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Originally Posted by fatar760
With that sort of thinking world class football (soccer) players like Pele, Maradona, Gazza, Ruud Guilit would make great football managers - thing is, they didn't. It's much more important to be a good communicator and understand a student's learning process than be able to play at an 'excellent' level.


Football and piano are too different. Piano is almost entirely a fixed environment where it's you trying to get the best out of an instrument. Football is a variable environment where you're try to do your best against someone who is trying to stop you. I can't see how this is even comparable.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Finding the "best" teacher is usually impossible unless one lives in a place with only a few piano teachers and one can interview/take a sample lesson from each.

Finding the single best teacher is of course impossible. There are too many variables to make it an absolute certainty aside from the fact that every great teacher can teach you something from their own perspective having had to climb the heights. There is more than one way to skin a cat. But, it isn't impossible to narrow the field of potential teachers down to a much more manageable shortlist of teachers you might want to consider. Personally speaking, when I was shopping for a piano teacher for my kids (and a quick search on a local music teachers advertising site shows 300+ piano teachers within 8 miles of me), simply deciding I wanted a teacher who had a masters of music with their primary instrument being the piano narrowed the field down very quickly to 15 or so. Screening those teachers to see who were good enough to offer performances at local music events narrowed it down even more; then a quick look on youtube to see if they have any videos to watch that showed how good they were. Suffice to say I was left with 5 teachers I thought I'd want my kids to have a trial lesson with. Factor in that 3 out of the 5 teachers already had full teaching schedules that couldn't accommodate my children on days that fit around our lives and suddenly I was beginning to think I might have to broaden the search if I didn't think the teachers were suitable after the trial lesson. Of course you can argue that I might have missed some very good teachers using my screening criteria but would a teacher who had only completed grade 8 be good enough to take my kids through to the FRSM? Perhaps, but I am sure their current teacher given her qualifications definitely can if her teaching skills are up to par (which thankfully they are)!

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Originally Posted by Aritempor
Football and piano are too different. Piano is almost entirely a fixed environment where it's you trying to get the best out of an instrument. Football is a variable environment where you're try to do your best against someone who is trying to stop you. I can't see how this is even comparable

The analogy may not work for you, but I think the point is fairly clear: An excellent pianist does not necessary make an excellent teacher.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by Aritempor
Originally Posted by bennevis
As a classical pianist and teacher, I'd say that a great piano teacher needs to be an excellent pianist (at least teacher-diploma level, but not necessarily performance-diploma, certainly not virtuoso) with comprehensive technical skills and musicianship as well as theoretical knowledge and history of music and the styles of all great composers (not just those who composed piano music), and be able to impart her acumen and knowledge to her students in a manner that works for each individual student.

I think that's it in a nutshell but the bolded part is what was most important to me when I was looking for a teacher for my kids. Of course they have to be a good communicator and be able to translate concepts into small easy chunks especially for younger children but if they aren't able to play at the highest levels themselves then how can they understand what their students need to reach the highest levels??

With that sort of thinking world class football (soccer) players like Pele, Maradona, Gazza, Ruud Guilit would make great football managers - thing is, they didn't. It's much more important to be a good communicator and understand a student's learning process than be able to play at an 'excellent' level.
The analogy is flawed for a number of reasons.

Football coaches are excellent football players, just not legendary good. If they have competed at the highest level, it's similar to someone who has a doctorate from the 10 best piano universities in the world, say. Now, such a person is no Daniel Trifonov. But are they a bad pianist? Heck no.

Also, when amazing football players are 10 years old and still in the training phase, are their teachers better than them? And the answer is absolutely, by a mile. You want the same with your piano education if you want to play advanced piano (but many don't in which case the criteria loosen somewhat.

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You csn have a teacher who has a doctorate in performance from a top conservatory but that does not mean they would be a great teacher. They may not even be a good teacher. All you know is that they play well.

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Originally Posted by ranjit
Football coaches are excellent football players

That's absolutely not true - just like at Jose Mourinho! Being a teacher and being a performer are two different jobs (with some crossover) Being good at performance does not make you a good teacher.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
.....
The analogy may not work for you, but I think the point is fairly clear: An excellent pianist does not necessary make an excellent teacher.
the contrary is true: to make an excellent piano teacher, it is necessary to be a very good pianist.
This is not a bijection relationship.


