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Impostor syndrome?

teacher having lessons

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#1 The Great Sosso

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 17:51

I've just had a piano lesson for the first time in a while.  I've been teaching for a few years, and mentioned on another thread some weeks ago that I was starting to feel inadequate with a more advanced student wanting me to take her through to grade 7, so I've found myself a really good teacher, who costs a fortune, and had my first lesson with him this week.

 

I left full of ideas for practice, but painfully aware of how inadequate I am!    Does anyone else ever get this feeling or is it just me?  I feel like I don't really know how to play the piano at all!

 

I shouldn't complain because I specifically wanted a teacher who would help me to improve my technique (a previous teacher always made me feel bad because he never told me how to get better, and I always felt that was because he thought I couldn't do it) but it stings a bit!

 

Maybe I will always suffer from impostor syndrome.  Anyone else?

 

TGS X


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#2 jch48

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 18:21

Glad you've found someone and it sounds v promising. I'm not currently suffering from 'imposter syndrome' but i know it's v common.
My feelings watching my teacher play is just how far above my level she is (facility, speed, leaps, beauty of tone, phrasing, memory, listening....) and i know that i'm pretty competent.


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#3 ten left thumbs

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 19:31

Timely for me, I'm up for feeling inadequate too. For this reason, I don't take advanced students just now. I do plan to get better.

 

I think with lessons, there are two learning points. The first is to get better at piano. The second is to stay fresh with the feeling of being at the learning end of the relationship. It is a great lesson in empathy, which can help us relate to students better. So, for example, with what TGS said about something stinging, not because of the current teacher, but because of a previous learning experience. That can happen so easily to students. I do something that I think is completely reasonable, and the student flips out at me, not because of piano, but because they felt humiliated in maths today and something I did re-ignited the memory. For teaching, it helps to stay grounded in learning. 


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#4 ma non troppo

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 09:11

I always tell my students that I am a hiker on the same path as them - I am just a bit further down the path than they are.

I don't feel like an imposter, no. I wouldn't take on a student who I didn't feel able to help. I am aware I am still learning though and always will be.
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#5 BadStrad

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 11:17

Well, however you are feeling, you've done the right thing.

It may or may not be true that you don't know how to play the piano. There are many music teachers who don't *really* know what they're doing. That doesn't mean they are bad teachers, they may indeed be excellent teachers, but if they never received the quality of teaching to develop *their* knowledge and technique to its fullest extent then that lack of knowledge becomes perpetuated as students become teachers themselves. Even at the highest levels UK music teaching is not known for its training of award winning/world class musicians. But, and this is the important thing here, you have realised that you are uncomfortable with your ability to prepare this student for higher grades and have taken action to rectify the situation. That is all anyone could be expected to do (other than recommend a different teacher to the pupil). That is not the act of an imposter, it is the action of someone dedicated to their teaching and to developing their skills. Congratulations on your positive response to an uncomfortable situation.
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#6 Latin pianist

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 11:47

I've had feelings like this, particularly when I started teaching. Was I up to putting someone through grade 8 even though I'd taken it and a teaching diploma. When I had my first grade 8, I learned the pieces which helped me see the technical difficulties, and in the end the hardest thing was getting the student to practise enough. I'm interested in what way you feel your technique is lacking. Can you play the grade 7 pieces you will be teaching? I had such a mish mash of teachers that I was worried about my technique, but although I've had no more lessons, playing is such a big part of my life that I feel have improved through playing a variety of pieces and developing the required skills.
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#7 Hedgehog

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 13:03

How do you feel about your new teacher TGS? Do you feel positive, looking forward to your next lesson, determined to practise in the way that you've been shown? Have you got some books to read about technique? Can you play the G7 pieces?

These are all questions I'd ask myself.  

I don't know what your background is, but I was bounced into teaching someone grade 8 before I had laid some foundations.  I had been teaching to grade 6 quite satisfactorily, but was wary of anything further.  It was scary, but the pupil was very musical and I spent hours planning and trying out ideas and it all worked out all right in the end. That was when I decided to get more help and like you found a well qualified teacher.  I simply worked up through grade 6 to 7 to 8 material and learnt a lot on the way, and took a couple of diplomas.  I did choose my teacher very carefully though, making sure that she offered an entirely positive experience even though I must have been very rusty to start with.

Good luck.biggrin.png  You're doing the Right Thing (and I'm sure you're not an imposter)


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#8 adagiok5

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 13:29

I've had feelings like this, particularly when I started teaching. Was I up to putting someone through grade 8 even though I'd taken it and a teaching diploma. When I had my first grade 8, I learned the pieces which helped me see the technical difficulties, and in the end the hardest thing was getting the student to practise enough.


I so agree with you Latin Pianist my approach is also to learn the pieces. I also had a few lessons from a very prominent teacher she listened to me playing the pieces and gave me a few pointers but overall she was impressed with my approach to teaching ( a big confidence boost). I am pleased to say the student went on to get a distinction for her grade 8.

TGS, I regularly have a confidence crisis and really feel for you. You are definitely going about your situation in the correct way. Our profession is a very isolated one but with sites like this we need not feel so alone.

Another thing I do is to listen to as many different recordings of the higher grade pieces as I can. YouTube is a great tool for this although some pianists are better than others.
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#9 Dorcas

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 19:41

If a pianist or teacher is at all reflective, then there is always a danger of feeling inadequate.  The fact the TGS is having lessons, says so much.  I love it!!  


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#10 The Great Sosso

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 18:58

Thanks everyone for your encouragement. This really has been such a helpful forum for me, on my journey to becoming a piano teacher and beyond.

 

To be honest, a lot of what my new teacher showed me was nothing new, but a reminder that I had become a little lazy in reading the detail in music (subtleties of phrasing, or the timing of a trill for example).  I do tend to enjoy things a bit too much, and play with too much gusto.  Funnily enough, I don't think I pass this bad habit on to my students, because I tend to notice more when I am listening than when I am playing.  Listening to myself more critically, I think comes with having a teacher, because they will tell you when something is not right - it's very easy to tell yourself it all sounds great, when there is no audience.

 

He did show me some technique things that I had never been taught and that was quite exciting.  Maybe my early teachers didn't know themselves (they tended to be second-instrument pianists) or maybe I didn't listen well enough to them as a child.  Who knows?  Either way, I'm really enjoying getting my teeth into some proper practice for the first time in years.

 

I've also found a new enthusiasm for teaching, and new ways of communicating how to go about practising, which are a direct result of my having lessons again.  It's great!

 

TGS X


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