Non-u.s. lessons - Differences and strengths

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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:27 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:Interaction between schools and private teachers is a large topic. It depends a great deal upon the individuals involved and the district. In cases with which I'm familiar, private teachers sometimes teach in the public schools to augment income. In other cases, there is essentially no interaction. For example, only occasionally are school music teachers members of local teacher groups. It is probably fair to say that it is relatively rare to find any formal, codified interactions between public and private teachers of music, although informal connections are common.

Another question that arises when one thinks about differences between the U.S. and abroad, is that of how teachers are trained and qualified. In the U.S., teachers of music are not required to have any particular credentials, abilities or degrees, although some teacher organizations offer "certifications" to those willing to submit background information and pay a fee. It's pretty much a caveat emptor mode here for the student looking for a teacher. That's one of the reasons that we've given students lots of information on PEP about how to find and evaluate teachers. How is that situation different outside the U.S.?

This is really interesting.
... As far as schools, here in Australia. In Primary school K-6 music is introduced to children in a more 'passive' way. Private lessons have no connection with the schools at this point. Music is introduced through a mixture of solfege, Kodály, Orff and Dalcroze. (actually there are many other methods). I can recall when I was in school at that stage we often clapped rhythms, played untuned percussive instruments and danced with the music. We also listened and sang to many songs. There was a school choir (I was a member of) and often it involved performances. We listened to a lot of different music. One teacher read us a page of Mozart's life a day and played us his melodies on the piano as we layed down and listened to.

In highschool music is compulsory grades 7-8. From grades 9-12 it is optional. At grade 7 and 8 students learn how to read music and understand the lines on the stave. They get introduced to various instruments: piano, drums, guitar and voice ... (they are the main instruments taught ... but some schools teach more instruments)
Then in grade 9-12 they choose which instrument(s) to major in.

Private lessons have nothing to do with the school lessons. School music is very different to private lessons.

I guess the main difference is that school music creates a well rounded musician that is skilled in understanding of music and has knowledge in: composition, appreciation, critical analysis of music, skills in performance and understanding of different genrés also the history of music.

Whereas private lessons creates a piano player who builds a repertoire of various works, a good sightreader, a good technique and understanding of theory.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:23 am

Becibu wrote:
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:Interaction between schools and private teachers is a large topic. It depends a great deal upon the individuals involved and the district. In cases with which I'm familiar, private teachers sometimes teach in the public schools to augment income. In other cases, there is essentially no interaction. For example, only occasionally are school music teachers members of local teacher groups. It is probably fair to say that it is relatively rare to find any formal, codified interactions between public and private teachers of music, although informal connections are common.




In highschool music is compulsory grades 7-8. From grades 9-12 it is optional. At grade 7 and 8 students learn how to read music and understand the lines on the stave. They get introduced to various instruments: piano, drums, guitar and voice ... (they are the main instruments taught ... but some schools teach more instruments)
Then in grade 9-12 they choose which instrument(s) to major in.

Private lessons have nothing to do with the school lessons. School music is very different to private lessons.

I guess the main difference is that school music creates a well rounded musician that is skilled in understanding of music and has knowledge in: composition, appreciation, critical analysis of music, skills in performance and understanding of different genrés also the history of music.

Whereas private lessons creates a piano player who builds a repertoire of various works, a good sightreader, a good technique and understanding of theory.

This is really informative, Becibu. Thanks! :cool:

The situation with respect to how much music training kids get in the public schools here varies greatly from district to district. In many cases, music training has been essentially eliminated (if it ever existed) from school curricula as a money-saving measure (though few indeed have so removed sports!). Some districts that have eliminated it have reintroduced music to some degree.

That said, I think you would find relatively few districts in the U.S. who have music instruction as intensive as you've indicated. Without wishing to be unfair to those districts where some music is taught, I think it would not be too far from the mark to say that most kids in the U.S. never even hear classical music in the schools, let alone study it, let alone learn anything about non-Western music. Of course, that situation would not hold in music magnet schools here, where the instruction is usually very good. Unfortunately, kids in magnet schools are those who would probably be musically-inclined anyway, so that those schools are sort of "preaching to the choir" (I guess that pun was intended! :D )




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Postby mirjam » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:50 pm

Some differences in U.S. versus European teaching (I live in The Netherlands):

1) the use of 'rewards'. I noticed lots of teachers give rewards for practising, bringing all the books, completing the theory assignment etc. Kids get stickers, candy, prizes, certificates etc. In Europe the only reward is the satisfaction of being able to play the piece very well, and a compliment and enthusiasm from the teacher.

2) the use of computer labs for doing music theory etc. -widely used in the U.S., not so much in The Netherlands. The importance of understanding the music theory in the earliest levels is more accepted in U.S. teaching, and students can take part in computer lab activities besides the regular lessons. Here theory is a bit neglected part in teaching, I'm afraid.

