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#3165717 10/22/21 08:19 AM
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I have a question for teachers.
Have you ever experienced that a student had difficulties that were something you felt incompetent to deal with as a teacher?
I wonder how much piano teachers try to deal with student's difficulties that they don't know how to deal with. If the teacher had extra training in helping people who have difficulties with eg executive functioning or motot skills then perhaps it would be another thing.
Sometimes teachers think they know how to help student with difficulties when they can't.
I hear about teachers who are trained in teaching people with specific problems.
What are your experiences? And what would you a student to know about this?
I always struggle with learning piano and I still do. Teachers never understod my difficulties with motor skills and organizational skills.
Then perhaps me and teachers had different goals due to commumication problems.

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/22/21 08:21 AM.

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If you struggle with communication, organization, and motor skills you could consider seeking the help of a speech-language pathologist or a special educator. This person could work with you and with your piano teacher to individualize your instruction.


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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I have a question for teachers.
Have you ever experienced that a student had difficulties that were something you felt incompetent to deal with as a teacher?
I wonder how much piano teachers try to deal with student's difficulties that they don't know how to deal with.
I am a classical piano teacher, but I only teach children.

I took the liberty of looking at your previous threads and can see a pattern of consistent doubting of your teacher and yourself, and overthinking (which seems to be a big problem with many adult students). If you were a child, you would take everything your teacher tells you at face value, and not worry about whether you were keeping up, or not managing or 'playing correctly', whatever.

Students just need to trust that their teachers know what they are doing - otherwise why bother with a teacher?

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Originally Posted by malkin
If you struggle with communication, organization, and motor skills you could consider seeking the help of a speech-language pathologist or a special educator. This person could work with you and with your piano teacher to individualize your instruction.

Exactly how does that work?

Originally Posted by liliboulanger
Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
I have a question for teachers.
Have you ever experienced that a student had difficulties that were something you felt incompetent to deal with as a teacher?
I wonder how much piano teachers try to deal with student's difficulties that they don't know how to deal with.
I am a classical piano teacher, but I only teach children.

I took the liberty of looking at your previous threads and can see a pattern of consistent doubting of your teacher and yourself, and overthinking (which seems to be a big problem with many adult students). If you were a child, you would take everything your teacher tells you at face value, and not worry about whether you were keeping up, or not managing or 'playing correctly', whatever.

Students just need to trust that their teachers know what they are doing - otherwise why bother with a teacher?
I could interpret what you wrote like this: "Follow your teacher even if he/she doesn't understand you". I assume that this is not what you actually were reffering to but I could easily choose to interpret it that way. Am I right?
I am only refering to situations when a students have dificulties that most piano teachers were never trained in dealing with.
Doubting and overthinking? I find that many piano teachers try to help people with difficulties even if they can't or they avoid the mentioning the difficulties and how it effects the playing.
I have on very big difficulty: I cannot be shown a sheet music and just play without caring about understanding the music. I just can't. It's so hard. I want to see the patterns involved. With Für Elise I looked at the harmony and the rhythm/pulse. It became so much easier after I could see the Am and E7 chords. I organize much better if I try to understand the music.
I never really play anything without understanding the musical language.
I guess I am very very different from most students who can just play from the score and leave out the understanding part (even if they really want to understand what is going on).
You could say that a teacher could easily just show me the "Understanding" but I am not so sure. For this you have to combine theory, sheet music and playing by ear. You have to be holistic. Most teachers are not holistic. Even in jazz piano you might leave out the "understanding". You have to be patient with such a student. He/she will not learn quickly in the beginning. I always want to see patterns (both in techique and music).
This is just an example of what I want. I am not just asking about me. I am asking about students with difficulties in general.
What do you say?

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/23/21 03:43 AM.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
Doubting and overthinking? I find that many piano teachers try to help people with difficulties even if they can't or they avoid the mentioning the difficulties and how it effects the playing.
I have on very big difficulty: I cannot be shown a sheet music and just play without caring about understanding the music. I just can't. It's so hard. I want to see the patterns involved. With Für Elise I looked at the harmony and the rhythm/pulse. It became so much easier after I could see the Am and E7 chords. I organize much better if I try to understand the music.
I never really play anything without understanding the musical language.
Why don't you study theory and (jazz) harmony on your own, outside of your piano lessons? Learn all about harmonic progressions, ii-V7-I, whatever, and have fun.

