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#3142859 08/02/21 10:00 PM
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Has anyone here ever had two teachers or taught students with a second teacher?

While pop studies are my focus I’ve tossed around the idea of studying some classical again with a second teacher. I still enjoy my doing my own classical stuff such as technique and working through my classics book. I was thinking it would be fun to have some variety and work with another teacher. If I did this I would be fully transparent with both teachers etc. I know it’s up to me but just wondering if anyone has experience with this and what they think.

I could see it being great having another point of view and style of teaching as no one knows it all. Then could see a potential of it hindering if they contradict one another.

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Sebs #3142862 08/02/21 10:31 PM
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Hi Sebs
Yes, I’ve had two teachers that specialized in different approaches; and yes, they both knew about each other. That arrangement was fairly long-term. Pre-COVID, I had one local teacher weekly and one at piano camp plus a second weekly local one. I must tell you that the first time I went to camp, I found it almost mind-blowing, as both teachers did not agree on everything. Once I realized there would always be differences in approaches, and that there was not an absolute ‘right’, I enjoyed it. It helped that my local teacher was comfortable with discussing the differences: sometimes she would agree with the different approach and sometimes she wouldn’t, but we discussed it and I learned to decide for myself.

Having two teachers regularly at home was moire problematic in terms of practice time as I needed go prepare for both lessons.

If I were you, I wouldn’t pursue two teachers right now, but wait until you are very comfortable with what you are currently learning.., but just my two cents. I had been playing for many years before I started the craziness and it still made my head spin until I sorted it all out.


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Sebs #3142864 08/02/21 10:32 PM
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Sort of reminds me of the old saying;

A man with one watch always knows what time it is.
A man with two watches is never really sure.


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Nope, no issues with it at all.
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@dogperson thanks for the suggestion. I was wondering if it would be too much and maybe better putting that time towards my main focus and just keep plugging away self teaching for my little classics book.

Originally Posted by trooplewis
Sort of reminds me of the old saying;

A man with one watch always knows what time it is.
A man with two watches is never really sure.

I never heard that saying. I was thinking the one with two watches would know more as they could be set to different time zones. Haha

Sebs #3142870 08/02/21 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
@dogperson thanks for the suggestion. I was wondering if it would be too much and maybe better putting that time towards my main focus and just keep plugging away self teaching for my little classics book.

Originally Posted by trooplewis
Sort of reminds me of the old saying;

A man with one watch always knows what time it is.
A man with two watches is never really sure.

I never heard that saying. I was thinking the one with two watches would know more as they could be set to different time zones. Haha


Hi Sebs
I’m just suggesting you might want to wait a little while so two teachers don’t throw you off your current plans. It’s a good experience to have, and I will continue with piano camps when COVID is really, truly over.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Sebs #3142871 08/02/21 10:55 PM
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Most people here (per the survey) practice from 1-2 h a day. If you got a second teacher, would you split your practice time between the two, or double it to give each lesson a full week's practice time? Of course, if you practice much less than that (or fewer days per week), then you wouldn't be overtaxing yourself by the additional lesson.

Different perspectives or studying different genres might be interesting, but the practice time dilemma would make me think hard about doing it (I'm one of the every day, 1-2 h practicers).


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Stubbie #3142893 08/03/21 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Most people here (per the survey) practice from 1-2 h a day. If you got a second teacher, would you split your practice time between the two, or double it to give each lesson a full week's practice time? Of course, if you practice much less than that (or fewer days per week), then you wouldn't be overtaxing yourself by the additional lesson.

Different perspectives or studying different genres might be interesting, but the practice time dilemma would make me think hard about doing it (I'm one of the every day, 1-2 h practicers).
Most of the learning (consolidation) happens over time though. It's not just about putting in a certain number of hours each day. So, even if you did work according to the instructions of each teacher for an hour each, both of them would conflict in a lot of ways, unless for example one was teaching you theory and the other technique.

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Sebs ,in this situation, 3 combinations are possible:

- after several years of studying classical music, the student wants to join no less serious pop piano lessons with another teacher;
- vice versa ;
begins to learn from two teachers at the same time.

