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#2144151 09/04/13 05:09 PM
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I turn up at the usual time for my lesson 7.30pm and was informed that as from next week, my lessons will be at 7pm because my teacher has a new student who cannot make 7pm so they have put me at 7pm and the new student at 7.30.

I can accommodate the new time but the point is they should have asked me rather than tell me. That is not professional.

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definitely agree this is not very considerate


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I also did not have a good lesson because I had worked very hard on one of my exam pieces over summer on my own and got all the notes right. When I played it back to my teacher she said anyone can play the right notes and it will sound good but I need to pay more attention to the phrasing and I am lifting my hands off the keys too soon, instead of holdig the hands down and moving fingers. I did not know that was what I had to do. I am not experienced enough in reading music to know. She said playing the piece as I played it sounded nice to anyone who does not know music or is not following the score whilst I play but this is an exam piece and should be played to exam standard which I was not doing. She then demonstrated playing the piece how it should be played and it sounded nicer. I then had a theory book which I borrowed from the library because if I pass this exam, the next exam will require theory exam and my teacher said I really ought to get the Grade 5 theory book, not any old theory book from the library. She said since I am doing ABRSM and will be taught theory Grade 5 for ABRSM then I should be looking at the right book for the exam.

In my mind, theory is theory and it should not matter what book I look at.


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Was it your teacher who moved your schedule around or a music school at which she works? If the former, then that's very unprofessional and it may just be your description of her, but she sounds insincere and not like the kind of person I would pay to bother studying music under. Regardless of whether it was her or her employer (i.e. a music school), she should be very apologetic about the re-scheduling.

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Originally Posted by adultpianist
In my mind, theory is theory and it should not matter what book I look at.


You are right, theoretically speaking.



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Originally Posted by adultpianist
I also did not have a good lesson because I had worked very hard on one of my exam pieces over summer on my own and got all the notes right. When I played it back to my teacher she said anyone can play the right notes and it will sound good but I need to pay more attention to the phrasing and I am lifting my hands off the keys too soon, instead of holdig the hands down and moving fingers. I did not know that was what I had to do. I am not experienced enough in reading music to know. She said playing the piece as I played it sounded nice to anyone who does not know music or is not following the score whilst I play but this is an exam piece and should be played to exam standard which I was not doing. She then demonstrated playing the piece how it should be played and it sounded nicer.


It's good that your teacher pointed it out to you right? It's good to learn a piece on your own and come to the lesson prepared. Then the teacher just needs to concentrate on helping you play it more musically instead of working on fingering, muscle memorying, etc, which you can usually work out yourself.


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You can take or leave any of my comments.

The change of time is annoying. It may be in part based on some old paper work where you stated your preference as to times. Sometimes teachers are put into difficult situations. Hopefully, she at least apologized.

As for the book, the way I see it, she is trying to save you time (which is a good thing). Music theory is a huge topic, and another book may be more advanced or more basic than the exam requires. The appropriate level of book is a better tool to use.

The lesson actually sounds pretty good. The teacher is there to teach, the student there to learn. I wish I could justify the cost of piano lessons, but I can not. At grade 4 on up, the correct notes are almost taken for granted. The dynamics, phrasing, voicing, become more of the emphasis. It is in large part what separates a beginner from a more intermediate pianist. A beginner might be able to learn the correct notes of a higher level piece by brute force methods. However, it is a rare beginner that can also pick up the the subtle phrasing, and dynamics that come with experience and good teaching.

I can tell a story: a relative did youth piano competitions. The kid was pretty good, though he did not have the passion for practice. At the early competitions, it was rather obvious, who the better pianists were, they got the notes correct. After a couple of years, the bar was higher. Every kid pianist got the notes correct. The judging was on phrasing, dynamics, musicianship.

After one such outing, the teacher suggested the family invest in a grand piano if the child wanted to continue in competitions. The family balked at that idea, because they did not have the room for a big piano even if they wanted to spend the money, and that was the end of the road for competitions.

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I think it sounds like a good lesson too.
You gained a bunch of new stuff from your teacher.


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Regarding the first question: it is highly rude (and unprofessional) to switch your time without asking you.

Regarding your second question: on this one, the teacher is right. If the book is different, you might be learning different theory than what is required for the exam. Take, for example, math. If you went out and bought an algebra book, but needed a calculus book, you won't be prepared for the exam. Similar idea here.


