Piano World Home Page

Time to vent about non-qualified teachers!

Posted By: John Citron

Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 04:00 PM

I'm sorry if this post offends anyone, but I'm posting this to get some feedback from you teachers.

In my area, there is a teaching studio run by a lady that really is not qualified to teach! My former teacher, who studied and taught at New England Conservatory, receives these students all the time. These kids come in with a pile of music, and not one of them can read a note. If anything all they can do is barely play hands seperately, and never learned to put their hands together.

Given that in many cases the parents were paying a good chunk of change for these lessons, their hard earned money was taken as well. Appearently this person would just push the kids along into the advanced books without giving them any foundation in the first place.

What is sad about this too is the parents are miffed with my teacher when they are told their son/daugther has to start over again because in the three or more years they studied at the studio, they didn't learn one thing!

We talked about this for quite a long time yesterday. She's elderly, and doesn't have access to the Internet and wanted me to post this for opinions. She said she has never, in the nearly 60 years of teaching ever seen this problem before. She feels that these kids aren't dumb or ignorant; just badly taught.

John
Posted By: Codetta

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 05:09 PM

This has happened to me a few times. In fact I took a student who was 'taught' by some guy in a music store but had only taken lseeons with him for almost a year. Let me tell you, the damage was HUGE! She could barely read notes and couldn't count - she had no idea what a quarter note did or how it differed from an eighth note. Fortunately for me and her, the mom listened and believed my assessment. However, it is now 4 years later and I'm STILL undoing the damage done by this underqualified shister. My student is doing remarkably well (given her shaky beginning)but she'll never rise to her full potential because of the lousy foundation she was given. She still struggles with rhythm and wants to gloss over details but I stand firm and fortunately for me, he mom stands behind me.

It's interesting: people put more research into buying a car than they do in finding a qualified and reputable teacher. No one wants to be told or realize that they wasted their money on a lousy teacher and that, in essence, they fell waaaaay short in doing the best for their child, so they're probably embarrassed BIG TIME and are made to face the fact that in the process they also wasted some valuable years. BUT if the parents are truly wanting the best for their child are determined to get their child the best education, then they will listen to the advice from such an expert.

Encourage your teacher-friend to be lovingly honest and remind her that she interviews and assesses THEM - they are not interviewing and assessing HER. It's the same idea when going to the doctor: even though the first doctor misdiagnoses the illness doesn't negate the fact that the patient has the illness. It means that the consequences are more severe due to his neglect. When you get down to it, facts are facts and you can disagree all you want - but that doesn't change the truth. So it begs the question: what are you going to do about it and are you going to be proactive in trying to solve the problem?

What's so sad about all this is that the kids are the ones that ultimately suffer and who knows, a wonderful musician may be lost forever. Teaching is an awesome responsibility, not to be taken lightly, and we hold the future of a child in our hands each time we open our mouth. The qualified person understands this, the unqualified NEVER GET IT!

Tell your friend she's not alone and to stand firm with her principles - the parents who are truly interested in doing what is right will believe her.
Posted By: Piano&Flute

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 06:01 PM

Unfortunately I think this is a common problem. In our suburban area, there are a few people who got to intermediate piano (around RCM Grade 7 or 8) and teach as a way to earn extra money. It is unfortunately very sad and frusterating for the students, and it kind of gives music teachers a bad name. Tell your friend to stand her ground and do what she ultimately thinks is best for the students. Most parents will appreciate the honesty even if they are frusterated at first.
Posted By: ftp

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 06:33 PM

John

I hear you and the frustration. I've always felt that there is a three way partnership in the beginning of piano lessons between teacher, student and parent. A miffed parent (re:restarting) should be miffed at themeselves for being out of touch. On the other hand, I don't think teachers spend much time discussing the appropriate role of the parent and therefore parents don't know what to do/expect? Why not have parent/teacher conferences as standard operating procedure like in school?

I say all this realizing that the parents should not interfere and at some point motivation has to come from within and over time the parent role diminishes as the child acheives independence and takes expert guidance from the teacher...but in the beginning isn't a parent's role a key variable?

P.S. I mention this because I feel that if some measure of standards/expectations are set at the beginning and parents are aware of them- then incompetence on the teacher's part would be easer to spot. Of course, children progress at various rates and some practice a lot more than others but at least with a baseline and regular review the issues can be isolated.
Posted By: wolfindmist

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 07:32 PM

Sounds like there is quite a need in the general lay media to get the word out to parents who are looking for a music teacher on how to find a qualified instructors.

What about asking you local newspaper to do a human interest story on a local qualified music teacher, and/or what to look for when looking for a piano teacher.

Sad to think that there are people out there taking advantage of uninformed but well-meaning parent(s). Caveat emptor! Buyer beware.

I feel bad for these kids and their parents; and for the truly qualified teachers from whom these unqualified teachers affect their livelihoods as teachers.
Posted By: Piano*Dad

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 07:36 PM

There is a huge information asymmetry here, and word of mouth usually doesn't go very far in overcoming the problem. You have a business here in which essentially anyone can enter. A lot of the customers have very little understanding of the process or of the meaning of credentials. Local teacher organizations can simplify the choice to some extent, but variance in ability and quality can still be extreme among the members (who wants to criticize their fellow teachers, or worse, work to expel them).
Posted By: ice

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 10:39 PM

Where I live, teachers (piano) are very limited. People see the word "school" or "conservatory" they automatically assume the teachers know what they are doing and are qualified. I took lessons when I was 5. I'm 34 now. My teacher was a mean old hag who spent more time with books and flash cards than actually playing piano. (insert life story here)I'm grown up now and have been teaching for 14 years. Some of those years were at a conservatory. Where I was, the object was to get a child playing a complacated-sounding song as quickly as possible to impress parents with how good their child is and hope reading will improve as the child progresses. (remember who administers the grade tests) By the way, I was never told this by any employer, this is just my personal opinion based on the course materal they wanted me to follow. So anyway, it wasn't until I started teaching that I realized, the old hag I had as a teacher, was the best teacher anyone could ever hope for. She had passed away some time ago but I always called her for advice and she was always there. I did pick up alot of traits from her but one really sticks in my mind now, If a child is not progressing (or trying) she would tell the parents to find another teacher or see if the child might be interested in something else. I used to think it was mean but I see now why she used to do it. Anyway, I don't even know where I am going with this so I'll end it
Posted By: signa

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 10:47 PM

my teacher told me that some people who only had some non-piano degree teach kids piano. they probably did take some piano courses in school or conservatory, but that didn't really qualify them to be a piano teacher automatically. basically, anybody can teach piano it seems in US at least, while in E. Europe or maybe other countries, according to my teacher, you have to have a degree in piano or equivalence to teach even beginners.
Posted By: ice

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/12/06 11:46 PM

That could very well be. I would like to see that here. Have at least have some kind of certification for piano teachers. Many teachers, Including myself, around here teach our own course or an instructor led type of course out of our own homes. What is to stop any moron from scamming money (or worse) out of parents. This could scare future students away from home based and back into underqualified schools.
Posted By: John Citron

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/13/06 12:44 AM

Thank you for the responses so far. When I see her during the week to drop off some music I ordered for her, I'll bring this along. The lady from the "school" has done quite a bit of damage from what I hear. It is too bad, and as Codetta remarked it is the kids that really suffer in the end.

My teacher really is a kind lady, (She can be a bit onery with me, but that's besides the point) and sat one little girl down during the lesson, and told her that it will be easier to start from the easy pieces and go up from there rather than struggling with the things she's been working on all along.

John
Posted By: Chris H.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/13/06 10:24 AM

I have some very strong feelings about this. I do know that there are a small minority of very good teachers out there who have no formal qualifications for whatever reason. Some of these might have had a performing career from an early age and just never needed to go down the university route. These teachers will usually have many years experience and a solid reputation to back them up. Most people in the business will know and respect them. However, as I said, they are in the minority.

I firmly believe in some kind of recognised qualification for private instrumental teachers. In the UK anyone can put an ad in the local paper or a card in a shop window and start teaching for money. This not only leads to the situation John describes but is also dangerous. I teach piano in schools as well as at home. In order to teach at school I must be qualified. I was also interviewed and had to prove my performing skills. More importantly I had to undergo criminal record checks because I was working with children. It is beyond belief that someone would send their child alone to a one on one piano lesson with a complete stranger without checking them out, but it happens all the time. Still, no checks are made and there is absolutely no regulation in this line of work. Anyone can invite children alone into their house without their parents being present.

Another question (perhaps a separate thread) is what qualifications are relevant to a piano teacher? Should they be required to hold a teaching qualification? I have known people with advanced performing skills and diplomas coming out of their ears who just can't teach. Teaching is very different to doing although I think it is important and useful to have good subject knowledge and the skill to demonstrate. What about people who don't have access, time or money to study at university ar take an exam course?

In my area there must be at least 30 piano teachers listed in the local music shop. I would be willing to bet that most of these are not qualified. There was a studio in a nearby town run by a complete con artist. It had a posh name and premises in town. This lady would train kids up to intermediate standard and then offer them a 'little job'. She would pay them peanuts to teach beginners (whose parents were paying full whack). She would also sell them all their music books at marked up prices. I don't know if she is still in business but I hope not. As John says this kind of thing can be extremely damaging. The early stages are the most important time to get things right. Habits that develop then are often difficult to change later. It makes me so mad when parents say to me that they only want someone to start their kids off. Mrs 'X' down the road only charges ยฃ3 an hour so we'll send them their first. When they get older they can have a 'proper' teacher.

When I speak to prospective clients on the phone I will tell them my qualifications because most of the time they never even ask. I also urge them to ask other teachers they call for qualifications/experience. I suppose that many parents are just not aware that this kind of thing goes on.
Posted By: Piano&Violin

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/13/06 11:33 AM

When looking for my first piano teacher I went through the local public music school, assuming that their teachers were quality-checked. The one they assigned me had taken piano as second subject, his piano skills were limited and the results of 1.5 years with him were very few things learnt and some wrong learnt, so oveall the 1.5 years were a waste of time.

Regarding importance of teacher qualifications: I believe awareness is not there. For many things - like teaching a language - a beginner can learn a lot from a good intermediate learner. It takes a lot more skill and knowledge to be a good piano teacher.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/16/06 12:13 AM

I see many transfer students. Often they lack a solid foundation because their teachers presumed all sorts of things.

My piano teacher used to say if there's one year that you need the best teacher, it's the first year. My pet peeve is parents who think they can make do with an inferior piano and an inferior teacher for the first year.

I tell them I plan to succeed with your child. You will be driving to my home every week for at least four or five years.
Posted By: Piano Guy

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 11/16/06 02:10 AM

On the subject of inferior pianos. I am always amazed at peoples reluctance to spend money to improve their pianos performance. Its hard enough to get them to keep it tuned, let alone serviced, repaired or regulated. How can anyone play some of these pianos. Then they wonder why kids are discouraged. I usually use sports as a way to get them thinking right. For example...do you send your child to play hockey with skates never sharpened, and a broken hockey stick. NOT!!!!
Posted By: Wendybw

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:31 AM

Like Chris H and others I also have strong feelings about this topic. In Australia like it seems other countries, ANYONE can set themselves up as a music teacher without qualifications. Even being a great performer doesn't make you a great teacher. Unfortunately there is also tied to this the issue that people can charge anything they want for lessons, so many parents get caught in the trap of shopping by price alone and making qualified teachers justify their higher fees.It can be very disheartening when as a teacher you go above and beyond the 30 minute lesson and provide real care and nurturing and then have to justify your fees. I can't see it changing though as the internet has now made it possible for people to "self teach"also which can have similar outcomes.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:43 AM

Dear Wendy:

Welcome to the forum! It's great to see experienced colleagues from the other side of the pond.

Please be aware that it is not typical to revive zombie threads from 10 years ago. You can see the date of each post. Please try to reply to the most recent threads first.
Posted By: prout

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 02:08 PM

Pedagogy - an understanding of the instrument, how it works, and how the human body interacts with the instrument - is the only real qualification.

An ARCT, membership in an association, a masters degree in performance - none of these certificates qualifies a person to teach if they do not have the ability, or the knowledge to impart tension free technique in a manner to which the student responds.

There are thousands of vocal teachers who cannot name and do not know the function of any part of the vocal apparatus. Yet people blithely flock to them, hoping to be the next 'American Idol' in just four easy lessons.

A great piano teacher may have no paper qualifications, but has an intrinsic ability to impart knowledge to a gifted student. They probably would not take on beginners, lacking the pedagogy to get them started.


edit: Never too late to vent about unqualified teachers - and that would include me, which is why I don't teach, but do coach gifted students.







Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:04 PM

Originally Posted by prout
Pedagogy - an understanding of the instrument, how it works, and how the human body interacts with the instrument - is the only real qualification.

An ARCT, membership in an association, a masters degree in performance - none of these certificates qualifies a person to teach if they do not have the ability, or the knowledge to impart tension free technique in a manner to which the student responds.