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Originally Posted by zonzi
Originally Posted by fatar760
.....
The analogy may not work for you, but I think the point is fairly clear: An excellent pianist does not necessary make an excellent teacher.
the contrary is true: to make an excellent piano teacher, it is necessary to be a very good pianist.
This is not a bijection relationship.
Precisely.

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Originally Posted by zonzi
Originally Posted by fatar760
.....
The analogy may not work for you, but I think the point is fairly clear: An excellent pianist does not necessary make an excellent teacher.
the contrary is true: to make an excellent piano teacher, it is necessary to be a very good pianist.
This is not a bijection relationship.

To make an excellent piano teacher, it is probably necessary for that very good pianist to not have been a natural, to whom playing came easily without having to struggle to understand.

Natural athletes are the best performers but often the worst teachers.


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Great coaches may not have been great athletes.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Ranjit
You csn have a teacher who has a doctorate in performance from a top conservatory but that does not mean they would be a great teacher. They may not even be a good teacher. All you know is that they play well.
I'm saying it's necessary but not sufficient to be an excellent pianist. It's not that hard to understand.

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Let me expound further on why I said that a great classical teacher must also be an excellent pianist herself.

It's not just for the superficial and obvious reasons (that the teacher must be able to play any of the pieces she is teaching, to a very high standard) but also for the reason I wrote in my last paragraph:
Last but not least, a great teacher is able to inspire her students, to love classical music and love playing it, to keep on bettering themselves and wanting to keep exploring the wonderful world of classical music, not just by playing but also as listener..

If all her students are from families where there's always good music being performed at home, especially by the parents (i.e. they are all children of high-level musicians), all the teacher needs to do is to be able to teach well and communicate to her charges what needs to be accomplished, because they don't need to be motivated to practice, don't need to be inspired by her, and they already know what great music-making is. Like little Wolfgang, or JSB's numerous children.

But in the real world, most teachers will be teaching kids who aren't exposed to any good live music-making at all, let alone at home. They wouldn't be taken by their parents to attend concerts by the great and the good at Carnegie Hall (or wherever). How - or why - would they keep wanting to practice, especially in the early months, when they can only play basic tunes, and that not at all well? How would they know what they are capable of achieving in the years (years, not months) to come, if their teachers don't show them what is achievable, given daily dedicated practicing?

I've written frequently in PW about my first teacher's inspiration to me when I was a child beginner who knew nothing about music, and was started on lessons simply because it was a middle-class thing, not because my parents love music (they didn't in the least). She was herself just in her late teens (19, I think), but already had a teaching diploma and was able to play to a very high level. After my first lesson, she asked me if I'd like her to play something for me - on the same piano on which I'd been grappling with moving my fingers HS and awkwardly, while counting/singing beats with her. I asked for 'the tune from Love Story', which at the time was the only 'piano piece' I knew of. She proceeded to play it by ear, embellishing it with lovely arpeggios up and down the keyboard, and playing it with a depth of feeling and a singing quality which I never heard during the movie. I was completely entranced watching and listening to her: I never knew that it was possible to move one's hands and fingers so gracefully and smoothly across the keyboard, nor that such mellifluous sounds could be conjured from a piano. She told me I'd be able to play like that within a few years, if I kept practicing daily. I couldn't wait to practice immediately after she left, and looked forward to my next lesson......when she played for me after the lesson again, not just Love Story (again at my request) but also another piece, Mozart's Variations on 'Twinkle, Twinkle', playing the latter from the music volume she brought with her. (I remember that because I got her to write down in my notebook every piece she played.) How amazing was it to hear a nursery tune which I once sang in kindergarten (in English, but without knowing what the words meant, because I knew no English then) transformed into so many brilliant variations, including a slow, sad one? She then told me the story of little Wolfie's childhood and his travels across Europe, dazzling everyone he played for. Over the next few weeks, she weaned me off Love Story and into the piano music of all the great composers, playing a new piece for me after every lesson. Pretty soon, I was completely hooked, and piano - and classical music, wherever I could get it - became the most important part of my life away from school.

