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#973989 - 06/06/07 10:12 AM First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Oxfords Gal Offline
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I went to one of our local piano stores and got a list of about 6 teachers for me to call.

Now what?

Shall I call them all and talk with them to meet with them or should I call them 1 by one and scratch them off as I meet them?

Not sure which is the best approach

thanks


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
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#973990 - 06/06/07 10:54 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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yeah, call them all and ask a lot of questions (how they teach, what they teach, what students they have, qualification/background etc.). just don't make any promise of taking lessons too quickly.

#973991 - 06/06/07 10:56 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Hi Loly,

I usually start off with a phone call. If I get a good feeling I'll arrange a meeting. However, I recently (at last) found a really good teacher, and all our exchanges before the first lesson were by email.

One thing I absolutely will not do is pay up front for more than one lesson before I know whether the person has a teaching style that suits me. So the moment someone says they want me to pay in advance for a block of lessons before they'll agree to schedule anything, I cross them off my list.

Donna

#973992 - 06/06/07 11:26 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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good advise guys thanks, I will follow all your suggestions.

I've called 4 out of 6. 2 I had to leave voice mail and they're getting back with me.

The other is retired but still loves to teach and doesn't charge anything. She's been playing for 40 years, plays for her church and teaches voice as well. She also is big on technic
First try out is this Monday

The other is russian and she works for 2 studios plus gives private lessons. She graduated from Music in Russia and loves thinking outside the box, teaches technic and gets frustrated with people who are not prepared and non chalant. She's giving me a courtesy lesson day after tomorrow


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
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#973993 - 06/07/07 07:32 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Hi Loly,

Sounds as though you've come up with some good people from your list. My new teacher is definitely a 'thinks outside the box' person - he doesn't use a method book, and my lessons are tailored specifically to me, part technic and part repertoire. I like that!

Good luck with finding someone who suits you,

Donna

#973994 - 06/07/07 08:36 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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i'm more interested to see how that Russian teacher goes... please let us know.

#973995 - 06/07/07 09:04 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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ya, signa me too. I've been thinking about it since last night. I'm all a twitter and nervous grrrr. I feel like I'm back at the drawing board. Will it take me another 7 months to quit shaking? he he


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#973996 - 06/07/07 11:40 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Loly:

I just have to pitch in here. I would be extra careful with teacher who is retired and does not charge (or charges too little). Of course, miracles do happen, but teaching piano is a serious work, preparation for classes can be boring and quality of your lessons depends very much on how serious your teacher takes his/her job.

Now to the Russian teacher. I went through Russian-style music school as a child (in Ukraine) and have a Russian teacher now. My daughter (5 years old) also has a Russian (different) teacher. So, you know where I am coming from.

Here is my take on Russian school: It is not suitable for everybody. The reason why your teacher sounded flexible is most probably this: Russian school tends to heavily emphasize the emotional content of the music. As far as many of the Russian teachers concerned, your form is completely irrelevant as long as you can produce good tone. When I had a trial lesson with my teacher half a year ago, her first sentence after listening to me playing was: "Your tone is pretty good...," and when I said "but my technique is lost after 12 years of not playing," she just shrugged it off with "Oh, that's irrelevant, we'll get that back quickly". Since then every time I ask her any question related to particular hand/finger movements, her reply is invariably "This is irrelevant, do whatever suits you." (The only exception is the fingering, which she makes especially for me knowing that my right hand is damaged - my 4th finger is a bit shorter after the surgery I had on it.) On the other hand, the quality of the tone is of paramount importance to her. Sometimes, when I think I have particular passage pretty much figured out, she will criticize it until I finally understand what exactly I am doing wrong (may take a whole lesson!). I find it very refreshing. Oh, and no Hanon - it is only used to gain strength and evenness briefly.

So, to summarize, Russian teacher may be more flexible, but may also provide less strict guidance. Ultimately, all Russian teachers I dealt with were teachers of sonics, not technique. I find that this suits me well, but this is definitely not for everyone. Of course, your teacher may be completely different.

