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Fellow adult beginner here, and I feel your pain even though I do not have half of your talent. My last 3 teachers were like that—my first teacher assigned me a recital piece that I reckon is at least Grade 4, with complicated rhythms (for a beginner) during my first month of lessons. The 2nd teacher made me do the rest of Fur Elise after I was able to do the easy first section. You can imagine the spectacular crash and burn of the results. My 3rd teacher had the most reasonable piece suggestions (I also made sure to steer her by bringing my own pieces that I knew were at my level) but she had very low standards for my playing. She “passed” me even though at my estimations, I couldn’t have had the piece down more than 40%.

All throughout this ordeal I knew deep within I was missing something BIG and was being strung along, because not once did I feel like I was creating music and that I was enjoying the piano. Every single note was an uphill struggle, a battle with the instrument. It was only after I met my 4th and current teacher that I finally started playing music, although that also came with struggle as I found out that my foundations were absolute rubbish. At the first lesson, my teacher made me do the 1st Hanon exercise and I gave him a headache with my uneven playing at 40-ish bpm (the fastest I could do). For reference, I had done Hanon with my previous teacher as well. But I was incapable of keeping a steady rhythm or following the metronome. I was also incapable of playing a piece, any piece, through and without a gazillion mistakes. Thus started a long rehabilitation process which broke my spirit at times as I was stuck playing the same piece for months. My teacher was a perfectionist, and anything below performance level wasn’t good enough.

Sometimes I think that he’s way too strict but on the other hand I appreciate his high standards. He is never in a hurry and is most concerned with building the fundamentals. His detailed instruction has allowed me to learn pieces on my own and bring them up to a standard that satisfied me. Is he the perfect teacher? No, but I learn a lot and it was only with him that I started receiving compliments for my playing. With the pace we are going, I don’t think I will be playing virtuosic works any time soon, but I believe that I will get there one day and when I do, I will be playing with confidence.

I hope you find yourself a teacher that will help you build your skill and achieve your goals.



Last edited by marimorimo; 08/30/18 12:38 AM.

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Originally Posted by marimorimo
Fellow adult beginner here, and I feel your pain even though I do not have half of your talent. My last 3 teachers were like that—my first teacher assigned me a recital piece that I reckon is at least Grade 4, with complicated rhythms (for a beginner) during my first month of lessons. The 2nd teacher made me do the rest of Fur Elise after I was able to do the easy first section. You can imagine the spectacular crash and burn of the results. My 3rd teacher had the most reasonable piece suggestions (I also made sure to steer her by bringing my own pieces that I knew were at my level) but she had very low standards for my playing. She “passed” me even though at my estimations, I couldn’t have had the piece down more than 40%.

All throughout this ordeal I knew deep within I was missing something BIG and was being strung along, because not once did I feel like I was creating music and that I was enjoying the piano. Every single note was an uphill struggle, a battle with the instrument. It was only after I met my 4th and current teacher that I finally started playing music, although that also came with struggle as I found out that my foundations were absolute rubbish. At the first lesson, my teacher made me do the 1st Hanon exercise and I gave him a headache with my uneven playing at 40-ish bpm (the fastest I could do). For reference, I had done Hanon with my previous teacher as well. But I was incapable of keeping a steady rhythm or following the metronome. I was also incapable of playing a piece, any piece, through and without a gazillion mistakes. Thus started a long rehabilitation process which broke my spirit at times as I was stuck playing the same piece for months. My teacher was a perfectionist, and anything below performance level wasn’t good enough.

Sometimes I think that he’s way too strict but on the other hand I appreciate his high standards. He is never in a hurry and is most concerned with building the fundamentals. His detailed instruction has allowed me to learn pieces on my own and bring them up to a standard that satisfied me. Is he the perfect teacher? No, but I learn a lot and it was only with him that I started receiving compliments for my playing. With the pace we are going, I don’t think I will be playing virtuosic works any time soon, but I believe that I will get there one day and when I do, I will be playing with confidence.

I hope you find yourself a teacher that will help you build your skill and achieve your goals.
It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes a bad experience (or three, in your case) to give us the experience and perspective to know when we've found a good teacher. Marimorimo, kudos to you for not giving up! More power to you!


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Originally Posted by Avid

Any suggestions on what I should do?


I would take this as a huge compliment. It sounds like you have demonstrated an affinity that has really excited your teacher and he is now drowning you in a firehose of damn complex pieces.

This sounds kind of like crash dummy test time.

I think you should ride this out--as long as you are not hitting physical issues! These are bad--and then if you get sick of it/disillusioned, realize that you have done a helluva lot of work and that you can take a more chill approach to piano that does.

You are riding a tiger and if you fall off, don't freak out. You are getting pushed super fast. Just do something more sane when the hangover hits.


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It’s been like three lessons since I made this post, I think, so I guess I’ll give a little update.

I told him about my worries and he seems to have realized that the reason I was able to work on some of the stuff we did was because of the amount of time I had available to practice and not necessarily me learning quickly.

We’re working more in sight reading, and I bought the first 4 levels of the jane magrath masterwork classics to work through as well as sight reading in the case of the level 1-2 volume. He’s been picking out 2 of the level 3 pieces each week and I can usually get them pretty good in about week. Focusing a lot on not looking at my hands, that way I don’t need to memorize chunks of music before being able to play them properly and such.

Since we’re not really doing anything too technically demanding most of the lessons are about theory and ear training, and any questions I might have.

All in all, it’s a lot better than before were most of the lesson was him having to help me a lot to decode the score. And then grinding out a few measures for sometimes hours at a time at home. Things seem pretty good now.

