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DIARY ENTRY #1
Well I have a full-time job and career in a non-music field but i have been toying with the idea of eventually starting to piano teach on a part-time basis the past few years and I have been a regular monitor of these forums on and off for several years now, trying to learn all I could.

I really wanted to pursue this at some point, but I was hesitant to say the least. I thought i would had the right type of personality for it and enough music knowledge and experience but I was concerned about the teaching learning curve, whether I would be able to break down each topic properly, and whether I would have the patience and skill to do this over the long term.

I knew i would probably struggle a little too much at teaching a beginning student, because I may go to fast, and make too many mistakes, or teach concepts in the wrong order, or forget to pay attention to key things. And I would hate for my learning mistakes to cause casualties for the first unlucky students. For this reason I sent my own 2 kids for their first few years to someone else, who has been a teacher for a long time and always has a full studio.

Well late this past summer an opportunity presented itself. Due to conflicting fall schedules I could no longer send our kids to that teacher. I was actually in the process of trying to find another teacher when my wife made a suggestion that I do it, and in addition my kids said they weren't interested in finding another teacher and wanted me to do it as well.

Well I was a little caught off guard and unprepared but if I was ever going to do this it was probably now or never.

So fast forward- I have been teaching my 2 kids since early September. I have thought about documenting my experience here on this forum. But this is also something I have been very hesitant to do. I am not one to normally open myself up like an open book for inspection . I have some nightmares that hundreds or thousands of followers on these forums will be laughing and scoffing at my every little mistake and misstep.

But I am enjoying myself so much. I LOVE it, and although I have certainly made some mistakes I am also having great successes too. I always look forward to every Tuesday night and am energized before and after.

So although I'm already over 3 months into this, and afraid of what others might say, I am really tempted to share my experiences here as I struggle and celebrate my way through my first year teaching. I'm not sure if I will be able to keep up with this diary and post every week, but hopefully at least 1-2 times a month. I guess the first thing I will have to do is catch you up on the first 3 months and my 1-2 months of preparation. I guess that will be my next post.... if I am brave enough to come back.

Last edited by blueston; 12/16/15 12:07 AM.
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Be brave. I know I'd be happy to hear how you are doing, and I know that most of the teachers here are/will be nice and encouraging.
Would be interested in such things as:
Did you stay with same method books?
If not, how did you assess them and choose other books?
Recitals? Competitions?
Are you able to turn OFF your ears when they practice?
Thanks for offering to share.
smile




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Hi bluestone:

Bravo! I want to do the same. Although I do have a full time non music related career that actually pays very well like six figures, but I just don't enjoy it. I want to be able to do the things I like. But, I don't think I am qualified to teach yet until I pass my ABRSM exam for at least grade 8. But I know another friend who does not have music degree either but was hired at music store to teach beginners. My dream would be to get a piano pedagogy degree some day hopefully if it is not too late. I do see people going to medical, law, or even majoring computer science degree in their sixties. I believe than at least in US it is possible for people in their fifties to still major in piano pedagogy if piano performance major is too difficult. It could be my day dream still now, but I am working hard towards it and willing to give it a try when I am ready. That way I wouldn't regret it later on. Keep posting your experience.


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Blueston, if you can teach your own children, we're already startled and intrigued. It's generally a recipe for you-know-what.


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I'm an adult beginner and have been extremely happy with the quality of my teacher. I would encourage you to share your experiences going forward. I'm very interested in learning more about the mindset and techniques that help support excellence in music performance. Piano is such an interesting mixture of physicality, ideation and structure it's fascinating to learn more.


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Good evening Blueston. Hearty felicitaions and encouragement from one who did the same, is still doing the same and always will. And has never regretted it despite ...

well you can put whatever you like in the "despite", it doesn't matter, this has been an unexhaustable source of pleasure and enrichement for my kids, for meself, for our family and friends, and even for their "real" teachers.

This is what music is all about.

Bravo!

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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Blueston, if you can teach your own children, we're already startled and intrigued. It's generally a recipe for you-know-what.



Good evening, Peter. I don't know for what, but I'm truly curious to know.