A side note; here is my observation re: various schools. It seem to me that Russian school cares very little about making average student achieve decent level. It was more geared to producing a few Kissins a decade. Not so with Asian/Chinese school: they are very strict, and are geared towards every student achieving a certain level. Any thoughts on this? May be an interesting topic for a separate thread.


Yuri
FWIW; YMMV
#973997 - 06/07/07 12:28 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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i don't know any Russian teachers, but my teacher (non-russian, E.E.) pretty much grew up on Russian school type of system and he mentioned that not all Russian pianists are the same, some have a different approach to music playing than others. for example, N.Luganski, my teacher's favourite young Russian pianist, is the type of Russian, more traditional and non-sentimental and yet very technical. this is just to give you an example of what my teacher's view on Russian pianists.

#973998 - 06/08/07 08:30 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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very interesting points guys.

The retired teacher from what I understood, is retired but keeps 5 students because and I quote "I love to teach, I don't and can't get away from it", and her other statement shortly after we started talking was "Do you practice everyday and do you have a piano". I think she wants to make sure that she doesn't end up with a slacker. he he. I do intend to pay her regardless, probably cash. She also mentioned she doesn't charge because she doesn't want to have to deal with taxes and paperwork.

On the russian teacher, well I've never dealt with one but I'm looking foward to seeing what she's all about. She is heavy on technic and she liked it when I told her "I don't like being confined in a box and having someone teach me the same as they teach everybody else", she was very happy when she heard me say that. She does teach in two studios here in town so I assume her methods might have been americanized or institutionalized a bit.

I'll keep you guys posted. As of now I'm not too nervous and I hope I can keep my cool and not get nervous. I might take up drinking just for this evening, one glass of wine should relax me enough to put a lamp shade on my head and feel totally relaxed. he he he


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#973999 - 06/08/07 10:51 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Good luck with your teacher search...I hope they call you back. When I started looking for teachers back in the winter...I called at least ten...and only two called me back. Business must be very good in the phoenix area for piano teachers!(Though personally I think it's bad form to at least not call back and say "sorry I have no openings").

The teacher I"m currently with doesn't use a set method or repertoire. I like this a lot...the first teacher I started back with had notebooks designed by grade...she started me back at grade 3 and insisted I had to follow her formula. I was bored out of my mind...even with rusty fingers I was flying through the pieces from the get go...and at least 85% was all things I had played previously in life. I only lasted a month with her.

#974000 - 06/08/07 11:17 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Oh humble, I know where you're coming from. I hate it when people don't get back with me. Have a little courtesy please!!!!

I remember when I was having my front yard fenced in, the company told me they would start tuesday and set the poles in and finish thursday. Tuesday I got home and the posts weren't in so i called them and here's what they said "well it started raining and thundering and we don't install fences when it's raining and thundering"

My reply was "I totally agree with you, but how about a phone call letting me know this?"

Jacksonville is notorius for that and I don't tolerate it much. I was supposed to have terminix come out one day because I was going to have them be my exterminators. They didn't show up the day I stayed home waiting on them and they didn't call.

So I called another company who did come out and hired them. I got a call from terminix the next day wanting to reschedule and I asked them "where were you guys yesterday?". the girl told me the truck had broken down. I told her "Well you guys have phones why didn't you call? I hired someone else". She gave me attitude and I simply told her "Don't give me attitude, I waited half day for you guys and not so much as a phone call, that's bad business and I don't tolerate it. You have only yourselves to blame for losing my business".

That gets my goat. he he


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#974001 - 06/09/07 09:45 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Good luck finding your teacher, Loly. It appears you have two good ones to choose from, which will be tough. I would check out the Russian first though because she sounds very interesting, and may offer something new being from a different piano school.

I hate people that don't get back to me as well. One of my jobs at work is in customer service, and I always make it a point to get back with people no matter what they call about. They always thank me too, which seems funny to me, but now I see why.

John


Nothing.
#974002 - 06/09/07 10:23 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Quote
Originally posted by loly:
Oh humble, I know where you're coming from. I hate it when people don't get back with me. Have a little courtesy please!!!! ... Jacksonville is notorius for that and I don't tolerate it much. ...
Charleston, SC is the same way and people from other area have commented to me about it. I don't know if it's the people in the area or a sign of the times. I would think this would be a bad business practice but evidently there is so much work that they don't care.