There are thousands of vocal teachers who cannot name and do not know the function of any part of the vocal apparatus. Yet people blithely flock to them, hoping to be the next 'American Idol' in just four easy lessons.

A great piano teacher may have no paper qualifications, but has an intrinsic ability to impart knowledge to a gifted student. They probably would not take on beginners, lacking the pedagogy to get them started.


edit: Never too late to vent about unqualified teachers - and that would include me, which is why I don't teach, but do coach gifted students.







Thank you!! Especially the part about unqualified voice teachers. What I find is worse than those who can't name any of the anatomy or its function, however, is the fact that there is a lot of "pseudo-science" out there. So even if they can name a part of the vocal apparatus or related singing muscles, they don't really know what they do to actually bring about the optimal, healthy sound. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered someone who studied with someone who told them the exact opposite of what something does and had vocal issues - which were resolved by changing that to a correct concept of the function and sound.

I think if a teacher has a good ear and knows the sound of a healthy voice, they can lead a student to that sound without knowing the science behind it. This is how they taught for centuries before the laryngoscope and other technological advances.

I say this often: Having NO teacher is better than a bad teacher. And also it doesn't take much to learn something bad/damaging about singing, and it takes more than twice as long to unlearn it. mad

/endrant
Posted By: prout

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:13 PM

My great admiration is for ab initio teachers of piano.

How they accomplish this and turn out pianists AND musicians is, to me, remarkable. I do not have that talent or perseverance. My strength lies in tweaking.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:14 PM

Originally Posted by Wendybw
Like Chris H and others I also have strong feelings about this topic. In Australia like it seems other countries, ANYONE can set themselves up as a music teacher without qualifications. Even being a great performer doesn't make you a great teacher. Unfortunately there is also tied to this the issue that people can charge anything they want for lessons, so many parents get caught in the trap of shopping by price alone and making qualified teachers justify their higher fees.It can be very disheartening when as a teacher you go above and beyond the 30 minute lesson and provide real care and nurturing and then have to justify your fees. I can't see it changing though as the internet has now made it possible for people to "self teach"also which can have similar outcomes.


Hi Wendy, and welcome to the Teachers Forum! I feel your pain, and perhaps I can offer some assistance with what you're going through to hep you avoid becoming bitter.

-Stay true to yourself. Students and parents who are wise will recognize the value what you are offering

-Having said that, however, you may be selling yourself short. If you are going "above and beyond the 30 minute lesson" perhaps you should be teaching for 45 minutes or an hour? I think by doing so you set yourself apart as a more serious teacher. I only offer 30 minutes to very young piano students or beginner voice students. The rest are at 45 or 60 minutes. This gives me the time to get everything done in a lesson without rushing, ensuring the student goes home knowing what to practice and how.

-It's a strange thing, but as you see, if something costs more, it's worth more by default. If you charge too little for your lessons, then people will wonder "what's wrong with her" "She's probably not very good" and things like that - maybe even on a subconscious level. Find out what other teachers with your qualifications are charge and charge that.

Once I started charging more in line with my qualifications, then sure, I'd get inquiries, but those that were looking for someone "cheap" would stay away. I remember once a lady was arguing with me about my fees (before I increased them). I charge $15 for a half hour, and she said, "Well, my son's violin teacher charges $7/half hour." I responded with telling her that this is piano, not violin, and so this is what my lessons are worth. I was young, though, and took the student on at my rate, but against my better judgment. It did not end well, as the mother was looking for any excuse to be hostile toward me.

Ever since I started charging more, this has happened less and less because these people get turned off right away before I waste any time on them. I don't think I've ever had to justify my fees to anyone since.
Posted By: pianopi

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 06:31 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Please be aware that it is not typical to revive zombie threads from 10 years ago. You can see the date of each post. Please try to reply to the most recent threads first.


Why not ..? Isn't it still valid? We revive music from ages and ages ago, so why not valid posts?
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 07:00 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Dear Wendy:

Welcome to the forum! It's great to see experienced colleagues from the other side of the pond.

Please be aware that it is not typical to revive zombie threads from 10 years ago. You can see the date of each post. Please try to reply to the most recent threads first.

Normally I would agree with you, but in this case a quick read-through of the OP tells us that nothing has happened in the last 10 years.

People who know nothing are still teaching, and if anything the probably has gotten worse.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/19/16 08:08 PM

Originally Posted by pianopi
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Please be aware that it is not typical to revive zombie threads from 10 years ago. You can see the date of each post. Please try to reply to the most recent threads first.


Why not ..? Isn't it still valid? We revive music from ages and ages ago, so why not valid posts?

Typically, the original participants are long gone.

Of course, many music-related topics are still relevant. That's why you can start a new thread at any time!
Posted By: Piano*Dad

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/25/16 11:02 PM

Quote
Typically, the original participants are long gone.


Hey, you can't get rid of some of us! grin

I thought I recognized the thread, saw the OP by John C, a comment by yours truly, and realized that I was in a time warp.

Posted By: pianopi

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 12/27/16 05:23 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianopi
[quote=AZNpiano]

Typically, the original participants are long gone.

Of course, many music-related topics are still relevant. That's why you can start a new thread at any time!


I often learn from other people's questions. Everyone puts things in a different way, and very often comes up with questions that I may not have thought to ask myself, but, on reading them, realize and appreciate their validity.

If I had time, I would definitely browse the long-buried questions here, just like I browse and learn from the music of long-dead composers or performers.

Roll on the exhumations of zombie threads!
Posted By: Russ1642

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 01/11/17 08:33 PM

People like to think that certification somehow makes someone a good 'qualified' teacher. What a load of crap. The people with masters degrees that still can't teach won't suddenly become model teachers after they take a course or two. The ones that never learned piano properly in the first place won't become model teachers either. In the end the way to find a good teacher is to talk with them and their current students and look for some results. It would be nice if all it took was to look at a few letters after their names. Here in Canada there's a huge problem with the new RCM teacher certification. I'm certainly not going to fall in line with it. One of their requirements is that your students take their exams. So if you teach a whole pile of beginners and don't think they need more exams in their lives you might as well not follow their program. It's ridiculous.
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 01/17/17 02:35 AM

Just because you have a degree in music does not mean a degree in pedagogy, or that you are good with children. Most parents do not realize an accompanist may not be a teacher may not be a soloist may not be a director may not be classroom music teacher may not be a beginning student teacher may not be good with adults, etc...let alone, oh, you teach piano, so you can also teach voice, right?


I go to piano teacher workshops, I peruse this site and individual teacher websites, I glean free worksheet pages on everything, I read the front pages in my lesson books, and I read curriculum for fun! I use the complete series (Lesson Book with matching Theory Book, etc...) .
I work with kids at my church in a semi non-music capacity, jsut to get how they act and feel, and for fun. And, to hear what they say.

There is a grumpy piano performance degreed doctor that I know who is terrible with little kids- he want the lights out and wanders around muttering while drinking coffee. No parents allowed.

But some parents want him because he plays mesmerizingly. I try to tell them that for a dedicated high schooler or adult, this is the guy you may want, to really delve into the music and the analysis of it all.

For a young elementary student, you want more of a Mary Poppins type-- High expectations, can explain concepts well, fun, but lovingly strict.

I try to be Mary Poppins.

My degree and education is average, but if you knew me, "teacher" would be used as an adjective.

And yes, this site is also used for comparisons and venting.

We are not alone when we visit here. We do not have company meetings or employee picnics, or comment cards or managers, but we have each other.

And, that is why I keep coming to visit!

smile


Posted By: TimR

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 01/17/17 01:09 PM

I have a adult friend, nearing 60 I'd guess, who's been taking piano lessons for 6 years or so. She bought a really nice Steinway upright that I covet when she bought the new house. She takes from the teacher attached to the local music store.

I know she practices. The usual unqualified teacher complaints mentioned above don't apply - she does read, she knows note names, key signatures, can count, etc. I see different lesson books on the piano from time to time.

But after all these years she cannot yet play anything fluently, even very simple things.

That seems strange to me. Is this common?
Posted By: SonatainfSharp

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 01/17/17 02:46 PM

Originally Posted by TimR

That seems strange to me. Is this common?

Yep. I can't tell you how many transfer students I have had who had taken lessons from "the little old lady down the street" for several years just because she was "female and old with a grand piano, so she must be a good piano teacher" (cliches), yet the student is too afraid to play anything outside of "middle C position", plays every single barline, replies with finger numbers when I ask for note names, and is playing in method books far down the line (while refusing to move away from middle c??) from where they actually are, just because of time spent at lessons, not from actual progression.

I also have had the preteen transfer student who is playing Beethoven Sonatas already, but only the notes, missing 80% of the "musicality", and already talking about hurting while playing.

Since we are allowed to vent: Nothing irks me more than seeing my friends on Facebook who have no formal musical training at all, other than piano lessons when they were a kid, who are teaching students, have full "studios", and the kids LOVE them, but, holy cow they shouldn't be teaching at all. Met a few violin teachers like this, too...

I have one friend who finally knows better, though. She let her kid pick the teacher because the kid loved her, but lessons are not going well, so she is having her kid switch to me, and not letting her kid decide this time. smile

Also, I see a lot of piano teachers who have it out to not let boys succeed. We talked about this during my pedagogy training decades ago and I thought it was just someone's bias, but at one point, my studio of 54 students was made up of about 40 boys, all transfers from teachers who hated them and made it no secret sometimes. I still don't understand what that was all about, but those parents were really sad when I relocated and had to drop them all. I still feel absolutely terrible about that...
Posted By: M. Cramer

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 02:48 AM

I realize I'm chiming in on this thread quite late in the game, but I just ran across it tonight. As someone who has taught and also worked in retail piano sales, I would like to share a story with you.

I had a family come in with their piano teacher a few years ago. The teacher was there to assist them with their purchase. The parents questioned why some pianos have two pedals and some have three. The 'teacher' explained the functionality of the sustain and the una corda correctly.....but, when it came time to explain the middle pedal.....her response was "Oh, you don't need to worry about that one. I've never used it and your child will never need it anyway.....I'm not sure what it's for."

*SMH* Unbelievable.
Posted By: Whizbang

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 12:26 PM

Originally Posted by M. Cramer
when it came time to explain the middle pedal.....her response was "Oh, you don't need to worry about that one. I've never used it and your child will never need it anyway.....I'm not sure what it's for."


It's a built-in foot massager, right?
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 12:43 PM

Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by M. Cramer
when it came time to explain the middle pedal.....her response was "Oh, you don't need to worry about that one. I've never used it and your child will never need it anyway.....I'm not sure what it's for."


It's a built-in foot massager, right?
It does vary depending on the piano what it does. For some pianos it's a mute and it has a fixed position. For others, it's sostenuto. Either way, it's only used on a handful of pieces that I'm aware of, but certainly she should have known what it does regardless.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 01:30 PM

Originally Posted by M. Cramer
I realize I'm chiming in on this thread quite late in the game, but I just ran across it tonight. As someone who has taught and also worked in retail piano sales, I would like to share a story with you.

I had a family come in with their piano teacher a few years ago. The teacher was there to assist them with their purchase. The parents questioned why some pianos have two pedals and some have three. The 'teacher' explained the functionality of the sustain and the una corda correctly.....but, when it came time to explain the middle pedal.....her response was "Oh, you don't need to worry about that one. I've never used it and your child will never need it anyway.....I'm not sure what it's for."

*SMH* Unbelievable.
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing the retail story!

Obviously she should have known about the middle pedal. However it's used on so few pieces, IMHO it's fine to purchase a piano with 2 pedals. My friend has a very fine Grotrian with "only" 2 pedals (not a real old piano), and my Fandrich vertical also has 2 pedals.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 01:33 PM

Originally Posted by Whizbang
It's a built-in foot massager, right?
Now there's a way to boost new piano sales.
Posted By: Flybear

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/29/17 03:28 PM

I am secretly happy to read a " vent about teachers" post ... we are currently looking for a new teacher ( our beloved teacher is moving :-(((. The teachers we have come across ... it is ridiculous...

I am willing to pay a fair amount for a qualified teacher with a decent instrument and basic teaching skills ... but lesson prices don't correlate with experience or skill AT ALL. We have interview capable teachers that teach on a superb instrument for $15 and obviously in-experienced teachers that teach on a keyboard ( yes a KEYBOARD - and not a nice one either) for $35 an hour.
And all teachers will try to convince us that they are just " great" ... I don't play the piano so I had to enlist the help of a friend to sit in with " trial lessons" ... We interview one teacher - who didn't play well - and my son is only about a year into it - his pieces are not challenging at all ... My friend made a comment half in joke about maybe needing practice and the " teacher" told her that she just bought the piano and didn't;t have time to play the last " few years" - yikes!
And don't get me started about teachers not listening to the need of the students ... I told every teacher when we first inquired that we are not interested in recitals and exams ( major test anxiety which tends to trigger migraines ) - if you want a student who loves to play, practices, is self driven and on the calm/ quiet side - we are your people ... if you are looking for a student that does recitals and exams - we are not a good fit ... Still .. most teacher tried to pressure my son into explaining why he doesn't want recitals and made him feel horrible for not wanting to try ( he was ashamed to admit that he gets so nauseated when stressed that he is scared to show up all over the keys - he was in tears when a teacher just ket insisting to tell them WHY no recitals ... they are FUN) ...
Sorry for the vent ... we had great teachers and I am eternally grateful for the wonderful dedicated teachers that are out there ! You guys rock
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 12:49 AM

I think when confronted by the possibility of a student never being at a recital, many piano teachers would feel a great loss. You're seeing it as a communication issue. ie. the teacher is not hearing our message. The teacher is likely hearing it loud and clear, and feels that a big part of the child's piano education will be missed. To you, it's just one day that you need to avoid. To the teacher it's six or eight weeks of practicing towards a tangible goal. It's a chance to get a piece to a higher standard and get the student to memorize it.