I'd was learning English then, and a short story in a set of volumes called 'The World of Children' (which my father bought for me to read, to improve my English) made me realize what a great teacher I had. The story (which I've related before in PW) was about a little boy who hated practicing the piano and hated his piano lessons, but after a 'visitation' by a wizard who flew in through the window (as all wizards do) while he was daydreaming (when he was meant to be practicing the piano) changed his life forever. The wizard got him to sit on top of the upright, then took him on an amazing journey across rough seas, through fierce storms and many other perils, visiting many strange and wonderful lands before finally reaching the Elysian Fields - simply by playing the piano. He played as if possessed, and the piano came alive under his hands, shaking violently, rocking back and forth, rolling with the waves. The boy clung on for dear life, and he had never felt so exhilarated while being frightened, amazed and thrilled, all at once. The journey finally came to an end in Elysium, and the wizard disappeared through the window. (Obviously, he played Années de pèlerinage grin.) His piano teacher then came in for his lesson, and also played a little for him. But her playing was so tame, and everything was all so.....boring. However, he had been inspired by the wizard, who had shown him what could be achieved if he practiced hard, so he did.........and years later, he became a renowned concert pianist, and was himself playing like that wizard, and inspiring his audiences by his playing.

When I started my monthly recitals for (predominantly) non-musical audiences several years ago, it was with that purpose in mind. Not that I could play like that wizard (and unlike him, I can't fly through windows cry), but I could play well enough to - hopefully - inspire them to immerse themselves into the wonderful world of classical music, to go on to listen to more of it and attend classical concerts, maybe even to inspire them to get started on learning piano, or restart if they once played as kids. And yes - I've found receptive audiences who have frequently asked me about the music I played, the composers and what other music of theirs they might enjoy, and how to get started or restarted on piano. Hearing and seeing live performances of great music close up can be inspiring for people in a way which videos or CDs etc can never be - and the fact that I'm in a similar profession to many of them, rather than a professional musician (and therefore, someone they can relate to, unlike a globe-trotting virtuoso) makes me much more approachable. And I found I could talk about classical music to non-musicians easily, without making it seem like an elite pursuit, or only for those who have had years of training.

That was a big part of the reason why I decided to start teaching......


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Originally Posted by zonzi
Originally Posted by fatar760
.....
The analogy may not work for you, but I think the point is fairly clear: An excellent pianist does not necessary make an excellent teacher.
the contrary is true: to make an excellent piano teacher, it is necessary to be a very good pianist.
This is not a bijection relationship.

There has to be a high and accurate degree of demonstration and the ability to communicate effectively with the student. Unfortunately, not all top pianists can explain how they do what they do - that's the role of a teacher. So, yes you can't be a bad pianist and be a good piano teacher but, like I said, being a top pianist does not necessarily make you a good teacher.


Originally Posted by zonzi
For me a great piano teacher should be a very tough teacher, in the same time he should keep his students' passion for the music.
He should be great pianist and he should inspire his student with event driven. As an artist, he should have very sensible intuition and he should have very strong communication skills. he should let his students to be themself and help them to discover their own music without impose his own. He shouldn't act as the bottleneck of his students.

I'd love to meet a 'very tough' piano teacher, with 'strong communication skills', who can teach without imposing themselves. I'd deem this contrary in terms, and virtually impossible qualities to have without leaving the student utterly perplexed as to where they stand with them.

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Originally Posted by Aritempor
Finding the single best teacher is of course impossible. There are too many variables to make it an absolute certainty aside from the fact that every great teacher can teach you something from their own perspective having had to climb the heights. There is more than one way to skin a cat. But, it isn't impossible to narrow the field of potential teachers down to a much more manageable shortlist of teachers you might want to consider. Personally speaking, when I was shopping for a piano teacher for my kids (and a quick search on a local music teachers advertising site shows 300+ piano teachers within 8 miles of me), simply deciding I wanted a teacher who had a masters of music with their primary instrument being the piano narrowed the field down very quickly to 15 or so. Screening those teachers to see who were good enough to offer performances at local music events narrowed it down even more; then a quick look on youtube to see if they have any videos to watch that showed how good they were. Suffice to say I was left with 5 teachers I thought I'd want my kids to have a trial lesson with. Factor in that 3 out of the 5 teachers already had full teaching schedules that couldn't accommodate my children on days that fit around our lives and suddenly I was beginning to think I might have to broaden the search if I didn't think the teachers were suitable after the trial lesson. Of course you can argue that I might have missed some very good teachers using my screening criteria but would a teacher who had only completed grade 8 be good enough to take my kids through to the FRSM? Perhaps, but I am sure their current teacher given her qualifications definitely can if her teaching skills are up to par (which thankfully they are)!

