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#926860 - 09/29/08 12:44 PM Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
winki Offline
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winki  Offline
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Gaithersburg, MD
Hi, all teachers. I hope this email does not do any harm to anyone. I don't mean to hurt any teacher feeling. I am a mom who is seeking for a new piano teacher for my 8 years old son. I am in a very pricy area, metro DC.
I just met a nice teacher. Everything with the teacher sounds good. The teacher said she has a very structured theory lesson along with piano technics. And her price is a good match to my budget. While I almost decided to go with the teacher, my son asked if he could play "Moon Light" or "Cannon in D" in his far feture. She kindly offered to play to us. Then the problem comes, she could not play it. She made mistakes in the bigining of boths songs, she could not fix the song and said she needs to see the musice sheet.
I know every forgets, and everyone make mistakes. But I am wondering if this is ok with piano teacher, Is it normal?
Thanks for looking at my post.

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#926861 - 09/29/08 02:08 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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Unless these pieces are 'in her repertoire' she could well need the music. Try again, this time with the music.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#926862 - 09/29/08 02:25 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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Gary D. Online content
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Unless these pieces are 'in her repertoire' she could well need the music. Try again, this time with the music.
But it's a bit strange that she didn't have the Beethoven sonatas handy. If someone asks me to demonstrate anything I don't have memorized but can play with no problems from score, I will either grab the score or promise to play it, with the score, next week.

If it's something more unusual, I simply ask the student to find the music. Then I will play it at sight.

In addition, if for some reason a new student asks me to play something I don't know and don't have, I can certainly play well enough to immediatly establish my competence as a player.

In this case I would be a bit wary.


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#926863 - 09/29/08 02:46 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Oct 2005
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Chris H. Offline
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I don't know. It seems a bit poor if you can't play the opening bars of the 'Moonlight' or the chord sequence for Canon in D off the cuff. If she couldn't play them I wonder why she even offered?


Pianist and piano teacher.
#926864 - 09/29/08 03:12 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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Gary D. Online content
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Gary D.  Online Content
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Quote
Originally posted by Chris H.:
I don't know. It seems a bit poor if you can't play the opening bars of the 'Moonlight' or the chord sequence for Canon in D off the cuff. If she couldn't play them I wonder why she even offered?
My thoughts exactly. For one thing, I look at being able to play such things as covering my ***. smile


Piano Teacher
#926865 - 09/29/08 03:14 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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Posts: 7,639
John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Maybe nerves? Anyway, after our lengthy discussions on playing for parents, I decided to take a new tack/t (the experts can't agree on this one):

- If the student is a transfer, I take the book they will be using and play through eight or so selections. Everything is up to tempo and artistically interpreted, so the student and parent can get a glimpse of the possible. In fact, I've had some transfer students this Fall whose parents had taken lessons and couldn't believe these early intermediate pieces could sound so lovely.

- If the student is new, I play through, generally off the top of my head, some impressionistic etudes, which the student will be playing in a few months. They sound much more impressive than they technically are, which sets the parents at ease and at the same time, gets the student excited.

I can't quite justify a Chopin Etude for an early intermediate student, because it's going to dash their hopes year after year, when they realize how far they have yet to go.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#926866 - 09/29/08 03:29 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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Gary D. Online content
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Quote
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
- If the student is a transfer, I take the book they will be using and play through eight or so selections. Everything is up to tempo and artistically interpreted, so the student and parent can get a glimpse of the possible. In fact, I've had some transfer students this Fall whose parents had taken lessons and couldn't believe these early intermediate pieces could sound so lovely.
Yes. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that it is not the difficulty of the music that determines how enjoyable it is to listen to it but the way the music is played.
Quote

- If the student is new, I play through, generally off the top of my head, some impressionistic etudes, which the student will be playing in a few months. They sound much more impressive than they technically are, which sets the parents at ease and at the same time, gets the student excited.
I call these "glory pieces". They sound harder than they really are, and they are excellent for performing for people who don't know much about music who would not be at all impressed by things we know are very difficult. smile
Quote

I can't quite justify a Chopin Etude for an early intermediate student, because it's going to dash their hopes year after year, when they realize how far they have yet to go. [/QB]
On the other hand, a passage from one of the etudes, played very slowly, down-tempo then full speed may be a perfect way to show a young student and a parent (or a whole family) why some totally flawed technical idea from the last teacher won't work.


