I know that I do not want a method book teacher. That is, I don’t want someone who primarily relies on method books, like Alfred’s or Faber. I understand that ere may be specific techniques, etc that a teacher may be best taught by using a song here and there from these books but I don’t want to be stuck in those books, exclusively. I also want someone who will take the time to teach fundamentals and work on sight reading. My last teacher was not at all concerned with sight reading and was having me go through one piece after another without mastering them or really getting anything out of them. It was like playing for the sake of playing rather than playing for proficiency. was learning classical. If anybody has any suggestions, let me know.
Thank you.

Last edited by Mils; 02/02/21 02:31 PM.
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Hi Mils - I'm very sorry to hear about your mother first or all.
I just happened to see this first thing when I logged on so thought I should reply! I specifically taught students preparing for sight-reading exams at the University of Michigan for 5 years while doing my doctorate (in piano performance and pedagogy). I perform and record and am teaching an online studio now of mostly high school students, but have taught all levels. Feel free to check out my website (lynellejames.com) and contact me through my website or here with any questions. I don't adhere to method books but am familiar with most. Good luck!

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Welcome to the forum LJames,

I have a question for both of you if you don't follow method book what do you follow ? What do you teach ?
When I began piano lessons I use A Dozen a Day's series of books, a book about scale and arpeggios another one call Sonatina and 100 songs for beginners. I follow these books with my teacher.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

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To clarify, I was referring to a teacher’s more or less total dependence on a method book series, for pieces to play, rather than choosing pieces that may not come from a method book or the dame method book. Not all teachers work through the same books from cover to cover but integrate whatever is needed at a given time, that may include things from a variety of books or may simply be something the teacher writes down.

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I’m really sorry for the loss of your mom, Mils. 🙁❤️


Lisa

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I'm sorry to hear of your mother's death.

There's a Zen aphorism:

. . . "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

So following-up with LJames might be a good idea.

Failing that, check for:
. . . a local music teachers' association,
. . . the staff at a local community college (or high school)
. . . If you're in the US or Canada, try the Music Teachers of North America:
. . . . mtna.org

And if there's a local music store, it may know of some local teachers who aren't strictly "method-book oriented". I'd suggest visiting the local club, and talking to the piano player -- but they're all closed.

All those suggestions will get you a list of candidates. It's up to you (as the purchaser of lessons) to interview them, and get a sense of which ones would be a good fit.

The growth of Skype and Zoom "remote lessons" should give you a nice big pool of candidates.


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Originally Posted by Mils
To clarify, I was referring to a teacher’s more or less total dependence on a method book series, for pieces to play, rather than choosing pieces that may not come from a method book or the dame method book. Not all teachers work through the same books from cover to cover but integrate whatever is needed at a given time, that may include things from a variety of books or may simply be something the teacher writes down.

Ok I get it.



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

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Sorry for your loss. I absolutely know what you mean. I too didn't want a teacher that would only use method books. I know there's a lot of great material in them but I was noticing almost all teachers would follow same approach. They would use method book of their choice and say do lesson 1, next lesson review, ok do lesson 2, next lesson review... It's so boring. I think a teacher that can find a good balance of using materials is much more enjoyable. I also had one teacher that would only teach from classical materials when I had no desire to be a classical pianist so that didn't work out. What style are you looking to learn and play? Take your time finding one and be picky!

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My instructor is classically trained but will go along with what the student wants to do

Last edited by Wayne2467; 02/03/21 08:46 AM.
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Talk with the teacher and explain what your goals are and whatnot. I played my first year on method books, and then had a talk with my teacher and she's moved me off of that and onto repertoire she picks out on her own (looks like RCM selections for the most part).

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I can see how the loss of your mother so suddenly would cause everything to come to a screeching halt. I am so sorry. If you are in an urban area, you have many to choose from. I wonder if the prospective teachers might have online recitals you could watch. That would give you an idea of the expanse of pieces he or she encourages students to learn.


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It’s not easy to find an adult beginner teacher. I’ve had my piano for sale but can’t seem to unload it. If I do, I’ll probably just sell it and be done. At my age, I can’t waste years looking for a teacher. I’ve been wondering if taking up an instrument that isn’t as popular, might be a better way to go. The sheer number of piano teachers makes it hard. The time that elapses between making contact and interviewing, then trying out a fee lessons-I’d need another lifetime to go through all that and actually find a good fit. When I was young and took guitar lessons, my parents took me to the local music store and the teachers were just in it for the money. My parents wasted tons of money and I wasted years on method books. I guess that experience is why I’m so surprised that so many piano teachers rely on that method of teaching, particularly those who have actual music degrees.
I guess it’s the universe’s way of telling me “don’t bother, you’re too old, anyway.”

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Originally Posted by Mils
It’s not easy to find an adult beginner teacher. I’ve had my piano for sale but can’t seem to unload it. If I do, I’ll probably just sell it and be done. At my age, I can’t waste years looking for a teacher. I’ve been wondering if taking up an instrument that isn’t as popular, might be a better way to go. The sheer number of piano teachers makes it hard. The time that elapses between making contact and interviewing, then trying out a fee lessons-I’d need another lifetime to go through all that and actually find a good fit.