I've taught one boy who didn't want piano recitals. I taught him for three years. But he ended up quitting. So another concern of the teacher might be that the student's staying power will be diminished.

I've thought of even not taking on students who don't participate in recitals. It's like having a family member that never shows up at Thanksgiving. It's a shame. I see my students as a group of sorts that needs to cohere at times.

The best thing would be if your son DID get the courage to gradually get in front of people and play. It could begin with asking the neighbor to come over and hear him play.

Piano is a performance art. Recitals are fun. And to be honest, I feel sorry for your son. Imagine going through life afraid of getting up in front of an audience. My father would tell such a person to "stand up and be counted!" How will he be able to handle job interviews when they include four interviewers? (I've been to such job interviews.) How will he be able to react in a medical emergency, say in a bus when he's older, and he has to react with others present?

Posted By: dogperson

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 01:11 AM

Not all students see recitals as fun. And I know from personal experience, that not playing in recitals does not affect your ability to be a leader as an adult. Yes, You could still act in an emergency even if you have never played in a recital. Yes, your reluctance to playing in a recital does not mean that you would be reluctant to give a speech as an adult, or effectively participate in a job interview with multiple interviews.


You're creating a link that is that is not accurate for adult functioning.
In fact there are some teachers that do not believe in recitals for their students but still believe in teaching piano in a quality way.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 01:25 AM

Originally Posted by Flybear
I am willing to pay a fair amount for a qualified teacher with a decent instrument and basic teaching skills ... but lesson prices don't correlate with experience or skill AT ALL. We have interview capable teachers that teach on a superb instrument for $15 and obviously in-experienced teachers that teach on a keyboard ( yes a KEYBOARD - and not a nice one either) for $35 an hour.
Wow. Stop the presses! Ummmmm.... $15 - $35 an hour? How are these teachers surviving? Maybe the cost of living is very low where you live. Where I am, teachers charge twice that. Count your blessings if you can get quality instruction that cheaply.
Quote
And all teachers will try to convince us that they are just " great" ... I don't play the piano so I had to enlist the help of a friend to sit in with " trial lessons" ... We interview one teacher - who didn't play well - and my son is only about a year into it - his pieces are not challenging at all ... My friend made a comment half in joke about maybe needing practice and the " teacher" told her that she just bought the piano and didn't;t have time to play the last " few years" - yikes!
The "teacher" couldn't play first year music? Ouch!
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 02:22 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
The teacher is likely hearing it loud and clear, and feels that a big part of the child's piano education will be missed. To you, it's just one day that you need to avoid. To the teacher it's six or eight weeks of practicing towards a tangible goal. It's a chance to get a piece to a higher standard and get the student to memorize it.

I've never understood this penchant across the pond for what is, effectively, showbiz foisted on often unwilling children. Like beauty pageants for little girls.

Fine if the kids enjoy public adulation, but horrible for those that don't. Like me, and most of my fellow students when I was in boarding school, when there were weekly lunchtime recitals which anyone - student or teacher, or combination of both - could sign up for. They were guaranteed a supportive audience, no matter what their standard, or what they chose to perform.

But the only ones who ever performed (apart from one or two staff members who fancied themselves as performers) were those students intending music as a career.


Quote
Piano is a performance art. Recitals are fun. And to be honest, I feel sorry for your son. Imagine going through life afraid of getting up in front of an audience. My father would tell such a person to "stand up and be counted!" How will he be able to handle job interviews when they include four interviewers? (I've been to such job interviews.) How will he be able to react in a medical emergency, say in a bus when he's older, and he has to react with others present?


You are making several specious associations. Firstly, piano is only a performance art if you believe that all music-making is performance art, which is patently false. (Is religious chant a performance art?)

And secondly, many otherwise confident people who can talk in front of huge audiences crumble when they have to perform - whether sing, or play a musical instrument. I have performance anxiety when it comes to performing solo (though I have no problem singing in a choir), but for my jobs after I finished with university, I've had to go through an interview every six months, usually in front of a panel of the great and good - and succeeded in every one of them.

Oh, and by the way, I've lost count of how many lives I've saved in public situations over the years (when I've sometimes also had to order strangers to do things, in an authoritative manner - I've never had any problem doing this).
I've seen colleagues who are able to do the same, even though they are shy and meek in normal life.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 04:04 AM

Originally Posted by M. Cramer
I realize I'm chiming in on this thread quite late in the game, but I just ran across it tonight. As someone who has taught and also worked in retail piano sales, I would like to share a story with you.

I had a family come in with their piano teacher a few years ago. The teacher was there to assist them with their purchase. The parents questioned why some pianos have two pedals and some have three. The 'teacher' explained the functionality of the sustain and the una corda correctly.....but, when it came time to explain the middle pedal.....her response was "Oh, you don't need to worry about that one. I've never used it and your child will never need it anyway.....I'm not sure what it's for."

*SMH* Unbelievable.

Well, I agree that it's shocking that the teacher had no idea what the "middle pedal does", but I absolutely agree with "not worrying about it. I have never used it other than to demonstrate to students what it does.

By the way, on pianos I've played on I don't recall it ever working properly on an upright. All the uprights I grew up with simply had a middle pedal that either worked like a sustain pedal but with the felts lifting away only in the bass, which to me was even less than useless.

I find the sostenuto pedal something interesting to talk about, and demonstrate, but not important at all for playing.
Posted By: hello my name is

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 06:14 AM

Agree, middle pedal wouldn't be something I would worry about. And I wouldn't be surprised if the teacher did not know. It's different on different pianos. Sometimes it's a sostenuto pedal, which I may have used once in my life, and on my piano at home, it's a mute pedal, which I also don't use.

I teach on a keyboard. It's not ideal by any means, but it works for teaching beginning music anyhow. It's not like they're practicing on my instrument, is what I tell myself, and most of my students don't have much better at home. So we're kind of the same there. It is a temporary thing though, as dynamics are awful to teach on keyboards. I can do crescendos and diminuendos, but most beginners don't have the kind of control to do a nice one, especially on a keyboard which basically is over-sensitive. My students who mainly want to learn pop have no problem with this of course. wink

In terms of performance and recitals, I would understand if a student did not want to perform, personally, because I also suffer from anxiety. Anxiety that triggers migraines is serious stuff. I might encourage it, just for exposure therapy so to speak :P, but to require it would be .. mean.. for lack of a better word.

$15-$35/hour is ridiculously cheap... O_o Especially considering that lessons involve not only the actual lesson time but preparation work and research, etc.. but perhaps cost of living is lower wherever you are.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 07:24 AM

edit
Posted By: pianoMom2006

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 10:49 AM

We bought a 2 pedal Yamaha G2 with my son's teacher's blessing. My son's teacher told me that we didn't need to worry about the middle pedal either.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 11:33 AM

Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral both of which she believes need a sostenuto. There are other pieces where she has mentioned it previously,

I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™„ It won't be easy.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 11:37 AM

Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral both of which she believes need a sostenuto. There are other pieces where she has mentioned it previously,

I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™„ It won't be easy.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 12:35 PM

The little upright (spinet) that I learnt on for the first few years has two pedals. The so-called una corda just puts a felt strip between the hammer and the strings - in effect, it is a practice pedal, except that you can't lock it into position. The only pedal I ever used (and was taught to use) was the sustain - all the way up to Grade 8 ABRSM. I never even heard of such a thing as a 'sostenuto pedal'......

And all the pianos I ever had access to as a student were uprights, and had no sostenuto pedals, only 'practice pedals'. My last teacher taught on two grands - one was an old Blรผthner with two pedals, the other was a newer C.Bechstein with three. I studied a lot of advanced rep with him (including a lot of Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Debussy), but he never once asked me to use the sostenuto. He alternated his teaching between the two pianos to get me used to different grand actions - the Blรผthner was fairly light, the C.Bechstein heavy. I never saw him use the sostenuto himself, and he was a concert pianist who regularly broadcast on radio. Some concert pianists use it, some never. (The una corda is also over-used by some pianists I won't name......).

So, IMO, you don't need it and never will, even in advanced rep, unless you specially want to. I can understand why a teacher would just brush it off as being totally unnecessary.
Posted By: NMKeys

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 02:07 PM

In this town, most of my transfer students were taught "play by numbers". If a finger number is not written in by a teacher, they cannot read it. I will get them level 3 and even 4 -- unable to read a single note or rhythm, no vocabulary, no knowledge of any signs including the clefs. I so wish I could point to one studio and say that I will not take students from that studio but I cannot.

Recital or none? I try to work with the group I have and find their interests. As a student, I hated recitals but I loved playing in church. My teacher recognized that and taught me with that goal. By middle school, I was a regular sub in church and a regular in special music. To this day I remember the first hymn I played in church and still get goosebumps when it is on the line up for the service.

Posted By: TeresaTPT

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 05:53 PM

First of all, let me say that I, too, have taken students whose former teachers did a disservice to them, in my opinion. As an example, I had one young lady who had taken for 3 years who could not read the staff. Her teacher had given her the starting note at the beginning of the song, plus helpers when her hand position changed, and had her playing by finger numbers, which he had laboriously penciled in for her. She was so relieved when I told her I would not do that, but instead we would study the staff instead. She said she had begged her teacher to teach her the staff but he insisted on doing it his way.

That being said, I will also say that I do not think it is always fair to judge a previous teacher by the abilities of the students. I have been teaching for many years, and I have surrendered to the fact that not all students learn equally as easily.

Some kids are, in fact, forced to take lessons. When that is the case, it is my job to do the best I can with them. I have parents in my studio who look at music lessons as "brain exercise," which they indeed are, but the student has no interest in playing piano. I am up front with the parents about my view of the child's interest level, but ultimately I leave the decision to pursue piano to the parent.

I have some students who never, and I mean NEVER, practice. Those are probably the most frustrating because I end up going over and over the same things. I emphasize the need for practice to the child and to the parent, but ultimately the practice time is the responsibility of the teacher. Again, I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

I do not judge myself on having the most skilled students. I do have some amazingly skilled students in fact. And I have some who just aren't.

I judge myself more on meeting the needs of each individual student and each family, whatever that is.

Case in point -- I had one young guy who just couldn't learn the staff. We worked and worked. I tried many different methods. His learning took forever. It ended up that his parents told me that my patience with him where he was increased his self esteem and confidence in other areas. His words were "Miss Teresa never gives up on me."

So, please think before judging another teacher based on the outcomes you see at the piano. Sometimes there's more to it than that.

Posted By: TeresaTPT

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 04/30/17 06:12 PM

First of all, let me say that I, too, have taken students whose former teachers did a disservice to them, in my opinion. As an example, I had one young lady who had taken for 3 years who could not read the staff. Her teacher had given her the starting note at the beginning of the song, plus helpers when her hand position changed, and had her playing by finger numbers, which he had laboriously penciled in for her. She was so relieved when I told her I would not do that, but instead we would study the staff instead. She said she had begged her teacher to teach her the staff but he insisted on doing it his way.

That being said, I will also say that I do not think it is always fair to judge a previous teacher by the abilities of the students. I have been teaching for many years, and I have surrendered to the fact that not all students learn equally as easily.

Some kids are, in fact, forced to take lessons. When that is the case, it is my job to do the best I can with them. I have parents in my studio who look at music lessons as "brain exercise," which they indeed are, but the student has no interest in playing piano. I am up front with the parents about my view of the child's interest level, but ultimately I leave the decision to pursue piano to the parent.

I have some students who never, and I mean NEVER, practice. Those are probably the most frustrating because I end up going over and over the same things. I emphasize the need for practice to the child and to the parent, but ultimately the practice time is the responsibility of the parent. Again, I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

I do not judge myself on having the most skilled students. I do have some amazingly skilled students in fact. And I have some who just aren't.

I judge myself more on meeting the needs of each individual student and each family, whatever that is.

Case in point -- I had one young guy who just couldn't learn the staff. We worked and worked. I tried many different methods. His learning took forever. It ended up that his parents told me that my patience with him where he was increased his self esteem and confidence in other areas. His words were "Miss Teresa never gives up on me."

So, please think before judging another teacher based on the outcomes you see at the piano. Sometimes there's more to it than that.

Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 01:53 AM

Wonderfully said, Teresa. I was thinking about the very same students I have or had, that either were transfer disasters or new students who never practiced, or just didn't ever seem to grasp note reading or counting, no matter how many ways I attempted to teach them. However, they made some progress, although not to a level i had hoped for, but nevertheless, hopefully, while with me, they enjoyed lessons.

I could imagine another teacher inheriting one of the above students of mine, and thinking their prior teacher was inferior.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by dogperson
Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral both of which she believes need a sostenuto. There are other pieces where she has mentioned it previously,

I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™„ It won't be easy.

Debussy recorded Cathedral, and he clearly does NOT use it. Instead, he clearly holds down the sustain pedal for many, many measures, just as he noted, in the huge section mostly in C major.

Remember, the moment you used the sostenuto, you sacrifice both the full sustain AND the soft pedal.

I'm not saying it is never used, but watching the pedaling of famous pianists I've never seen anyone use it who uses the soft pedal a lot.

It would be much more useful if we had three feet.

I assume you aware that it was not until close to the end of the 19th century that it became standard on some grands...
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 02:48 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral both of which she believes need a sostenuto. There are other pieces where she has mentioned it previously,

I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™„ It won't be easy.

Debussy recorded Cathedral, and he clearly does NOT use it. Instead, he clearly holds down the sustain pedal for many, many measures, just as he noted, in the huge section mostly in C major.

Remember, the moment you used the sostenuto, you sacrifice both the full sustain AND the soft pedal.

I'm not saying it is never used, but watching the pedaling of famous pianists I've never seen anyone use it who uses the soft pedal a lot.

It would be much more useful if we had three feet.

I assume you aware that it was not until close to the end of the 19th century that it became standard on some grands...


Thanks Gary for the explanation, but just one question It does seem like you could use thie sostenuto in conjunction with one of the other pedals. Is my perception incorrect then? She uses the left foot for the sostenuto and soft pedal by placing the foot slightly horizontal.

Really I don't think I have much of a choice as my teacher is a strong proponent of its use. How I choose to play it outside of lessons is one thing, but I think in lessons it will be with the sostenuto, She is quite open generally to discussion, but I think this would be crossing the line.
Posted By: Tararex

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 03:01 AM

Originally Posted by prout

An ARCT, membership in an association, a masters degree in performance - none of these certificates qualifies a person to teach if they do not have the ability, or the knowledge to impart tension free technique in a manner to which the student responds.


Pedagogy - this is the missing link. That a piano teacher isn't a great performer means little in the end. It's what they are able pass on to the student that matters.

The absolutely worst college courses I've ever sat through were music theory based. Some of the most incompetent teachers I've ever met were music teachers. Usually they were excellent performers but lacked education in pedagogy or instructional systems. They simply assumed "I can play, I can teach", which does not work in the real world.

It's so frustrating. I've encountered advanced theory tests completely lacking educational competency. When a teacher expecting piano perfection hands out a test that would fail any accepted 101 level pedagogy methodology it makes the day extremely difficult.

(Excuse me, this question asks three objectives at the same time while these two contain no objective at all. Why is there no response area allotted for this entire page of questions? Do you realize that using a "7" size font is unacceptable? Asking for a "correct" response to be in incorrect form is negative teaching - why is it here? And so on and on...)
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 03:47 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral both of which she believes need a sostenuto. There are other pieces where she has mentioned it previously,

I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™„ It won't be easy.

Debussy recorded Cathedral, and he clearly does NOT use it. Instead, he clearly holds down the sustain pedal for many, many measures, just as he noted, in the huge section mostly in C major.

Remember, the moment you used the sostenuto, you sacrifice both the full sustain AND the soft pedal.

I'm not saying it is never used, but watching the pedaling of famous pianists I've never seen anyone use it who uses the soft pedal a lot.

It would be much more useful if we had three feet.

I assume you aware that it was not until close to the end of the 19th century that it became standard on some grands...

+1
In playing Debussy's music it is important to understand the music was concieved without a sostenuto pedal. The music and instructions from the composer should inform your use of the sustain pedal.

Some people make a big deal out of the tonal differences from Debussy's piano to a modern piano. If the sustain seems too long on a modern piano, sometimes half pedaling is a good answer.

By the way, I've heard some claim that near the end of his life Debussy experimented with the sostenuto and made some notes about his thoughts. If anyone reading believes this to be true, please point me in the direction of some historical documentation. It would be interesting to know more about this... if it's factually correct.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 03:50 AM

Originally Posted by Tararex
(Excuse me, this question asks three objectives at the same time while these two contain no objective at all.
Can you provide an example? Perhaps I have never looked at the types of tests you're talking about.
Posted By: hello my name is

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 04:53 AM

Originally Posted by TeresaTPT
She was so relieved when I told her I would not do that, but instead we would study the staff instead. She said she had begged her teacher to teach her the staff but he insisted on doing it his way.

That being said, I will also say that I do not think it is always fair to judge a previous teacher by the abilities of the students. I have been teaching for many years, and I have surrendered to the fact that not all students learn equally as easily.


Wow, I'm glad you got to teach the staff to her.

Also, agreed.
Posted By: Tararex

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 07:28 PM

Originally Posted by musicpassion
Originally Posted by Tararex
(Excuse me, this question asks three objectives at the same time while these two contain no objective at all.
Can you provide an example? Perhaps I have never looked at the types of tests you're talking about.


I completed a long response with examples to this. It decided to delete itself instead of posting. mad

Just as well, on second thought I'm not including actual questions as I don't wish to "out" anyone.

In a nutshell:

Multiple choice questions containing:
- Negative stems.
- Verbosity.
- Multiple objectives. (Find key, interval, Roman numeral)
- Trick questions.
- Back references to previous answers.

Completion questions with:
- No space/area for response.
- Cognitive mismatch with level being tested.

General:
- Tiny fonts.
- Unreadable diagrams.

"How to" guides are available from multiple respected sources. I wish music teachers would exercise a bit of due diligence and read one.


Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 08:50 PM

Originally Posted by dogperson
Regarding the Sostenuto pedal: It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I am working on rach's elegie and Debussy's Sunken Cathedral

You do realize that the great majority of students never make it far enough in piano literature to actually use the sostenuto pedal.

That being said, since I do teach advanced students, I think it's absolutely imperative for the teacher to know what it does. And I think it should be experimented with even if the composer didn't intend on using it. For example, I use the sostenuto pedal in Bach for a couple of spots that involve nonharmonic pedal points in the bass.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 08:54 PM

Originally Posted by Tararex
The absolutely worst college courses I've ever sat through were music theory based. Some of the most incompetent teachers I've ever met were music teachers. Usually they were excellent performers but lacked education in pedagogy or instructional systems. They simply assumed "I can play, I can teach", which does not work in the real world.

It's so frustrating. I've encountered advanced theory tests completely lacking educational competency. When a teacher expecting piano perfection hands out a test that would fail any accepted 101 level pedagogy methodology it makes the day extremely difficult.

In my experience, since I have degrees in other fields and worked in public education, I can tell you that music teachers are not the only ones who can't write tests. Some of the worst tests I've ever seen came from the grad school professors in the Education Department of my university.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 10:03 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

In my experience, since I have degrees in other fields and worked in public education, I can tell you that music teachers are not the only ones who can't write tests. Some of the worst tests I've ever seen came from the grad school professors in the Education Department of my university.


So true.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/01/17 11:24 PM

Originally Posted by dogperson

Thanks Gary for the explanation, but just one question It does seem like you could use thie sostenuto in conjunction with one of the other pedals. Is my perception incorrect then? She uses the left foot for the sostenuto and soft pedal by placing the foot slightly horizontal.

I've never seen that done and would not even think about it. For one thing it might put stress on those pedals, which are not made to be used with one foot.

You could use the sostenuto with the left foot and the sustain with the right foot. This would mean, for example, that you could catch a bit chord in the bass, then use the sustain to toggle on and off for something else going on in the treble.

For me it is just so hugely awkward. I think your teacher is really teaching against the grain here.
Quote

Really I don't think I have much of a choice as my teacher is a strong proponent of its use. How I choose to play it outside of lessons is one thing, but I think in lessons it will be with the sostenuto, She is quite open generally to discussion, but I think this would be crossing the line.

It won't hurt to get an idea of what is possible. Later you can decide for yourself what is practical.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 12:10 AM

Originally Posted by dogperson
Regarding the Sostenuto pedal:
It's interesting that my teacher's opinion is different from everyone else's here, and from what I can tell is much in the minority of musicians.She is a strong proponent of using the sostenuto pedal. I recently bought a vintage grand with a non-functioning sostenuto, And she wants me to try to get it fixed


Sostenuto is the pedal from purgatory.

Erard experimented with it as early as the 1840's, but it wasn't until the 1870's that Steinway patented the mechanism used today. Other makers waited out the patent, and introduced it in the 20th century if at all.

On pianos that have it, it's the last thing that anyone puts money into maintaining. So even when you find one, there's no guarantee it'll work right. A great many fine pianos don't have it to begin with.

Sostenuto is far from being a successful idea, but neither has it failed so thoroughly as to disappear. It lingers in limbo in the middle of the lyre.... ;-)

(The spell check function on this web site doesn't even accept it.....)


Posted By: hreichgott

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 01:15 PM

Originally Posted by TeresaTPT

So, please think before judging another teacher based on the outcomes you see at the piano. Sometimes there's more to it than that.


This should appear at the top of every thread in the teachers forum smile well said Teresa.
Posted By: hreichgott

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 01:26 PM

PS I use sostenuto in conjunction with the damper pedal all the time. You have to put down the sostenuto first and then start using the damper, otherwise the sostenuto will catch every note on the piano instead of just the ones you want. I don't especially like using all three pedals at the same time, but there occasionally are moments when there just is no better choice. Ravel's Menuet on the name of Haydn comes to mind.

With any pedaling choices, it's important to remember that historically pedals have varied a lot, and were never as standardized as they are today, both in the number of pedals and the exact function. If you're very interested in a particular composer or period it's wise to investigate what the pedals available to them were.
We can't always just imitate what they had available. (I've always wished for an una corda that would truly go down to only one string. And who has a janissary stop these days?) But some knowledge of the history really helps develop one's own interpretation.
Posted By: SonatainfSharp

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 04:29 PM

I wrote a piece of music that uses all three pedals at the same time...but I was 14 years old and trying to be "edgy". It didn't work out too well.
Posted By: bmbutler

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 06:34 PM

I've been away from the forum for a while, but this topic hits home to me. My community has teachers that use stickers on the keys, gloves on the hand (I can't even comprehend that) and all sorts of other tricks. Met a little girl recently who takes piano locally. I asked her what books she was using. (This child is about 6-7 years old). She said that she used to have 3 books, but now "Mr. " just teaches her a song without music. My entire county could probably hear me screaming on the inside. Our problem here is we have a school of music affiliated with a university. Many come out believing that since they have a bachelor's degree in music from this hallowed place that they can teach piano.

I have had my share of transfer students that had horrible habits and technique. My all time favorite story is the child who came for a meet and greet appointment to play for me and get to me and vice versa. She's playing and I'm hanging back not to get her nervous. I noticed something strange on her music, but I waited until she was finished to walk up and see what it was. Her former teacher would WRITE EVERY SINGLE NOTE NAME ABOVE EVERY SINGLE NOTE!! I couldn't believe it and this girl was in the Bastien 2 books! She couldn't read a single note and to make matters worse - mom played the piano and was quite good. I took her on, but told the mother in no uncertain terms that we were going to have to back up and get back to basics. The girl did pretty good for several months. She wanted to play a song that she was very interested in, but a bit above her. I told her okay, but we would need to work on it a while. After about two weeks, she comes in and all the letters have been written in (mom was the culprit all along). I took out my trusty pink eraser and made those letters disappear telling her we were not going back to old habits. She was not happy. Came back the next week, but still unhappy. Finally mom told me she was going to quit. I honestly did not argue it. You can't fix all problems especially when they start in the home (as is with most things in our culture.)

One other topic I'll mention is qualifications for teaching. I took privately for 11 years and have a bachelor's and master's degree in music with organ as my primary instrument. I will say (pat my back) that I am a darn good organist, but I'm a lousy teacher of it. Just not my thing for some reason. My best gifts lie in teaching piano. I did take a piano pedagogy class with Maurice Hinson of all people while getting my master's degree. It was the most boring class I ever sat through. I'm think we were going to teach some students, he would observe and give feedback and ideas. Nope. We spent the entire semester gathering teacher materials for a reference tool. Complete waste of time.
Posted By: marimorimo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 07:04 PM

On the topic of pedagogy, what do the teachers here think of writing in finger numbers?

During my first lesson with my current teacher, I was horrified when she started writing all the finger numbers into my sheet music (which had zero fingerings originally). She said, "If the student is having trouble playing, why not write down the finger numbers"? She wrote so fast I barely had time to protest, haha. One of my goals is to become a proficient sight-reader so I'd like to keep external aids to a minimum, but I have to admit her fingerings helped me a great deal to get the piece up and running. I asked her not to write in all the fingerings next time and now she only writes them in tricky places.

