What makes a great piano teacher?

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Postby 73-1078374881 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 12:20 pm

Hahaha!!! My first violin teacher was a genius at analogies. Even today, eight years after I first started, whenever I play a piece from when I started, all these silly analogies my teacher made up flood the mind. They really do work!
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:38 pm

And Beethoven especially--all of those sudden register changes in, say, the "Waldstein", "Hammerklavier", last movement of Opus 27, No. 1, etc. Imagining an orchestration makes a lot of sense and really helps your inner ear. Karl Engel, my teacher in Germany, used to have me mark instrumentation in the piano score and then try to color the passages as close to it as I could.

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Postby 81-1074658942 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 9:10 pm

My teacher had me colour the music on a Bach fugue I learned a while back. [a different colour for each voice] It helped so much! It made memorization a lot easier, and made everything make more sense.



Edited By Quidam on 1079665880
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Postby Mins Music » Thu Mar 18, 2004 9:22 pm

Oh my goodness Quidam, sometimes you sound exactly like one of my students, and I think "Tia, is that you?" THen I have to say, no, Quidam doesn't even live in my country!

I would love to have your piano teacher on our forum! She sounds wonderful. And I can tell you really love your lessons with her. THat makes me feel all gooey inside (oh - which is a GOOD thing) :)
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby Annalisa » Mon Mar 22, 2004 11:17 am

I had the same piano teacher from age 6-19. I did Guild all of those years and learned to play very well from her. But! She was way more than a piano teacher to me. She taught me about life and about myself. She was always happy to see me, and that ment the world to me to see her smiling and waiting for me at the door. She made me feel special and loved. She taught me that my talent was not just random, but instead, a gift from God and a purpose in life. She taught me how to transfer my emotions (good and bad) into my music. Playing piano became a refuge for me, a sacred place of deep thought and prayer. My piano teacher watched me grow up, she was not only interested in my playing but she was also interested in me. I loved my piano teacher! That is the kind of teacher I hope that I am.
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Postby 73-1078374881 » Tue Mar 23, 2004 1:35 pm

You said it, Nancy! One of the things I always look forward to the most at my lessons is the open, good-natured converstions between my teacher and I. It's soooo much easier to play for someone when you know that person's on your side and cares about what you're doing!! What makes a really great teacher in my mind is one who knows exactly what they're doing and teaches well, but in the meantime can connect to his students in a personal way. :)
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Mar 23, 2004 5:44 pm

Thanks, Nancy, for that pertinent comment; and I will add this for everyone else: as one who has in the past done masterclasses and recitals for the teachers association she founded, as well as for her own students, I can testify first-hand that she is absolutely right.

I believe absolutely in demanding the best of students; among many other benefits it forces them to discover and mine resources and degrees of accomplishment they never knew they had. But for the teacher to use the relationship as a power play and feed his or her ego is reprehensible, and there's a lot of it in this profession.

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Postby 81-1074658942 » Tue Mar 23, 2004 9:23 pm

My teacher and I do have some great conversations. I think she ends up telling some story or another just about every lesson. :) On some of the longer ones she interrupts herself "I promise! this really does have a point!". And she's right. They have all kinds of points. As I try to figure out what I want to do, it's interesting to hear more about someone else's path.... but that was just a bit of randomness. You may be noticing a pattern of that. :laugh:


By the way, Nancy is right. The artist/educator interviews are fabulous! I've actually read them all. I'm just waiting for the next one. :D
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Postby Mins Music » Sat Mar 27, 2004 4:46 pm

"Love demands responsibility, thoughtfulness, devotion and action." - Dr Hao Huang

A great piano teacher in my opinion, first of all loves people, then loves music, then loves the piano. If they have love for all three and in this order, then they will be what Dr Hao Huang says: repsonsible, thoughtful, devoted, and active!
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby 67-1089904670 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 9:27 am

My best qualities, I believe, are gentleness and patience. I am deeply upset with a parent who berated her child during a lesson. He is a very good note-reader, his technique is good, and he is a talented little boy. He's only eight years old. I politely asked her to return to the waiting area and let us work on the music.

This kind of parent comes to me every so often. They only talk about how the child is not practicing enough. The child can play all his songs correctly in the lesson book. He cannot, however, play the entire "My Heart will go on" (not simplified) perfectly, which is what THE PARENTS expect. They refuse to buy any books at his level until he learns this one perfectly. Actually, he is making quite good progress on the piece.

This bothers me greatly. I like the boy very much.
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Postby Mins Music » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:34 pm

Welcome to the board Carrie :)

I sometimes think the hardest part of being a piano teacher is dealing with particular parents. I've had ones who want to yell at their kids to "stand up straight! don't make that face!" etc

Perhaps they feel that their child is representing them, and they would like to appear in the most 'perfect' light.

I've had to do similar to what you've done Carrie and politely ask the parent to leave all disciplining to me. In fact, I incorporated it into my studio policy because of one particular parent. I taught her two daughters back to back, and even though I usually like that the parents stay for lessons, I was relieved when this one would just drop them off and pick them up again. The girls were too.

If it's within my and the students' power, I usually try to deliver what the parents are after. However, reasonableness must prevail! If this piece is too difficult, the boy is getting weighed down from frustration or boredom, then I would bring this to the parent's attention with a definite plan of action.
If however, the boy is enjoying learning this piece, enjoying his progress, then perhaps you can concentrate on this one piece until he has it together.

Either way Carrie, don't allow yourself to be 'bullied'. Try and work out a compromise between what the parents would like and what you know to be best for the boy. You can be gentle, patient and FIRM.

Let us know how he progresses.
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby 80-1091265929 » Mon Aug 02, 2004 3:05 am

I would say an effective piano teacher is

1) Strict, he won't let his/her students get away with bad habits

2) able to communicate

3) Be able to play what he/she teaches!

4)Timing is well, and has good form and all the good attributes to play well

A Really Good Teacher should be

1)Compassionate
2)Friendly, Meanies don't really help the process of learning
3)Nice, that probably fits with no.2

Well, I'm sure that there's more to it, but from my experience this is what makes a good teacher.
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Postby 110-1071122552 » Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:51 pm

As a parent (who has learned music for many years since I was young), I define that a great teacher

1) understands the fact that students are different, and so is flexible and knowledgeable enough to properly adapt the curriculum to each student.

2) understands the true cause of the difficulties of each individual student, and knowledgeable enough to analytically advice efficient way to develop technical solutions.

3) is open-minded to investigate new pedagogical proposals.

In summary, never believes in a single rigid system. Those who do mostly blame the students in case of failure without questioning his/her teaching.
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Postby 76-1094931106 » Sat Sep 11, 2004 1:41 pm

My piano teacher was always like a second mother to me! She always took such interest in me as a person. Also, she always wanted me to call her the second I finished an exam or competed in a festival that she couldn't make it to. When I did call, we could talk for hours! The way she cared for me so much always made me work harder because I didn't want to disappoint her. I believe a truly great teacher will love what she does, love her students and take interest in them - kids know when someone takes interest in them and is in the profession because they care - not because they just want to make some money!
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Postby 109-1098732706 » Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:44 pm

I am a high school student and I love my piano. My teacher is awesome and really encourages me. I have been taking piano most of my life and I've had the same piano teacher all my eleven years of lessons. One thing that makes my teacher really great for me is she encourages me and doesn't force me to play things that I don't like or don't have an interest in.
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