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I agree that it's probably a bad idea to try to be your own kids teacher. I couldn't coach my son in volleyball. One of the best ski-instructors I ever met couldn't teach his wife. The head of the piano dept at a local mid-sized college sent her daughter to another teacher. My ping pong coach can't even play a game with his wife though she is a passable player. Of course that being said, for some it will be possible. My boss at work is my wife and here at the house I teach her ping-pong and recorders. It really depends on the relationship dynamic already in place. The role of the teacher, the dynamics of the interaction, is different than the role of the parent and so much depends on the student/offspring's perception of the expectations that aren't always in line with the expectations we think we're giving. In the case of my son and volleyball, he was convinced I was being tougher on him than the others while the other 9 years olds were convinced I wasn't being as strict with him as I was with them. Their perception over-rode any of my attempts to create a reality of what I hoped was fairness. I moved my son to another coach and coached happily without him. The next year, I coached a kid whose father was a coach as well. Maybe it's worse for father and sons.

Tread lightly; be alert to early signs of chafed feelings and don't consider it a failure on your part or theirs if they need to go to another teacher. Consider the qualifications of some of the examples above and let things be how they need to be instead of how you want them to be.

Kurt


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DIARY ENTRY #2

First of all thanks to missbelle, pianofan1017, scgrant, and landorrano for the encouragement.

The next couple of posts I will try to fill everyone in some more on the background surrounding the initial decision process and preparation I had to do. Then eventually, (if I can keep up with this), I hope to settle in to just providing periodic posts that are more focused on the actual ongoing lessons.

KurtZ and Peter K your concerns about teaching ones own children are valid ones. I may have actually even given the same advice to somebody else on these forums in the past. It is a good rule of thumb for sure but, as one of you suggested, each relationship is unique and I believe it can work in some cases. It was definitely one of the first major things I had to consider when making this decision.

I wasn't too concerned about this because our relationship is pretty good and I have had success teaching them other things on several occasions such as soccer, math, some ear training, and a couple duet songs we performed at their previous teachers recitals. They have never showed any signs of frustration or annoyance with my teaching approach and have generally listened to me. They are good kids and easy to work with for the most part.

However there is no denying they would treat a real teacher and lesson appointment with slightly more respect, seriousness, and courtesy than with me. I was concerned enough about whether we would be able to consistently commit to the lesson every week with all the other distractions and informality of being in our home.

I talked it over with them and made a deal- if they wanted me to teach them it would always have to be the same day and same time, and we couldn't cancel, or reschedule it if other more fun or urgent things came up. We would have to treat it like a real appointment that is very difficult to break. So far, in the first 3 months we have only had to break this rule once- when I had to work late, and they had a big project due at school. We have been a little bit flexible on start time, fluctuating between 7 and 7:15. I will have to keep on top of this to make sure this window doesn't expand and get out of control.

So that covers one big part of the decision. The other initial considerations and preparation I had to do included researching the internet for pedagogy pointers, researching how to find repertoire, reviewing method book options, considering my own qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses, and sketching out some lesson plans with short and long term goals for them. I will talk about those matters next.

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DIARY ENTRY 2B
While we are on that subject, I should add that teaching one's own children is probably a LOT easier when they have already had some foundation they learned with a different teacher. I think it would have been a LOT harder for me to try to teach my own kids if I had to start from the very beginning. Fortunately I feel like the heavy lifting has already been done to get them off to a good start, and now "all" i have to do is maintain and improve upon that (a task I am much more interested in and suited for at the moment, although I hope to be in a position to teach students from the very beginning in the future).

I should add that, as far as the weekly lesson time, it hasn't necessarily being a fixed length- we typically have 45 minute lessons, but the advantage with no other students is I am free to go longer. Sometime we have gone up to an hour when we're having a lot of fun. My kids have also negotiated with me occasionally to do a shorter 30 minute lesson on days when they have had a lot of other homework and studying to do (more about that later). This is something I completely understand and accommodate.

The other advantages of teaching your own kids is I don't have to worry about pesky parents interfering, or second guessing my approach, or not paying, or other problems I have read about on these forums. The mother of these 2 kids is unlikely to sue me, or argue, or cause other problems... although I suppose anything is possible!???

The other advantages of teaching your own kids is that I care very deeply that my own kids NOT quit piano, and that they are successful, and get a complete well rounded education on this instrument. So my motivation and interests are very much aligned with their own interest and success and my own success as a teacher. I am obviously not doing this for just monetary reasons (the mother still refuses to pay anything!).



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