EDIT: In Japan I saw some "sheet music for adults" books that had BOTH note names and finger numbers for each note!
Posted By: Tararex

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 07:18 PM

Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

In my experience, since I have degrees in other fields and worked in public education, I can tell you that music teachers are not the only ones who can't write tests. Some of the worst tests I've ever seen came from the grad school professors in the Education Department of my university.


So true.


By no means did I mean to imply that only music teachers have this problem. I've taken and developed A LOT of on-line education and the very best university level on-line course I've ever participated in was a music theory course. I even downloaded its lesson structure to keep as a template for my own development.

As for public educators having the worst tests - no argument at all from me on that. But in my experience most public educators are average while most piano folk I've met are of superior intelligence. I expect better from them.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 07:24 PM

Originally Posted by marimorimo
On the topic of pedagogy, what do the teachers here think of writing in finger numbers?

There was a thread on this topic recently...

I think you should write as few fingerings as possible--only where there is a shift or stretch of hand positions, and maybe in spots where there are more than one fingering possibility. Obviously, if there is a scale passage, do you really need to write out 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5?? Maybe just where the thumbs play. Some teachers might advocate adding the number before and after the thumb.

If students read finger numbers instead of reading the intervals between notes or reading letter names, then that is not okay.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/02/17 08:07 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I think you should write as few fingerings as possible--... and maybe in spots where there are more than one fingering possibility.

If students read finger numbers instead of reading the intervals between notes or reading letter names, then that is not okay.


I agree that it's a major problem to use finger numbers as a substitute for the actual notation, but I also find that a lot of what I play has multiple fingering possibilities. In coming back to something I haven't played in a while, the finger numbers are a tremendous help in making sure I revive previous memories rather than accidentally trying to un-learn and re-learn. So, I number most of my charts, skipping only the most dead obvious parts.

Posted By: Marleigh

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 03:53 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman


Piano is a performance art. Recitals are fun. And to be honest, I feel sorry for your son. Imagine going through life afraid of getting up in front of an audience. My father would tell such a person to "stand up and be counted!" How will he be able to handle job interviews when they include four interviewers? (I've been to such job interviews.) How will he be able to react in a medical emergency, say in a bus when he's older, and he has to react with others present?



I couldn't disagree with this more. Playing an instrument is a personal experience, that we can decide to share or to keep for ourselves. Kids can perform many different places and get performance experience- church, school, parties, family functions, etc. Pieces can be chosen and perfected for these things just the same as for a recital. I think a lot of teachers forget that most of not all of their students will not go on to a conservatory or become professional musicians. Most people learn to play to learn a lifelong skill that is personally rewarding. And recitals aren't always fun, they can be extremely stressful and sometimes emotionally damaging. Some kids might have fun, but some don't. And some families just really don't have the resources or time or desire to do them.

My own kids did not participate in recitals, but did perform a lot, at least a couple of times a month. The only problem we ran into was after a few years when the kids ran into other kids at school who were taking lessons from the same teacher, and the other kids treated them like there was something wrong with them because they weren't playing in the recitals. That attitude was exactly what we were trying to avoid, but at least my kids got to the intermediate level in piano and still play sometimes and they enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜Š
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 06:05 AM

I'm grouping your children's experiences under the banner of recitals, for they were reciting for others. As for saying, "I think a lot of teachers forget that most of not all of their students will not go on to a conservatory or become professional musicians," this is not true at all. How can you forget something like this? Almost none of my students, mostly likely none, have taken that route. But that doesn't negate my basic point, which is that the recital is a learning experience for children. And that's why I recommended that that mother have her son play for a neighbor and work out some of his performance stress.

But ultimately, this is somewhat personal. I just don't find kids who can't hack a recital all that fun to work with. They don't have the right attitude towards life, shirking things that frighten them instead of problem solving and going for it. It IS like the family member who can't show up for Thanksgiving, as I wrote earlier.

Posted By: bennevis

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 12:58 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
I just don't find kids who can't hack a recital all that fun to work with. They don't have the right attitude towards life, shirking things that frighten them instead of problem solving and going for it. It IS like the family member who can't show up for Thanksgiving, as I wrote earlier.


I'm sorry for you. You really haven't shown any empathy (not sympathy, but empathy) at all for people who have a different viewpoint. Maybe you truly haven't any empathy, or don't know what it means......

I was one of those kids who "can't hack a recital". Luckily, all my four teachers regarded music and the piano as an educational experience, not a showbiz one, so the question never arose. They seemed to regard me as a decent student too. And I believe I have the right attitude towards life, because (amazingly, in your estimation), I actually got everything I wanted out of my education, with a piano diploma, and (non-music) university degrees which enabled me to pursue my career. My job is all about problem-solving, and overcoming obstacles - and also teaching people to do the same.

BTW, I never avoided anything that was in my interest. Showbiz is not in my interest, and I see no reason to get involved in it. However, I have been performing regularly now for several years because I want others to enjoy classical music (and maybe even get inspired to learn to play the piano), so that is in my interest, therefore I continue with it.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 06:19 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
I just don't find kids who can't hack a recital all that fun to work with. They don't have the right attitude towards life, shirking things that frighten them instead of problem solving and going for it.

Actually, one of my best students right now can't do recitals or competitions. He is severely introverted and taciturn, but he's fine during piano lessons. In fact, he's already playing intermediate repertoire quite well at age 8.

A fragrant flower alone in the valley will continue to give off wonderful scent, even if there's nobody there to smell it.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 09:25 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis


I was one of those kids who "can't hack a recital". Luckily, all my four teachers regarded music and the piano as an educational experience, not a showbiz one, so the question never arose. They seemed to regard me as a decent student too. And I believe I have the right attitude towards life, because (amazingly, in your estimation), I actually got everything I wanted out of my education, with a piano diploma, and (non-music) university degrees which enabled me to pursue my career. My job is all about problem-solving, and overcoming obstacles - and also teaching people to do the same.

BTW, I never avoided anything that was in my interest. Showbiz is not in my interest, and I see no reason to get involved in it. However, I have been performing regularly now for several years because I want others to enjoy classical music (and maybe even get inspired to learn to play the piano), so that is in my interest, therefore I continue with it.


You're confusing show biz with a recital. A recital is an educational experience. I'm sorry to hear you couldn't hack a recital when you were younger--it's hard to guess what your difficulty was--but happy that you are now performing regularly.

This is not a question of empathy. I don't empathize with parents who let their kids off the hook for simple things like playing a piece they've played for six to twelve weeks (depending on level), in front of other students doing the same thing. Just because a parent or teacher insists on a given result, which is carefully considered to begin with, doesn't mean they don't empathize with the nerves and stress. Rather, they know you need to work through stress and not cave in under pressure.

Do you know there are kids who can't raise their hands in class to ask or answer a question out of fear? To me, that's what a non-recital participant is like. Be strong, people. The road may be tough ahead and you may need every ounce of strength you've gained.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 10:18 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman

You're confusing show biz with a recital. A recital is an educational experience.

It's only 'educational' (and even that is open to debate - is it just ego-boosting for those who already have big egos?) if the kid has no fear of the situation - a totally artificial situation which would never occur in real life unless the kid chose to be a solo concert performer. That's completely different to, say, exams and assessments by teachers which all students will be subjected to, unless they are taken out of school and never attend any educational establishment.

Three of my four teachers have never given a solo recital in their lives. They've never even played any piece from memory in their lives. And they all have teaching diplomas, and were pretty good teachers.

Quote
I'm sorry to hear you couldn't hack a recital when you were younger--it's hard to guess what your difficulty was--

I was no different from many other students I knew. I knew my own mind, and was pretty confident in what I was good at, but hated being scrutinized in public, and "being on show" as a solo performer was the most anxiety-provoking (and totally unnecessary and pointless) situation for me. Note the word "performer" - I had walked up on stage in front of the whole school (about 2,000 students) lots of times to receive prizes (for art, music, chess and math) with nothing more than excitement, and enjoyed the whole process, from my name being called to shaking hands with the Headmaster to being handed my prize. But I wasn't performing - that was the difference.

BTW, there's a current thread in Pianist Corner (not to mention lots of previous threads there and in ABF) where confident adults with good jobs - including those that involve public speaking - admit that they suffer performance anxiety. If you really still believe that performance anxiety equals 'social anxiety disorder' (despite what I've already told you about myself and my job) which must be overcome to be successful as adults, have a read there.

Quote
This is not a question of empathy. I don't empathize with parents who let their kids off the hook for simple things like playing a piece they've played for six to twelve weeks (depending on level), in front of other students doing the same thing. Just because a parent or teacher insists on a given result, which is carefully considered to begin with, doesn't mean they don't empathize with the nerves and stress. Rather, they know you need to work through stress and not cave in under pressure.

There is good stress and there is bad stress. And unnecessary stress. I've attended music competitions where it was pretty evident that a few kids had been pressurized to take part.

Do you know what it is like for a kid to fall apart and be publicly humiliated in front of not just his parents and teacher, but also his peers? My job means I've seen the consequences when pushy parents force their kids into the performing limelight for which they are totally unsuited.

Quote
Do you know there are kids who can't raise their hands in class to ask or answer a question out of fear? To me, that's what a non-recital participant is like. Be strong, people. The road may be tough ahead and you may need every ounce of strength you've gained.

Yet again, you make spurious associations. Let me say it once again - the ability to perform on stage does not equate to the ability to function as a normal, confident individual.

BTW, the reverse of what I've already said is also true - outwardly confident showbiz performers on stage can also be the most unsocial (even anti-social) and unconfident people in everyday situations. They may merely have the gift of performing, and nothing more.

And yes, I've met some of them. Those that are on neuroleptic drugs, or in therapy....
Posted By: Marleigh

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/03/17 11:46 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
I'm grouping your children's experiences under the banner of recitals, for they were reciting for others. As for saying, "I think a lot of teachers forget that most of not all of their students will not go on to a conservatory or become professional musicians," this is not true at all. How can you forget something like this? Almost none of my students, mostly likely none, have taken that route. But that doesn't negate my basic point, which is that the recital is a learning experience for children. And that's why I recommended that that mother have her son play for a neighbor and work out some of his performance stress.

But ultimately, this is somewhat personal. I just don't find kids who can't hack a recital all that fun to work with. They don't have the right attitude towards life, shirking things that frighten them instead of problem solving and going for it. It IS like the family member who can't show up for Thanksgiving, as I wrote earlier.



Wow. This is exactly the attitude I wanted to avoid with my kids. There is nothing educational about a recital that can't just be taught to a student in other ways is just silly. And to imply that kids that don't want to participate are spineless frightened useless students not worthy of your time leaves me speechless.

My kids are both tremendously successful, well-rounded, confident, outgoing, and contributing members of society, so much so that sometimes I find it hard to believe they have accomplished what they have. Nor are shy in any way, and never were, and that was NOT the reason they didn't want to participate in recitals. They weren't interested because they just didn't want to. They felt that it was a lot of showboating for nothing. Just the same as they choose not to play football or be in the French club. And a piano recital is far from the only place that children can learn to be confident. It it was, what about all the people who don't play? Anyway, my daughter is a fashion designer in NYC, she makes high 6 figures, speaks in front of huge groups of people, and is 30 yo. She also is on the Leadership Advisory Board of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She's involved in helping obtain financial beneficiaries and support for all of their programs My son owns a construction company in WA and has around 25 employees. His company supports a lot of local youth programs. He's 25. And it anyone thinks we are well to do, so that's why they have done well, ha ha. I'd say e have teetered between upper poverty level, lower middle class all our lives. But I digress..

Saying that recitals are a required part of learning piano is like saying that you have to play football to be exercising properly. It's illogical, and there are way too many pianists out there that never played in one single piano recital their while life.

Also, my husband's family happens to have a few professional musicians in it, so my kids and myself know what REAL performing is all about. A performer ALWAYS has performance anxiety. I've been told that they would worry if they didn't, since they're feel they didn't care anymore. Most piano teachers will admit that recitals are a fantastic advertisement for their studio. I guess that's a lesson for everyone involved but not in the way you are implying....

And a GOOD TEACHER is someone who teaches students according to each students abilities, interests, support system, etc. It's not one size fit all. It's a Creative Art and not something written in stone. I wonder how many kids were scared for life by being forced to "perform" in recitals in this country? If a kid wants to fine, go for it. If not, there is no justification for putting them through that.

And why are you saying people are afraid to come over for Thanksgiving? Can't correlate that to this past at all. And seriously, who cares? Like my Grandma used to say, dinner is at 3:00. If you are late, you will get whatever is left over, if there are any leftovers. ๐Ÿด๐Ÿ˜ƒ
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 12:11 AM

"Saying that recitals are a required part of learning piano is like saying that you have to play football to be exercising properly."

What I'm saying is more like, "To really learn to play football, you would need to play a game with the other team present." Likewise, I feel playing at a recital is necessary. I do see kids who can't play two pieces as spineless and frightened, but I teach them anyways. They're worthy of my time, but they're not as much fun to teach, that's all.

