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Any piano teachers out there that wouldn't mind answering my question please?

(16 Posts)
IWorkHardForMyMoney Mon 22-Oct-12 10:06:18

One of my DC is quite a gifted piano player even though he's only 6 yo. He wants to play constantly and he's having piano lessons at school on a 1 to 1 basis, once a week during term time. This is not enough for ds, he wants more, plus he wants to do not just classical but also jazz and pop. So we have got him a piano teacher at home as well. Now I never realised there would be an issue with this, but neither piano teacher is happy with this arrangement. It took a while to get to the bottom of this but basically the reason for both of them is that they want to be the ones putting ds forward for grades. None of the teachers are able to offer an extra session a week and we know that just the one is not enough for ds. He may or may not take exams, we haven't discussed it as he's only young and we're interested in him loving music and learning to play properly, not playing for grades. I am disappointed that both teachers are so grade focused and would rather lose a clearly musically talented student that 'share' him. Sorry for all the waffle but my question is, from a piano teacher's perspective, why is it so important to be the one whose name features on the certificate?

DeWe Mon 22-Oct-12 10:36:52

I don't think it's necessarily anything to do with exams.

Just that different teachers teach with different styles. If you have two teachers then they both teach a different style which can be confusing.

Dh swapped teachers after grade 4/5 because he started with a teacher who could only teach up to that level. He remembers changing teachers as being quite challenging, although he is very musical. For that reason he was very keen when we were looking for a teacher for dd1 that they would be able to take her all the way up (if necessary).

I don't understand why you weren't upfront with the second teacher at the beginning. Surely you'd have said that you wanted a "second teacher"?

At any rate the exams do typically one jazzy piece, so they should be learning different styles with one teacher. Dd1 is classical in style, as I think her teacher is naturally, but she is currently doing some jazz pieces in her lesson, and playing some Queen songs for fun. She doesn't need a separate teacher to teach other styles.

You do actually come across as quite pushy. Why isn't one lesson enough? He should be able to practice well from a lesson a week. You can get other books for him to use in practice if he wants to do more.

Why don't you see if there's a different instrument he's interested in for the second lesson?

In the same way my dc's ballet teacher likes to know if a child is having dance lessons with a different teacher. She advises not to, simply because of the contrast in style. Nothing to do with entering for grades or anything. Dd2 did a social class for a time with a different teacher when she was quite little, and you could see at times where she was confused in her dancing.

IWorkHardForMyMoney Mon 22-Oct-12 14:05:39

DeWe I appreciate your answer very much although I'm a bit puzzled that you think I'm pushy. My son wants 2 lessons because he finds just one isn't enough to get him going through the week and do everything he wants to do as my DH and I are utterly incapable of supporting him musically in any way, shape of form. There's actually quite little that can be covered in a 30 minute lessons and he is always disappointed he didn't get to learn some piece or another. The resistance I have encountered was based upon who would put him forward for grades and not clashes of styles, which is why I was wondering why this may be an important thing. We have suggested that my ds tried a second instrument but he's just really into his piano at the moment and I believe this needs to be initiated by him.

1805 Mon 22-Oct-12 15:25:07

I agree with DeWe.
He is 6. There is no need for two lessons. By all means he should be able to find extension material to play during the week, but learning an instrument is about technique as well as fun. Sometimes more attention to detail is more beneficial than playing through more material. Think quality rather than quantity.
Also agree that 2 teachers could be recipe for disaster. For this arrangement to work, the two teachers should be planning lessons alongside each other and supporting each others plans. Not -in my experience- a realistic situation.
I would think the teachers are trying to be polite in citing exam entries as a reason.
As a possible solution to your 'problem', how about choosing a teacher that your ds gets along with, and for extra playing during the week pick up some song books with or without playalong CD's for him. If he is learning correctly, then he should be able to read simple music himself without the need for someone to show him how it goes first.

