For any serious growing musician a multiplicity of teachers over time is best for his/her musical development. There is a synergistic compounding effect for a student by having more than one teacher. Every teacher has a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses. “Best Practices” strategists today are telling people to work from their strengths rather than to try to improve their weaknesses. What this means for piano teachers is that they should (and will) teach according to the particular style of playing or music that they are strong in (and they like). If you’re learning from a teacher who personally favors jazz over classical, over time, you, as the student will naturally get influenced toward jazz style piano. I call this phenomenon, Particular Influence. It is an influence that leans you toward a particular style of technique or music. Please note, Particular Influence is not necessarily bad, as long as you are aware of it and that’s the style you want to develop in your piano playing at this stage of your development. Just be aware of it and YOU make the decision, rather than be unaware of it, and let someone else make the decision for you (or to you). J
When teachers follow a published piano method, the process of “particular influence,” is reduced but it is not completely eliminated. Also following a published piano method helps insure the student will get a fuller, more well rounded exposure and training to the entire repertoire of piano music and technique. However, at the same time, a published piano method does not guarantee that! And, as I’ve already hinted, a fuller more broad based exposure to piano music, style, and technique, may or may not be what is best for you at this stage of your development. Depending on where you are personally in your piano playing development, you may be better off right now, focusing in on just one particular style. These are questions that need purposeful consideration and decision, by YOU, the student. Think about what YOU ultimately want to be doing with your piano playing. Then, research the options available to you to get your there. And do not neglect your current instructor! Quality instructors can be the greatest resource you have to help you analyze your goals and how to attain them. Additionally, even if you ultimately want to move into a particular piano style, your present teaching, may understand how to help you establish really solid technique for that style. Your current teacher may actually be a very good choice for you to stay with; helping you lay those foundations before moving on to the next teacher who specializes in the particular style of music you want to play. Keep the big picture and process in mind when making these decisions. See each of your teachers of individual members of a team that you hire to help you reach your goals. Each member of your team brings a set of different strengths to you. Don’t get stuck on one teacher. You will gain much more if you create a “team” concept of teachers.
One caveat: Generally speaking, it works best to space your Team out over time rather than to be seeing multiple teachers concurrently. However, in special cases, two teachers working together to design a course of study for you, could produce exceptional results. But this couplet must be chosen very carefully. They must be able to see the arrangement as an opportunity to help a talented student in ways that exceed what either of them could achieve alone. There must be mutual respect and neither teacher must try to claim dominance over the other. Both teachers must see themselves as equals, just with different, but complementary strengths that they can blend together in a unique fashion and bring to YOU for YOUR greater benefit. J
Upcoming blogs in this series:
- “Team Concept of Piano teachers: What is it, Why is it Valuable, How to Design it?”
- “A Teacher for Myself, or My Children”
- “Handicaps and Playing the Piano”
- “Playing for Myself Only, Or For Others As Well”
- “Amateur vs. Professional: What’s the difference?”
- “Developing a Repertoire”
- “Types of Pianos and How the Condition of the Piano Affects the Student’s Development?
- “Four Parts of Quality Piano Instruction--Hands, Ears, Head, & Heart”