"I wonder how many kids were scared for life by being forced to "perform" in recitals in this country? If a kid wants to fine, go for it. If not, there is no justification for putting them through that."

You're actually proving my point that they are spineless. How else could they be scared for life? Isn't that the definition of spineless?

Anyhow, I"m glad your kids are successful. Also recitals in your area may be radically different than those in mine. Something to consider. My students don't dress specially like on toddlers and tiaras or something like you folks are suggesting.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 12:58 AM

Plus, one more thing. Nowadays, parents of students think they can just underrate the teacher's authority and efforts. I pay a rental fee for these recitals, and preparation goes into making sure the venue, food, and organization are all right. Then parents just figure the recital is not necessary, (little Johnny complained of butterflies in his stomach) and they don't show up after you've spent weeks preparing their child musically and emotionally. To me, that is hubris. You should respect your teacher and do what they think is important, not what you in your limited view deem important.

If you were in a science class, you wouldn't just decide that labs aren't for you. It's the teacher who decides what the kids should learn. The parents should respect that.

As a piano teacher, I'm always having to be the humble one, bending to the students schedules. If they have a doctor's appointment, they will want to move the piano lesson around, not the reverse. Parents think that they are paying for a service and can then dictate how things are going to go. Well, I think that's entirely the wrong approach. An expert should be respected and admired. The parents should be very grateful anyone wants to help their child, especially since they hardly practice. If I had money from another source, those kids would be out the door.

I'm more in favor of the East European approach where you bring the teacher gifts and go out of your way to please them. And another thing, why should I be the one who provides all the motivation and momentum? The student should bring some excitement into the mix. That means being prepared, bringing your music, bringing a pencil, wearing clean socks, and practicing.
Posted By: Marleigh

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 01:59 AM

Maybe I should have used the word traumatized, since you aren't reading that sentence right. Scared, as in a scar, not as scare. And really, it's not up to a piano teacher to make those decisions about how other people raise their kids. You sound like you don't have kids of your own. My kids grew up in a couple of different states, but recitals are all the same, you are playing in front of teachers, peers and your parents. Dressing up really isn't where the issue is. And you still haven't started what is so important that they "learn" from a recital that they can't learn another way.

I'm actually relieved that I found good teachers for my kids. If I hadn't have been able to, I would have just skipped it. It was something I always wanted them to do, but I wouldn't have subjected them to damaging practices.

The topic of this post is bad teachers. Interesting.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 03:28 AM

Candywoman, the topic of this thread is "Time to vent about non-qualified teachers" and this topic was begun by a teacher, not any parent or student. In that context it makes no sense to talk about "doing what the teacher thinks is important" or that teacher "deciding what the kids should learn". It does make sense when there is a teacher who knows what he/she is doing, and does it. But not in this context. Given that such teachers exist, it is not wise to blindly follow any teacher or in fact anyone who decides to wear the hat of expertise or omniscience. There should be another thread for that - in fact, I think there is.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 03:51 AM

They learn many things. They learn how to overcome nerves and to do something that stretches them. They learn how to play in front of others, which can include many things such as dealing with sheet music flying off the piano if they failed to arrange it properly, or put it in a proper binder. They learn how to deal with unexpected things, for instance a furnace running louder than expected, a guest entering the hall at the wrong time. All the things your kids learned when they performed publicly, essentially. Sometimes a key on the piano can stick or they face people coughing. They learn how to increase their practicing before the recital and how to polish a piece. They often learn how to memorize, and memory can fail under pressure. They learn what sorts of pieces get what sort of audience response. Anyways, the list goes on.

If a student is well-prepared and has parents that help them, a recital is not usually a problem.



Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 04:34 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Be strong, people. The road may be tough ahead and you may need every ounce of strength you've gained.


And you as a teacher think that is the answer to people's problems? Gaining strength by just deciding to be strong? I cannot help wondering if you are serious with some of the things you write or if you just like to be provocative. In the 21st century that sort of attitude seems very strange for a professional who works with education.

Even if I personally can "be strong" and just act in whatever situation I encounter without being traumatized I can understand as a professional who has long worked with people (even if not as a teacher) that what is not that difficult for me is not always possible for everyone else. And the reasons are numerous, often better understood today with the advancement of human sciences. I think I'm wasting my time with you but I do hope students reading this thread don't take your posts too seriously and think they are a failure and might as well quit.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 04:49 AM

I am surprised by these opinions about recitals. Many of these are very dark, very angry viewpoints. I think it's worth asking yourselves if there are other factors underneath your piano recital thoughts. Sometimes rage and anger triggered by the pedestrian who just crossed the street in front of you has nothing to do with the pedestrian who just crossed the street in front of you.

Here's a couple of my thoughts about recitals:
I don't require my students to play in recitals. I also do not require my students to play from memory at my studio recitals. Most (over 90%) choose to play.

It can absolutely be a positive experience, and most often is in my studio. Our society tends to isolate, sometimes even encouraging people to hide who they are. I think studio recitals are an opportunity to share something you find meaningful (piano), and even to build community. For those situations where a piece doesn't go well, if the family and teacher can build acceptance and permission around the experience that too can be a positive experience.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:11 AM

I don't understand how any of what has appeared in the last few posts about recitals or parent attitudes has to do with poor quality teachers. The opening post is by a teacher, who has expressed concern about the students coming in from such teachers and the messes that are hard to undo. In that context especially, any advice going in the direction of blindly following authority figures who wear the mantle of expertise (mantles can be disguises) is ill advised.

There are other threads about problems with uncooperative parents and students, or perhaps one can be started again. But that is not the topic here.
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:16 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
I don't understand how any of what has appeared in the last few posts about recitals or parent attitudes has to do with poor quality teachers.
Threads often take on a life of their own. Nothing new about that.
Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:16 AM

The problem here is that the piano teacher really cannot know what kind of dark things the student is subjected to already. Peer bullying to the level of torture, abuse in the family, sorrow, mental problems or whatever that can be well hidden from outsiders. For the student the piano playing and lessons may be the one positive or normal thing in their life that helps them pull through. To make that into a measure of strength and character can take away that one thing. What you see as winning one's fears to play even if with some issues can actually be used against the student by people close to them. I know this is a dark scenario, but life can be really dark for some kids frown

So which one is more important in the end, the teacher's (who gets payed anyway) principles or the well being of the student?
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:20 AM

Originally Posted by outo
The problem here is that the piano teacher really cannot know what kind of dark things the student is subjected to already. Peer bullying to the level of torture, abuse in the family, sorrow, mental problems or whatever that can be well hidden from outsiders. For the student the piano playing and lessons may be the one positive or normal thing in their life that helps them pull through. To make that into a measure of strength and character can take away that one thing. What you see as winning one's fears to play even if with some issues can actually be used against the student by people close to them. I know this is a dark scenario, but life can be really dark for some kids frown
Well said, and I agree. The picture is a lot broader than just a piano recital. This is why I think it's better not to require recitals.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:24 AM

Originally Posted by musicpassion
Originally Posted by keystring
I don't understand how any of what has appeared in the last few posts about recitals or parent attitudes has to do with poor quality teachers.
Threads often take on a life of their own. Nothing new about that.

True. But it is an important topic.
In the very least ..... in a recent post the opinion was expressed that parents should be deferential to teachers as experts, not question anything, etc. In the CONTEXT of a thread that is about teachers ruining their students (the fact that this exists), which a subsequent good teacher might be able to turn around with a lot of effort ... that is shortsighted advice.

When the example of the science teacher came along I had an instant flashback of a grade 10 chemistry teacher who ignored safety rules, didn't know her material, and almost set her hair on fire as she dove to the floor with a shriek when the too large gas bubble exploded over her head. What if she had injured our children?
Posted By: musicpassion

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:50 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
When the example of the science teacher came along I had an instant flashback of a grade 10 chemistry teacher who ignored safety rules, didn't know her material, and almost set her hair on fire as she dove to the floor with a shriek when the too large gas bubble exploded over her head. What if she had injured our children?
Wow. That's bad on so many levels. Students don't need evidence their school teachers are actually, indeed, idiots.
Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:50 AM

@ keystring
You don't think it's part of the teacher's qualification to be able to be empathic? It is actually a skill that can be learned. My "natural" reaction to people's weaknesses is not that different to Candiewoman's, but to get any results in my professional and voluntary work required a more educated and rational approach.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:13 AM

Originally Posted by outo
@ keystring
You don't think it's part of the teacher's qualification to be able to be empathic? It is actually a skill that can be learned. My "natural" reaction to people's weaknesses is not that different to Candiewoman's, but to get any results in my professional and voluntary work required a more educated and rational approach.

I think that Candywoman was venting, and it's often the most caring people who vent the loudest, because they have bottled up so much. I'm stressing a couple of things. That the idea of poor quality teaching should not vanish under another barrage about poor student or parent behaviour - while these exist that's a separate thread - and that the idea of deference to the mantle of authority is not a good idea as an absolute, because of the existence of incompetence or lack of caring in every field.

When you do hire someone who is competent and responsible, you should give them your every cooperation. That is especially true in one-on-one teaching.

If you give that same cooperation to bad teaching, you can harm yourself more than if you taught yourself, because the effect is more concentrated.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:19 AM

Can strength be learned outo? If so, how?
Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:31 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by outo
@ keystring
You don't think it's part of the teacher's qualification to be able to be empathic? It is actually a skill that can be learned. My "natural" reaction to people's weaknesses is not that different to Candiewoman's, but to get any results in my professional and voluntary work required a more educated and rational approach.

I think that Candywoman was venting, and it's often the most caring people who vent the loudest, because they have bottled up so much. I'm stressing a couple of things. That the idea of poor quality teaching should not vanish under another barrage about poor student or parent behaviour - while these exist that's a separate thread - and that the idea of deference to the mantle of authority is not a good idea as an absolute, because of the existence of incompetence or lack of caring in every field.

When you do hire someone who is competent and responsible, you should give them your every cooperation. That is especially true in one-on-one teaching.

If you give that same cooperation to bad teaching, you can harm yourself more than if you taught yourself, because the effect is more concentrated.


That should be quite obvious, but what are the practical applications then? And can we always objectively classify teaching to good or bad? Isn't there middle ground where it's harder to tell, especially when results come slowly not only due to the methods used?
Also some students seem to "survive" less than ideal teaching better than others.
Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:38 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Can strength be learned outo? If so, how?

That is not a question to be answered without writing a book or at least an essay. First we must define strength (and especially the desired kind). Then we can discuss the prerequisites and elements behind it and what may be lacking in the individual cases. After that we can think of ways to work on them.

But to give a short answer imo opinion certain elements of strength can be learned in the right circumstances. But it can be a lengthy process that requires intensive methods.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 07:17 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Can strength be learned outo? If so, how?

Can you relate this to non-qualified (i.e. ineffective - not the sense of paper qualifications) teachers?
Posted By: Saranoya

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 07:54 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Can strength be learned outo? If so, how?

Can you relate this to non-qualified (i.e. ineffective - not the sense of paper qualifications) teachers?


Yes, on both counts.

I believe that 'strength', for a given definition of that term, can be taught.
I also believe that I personally have been deeply traumatized by some of the methods my parents used to instill 'strength' in me. Strength, like anything, can be taught well or badly. I don't believe in forcing people to do things that leave scars (whether physical or psychological) in the name of teaching them strength, or whatever else. Doing so would be bad teaching, indeed.

And yes, IMO, that includes forcing someone to do a recital against their will.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 08:08 AM

I am trying to get this back on topic, and especially stop it from being derailed back to the usual thing about bad parents and bad students. Nobody here should be on the defensive about their parenting or their student behaviour, because this thread is about poor quality TEACHING. If Candywoman wants to talk about "strength learning", then I would like to see this put in the context of bad teaching. Has she seen bad quality teaching that undermined a student's strength or confidence? Or why is this being brought up in THIS thread?

The same with recitals. In what way do recitals pertain to bad quality teaching, or incompetent teachers? (I could actually answer that, but would like to hear Candywoman's ideas since this was brought up.)
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 08:12 AM

This is an example of "spineless". It is an invertebrate.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 02:41 PM

Ok, the inch worm seems silly. Obviously "spineless" does not refer to biology and invertebrates - it's a metaphor. On the other hand, I am surprised to see such a term used in the context of the teaching profession, including if you are going from the side of educational psychology. And so I brought in the inch worm.

So let's talk about recitals, and let's keep this in the context of competent teaching.

A reason to opt out of recitals is if the teacher "teaches toward" performances in the sense of staying with only recital (or exam) pieces, polishing them to death, in order to look good through the students. Of course this may also be a good reason not to stay with such a teacher unless that teacher can teach comprehensively when not doing that.

If there is to be participation in a recital, the student should be well prepared by the teacher. Yes, parental support too in that preparation, and practice by the student - but it begins with the teacher who plans and directs it (and then needs cooperation). Yes, recitals can have impact on everyday life, "performing" (other things) in public - including bad experiences engendering long lasting anxiety.

My impression has always been that Candywoman teaches well, thoroughly, and with care. Her recitals are probably in these positive spheres. But that is not always the case, unfortunately.