I don't understand your comment " he finds just one isn't enough to get him going through the week and do everything he wants to do"

COuld you expand on that, and I'll try and make some suggestions.
He is only 6, so try to relax about the whole thing. smile

NatashaBee Mon 22-Oct-12 15:40:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IWorkHardForMyMoney Mon 22-Oct-12 18:11:11

I'm reading your answers with great interest, thank you. I do want to see things from the teachers' point of view. One of them did say that he would feel put out if a student he had been working with was put forward by a different teacher, like he would be doing all the hard work and somebody else would get all the glory.
This is a bit frustrating for me because we're not bothered about grades in the slightest, just about DS enjoying his music. None of the teachers can offer an extra session.
1805, so what I mean is, my son will be asked to play a piece which at the moment they're being selected from the Grade 2 Trinity Guildhall book. This piece will take over the lesson pretty much in its entirety, and will be the basis of his homework for the week. The following week's lesson will still be based on this particular song. This doesn't leave any time whatsoever for him to do a bit of jazz and a pop song he might have heard on the radio. He also wants to learn traditional Christmas carols. I have in the past downloaded music but unless he's given a kick start, he just can't tackle them. Like I said, unfortunately I'm unable to help him. He is very very happy with his current teacher set up because he gets to do extra.

ShellingPeas Mon 22-Oct-12 21:18:14

I'm a piano and flute teacher and I wouldn't be happy having a student with another teacher. Nothing to do with grades or exam entries - I don't really give a monkey's about those as I don't get any glory from having my name on someone else's certificate - more to do with conflicts on technique and style. I wouldn't want to work on the same pieces (and definitely not exam pieces) as another teacher for the reasons below.

Different teachers will have different approaches, from things as simple as the order you learn scales, to what technical exericse to use, through to differing fingering for passages on a piece and different interpretations of style. It gets confusing for the child and frustrating for the teachers if one says do it this way and the other says do it that way. The only way I could ever see it working is if both teachers are happy with the situation, discuss it with each other and work on completely different areas in their lessons e.g. one working on technical work and classical, the other on pop and improvisation.

How long does it take your DS to learn a piece proficiently? If your DS is working on one piece a week (and only this and nothing else) and it takes weeks or longer to get this to a reasonable standard then it suggests to me that either (a) you need to find another teacher who encompasses a lot more within the 30 minute lesson or have longer lessons with one teacher (45 minutes perhaps?) to give your DS some variety or (b) he is working on pieces which are too hard and the teacher is too focused on passing exams rather than getting their students to a sound grade 2 level. There is more to being grade 2 standard than being able to play 3 pieces learnt over many months.

To give you an idea of what I do, any of my students studying for grade 2 will cover scales, plus parts of 2 or 3 different pieces, then on a rotating basis either aural, sightreading or general musical knowledge/theory in a 30 minute lesson. In addition we'll also have easier fun pieces (e.g. some spooky music for hallowe'en, or learning Christmas songs) on the go too so that they cover quite a bit.

Teamthrills Mon 22-Oct-12 23:06:32

My daughter learns the violin at a conservatoire & we were told from the start that we shouldn't ever have other private lessons. If during holidays you want to arrange lessons we have been told we should approach our own teacher first, if they are unable to do it, we should then get permission to approach a different teacher.

I think that is showing good manners. You should really be getting enough from the one teacher - it is probably quite insulting to the teacher that you got a second teacher without discussing it first.

Is your child learning traditional method piano? My children learn violin by the suzuki method - parents must be in all lessons (with a notebook) & must supervise all practise. There is always plenty to be getting on with during the week before the next lesson (review, tnew piece, technique, scales, theory, listening to music etc).

FastLoris Mon 22-Oct-12 23:11:50

I'm a piano teacher and I'm sorry but the teachers (and other posters here) are right: No way is two teachers are good idea.

I'm surprised they phrased it in terms of who is responsible for grades, although I can imagine that problems could ensue about who gets to judge when he is ready or which exam is approriate. But there's far more than that to it. What repertoire should he learn? What order should he learn things in? When to concentrate on reading, when learning by ear? There are numerous approaches to all these things and any teacher needs to be able to judge them according to their own approach without having everything turned upsidedown by being judged differently by the other teacher.

