Robert Estrin - piano expert

5 Signs You Have the Wrong Piano Teacher

A useful video for all piano learners

In this video, Robert gives you some tips to understand if you could have a better piano teacher.

Released on March 25, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin here Today is a very important subject, five ways to know you have the wrong piano teacher.

Let's start with one that you might not even expect, which is, they teach on a spinet piano. Now, what's wrong with a spinet? Spinets, those very short pianos, we all know they don't have the greatest sound because the strings are so short, the soundboards are small, but it's more important than that. Spinet pianos have an easier action than other pianos. Therefore, somebody who practices on a spinet is not really prepared to play a grand piano because a grand piano is so much harder to play. One of the nice things about going to a lesson with a teacher who has a nice grand piano, is that even if at home you only have an upright or even a spinet or a digital, at least once a week, you see what it's like to play a more formidable instrument, which prepares you for contests and competitions, concerts, play anywhere. That's one little tip. It's not a deal breaker, but kind of a clue that maybe they aren't a high level teacher.

Now, here are some other ones that you would not expect, but I've been teaching for a long time and here's one for you. They babysit their kids during lessons. Now, you might think, "Really, would that happen?" Absolutely. Maybe the kids are in the next room and they keep running in and out and they're distracted, they're watching TV and maybe they're fighting with each other and the teacher is really not 100% there. Now, worse yet, this is a kind of a crazy one, but they babysit neighbors' kids during lessons. Now, this sounds like a joke, but you would not believe the kind of things that go on.

People who call themselves piano teachers. This isn't to say that there aren't some great, dedicated piano teachers out there. We appreciate them so much, but there are some who just put the proverbial shingle out and they just start taking students. Maybe they don't really have the background or the inclination to really care enough and they're trying to make money on the side while they're teaching lessons or, just as bad, if they're on the phone the whole time and texting, who knows what's going on.

Now, here's one that is a real, I would say, a deal breaker and that is teachers who hit your hands with a ruler when you miss notes. Now, you might think that this is a crazy thing, but I have heard of this from many people, believe it or not, it's, I think, it's sick really to inflict pain, whether it's a ruler or tapping with anything that hurts or even shocks you. You want a teacher to be nurturing and supportive and reach you on a really personal level in order to connect with you and get you to practice and understand what it's all about. Certainly inflicting pain is the furthest thing from anything that would be helpful, in my opinion. Any of you have had that kind of experience, love for you to share it in the comments below.

Last and most importantly, if a teacher doesn't show you how to practice, I don't care how good they may be, even if they're spectacular pianists, even if the lesson, they correct your notes, they assign new material, all of that, if they don't show you what you should be doing at home on a daily basis, your progress is going to be hindered tremendously. Think about it. You go to a lesson once a week, imagine a teacher who shows you what to do the other six days of the week. You are going to improve exponentially with a teacher who shows you step-by-step exactly what you should be doing at home. Extremely important and that is the most critical thing and maybe not the most obvious thing. Think about it. If any of you have teachers and you get home and you go, "Oh, that was a great lesson, now what do I do?" and you have no idea where to even start, the teacher really isn't giving you the tools you need.

Ideally, a teacher shows you how you can be productive without them, so eventually you don't even need a teacher. You can practice on your own and accomplish great things. At that point you really need the teacher to be more of a coach rather than a teacher. Refining performances, helping to prepare you for performances, not necessarily doing the nitty gritty when you get to that level, but certainly anybody who's not on that highly accomplished level that just needs some polishing of the technique and the musicianship. You want a teacher to show you step-by-step how to practice.

I hope these had been interesting insights for you, love to hear from all of you. Please subscribe and ring the bell if you want more videos, share it on your social networks. We really appreciate all the support. Once again, I'm Robert Estrin here, your online piano store.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Borcich * VSM MEMBER * on March 25, 2020 @12:35 pm PST
Great video as usual, Robert! My current teacher feels it's important to curve your fingers when playing the piano to facilitate greater speed. Yet on a recent episode of NCIS:New Orleans a piano player was keeping his fingers very flat. Please enlighten me on this.
Robert - host, on March 25, 2020 @3:04 pm PST
This article and video provides some insights for you:
KP * VSM MEMBER * on March 25, 2020 @8:04 am PST
I am 69. Almost 50 years ago I began piano lessons. I had the best teacher. Although I was probably not her most advanced student she never discouraged me from trying a difficult piece. Even if I wasn't quite ready for it. I took lessons for four years before I got married. Although I had no piano I always hoped to get back to it. And I did 20 years ago on a Roland digital. I now own a grand piano and self teach as best as I can. My granddaughter now has the old piano and is taking lessons and doing some performing. I never forgot my teacher.
Robert - host, on March 25, 2020 @1:01 pm PST
A great teacher can make a huge difference not only in the field of study, but sometimes in your life!
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