Students may have legitimate reasons not to want to participate in recitals, and they may also have a wish to learn to PLAY the piano! To me the recital issue is a red herring.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 04:35 PM

keystring, you missed Flybear's post. "And don't get me started about teachers not listening to the need of the students ... I told every teacher when we first inquired that we are not interested in recitals and exams ( major test anxiety which tends to trigger migraines ) - if you want a student who loves to play, practices, is self driven and on the calm/ quiet side - we are your people ... if you are looking for a student that does recitals and exams - we are not a good fit ... Still .. most teacher tried to pressure my son into explaining why he doesn't want recitals and made him feel horrible for not wanting to try ( he was ashamed to admit that he gets so nauseated when stressed that he is scared to show up all over the keys - he was in tears when a teacher just ket insisting to tell them WHY no recitals ... they are FUN) ... "

This is when the thread went in another direction. I told her it wasn't a question of teachers not listening to the needs of students.

outo: your answer is typical of educators. I think it's better to say something in a paragraph even anecdotally, rather than say it would take a book to handle a subject and say nothing. Heck, give us something to chew on. The forum is in desperate need of life.

I think strength can be taught and people know what it is without defining it. For me, as a piano teacher, I teach strength by encouraging students to play in recitals. I had one student whose first recital didn't go well. He cried and went back to his seat. He happened not to play in any other recitals but continued with me for years. I liked the student and he went on with his life. Had his parents asked him to try again, it would have been a way for him to acquire more strength of character. I do think that since he never tried again, he missed a chance to develop his spine, and was therefore left more "spineless" than he otherwise would have been.

He did go on to complete a two year college program in music as a drummer, so I'm sure he later did have to perform in some context. He also came back to me to prepare for that program with a piano piece that he had to play at the audition. Then he went on to another degree. So all is well that ends well. He wasn't traumatized for the rest of his life, but could be said to have had one challenging experience when he was seven. For all you know, it may have been just that challenging experience that helped him gain the strength for the other performances ahead.

Tears do not negate the benefits of an experience. Parents nowadays are very afraid when they see tears, fearing the worst--trauma! But every time I've cried in my life, it's been a turning point and the underpinning of my current strength. Strength comes, in part, from adversity.

Saranoya, your strength and compassion today can be linked to the bad teaching you got in the past. Perhaps you could have done without that bad experience, but you wouldn't be the person you are to today without it.
Posted By: outo

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 05:33 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman

outo: your answer is typical of educators. I think it's better to say something in a paragraph even anecdotally, rather than say it would take a book to handle a subject and say nothing. Heck, give us something to chew on. The forum is in desperate need of life.


I don't consider myself an educator (I'd rather train animals), but I guess the reason why I answer the way I do is because my background in science just won't allow me to simplify complex matters to the level of "people know what something is without defining it". I don't see the world that way.

There are so many different ways to express strength and at the same time one can hide weaknesses behind a mask of "strenght". Are people who are subjected to abuse and can take it silently without objecting or trying to leave "strong" or "weak" in character? It depends on our point of view. Isn't a person who is able to torture other people strong too? But we hardly welcome such strenght. (BTW. I am not referring to your recitals as abuse, it's just an example).

The problem with *teaching* strength is the same as with anything meant to improve people's charachter: The results are very unpredictable. Sometimes physical punishment of children results in well behaving citizens, but in other cases it creates monsters. Parents deal with these matters with what knowledge and resources they have and have to live with the results. A teacher who meets the child once a week on the other hand does not have much knowledge so can hardly be the best judge on what might work well and what not. To dismiss the parents opinions in such matters is quite arrogant if you ask me. The parents may not know best, but the piano teacher may know even less...
Posted By: Saranoya

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:15 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Saranoya, your strength and compassion today can be linked to the bad teaching you got in the past. Perhaps you could have done without that bad experience, but you wouldn't be the person you are to today without it.


Perhaps you are right, Candywoman. It's a cliche to say that whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. But cliches only become that once large numbers of people recognize them as true.

That said, I wouldn't wish the first seventeen years of my life on my worst enemy. They may have made me into the person that I am today. They made me strong. People tell me every day how strong they think I am. But I refuse to believe there wasn't a more compassionate, less destructive way to achieve that goal than what I got.

I'd say that one bad recital experience at seven is probably extremely unlikely to leave permanent dents of any kind in a child's personality, by itself. But as a rule, I am strongly opposed to forcing people into things they do not want to do, because I know how potentially damaging it can be to find oneself in any situation that provokes both overwhelming fear, and a feeling of loss of control. I.e., I'm scared, and I can't do anything about it, because someone else decided for me that I had to do this, and how it was going to go.

Now, a teacher who explains to a student what the purpose of the recital is (and why that is important), gives them some control over (or at least input into) what's going to happen during that recital (what to play, sheet music or no, acceptable clothes to wear, ...), prepares them well, and ultimately leaves the decision of whether or not to participate to the student, may well be providing a valuable service to those who feel they might in some way benefit from it. I myself have rather crippling performance anxiety, but while my teacher never forces me to do so, I keep participating in the class recitals. I have a clear picture of why I'm choosing that path, and I believe the freedom to choose is a courtesy that should be extended to every student.

I teach as I preach, by the way. When imparting or evaluating any skill or content, I always make sure there are at least two (often multiple) ways students can choose to get it done. Depending on the subject, that might be an oral presentation for some, and a written report for others. They may choose to work in groups, or alone. They may apply the subject matter to a topic of their choice, or freely choose the specific practical application through which they wish to demonstrate their understanding of the material.

I think piano recitals, like any teaching tool, can be used in good and bad ways. I also think it's difficult, perhaps impossible, for a teacher to judge who it will be good or bad for with any degree of certainty. Factors outside the lesson may have a difficult-to-foresee impact. In that light, I really don't see anything wrong with allowing some students (like the boy with the migraines) to opt out of them, and to then teach and assess the skills the teacher was hoping to impart through recital participation in other ways.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:44 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman

I think strength can be taught and people know what it is without defining it. For me, as a piano teacher, I teach strength by encouraging students to play in recitals. I had one student whose first recital didn't go well. He cried and went back to his seat.

I'm going to push back.

Did this student play from memory? Do you push your students to perform from memory at recitals?

Are your students prepared so that they can still have a positive experience even if things go wrong?

How many times do your students have negative experiences performing?

You are linking negative feelings about playing in public with something that almost sounds like a moral weakness.

I'm being as tactful as I can be, because frankly your post made me furious.

Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:49 PM

Originally Posted by Saranoya

I'd say that one bad recital experience at seven is probably extremely unlikely to leave permanent dents of any kind in a child's personality, by itself.

I'd say you are 100% wrong.

The best adult student I've ever worked with, someone who studied with me for decades, had a horrible experience in a recital. Her aunt was a piano teacher, and she was forced to play in a recital. Her memory faltered, she felt humiliated, she quit piano, and she did not come back to it for more than two decades.

My aunt was forced to play in a recital by her mother, my grandmother, my teacher. She had a memory lapse and never wanted to play in front of people again.

I mostly don't post here any more because of the incredibly stupid comments I see in this forum, so I won't say more.

But the stuff I'm seeing in this thread is stupid beyond belief.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 06:52 PM

Final word: I got migraine headaches before performing and once threw up for 24 hours before a major recital. That recital was "successful" in that I played very well.

It did not give me a stronger spine. It did not strengthen my character. The experience did nothing to get to the root of the problem, which was this:

I was scared out of my mind when playing FROM MEMORY.

I'd be glad to explain why this happened, and how I fixed it, but it was not through "spine strengthening".
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 07:03 PM

Originally Posted by Saranoya

I believe that 'strength', for a given definition of that term, can be taught.

There is a cliche that says:

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

Well, there are some people who are still alive who are so damaged by stupidity and cruelty that I wonder if it is always worth being alive.
Quote

I also believe that I personally have been deeply traumatized by some of the methods my parents used to instill 'strength' in me. Strength, like anything, can be taught well or badly. I don't believe in forcing people to do things that leave scars (whether physical or psychological) in the name of teaching them strength, or whatever else. Doing so would be bad teaching, indeed.

And yes, IMO, that includes forcing someone to do a recital against their will.

I have NEVER forced anyone of any age to perform, under any conditions. Most of my students so play somewhere, and I encourage everyone to share what they have learned.

But only when they feel ready.

There is really a pretty rational way to prepare people.

1. Play something for one other person, a friend, a parent, a family member.
2. Play for a slightly larger group, several family members, several friends.
3. Move from #2 to playing several times WITH MUSIC in various situations.
4. Make sure you have at least five very positive experiences playing on front of people before you even THINK about doing it without music.
5. Playing from memory is a tricky process and needs to be sort of "pressure checked" in lessons by starting from various starting points, from memory.
6. The teacher should make sure that it is MORE difficult to get through something in lessons than in front of many people. This happens by making what is asked for in lessons more demanding, more difficult. An example is expecting something to be played, from memory, from several different starting points, at random, until it is all rock-solid.

There is more.

I have never once had a student report to me that he/she had a traumatic experience playing something in public, not ONCE, unless such a student volunteered for such an experience or was forced into one against my recommendation.

Bad experiences happen because of a combination of unreasonable expectations and insufficient preparation. But by the time any of us have several such bad experiences, the road to permanent failure is just about paved for good.

Posted By: Saranoya

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 07:24 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Saranoya

I'd say that one bad recital experience at seven is probably extremely unlikely to leave permanent dents of any kind in a child's personality, by itself.

I'd say you are 100% wrong.


Well, fair enough. I stand corrected, for now, on the "probably extremely unlikely to leave permanent dents" thing. I do wonder what kind of support (or rather, lack of support), and / or other things going wrong, turned one bad recital experience into a lifelong fear of / adverse reaction to performing in public, for the people that you wrote about. Perhaps, there is a lesson there for teachers who want to know how to best handle a recital that's gone wrong in spite of everyone's best efforts to prepare.

With that out of the way, I strongly suspect you and I essentially agree on most counts, regarding the issue of recitals.
Posted By: Saranoya

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 07:58 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

There is a cliche that says:

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

Well, there are some people who are still alive who are so damaged by stupidity and cruelty that I wonder if it is always worth being alive.


I do not want to derail the thread from what you said in the rest of this post, about how to prepare students for public performances in order to avoid potentially damaging experiences. I think that list could be very helpful to some people (at least as food for thought, if nothing else). But I do want to say this: I agree wholeheartedly with the above. Cliches always have a ring of truth to them, but they're never entirely accurate. If they were unassailably correct, or nearly so (any good scientist must allow for the possibility that a 'known truth' could be proven wrong at any time), we'd just call them facts.

I've met some of the people you're referring to, who hadn't (and perhaps won't ever have) fully recovered from the effects of unspeakable cruelty, both physical and psychological. There are times when it truly is appropriate to wonder whether it wouldn't be more humane for a person to die. I don't think, though, that a bad recital experience, even if it's due to bad teaching (in the absence of other traumatizing factors in that person's life) will ever rise to that level.
Posted By: Midlife_Piano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 08:54 PM

I was not going to respond about "non-qualified teachers" until this thread is turning into "recital" issues. As an adult student who participates recitals regularly, I have seen some traumatizing performances happening in front of me. I remember thinking: OMG, if this happens to me, I probably would never play the piano again. So far to my best knowledge, these individuals are all still playing and performing.

I want to point out one thing - preparation for recitals require two major parts: 1. Learning the music 2. Mental and psychological preparation. These two are equally important but most teachers are only focusing on #1 with students. Preparation for #2 is more difficult because each student is different, and most piano teachers are not trained to teach this in music school or conservatory. It took me 2-3 bad performances to realize that learning a piece really well and performing the piece in public (and look confident and at ease) are two completely different things.

In my opinion, a really good teacher can slowly turn a student who was against recitals into doing it (and even enjoying it) without "forcing" the student. I have seen that happening to people around me (and myself). Most of this part is actually not related to music. My teacher used to make ALL students to the recital even though some of them opt out. His statement is: you are a piano student and you have spent so much time learning these pieces. I respect your choice to opt out, but part of the learning experience is watch other students and support them as a listener. Some are great and some are not but that's OK too. We are all in this together. I get this "lecture" all the time - I am still nervous before each performance but knowing my teacher is there with all of us makes a lot of difference to me.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 10:52 PM


Hmmm.... Does it have to be a great big potentially traumatic *Recital* or nothing? Could you put together a few smaller less formal events? Call it a piano party, have just a few students, a mix of those eager to play for others and the more shy types. Let them play when they feel like it. Let it be OK to just listen. Might that work as a stepping stone towards doing recitals?

Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 11:03 PM

Gary, you know me better than that. I don't force anybody to do anything. Ultimately, if you're really in fear, remember the parent drives the child to the recital, not me. That's what I don't like about this forum. People don't assume the best in one another. And the students don't have to memorize anything, or wear special clothes. And they all do very well, some making some mistakes more than another, but everyone partaking of the goodies afterwards. It's a positive experience, hence recitals are fun.