He also said that compared to his other students he gets, my technique/feel for the keyboard is really good but my ryhthm/musicality is a bit off which is apparently the opposite of most of his students.

Last edited by Avid; 09/05/18 01:10 PM.

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Originally Posted by Avid
It’s been like three lessons since I made this post, I think, so I guess I’ll give a little update.

I told him about my worries and he seems to have realized that the reason I was able to work on some of the stuff we did was because of the amount of time I had available to practice and not necessarily me learning quickly.

We’re working more in sight reading, and I bought the first 4 levels of the jane magrath masterwork classics to work through as well as sight reading in the case of the level 1-2 volume. He’s been picking out 2 of the level 3 pieces each week and I can usually get them pretty good in about week. Focusing a lot on not looking at my hands, that way I don’t need to memorize chunks of music before being able to play them properly and such.

Since we’re not really doing anything too technically demanding most of the lessons are about theory and ear training, and any questions I might have.

All in all, it’s a lot better than before were most of the lesson was him having to help me a lot to decode the score. And then grinding out a few measures for sometimes hours at a time at home. Things seem pretty good now.

He also said that compared to his other students he gets, my technique/feel for the keyboard is really good but my ryhthm/musicality is a bit off which is apparently the opposite of most of his students.
Good! This is the way it should work between two adults. You voice your concerns and the reasons for the concerns, and the teacher takes those into account and adjusts his approach to something you both can live with. It's a win-win. thumb


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Originally Posted by Avid
He also said that compared to his other students he gets, my technique/feel for the keyboard is really good but my ryhthm/musicality is a bit off which is apparently the opposite of most of his students.

Technique
Feel (whatever that means)
Rhythm
Musicality

These are very different things, and they are inter-related when it comes to piano. I can't even make a general statement about which students are good at what.

Your rhythm and musicality are not as good because you are working on music that is way too hard for you.

You might want to back off on the "technique" (I'm assuming you mean scales and arpeggios) because at your level those technical exercises won't mean very much.

Your immediate concern should be repertoire. Build a solid foundation of sight reading by playing a variety of pieces that are appropriate to your current skills. Then, when you encounter music that actually has scales and arpeggios, you will be able to apply the technique in a more meaningful way.


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Have you ever tried online lessons? I improved a lot when I made the switch. Here's the link to the site I use;

Last edited by Piano World; 09/27/18 08:21 AM.
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You have made really great progress for six months. You did the right thing by deciding to talk to him about your fears.

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Right. I guess there's no telling about progress made since 2018 when this thread was last active.


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Originally Posted by Qeser
You have made really great progress for six months. You did the right thing by deciding to talk to him about your fears.

Malkin focused on the fact that the thread you responded to is over 3 years old, and the OP is long gone. I'm going to focus on what you wrote. I don't think you got what really happened, and it's an important topic since it happens too often.

The OP was a relative beginner and knew it. His teacher was having him play pieces that were way above his level, a big jump, and the OP knew it and was uneasy. He talked it through, and his teacher dialed back, went to basic things that the OP needed, and lessons made sense. That's what happened. He did not talk about fears but about legitmate concerns. Emotion was not part of the equation. Common sense was!

What happened is that when his teacher assigned these advanced pieces, the OP worked for hours and hours in order to manage to play what had been assigned as decently as possible. The results made the teacher feel he had more skills than he did, because he didn't know it had taken hours to get there. Once the teacher realized the strain, and that things at a lower level needed to be taught, practised and mastered, the teacher settled down to giving those skills and adjusting the demands.

Something similar happened to me the first time I had lessons on an instrument as an adult. We covered 4 grade levels in a single year before the whole thing collapsed on me. You "can" do advanced music, while not getting the solid technique and other knowledge you need - which is what you should be getting at the lower levels - and then accumulate a mess that trips you up later. It can also be surprisingly hard to signal this to a teacher. One obstacle is when the teacher thinks it's "fear" talking, rather than logic. If you think your student is emotion-based, yoou won't listen - you'll try to reassure.

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I mentioned in September 2021 that I had "inherited" several students at a home school co-op. Once we got our footing, all has been well.

One girl thought she was advanced, but did not know relative minors, chord progressions, still struggles with reading ledger lines, counting takes a bit...

but she "felt" the music and thought curriculum books were a step backwards.

We met in the middle.

I found a piece she requested, and put her in a level series. she has been progressing well, and dong her work, and has learned a lot!

Some suggested I teach only from the sheet music, but using a curriculum book helps us both see where she has gaps. Sometimes I'll say, "Ok, next in the lesson book is concept X. What can you demo/explain about concept X?" and, if she's got it, we move on. If not, it's assigned and applied to music.

It is mutually beneficial.


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No, it is not too quickly. That's normal. This will help you to learn the information more quickly and that's good.

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Hey @yordankamotivated, welcome to PW.

In future, you may wish to check out the upper right of the bar above each post and take a look at the date of the post. Your post is dated 08/03/22, and the previous post is dated 12/07/21. Much of this thread is considerably older.


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Your successes are very good. Bravo! Continue in this tempo. But you should discuss all these problems with your piano teacher. It's not right to learn a song at 80% but not at 100%. Unfortunately, today the world is in a rush for money and not quality. I analyzed average tutoring rates, and the prices are quite high, so I don't understand why they rush things. This doesn't seem right, and you should talk to your teacher. I am sure the situation will normalize if you tell him you still need time to perfect all the details.

Last edited by yordankamotivated; 08/03/22 08:09 PM.
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