Back to the topic at hand, please keep us updated on your search. It appears you have a couple of good choices.


I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
#974003 - 06/09/07 06:34 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Ok guys, the russian teacher came by today and was extremely interesting.

first she asked me what methods and exercises I was doing. I told her I used 2 methods and did a supplemental and told her about the exerices.

She wanted to know how we worked new pieces. I told her we sightread through it once to make sure I understood the dynamics and notes then I practiced it at home and when I went to my lesson she critiqued me and told me what needed fixing and I would play it a second time correcting my mistakes.

I told her my teacher wanted dynamic and tempo more than correct notes (although I play for correct notes as well) and her philosophy is notes come later.

The Russian teacher started out by telling me she wants notes first and she said once you know your notes the tempo would come. Kind of the opposite. She taught me many ways to play the same music and focused on playing with relaxed hands and getting out of my comfort zone. She asked me to physically take my hands off the keyboard before striking notes. She wants me to play the note correctly and not to play the note until I found it. She showed me 3 different ways to play the same piece of music.

She told me to play at a slow tempo, practice small sections until I knew them well. Until I could play them and not even think about it. She told me to lift my hands and fingers to play notes with a relaxed spring in my wrist.

I like her but still going to the other appointment. I liked that she corrected me on the spot as opposed to my other teacher who would correct me once I had played the whole piece.


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#974004 - 06/09/07 09:49 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Loly,
It looks like the Russian teacher would be the one I would pick. After getting through the other appointment, let us know what happens smile .

#974005 - 06/09/07 10:59 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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loly, i am glad things are starting to come together for you. i hope with all these initial lessons you will be able to hit it off with a teacher and just say this is the one:) i cant wait to hear of who you pick:)


If it ain't fun I ain't doin' it:)
#974006 - 06/09/07 11:20 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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i like this Russian teacher and she seems to have some of the same philosophy as my teacher's: knowing notes first before anything and playing with economical/efficient movements and without tension, etc.

i'd choose this teacher over others for sure, if i were you.

#974007 - 06/10/07 08:47 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Yep, I'd pick the Russian teacher. But still go to the other teachers appointments. Let us know what else you find.

Matt

#974008 - 06/10/07 09:03 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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This russian teachers sounds good! I'm intrigued by the three different ways she had you play. Can you tell us more about this?

#974009 - 06/10/07 11:54 AM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Quote
Originally posted by Humble Beginner:
This russian teachers sounds good! I'm intrigued by the three different ways she had you play. Can you tell us more about this?
I'm curious too. Do you mean she played them in "rhythms", three different ways to help learn a section/piece?


"Cats make purrfect friends"
#974010 - 06/10/07 02:43 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Well she had me play one piece with my left hand being loud while my right hand was soft, then had me switch softness and loudness on hands. She also had me do stacattos where there were none and she had me play legatos where there were none.

She also said for exercises such as hanon she varies it. Like she'll have me play hanon while accenting the first note, or the first and third note so on and so forth. Looks like she's going to keep me very occupied. She's very confident in what she claims she can do for me. laugh

She explained that if you take a piece and play it differently in a way that will make it more difficult then try it the way it's supposed to be played and from what she said it will be much easier and your fingers will fly.

I wish I would have recorded the lesson there was so much but if I pick her (I'm still going to my other appt, but I'm leaning towards the Russian teacher already)I'll be able to pass on what she teaches me with more accuracy.


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#974011 - 06/10/07 04:14 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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She sounds like a great teacher.

My teacher suggested I record the lessons (as she suggests to all of her students). I've found that it really helps because I can't always be taking notes, and I can go back later and listen to the correct tempo, tone, etc. should I forget something.

Good luck!


"Cats make purrfect friends"
#974012 - 06/10/07 04:15 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Man I just realized something. Larissa, (russian teacher), wants me to lift my fingers if there are two notes played seperately within reach.