Piano Teacher
#926867 - 09/29/08 08:54 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Good point, Gary!


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#926868 - 09/30/08 03:10 AM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,275
AZNpiano Online happy
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AZNpiano  Online Happy
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Orange County, CA
Quote
Originally posted by winki:
Hi, all teachers. I hope this email does not do any harm to anyone. I don't mean to hurt any teacher feeling. I am a mom who is seeking for a new piano teacher for my 8 years old son. I am in a very pricy area, metro DC.
I just met a nice teacher. Everything with the teacher sounds good. The teacher said she has a very structured theory lesson along with piano technics. And her price is a good match to my budget. While I almost decided to go with the teacher, my son asked if he could play "Moon Light" or "Cannon in D" in his far feture. She kindly offered to play to us. Then the problem comes, she could not play it. She made mistakes in the bigining of boths songs, she could not fix the song and said she needs to see the musice sheet.
I know every forgets, and everyone make mistakes. But I am wondering if this is ok with piano teacher, Is it normal?
Thanks for looking at my post.
winki--

You are not going to hurt anybody's feelings here. You don't sound rude, blunt, or sarcastic. You sound like a very concerned mother!

Did the teacher play from memory? Or did she have books? I'm assuming you mean "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven and not "Claire de Lune" by Debussy. Both "Moonlight" and "Canon in D" are standard pieces (Canon is a common transcription of an orchestral piece). Most qualified teacher could at least play a few bars without any problems. The opening of Moonlight can't get any easier.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#926869 - 09/30/08 06:26 AM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 355
Sal_ Offline
Full Member
Sal_  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 355
Lacey, WA
Quote
Originally posted by Gary D.:
Quote
Originally posted by Chris H.:
[b] I don't know. It seems a bit poor if you can't play the opening bars of the 'Moonlight' or the chord sequence for Canon in D off the cuff. If she couldn't play them I wonder why she even offered?
My thoughts exactly. For one thing, I look at being able to play such things as covering my ***. smile [/b]
Ditto to everything. I didn't even like Moonlight Sonata until after it was at about 95% finished.

I'd actually thought about making a post yesterday about how to memorize it (first movement.) I can play with music no problem, but for the life of me have a hard time memorizing it. (Honestly, memorization isn't something I've bothered with unless I really like the song... I DO have a version of Canon in D memorized. However, some of the topics lately have got me thinking, so as a personal goal I've started trying to memorize some songs I play regularly.)

In any case, I don't consider a mistake or two reason to be overly concerned, but if with the music she can't play/can't learn (with relative ease) then I would be wary.

#926870 - 09/30/08 02:22 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
winki Offline
Junior Member
winki  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
Gaithersburg, MD
Thank you for quick response, you are all very appreciated. I just found out I had so many typo in the message, glad you all understand me.

Yes, it's the "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven. I don't play piano, so I don't if that's a difficult piece.

My son will have a class with her tomorrow. I will post my experience tomorrow.

#926871 - 09/30/08 03:15 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Apr 2007
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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One comment, is not all great teachers are great pianists/performers. Also, depending on the level of student, it may not even be necessary for the teacher to be able to play such pieces well. I generally keep my music handy, but I don't practice piano in my studio, I practice at home, so sometimes my music is there if no student is working on it. In any case, since your son is a beginner, I would think that if she's a good teacher, you will know from his progress. She addresses theory and technique, and that is generally a good sign.


