Tuesday, April 15, 2008

thoughts on piano

i guess i should explain a bit about my other life as a piano teacher.

a. i started teaching piano about 5 years ago. i was subbing for the organist at church (no i don't know how to play the organ. i just play an organist on t.v.). a mom came up to me after the service and asked if i could teach her son. that was a painful year. he didn't want to be learning piano. he just wanted to play guitar, but piano was a prerequisite in his family. note to parents: don't do that to a piano teacher. the students started pouring in after that. then we moved to colorado and all i had to do was say i had taught piano and my studio grew to it's current capacity.

b. i currently teach 11 kids, ages 7 to 13; and 3 adults, ages not to be disclosed. but i can say they are all claiming midlife crisis as the reason behind taking piano. and they are all doing quite admirably i must add.

c. i don't really play all that well. i'm just a good teacher. :) i can get by, but it takes a lot of practice.

d. i'm playing stephen heller's etude in g minor for our recital. it's beautifully haunting. i almost have it memorized. the recital is in a week an a half. i have to get cracking.

e. when i took piano, i didn't get much classical training, i played for my girls choir in high school so i worked on a lot of pop music, lots of it. it was fun, but i wasn't interested in the masters. now i love classical music. heller is one of my favorites.

f. my theory skills are lacking. i know what a first and second inversion are, but it takes me a minute to remember which is which. i've got one student who really likes to do theory. it's hard to look smarter than him. :)

g. i teach 30 minute individual lessons, once a week. unless you're an adult and then you usually get an hour and only pay for the 1/2 hour. i'm a SUCKER. i like to talk.

h. i don't give discounts for families with multiple students.

i. i have recitals twice a year.

j. i have amazing students. it's quite the rewarding career.

k. i am one on the youngest teachers in my music club. i feel like a sham. :)

l. i will never hit one of my students on the shoulder with a pencil if they make a mistake. my teacher was grouchy and did that to me. made an impression.

m. i never thought i'd be a piano teacher. i didn't think i was good enough. but i've been pleasantly surprised, my students have done quite well, who'd a thunk it?

n. i've only had 2 students quit since i've been here. one because he was 15 and really didn't want to be taking lessons and the other because she moved in with her mom in another city. so i've had a few of my students for almost 2 years. it's been amazing watching them learn and love piano.

i believe that's all i have to say on the subject now. thank you for reading my ramblings. i have nothing more to add :)


Amanda said...

Kewl. My oldest (7) will be discontinuing his piano lessons after this May. He's been at it for three years now and is decent, but doesn't love it at all. He actually really only likes the theory part and the games (he's in a group piano class right now). He knows the next step would be individual lessons and knows he could do fine, but prefers the group. That's okay. :)

em said...

I like reading about your piano teaching. It's funny how it works that you maybe never planned to teach!! I'm the same way. The most I ever had was five students. I only have one now (not because I'm a bad teacher...two moved, one adult quit because she got a new job, and one boy quit in protest because his parents wouldn't buy him a piano.) I have a bunch of little three and four year olds who are waiting to turn five so I will take them. I could probably get more students if I bothered to advertise at all, but I want to have kids in the near future and I feel bad taking them if there's a chance I would need to take a break. Not that you really care about any of that...I just like that we are both piano teachers!! :)

Candice said...

I love to play, but don't think I'd be a good piano teacher. People think it's odd that I pay for someone else to give my kids lessons, but their teacher really does a better job than I would. Nice to hear about your playing. I'm not very familiar with Heller. Have heard the name-will have to check him out.

rachel carlson said...

good luck with the recital em - you will do fabulously! heller is a good choice. i listen to classical at times and heller reminds me of hard choices/decisions trying to be made or anticipation of deep, dark closure, does that make sense? music like art is left to one's own interpretation - in the dark recesses of my mind that is - ha! i SO want to take piano from you, hmmmm, think it's the approaching mid-life crisis? wait, is that 50, not 40!!?? hugs, rachel

Etta said...

I am the same way--I'm not a very good pianist (I have to practice A LOT) but I'm an okay piano teacher. I've never had more than one student, mainly because I don't advertise and don't really enjoy it. I'd much rather teach someone to read or add.

Janet O. said...

We are polar opposites. I can play like a monster but I CANNOT teach at all. No patience. So kudos to you - I keep having people ask me if I teach and I reply "so far I haven't had to..." LOL! cause I make the music money playing instead. Whew.
I don't know this Heller piece - I will have to check it out!!

Heather said...

"i feel like a sham"...this is me with my photography most of the time... Loved this little peek into your piano life. :-) We don't talk about that very much... ;-)

ducky said...

how sweet to find out more about this part of your life. very cool. knowing your personality, I think it suits you completely. I don't think I know heller, maybe you could recommend something?

*Paula* said...

I learned piano for years (10 maybe?) but I really don't think I could play a note now. Maybe if I lived near you I could take lessons from you. That would be fun - no? :) I think I'd like a teacher like you.

Erin said...

music theory is overrated!
I'm pretty good at it, and it help with my constant improv and being in the moment with my kiddos, but really I hated theory in college...blah!