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Honestly, I would say second for sure. I don't always agree with Bennevis, but here I feel he's right. That has been my experience as well. Reading about sonata form will be easy for a motivated adult like you. Putting in 1.5 hours a day despite having other things going on in your life shows commitment. With a good teacher, 30-60 minutes a day off practicing technique can reap great dividends, as has been my experience. I usually don't practice technique more than that, and anyone who says you need to work on it for hours to observe progress has no clue what their talking about. If you continue along the path you are on right now, you are also likely to lose interest due to lack of progress. So I'd say, go for the second teacher.

By the way, if you want to learn theory, instead of learning it piecemeal from a teacher, just do one of the online courses on music theory. Functional harmony and form will be covered, and you'll be golden. You're doing a master's degree -- I reckon you'll be able to figure it out within a few weeks if you apply yourself. You don't need to hire a teacher for that. You would need a teacher if you want to properly study composition and not just learn theory.

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It seems like you have to choose between two wonderful teachers.

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Perhaps the only thing to look out for is whether she simply assigns technical exercises and expects you to get better over time, or keeps tailoring her suggestions to where exactly you need to improve. If you work on a scale for an entire lesson, I think it should be apartment by the end of it. But if as you say, she's a concert pianist with a good teaching track record, there should be nothing to worry about.

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Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
I am with dogperson on this one. Sounds like you are going to get burnout on one thing sooner than you realize. .
I could not get such a conclusion (or any definitive one). If a teacher sees what is needed, has a plan, then those many things can be parceled out in small bits each lesson. That means the student has a manageable amount of things to work with and on. Also, if you are working vaguely in music somehow, ultimately that is more fatiguing and also less rewarding, since you don't move ahead much, and can hear that. That is not very motivating in the long run.

No definitive conclusion is possible since we do not know what this teacher WILL teach - or how - at what kind of pace, etc. No actual lesson has yet occurred.

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Based on your detailed report of the second teacher, she doesn't sound that strict. Organized, yes, and that can be a very good thing. A teacher that tracks her pupils' progress and makes plans for them to proceed in an orderly fashion is a very good thing.

What I don't care for is a teacher that assigns tasks and doesn't explain why. Or that berates her students. That's what I think of when I hear "strict".

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Perhaps the only thing to look out for is whether she simply assigns technical exercises and expects you to get better over time, or keeps tailoring her suggestions to where exactly you need to improve. If you work on a scale for an entire lesson, I think it should be apartment by the end of it. But if as you say, she's a concert pianist with a good teaching track record, there should be nothing to worry about.
With exercises, I think the most important thing is for the teacher explain how to do any technical exercises, why that approach is good, and to correct the student's playing again, if necessary, after the student practices the exercises. Same thing for any technical suggestions the teacher makes regarding pieces the student is studying,

If the teacher works on scales for an entire lesson for a student at the OP's level(or almost any level), I thing that would be a bad sign that the teacher is giving too much information, expecting the student to be able to do things too quickly without practice, or is too focused on technique.

Finally, if the teacher's good record means she produces a lot of advanced students that doesn't mean the teacher is necessarily good for the OP. She might or might not be an excellent match for the OP's goals and personality.

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Neidermeyer: Now drop and give me 50 Hanon!

That would be strict.


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I guessed it was the part where she jokingly mentioned that she is a "bully" and will give a tons of technical exercises that threw me off-balance a bit. That gave me the impression that she will be a strict no-nonsense kind of teacher.

But it was refreshing to hear all your differing perspectives, and it might be the case that I am just overthinking about her *joke*.

Nevertheless, summing up all your views, I actually think I might have found a new teacher that might help me to progress tremendously if we are actually a good match for each other.

I think I will schedule another few sessions with the 2nd teacher, to further discuss expectation and amount of workload for the foreseeable future, and also to see how actual lessons will work out.

I might be providing updates on my situation regarding the teacher going forward if everything goes well.

Until then, I will continue to lurk around the forum and hopefully everyone gained some interesting perspectives from my thread!


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Originally Posted by ranjit
Honestly, I would say second for sure. I don't always agree with Bennevis, but here I feel he's right. That has been my experience as well. Reading about sonata form will be easy for a motivated adult like you. Putting in 1.5 hours a day despite having other things going on in your life shows commitment. With a good teacher, 30-60 minutes a day off practicing technique can reap great dividends, as has been my experience. I usually don't practice technique more than that, and anyone who says you need to work on it for hours to observe progress has no clue what their talking about. If you continue along the path you are on right now, you are also likely to lose interest due to lack of progress. So I'd say, go for the second teacher.

By the way, if you want to learn theory, instead of learning it piecemeal from a teacher, just do one of the online courses on music theory. Functional harmony and form will be covered, and you'll be golden. You're doing a master's degree -- I reckon you'll be able to figure it out within a few weeks if you apply yourself. You don't need to hire a teacher for that. You would need a teacher if you want to properly study composition and not just learn theory.

Could you please provide a link to the online music theory that you speak of.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Honestly, I would say second for sure. I don't always agree with Bennevis, but here I feel he's right. That has been my experience as well. Reading about sonata form will be easy for a motivated adult like you. Putting in 1.5 hours a day despite having other things going on in your life shows commitment. With a good teacher, 30-60 minutes a day off practicing technique can reap great dividends, as has been my experience. I usually don't practice technique more than that, and anyone who says you need to work on it for hours to observe progress has no clue what their talking about. If you continue along the path you are on right now, you are also likely to lose interest due to lack of progress. So I'd say, go for the second teacher.

By the way, if you want to learn theory, instead of learning it piecemeal from a teacher, just do one of the online courses on music theory. Functional harmony and form will be covered, and you'll be golden. You're doing a master's degree -- I reckon you'll be able to figure it out within a few weeks if you apply yourself. You don't need to hire a teacher for that. You would need a teacher if you want to properly study composition and not just learn theory.

Could you please provide a link to the online music theory that you speak of.
I liked Write Like Mozart on Coursera for the basics. I haven't really needed to go into advanced theory, but I would probably pick one of the standard textbooks if I wanted to.

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Why don't you study with both of them? They sound so different in temperament, that it might be welcome not choosing. I will say that it's much easier to present oneself as intimidating, clinical teacher #2 who in your first 30 minutes together points out myriad faults and declares herself proudly to be a bully, than it is to be more holistic and intellectual teacher #1.

I agree with dogperson, though: no adult should accept 30-minute lessons with anyone. I'm astonished they are even offered.

You could study fortnightly for an hour or 90 minutes with each of them, and either come clean with both about what you are doing, or work on differently repertoire with each teacher and do lessons furtively.

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You can continue with both for a while (if you can afford) or make a pause with one and test the other. Sometimes what people say and do are 2 different things and anyway you have to be comfortable with the teacher you choose. Usually after 4 or 5 sessions, you will know if that works for you.

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