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practice in between lessons

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#1 adultpianist



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Posted 14 November 2018 - 22:25

There have been posts about kids not doing homework but what about adults?   I had  homework.   


1 sight read

2 scales

The piece I am working on


I did all but my piece and the teacher said it was ok not to do all of it because I work and am busy on other stuff.    Do all teachers who teach adults have this attitude when adults do not manage all their homework?  If I was a child there would have been a complaint to the parents that the child was not bothering to do the work required in between lessons and yet as an adult I can get away with it and it does not seem to matter.   It may not matter to the teacher but it should matter when I am the one paying for the lesson and if I do not do the homework then I am wasting my money because I am not progressing properly and not getting my monies worth.   


Are allowances made for adults?


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#2 pianoviolinmum



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Posted 14 November 2018 - 22:43

I think the situation is different as an adult. Speaking as a teacher with one adult pupil and as a pupil myself (teachers also have lessons!), I'd expect the piano teacher- pupil relationship to be different, because the adult is paying for themselves and will usually also have a fairly clear idea of their aims in taking lessons.


I'd expect the teacher to find out what the adult pupil was hoping to achieve (exam in view? only able to practise a few times a week but love playing and want to improve?)  And if the pupil had a firm view of what they wanted to achieve and wasn't practising enough to get there, I'd expect the teacher to be honest about it, since they are being paid for the lessons.


Often it can be enough for an adult to enjoy the lessons and progress as they are able alongside other responsibilities in life!  My piano lessons with my teacher are a joy, even if I know I should have found more time to practise -  I can learn from my teacher even if we work on a few bars I already know, or play a duet together to improve sight reading.


A final idea: could you perhaps have lessons fortnightly if you're really not getting the time you'd like between lessons to practise and make the most of your lesson time?

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#3 Dorcas



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Posted 14 November 2018 - 22:53

Go easy on yourself.  I teach several adults.  Realistically, if you are working full time, something has to give.  The way I look at it, the student sets the pace.  You are getting your money's worth, but you need to give yourself permission to struggle.  Typically, adults are much too hard on themselves.

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#4 hummingbird



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Posted 14 November 2018 - 23:20

You're an adult with responsibilities that children don't have, so I don't think it would have achieved anything if the teacher had taken issue with you over it.  It's different with children because it's the parents who are paying, so they need to know if their child is not doing the homework that's been set.  Maybe the lesson was wasted, maybe not, but it was only one lesson.  If not practising enough becomes a regular occurrence and you think you're wasting your money, then perhaps have a break until you can bring music practice fully back into your life again?

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#5 BadStrad



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 01:10

It may not matter to the teacher but it should matter when I am the one paying for the lesson and if I do not do the homework then I am wasting my money because I am not progressing properly and not getting my monies worth.

If you are that bothered make time to do the work. Get up earlier. Read the score on your commute or listen to a recording if you drive. Mentally practice in your lunch hour, etc. There are lots of ways you can work on your pieces away from your instrument.

You can't blame your teacher if you haven't done the work. You're a grown up according to your forum name so your teacher probably figures scolding you like a child would be counter productive. If you think you are getting away with something, it suggests you know you could do more. So do it, don't blame your teacher.

As I say to my pupils, "I see you for *one* hour a week. If you don't practice what I teach you between lessons, you won't improve. Your choice, your money."

As others have said, it is okay to take a slower pace because you have commitments that take up your time but that is not the same as blaming your teacher because you didn't complete assigned work when you could have. If you really can't find the time to practice, you need to discuss that so practice expectations can be adjusted. Slow progress is better than no progress but you have to be honest.

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#6 HelenVJ



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:52

Many of my adult students work, and often also have families and responsibilities for elderly parents etc. My job is to be encouraging rather than to nag. They usually do a good enough job of this themselves. But if they told me they had done 'all but the piece' ( ie only practised scales and sight-reading?) I would probably suggest a different way of structuring their time at the piano, within whatever time-frame they told me was available. Also my students of any age are usually working on at least 3 pieces, some of which will be at an easier level. We are aiming to enjoy making music, in the end, and to play for pleasure.

Would you actually prefer a teacher who gave you a hard time if you hadn't managed to complete all the work set?

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#7 Aquarelle



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 08:45

I can't quite get my head round an adult who either simply doesn't or really can't do all the work set and then complains that the teacher hasn't scolded them for not doing it and seems to be saying "I am wasting my money because I haven't been reprimanded." 