I don't think a performing pianist is a good choice for kids. You'd better find for your kids an old Jewish lady.

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Originally Posted by Beamer63
What makes a great piano teacher?...

A great student! smile

Find out who are the students of your candidate teacher. Listen to them play live, or on some recorded performances and then interview the best ones. See what key lessons/principles have been imparted to them by this candidate teacher!


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Originally Posted by fatar760
I'd love to meet a 'very tough' piano teacher, with 'strong communication skills', who can teach without imposing themselves. I'd deem this contrary in terms, and virtually impossible qualities to have without leaving the student utterly perplexed as to where they stand with them.

I think I may have had such a teacher, but for a regrettably short period of time - the summer between end of high school and the summer between my first and second year of college. I only experienced her 'very tough' side the first and only time I showed up unprepared. She shocked me by exploding that I was wasting her time, my time and my dad's money. She was Julliard trained and played Chopin's Minute Waltz when my dad and I interviewed her. While she probably gave me general direction on dynamics, I most remember her telling me, when I worked on Ravel's 'Pavane for a dead princess' 'Make the music cry!'

My previous teachers probably fit into the adequate category. The one just before her only reacted to unpreparedness with a sigh and maybe an eyeroll. My very fist teacher that I had from 3rd grade through 6th grade was nice, but she had my older sister and I working at the same time out of the same method book. We started together and I'm not sure if she realized that I wasn't reading the music until a few years later when my sister dropped out of lessons. I remember bursting into tears and saying something like 'It's too hard!' when she asked me to read the next piece in the book. She was patient and we worked through it and continued on. I've read in the Teachers Forum and if two siblings start at the same time and work out of a method book, that they'll use two different series.

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Quote
Last but not least, a great teacher is able to inspire her students, to love classical music and love playing it, to keep on bettering themselves and wanting to keep exploring the wonderful world of classical music, not just by playing but also as listener (again, not just piano music, but also orchestral, operatic, vocal, chamber......).

I don't necessarily think this one is an absolute prerequisite for a "good piano teacher." (I can see it as a prerequisite for a good classical piano teacher, but that's not what the OP asked about.) I say that because I had a student once who had a phenomenal ear and an interest only in rock music. He pictured himself being in a band, not as a concert pianist. He was also taking guitar and drum lessons (not both at the same time) while I was teaching him piano. And rather than trying to force him to become the type of pianist he didn't want to be, I took him where he was and taught him: to read music, to count, to use good technique, to play with feeling, to refine his ability to play by ear, to compose. I introduced him to Ben Folds, a rock musician with classical piano training who plays some technically difficult piano in his songs. He played some of Ben Folds' songs. He became such a fan that he convinced his parents to take him to a Ben Folds concert!

He did end up quitting when he was a teen, probably to focus more on guitar. But by that time, he could play piano.

That kid? He's now in his 20s and works at the local music store. I don't know for sure, but I'd bet money he's been in at least one band. His whole life is about music. And every time I go to buy music, he proudly points out, "That was my piano teacher way back when!" and says "Hi Ruth" to me.

I don't think I was a bad teacher to that student just because I didn't teach him to love classical music like I do with my other students to varying degrees. I think adaptability to each student's goals is a crucial part of being a good teacher.


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Heinrich Neuhaus, Richter's piano teacher said there was very little he could teach him even in his early years...

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Originally Posted by EDV
Heinrich Neuhaus, Richter's piano teacher said there was very little he could teach him even in his early years...
I just want to remember something maybe not very obvious: for an adult healthy person, do very little or do nothing during one hour or more is particularly difficult to find. grin


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