Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fourth lesson: Uh oh

The school where I'm taking these piano lessons has a policy that if, after three lessons, you feel it's not working out, you can cancel or ask for another teacher, but after the third lesson, you're stuck. I spent much of the past week wondering if I should cancel. But, I wondered, was I considering it because I was afraid of the challenge or because I had misgivings about the teacher? As usual, with difficult decisions, I went around and around about it. Should I face my fears? Would there be consequences (e.g., hurting people's feelings, getting a bad reputation as one of those "difficult" students)? Was I letting my cynical side take over? I squared my shoulders and went back in today.

I'm now feeling like this was a big mistake.

My issues:

I want to PLAY. I don't want to have too many discussions about things like what to do with my hands without actually doing them myself. It just feels like there is too much talking going on in these lessons. Also, everything is awfully free wheeling. It's not that I want my first teacher again, who wrote in my book every week exactly how many times I should play each thing, and at what metronome marking. But at least a little more organization might be good. Also some direction on technique -- scales and all that.  But, sadly, I think this person is not that type of teacher.

Because I'm a grown-up now, I just stop and ask questions and try to get answers: How do you do this? How do you practice it? So far, I have not gotten very useful responses. But am I expecting too much? I just don't know! I only feel that I'm not very sure what I'm supposed to do between lessons that's going to improve my playing.

It's also bothering me that this teacher can't seem to keep straight simple facts about me, or even what we agreed to work on last week (most of which she chose). Perhaps there is some problem with her that is beyond her control, in which case I'm sympathetic. But it's weirding me out.

And then, not her fault, there's the piano. It is just horrendous. It was supposed to have been tuned since last week, but honestly, I heard no difference. It was possibly even worse. It's just a twangy, awful-sounding thing, impossible to control. Okay, when she demonstrates stuff, she does make it sound a little better than I do, but only a little.

One positive development amongst all the excessive chit-chat today was that she offered to let me change my lesson time to an evening on a different day, when she teaches on the "good" piano that they use for concerts. I'm sure it's much better than the Yamaha from hell. However, my husband and I went to hear a concert in there last month, just before I signed up, with a very good concert pianist playing on that very same piano, and it also was pretty out of tune and not that great sounding, IMO. Maybe they just have a lousy piano tech. But I accepted the change. It certainly can't be worse. The other good thing about the switch is that it will interfere much less with my work hours.

So, I guess I made my wimp's bed and now must lie in it. Perhaps things will improve. Perhaps this will simply be another trial I have to get through in my musical education.

If all else fails, I can just quit, I suppose, and chalk it up to sunk cost + experience. But it's sad.


Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like next week's lesson will be the tie breaker. Your blog entries following your first and second lessons sounded pretty positive and upbeat, the next two - not so much.

I hope you can find the joy that should come from playing the piano as a hobby. Sometimes you sound like in your quest for improvement you have made playing the piano a chore laden with angst and indecision about your next steps instead of an island of pleasure in your (I'm sure) busy life.

I look forward to seeing how it goes next week.

Harriet said...

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I seem to be getting wrapped a bit too tight over this. It probably all taps into some deeper well of emotions.

I need to reread Charles Cooke's "Playing the Piano for Pleasure." And just kinda lighten up.