Meri’s Musical Musings

Some Random thoughts on Music, August 25, 2008

Posted on: September 4, 2009

Some teachers worry too much about offending students and parents, and not being sensitive to their feelings. I have had students who don’t normally celebrate Christmas ask to play Christmas music, because they hear their friends play it. Another way some teachers worry about offending students is by not including music that even suggests magic or witches, for example, or doesn’t use extended techniques on instruments. Remember, they want to be like their friends who also study.

Teachers have a right to set respectable fees and demand it. In some places, housecleaners and day-care workers get greater compensation. (note: I love my house cleaner, who is more than worth every penny!) Usually wind, string, and voice teachers command somewhat higher fees than most piano teachers, so if you set your fees according to the mid-range teachers of other instruments, there will not be sticker shock when it comes to taking lessons on other instruments. People will find a way to afford your fees if it’s really that important to them; until I met my husband (and for some time after) I paid for my own lessons, instruments, books, and equipment, sacrificing other things such as eating out or new clothes so I could do that.

Teachers don’t have to take every student who comes knocking on the door for lessons. High level teachers can, and probably should, not teach the students who just want to play for fun and not develop a real sense of achievement. 

Teachers should connect with other teachers–especially teachers of other instruments. I feel this is particularly important for piano teachers, to give their students perspective for other roles pianists can play. Many non-piano teachers would love to have a great pianist that is easily accessible. And the day may come when some students may ask to take lessons on other instruments, if you have some connections, then it’s easy to refer them to someone. 

Understanding theory, even to at least the extent of basic harmony I have found helps with a lot of things. It has helped me in choir sing lines that are not the melody (and being an alto, often what you are singing is not the melody), creating good harmonies for my compositions when I could not do it by ear, and harmonizing unfamilar melodies.

It seems that the conservatory has gone overboard with both contemporary selections on the repertoire, AND having popular selections available to substitute as one of the studies for piano students. While I think many of the popular selections are great, I think most of the contemporary selections are mediocre.

Great performers are OFTEN great teachers, despite what some people say. Look for videos of your teacher or their students performing, so you can get an idea that they know what they’re doing.


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  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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