If you want to write down chord symbols/guitar chords on every classical piece you learn, by all means, if that floats your boat. A jazz pianist I once knew (who was the pianist on a cruise ship) played Für Elise from a lead sheet, swinging the tune and using his own improvised accompaniment. You might want to try that.

Otherwise, just play what Beethoven wrote, and analyze the music to your heart's content, if you really can't play it otherwise.

Incidentally, as you're talking about 'understanding the music', do you know what form Für Elise is in? Any modulations, and into which key(s)? How does Beethoven do it? How can you tell it's by Beethoven and not Mozart or Haydn or Clementi or Czerny or Schubert or Farrenc or Symanowska or.....Hélène de Montgeroult?

There is a lot, lot more to 'understanding the music' than just seeing Am and E7.......


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
Doubting and overthinking? I find that many piano teachers try to help people with difficulties even if they can't or they avoid the mentioning the difficulties and how it effects the playing.
I have on very big difficulty: I cannot be shown a sheet music and just play without caring about understanding the music. I just can't. It's so hard. I want to see the patterns involved. With Für Elise I looked at the harmony and the rhythm/pulse. It became so much easier after I could see the Am and E7 chords. I organize much better if I try to understand the music.
I never really play anything without understanding the musical language.
Why don't you study theory and (jazz) harmony on your own, outside of your piano lessons? Learn all about harmonic progressions, ii-V7-I, whatever, and have fun.

If you want to write down chord symbols/guitar chords on every classical piece you learn, by all means, if that floats your boat. A jazz pianist I once knew (who was the pianist on a cruise ship) played Für Elise from a lead sheet, swinging the tune and using his own improvised accompaniment. You might want to try that.

Otherwise, just play what Beethoven wrote, and analyze the music to your heart's content, if you really can't play it otherwise.

Incidentally, as you're talking about 'understanding the music', do you know what form Für Elise is in? Any modulations, and into which key(s)? How does Beethoven do it? How can you tell it's by Beethoven and not Mozart or Haydn or Clementi or Czerny or Schubert or Farrenc or Symanowska or.....Hélène de Montgeroult?

There is a lot, lot more to 'understanding the music' than just seeing Am and E7.......
Just play what Beethoven wrote? Doesn't require me to just play from the sheet music? It really does. The thing I see on this forum is that people think playing what is in the sheet music is easy. People assume that we all can do it with just a little bit of training. Sorry guys but I struggled with it. People who need something more often stop taking piano lessons.

"If you want to write down chord symbols/guitar chords on every classical piece you learn, by all means, if that floats your boat. "
What if the teacher refuses to help a student do that? they often say "you only need to focus on playing what is written in the score!".
Some people on this forum even said that memorizing music is very bad as you should only read music.
Do "classical" teachers assume that people will be the best pianists if they only read music?

I was asking if you teachers have seen people who needed much more than just focusing on reading music and doing some technique exercices?
Where does the idea that the easiest way to learn to play the piano is from focusing on reading sheet music come from? Does this method work for most people?
Teachers love focusing on some aspects of piano playing and avoiding others. Why? What if a student wants to play a simple accompaniment to Bwv anh. 114? Are you going to say "you are not supposed to learn music that way" or accept it and help the student learn by focusing on that aspect as well?

Last edited by Dantheboogieguy; 10/23/21 07:28 AM.

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It's hard to know which are your needs and which are your wishes, wants, and whims.

Regardless, you have a desire to be taught piano in a rather idiosyncratic way.

I think it is unfair to expect the average competent piano teacher to accommodate you.

So I think you probably have to choose between searching for that rare teacher who will do it your way, or finding a traditional competent piano teacher and somehow adapting to their teaching.

Malkin suggested you do the second by seeking specialized help in adapting to the normal teaching, but you did not seem receptive. Perhaps that is impossible for you, in which case your search must continue.

However, you keep saying I can't, I can't, I can't. That limitation may not be as absolute as you think. Try thinking I can't YET, maybe.


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Dan
You just wrote on another forum that you have a jazz piano teacher that meets your needs. That is great, and you will not likely find a classical teacher that will please you. If you can’t adapt, stick with what you are doing now.

