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#3163597 10/12/21 11:51 AM
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Hi- I have a question about different teaching styles.
My daughter is 7 and started piano lessons a year ago. She has been thru 3 teachers now bc of teacher changes at her music school.
Her first teacher focused on giving her songs she liked such as pop songs. While still teaching the basics of notes and sight reading, she actually gave my daughter some songs that were def more "advanced" than her level, but my daughter loved it and was playing everday and was really into it. She started memorizing the songs really quickly though and was playing from memorization.
Then we got a new teacher who was very basic and just starting with "every good boy does fine" and not giving her many practice songs at all.
Her third teacher who she has now is using Hanon exercises at the start of practices. And is insisting that she cannot play songs more "advanced for her." He is focusing on being sure she is sight reading correctly and NOT memorizing. She is getting better at sight reading but the practicing and classes are very boring. She does not run to the piano anymore to practice like she did with her first teacher.

My opinion is that there should be a combination of these styles. Learn the basics and correct sight reading but give her some fun "advanced" songs that she enjoys!

What do you professional teachers think???

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I'm curious: How often does your daughter have lessons, and how long is each lesson?

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Once a week for 30 min.
Seems very short. With the first teacher we did extend it to 45min.

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I would track down the first teacher and hire them on the side.


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I am not a teacher but I had many piano teachers. In effect, the most important thing a piano teacher can do for me was to keep my interesting to the music and develop a personal sense of aesthetics. All the remaining will come alone.
With too much Hanon or Czerny, the personal sense of aesthetics development would be a big question: too Boring!!!!

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Originally Posted by Talão
I would track down the first teacher and hire them on the side.

I would track down the first teacher and hire them, and skip the music school.


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As a piano teacher, I would say your OP doesn't give us enough information to help you. For example, your daughter may have simply liked the first teacher better because she bonded with her as a person. She may not really like having a male piano teacher.

Or she may learn mostly by ear and have difficulty reading notes, and this teacher figures that the only way to really help her is to slow her down to read the notes now before they get more complex later. He may notice what I've noticed: that students who learn by ear quit piano by about ten years old because they never really learn to read.

Also, you may not be properly supporting this male piano teacher. I think this is the case. I would stop questioning him and start sitting with your daughter until she completes everything asked of her. This business of piano being FUN is the problem. Anybody with real interest for music finds everything fun, even Hanon exercises. If your daughter balks, I'd say, "You can't have piano lessons then. You don't have sufficient interest." If you truly support this teacher, ask if he will teach your daughter at a different location such as his home. Quit with the music school and give him his just due: a full tuition fee, not a percentage of it.

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Originally Posted by Candywoman
If your daughter balks, I'd say, "You can't have piano lessons then. You don't have sufficient interest."

I hope that no parent would deprive their seven year old child of all the positive things that learning to play the piano at such a young age can bring, just because the child does not enjoy boring lessons and boring exercises.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Candywoman
If your daughter balks, I'd say, "You can't have piano lessons then. You don't have sufficient interest."

I hope that no parent would deprive their seven year old child of all the positive things that learning to play the piano at such a young age can bring, just because the child does not enjoy boring lessons and boring exercises.


Not giving music lessons to a child who is not interested in music is not deprivation. It is hard for us here to understand that not every child will like music—- but they may like sports or art or ballet. Trying to shove a child into the interest a parents wants them to have may well lead to the child’s lifelong dislike. Happened to my sibling.


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Originally Posted by Candywoman
...your daughter may have simply liked the first teacher better because she bonded with her as a person. She may not really like having a male piano teacher...

The kid needs to have some positive connection with the teacher. I think parents need to support the development of a relationship.

Several years ago, my mom was cleaning out and sent me a box of stuff that included some piano music. When I saw and smelled the books, I threw up. I had completely forgotten about the experience of having lessons from this guy who came to my house every week for some period of time.

I'm not saying anything happened...I'm just saying that that isn't the kind of experience most parents want for their kid.


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in response to Candywoman:

"Or she may learn mostly by ear and have difficulty reading notes, and this teacher figures that the only way to really help her is to slow her down to read the notes now before they get more complex later. He may notice what I've noticed: that students who learn by ear quit piano by about ten years old because they never really learn to read."

Yes, this is what I was wondering. Maybe it is not good for her to keep memorizing songs bc it may interfere with her ability to learn how to read. She is not playing by ear though, just memorizing.

"Also, you may not be properly supporting this male piano teacher. I think this is the case. I would stop questioning him and start sitting with your daughter until she completes everything asked of her. This business of piano being FUN is the problem. Anybody with real interest for music finds everything fun, even Hanon exercises."

Actually, I am open to this new teacher. And my daughter is also fine with him and seems to enjoy the Hanon actually. And I agree that learning any new skill is not going to just be 100% FUN but def will have alot of hard work involved.
But when I saw how my daughter WAS enjoying piano, and then was deprived of that, I was questioning the methods. But I figured I would get a professional's opinion because maybe there are good reasons for the way piano is taught.

