What makes a great piano teacher?

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Jan 20, 2004 10:43 am

We have expressed many times on PEP some of the attributes and qualities we think go into making a good teacher. Now it's your turn! Parents, students and teachers all somewhat different views on this subject. Let's hear yours!



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Postby Mins Music » Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:40 pm

A teacher must be doing something right when the student is angry at the parent for being late, when they're sad that it's vacation and there's no lessons, when they tell their friends to have lessons too, when they ask when the next recital is, and most importantly when you and others comment on their progress. :)
Be friendly, approachable, smile, laugh, giggle (especially at yourself), don't patronise, remember that even young children are people with feelings, sensibilities, dreams, opinions, ambitions and intelligence. Be organised, enthusiastic, research, practise, be generous with praise, stickers, colour, movement, games. Arange group activities, newsletters, workshops during holidays - encourage studens to think of themselves as belonging to a music club, not just 'having lessons.' Get the parents involved (they could sing, play another instrument if they know how, be the 'percussion' section - triangle, tambourine etc). Know your stuff and do your best. Have holidays.
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Jan 26, 2004 8:48 am

Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing them.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Thu Jan 29, 2004 9:41 pm

I am a highschool student in my eighth year of piano lessons. I've only been taking lessons with my current teacher for about six months though. But she's really wonderful! :)
She helps me with all of the little details, and gives me suggestions for how to make every section just right. She also asks me for my feedback which is helpful, because it has improved my analytical skills. This is a very very good thing when you're practicing and you're getting annoyed because "it just doesn't sound right" he he. And she forces me to find positive aspects to every performance, no matter how hard I try to resist. [hidden point. I'm a perfectionist and she gives me realistic expectations]
My teacher is also hilarious. We get all kinds of work done, but she's just funny. that keeps things from getting too heavy. And while she does help me work out all of the little kinks, she always reminds me of what I'm going right.
Also, on about my second or third lesson, she told me "i'm just going to keep up with your practicing. you can move as fast as YOU want to go, and I'll help you along." That's a very good way of doing things. I've learned a LOT.
Did I mention that she's really wonderful? :D
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:38 am

To Quidam,

Sounds like you really do have a great teacher. Give her my thanks for inspiring you so much!
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby 65-1074818729 » Mon Feb 02, 2004 4:24 pm

I will address this from the adult student perspective. I am 59 years old and started taking piano lessons 6 years ago. I had no previous experience with any musical instrument.

I must say that it has been a very enjoyable experience and I have been with the same teacher since I started.

Some of the more notable characteristics I have noticed in my teacher over the years which I feel are important are:

(a) she is very qell qualified. She has degrees in
music and teaching and obviously knows her work well.

(b) she is very articulate and is able to communicate
quite well exactly what my weaknesses are, where I need to
improve etc.

(c) she pushes me just about the right amount. The amount of work she gives me for the next lesson requires that I practice a significant amount and on a daily basis. This is exactly what I need because I can become a bit lazy if allowed to do so.

(d) I also find she is very honest. She does not hesitate to
tell me exactly what my short-comings are, and offers encouragement when it is needed.
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Postby Mins Music » Mon Feb 02, 2004 9:33 pm

Good tips Aflat. I always need to keep in mind to get to the point quickly (communication) and honesty is vital - sometimes I think everything is EXCELLENT! when in fact I know it's pretty mediocre. That's just my enthusiasm. I appreciate that older students don't need flattery but honest advice. Thanks for your reminders! :laugh:
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Fri Feb 27, 2004 12:37 am

Would anyone else care to tell about great teachers they've had?



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Postby 78-1078763942 » Tue Mar 09, 2004 11:45 am

As a new teacher I appreciate these different perspectives on the attributes of a great teacher. I am aspiring to those characteristics as I set standards for myself as a teacher of children and adults alike.[B]
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Postby Mins Music » Wed Mar 10, 2004 2:56 am

Welcome to the board NaNaNa. Hope to see you around the Teaching Tips forum! Any input you can give will be very appreciated. :)
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Postby 108-1079367823 » Tue Mar 16, 2004 2:06 pm

The only way to rate a teacher is to listen to his students.
Students who play well have all had a good teacher.
I would never give my children to a teacher without having listened to a children recital where children look disabled at the piano, cant memorize a simple classical piece, indeed where it seems that the teacher didnt care at all about his job nor had a clue of how to teach properly.
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Postby 108-1079367823 » Tue Mar 16, 2004 2:11 pm

I also want to add that some teachers think they are good just because students like them. This should by now way enter into consideration in the rating of teachers. Kids can become very attached to any adult taking care of them, like their nanny, their school teacher. It does say absolutely nothing about the piano teaching skills.
Personally i decided not to care at all to be liked or not by my students. I am not doing this job to be liked, i am doing it to turn kids into decent players. Full stop. Occasionally kids offer me same drawing or a gift or show me affection and that s great when it happens, but i dont want to fall in the affective trap because then it s too difficult to make constant criticisms about their playing.
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:49 pm

Interesting analogies are always helpful. When I was at music camp I was working on Debussy's Arabesque no.1. My teacher was not thrilled with how I was playing, and neither was I. I didn't really know what to do about it. I played through it and he picked up my bit heavy music book.
"This song is like snowflakes. Snowflakes do not fall like this" he dropped that heavy book onto the metal desk and it made a huge noise.
It was actually kind of funny at the time, but a great piece of advice. Throughout the rest of the time I worked on that piece, I thought "delicate, like snow. NO atom bombs"
It's funny how one mental image or idea can make such a difference.
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Postby 108-1079367823 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 1:17 am

so true.
i always work with mental images. Essential to decelop the kid s fantasy and relationship to music.

So my lessons are full of planes, bees, balls, music boxes, wolves, birds, bears, flutes, and so on.
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 12:12 pm

And there are some songs that just sound like orchestral music. I'm currently playing a Mozart sonata [first mvmnt K310], and the beginning especially just sounds like an orchestra. I'm sitting there playing and thinking "okay, these left hand chords and all the cellists, bassists and violists playing pizzicato while the violins sing"
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