From the beginning of [piano] time, having a good teacher was always… well… good.
Every teacher (including myself) is arguably an avid supporter of the notion that a good piano teacher is an essential tool in a student’s pianistic journey. But, what is a good teacher? How do we judge that a teacher is what we laconically call, “good”? Well, I have no idea… If I knew I could have been a good teacher. I’ve written in the past on this vast subject, but, in our case, we can almost be certain that a good piano teacher must have one specific quality: To make good pianists! I mean, amongst other qualities, of course, but making pianists must be one of them. Other positive qualities of a teacher could be to produce good people in life. But, if I was trying to become a better person in life, I wouldn’t necessarily go and have music lessons, because the quality of becoming a better person can be taught through other disciples, as well.
However, are there any caveats in having a good piano teacher? In this article we are going to discuss this very notion. Read on.
Coming to the gist of this article, the “worse” the teacher, the less the expectations. Well, most of the time that is. A bad —as we say— teacher has lower expectations, teaches with devious shortcuts and tricks, and wants the student to gullibly feel good about themselves, albeit momentarily.
His main goal is to make the student “like” the piano, even though that is not his job; a teacher’s job is not to make the student like the subject, but make the student progress, and through progressing on the said subject the student will ultimately like the subject.
Fake Tango for solo piano
So, why then a good teacher can be bad for you as a pianist? It is very simple: A good teacher demands! A good teacher won’t let you rest for a second. He will try to stop you from procrastinating and won’t tolerate complacency. I’m sure you know where I’m getting at.
A good teacher will simply say that good things in life come with practice and not from watching pointless videos or reading articles on loathsome sites, such as PianoPractising.com. Piano Practising may be a legendary website, having nurtured pianists for over 65 years now, but you can’t possibly rely on it to learn the pragmatic dimension of our lovely and dreaded instrument. And yes, Piano Practising’s publisher might be a genius and all, but so what?
So, I’m afraid, a good piano teacher could be the end of you as a potential pianist. He might unwittingly force you to quit the piano because he wants to make a virtuoso out of you, and not a puppet-pianist that hangs from the strings of a noisy online video. He wants you to excel and reach where he never managed to reach himself; in the depths of pianism…
And that’s why my friends there isn’t one “perfect” teacher to teach us all. Everyone of us has different goals and expect different things from our instructors.
So, if you don’t want to be disappointed, if you want to have an easy-going relationship with the piano, if you are happy to practice occasionally and make incremental progress, then you must find the proper teacher for that.
But I can assure you that this teacher is not the one for you.
© Nikos Kokkinis 30-09-2019
Many thanks to Paul Bence for the image used: