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would you reprimand an adult student?


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#1 adultpianist

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 21:50

If an adult student just was not playing a simple tune corectly would you say to him or her  "but you have been learning for xxx years so you should be able to play this"  Or would you say noting and show them how to play it?    The  adult should know when they are failing at something that they should not be failing in and so the teacher should tell them and not just say nothing.

 

For instance, think back to when you were at school.   If your teacher set some homework and you did not produce good enough homework to the standard you should then the teacher would come to you and say  This is not good enough, you should be able to do better than this etc etc.    

 

So why not treat an adult music student in the same way


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#2 corenfa

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 22:45

My teacher does. She is not rude to me but if I don't play something the way I ought to, she will mention it, especially if we have gone over it before and I should know it. I don't mind, this is what I pay her to do. I don't pay her to say nice things to me unless I've earnt it by playing well.
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#3 Piano Jan

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 07:22

I don't see the point of telling someone they should be able to play something correctly - if they can't, they can't. I'm sure no-one would play a tune incorrectly deliberately (that's pretty hard to do anyway) so obviously they need some help. I think it's our job to work out why they're not able to play it  (no matter how long they've been learning it) - i.e. are they misunderstanding how to read the notes? Can they count out a rhythm? etc. etc. Explain these things again until they understand well enough to explain back to you. (It can take a long time to get to this stage but I feel it's worth it - we need to be sure that they've really taken it in).

 

I'm not saying teachers should be 'soft' on either children or adults. In both cases (equally), I think it's the teacher's job to explain the importance of practising what the student has been taught in the lesson (as soon as possible after the lesson) and to check the following week if it has been fully understood and remembered. If not, then why not? Maybe they didn't fully understand in the first place? Maybe they practised incorrectly ... or not as frequently as they should have done?

 

I don't think there is anything to be gained from behaving like my childhood piano teacher who used to shout: "No, no, you're doing it all wrong! You need to practise!" I'd go back to the lesson the following week - having practised - and she'd shout: "No, no, you're still doing it all wrong! Come on, you've been doing this for weeks!" This just made me nervous, miserable ... and far less inclined to practise.


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#4 Minstrel

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 10:43

With respect, and please don’t take this the wrong way .....

All the adults I teach and have taught come to me with their violin/viola/cello  because , in their busy adult lives, they have sufficient love for their instrument and music to want to make time and space for it.  Every individual also comes with their own individual ‘baggage set’ connected to their own personal life and learning experiences. 
The worst thing that you can do is burst their musical bubble and ( probably fragile) confidence. The best that you can do is draw each person out and facilitate them to get the most enjoyment and satisfaction from their music. 
With all students - and especially adults - remember above all that you are teaching not the instrument but the person . Get to know your student and use that to guide you. 


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#5 ten left thumbs

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 11:29

I don't see the point of telling someone they should be able to play something correctly - if they can't, they can't. 

 

...

 

Indeed. No one tries to get it wrong. But maybe my teaching isn't hitting the spot, maybe the student has a persistent misperception that I am unable to shift.

 

I did have one adult student who eventually gave up. He would get very worked up about his mistakes, reprimanding himself, loudly, while he was playing. Both his sons had learned music to a high degree - one was an organist, one conducted a brass band. I could not get him to play anything at all with good tone, he just wouldn't play the notes properly.

 

Here's how it might go: I would ask him to play some notes, with detached tone, letting his arm weight depress the key deeply. He would reply that that's just bashing the keys. He wanted to do it lightly. He would tell me of recitals he attended, proud dad of talented kids that he was, and he would see other people's children just bashing the keys. But, I think in his mind, his children were better than all that. He had so many years of musical misperceptions built up in his mind and heart, that were so deeply entangled in his love for his sons. Nothing I did or said made any dent in him.

 

I think a lot of students are like that. They see someone playing Fur Elise well, and it looks like they're gliding over the keys. No, they're not gliding, it just looks like that. Actually they're playing with arm weight and good tone. Also, they learned deeply how to recover from a mistake, because they imbibe in the flow of the music. 

 

So, no, I don't think that reprimanding anyone is appropriate or helpful. Now, if they forget to pay me, then that's another matter... :)


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#6 corenfa

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 12:09

Speaking only about the case of my teacher and I, I don't consider it a reprimand if she reminds me of something we've gone over before, because my intent is to do a diploma. I think if I was a casual learner I might feel differently and possibly feel more stressed. 


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#7 kevin1981

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 12:41

If a student doesn't understand something or couldn't do something correctly, it's the teacher's job to make them understand and do properly. It's not the student's fault. If they still couldn't get it right, the teacher needs to think of a way they can understand and learn. Bypassing the problem is the worst they could do.