The first option is the most desirable, the third is the worst. However, each of the possibilities contains problems from both pop and classics.
It is imperative to understand that a classical piano teacher is working not only on music reading and piano technique, but on the concepts of performing pieces of music; and this is due to specific sound production, playing movements, rhythm, articulation, breathing - that is, everything that distinguishes a classical piano from a pop piano. The combination of playing in both genres leads to the fact that each of them leaves an imprint on the performance of the other. I remember the first moment when I listened to the beginning of K. Jarrett's album 24 preludes and fugues by Shostakovich, and immediately shouted: Wow, sounds absolutely Keith Jarrett!
If while working on technique it is worth listening to a classical teacher, then in working on phrasing each teacher will pull in his own direction: classical - in the direction of the singing sound, pop - in the direction of the percussive. A teacher devoted to classical music and to a student will not be able to endure Mozart played with percussive touch like rock and jazz. And vice versa: who has any idea how it gets on the nerves the performing a Beatles song as if it were Chopin!

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I think it will raise a number of issues. One being the available time and how to split it. Then there is the risk that your progress will be slower and that you will achieve less in both areas. And also that the emphasis of each style is different. As Nahum pointed out when you listen a pop pianist play classical, it can be interesting but it rarely sounds as satisfactory as with a true classical pianist, at least for me. The other way around is true also. I have this wonderful album recorded by Renee Fleming singing jazz songs in Haunted Hearts. Fleming started by singing jazz and so she is more trained to this style than most other classical singers, but still; her album is absolutely wonderful but it still sounds like a classical singer doing jazz staff. She just does not have this little thing that makes it typical.

I also listened to the wonderful Natalie Dessay singing french jazz/pop songs and again as good as it is, it simply does not sound like jazz. She just does not place the accent and the rythmic emphasis where it should be. She cant help but years and years of classical legato and rythmic habits are hard to get rid of.

So the main risk is that each teacher will want to put the emphasis on different things and that you get lost and not doing very well either of the two. But you can certainly try and see by yourself how it works out.

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I did theory classes and piano lessons at the same time. Like mentioned above, it was hard to put in enough time for each to feel like I got what I was supposed to out of the week's homework.

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Your current teacher cannot teach classical pieces and only popular music ? I am not clear the exact distinction as would have thought any competent piano teacher could teach both. I think some styles (e.g. jazz music) is different so certainly if you want to learn how to improvise a classically trained pianist who cant do this skill is not going to help. The benefit of a classically trained teacher is they have degrees and teaching diplomas so you at least can filter this way. In UK I think any one can advertise to be a piano teacher and some have no real qualifications for this. Some teachers only have a basic background (e.g. ABRSM grade 8) and sometimes not even cheap but even then you can find someone who is at Uni who may be a good option if you are on a budget.

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Originally Posted by Joe Garfield
I did theory classes and piano lessons at the same time. Like mentioned above, it was hard to put in enough time for each to feel like I got what I was supposed to out of the week's homework.

I think separate theory lessons is the norm but yes can be difficult. I used to have 30 min lessons as a child with 30 min theory after as there was a requirement to get grade 5 theory to get grade 6 abrsm. I have longer 1 hour lessons as an adult so I dont know if music theory for this was useful at all. I am not sure I remember anything from it and what I do remember is quite pointless (e.g. learning the alto clef !)

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I often see two teachers: one specialises in musical direction (so MT rep and conducting), and the other on technique.

I normally see one every two weeks, depending on what I'm working on and who i want to see. I find the two different approaches adds variety to my practise and, ultimately, feed into the other session in some way.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
While pop studies are my focus I’ve tossed around the idea of studying some classical again with a second teacher. I still enjoy my doing my own classical stuff such as technique and working through my classics book. I was thinking it would be fun to have some variety and work with another teacher. If I did this I would be fully transparent with both teachers etc. I know it’s up to me but just wondering if anyone has experience with this and what they think.

I could see it being great having another point of view and style of teaching as no one knows it all. Then could see a potential of it hindering if they contradict one another.
I agree with the others above.