That's exactly how I played when I first started and my first teacher broke me of the habit and had me stretch instead.


grrrrrrrrrr now I have to relearn what I did instinctively


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#974013 - 06/10/07 05:03 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Don't fret, loly, if it was something that was instinctive, it will come back very quickly.

On Hanon, I do the same thing.

#974014 - 06/10/07 07:41 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Quote
Originally posted by loly:
Man I just realized something. Larissa, (russian teacher), wants me to lift my fingers if there are two notes played seperately within reach.

That's exactly how I played when I first started and my first teacher broke me of the habit and had me stretch instead.

And that's how you should have been playing. At high velocities any stretching leads to errors, as stretching is much harder to control than translation (too many small muscles involved, as opposite to very precise movements of one large upper-hand muscle). In fact, in some virtuoso passages Liszt (and many after him) suggested 12345123..etc. fingering for playing some scales (there is a big translation with lifting hand and moving it instead of stretching 4th finger to reach after 1st). I am surprised your first teacher told you to use stretching whenever possible. Yet another reason for feeling good to have finally fired her.


Yuri
FWIW; YMMV
#974015 - 06/11/07 08:34 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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Oh joy now I'm so confused.

I went to see the other teacher and I'm so torn as to who I should pick.

First of all the other teacher was so nice, I felt so comfortable with her. She has two baldwin grands, I got to play on the older one and loved it. What a great piano. BTW I wasn't even nervous not with the russian teacher or this one at all. With my other teacher I was always tense and nervous. Yippie, I can play in front of other people and not feel nervous.

So anyway she immediately got down to business. She asked me to play a few things, and loved the dexterity of my fingers. She asked me questions on theory and tested me in sightreading.

She has a rolan as well, the one with all the bells and whistles and she played bachs invention (think it was 13) with accompaniment and boy was I totally floored. I never liked bach but this sounded totally different and wonderful.

She immediately put me to work and told me she told me she was tough. She gave me homework from the method books and in addition let me borrow two books czerny and helen curtis fundamental piano series which I have homework out of.

Although I told her I was testing teachers out she gave me homework for next week and told me to just let her know if I decided to go with someone else.

So I really don't know what to do. I'm curious as to what the russian teacher will be like but I feel I need a few formal lessons to get a better feel of what it's going to be like.

I immediately know what to expect from this teacher although I'm a bit worried about her comment on "We're going to go fast". I think she said she was taught very fast from the Helen Curtis series and she says it's the best she ever did of all the teachers she had.

I wonder if I can talk her into taking lessons for a month with her and then the following months with the russian teacher so I could get a better idea.

A third teacher called me finally but i'm going to tell her I found a teacher. If I'm having trouble deciding between these 2 having a third will not make it any easier.


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster
#974016 - 06/11/07 08:47 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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it's tough, but you're the one to choose a teacher though. i guess that you could take a few test lessons from each for a month and then make a decision on which one to keep.

the important thing is who would help you technically the most?

#974017 - 06/11/07 09:15 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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That IS a tough dilemma, Loly; they both sound good. Hmmm... what about logistics/money? Do they charge the same? Are the times they are offering for lessons equally convenient? Which one is more convenient to get to? If you can't decide on the basis of content/teaching style, then maybe considering the pragmatic issues will help.


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#974018 - 06/11/07 09:52 PM Re: First lesson with new teacher (Update)  
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This is a good and tough problem, Loly. I have found that some teachers have a great program that they design for you, and some have great tips that help you when you're playing that they show you during the lesson. If you think one of these teachers has both those attributes, then I'd go with that. My experience is that you'll improve more with the teacher that gives you great help during the lesson, and you'll find it easier to stick with a teacher who has a solid longterm program for you. I'm not much help, am I? I solve this problem by taking from a different teacher in the summer, but I'm not sure taking from two teachers is an effective strategy for most people.

I'd give it a day or two before deciding. Often we like the person we saw more recently, but a few days will give that effect a chance to fade, and you'll get a more even analysis of each teacher.

Good luck with this. I think your dilemma is giving everyone a reason for self-teaching!

Nancy



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