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Originally Posted by Derulux
Regarding the first question: it is highly rude (and unprofessional) to switch your time without asking you.

Regarding your second question: on this one, the teacher is right. If the book is different, you might be learning different theory than what is required for the exam. Take, for example, math. If you went out and bought an algebra book, but needed a calculus book, you won't be prepared for the exam. Similar idea here.


Yes it was rude but my job is flexible and they did say at the school that the advantage to me is that I start my lesson earlier and I get home earlier afterwards. I told them I will simply have to start work earlier to finish earlier and they said is that ok? I said I dont really have a lot of choice about it. If I had a job with fixed hours say, 9 - 5 then it would be impossible, but they did not know what my working hours are like. They did not bother to check first before telling me I would be doing a 7pm slot from now on frown

As for my piano playing. I agree that I was not playing up to exam standard and if I had sat the exam playing as I was playing it would not have got me very far. Yes I was hitting all the correct notes but to pass an exam its a little more than simply hitting right notes.

There is more to this piano playing malarkey than meets the eye.

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Yeah, I had a similar experience with "correctly playing all the notes".

In my case, it was one of the first baroque pieces I learned (Bach Allemande in G minor). After self-study I thought I played it very well, but my teacher at the time told me that I performed the piece as if Mozart had written it -- instead of Bach -- that is, in completely the wrong style!

My teacher then started to annotate the music, adding where pauses should be inserted; which notes should be played connected vs. disconnected; various (unwritten) dynamics to be observed; how to interpret certain phrases, etc., etc., etc. None of these were present on the original score!

By the time we were done, it seemed like I was playing a completely different piece, even though all the notes were the same!

There was no way I could've known how to correctly play the piece on my own. There is a "common practice" for each style/period of music that's unwritten; they are "assumed" to be known by musicians performing them.

Some teachers do not know or do not care to teach students about all this. So seems like you have a good teacher!


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Originally Posted by peekay
Yeah, I had a similar experience with "correctly playing all the notes".

In my case, it was one of the first baroque pieces I learned (Bach Allemande in G minor). After self-study I thought I played it very well, but my teacher at the time told me that I performed the piece as if Mozart had written it -- instead of Bach -- that is, in completely the wrong style!

My teacher then started to annotate the music, adding where pauses should be inserted; which notes should be played connected vs. disconnected; various (unwritten) dynamics to be observed; how to interpret certain phrases, etc., etc., etc. None of these were present on the original score!

By the time we were done, it seemed like I was playing a completely different piece, even though all the notes were the same!

There was no way I could've known how to correctly play the piece on my own. There is a "common practice" for each style/period of music that's unwritten; they are "assumed" to be known by musicians performing them.

Some teachers do not know or do not care to teach students about all this. So seems like you have a good teacher!


yes and the only reason I played it wrong was because I had nobody to guide me as we were on a summer break. At least I got all the notes right if nothing else, but I desperately want to get to the stage where I do not need to be guided and can see and play how the piece should be played and hold down my hands for as long as they need to be held down. My teacher was a beginner once upon a time and if she can look at a score and recognise this then why can't I? She only started learning to play the piano when she was 19 and she is younger than me and I am 50 so it goes to show that some people learn faster than others.

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Well, to an extent, none of us will ever get to a stage where we can't be further guided -- and I say that as a good thing!

You might enjoy watching these two excepts on YouTube, with Daniel Barenboim giving a Beethoven masterclass to international pianists Lang Lang, David Kadouch, and Jonathan Biss.

In Part 1, we see Lang Lang playing the first movement to Appassionata "on his own":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yslruo1WgEY

In Part 2, we see although Lang Lang got "all the notes" right, Barenboim took apart his playing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42BItJ-vpSA

(Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM_rW7SSV8g)

Keep in mind, at that time Lang Lang was already considered one of the top pianists in the world, having won numerous competitions and was playing sold out concerts with major orchestras world-wide.

Yet he's still learning exactly like you and I. So, there's no end, and that means there's no hurry. The important part is to keep on learning and to enjoy the journey.

Last edited by peekay; 09/05/13 08:39 AM. Reason: added another link for reference

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Originally Posted by adultpianist
Originally Posted by Derulux
Regarding the first question: it is highly rude (and unprofessional) to switch your time without asking you.

Regarding your second question: on this one, the teacher is right. If the book is different, you might be learning different theory than what is required for the exam. Take, for example, math. If you went out and bought an algebra book, but needed a calculus book, you won't be prepared for the exam. Similar idea here.