Two classical teachers with different emphasis (and different interests in eras) can work with advanced students working on classical. But one pop and one classical teacher is not a good idea - probably worse from the classical teacher's point of view than the pop's. Classical teaching is all about tone production (singing legato etc when required), nuances & 'voicing' of melodic notes and important inner lines, clarity (and variety) of articulation, rhythmic acuity, proper pedalling, fluent technique with proper fingering. Pop is about rhythmic patterns, and then there's jazz inflections with swing and its overriding concerns with jazz voicings etc.

Classical pianists who turn pop stars lose their ability to play classical properly after a while - for instance Elton John, who admitted he could no longer play classical a long time ago.

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Originally Posted by liliboulanger
Classical pianists who turn pop stars lose their ability to play classical properly after a while - for instance Elton John, who admitted he could no longer play classical a long time ago.
"Properly" is very subjective. Maybe his playing wouldn't cut it at a piano competition but I'm pretty sure Elton John could still play a Chopin nocturne better than most people in ABF.

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I'm not sure if it's a bad idea, as long as you can apply the information appropriately and not let it confuse you. I like the idea of having multiple sources of info and feedback. Otherwise, why do children have a mother and father? Nothing wrong with a little yin and yang to confuse you, haha laugh


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ranjit #3142949 08/03/21 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ranjit
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Most people here (per the survey) practice from 1-2 h a day. If you got a second teacher, would you split your practice time between the two, or double it to give each lesson a full week's practice time? Of course, if you practice much less than that (or fewer days per week), then you wouldn't be overtaxing yourself by the additional lesson.

Different perspectives or studying different genres might be interesting, but the practice time dilemma would make me think hard about doing it (I'm one of the every day, 1-2 h practicers).
Most of the learning (consolidation) happens over time though. It's not just about putting in a certain number of hours each day. So, even if you did work according to the instructions of each teacher for an hour each, both of them would conflict in a lot of ways, unless for example one was teaching you theory and the other technique.
No, it's not just about the number of hours, but most people would agree that one needs to practice a certain amount of time between lessons, or what's the point.

Sebs noted in his first post that he was considering one teacher for pop and another for classical. While there is a certain amount of overlap in the long run, in the short run there is no guarantee that techniques will be taught in the same order or in the same way. Thus he would need to be dedicating time to each instructor as if the other didn't exist. For most people, there are only a certain number of hours a day that they can devout to practice. For someone in the early stages of learning, that would be piling on a lot of work.

As dogperson said, better to start with one and get comfortable with that and then add in something else. You'd still have to juggle your time schedule, but at least you'd be at a stage where you could manage it better.


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Originally Posted by liliboulanger
But one pop and one classical teacher is not a good idea - probably worse from the classical teacher's point of view than the pop's. Classical teaching is all about tone production (singing legato etc when required), nuances & 'voicing' of melodic notes and important inner lines, clarity (and variety) of articulation, rhythmic acuity, proper pedalling, fluent technique with proper fingering. Pop is about rhythmic patterns, and then there's jazz inflections with swing and its overriding concerns with jazz voicings etc.

Assuming the student had enough practice time, I think having one teacher for classical and one for pop would work very well, for exactly the reasons you outlined as reasons why it wouldn't work. ETA: the student would be working on completely different things with each teacher, and if the student found it hard to switch between rhythmic styles, for example, a break between practice sessions and a maybe a few mental tricks (set the metronome etc) would probably quickly solve that.

What might not work (or at least would be very difficult) would be taking classical lessons and pop lessons at the same time, and working on the same piece in each class but from a different arrangement or playing style. I think a beginning student would have a hard time with that. ETA: Or, taking classical lessons from two different teachers, and working on the same piece with each teacher. Again, that would be esp. hard for a beginner.

Quote
Classical pianists who turn pop stars lose their ability to play classical properly after a while - for instance Elton John, who admitted he could no longer play classical a long time ago.

To me, this doesn't mean that "playing pop causes one to become unable to play classical." I truly believe there's no reason not to play (or study) both styles. If someone once played the most advanced repertoire, and did all the accompanying practice that goes with it, and then stopped doing that, of course their playing ability (of that classical rep) will be diminished.