Sometimes I specifically asked my teacher to be as picky as possible. I said I would prefer they picked my mistakes up rather than the examiners or my future audience do! I would be very annoyed if I see any examiner's comments that are new to me or haven't been brought up by my teacher.
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#8 -Victoria-

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 17:59

No they should not "reprimand", they should teach! If a student hasn't learnt something and the reason is lack of understanding about how to do it, then it may need repeating or explaining in a different way, or there may be a deeper issue which student and teacher can try to dig out together. If they haven't learned because they haven't had time to practise then that's hardly their fault, you just need to be patient. If they haven't learned because they can't be bothered, I'd wonder why they were bothering to pay for lessons, but I still wouldn't tell them off - it's their time/money!
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#9 vron

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 18:23

i also think there is a difference between a teacher reminding an adult about certain issues eg arm weight, checking key signatures before starting etc and the sort of telling off the OP is seemingly referring to.


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#10 Cyrilla

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 22:57

When training teachers, I consistently make the point that if the students (of whatever age) can't do something, it is not their fault but ours.    Usually this is because we have missed a stage (or ten!) out.

 

When I was very inexperienced, I remember being frustrated that I could do something but that the children couldn't.   It took a long time for me to work out exactly what I had to do in order for the students to become independent musicians.

 

One thing I almost never do is 'explain'.   'Explaining' is not helpful.   You have to DO in order to be able to understand.

 

Again, another of my Words of Wisdom (ha) is that as a teacher we have to provide the right activities, the right situations - and ask the right questions - that will PROVE whether the student knows, or understands, or can do something.   Assuming that a student knows or understands (or hoping that somehow eventually it will 'go in') is never a good plan.

 

So 'reprimand'????   No, never - regardless of the age of the student.

 

:)


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#11 jpiano

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Posted 20 November 2020 - 23:07

Yes, I totally agree with Cyrilla. I'd also like to add that I've taught several adult returners to piano who have struggled so much, and continue to do so, from being reprimanded by their first teachers. The damage is awful and it takes a very long time to try to undo the harm done and help them to rebuild their confidence.


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#12 Banjogirl

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 09:47

People understand things differently and may need things teaching in different ways. The best ones see that the way they're approaching something isn't working and can adapt, and have an arsenal of different things to try.

I had a terrible stats teacher for A Level. She was comfortable with statistics, taught it one way, and if anyone didn't understand it then it was their fault. If you said that you didn't understand she'd just give an exaggerated and exasperated sigh, and repeat herself. It was years later that I realised that it wasn't me who had had the problem!
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#13 ten left thumbs

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 13:50

I do believe it's possible we have stumbled upon a topic which we actually all agree on. Is this actually true? Do we have any dissenting voices? 


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#14 BadStrad

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 14:38

I'm quite happy for my teacher to reprimand me if I'm playing badly and if the piece in question is something I should be able to play well. I'm paying them to teach me not be nice to me (though they are very nice).

We have a good relationship and they can tell the difference between me being sloppy (not playing with intent) and when something is bothering me enough to put me off my game. But generally the latter situation doesn't arise as lessons are too absorbing to let the rest of the world intrude much, so if I'm playing badly it is down to me.

My favourite reprimand is "Do my ears deserve to listen to that?" (volin - bad intonation is never nice on the ears). Always makes me laugh, and perhaps that is the key - there is always good humour, not bad temper in their words.

I would be unhappy to be reprimanded if the bad playing was down to not knowing how to do something, but that wouldn't happen.

Obviously each student-teacher relationship is different and for some students even a mild enquiry as to why something wasn't quite right can be distressing, others can take firmer criticism. And of course there is a big dfference between making mistakes when learning something new and the situation in the OP (playing a piece that should be well within the pupil's capabilities and using skills they are already comfortable with).

Edited to add - I don't mind my teacher's reprimands because we have a good relationship and because I know the teacher wants me to do well. At school I was told I was a useless, unmusical creature by teachers who were only interested in pupils who had instrument lessons and had no time for anyone else. I definitely minded their unfairness.


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#15 HelenVJ

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 14:42

Also, the teacher's approach might vary, depending on whether or not the student ( of any age) perceives their playing to be 'incorrect' (whatever that means - notes? rhythm? articulation? technical issues? quality of sound? etc etc ). And also what the OP means by 'failing' - in what way? Some errors are easy to sort ('Did you realise this passge was in another clef?  What accidental do you need here? etc) Then at other times, the student might be well aware that something is 'wrong' but needs some help in sorting it. Pulse issues are often particularly tricky to fix in adults.

In any case, a reprimand would always be quite inappropriate. Adult students are usually highly self-critical and apologetic anyway, without me needing to beat them up as well.

An invaluable book, and one which I make no apologies for mentioning again, is William Westney's The Perfect Wrong Note. This  should be required reading for all teachers and adult students. 


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