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meghdad Offline OP
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I'm posting this at the risk of being prejudged by the elite teacher community, considering my old thread:

So after having sessions with 3 "public" teachers with the current one being overall better than the rest, I'm thinking of taking a private one because :

[list]
[*]The whole money goes into a private teacher's pocket and not shared with the school. This naturally follows that -particularly in a country with a weak economy- the odds of a
a higher quality teaching is higher when his/her income is higher.
[*] The public teachers that I've seen have steady income stream from having a big percentage of students as kids, which don't care, and can't criticize anything and anyone. The kids, as is the norm in my country, are usually forced into learning the piano by their mothers, because it's fashionable and it's apparently intellectually helpful.
So the teachers are already satisfied with their job regardless of a few unsatisfied adult students.
[*] Because of the above, a public teacher can neglect stuff in learning and can "have it easy" i.e less responsibility.
[*] My current teacher, being better than the previous ones, gives the feeling of being unsatisfied with his job, when he complains about not having enough time for whatever else in his private life. This early perception of him is subject to my coming conversation with him, tomorrow probably.

All in all, for a public teacher in my country, it's a low-burden job with a low risk of being fired, as opposed to a private teacher. This I suppose is exactly the situation with the public education vs private education as a whole.

So I've started my search for an ideal private teacher, having my current contract with the music school still unbroken, which is already over anyways.


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Good luck to you in your search, Meghdad.

Originally Posted by meghdad
All in all, for a public teacher in my country, it's a low-burden job with a low risk of being fired, as opposed to a private teacher. This I suppose is exactly the situation with the public education vs private education as a whole.

I think this is accurate, as a general observation. But, even within professions that are so protected from competition that they breed a lot of malaise, there will still be the odd professional who takes his vocation seriously. Within the vast oceans of lawyers, doctors, public education teachers, and other professions whose members are protected from competition by government entry barriers, you will still find members who aspire to excellence despite the fact that they do not have to in order to survive or prosper. Finding one of those is critical.

My suggestion is that you spend a lot of time identifying and cataloging your own list of traits in a teacher that you find important, and more importantly, identify recognizable behaviors that evidence those traits so that you are better able to discern a teacher's quality while interviewing or screening them. Hopefully, you will be able to identify visible, observable behaviors and practices that you believe are associated with a love of excellence, and then look for those traits when you meet prospective teachers.

Also, get the prospective teacher to talk. Don't ask closed questions, such as "Do your students get better at piano?" which will inevitably be followed by a "Yes" and then silence. You have learned nothing. Ask instead, "Tell me about your students" and then shut up and listen. Don't be afraid of silence. Let the teacher fill the silence with his/her response. Then watch/listen for things that you think are evidence of the qualities you desire, and evidence of the qualities you dislike.

Finding the good members of protected professions is difficult. But, you can improve your chances if you first arm yourself with the tools needed to strip back the veil that hides their qualities or lack thereof.

Good luck to you!

Last edited by Ralphiano; 03/12/21 11:50 AM.

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Originally Posted by Ralphiano
Finding the good members of protected professions is difficult.

I am sorry that your life experiences has soured your view of some of societies most noble professions.


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meghdad Offline OP
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Great response Ralph!

Having the experience of dealing with three teachers, I can mostly identify those qualities I think. So I believe the time I spent with these teachers is now rewarding me back on two fronts: Piano skill and teacher identification skill. I actually did talk with a very different freelancer (i.e private) teacher, as in not only a different gender (a female), but also her introduction and posture seemed quite different from the previous ones. And I think I did pretty much what you suggested regarding the questions.

I began by talking straightly of the negative points of my teachers, and I stressed that I am looking for a teacher with reasonable experience of teaching adult students and also a willingness for such students. Her response was welcoming as she did indeed point out that she does prefer an adult student because "they understand things better" and by that, later on the talk, I found that she meant musicality and "connection" to the music, things that aren't merely technical, which it seems her pupils being kids, often don't possess. I liked her response regarding the monetary value being not as important to her, or at least as much important, as the joy of teaching to a musically understanding student.

