Viv's Thoughts

The saddest and most pitiful type of music lessons are??

In all my 19 years of teaching, I've met many different types of students.
Some are my students right from the beginning and they studied with me all through from 1st grade to diplomas, some are recommended to me by word of mouth, friends, students' parents etc.

From the very beginning in my teaching career, i KNEW that the surest way to kill a student's interest in music is to just give them play 3 exam pieces a year and to take an exam every year.

Some of them,, if lucky enough will quit just right before they go to grade 8.
That's where their perseverance will last.
Most of them will stop at grade 3-4,, when they are old enough to know they need not please their parents anymore, and some will deliberately do badly,, so that their parents will initiate the QUITS instead of them, to avoid scolding ;)
All kinds of tactics and methods!!

I KNOW cos from very young, i had cousins who learnt music the same time as me, but they never managed to carry on simply because they were not motivated at all.
Now , tell me, how to be motivated with just 3 exam pieces a year??

1) You dont experience enough styles to play the style / period you choose in your pieces.
Most probably, cos of your lack of technique, the teacher would choose the SIMPLEST piece for you.

2) Because you have NO STRONG FOUNDATION, you have NO TIME to learn other repertoire besides your exam pieces,, so you actually need 1 year to prepare.

3) You dont even know the composer of your piece, neither you know the background, the story , if any pertaining the piece,, so tell me,, how to APPRECIATE the music you are playing?

4) Parents are extremely KIASU to get into the wild exam certificate chase, to SHOW OFF to their friends, that their kids obtained a certain grade by a certain age.... which other than the exam pieces, the kids can play NOTHING! and also, they can only remember their exam pieces until right after the exam :P

5) The parents think by finishing the grades sooner, they save a lot of money.. little do they know they are actually wasting more money, cos either the child will stop before they get even the teachers' grade,, or the child actually learns NOTHING in the end!
YES! im not exaggerating,, at the end of the day, if you have not grasp a strong foundation and able to play a FULL SONATA, you actually have learnt NOTHING!

and more points to add on!

What Im trying to say is,, demanding the teacher to just teach the 3 exam pieces a year to take grades every year is the saddest and most pathetic music lessons ever!
For the teacher, is actually EASY job,, i can just take my time, drilling you bar by bar.
You pay me, I do it!
Your child will get to HATE MUSIC forever,, even if he/she is seemingly faithfully passing grades every year,, but NOTHING is retained in the head, the fingers move without the HEART and the knowledge about the music to compliment it.

So, do you want that??
I can do that,, since you are paying me, easier for me, no need to plan or think what repertoire to give to your kid, just sit down and just go through the notes, note by note, till they can coordinate the whole piece,, but because they dont have sufficient repertoire knowledge , their learning would be so slow, and the lessons would be draggy and boring!

So,, You think money can buy that??
Probably,, BUT NOT FOR ME!!!

In my conditions of music lessons, I did STATE,,,, IF any parent insist only 3 exam pieces a year and hurry the child to take exam even if he/she is not ready,, GO FIND ANOTHER TEACHER!

I will not entertain,, whatever reasons you have,, PSLE, your face infront of your friends, your obssession in collecting every exam grade certificate etc...

I dont want my lessons to be sad and pitiful..
I have my principles to give my students the BEST, widen their repertoire, taking some time to understand the piece and to interpret correctly and to play it as close as the composer intended it to be.

I have many parents who undertood this and the benefits are great! Their children are greatly motivated and you dont need to ask them go practise the piano, they will go on their own.
One case i had,, the mom told me , "How to stop my kid from practising the piano when it's time for dinner? he just cant stop playing" ... well  ;))

These children dont collect exam certs,, most of them dont have grade 1-4 certs,, they go straight to gr 5, 7, 8, diploma. and they dont just barely "pass" their exams,, they get DISTINCTIONS or MERITS!
The rule is,,, take exam only when you are ready!
You need not answer where you are at your level to your friends,, your child's performance is PROOF enough where they are!

Im not impressed with students who come to me saying, they are grade 8,, cos i will tell them whether they are truly gr8 or not when they come to me,, when they first start, some gr8s are even worse than my gr 5s.

Learning music cannot be rushed, but need to take time to ENJOY,, then it can last you a lifetime!

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Nick | Reply 28.07.2014 19:24

Thanks for the good advice. I will do that next time.

Nick | Reply 22.07.2014 13:46

Sometimes, I do have an issue if my teacher's interpretation is different from that of CD recordings. How do you tackle such situation ?

Vivian 26.07.2014 19:25

Hi Nick, bring the recordgs n discuss with your teacher. just take note,somethg is being recorded does not mean it's correctly interpreted.

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