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#953543 - 10/12/04 11:31 AM How is teching technique different for adults?
darb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 123
Many people on this forum have said that the technique for teaching adults is different than for children.

Can someone elaborate on that please? I think hearing opinions from a few teachers on that subject will help me select the right teacher for me.

Background: Took lessons from age 7 to 19, play almost everyday, but no lessons (or improvement) for 20 years, want to start again.

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#953544 - 10/14/04 06:51 AM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
no improvement for 20 years? wow, how sad. I have to assume this is because you weren't playing or practicing for 20 years? (only 'cause the way you worded it sounded like you've been playing for 20 years w/o improvement, and now simply want to start lessons again)

I can't speak to teaching differences, I'm not a teacher, sorry. I'd suggest finding a few teachers and perhaps having a lesson/meeting with them all, see which one seems like he/she will be the best fit, and actually ask them for their thoughts on the matter.

Also, this is just my opinion, ask these potential teachers what kind of focus they put on teaching practice technique (that is, the theory of learning, how to plan for efficient and productive practice sessions both short and long term.. the non-musical side of it all) - alot of teachers don't teach how to practice, only how to play, and for adults, knowing an actual method for practice itself, and how to plan for practice (rather than just leaving you to your own devices to work on the material) will help make your time more productive, being so much busier and all. The best teachers will teach you how to learn on your own, so that you can continue to improve in the absence of a teacher.

"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
-- Ernie Stires, composer

#953545 - 10/15/04 07:19 AM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
darb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 123
It is sad, but I can tell that my skills have declined. I do play quite often, but I pretty much play the same things over and over. I have 4 little kids so I don't make it through a whole piece very often and when I do it's such a treat.

I really really want to learn Schumann's Scenes from Childhood, but I don't want to butcher the music. This is what drove me to decide to take lessons again. I know if I learn it on my own (and I'm probably not ready for it yet anyway), I would sort of ruin something that could be very beautiful. So instead of doing that I decided to take lessons so I can learn new pieces without that yucky feeling of knowing I'm butchering beautiful music. Schumann would probably roll over...

I am hiring a babysitter in order to be able to take lessons and practice, so when you add all that up, these will probably be some very expensive lessons. But I've reached the point where I think it's worth it! I can't wait. My first lesson is Oct 28th! I'm going to be so nervous I'm sure I won't play well at all.

#953546 - 10/15/04 08:04 AM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
Schumann would probably roll over...
Hah! On my month long summer break from lessons I learned Schumann's Knight Rupert (from the Album for the Young) - I memorized it, could execute it, but man, when the teacher first heard it, lets just say there was much to be said ;\) I mean it wasn't soo "butchered" but I had a ways to go with expression (naturally I guess after only a month)

Anyway - congratulations on deciding to take lessons again, that is a big step. The teacher will help you with all of the musical stuff you are seeking. If he/she doesn't go to length about "practice techniques" (probably won't) take a look at This thread on pianoforum.net - look a responses from "Bernhard" and then enjoy getting addicted to the other posts of his (do a search on Bernhard, they just upgraded the software on that site, and all the internal links that he so generously fills his posts with are broken as of yesterday \:\( (hopefully they'll fix it soon.) This thread is just a starting point. He's an older gentleman living in the UK with a lifetime of teaching and world experience and an ENORMOUS wealth of knowledge - and he knows how to make people suceed at piano in the least amount of time through years of trial and error developing his approach (actually, he'll claim it's not his[/b] approach, he didn't invent any of it, but he sure does a great job of presenting it.) I wish he'd write a book to organize everything, but it's all on the threads on that forum. He has much to say about how to organize for, and plan practice so that even if you can only find 20 minutes at a time, you can still be very successfull in learning. (it's nothing magical or ubsurd, he's not saying "LEARN PIANO IN 20 MINUTES!" like you'd see on late night TV commercial or anything crazy like that, rather "20 minutes at a time[/b] (as many times as your schedule permits but the other key being at least once a day[/b]) for busy folks whose schedules don't permit a 2-3 hour block of practice.) It's grounded in proven theory of psychology of learning and having a disciplined and organized plan so that every minute you sit down to practice, you have a very specific plan and achievable goal for that particular practice session, the sum of the sessions quickly adding up to success.. It's legit, makes tons of sense once you understand it, and it makes it so much easier to be productive in both the short and long term. The hardest part is getting the hang of how to make a plan from a score, and then getting over the fact that it isn't quite intuitive at first (unless of course you've studied psycholgy of learning.) The intutive way to practice is to just sit down whenever you get a chance and open up whatever you are working on, pick a spot at random, or something you worked on a few days ago, and go work at until you feel like moving to something else.. This is incredibly ineffecient and the reason why so many people spend so much time developing so little repertoir.)


I'm going to be so nervous I'm sure I won't play well at all.
Yeah, you will probably play like crap your first lesson ;\) don't worry about it though, that's the case with everybody and the teacher will expect nothing more. I get nervous every time I go to a lesson.. All that means is that you care.

Good luck!


Oh, and just an aside for any nay-sayers on taking any kind of fancy dancy scientific approach to learning piano, the techniques are aimed at providing a method to memorize and learn to play the notes on the score as quickly and efficiently as possible. ie. the "grunt work" and yes, you do still have to work hard. Having a good teacher to work on expression and musicality and all that other stuff is still vitally important. This method just lets you end up spending more time on the music after getting the stuff that can be approached scientifically out of the way (and no, you dont have to be at all scientifically inclined to make use of these planning techniques. All you need is a pencil.) Perhaps this is ringing a bell for any of the Chang readers out there? Bernhard and Chang both participate on the above mentioned forum, and they agree in many respects. Where Bernhard stands above Chang is in the whole psychology of learning/organization aspect of it, Chang doesn't go to that.)
"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
-- Ernie Stires, composer

#953547 - 10/18/04 08:52 PM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
mhf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Austin, TX
I'm a 45 yr old, my two little girls (6 and 4) started playing a couple of months back, and over the Labor Day weekend we bought a real piano (Young Chang upright) and, to encourage their progress and because we both were truly interested, my wife and I both signed up for lessons. Never had touched a piano before.

The lessons have been fun and I'm totally hooked on playing now. I know just what you mean about never getting 10 straight minutes without an interruption.

Anyway, as far as the Schumann piece, I had just posted about this last week. I watched "Sophie's Choice" and there is a wonderful scene in which they sit at a piano, and they play a part from Kinderszenen (Strange Lands). As Sophie says, "I love that piece ..."

I just received a Horowitz recording of it from Amazon!

GL with your lessons. That babysitter idea is a good one!!
I should be practicing!

#953548 - 10/19/04 08:17 AM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Check out this thread from the Adult Beginner's Forum... I found it very inspirational.

"Fossil" thread

Check out the website this thread is referring to. Lots of good info in there.

#953549 - 11/13/04 05:49 PM Re: How is teching technique different for adults?
PianoMum9 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/19/04
Posts: 19
Loc: Surrey, BC
Well, you know, I want to disagree. I think that, basically, teaching technique to adults and to children is very similar. You need to explain WHY you want them to practice the exercise, etc, and HOW you want them to practice it -- being very specific. I believe the principles are the same for any age, although sometimes adults have a larger range of life experiences that you can tie into the discussion.


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