Chalk it up to experience - you were wrong in this instance. So that's something you know now for your DC's future.

Personally I would go with lessons at home. Even if they're also only once a week, they have huge advantages over lessons at school. You can continue during holidays (if the teacher's available). And most importantly, you as a parent can be much more involved in liasing with the teacher, observing lessons and supporting work in between.

If DC wants to do a lot more than one lesson a week, maybe get him involved in things like choirs, general musicianship groups etc. That sort of rounded background and experience is very important, especially in the early stages.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Mon 22-Oct-12 23:13:19

Spending a whole half hour on one piece sounds a lot for a 6 year old.

1805 Mon 22-Oct-12 23:27:26

I don't know if you work or not, but how would you feel if you were working with a client, and they kept coming back to you having changed what you've done with them? When you have a long term plan for their development, say covering 5 techniques during a year, and you find they are covering the same techniques, but in a different order, or even learning the same techniques but in a different way?? And the client in question is 6 years old!!!????

Anyway, 1 piece during the whole lesson?? Seriously??? Can't read simple Christmas Carols???? Really??

My lessons tend to follow how Shelling's go.

ZZZenAgain Tue 23-Oct-12 10:36:21

I don't know about the teacher issue, don't really have an opinion on that but I would like to recommend that you take a look at the pianotime books. My dd enjoys the jazz ones and there is one called Going Places which is a lot of fun apparently. They have a lot of books at his level, Spooky Pianotime, Prehistoric Pianotime and I don't know what else. They are from Oxford University Press and you can have a look at some pages, listen to some pieces on the OUP website to see what they are like. I think he can figure them out pretty much for himself and have fun with them. So he does not get frustrated, maybe he could just check where he got stuck briefly with his teacher(s) in his regular lesson. Would either teacher be willing to do that? Spend 5 minutes checking and advising him on the pieces he is teaching himself?

IWorkHardForMyMoney Tue 23-Oct-12 14:43:35

Hi everyone. Lots here to think about, thank you. Okay, I'm getting a bit of a bollocking here, please do bear in mind that it was one of the teachers who actually said that the issue was to do with who puts ds forward for grades. This is the bit that confused me because we've never mentioned anything about doing grades and we would like for ds to enjoy music and see where it takes him.

There has never been any overlap of pieces, as in ds would never be learning the same piece with both teachers. Both of them write on the books and have access to each others notes, so it's all pretty transparent really.

My issue with the school teacher is that lessons only happen during term time (as in her own kids term time and they go to a private school so holidays are way longer), so there's really long stretches with nothing. However, I wouldn't want for ds to not be involved with this teacher because he would miss out on playing in assembly, plays and productions.

ShellingPeas your post is very useful and informative, thank you, and thank you also ZZZenAgain, I will look those up.

pianomama Tue 23-Oct-12 16:40:47

IWorkHard - I am on your side smile. No, you can't have 2 teachers , I agree because it's confusing for the pupil and annoying for the teacher. But My DS had 2 lessons a week (45 mins) with the same teacher at 6 as well. It worked really well for him as any mistakes were picked up before they turned into bad habbits and he was able to have several pieces/studies on the go. It really depends on the child and the teacher. It helped my DS to progress so much faster and the better he played, the more he was enjoying it.
It is quite normal in some countries to have 2 music lessons a week, nothing to do with being pushy.

thinkoutsidethexbox Tue 23-Oct-12 17:19:14

I find it very frustrating that the Periapetetic visiting teachers at Primary school are given so little time to teach and often this is split between a few children with different abilities, sometimes my son's violin lesson is 10 minutes and he is with 2- 3 other pupils. The lessons also never seem to be prioritised by the school and are abandoned every time there is another event (don't know if this is just our Primary!) If I take him out and get him a private teacher then he loses out on getting involved in concerts etc at school which he enjoys. If your son is a piano player I would be tempted to learn this at home but take up another instrument at school which he can play in a group - I can't believe people are suggesting you are pushy if HE wants 2 lessons a week, sounds like its his passion, good for him and great to encourage him!!

NatashaBee Tue 23-Oct-12 17:20:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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