Yes it was rude but my job is flexible and they did say at the school that the advantage to me is that I start my lesson earlier and I get home earlier afterwards. I told them I will simply have to start work earlier to finish earlier and they said is that ok? I said I dont really have a lot of choice about it. If I had a job with fixed hours say, 9 - 5 then it would be impossible, but they did not know what my working hours are like. They did not bother to check first before telling me I would be doing a 7pm slot from now on frown


I agree, this was rude for them to do. There are times when I have to reschedule a student's lesson due to rehearsals, sometimes permanently. If this happens, my students first of all know I'm a performing teacher and it comes with the territory. But even in those instances, I ask the student what other days or times would work, not tell them. I would let your teacher know you were unhappy with how that was handled.

As for the lesson, it sounds as though you don't feel you were congratulated on the work you put in thus far. Perhaps you didn't realize there was more to it, but when a student of mine makes such an effort, I do try to let them know I'm very pleased with their progress. Then I tell them we are able to work on more intricate details now and then proceed with the lesson. Perhaps she glossed over your work and was just eager to get into the details? It sounds like what she was saying is worthwhile, but she may not be someone who doles out a lot of compliments.


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Originally Posted by adultpianist
Originally Posted by peekay
Yeah, I had a similar experience with "correctly playing all the notes".

In my case, it was one of the first baroque pieces I learned (Bach Allemande in G minor). After self-study I thought I played it very well, but my teacher at the time told me that I performed the piece as if Mozart had written it -- instead of Bach -- that is, in completely the wrong style!

My teacher then started to annotate the music, adding where pauses should be inserted; which notes should be played connected vs. disconnected; various (unwritten) dynamics to be observed; how to interpret certain phrases, etc., etc., etc. None of these were present on the original score!

By the time we were done, it seemed like I was playing a completely different piece, even though all the notes were the same!

There was no way I could've known how to correctly play the piece on my own. There is a "common practice" for each style/period of music that's unwritten; they are "assumed" to be known by musicians performing them.

Some teachers do not know or do not care to teach students about all this. So seems like you have a good teacher!


yes and the only reason I played it wrong was because I had nobody to guide me as we were on a summer break. At least I got all the notes right if nothing else, but I desperately want to get to the stage where I do not need to be guided and can see and play how the piece should be played and hold down my hands for as long as they need to be held down. My teacher was a beginner once upon a time and if she can look at a score and recognise this then why can't I? She only started learning to play the piano when she was 19 and she is younger than me and I am 50 so it goes to show that some people learn faster than others.

How long have you been studying? Starting piano as an adult is very different from starting younger, even at 19. But let me point this out: you will never catch up with your teacher. She's continuing to play and gain more experience from teaching others and encountering their issues and solving them. So I do hope you're not trying to say you should be just as good as her, it won't happen, and that's OK. You are on your own path as a unique individual with your unique life experiences to shape how you interpret your music. It does take a long time to be at the point where you don't need a teacher, but one could argue you can always use a teacher's/another pianist's perspective on things. Even though I'm a teacher and I've been playing for 35 years, I still recognized I needed help with the Grieg pieces and sought it out from a colleague. It was extremely helpful and I don't think I could have figured it out on my own. But now I know, and I can share that knowledge with my students.

Give yourself the freedom of time to learn all you can. Don't pressure yourself to be as good as someone else or to have unrealistic expectations. Enjoy the journey, you are obviously making good progress! smile


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by adultpianist
Originally Posted by peekay
Yeah, I had a similar experience with "correctly playing all the notes".

In my case, it was one of the first baroque pieces I learned (Bach Allemande in G minor). After self-study I thought I played it very well, but my teacher at the time told me that I performed the piece as if Mozart had written it -- instead of Bach -- that is, in completely the wrong style!

My teacher then started to annotate the music, adding where pauses should be inserted; which notes should be played connected vs. disconnected; various (unwritten) dynamics to be observed; how to interpret certain phrases, etc., etc., etc. None of these were present on the original score!

By the time we were done, it seemed like I was playing a completely different piece, even though all the notes were the same!

There was no way I could've known how to correctly play the piece on my own. There is a "common practice" for each style/period of music that's unwritten; they are "assumed" to be known by musicians performing them.