Posted By: malkin

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/04/17 11:30 PM

Originally Posted by Midlife_Piano

...I want to point out one thing - preparation for recitals require two major parts: 1. Learning the music 2. Mental and psychological preparation.


#2 also needs to include learning how to feel ok after whatever the performance was like.

Posted By: Midlife_Piano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 02:52 AM

Hi Malkin,

Absolutely. My teacher keeps saying: it's OK if the performance is not as good as you would like. You are going to play some wrong notes or even memory slips. However, making mistakes is a good way to learn. Before a major recital, he would call in 1-2 students during lessons so we can practice playing for audience and hearing each other's piece.

My teacher believes students can learn a lot from hearing other people's performance - getting motivated, being inspired, and more. Over the years we students all get to know each other ( and parents), and witness each other's progress. It's quite amazing; much more than the 'recital' itself.
Posted By: AprilE

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 04:02 AM

My purpose in taking piano lessons is to learn piano, not to develop strength. I would expect a teacher of my children to have a goal of teaching them to play piano and further their love of piano. If I discovered that their goal was also to develop strength and/or character in my children, I'd get that straight or find another teacher. The idea of a piano teacher taking on such a role is, to my mind, arrogant and misguided, and simply boggles my mind.
Posted By: Groove On

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 05:02 AM

I think it's great when teachers like Candywoman try to teach life lessons through the subject they teach. Some of the best teachers I've had in my life were like that. But I think it's important for the teacher to be upfront about it (and in my experience most teachers who teach this way are VERY upfront about it).

On the subject of non-qualified teachers, I think it's a sign when the teacher is too much of a generalist, a jack of all trades and is not clear about where they stand in terms of their method and approach to teaching. This is anecdotal - but I met a lot of teachers during my search and it seems like the ones with the most successful students were also very clear about who they are as teachers, what they stood for, and how they went about teaching piano/music. I knew right away (and it seemed so did their students) exactly what kind of a ride they were in for. It makes life so much easier on both sides of the fence. Even if there is some dissonance in the personalities - there is still the likelihood of a good match.

In contrast to the generalists who just listed out what they teach it was very refreshing to hear "I focus on classical repertoire so they can play anything" or "I make sure all my students develop their ears" or "they may not play all their lives but I make sure they will enjoy music all of their life" or "they need to read so that even when they've moved on they can still explore music". These were all hints that I might not get the perfect teacher that I wanted, but that I was going to get a good education in their particular approach.

My two current teachers are extremely opinionated and are constantly in discussion about how to do things - that dynamic is many times just as enlightening as the lessons themselves!

I still remember two things when we first met - my classical teacher said, "I teach repertoire, that's how I teach music, directly in the pieces" and my jazz teacher going on and on about teaching "sound before symbol". I knew right away I was in for an enlightening ride. And they both were up front that playing in public was a big part of their approach. (though for the record, performing in public isn't a significant issue for me).
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 12:20 PM

I have never "required" my students to perform at recital, but 90% do.

The school I teach at after hours, plus several of my homeschool students, are in programs that require lots of memorization, concluding with a senior thesis and defense in order to graduate high school.

They do recitations in chapel, numerous class performances, and are expected to present working science projects, book reports in costume, and read out loud in class, often.

Now and then, I get a nervous student.

In fact, this fall, I had a new girl, new to piano and the school, who was terribly nervous for the Christmas recital. Her dad told me that she had cried at a martial arts test, and a dance show. She asked TONS of questions and I patiently worked with her, and talked through everything. I told her that I still get nervous because I am NOT a performer, and that she would hear me make mistakes, because people do make mistakes. But, we are sharing our music with each other, and then, we celebrate!

She did just fine, and no tears.
smile

For the spring recital, she met it head on, and owned the stage. She had grown so much in confidence and, yes, strength, that I even shared her story privately with the head of school.

He responded that he has heard that same story so many times over his decades of teaching- seeing students gain confidence from the support of others, and discovering inner strength.

Now, I am not taking full responsibility for helping this girl blossom. But, her parents give me a good bit of credit, and we have built a good relationship.

I had another new girl this semester, who DOES NOT HAVE A PIANO, who only practiced with me, who balked at walking up to the piano at recital and did not play.

Her mom shared that she cried later at missed opportunities. She went to grandma's house later and played for her family, and wants to continue with piano, and BUY a piano this summer.

If she had not come to recital, to listen to her peers, to hear mistakes, to share in the music, to see the encouragement from others, she would have missed out.

For my family,
my daughter was very fearful of that senior thesis. But now, she attributes some of her success to what she learned during that process-
study and show thyself approved.
Yes, you can do it.
Yes, it is hard work.
But, you are not alone.

I also let them choose music that they like- that gets that little smile of ,YES, this is MY music.


Perhaps my perspective is clouded by so many years with this teaching of, "a good man speaking well" as the goal for graduates, but is has worked.

I tell my students to, "keep on going, (playing) no matter what."

I also tell my students that I am teaching them the language of music, and developing wrinkles in their brain from learning so much! That helping them learn to scan their music, use what they know, reading directions, listening, balance, etc...helps them in other subjects.

And we give and share many gifts with each other.

A recital (performance, show, presentation, big game, etc) is not a boulder in the path that must be moved out of the way so the student has nothing to overcome and a smooth path. There are a few extra steps to climb and new skills to acquire, and we do it together to continue on our journey.

Hope that helps explain my ideas.

Posted By: Midlife_Piano

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 04:02 PM

Well said, missbelle.

What you said is very much like my teacher's philosophy. In terms of recitals, many people probably tend to avoid them for all reasons we can think of. I am glad my teacher encouraged me and tricked me into doing it. Yes sharing music with other students is actually part of learning. Some parents of my teacher's students actually came to me and told me I inspired their son/daughter to practice more. I guess an old man who has to work full time, finds time to practice, and also plays in a recital has impacts on some children too.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 05:41 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
keystring, you missed Flybear's post. .....

This is when the thread went in another direction. I told her it wasn't a question of teachers not listening to the needs of students.


I've caught up to Flybear's post. She (?) says she has no background in music. The criteria in the post include whether a teacher has a keyboard or nice instrument, and how well the teacher can play. If the keyboard is a keyboard and not even a digital piano, that is pertinent. How well a teacher can play is a common criterion, and mostly a wrong one. First, because a wily candidate can dash off some fancy sounding simple chords and sound impressive to the untrained ear. Secondly because many a concert pianists hasn't a clue how to teach beginners. The important point being "How well does this person TEACH?" as opposed to nice instrument or impressive playing. Obviously if s/he can't even sight read simple music, unless it's an elderly teacher crippled with arthritis, that's not a good sign.

Ok, so you were responding to Flybear. Plus, the recital attitude cited a fear-based reasoning, which is what seemed to in part trigger your response. But it did go off track and stay off track, and never got back to "non-qualified teachers" - it went back to parents and students, and also the value-laden term "spineless".

Staying on-topic for a moment; if this parent's child already has those reactions, it suggests earlier experiences with recitals maybe with a first teacher, not done well, and thus going right under the topic of this title.
-----------------------------
In thinking about this issue: The purpose of learning to play an instrument, is to learn to play the instrument. You need to acquire a certain degree of technique which is the combination of using your body on the instrument and understanding the instrument, an understanding of music, being able to read, and a kind of "applied theory" (when you play a V7-I chord as a cadence, with the feel of a cadence, that is applied theory - when you can read the notes - or are aware of a melody and accompaniment etc.). You do NOT need performing in front of others, in order to learn to play the instrument.
===============
This gets into tricky waters. The thread was a teacher-to-teacher thread. But here it's teacher-parent, with the issue of parents defining goals when the teacher has the expertise. If you are a competent teacher then you will know what skills must be taught in what order, what practice activities the child must do at home, and what repertoire is suitable for this growth. A parent should not interfere with this. But the issue you're engaged in goes toward value systems, and forming character, which is beyond teaching music per se. The PARENT has a role in this, and this isn't really in the teacher's prerogative. At best, there is a collaboration or meeting of minds. It is a very fuzzy area.

The problem is that these are all generalizations. In an individual case you will probably adjust to the individual and all the generalizations get thrown out the window.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 05:46 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
... I don't force anybody to do anything. Ultimately, .... That's what I don't like about this forum. People don't assume the best in one another. And the students don't have to memorize anything, or wear special clothes. And they all do very well, some making some mistakes more than another, but everyone partaking of the goodies afterwards. It's a positive experience, hence recitals are fun.

Cw, I think a large part of the problem is the tone you often adopt on the forum, which gives an impression. When you refer to students and/or their parents as "spineless" - talk of "letting off the hook" - these are all value laden statements. These is a lot of emotion at times, and it gets in the way and also confuses.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 05:48 PM

Candywoman, would you care to address these practical things?
Originally Posted by keystring

So let's talk about recitals, and let's keep this in the context of competent teaching.

A reason to opt out of recitals is if the teacher "teaches toward" performances in the sense of staying with only recital (or exam) pieces, polishing them to death, in order to look good through the students. Of course this may also be a good reason not to stay with such a teacher unless that teacher can teach comprehensively when not doing that.

If there is to be participation in a recital, the student should be well prepared by the teacher. Yes, parental support too in that preparation, and practice by the student - but it begins with the teacher who plans and directs it (and then needs cooperation). Yes, recitals can have impact on everyday life, "performing" (other things) in public - including bad experiences engendering long lasting anxiety.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 06:06 PM

This post is completely amazing to me! Wow. First of all, the minute you meet a piano teacher, their very being, their essence is already affecting your child. You would probably be happy with a kind teacher. Say she also made a few jokes and got your child laughing, would you then say, "how arrogant of that teacher to try to affect my child's mood or ability to see life in a lighter vein!"

Teaching is all encompassing. If a child comes to me crying about something that happened at school, or at home, I have to use the resources at my disposal to listen and help. Or would you have me phone you first, and ask, "Can I teach your child something non-piano related? He's sitting here crying about being bullied. Do you want to pick him up? I'm afraid I might guide him incorrectly."

The teacher stands in place of the parent when the student is on their turf. For instance, if a plane were to land on my house, I'd risk my life for your child. If they became ill, and couldn't breathe, I'd call 911 and try to save your child. And I'm definitely going to help them gain strength in their interactions with others, and me. If they assert something like, "I don't like the Sonatina," I complement them for being assertive. I ask them to tell me what they practiced most so that I'm not emphasizing what they didn't do.

I bet if I asked your piano teacher what she's trying to improve in you that's non-piano related, I would get an answer for sure. I would love to talk to her.

Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 06:10 PM

keystring, as to your last question, I don't quite understand it. I think that anything beyond twelve weeks on a piece might be too much time spent on a piece. So I doubt I would end up working a piece to death. I do believe in good preparation.

I'm leaving this thread by the way. Elvis has left the building!
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 07:18 PM

Originally Posted by Saranoya
I do wonder what kind of support (or rather, lack of support), and / or other things going wrong, turned one bad recital experience into a lifelong fear of / adverse reaction to performing in public, for the people that you wrote about. Perhaps, there is a lesson there for teachers who want to know how to best handle a recital that's gone wrong in spite of everyone's best efforts to prepare.

1. Introversion: People who are quite introverted take any kind of public humiliation much harder.

2. Horrible early experience: If you have played in public a dozen times with good outcomes, it may not be hard to overcome one bad experience. If your first really bad experience is the first time you try to play in front of people, or even something like the 2nd or 3rd time, that's very different.

3. Being manipulated by adults: This is especially painful for children. "Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. You will be fine."

When a teacher say, "Trust me, you'll be fine. You'll be a little nervous, but afterwards you will feel good about it," and then the experience "breaks bad", it's not rocket science to figure out this does not help children trust adults, in general.

With that out of the way, I strongly suspect you and I essentially agree on most counts, regarding the issue of recitals.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 07:25 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Gary, you know me better than that. I don't force anybody to do anything. Ultimately, if you're really in fear, remember the parent drives the child to the recital, not me. That's what I don't like about this forum. People don't assume the best in one another. And the students don't have to memorize anything, or wear special clothes. And they all do very well, some making some mistakes more than another, but everyone partaking of the goodies afterwards. It's a positive experience, hence recitals are fun.

Fair enough. I could not remember your policy re memorization, so the fact that students are free to play with music is a very good thing. Most of the really traumatic experiences I've heard about have to do with playing from memory and not being carefully prepared as to how to do it. (This is my story, by the way.)
Posted By: keystring

Re: Time to vent about non-qualified teachers! - 05/05/17 07:43 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
keystring, as to your last question, I don't quite understand it. I think that anything beyond twelve weeks on a piece might be too much time spent on a piece. So I doubt I would end up working a piece to death. I do believe in good preparation.

Again, the topic is "non-qualified teachers". I was addressing some of the things that get done by some teachers (or "teachers"). Since you have been on PW for a long time, surely you have seen some of the things that go on, so my question should not be that difficult to understand. wink Again, I'm trying to bring the topic back on track, because this issue matters a great deal.
© 2017 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums