Adult Students

November 11, 2005 at 06:56 AM · I'm an adult (30+, OK - pushing 40) student *still* taking lessons, and have been for 20 some odd years. Most instructors I've had teach children (under 20) for the most part and tend to behave towards me like you would expect to see around children: high pitched voice, lectures like you were in the 4th grade again, etc.

How can I help my teacher treat me more as an adult, letting me guide where I want the lessons to take me, discussing and learning style nuances, etc.? We've had open discussions about this before but she still slips - understandable given working with children all day.

I'm wondering anyone has any hints on helping shift her into "adult mode" when my lessons begin. She's a good teacher and we get along quite well and I have learned quite a bit from her, but some days it can be a bit annoying.

Replies (8)

November 11, 2005 at 02:50 PM · I am actually curious about this becuase I teach a beginning 50 year old woman just after a 9 year old. Myself being only 21 I try to find a middle ground and just talk to her like a friend, but it is very difficult. I think it's a frustrating case for both parties involved. What are the things that bother you about how your teacher teaches? Maybe we can compare and get some answers..

November 11, 2005 at 03:06 PM · If your teacher lacks the social skills to interact properly with you as an adult and seems stuck on 'kiddie mode' I don't see what you can do about it nor why it is your problem to correct. Were it me and it bothered me (which it would), I'd find another teacher.

Re: 21 teaching 50 yr old, I would suggest that your are in a pretty good situation. You are the expert about violin and should act so. Your student has 30 years of experience on you in all other areas and you should be aware of it and take advantage. Work, kids, relationships, how things 'used to be' - I could think of a pretty long list of things I would bring up around a person so much older than me simply to get their point of view.

Or just stick to the lesson. I like chatting with my teacher about work or other things but really I'm there for a reason and the chit-chat probably occupies about 3 minutes of an hour lesson.

November 11, 2005 at 03:17 PM · The problem is that "kiddie mode" is a bad teaching technique--period.

Children shouldn't be taught in "kiddie mode." I don't talk funny to my children; I don't see why their teachers should, either.

This doesn't mean "talk in monotone". For sure, when I tell a story, or read a book, I like to make the characters distinctive. But that should not/does not transfer to actual direct communication with the child.

BTW, a number of my 5 year old daugher's classmates have what you would term "baby-talk" ---especially the girls. Guess what? When we've been around them with their parent's guess what the parents do? Talk baby-talk!

So, your teacher needs to get out of that mentality--or find one who already is out of that mentaility.

November 11, 2005 at 08:47 PM · I found that "kiddie mode" works really well in some cases. (though kiddie lectures don't make sense)

Not baby talk, of course, but I had the bow hold first described to me with a shadow puppet bunny, then the other fingers were added. It's not the most professional image, but it does describe the placement of the thumb, middle, and ring fingers (compare that to if the teacher said, "place the middle and ring fingers along the frog, the index finger slightly seperated from the middle and ring and in front, the thumb curled and under the middle and index, and the pinkey curved, on it's tip, seperated from the middle and index and in back near the end of the bow, but not too far). On one piece I went on tippy toes at the top of a phrase to show me (not the audience) how it's shaped, and it did help me.

I dunno, I wouldn't mind if my teacher used those analogies now. If they've been teaching children sucessfully, then maybe you'd be better off getting the methods she uses for children. I know a teacher who's fantastic with advanced adults, but not so good with beginners of any kind. It's not like she's treating you compleatly as a child right?

If you carry on conversations with her(or him) after your lessons they should stop the hight pitched voice thing. I can see how that might be quite annoying.

November 11, 2005 at 08:55 PM · This is something i'm starting to see since the beginning of my piano lessons last year. My instructor teaches about 20 children compared to literally only a handful of adults. Sometimes i feel she can be a bit pushy in a sense of trying to teach a young child some important value for the first time. I'm 26 years old and she's right around the same age 26 or 27. I'm not sure if she's aware of this. It's not bad, it's just that i think she forgets that she's talking to an adult and probably thinks she has to push me just as hard as the rest of her students. However, it hasn't gotten so bad that we've had to have the talk. I'm just saying that i can sort of see what that situation must be like.

November 11, 2005 at 08:56 PM · I agree with Joseph.There is a child within all of us.This does however only relate to the beginner stage.One of the first pieces that my beginners play is caleed 'Cowboys'.Kids love it because when the piano part is added you can really hear the Indians chasing them.Once the adults get going they have no trouble whooping along as well.All very good for building interpretation skills.Once the beginner stage has passed the style of teaching changes but the teaching style changes for the children as well.

November 11, 2005 at 09:45 PM ·

November 11, 2005 at 09:33 PM · You've been taking lessons for 20 years. Is the issue just how she's interacting with you, or is she teaching you as if you were a beginner when you're not?

I'm not a teacher, but I can imagine that if I were one, and I had been interacting with little kids all day, it might be hard to switch back to adult-mode. But even so, if I had a more advanced student playing for me, no matter what the age, I would think I would talk about things relevant to the student's ability, such as style and phrasing and musicality (as well as technique).

Maybe she just needs a little help getting into the right mind-set. Maybe when you first get to your lesson, take a minute or two to explain what you worked on that week, what's giving you trouble, and what you want to accomplish during that lesson. Make it a routine. Of course, I'm not saying that she shouldn't guide what you're working on, but maybe taking the initiative will get things off on the right track.

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