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Originally Posted by cefinow
Hmm... My cats consume two lesson-hours' worth of food every month… meanwhile, there are chipmunks, squirrels, and mice running around galore in the woods by my house.

Oh well… No, I couldn't do it… That little metallic sound of a cat food can being opened, causes such a festive mood among the felines, that I'm quite willing to keep paying for it.

I did get all analytical about the cost per ounce of cat food, and protein content. I calculated that I could buy the cheaper canned brand of cat food (which the cats seemed happy to eat, on a trial basis), and add a certain measured amount of diced chicken, to raise the protein content of the cheap stuff to an acceptable level. Cooked yield of chicken price per ounce, protein content… Lots of poking around on my calculator.

The plan backfired. The cats decided that they liked the idea of chicken, did not like the cheap food after all. As it turns out, I now buy the more expensive food as before, as well as giving them daily chicken treats. Straight, unadulterated chicken!!....................
laugh laugh Years ago, I decided to give my cats some canned catfood "just for a treat." ( laugh You know what's coming.) Two of the cats would eat both dry and wet cat food, but the third one. No deal. Nada. I tried to get him back to the dry food by not putting any canned food out. He didn't eat for two and half days, at which point I gave in. He was about the size of a mountain lion, and I didn't want him angry with me and hungry at the same time. wink


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Dogperson - I guess that means I have to put amateur piano camp on my bucket list! What do you think makes the differing levels work well together?

I agree that any "study group" would have to be small, and would have to trust each other.

I coached recreational kids' sports for a long time, and got pretty good results by concentrating on progress for all - some starting at a higher level, some at a lower. Is that one of the secrets of piano camp - that every one focusses on getting better from where ever they started from, instead of who is at a higher or lower level?

I think, or maybe that's hope, I would be able to handle being in a study group where the other members played more difficult pieces than I did, if I was getting better. Not sure - we're all human - but it feels like that attitude would have a chance of leading to a positive long term vibe for the group.

(PS - regarding the cat issue - we have managed to keep the cat on dry food from the beginning. But we had to bring the dogs back to reality. Humans unfair to canines.....)

Last edited by Medved1; 10/22/16 11:00 PM.

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It is really difficult to pinpoint what makes piano camps succeed when everyone is at a different level-- But I think the reasons are that everyone is there to learn and instructors want everyone to equally succeed.

from everyone's instruction, you can learn something, no matter your level: maybe a different way of playing a chord, how to perform better, better use of the pedal....reduce tension, etc. No matter what your level, there are common issues which always need improvement. If you just listen to the feedback given others, you learn. .. and you are allowed to ask questions. Everyone was allowed to give feedback (in fact, expected), and there is a lot to be learned from the feedback you receive from everyone -- irrespective of their level. The most beginning student can tell you it doesn't sound like you thought it did, that the melody was a little garbled, the tempo uneven or the middle section sounded too rushed.


I have now been to two different camps, and they both succeeded using the same formula. If there was any jealously or competitiveness, it wasn't displayed openly. Just camaraderie. You need to keep in mind that the youngest at the camps was probably late 30s,and the oldest 70+... no Julliard wanna be pianists. No one minded that someone was playing repertoire easier or more difficult than anyone else.

Listen to master classes on YouTube by the great performers/teachers: even when you are not playing at the same level, you learn something that can be applied to a lower level piece. It is the same principle.

I think a piano study group sounds like a great idea to try. You just need to recognize it is not a competition for a winner's cup. ... but a shared, team goal to improve. Just like you did with your sports instruction.

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Originally Posted by Stubbie
The way I see it, there are two flavors of "I can't afford lessons."

1. The JazzyMac people (good post, Mac!). You spend all your money each week. Nothing left over for lessons. But if you look at what you spend your money on, you realize, well, yes, you could trade the luxury of the Starbucks or the tenth pair of shoes or the season tickets for the luxury of piano lessons. As JazzyMac says, it boils down to priorities.

2. Those who already have cut all the frills from their budgets and just get by. Piano lessons are, in the larger scheme of things, a luxury. Food on the table and transportation for work are more important.

There is quick way to decide between the two: Assume someone is donating the entire lesson money to you each month, but with no strings attached (so you're allowed to do whatever you want with it). Would you still spend it on piano lessons? Or on stuff like eating more healthy, doctor's bills and a driver's license? There are situations, where spending on luxury hobbies like piano can be considered irresponsible.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by Stubbie
The way I see it, there are two flavors of "I can't afford lessons."

1. The JazzyMac people (good post, Mac!). You spend all your money each week. Nothing left over for lessons. But if you look at what you spend your money on, you realize, well, yes, you could trade the luxury of the Starbucks or the tenth pair of shoes or the season tickets for the luxury of piano lessons. As JazzyMac says, it boils down to priorities.

2. Those who already have cut all the frills from their budgets and just get by. Piano lessons are, in the larger scheme of things, a luxury. Food on the table and transportation for work are more important.

There is quick way to decide between the two: Assume someone is donating the entire lesson money to you each month, but with no strings attached (so you're allowed to do whatever you want with it). Would you still spend it on piano lessons? Or on stuff like eating more healthy, doctor's bills and a driver's license? There are situations, where spending on luxury hobbies like piano can be considered irresponsible.

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Originally Posted by Stubbie
He didn't eat for two and half days, at which point I gave in.


If there's a secret to winning a battle of wills with a cat-- I haven't found it!

Not that I really try, though… There are "people pleasing" personality tendencies, but I think I struggle with a cat-pleasing personality-- maintaining boundaries and discipline, when to say no, etc. Besides, as you say, they can be pretty scary. ;-)

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That cat would have gone without food until actually eating. Just gotta be more stubborn than them--which I am 10 times over.

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No, actually some cats might go for days without eating and it's not good for them - they might get fatty liver disease and die. They can be more stubborn than you think. I've always been a strict cat owner, trying to have them do what I wanted most of the time, but it doesn't work with all cats. Now after losing 4 cats in the last few years, I think their life is so short - and often shorter than it should be - that it's not so terrible to spoil them a bit. The two kitties I have now are free to do almost all they please and even if it's messy sometimes, the whole family has much more fun.

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Originally Posted by sinophilia
No, actually some cats might go for days without eating and it's not good for them - they might get fatty liver disease and die. They can be more stubborn than you think. I've always been a strict cat owner, trying to have them do what I wanted most of the time, but it doesn't work with all cats. Now after losing 4 cats in the last few years, I think their life is so short - and often shorter than it should be - that it's not so terrible to spoil them a bit. The two kitties I have now are free to do almost all they please and even if it's messy sometimes, the whole family has much more fun.

Okay good to know.

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Something to consider in the can't/won't afford argument is that the place in life where you are at dictates how much of your spending can be rearranged for your own wants before it becomes selfish to the family as a whole. If there was just me to consider I might be able to find the money for lessons but since many of the things that would seem obvious to someone else as being frivolous may be enjoyed by the family as a whole I don't see them as something that can be cut out of the budget just so that I can have lessons. I used to want them but I've pretty much resigned myself tot he idea that they are not happening at this point. My parents couldn't afford a piano when I was a kid. At least now I have one and have made a point of having other instruments around for my kids so that even though there are no lessons they have the chance to teach themselves which is more than I had.


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Little Blue Engine, that's a very valid and good point. Unless one is completely 'alone', there will always be others to consider. I have had some rough times as well, and would buy meat for my dog while I lived off Ramen, and I found that perfectly ok. Just the same way parents will prioritize their kids needs over their own.

I assume when people say 'I can't afford lessons' that they mean it. The reason why is not relevant.

I also consider 'I don't want a teacher' a valid stand. Each person is different, and whichever way people want to pursue their piano journey is entirely their business.


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Originally Posted by Jytte
Little Blue Engine, that's a very valid and good point. Unless one is completely 'alone', there will always be others to consider. I have had some rough times as well, and would buy meat for my dog while I lived off Ramen, and I found that perfectly ok. Just the same way parents will prioritize their kids needs over their own.

I assume when people say 'I can't afford lessons' that they mean it. The reason why is not relevant.

I also consider 'I don't want a teacher' a valid stand. Each person is different, and whichever way people want to pursue their piano journey is entirely their business.


Well, of course, this is all true. It's very hard to know the context when someone says they can't afford lessons. Sometimes, it is a matter of realizing the benefit to having a good teacher vs. teaching yourself something you know nothing about. Can one teach oneself? Certainly, but it will never be as thorough as having someone experienced in guiding you in the most efficient manner in how to learn.

There are, of course, many charlatans or teachers who have no knack for teaching despite desiring to do so - as in many lines of work. And so there is a risk one takes in finding a teacher that suits their needs.

However, sometimes people say they can't afford a teacher, but they can afford Starbucks every morning, when making their own coffee at home could save them enough money for lessons at some level of frequency depending on the area. Or eating out less for lunch and bringing leftovers from home. There are many places where money can be scraped up if one wants to badly enough. There is a limit, but I do think that for many, they assume out of hand that they can't afford nor are they willing to sacrifice a luxury because they do not see the value.

Unfortunately, learning piano is not like reading a How-To guide for dummies book or taking an online class. Feedback from an expert is a quicker way to arrive at a target, and without that depending on the goal, the person may never even arrive being limited by their faulty technique, injury, inability to work through difficult passages, etc.

Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience. Those that really want it find a way to pay for some lessons at least.


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Originally Posted by cefinow
Originally Posted by Stubbie
He didn't eat for two and half days, at which point I gave in.


If there's a secret to winning a battle of wills with a cat-- I haven't found it!

Not that I really try, though… There are "people pleasing" personality tendencies, but I think I struggle with a cat-pleasing personality-- maintaining boundaries and discipline, when to say no, etc. Besides, as you say, they can be pretty scary. ;-)


I heard that cats will literally starve themselves rather than eat something they don't want to eat, so it's good to give in. We are lucky our kitties like to eat whatever we give them, so we buy grain-free cat food (dry) in bulk when it's on sale, and we can switch brands pretty easily. They love the cans, but those are once-in-a-while treats - as are the occasional lizard, frog, or palmetto bug that dares enter their domain. eek


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Originally Posted by Morodiene

Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience. Those that really want it find a way to pay for some lessons at least.

Really? I admit I had to swallow twice getting a teacher half my own age, but I got over that in about 5 minutes.

Originally Posted by Morodiene

Unfortunately, learning piano is not like reading a How-To guide for dummies book or taking an online class. Feedback from an expert is a quicker way to arrive at a target, and without that depending on the goal, the person may never even arrive being limited by their faulty technique, injury, inability to work through difficult passages, etc.

You are absolutely right. Unfortunately we don't KNOW this beforehand. We have NO idea what it takes. This is why so many (like me) try out on their own, thinking it'll be ok, like with so many other things we've learned by ourselves during a lifetime. When that goes south (turns out burning desire isn't enough), we start looking around for a solution. But, it wasn't until I had been taking lessons for many months, that I realized just how different piano is, and just how important it is (for me anyway) to have that person guide you through everything from 'how to practice' to proper techniques etc.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience.


I'm surprised, I thought it was exactly the opposite - adults are too harsh with themselves and never think they're good enough, especially when it comes to something as complex and refined as playing the piano.

My reason for not wanting lessons is that I don't want to be judged. I am a freelance translator and I get judged all the time - well, the quality of my work is, not me as a person, but it is exhausting and it never ends. A client may come back with questions or criticisms even weeks after I delivered something, and unfortunately for me I take everything very seriously. I really don't need more of that!

Nonetheless, I take every chance I get to exchange thoughts with other people who play the piano, especially experienced and knowledgeable ones. I would love to be part of a piano group, but here most piano players are conservatory students or professionals. It's hard to meet other adult amateurs.

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There are probably some people who say they can't afford lessons who could if they tried but subconsciously they know they aren't going to practice at the level needed to get the full value but can't admit it so they don't look for the money. I think honestly evaluating how likely you are to get the full benefit of lessons is important. Right now I know I wouldn't get the full benefit for a couple reasons so looking for things to cut out of the budget is a little pointless especially since I'm not a Starbucks eat out for lunch get my nails done type of person. I'm already pretty frugal. I'm also being pretty honest with myself and realizing that right now wouldn't be the time even if I had the money easily available. I haven't been playing for about two years and lessons won't fix the reasons why I stopped. I just need to ease myself back into it on my own pace and work my way back to where I was.


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience.


I'm surprised, I thought it was exactly the opposite - adults are too harsh with themselves and never think they're good enough, especially when it comes to something as complex and refined as playing the piano.

My reason for not wanting lessons is that I don't want to be judged. I am a freelance translator and I get judged all the time - well, the quality of my work is, not me as a person, but it is exhausting and it never ends. A client may come back with questions or criticisms even weeks after I delivered something, and unfortunately for me I take everything very seriously. I really don't need more of that!

Nonetheless, I take every chance I get to exchange thoughts with other people who play the piano, especially experienced and knowledgeable ones. I would love to be part of a piano group, but here most piano players are conservatory students or professionals. It's hard to meet other adult amateurs.


I am a freelance translator too, and an adult amateur. smile I have a little piano blog where I share my experiences and tell the story about my pianist career ... which is certainly not very grandious so far. Considering what you wrote here, you might find it interesting:

https://pianovning.wordpress.com/

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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience.


I'm surprised, I thought it was exactly the opposite - adults are too harsh with themselves and never think they're good enough, especially when it comes to something as complex and refined as playing the piano.

There is, on the one hand, observing someone's behaviour. That part is in your face and obvious. If you say "step forward" and they step backward, then they have done the opposite of what you said. But knowing WHY they did that action, this is an entirely different thing. I am more inclined to think that they why's are more in the direction of what Sinophilia wrote.

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Originally Posted by Morodiene


Honestly I think for many adult learners the aversion to taking lessons has more to do with being humble enough to learn from another person than anything else. At least, that has been my experience. Those that really want it find a way to pay for some lessons at least.


Based on my experience, and posts I've seen here, piano teachers have (unwarranted) preconceived notions about adult students. They use those notions as a crutch deflect any (non)teachable situations, corrections, delays, or progression or lack thereof.

I wish some teachers realized it's not about the money, and that their job is to teach--stubborn student or otherwise.

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Originally Posted by ghosthand

I am a freelance translator too, and an adult amateur. smile I have a little piano blog where I share my experiences and tell the story about my pianist career ... which is certainly not very grandious so far. Considering what you wrote here, you might find it interesting:
https://pianovning.wordpress.com/


I will be happy to read it! Thank you!

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