In addition, she went on to talk about her experience and education. My response was can be summarized as "walk the walk, not just talk the talk". Simply said, I stressed that being a dedicated fine teacher is way more than being a good player and being educated well.

She also didn't hide her dislike for the Beyer and Hanon and Aaron books in favor of Schmidt's 5-finger and Jonathan erm something books. This viewpoint of hers was interesting and it's one of the things that's quite different from the other teachers, though not necessarily for the better. I'm just not sure about this one and I don't think it should be an issue, given my stage of learning, having already mostly learned a few of Bach and Beethoven's easy pieces.
One of the interesting points she brought up was exactly one of the reasons that I leaned towards a female over a male teacher this time. She indeed disapproved of the male teachers -in my country I might add- as having "holistic" views and not paying attention to the details. I suspect her viewpoint to a degree, because she was generalizing, however I wonder if in general female teachers are approximately more responsible in their approach to teaching? My observation since the school and university time seems to confirm this, at least where I live.

Anyways we agreed to have an introductory session of Skype and if we like each other , or better said "feel comfortable", we'll work out the details ,or I may have to continue my search. :-)


P.S By private, I in fact meant a free-lancer.


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I think your generalization depends on where you live (city and country). I live in a city that is highly competitive in many endeavours. If you aren't very good at what you do, you don't get the job, even at music schools. I have 5 music teachers at the moment for 4 different instruments. Three are local to my city, two are strictly virtual (1 in the UK and 1 in the US). Of the 3 local ones, 2 are from a music school and 1 a free-lancer. I expected the free-lancer to be very good, and she is. I expected the 2 from the music schools to be less good but both have exceeded my expectations. I think the high quality of teachers at local music schools has to do with having lots of very qualified teachers in the community all vying for a job.

This is probably not the case with other cities.


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"Ask instead, "Tell me about your students" and then shut up and listen. " That's a good tip, thanks for the suggestion, Ralphiano.

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Indeed. Blunt and to the point.


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When I was in China I had 2 teachers. They were the music teachers at the school where I was working. The contrast was interesting and helped my progress. One was a general music teacher in her thirties. She was a very experienced and very good teacher. The other one was in her early twenties and had studied piano at Chengdu Conservatory. She was a very good pianist but not as good a teacher as the other.

It led to some interesting experiences. Having two women teaching me who knew each other meant that I had to be even handed. On the anniversary of starting I bought them a basket of fruit each. I had to ensure that those were identical. If one had got a pineapple and the other hadn't there would have been fireworks.

Those were good days.


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This is perhaps a dumb question, but do you mean piano teachers who work in a public school and are available for adults and kids to take lessons from? Such a thing doesn't exist here in the US.


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Yeah, pretty much. Not exactly a public government-sponsored school though, rather "specialized" private sector musical schools. That's common in Iran and it's primarily an escape way for those who can't afford a "free-lancer" teacher.

Anyways, I'm back to the "public" school teacher for now, as the freelancer teacher couldn't provide face-to-face sessions, rather via Skype, which is well, very sub-optimal compared to what I currently have. Too few options for people like me in this country, and it's worse now given the Covid circumstances.

Last edited by meghdad; 03/18/21 06:35 AM. Reason: added clarification

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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
...2 are from a music school and 1 a free-lancer. I expected the free-lancer to be very good, and she is. I expected the 2 from the music schools to be less good but both have exceeded my expectations. I think the high quality of teachers at local music schools has to do with having lots of very qualified teachers in the community all vying for a job.
For practicing sessions, do they come to your place or do you go to the school? And do they play along with you?

To all of you, could you please share your experience regarding how the lessons are thought? I'd appreciate detailed descriptions, like the duration of class, the teaching approach, where or not there's a method book, whether or not there are play-alongs etc etc.

Perhaps this deserves a new thread, so that it could become kind of a wiki?


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Originally Posted by meghdad
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
...2 are from a music school and 1 a free-lancer. I expected the free-lancer to be very good, and she is. I expected the 2 from the music schools to be less good but both have exceeded my expectations. I think the high quality of teachers at local music schools has to do with having lots of very qualified teachers in the community all vying for a job.
For practicing sessions, do they come to your place or do you go to the school? And do they play along with you?

To all of you, could you please share your experience regarding how the lessons are thought? I'd appreciate detailed descriptions, like the duration of class, the teaching approach, where or not there's a method book, whether or not there are play-alongs etc etc.

Perhaps this deserves a new thread, so that it could become kind of a wiki?

Sure, meghdad, let me start.

Prior to the pandemic, I would go to my piano teacher’s private studio - it was not her home. She is the owner/operator. My lessons were 45 minutes and I’ve tried every week and every other week with her. I preferred every other week so I’m still doing that. My lessons with her are like a master class generally. I would play to her what I learned and she would dissect it and tell me how I could play it better. We never do play alongs. Sometimes she’ll explain a piece to me before we start, sometimes in very much detail, sometimes not very much. I started with Faber method book and now working through the RCM levels. All my materials come from the RCM curriculum.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 03/19/21 12:01 PM.

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Ok, thank you. That sounds pretty much like my teacher except the duration(30 mins every week) and that he follows apparently no method book and no RCM afaik.

I'm curious what's your level? And did you start that way or was it different teaching experiences? I'm created a new thread for that purpose btw. :-)


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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Sure, meghdad, let me start.

Prior to the pandemic, I would go to my piano teacher’s private studio - it was not her home. She is the owner/operator. My lessons were 45 minutes and I’ve tried every week and every other week with her. I preferred every other week so I’m still doing that. My lessons with her are like a master class generally. I would play to her what I learned and she would dissect it and tell me how I could play it better. We never do play alongs. Sometimes she’ll explain a piece to me before we start, sometimes in very much detail, sometimes not very much. I started with Faber method book and now working through the RCM levels. All my materials come from the RCM curriculum.

This is a continuation of my previous post as I hit the post button too early by accident.

We sometimes work on ear training and sight-reading together but that’s pretty much my homework to do myself consistently at home. She incorporates some theory but that too is something I should be working on as homework myself. I’m pretty self-sufficient in that sense.

My sax teacher is a part of a private music school. Private music schools in Canada are owned by an individual and have many teachers working for them as independent contractors. Lessons are weekly for 30 minutes. I also work through the RCM curriculum and the lessons are very regimented in that it’s always starting with scales, then etudes then repertoire and that’s pretty much all the time we’ve got. I would play each scale, etude or rep once or twice and he’d comment on where/how I could improve. With 30 minute lessons, there’s very little time to waste and talk about other stuff but we do make time to discuss whether I want to do exams, which exam I should do, goals, etc.

My other teachers (guitar and violin) I got after the pandemic started and are virtual. Two are outside my country. One corresponds with me via email only. She has an online course I signed up for and she provides email guidance as part of the online course. The other two are via Zoom. One is part of a local private music school and the other one is a private teacher not a part of any school. They teach pretty much the same way as the others. I learn a piece and they critique. They hear me play and they tell me where/how I can improve. They will all play segments to demonstrate what they’re trying to get me to sound like but we don’t do play-alongs. I’ve actually never done play-alongs wth a live teacher but the online course has play-along videos that I do play-along with. Guitar is 30 minutes every other week and violin is 45 - 60 minutes whenever I feel the need for feedback, and I book a lesson (she’s super flexible in this regard).

For classical guitar, I work through a method book and will start RCM after that. For violin, I’m working through Suzuki book 1 and will likely start RCM after that as well. I guess you can already tell how much I like the RCM program. This is a choice. My teachers could teach by other means but I always tend to choose RCM for it’s clear and concise structure and comprehensiveness. I may or may not sit every exam. Also my choice. No pressure from any teacher.


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Originally Posted by meghdad
Ok, thank you. That sounds pretty much like my teacher except the duration(30 mins every week) and that he follows apparently no method book and no RCM afaik.

I'm curious what's your level? And did you start that way or was it different teaching experiences? I'm created a new thread for that purpose btw. :-)

I’m currently RCM 3 in piano, RCM 2 in sax, Suzuki book 1 in violin and still on a method book in classical guitar. I’m kind of on a musical instrument learning addiction as you can see, although there are plans to drop one of my instruments.

I’ve been pretty lucky in that these teachers are all my first teachers in adulthood. I did my research on them online, chose ones that I thought would be a good fit and really like working with every one of them...and I’m known to be a picky person. Also helps that I live in a major city though, biggest in Canada. Lots of teachers to choose from.

I’ve had group keyboard (not piano) lessons and public school band lessons as a child and comparatively speaking, they weren’t so good. But of course, you do get what you pay for.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 03/19/21 12:38 PM.

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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Originally Posted by meghdad
Ok, thank you. That sounds pretty much like my teacher except the duration(30 mins every week) and that he follows apparently no method book and no RCM afaik.

I'm curious what's your level? And did you start that way or was it different teaching experiences? I'm created a new thread for that purpose btw. :-)

I’m currently RCM 3 in piano, RCM 2 in sax, Suzuki book 1 in violin and still on a method book in classical guitar. I’m kind of on a musical instrument learning addiction as you can see, although there are plans to drop one of my instruments.

I’ve been pretty lucky in that these teachers are all my first teachers in adulthood. I did my research on them online, chose ones that I thought would be a good fit and really like working with every one of them...and I’m known to be a picky person. Also helps that I live in a major city though, biggest in Canada. Lots of teachers to choose from.

I’ve had group keyboard (not piano) lessons and public school band lessons as a child and comparatively speaking, they weren’t so good. But of course, you do get what you pay for.
Boy that's a lot to handle WeakLeftHand. I was thinking about taking up guitar but I couldn't see where I would find the time to practice. 3 new instruments, how do you do it?


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Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
Originally Posted by meghdad
Ok, thank you. That sounds pretty much like my teacher except the duration(30 mins every week) and that he follows apparently no method book and no RCM afaik.

I'm curious what's your level? And did you start that way or was it different teaching experiences? I'm created a new thread for that purpose btw. :-)

I’m currently RCM 3 in piano, RCM 2 in sax, Suzuki book 1 in violin and still on a method book in classical guitar. I’m kind of on a musical instrument learning addiction as you can see, although there are plans to drop one of my instruments.

I’ve been pretty lucky in that these teachers are all my first teachers in adulthood. I did my research on them online, chose ones that I thought would be a good fit and really like working with every one of them...and I’m known to be a picky person. Also helps that I live in a major city though, biggest in Canada. Lots of teachers to choose from.

I’ve had group keyboard (not piano) lessons and public school band lessons as a child and comparatively speaking, they weren’t so good. But of course, you do get what you pay for.
Boy that's a lot to handle WeakLeftHand. I was thinking about taking up guitar but I couldn't see where I would find the time to practice. 3 new instruments, how do you do it?

Haha Jethro, I suppose I am just a bit crazy!

Piano (keyboard) and sax are technically not new instruments as I’ve had a tiny bit of experience with them in childhood so when I started up with them again pre-pandemic, their journey was pretty smooth already. I think learning 2 instruments is very doable even for a working person if your practicing is focused and efficient. My ideal piano practice time is 1hr, 4-5 days a week. My sax practice time is 45 minutes every day. Different instruments, different needs. I’m a firm believer of practicing until it is no longer efficient. If practicing starts to have no gains, I stop.

Classical guitar and violin were “pandemic” instruments, meaning I decided to learn to play them during the pandemic, out of boredom really.

Also, I no longer have a 3hour daily commute due to working from home so that certainly helps!

I don’t think learning 4 instruments seriously is sustainable for me, on a time and financial basis. I think I will be shortly dropping guitar to concentrate on the others. But pulling the plug is so hard to do! I love them all but I do struggle with classical guitar the most so maybe that’s the logical one to quit.


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