3) 'off the bench activities' aren't done here often, we only do these things with the youngest children. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, by the way. It seems to me they are important tools in teaching, but there's another side about it too: I have the feeling that Dutch teachers do not have to 'prove' every moment that piano lessons are 'fun'. It is the playing itself and the music that is our 'fun', if you know what I mean.

4) U.S. and Canada are very important when it comes to new insights in learning and teaching and there are a lot of new and interesting methods.

By the way, there are big differences between countries in Europe too. Germany for example has a different approach in improvising, playing 20th century music, composing, polyphonic playing etc. The Netherlands is more traditional, I think. The newest methods like Celebrate Piano, Music Moves etc. are not known here, and intervallic reading is quite 'new' here. Which is why it is so great to have boards like these, to share and learn!!!
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:42 pm

mirjam wrote:Some differences in U.S. versus European teaching (I live in The Netherlands):

1) the use of 'rewards'. I noticed lots of teachers give rewards for practising, bringing all the books, completing the theory assignment etc. Kids get stickers, candy, prizes, certificates etc. In Europe the only reward is the satisfaction of being able to play the piece very well, and a compliment and enthusiasm from the teacher.

2) the use of computer labs for doing music theory etc. -widely used in the U.S., not so much in The Netherlands. The importance of understanding the music theory in the earliest levels is more accepted in U.S. teaching, and students can take part in computer lab activities besides the regular lessons. Here theory is a bit neglected part in teaching, I'm afraid.

3) 'off the bench activities' aren't done here often, we only do these things with the youngest children. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, by the way. It seems to me they are important tools in teaching, but there's another side about it too: I have the feeling that Dutch teachers do not have to 'prove' every moment that piano lessons are 'fun'. It is the playing itself and the music that is our 'fun', if you know what I mean.

mirjam, thanks for these interesting comparisons. Based on what you've said, I get the impression that the European approach might be characterized as a "Back to Basics" one. Do you think that approach works better or just differently?
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Postby Tranquillo » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:44 am

The situation with respect to how much music training kids get in the public schools here varies greatly from district to district. In many cases, music training has been essentially eliminated (if it ever existed) from school curricula as a money-saving measure (though few indeed have so removed sports!). Some districts that have eliminated it have reintroduced music to some degree.


What happens in a highschool situation? I go to a public highschool so we're funded by the government. Our music facilities arent the best but we do have two upright pianos (in tune), two drum kits, 30 acoustic guitars, 2 electric guitars with amps, a bass guitar, 20 keyboards and a digital piano. Not really much ... added to that there is the innovative use of technology were composition programs come to play.
My school facilities arent much but there are certified degreed teachers that teach music in highschool. How does it work in the U.S? Are there school bands? Choirs? Music teachers and music classes ... ? Is music compulsory in the U.S as a subject at some stage in a student's life?
That said, I think you would find relatively few districts in the U.S. who have music instruction as intensive as you've indicated. Without wishing to be unfair to those districts where some music is taught, I think it would not be too far from the mark to say that most kids in the U.S. never even hear classical music in the schools, let alone study it, let alone learn anything about non-
Western music.


That is sorta a problem with kids. I think as children I can remember dancing and stomping to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf when I was in kindergaten. In grade 2 we listened to Mozart being played on the piano and a page of his life was read out to us everyday.
From there on I remember music only involving singing and being in the choir. The older I got in primary school the less members in the older year exsisted. I think with younger children they expose so much good music and classical. The older children they seem to forget that.

Of course, that situation would not hold in music magnet schools here, where the instruction is usually very good. Unfortunately, kids in magnet schools are those who would probably be musically-inclined anyway, so that those schools are sort of "preaching to the choir" (I guess that pun was intended! )


hahaha ... there are music magnet schools here too. I am not in one ... besides good facilities I wonder what else they offer...
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:10 am

This is slightly OT - has something happened with the RCM site? Last week my grade for the exam was there, and this week it's gone, with no record. The paranoid part of me is having paranoid thoughts.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:18 am

Becibu wrote:What happens in a highschool situation? I go to a public highschool so we're funded by the government. Our music facilities arent the best but we do have two upright pianos (in tune), two drum kits, 30 acoustic guitars, 2 electric guitars with amps, a bass guitar, 20 keyboards and a digital piano. Not really much ... added to that there is the innovative use of technology were composition programs come to play.
My school facilities arent much but there are certified degreed teachers that teach music in highschool. How does it work in the U.S? Are there school bands? Choirs? Music teachers and music classes ... ? Is music compulsory in the U.S as a subject at some stage in a student's life?

hahaha ... there are music magnet schools here too. I am not in one ... besides good facilities I wonder what else they offer...