There are inaccuracies in your post above. Classical students are discouraged from memorizing EVERYTHING. not discouraged from memorizing. The reason Is that good reading skills are developed by actually reading a lot of music.

Stick with what you are doing.


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Originally Posted by TimR
It's hard to know which are your needs and which are your wishes, wants, and whims.
well said! It's such an important thing to say! It really is!


Originally Posted by dogperson
Dan
There are inaccuracies in your post above. Classical students are discouraged from memorizing EVERYTHING. not discouraged from memorizing. The reason Is that good reading skills are developed by actually reading a lot of music.
i myself discourage people from trying memorize. The best things is to understand the music at first.


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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
Do "classical" teachers assume that people will be the best pianists if they only read music?

Yes. A piano teacher is in the business of teaching piano to people who have a desire to read notes. If somebody comes along who wants an unconventional teaching style, teachers can choose not to add difficulty to their lives. In short, nobody owes you a particular way of teaching. The teacher is the leader and the student is the follower. Some teachers like to be facilitators. Not I.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
Originally Posted by malkin
If you struggle with communication, organization, and motor skills you could consider seeking the help of a speech-language pathologist or a special educator. This person could work with you and with your piano teacher to individualize your instruction.

Exactly how does that work?

When potential clients contact me at my private practice of speech-language pathology we have an initial conversation about what difficulties they are experiencing and how I could address those issues. Of course we discuss the options for session times and duration as well as the cost. For example if an individual wanted to improve executive functioning, I would find out how the person is currently functioning. Together we would set goals. I would create activities to work toward those goals. If your goals were specifically toward organizing your piano practice, we would perhaps meet with your teacher to discuss the teacher's perception of your needs in that area.

You can PM me for more info if you want.


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As some one who has on several occasions consumed physical, occupational and speech therapists skill I think that what you are looking for it you do have a motor skills issues is an occupational therapist. The physical therapist primarily looks at large motor function, the speech therapist is speech and swallowing (Personally I think they should be called swallowing therapists) and the occupational therapist are more along the lines of fine motor skills. However before you go there how long have you been playing the Piano and what are your expectations? Are you being realistic?


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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
. . .
I have on very big difficulty: I cannot be shown a sheet music and just play without caring about understanding the music. I just can't. It's so hard. I want to see the patterns involved. With Für Elise I looked at the harmony and the rhythm/pulse. It became so much easier after I could see the Am and E7 chords. I organize much better if I try to understand the music.
I never really play anything without understanding the musical language.
I guess I am very very different from most students who can just play from the score and leave out the understanding part (even if they really want to understand what is going on).
You could say that a teacher could easily just show me the "Understanding" but I am not so sure. For this you have to combine theory, sheet music and playing by ear. You have to be holistic. Most teachers are not holistic. Even in jazz piano you might leave out the "understanding". You have to be patient with such a student. He/she will not learn quickly in the beginning. I always want to see patterns (both in techique and music).
This is just an example of what I want. I am not just asking about me. I am asking about students with difficulties in general.
What do you say?

FWIW --

It sounds like you want to study music _analysis_, as well as learn to play the piano. "Playing the piano" is a physical exercise, with some intellectual components. But you're right --

. . . a lot of students, and some teachers, think that the only "intellectual component" is the ability to read music,
. . . and what matters is matching your finger movements, to the notes on the page.

Musical analysis is a whole different ballgame. It's purely intellectual. Your brain's hearing centers will get trained as you learn to listen harder, but you won't be physically challenged.

. . . There's no reason to think that a teacher of "how to play piano" will be interested in teaching, or know _how_ to teach,
. . . musical analysis. And a lot of students won't care about learning analysis, since they just want to play, not understand
. . . how the music is put together.

I think that bennevis' suggestion -- write in the chord symbols as you learn the piece, or even before you learn the piece -- is a very good one. You could do a lot of that yourself, and your teacher might be willing (happy?) to help.

There's a discussion ongoing, in this sub-forum, about good books for learning music theory:

. . . Get one, of those books, and start learning, and apply what you learn there, to what you play.

For kids learning to play, the fundamental unit of music is the note. For musicians (of any age), music is multi-dimensional -- instead of just a collection of notes, there are scales, chords, phrases, cadences, and so on.

Jazz is largely chord-centered. A jazz-oriented teacher _might_ be able to teach the way you want. Get a book like Tim Richards' "Improvising Blues Piano" (the first volume of his jazz-piano books), and you'll find that he thinks that "intermediate-level" classical skills are a pre-requisite:

. . . I don't know if jazz-piano teachers handle beginning pianists.

You might have to learn to walk, before you learn to run.

(I don't teach, and this advice is worth what you paid for it.)


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Originally Posted by Peddler100
As some one who has on several occasions consumed physical, occupational and speech therapists skill I think that what you are looking for it you do have a motor skills issues is an occupational therapist. The physical therapist primarily looks at large motor function, the speech therapist is speech and swallowing (Personally I think they should be called swallowing therapists) and the occupational therapist are more along the lines of fine motor skills. However before you go there how long have you been playing the Piano and what are your expectations? Are you being realistic?

The OP mentioned communication and executive functioning in addition to motor skill difficulties. In hospital settings, Speech-Language Pathologists provide swallowing evaluation and treatment, in the same way, many Occupational Therapists specialize in teaching young children to perform fine motor tasks using pencils and crayons in school settings. The scope of these professions is much broader, serving clients across the lifespan in many settings. Practitioners in all the disciplines have varying areas of expertise and specialization.

It may take a few calls to locate someone who has the expertise that you are looking for. Focus on finding someone who can help you with your needs rather than on the job title.

Last edited by malkin; 10/23/21 07:22 PM.

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Originally Posted by Dantheboogieguy
You could say that a teacher could easily just show me the "Understanding" but I am not so sure. For this you have to combine theory, sheet music and playing by ear. You have to be holistic. Most teachers are not holistic. Even in jazz piano you might leave out the "understanding". You have to be patient with such a student. He/she will not learn quickly in the beginning. I always want to see patterns (both in techique and music).
This is just an example of what I want. I am not just asking about me. I am asking about students with difficulties in general.
What do you say?

Not a teacher, but I see some of my own problems in your explanation so here is my 2c.

For intelligent adults with good pattern recognition skills, it is workable to learn to play simple music by "understanding". In fact it's often easier than reading for an adult student who can, say, decode the musical staves okay but has never been able to get note recognition to be fully instinctive the way letters of the alphabet are, for example.

The problem is that as the complexity of the music ramps up, this isn't really a sustainable way of learning. For classical piano, it kind of gets exponentially too slow and time-consuming once you get past method book level or maybe a bit higher. So teachers don't teach it, because it would be leading the student down a dead-end path.

It's true that musicians that usually play from the score will use "understanding" as a way of helping the memorisation process along, but that's AFTER they mastered the piece technically and musically from the score.

The brutal truth is that if you want to get half decent at classical piano you have to be able to learn to read music. It's a show-stopper. Just like your progress at academic subjects would be very limited if you couldn't read language.

And this is from someone who can decode a score and play method book level music competently but has never been able to get note recognition to be instinctive and subconscious, and has to rely instead on a combination of understanding, ear, memory and musical pattern recognition.


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I'm afraid there's no special training for piano teachers of how to teach students with medical issues, I have never heard of any such training. So the best thing you can probably do is to find a teacher who is willing to deeply understand your problems and to develop a highly individualized learning method for you. Most piano teachers unfortunately just don't have enough time for that, so your search may be not an easy one.

Certainly you need to describe your goals and problems to a teacher in a very detailed way. If you have a disability to identify individual notes on the stave and you can only identify bigger patterns you need to tell about it. If you have big difficulty performing certain easy motions, you need to tell about it. If you can't organize your home practice you'll probably need someone who can help you with this at home.

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I'd also like to say a couple of things about the phrase "to understand music", because I think it's used inappropriately here.

When you look close at a painting you can see that a faraway house on it is composed only of a dozen brushstrokes of different colors. By analyzing forms and colors of the brushstrokes you can understand how the artist created the illusion image of the house by using elementary color spots. But it's not what the artist wanted us to understand about his painting. He or she wanted us to feel the atmosphere of a painting, to understand the story behind it, to understand how people and objects on the painting relate. That's what called to understand a painting. It's the same with music. You can decompose a piece that the composer composed down to notes and chords and cadences, but it's impossible to understand music this way, because music is something bigger than the elements it is composed of. I hope you understand what I mean.


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