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Piano people, I'd love advice :-)


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At what point do you discuss with a piano teacher what the ultimate goals are for a student? And what difference does it make for how lessons are done?

 

DS(8) has been doing Suzuki piano for 4.5 years and has progressed beautifully. He is now in Book 3. He hated it when we started, but truly loves it now. He is becoming a beautiful pianist, and we are extremely diligent to do what the teacher asks of us, with the exception being that our lessons are never long enough. She wanted him to do 45 min this year, he does 30. DD(5) has just started and she does a 15 minute lesson that really needs to be 30. Next year she really would like him for 60 min and her for 30.

 

I have to admit I completely agree with her, but I'm also trying to be respectful of my DH who is not a fan of music training and especially not a fan of big bills for music lessons. It will be a tough sell for me to make.

 

My question is, at what point in piano lessons does it "matter" what the end goal is? Our teacher is ***excellent*** and truly knows what she is doing. She charges a bit more than average (though really not a LOT more, I think) but honestly I feel like DS accomplishes far more with her than I observe the students I know with other teachers. But I'm not an expert, so what do I know?! LOL

 

I guess what I am saying is, I'm sure our current teacher could train DS up for a conservatory if that is what we want (and he worked hard enough). But we don't. We aren't even interested in him being a music major. We just want him to grow up with a beautiful lifelong skill that will bless him and others his whole life. We want him able to play for his church, accompany instrumentalists, and sightread well.

 

At what point do you discuss this with your piano teacher? Is it discussed during lesson time? I HATE taking up lesson time (which is already WAY TOO SHORT!) for what I perceive to be "business" type of things - paying my bill, signing up for lesson times, makeup times, etc. It's not because I don't respect her time, it's because I DO - and we pay her for teaching piano, not selling us on longer lessons, kwim? That sounds far cattier than how I mean it, but I guess what I am saying is that if we aren't preparing to be a music major some day, what can we cut out? What can we change? What can we skip? Anything, or nothing?

 

I just need to be educated on this, so that is why I'm asking piano people here. I feel like I encounter some piano teachers who teach very purposefully to created a well-rounded skill set that prepares the student for anything that lies ahead (that would be our teacher) but some teachers seem to teach more in response to what the student wants to learn. I'm thinking particularly of a very gifted hs piano student I know who plays beautifully but has absolutely NO classical training whatsoever. I think her parents are thinking she could be a music major in a couple of years, but is she really prepared for that if all she ever plays are books of hymns and other contemporary music? Are all "beautiful pianists" equally prepared for that path?

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I'm not a piano person but I guess I'm wondering what about your son!? Is there a possibility that he wants to be a piano major in the future? I know mine has no interest so I am fine with our shorter lessons and slower pace. As far as making the admin stuff efficient you could pay for the term up front and then just have a set lesson time. Even if it's weekly none of that should take more than a couple of minutes unless one of you is disorganised with knowing what times you are available.

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I guess what I am saying is, I'm sure our current teacher could train DS up for a conservatory if that is what we want (and he worked hard enough). But we don't. We aren't even interested in him being a music major. We just want him to grow up with a beautiful lifelong skill that will bless him and others his whole life. We want him able to play for his church, accompany instrumentalists, and sightread well.

 

This.

 

30 minute lessons are plenty if this is your goal.

 

Talk with the teacher outside of lesson time, make an appt to talk with her outside of lessons.

 

I had 30 min lessons from 1st grade thru 12th. I was ready for anything, had solid skills and talent, and truly just did the last 2 years for enjoyment. I play weddings, and for various groups and centers when the need arises. And will do some events just for fun. I read well, and can write out music to pieces bar by bar while listening. (Stopping the piece as I go of course).

 

Unless you are really going for a full career in this, you don't need 60 min lessons so don't feel pressured. You are not missing out on anything IMO. There's only so much to learn. (Why teach your child up to Calculus by 7th grade if it's not needed to rush the process?) Slow down and enjoy the process. :)

 

It's good to have a plan, and make sure you have some time to experiment with all the different aspects (Classical, jazz, rag etc. ) but it's really up to you what to study. find out what the STUDENT is interested in and be sure to include that as well as classical study.

 

Hope that helps.

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I have a Suzuki piano student who has recently started book 3. The pieces get longer, for one thing! In 30 minutes, I have to hear the newest piece, make corrections as needed, introduce the next piece if she's moving forward, listen to some review pieces and give suggestions to improve musicality, listen to scales and teach new scales, work on sight reading, and help the student with some fun supplementary music that helps her stay interested. I would love to have 45 minutes with her! But because I feel the pain of paying for lessons for my own kids, I make do. We just don't get to everything every week.

 

An 8yo can still have a future in music if he wants it even with 30 minute lessons.😀

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Yes, the ultimate goal your child has can make a difference, but this will be more evident the further he progresses. And ideally, he will get more input into the approach as he gets older too. The piano teacher should be willing to discuss this kind of thing separately from lesson time at no extra charge, so just ask her when it would be convenient to phone her for a chat.

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Ds is starting piano when we get back from vacation (mid April). We didn't even have the option of thirty minutes, only forty-five or an hour. The reason was that thirty minutes was too rushed and there was no way to really approach everything. I have a feeling this is one of those subjects where there is never enough time to really get everything in. As such it depends on what the instructor is willing to fit in. If your instructor feels like various subjects are being cut out, then your son advancing might -to the instructor - mean longer times. To you advancing might just mean fine tuning what he already knows. To your son it might mean learning to play a different style. I do not know if there is one right answer when dealing with a subject like art...or when dealing with learning anything for that matter.

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At the risk of sounding like a cult member :-}, with the Suzuki method, the goal is ultimately cultivating a child's beautiful heart and building the family relationships through the vehicle if music. If the kid decides they want a conservatory career, great, but that ultimately is not the point, right? So, no, I don't think your goals really change how your kid learns, at least at this point. That being said, while your kid may need an hour lesson (my kids are at 45 min for book 2-3 and 1:00 for book 4 violin) if that gets in the way of a family relationship, then that may not be the best way for your family to grow. In my experience, the lessons do need to lengthen out because you need time for etudes, longer pieces, and other things. But, you can only do what you can do. Some of my kids need better violins, but it can't happen right now. So, we do what we do :-}. 

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