You can find a good description of the strengths/problems of the U.S. school system in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. This is relevant in that it describes the roots of and local nature of decision-making in the U.S. education system. It's not specific to music, but gives you a flavor of how U.S. schools differ generally.

There are school bands and choirs in many, perhaps most, U.S. schools. They usually afford the student elective credit, but are not required and usually don't teach music fundamentals. Instrumentalists are expected to know how to play an instrument if they participate in band, though, of course, they get valuable practice and advice in band. Music may or may not be compulsory, again because the decisions are made locally, not at the state or Federal level.

Generally speaking, magnet schools here teach "The Three R's", but provide a focus in some area. They generally have better facilities and instruction in their area of focus than do the average public schools, and offer more opportunities to develop above average skills and knowledge in their focus areas.
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Postby Tarnia » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:26 am

That is very interesting Dr. Zeigler.

In Canada, similar to what Becibu is describing for Australia, music is mandatory up to a point. When I entered junior high school (gr. 7) I was assessed (along with my classmates) on a variety of band(wind) and strings instruments and then based on these assessments assigned to an instrument-if you request an instrument, they will give you the number for the RCM;) What I find interesting is that you stated that students are expected to have basic knowledge in their instrument before joining band. In my class we were told prior musical knowledge wasn't necessary and may even inhibit us-confusion between instruments, not being as open minded etc. This continued through to gr. 8 when band/strings becomes elective.

I attended a private school from gr. 8 through to my graduation, and there band/strings is elective. However again prior experience is not expected. Music class is compulsory through to gr. 9. This mostly consisted of singing, however some musical history was taught and the teacher made an effort to expose us to various forms of music, even organizing trips to the Toronto Symphony and so on.
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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:25 pm

In Canada, similar to what Becibu is describing for Australia, music is mandatory up to a point. When I entered junior high school (gr. 7) I was assessed (along with my classmates) on a variety of band(wind) and strings instruments and then based on these assessments assigned to an instrument-if you request an instrument, they will give you the number for the RCM;)
'

This is really interesting to me. When I started out for highschool they got us to learn of other instruments (guitar, keyboard, drums) just the fundamentals and we were open to pick what ever instrument we like.

The school system here in Australia offers greater flexibility to private lessons. The syllabus here in Australia for school music opposed to exam syllabus is a great contrast as I said in the prior topic.
Dr. John Zeigler,
That article seems interesting and very pessimistic ... From what you say about schools making decisions up locally is another interesting thing to me. In Australia out syllabus is set statewide.
Having said that in the U.S when music is taught do the teachers have to be qualified with a university degree or a college degree to teach music? In Australia the teacher must be qualified with a degree in his/her own subject and education to teach.

2) the use of computer labs for doing music theory etc. -widely used in the U.S., not so much in The Netherlands. The importance of understanding the music theory in the earliest levels is more accepted in U.S. teaching, and students can take part in computer lab activities besides the regular lessons. Here theory is a bit neglected part in teaching, I'm afraid.

This thing is very new I think in the private studio across the world. In my highschool because it is a technology highschool a lot of computer work is incorparated. We have been taught to compose through the use of computers. This is in my highschool, I dont think many private teachers do have computer labs.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:40 am

Becibu wrote:Dr. John Zeigler,
That article seems interesting and very pessimistic ... From what you say about schools making decisions up locally is another interesting thing to me. In Australia out syllabus is set statewide.
Having said that in the U.S when music is taught do the teachers have to be qualified with a university degree or a college degree to teach music? In Australia the teacher must be qualified with a degree in his/her own subject and education to teach.

While I and the article make the point that local districts have control of what gets done in schools in the U.S., it's not true that the the states and Federal government have no input. I can't speak with much knowledge of what other states do, as my acquaintance with their policies is out of date, but here in New Mexico, the state sets curricula (what groups of books are approved and what areas should and should not (e.g., "creationism" in science classes) be taught). The biggest single impact of the Federal government right now is the "No Child Left Behind" program, which has a major impact on how schools must "do business". Many educators don't like it much, but NCLB is just too big an issue to discuss here. The article I provide the link for discusses it to some degree. I don't think NCLB has much direct impact on music, since it focuses on improvement of, and metrics for, the core curriculum.

I don't want to get detoured too much in discussing the general characteristics of education in various countries. Let me make another observation: There tends to be a lot of flexibility in the approach private teachers use in the U.S. to teaching their individual students. I've said all over PEP that I believe this is a strength. I also get the impression from comments in this thread and others that private instruction in other countries may be more alike from teacher to teacher and, perhaps, more well-defined. Is that a fair representation of instruction outside the U.S., at least in some places?
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:24 pm

There tends to be a lot of flexibility in the approach private teachers use in the U.S. to teaching their individual students. I've said all over PEP that I believe this is a strength. I also get the impression from comments in this thread and others that private instruction in other countries may be more alike from teacher to teacher and, perhaps, more well-defined. Is that a fair representation of instruction outside the U.S., at least in some places?