Perhaps I have not fully understood the OP but it does seem to me to be rather muddled thinking. Surely an adult does what they can and the teacher reacts accordingly - either giving less work, or asking the pupil if the coming week is likely to be heavy, or suggesting a different practice plan.  It is certainly up to an adult to decide whether the financial investment is worth it if the time available for practice is limited. but  as others have  pointed out, it depends entirely on what you want from your lessons.


I don't teach adults but I operate a fairly strict system with my young pupils. They know I expect a bit of progress every week. They have learnt to respect this and they also know that they can tell me in advance if it's a "test week" at school so that I lighten the load. I don't call this "making allowances for children".It is simply adapting to a situation. After all progress doesn't depend on what happens in a single week. It's a long term thing.

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#8 helen_flute


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 09:55

If I end up having a week where life has taken over and I've not had time to work on everything we have planned from the previous lesson, then I just tell my teacher, and we focus on something else in the lesson. There's always something that doesn't depend on my having done lots of practice during the week, perhaps sight reading or aural work. I have short and long term goals with my teacher, which allows some flexibility for times when work or other commitments get in the way of practicing.

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#9 musicalmalc


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 10:37

and how many hours of tv did you watch in the week?

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#10 Clarimoo



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 13:52

Being an adult means you get to decide for yourself whether to practice and improve or whether to "waste your money". your teacher is merely respecting your decision.

Of course it isnt a waste if you enjoy it.

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#11 Steven Carr

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 20:21

Clearly it is not the teacher's fault if an adult student does not do a lot of practice before the next session.


But adults are doing this as a hobby.


Who needs the stress of thinking 'My lesson is in 2 days time, and I have only been able to practice these 8 bars hand separate and the teacher wanted them hands together.'?


This is a hobby for most adults. It is meant to be fun. If you are stressed by not doing enough practice, then something is wrong. 

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#12 Cyrilla



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 22:13

As others have said, you get out of the lesson whatever you want.   It's up to you if you want to/are able to practise in between lessons.   Some adults just enjoy the lesson itself for the musical and social experience therein and have no particular desire to make huge progress/take exams etc.   Others are very motivated to 'achieve'.


There is no right or wrong - apart from the fact that I cannot believe you are blaming your teacher for 'not getting your money's worth' because YOU haven't been able to practise!!!   I know from your many other posts that you have very specific requirements in a teacher and are very critical if they do not live up to your expectations.


No-one is perfect.   Your teacher is doing what he/she thinks best for you.


And you have to decide quite what it is you want from your lessons and then work to those ends.



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#13 Dorcas



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Posted 15 November 2018 - 22:17

You get out of lessons what you put in.  It is not the teacher's fault/

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#14 paulara



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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:37

If the adult student is expected to be completely self-motivated, self-directed, self-discplined...or is assumed to be merely doing it for "fun" and the teacher shouldn't be expected to be put in as much effort in their lessons to ensure progress, then the students should just save their money and learn from You-Tube...plenty of good materials for people who are happy to stay at the beginner-early intermediate level.


Adult students are not fillers for teachers schedule or easy money with little or no responsibility/accountability just bec there are no parents to answer to.

A good professional teacher who is really passionate about music would set some form of expectations on each and every student. There ought to be some form of meaningful goals and objectives.


Different form of motivations/encouragement/challenges to suit each individual student, based not just on age, but also their personalities, strengths n weaknesses... After all, if adult students are not charged less for their lessons, why should they expect anything less ?

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#15 Latin pianist

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:33

Are a teacher, Paulara? I would say that one of the most important things that I have learnt in my teaching is that every pupil is different and responds to different approaches including adults. And teaching an adult who wants to play for fun is just as challenging as the one who wants to learn in a more traditional way. I certainly don't think teachers regard adult pupils as easy money and a chance to sit back for half an hour. Usually they're harder on themselves than children and encouragement is essential.We don't know exactly how much work adultpianist's teacher had set. Would she have preferred the teacher to shout at her because she hadn't done the work? Surely adult pianist should continue her practice at what was set for another week. That happens all the time with students. Again something you learn as a teacher is how long to keep a student on a piece.As for learning from YouTube, all I have seen that to achieve is people who can play a few pieces and nothing else because they can't read music.
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