Deciding on the Piano teacher - Young, relaxed vs. Old, experienced, (seem to be more strict) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 06-14-2012, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I have DS 10 and DD 6 who will be starting piano lessons.  We met with 2 teachers today and are trying to decide which one to go with.  Teacher A is in late 20s, relaxed (less strict), charges $3 less than Teacher B, lesson will take place at a church.  Teacher B is in late 50s, more experienced, also teaches voice lessons, strict, lesson will be at her house.  

During the meeting with teacher A, we mostly talked, she watched my ds play piano a little bit.

During the meet with teacher B, she actually taught and went over the book my ds had for maybe 5 minutes.  My ds seem to like teacher B but dd likes teacher A (because she is relaxed and young).

Teacher A will use books by Faber, teacher B will use Bastien books in addition to Alfred books we have.

Does it matter with the age of the teacher?  I feel like more experienced teacher will be great but then I don't want too strict teacher either.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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#2 of 7 Old 06-14-2012, 02:40 PM
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Well, obviously, you would not want a teacher to be strict to the point of abusive, but that doesn't sound like that would be happening. On the other hand, are you paying a piano teacher to actually teach your children piano, or to have fun with them? I would want to take them to whomever could do the job the best and most efficiently.


Older and experienced also does not have to mean not fun. Often teachers and students bond when their parents and siblings are not sitting right there. :)

Mama to five babies. The newest one made her debut 7.10.12!

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#3 of 7 Old 06-14-2012, 04:24 PM
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we went with a local suzuki teacher.  Do you have any near you?  The Suzuki method REALLY meshes well with AP.  I can take the parent reading and apply it to our life, not just piano.

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#4 of 7 Old 06-14-2012, 07:10 PM
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This might be hard to assess with so little information, but, which teacher is more rigid?  Strict might have something to do with this, but perhaps not.  Anyway, that would be my first question.


Is the priority to get their skill level from X to Y?  In the fewest dollars possible?  Resistance can be common in music students.  I loved my piano lessons but really hated practicing oftentimes.  Would choosing a more relaxed teacher prevent this?  


Which is more consistent?  (Relaxed might be wonderful, until the teacher suddenly becomes frustrated.  Strict might not be so bad if she is constant and predictable.)


We haven't begun music lessons yet, just played around on our guitars, but I see my girls' 2 styles emerge already: one likes to progress from page to page, song to song, learning skills off the page and in order.  She likes to see her progress within context of a music book.  My 5yo is more experimental, not really caring so much about a specific level, though pleasantly surprised if she is farther than she thinks she is.  She is more wildly creative and is more likely to learn without a book to guide her.  Both do well in other rigidly-structured activities like gymnastics, but I still see a big difference.  DD2 is more in the NOW of it, dd1 more of an ACHIEVER.


Is the difference between your children obvious enough that you think teaching style might make a difference?  Help them master skills better?  Or simply avoid resistance better?  Which would keep the spark of interest ignited?


What are your own goals for why they are starting music lessons?  For me, I would want simply for my children to be familiar with music, and comfortable enough to tackle an instrument enough to sing with it and play around a campfire or gatherings.  Musical mastery is not my personal goal, and I don't think I would approach music in any other way in the beginning.  Personally.  If my kids would show signs of wanting to apply themselves and get deeper into music, then I would support that and look for the teacher that would help them.  My mother did that for me, changing teachers when one didn't take my skills and interest seriously enough.


What are their motivations for wanting to learn?  Which teacher would help them with that?


Finally (finally!) would they be happy with separate teachers?


These are all the questions I would ask for myself.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#5 of 7 Old 06-15-2012, 05:27 AM
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Having had a strict instructor when I was little, I'd say go with the younger person. 


I was a reluctant student for years. I started with an older lady for 5 + years, and later switched when we moved. I didn't learn to actually read music until I started band, despite having had years of piano lessons. I faked it.  But I can do my scales like crazy.

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#6 of 7 Old 06-15-2012, 09:37 AM
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Define "strict." Three of my kids studied piano with a woman in her 60s who had a reputation for being strict. What this meant, it turned out, was that she had a direct conversational style, was somewhat undemonstrative with her affection and uneffusive with her praise, had clear expectations for appropriate behaviour in lessons, and a clear systematic approach to home practicing which she expected the kids to follow. She was wonderful! With those clear expectations understood, my kids knew what she wanted and how to achieve it. She was very flexible, and adapted the level of challenge to my kids' abilities far more so than the other teachers we had tried. She was willing to think outside the box and to throw them things they seemed keen on even if they weren't the typical age or level for the materials. Her praise was clearly worth a lot when it came, and my kids worked hard for her. They learned well, and progress became the ultimate motivator. They thrived.


You never really know where music lessons are going to take your kids from a music standpoint. All three of mine eventually quit piano lessons. One of them stuck with it through to a very advanced level and is an excellent accompanist who earns some money through piano gigs, and is pursuing music performance at a competitive college conservatory on another instrument. One uses his keyboard skills for hobby-related music composition and digital music production projects. The other isn't using her piano skills directly at all. But they all learned a lot about diligence, about breaking complicated problems down into their component parts, about consistent daily work, and about satisfying structured external expectations in pursuit of a self-motivated goal. Those were the biggest benefits of their lessons, benefits which have served them well in music in the past, and will continue to serve their musical enjoyment in the future, but which will serve them in life and learning in the larger sense. I'm thankful that their piano teacher helped them learn those skills. And I think her particular brand of "strict" was very much in service of those skills.



Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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#7 of 7 Old 06-15-2012, 10:08 AM
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How emotionally sensitive are your children?  I was the ultra-sensitive child growing up who had terrible performance anxiety, so the "strict" piano teachers I had were a terrible fit and I hated piano lessons for years after I stopped taking.  When I was older I started taking from a younger lady who, though much more happy and relaxed, really helped me feel comfortable playing and I was much less anxious about pleasing and doing it "right" and more concerned about enjoying what I was doing.  I am actually starting our daughter with lessons at home using the Bastien primer series and theory books (if you can play piano at all, these are so easy to do) because I think under any tutelage other than my own my very sensitive child (age 6) would collapse.

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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