That sounds right. Here in Australia most teachers teach according to a grading system as I said before. However I would say that all teachers have their unique approaches and styles to teaching. Here in Australia, in schools the syllabus offers a greater flexibility. There is core content in the music syllabus and then it is open to options. There are also extention things to be taught.
Your right in private lessons there is not a great deal of flexiblilty. Infact examiniations boards like AMEB set piano teachers festivals to teach teachers to teach students what is not taught in the AMEB syllabus.
I suppose at the same time, private lessons one to one offer a lot in terms of skill. At the same time in group lessons there is a lot that private lessons don't offer. I think one of the major things is that communication between different students of different instruments. At the same time there is the one to one attention that group lessons dont offer. I know this is slightly off topic but generally in principal I am reffering to private lessons and school class lessons environment.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:03 am

mirjam wrote:Some differences in U.S. versus European teaching (I live in The Netherlands):



By the way, there are big differences between countries in Europe too. Germany for example has a different approach in improvising, playing 20th century music, composing, polyphonic playing etc. The Netherlands is more traditional, I think. The newest methods like Celebrate Piano, Music Moves etc. are not known here, and intervallic reading is quite 'new' here. Which is why it is so great to have boards like these, to share and learn!!!

I had limited time when I first replied to mirjam's original post, but she makes a number of interesting points that deserve more consideration. Right now, I'd just like comment about her post regarding intervalic reading. We have advocated the teaching of intervalic reading all over PEP, as a means of developing facility reading music. I was surprised to learn that, in Europe, intervalic reading hasn't "caught on" yet.

On a somewhat related topic, we gets lots of e-mails from students in India asking for help on various issues. Does anybody have any knowledge of how piano is taught in India?
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Postby mirjam » Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:49 am

Well, I cannot speak for Europe, but it's a fact that in The Netherlands Alfred's Basic Piano and Hal Leonard piano method are mainly used. Of course, these methods talk about intervals, but intervallic reading, like found in Celebrate piano or Music Tree isn't known here (no one uses these methods). A 'modern' Dutch piano method that just came out again starts in middle c-position and step by step new notes are added. It seems to me that teachers (in general) just use the methods they know and 'since the children do like Alfred', why bother looking for other things?

Of course, there are wonderful teachers out here. But I think lots of teachers choose the easy way. ''Thinking about the pedagogy behind the method? Why? It 'works', doesn't it?''
But, reading all kinds of forums, there are a lot of teachers in the U.S. that will say the same too. But I think, in general, in U.S. and Canada there are a lot people who are thinking about HOW to teach, HOW to read music, HOW to learn to be a better listener, instead of just thinking WHAT to teach, and because the U.S. is so big, it's easy to 'spread the word'. Of course, there are people in Europe who do the same, and in The Netherlands at this moment there are new and different programmes with teachers looking for the most effective way of teaching and learning. But because of all the different languages we have in Europe I guess these things are less 'visible' for the teachers around.

The strange thing is: reading all the U.S. boards around I think teachers in The Netherlands are more professional, more educated, there is no way a teacher will call himself a 'teacher' and run a professional studio when being at 'advanced' level themselves. Advanced level is for students! I read in forums there are a lot of teachers that are in business without having a professional education. Of course we have those teachers here to, but they will operate in the background, and not having many students. And certainly not ask questions in a forum! But maybe I interpreted those posts wrong?

And yes, you were right, teaching is more 'back to basic' here, as is life in general here! :laugh:

I still have a lot of things to add! To be continued!

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:47 am

mirjam wrote:I read in forums there are a lot of teachers that are in business without having a professional education. Of course we have those teachers here to, but they will operate in the background, and not having many students. And certainly not ask questions in a forum! But maybe I interpreted those posts wrong?

Thanks mirjam, for your valuable and interesting comments.

I think that having people, generally, and piano teachers, specifically, who are willing to admit they don't know everything is a strength. Even well-qualified and experienced teachers can learn "tricks of the trade" and new approaches from others. That's the main reason we have these Forums on PEP - to give piano students and teachers a broader range of knowledge and insights than those available from just the fifty or so people who have written for the main part of the site. I don't know about you or others, but I sometimes disagree with things that are said here and elsewhere on PEP. Given that, I definitely want people to keep saying those things! :)




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Postby mirjam » Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:45 pm

O, but I absolutely agree with you! I didn't mean to attack anyone and certainly not teachers who want to learn!

It seems strange to me that some of my fellow-teachers with a professional education in music don't look around to see what is available. You have so, so many methods in the U.S. that we don't know about here, and, like I said before, new approaches like intervallic reading are quite 'revolutionary'. We must keep on learning ourselves, and we must refresh our ideas about HOW we will teach...

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