Separate from these issues, I think the real problem with having two types of lessons is a combination of the burdens of time and mental intensity.

Re time, as everyone else has said, you need to put in enough practice time to each approach to make the lessons worthwhile. But most working adults don't have that kind of time.

I have often thought I'd love to have lessons with someone where the lessons were devoted exclusively to Bach, and then I'd have my regular lessons. But I've never pursued doing this because when I think about my practice time, plus my job responsibilities, I know I couldn't make it work. Part of that is just literally time, but the other part is that I believe that a more intensive approach to piano would be tiring mentally, and given what I do for my day job, either my work or my piano pursuits would suffer if I tried to take on too much intensive music study.

Some day when I retire... smile

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Looking back at the original question, I find this post to be quite interesting, so I'll try to give a comprehensive answer.

I'm trying to learn to play classical right now. I taught myself how to play pop music, and didn't actually learn to play classical, bar a few pieces, in my first 5 years or so, until I got a proper teacher. Before then, I just had some 5 classical pieces under my belt. Fur Elise, Chopin waltz in A minor, Bach prelude in C, Chopin nocturne in Eb major, and the starting of a couple of Schubert impromptus. On the other hand, I had probably played and arranged over a hundred songs by ear. Of course, these were "easy", pop songs, and not jazz standards. I reached a point where I could arrange most pop songs (with less than 4-5 chords) in a few minutes. I had eventually figured out some of the tricks of the trade, and come up with some cool arranging ideas. I had posted some of these arrangements on Youtube, and they got a very positive response. And teachers have commented that I can play classical quite musically as well, although I'm still in the "beginning stages" of my classical training.

At the beginning, I would like to say that I agree that in the beginning stages, it doesn't make sense to have both a classical and a pop teacher. Pick one, preferably classical, and do the other in your spare time on your own would probably be my suggestion.

Now, I don't agree with a lot of the posters above that playing classical necessarily precludes you from playing pop equally well.

I think the reason that most classical pianists can't play pop/jazz well is because they lack the "ear" for it. There is a different kind of phrasing and articulation you use for pop music, and you need to listen to a lot of pop music and understand the idiom to really reproduce it properly. If you read it from a score and tacitly apply your classical score reading knowledge, you will sound decidedly un-pop. It's like being bilingual, I suppose -- you don't apply the rules of one language for another. However, there's nothing preventing you from writing well in one language if you know the other -- and in fact there are many writers who write in multiple languages. However, it is, in a sense, double the effort, and you need to have the ability to be able to not apply the rules of one while using the other. If you've learned classical since early childhood for a couple of decades, and almost never listened to or played pop in the meantime, it would be extremely difficult to suddenly learn to play it, which is why a lot of classical players struggle imo.

Also, I don't think it's fair to the OP to mention that Keith Jarrett can't play classical that well. This kind of advice may possibly benefit someone seriously undertaking a conservatory education and wanting to become the next amazing classical pianist, but I think that playing a wide variety of styles actually serves to help, rather than hinder, students in the beginning stages. Also, Keith Jarrett doesn't have amazing technique in the sense of efficiency of movement. I wonder how well someone like Oscar Peterson could play classical -- quite well, I would assume. It's true that several decades of playing jazz to the exclusion of classical would atrophy your skills in the classical department, and cause you to substitute your classical technique, but that's not a fair comparison as it would hold for anyone at the highest level, simply because you have to choose how to allocate your time and you have finite resources. From the wikipedia page on Oscar Peterson: As a child, Peterson studied with Hungarian-born pianist Paul de Marky, a student of István Thomán, who was himself a pupil of Franz Liszt, so his early training was predominantly based on classical piano. As a side note, Istvan Thoman taught Bela Bartok, Dohnanyi and Cziffra.

So, I really don't think piano playing in all of these genres are as distinct as the posters here are making them out to be. Oscar Peterson is quoted to have saying that he recommends people to learn classical first, as "technique is technique, regardless of whether it's classical or jazz".

The first example I can think of off the top of my head is Hayato Sumino, aka Cateen, who's one of my favorite upcoming pianists, who seems to play classical, anime and pop/jazzy music with equal eclair.






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Well said, ranjit!

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