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#926872 - 09/30/08 05:23 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Aug 2008
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Gary D. Online content
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Gary D.  Online Content
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Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
One comment, is not all great teachers are great pianists/performers. Also, depending on the level of student, it may not even be necessary for the teacher to be able to play such pieces well.
I don't see how teachers who are not playing on a high enough level to demonstrate some of the pieces mentioned in this thread can possible give talented students the kind of help that they will need later on, to succeed.


Piano Teacher
#926873 - 10/03/08 12:53 AM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
winki Offline
Junior Member
winki  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
Gaithersburg, MD
Here I am, back with couple more questions.

I was with my son in the class today. Last time when we interviewed, the teacher told me she used to teach the piano books my son has been working on years ago, but she had adopted to teach another piano books for long time. She said she would finish with my son's books first then go on to the books she uses.

So I brought my son's books to her. She tought 5 finger scale first, then the songs. She spend time to high light all chords in the first song with my son, 4th, 5th, and 6th. Then my son played it, and she said to work on it for this week. Then went on another song. She high lighted all special signs in the song again. And tried to sing the song, then she said: I haven't been teach these books in years...then she took a little time singing the song, correct herself. Then my son played it. That's his second homework. That was a 45 minutes class, my son got 2 songs, 4 major and 4 minor 5 finger scales practice.

I understand it might be difficult to teacher a transfer student. Should I go ahead ask teacher to change to the books she used to teach?

I had another experience with previous teacher. The first teacher did not interview us, she just told us to come and gave my son books to work on. Never told me what her plan was, never taught my son sight reading, no finger prctice books. Just played songs. So when I met this teacher, I think this is right, theory with lessons. I don't like to keep calling teachers and said no.....

#926874 - 10/03/08 07:45 AM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Betty Patnude Offline
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Betty Patnude  Offline
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Puyallup, Washington
Give yourselves - student, teacher, parent(s) a little adjustment time as you are getting started together.

Continue to observe and write notes to yourself as the parent. Some things will be positive things you are noticing, and some things will be the questions or concerns you have.

What books did your son use with the previous teacher? The fact that the new teacher is going through the new music assignments when she gives it, and highlights things on the page to notice, impresses me. The teacher needs to teach and help prepare the student for his practicing at home for the coming week.

Give it a few weeks to see how it levels out.

The fact that you had an interview with this teacher before starting lessons, is also a good sign. It just galls me that people sign up on websites for lessons, choose an appointment time, and have no idea of what they are getting into in this teaching environment with this teacher. It also works against the teacher not to interview, and there are various important things that are learned about each other during the interview.

A teacher who would attempt to play "Moonlight Sonata" or "Canon in D" and then to have the effort fall apart and be unmusical is a little suspicious. Teachers should consider playing for their prospective students, but it should certainly be something that presents your skills and musicianship, and not be a piece that shows the opposite.

I also think theory is an important part of the mix, and using Major and Minor 5 finger positions to teach with are important, one of the reasons being, helping to develop the hand shape and also the listening ear with the major/minor sound being different.

I am glad you feel comfortable asking your questions here. Don't forget to ask the teacher too when you need to.

Within 10 weeks of your starting date, you should either be satisfied or completely dissatisfied with lessons, and "you" is you as the parent, and "you" being your child's viewpoint.

The teacher teaches, the child learns.

Best wishes,

Betty

#926875 - 10/03/08 09:58 AM Re: Piano teacher questions  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
winki Offline
Junior Member
winki  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
Gaithersburg, MD
Thank you, Betty.

My son played Alfred books and a dozen a day for almost two years. The new teacher used Keith snell books. Besdies, when she read a dozen a day book, she sign it wrong, I am sorry I could tell it.

In my area, teacher charges 30-35 dollars per half hour, or even more. She charges less than that and I would love to give it some more time since her rate is more comfortable with our bueget.

Best

#926876 - 10/03/08 02:39 PM Re: Piano teacher questions  
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verania5 Offline
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I never asked my teacher to play when I interviewed him - just never crossed my mind. I need him to be able to guide my playing, and we had a mock lesson, where he proved to be very insightful. I would definitely not be worried, it isn't her playing, it is her teaching you're after.


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