So basically I wanted to know:
-Is some memorization ok as long as she continues to progress in reading the notes?
-And is learning some pieces more advanced than her level ok?
Her new teacher implied that both of these things could be detrimental.

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In direct response to your two questions at the end:

Originally Posted by Marymmore
So basically I wanted to know:
-Is some memorization ok as long as she continues to progress in reading the notes?
-And is learning some pieces more advanced than her level ok?
Her new teacher implied that both of these things could be detrimental.

Memorization is perfectly fine, and in fact it's how I learned for the longest time. I still memorize everything, actually, and I really have a great memory. There are probably a couple hundred songs up in my brain I've forgotten I know, and I have a running list of about 10-15 full on pieces of music in my repertoire I try to keep polished every day.

Learning new pieces more advanced is very okay, and is the only way one makes progress. Depends what you mean by "more advanced." If it's a little out of her reach and she has to stretch and practice a little bit harder to succeed, that's a very good thing, and it's the surest way to grow. If it's so far out of her reach it discourages her from playing, that's a bad thing.

All this being said, working on her reading *is* important as well. I think you said it best in your first post actually: A combination of all those teachers sounds like a good fit.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Candywoman
If your daughter balks, I'd say, "You can't have piano lessons then. You don't have sufficient interest."

I hope that no parent would deprive their seven year old child of all the positive things that learning to play the piano at such a young age can bring, just because the child does not enjoy boring lessons and boring exercises.


Not giving music lessons to a child who is not interested in music is not deprivation.

That is correct. However, not giving music lessons because the lessons are boring and the exercises are boring, whilst there is a genuine interest in learning to play music, is. Instead of stopping the piano lessons, you look for a better teacher. Or you encourage your child to put up with the boring stuff because so much good stuff is waiting just around the corner. At least, that is what I would hope a parent would do.


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Originally Posted by Marymmore
Once a week for 30 min.
Seems very short. With the first teacher we did extend it to 45min.

Thanks for your reply to my question about lesson length/frequency.

I agree with you that 30 minutes is short. It's a doable lesson length, but not as much will be able to be covered. Basic foundations, assuming they're being taught, will take longer to establish in a student who sees a teacher only 30 minutes a week.

A second lesson in a week would be beneficial at your daughter's age, if that can be arranged, but even one 45-minute lesson per week, like you had with your first teacher, would be better than one 30 a week.

Your daughter's first teacher taught her the basics of notes and sightreading, so your daughter had more opportunity for her skills development to flourish in a 45-minute lesson. She probably was making better progress with her first teacher because of that longer lesson length, and progress leads to greater confidence and more enjoyment in playing.

It's unfortunate she wasn't able to keep that teacher. It sounds like there were a lot of good things happening there.

The second teacher may not have been giving her many practice songs because of the shorter lesson length. Perhaps that teacher was going slower to establish some skills your daughter may not have developed yet with the first teacher. How long was she with each of her teachers? Were there gaps between ending with one teacher and starting with another?

In any case, for a student to have had three teachers in her first year of study, that would create disruption and likely frustration to your daughter. There's an ever-changing set of expectations whenever she has to switch teachers.

My recommendation would be to stay with the teacher you have now, and also see if it's possible to increase from the 30-minute, once-a-week lesson format with him. I haven't heard your daughter play, but I'm not opposed to a teacher using his/her professional judgment to determine whether and what type of stretch pieces are appropriate. I use stretch pieces with some of my students, but certain foundations need to be in place before I consider going that route.

If your current teacher leaves also, well, that would be unfortunate for your daughter. If that happens, I as a parent would do some careful research to find a teacher who plans to be settled in their location for a good many years, and isn't likely to leave anytime in the near future. Your daughter needs consistency that way. She may grow to enjoy taking lessons and playing again when she can avoid the teacher-merry-go-round ride she's been experiencing.

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Originally Posted by Marymmore
So basically I wanted to know:
-Is some memorization ok as long as she continues to progress in reading the notes?
-And is learning some pieces more advanced than her level ok?
Her new teacher implied that both of these things could be detrimental.

Some memorization ok? Generally, I would say yes. But not as a substitute for reading notes.

Learning some pieces more advanced than her present level? See my post just prior to this. Her current teacher is in a better position than any of us on the internet to determine that. smile

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I don't know if any of you is aware about Hanon, Czerny centric method? Someone maybe blames RCM, ABSMR, but this method is absolutely worse.
I had one teacher in the past was using that method. The consequence is that my motivation for piano was very down for many years.
This is just a very personal experience. It could work for some children who can sit down for hours without asking why. It maybe bring them to "play" Chopin etudes very early, and the parents are happy to show them around (maybe on youtube today?).


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Although these days I just teach jazz and blues it always amazes me that students can play a Mozart piano sonata but, take the music away from them, and they can't even play Happy Birthday or a simple pop tune. This is partly because they usually have little understanding of chords that fit the tune. This is basic harmony, and even knowing how chords I, IV and V work (for example chords C, F and G triads: C+E+G etc) will provide the harmony for thousands of tunes.
I started taking lessons when I was 6 and I'm now nearly 75. It was only when a teacher started giving me tunes that were in the 'chart's' that I started to enjoy playing. And when I played keyboards in many rock and pop bands over the years we just handed out the chords or worked things out by listening to records.