I think it's pretty obvious that piano isn't for you, and I doubt that you'll find any teacher who conforms to your exact specifications.
Quote
I guess it’s the universe’s way of telling me “don’t bother, you’re too old, anyway.”
No, it's just your own mindset.

My friend started piano from scratch when he retired at 60, and he wanted to learn everything properly (because his goal was to play Beethoven and Chopin properly - eventually), and got a teacher who would teach him exactly the same way he taught his child beginners, using a beginner method book series designed for children.

Nearly a decade on, he's reaping his rewards - he's just finished learning his first complete Beethoven sonata, and already has several Chopin nocturnes, waltzes and mazurkas under his belt. And he's playing them properly.


"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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I want to learn to play properly and that’s an issue in finding a teacher. However, everyone learns differently and if method books don’t stimulate a student, then they won’t be effective. When I was working through Faber, it was agonizng. The songs are awful. There are other ways to teach fundamentals.

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Actually, I don’t think I’d mind the children’s versions of the books as much as the adult versions. The kids’ songs are probably more fun!

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Mils: I just looked back through your 2 years of posts on this forum. You might find it enlightening to do the same.

As another poster mention in this thread .... It is pretty obvious that learning to play piano is not for you.

You do not like it.

Why punish yourself any longer ?

I would suggest you start doing something you truly enjoy.

Good Luck


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Hi Mils, I am pleased you want to learn the piano. So do I. Those structured course look dire too me too, however good they may be.

I had my first lesson when I was 5. My teacher wonderful lady but she must must have I was not suited. She used to rap any finger that made a mistake. My fingers did not like that and refused to play any more.

That set me back by more than 60 years and, now that my pianos are just about in shape, I am starting again. For various reasons I have decided to learn to play for myself. Scales, arpeggios, chords, some simple pieces, and improvisation. Limited aims, guaranteed success.

You have a point to prove. I'd suggest you get a copy of Alan Brown's "How to Play Piano" and see how you get on with it.

One of my daughters gave it to me for Christmas (2011 edition). This book as simple as can be. It contains everything I mentioned, and starts you off with simplified pieces from Mozart, Haydn, Handel and Tchaikovsky then goes on to Schumann, Gounod, Diabelli and others before coming to Bach, Verdi and Beethoven. I see there are companion books to take you further with Beethoven and other composers.

Sometime while you are working through this book (or a similar one you prefer) you will know whether you want to continue with a teacher. By then you will have a much better idea of what you want and be able to find the right one for you.

I feel piano is more a matter of learning than teaching. Have you seen the Earl Hines interview where he says he went to one teacher who was good with his right hand and another with his left hand. One like cigarettes and the other liked whiskey so everyone was happy.

There are umpteen good videos (and no doubt many more that are not so good). Seymour Bernstein is helpful for one, e.g. A Lesson in several parts. Graham Fitch may be helpful too. It's interesting to see how pianists like Schiff and Pletnev use the fingers (, hands and arms) on videos with close-ups.

I making a plan to practice the basics properly, otherwise I will never achieve good control of my muscles and fingers.

Just a passing thought.


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I’m not looking for anybody’s opinion on whether I should or should not take lessons.
I don’t want to take lessons with an unsuitable teacher. You are all, obviously, fortunate enough to have found them, so it’s easy to criticize. Did you ever take the same course in college, with different professors and have vastly different experiences and receive different grades?

I believe that I would have had a good teacher, had I been able to continue last year but that person is unavailable and, she was the only teacher who seemed to have a logical method for teaching beginners and I cannot find anybody else who utilizes that type of instruction.
Why is it wrong to want a teacher who teaches fundamentals without yelling at the student and cares whether the student is actually progressing?
I can find A TEACHER but that isn’t the point. The point is to find one that I’m comfortable with AND that I believe can help me to improve. Evidently, those teachers are few and far between.
As far as method books, the second teacher did not really utilize them. I was able to recognize that I was not getting what I should have out of the lessons, anyway. It’s not just the method books, it’s the method of teaching that is problematic. If I’m not learning what I need to learn, then what’s the point?
As I’ve mentioned previously, there are a LOT of piano teachers in my area but the majority do NOT teach adults and the ones that do, aren’t good teachers.

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Withindale, Even watching videos, how do you know that you are doing anything properly?

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Mils. I think Seymour Bernstein will answer that for you much better than me.

To start with in the Lesson he talks about posture, breathing, fingers, hand, shoulders, muscles, relaxation, rotation, arm movement, etc. so you are well on the way to being self aware of what you are doing. More easily said than done, I know. I have yet to accomplish that but I will.

I think it's in an interview (but maybe not) where there is a discussion about having to work things for yourself in the end anyway. On the other hand Bernstein pointed out some basic shortcomings in the interviewer's technique, including expression.

I am not aiming to play Beethoven sonatas or Chopin etudes. You will need a teacher for that too.

A lesson Part 1: https://youtu.be/KXasoC4SdUc
Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O1gyGY7ioI


Ian Russell
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