Some teachers do not know or do not care to teach students about all this. So seems like you have a good teacher!


yes and the only reason I played it wrong was because I had nobody to guide me as we were on a summer break. At least I got all the notes right if nothing else, but I desperately want to get to the stage where I do not need to be guided and can see and play how the piece should be played and hold down my hands for as long as they need to be held down. My teacher was a beginner once upon a time and if she can look at a score and recognise this then why can't I? She only started learning to play the piano when she was 19 and she is younger than me and I am 50 so it goes to show that some people learn faster than others.

How long have you been studying? Starting piano as an adult is very different from starting younger, even at 19. But let me point this out: you will never catch up with your teacher. She's continuing to play and gain more experience from teaching others and encountering their issues and solving them. So I do hope you're not trying to say you should be just as good as her, it won't happen, and that's OK. You are on your own path as a unique individual with your unique life experiences to shape how you interpret your music. It does take a long time to be at the point where you don't need a teacher, but one could argue you can always use a teacher's/another pianist's perspective on things. Even though I'm a teacher and I've been playing for 35 years, I still recognized I needed help with the Grieg pieces and sought it out from a colleague. It was extremely helpful and I don't think I could have figured it out on my own. But now I know, and I can share that knowledge with my students.

Give yourself the freedom of time to learn all you can. Don't pressure yourself to be as good as someone else or to have unrealistic expectations. Enjoy the journey, you are obviously making good progress! smile


Thank you. But I do want to be as good as someone else. I love going to concerts and watching how the professionals play and think I wonder if I could do this or that like them and then get on my piano and try to learn and practice and get frustrated. But I am not a quiter and I love the piano too much to stop now. I WILL make it as a good pianist even if it takes me another 10 years

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Originally Posted by adultpianist
I love going to concerts and watching how the professionals play and think I wonder if I could do this or that like them and then get on my piano and try to learn and practice and get frustrated.


That FRUSTRATED part is what you need to avoid. High expectations combined with a lack of patience will defeat you.
This may take a very long time.

You are going to find (if you haven't already) that learning to play piano cannot be hurried. It takes as long is it takes regardless of what you WANT. You mention 10 years as though that is a long time out. It isn't. If you practice regularly with purpose for 10 years you will be much better than you are today but probably will not be at a level of those concert pianists you mention.

You can practice more often and that will help move things along some but do not expect to learn twice as fast by practicing twice as long. It does not seem to work that way.

As has been said many times on this forum ...

You need to enjoy the journey because that is really all there is. You will never reach your destination because there is no destination. Regardless of how skilled you become, you will continue to "wish" for more and strive to get better.

Enjoy your playing TODAY and regardless of where you are 10 years from now, you will have benefited greatly from the experience.




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If I was spending money and expected the firm or person to know it was my wants and desires that counted, such a thing as changing my lesson time would result in a sit down that talked to this person about my expectations. Depending on the reply I'd probably change teachers. I currently charge $200 an hour for my consulting and I ALWAYS communicate to my clients changes and unless its an emergency (which I do call to explain), always seek their "permission" to changes times. That is the professional way to handle client relationships.


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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by adultpianist
I love going to concerts and watching how the professionals play and think I wonder if I could do this or that like them and then get on my piano and try to learn and practice and get frustrated.


That FRUSTRATED part is what you need to avoid. High expectations combined with a lack of patience will defeat you.
This may take a very long time.

You are going to find (if you haven't already) that learning to play piano cannot be hurried. It takes as long is it takes regardless of what you WANT.


It can take a long time for some or a short time for others. If you are a prodgidy then it will take you no time at all 3hearts

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Originally Posted by adultpianist
I turn up at the usual time for my lesson 7.30pm and was informed that as from next week, my lessons will be at 7pm because my teacher has a new student who cannot make 7pm so they have put me at 7pm and the new student at 7.30.

I can accommodate the new time but the point is they should have asked me rather than tell me. That is not professional.

I agree. This happened to me when I was taking lessons. My time kept getting pushed back later and later.
I really liked my teacher and understood that that is her income (this was through a school by the way). She would kinda ask/tell me. But after I while I would get a little annoyed because I felt like they should say "that time slot is booked". Yes, my time was flexible but it meant a lot of time putzing around after work and then getting home late. I would be raelly tired by the time I got to my lesson. I suppose I could have been firm and tell then I couldn't do any other time but I just didnt.

Oh and also my teacher was always late on top of it. She admitted she was not good with time. But, I would end up getting an hour lesson because of it instead of the half hour I paid for so that was ok.


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