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Originally Posted by Marymmore
====SNIP==========
So basically I wanted to know:
-Is some memorization ok as long as she continues to progress in reading the notes?
-And is learning some pieces more advanced than her level ok?
Her new teacher implied that both of these things could be detrimental.
Yes - I say that some memorization is actually desirable from repetition. There is certainly a difference between performing while "sight-reading", i.e., reading something for the first time, and performing while reading. I try to spend some small amount of time with students sight reading in lessons, and I ask them to spend 5 minutes on it in their daily practice. The ones that do as I ask generally get better.

Yes/No - playing something "more advanced than her level" presents some dangers to her physical mechanism if she becomes so focused on WHAT she is playing that she cannot pay attention to HOW she is playing. Repetitive motion injuries and tendonitis are, in my experience as player and teacher, more likely to occur when the music is extremely challenging. It can also be boring for some students to learn something above their level, because more drill and slow practice - to name two techniques - will be required to get the notes in hand.

Regarding a question you did not ask which to which others have referred, it is absolutely the case that there is more than one way to learn music. The "classical" player tends to read; the jazz and pop player learn more by ear. In the first case the sheet music is generally to be followed exactly - like reading from a script. In the second, it's more like getting an outline which is then elaborated on by the performer. I wish I'd had more practice as a young player at improvisation. I'm still kind of stiff with it though I've had time to develop some facility.

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In response to Seeker:

"Regarding a question you did not ask which to which others have referred, it is absolutely the case that there is more than one way to learn music. The "classical" player tends to read; the jazz and pop player learn more by ear. "

Interesting. My husband was just explaining that to me too, the difference betw classical and jazz piano. I guess all of these teachers just have their own approach to teaching, and I guess they are all "correct", just different.

So after speaking with the current teacher, he is open to giving my daughter more popular songs, but still does not want to go more advanced. And when I showed him a video of the songs she was playing at her recital when she had her old teacher, he said the rhythm is all wrong and not played correctly. Personally, I thought the songs sounded great. I guess I am clueless. And I guess the first teacher was clueless too?

He is now making her totally backtrack and go back to the first songs in book 1 to make sure she is learning tempo correctly. He has her counting the 1+2+ etc..... with a metronome. He also said she is not reading the notes well and that she has to restart from the beginning songs, but geez......can't she still learn sight reading and tempo without going back to mary had a little lamb?

But maybe this is good to give her a solid foundation. I got to have faith I guess!

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Originally Posted by Marymmore
he is open to giving my daughter more popular songs, but still does not want to go more advanced. And when I showed him a video of the songs she was playing at her recital when she had her old teacher, he said the rhythm is all wrong and not played correctly. Personally, I thought the songs sounded great. I guess I am clueless. And I guess the first teacher was clueless too?
I guess that first teacher just wanted your daughter to enjoy playing, and timing and rhythmic acuity (and possibly other musical aspects) got short shrift in the process.

Young kids can get away with it. Even musical adults will give them lots of slack. But if she still couldn't play in time by her teens, and no idea how to, you can guarantee that she wouldn't get such an easy ride from anyone, and by then, it would probably be too late to correct things (- which teen would want to go back to Twinkle, Twinkle and laboriously count beats 1+2+3+4 in order to be able to play in time....?)

I sometimes see kids - and adults - play with no sense of rhythm and timing, in showrooms and public pianos. None of them have ever had piano lessons. (I've never seen anyone who have had lessons play that way.) I - and I'm sure you too - have heard people sing Happy Birthday and other songs with no sense of where the beats are (and with little sense of pitch too). Fair enough, if they aren't musicians and aren't pretending to be, and just having fun at a party or in karaoke bars.

So, if the reason for learning the piano is just to play for fun, without bothering about playing anything properly with correct rhythm etc, that is perfectly fine. But as a teacher, I don't think that it is acceptable not to teach music properly. Notes have time values as well as pitch values, and music without rhythm is just sound. The most primitive music, after all, just consists of rhythmic chanting (or foot stamping, or hand clapping, or banging things together), but it's still music.

But this is pretty sophisticated clapping music whistle:



Quote
He is now making her totally backtrack and go back to the first songs in book 1 to make sure she is learning tempo correctly. He has her counting the 1+2+ etc..... with a metronome. He also said she is not reading the notes well and that she has to restart from the beginning songs, but geez......can't she still learn sight reading and tempo without going back to mary had a little lamb.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem when trying to correct faults that have been ingrained - it's often impossible to 'incorporate' basic stuff that wasn't properly learnt (or never taught) while learning complicated new music, and often the only way is to go all the way back to really simple stuff, and restart things almost from scratch in order to plug the gaps.


Quote
But maybe this is good to give her a solid foundation. I got to have faith I guess!
That is basically what it boils down to. Your daughter got away without having learnt the basics of timing (and counting beats aloud) so far, but in the near future she will be thankful that she was taught it while still at a relatively early stage, before she'd got too used to always 'guessing' her way through......


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