I am a Bad Pianist

Insecure mode on

Something that is really frustrating for me is the piano. From age 7-14, I had piano lessons. During much of that time, it was an uphill battle getting me to do it- I hated having another teacher outside of school yelling at me to do this and do that, I hated that I was the only kid in the neighborhood who had to go home on a beautiful Monday afternoon to do lessons, always having to practice every day, having to play the same damn piece 50,000 times, until I would be so burnt out on the same piece I wouldn’t even bother keeping it memorized because I hated learning it so much. Despite all my internal resistance, I did learn quite a lot about the piano. While I never played in recitals, I volunteered to play in talent shows, and when my Grandfather nearly died of a heart attack I recorded myself playing Cannon in D so he would have something pleasant to listen to while he was recovering in the ICU.

Then my parents divorced, and my mom no longer could afford lessons. I played off and on, but without an intimidating harpy of a piano teacher shrieking at me over the slightest of errors, there really wasn’t much effort in maintaining my abilities. I could still play memorized pieces (some stuff I still have memorized from 10 years ago, which is quite an accomplishment for someone as forgetful as me IMO) but I couldn’t really improve, and without the guidance of a piano teacher, learning new material was difficult.

I finally had an opportunity to take lessons again last year at the music store my mom works at (she teaches vocals). I really enjoy playing the piano again, but some painful issues have come to light for me-

  1. I never was really hard core about the piano. I know people who would play hours and hours a day, but even when I was being forced to play the piano, I wasn’t practicing much more than 30 minutes a day. Sometimes I feel this really holds me back, because the people that are good also have invested a large amount of time into it. I really wish I could do this, but my life is pretty hectic as it is, so time to practice is scarce. Also, the piano is in a common area, and I personally feel really uncomfortable practicing when other people are around. Finally, I have a short attention span, and it is REALLY difficult for me to practice anything for more than an hour before getting bored/impatient and wanting to do something else. I feel like there’s so many things working against me discipline-wise, and it is only going to get worse when I move out into a much smaller place than I am living now where I won’t even HAVE a piano to practice on :frowning:

  2. When people ask me how long I have been playing, they assume that someone who has played the piano since he was 7 should be some expert. Some of the other student teachers at the music store are what I like to call “2 year wonders” (people who pick up the Piano on a lark, and in two short years wind up being 10 times better than I am, some of them completely self-taught) and it makes me feel really dumb to be around people who learn it faster, play it better, and just generally kick my ass all-around when it comes to anything piano-related.

  3. My skills in comparison to other student teachers make it hard to get students. There is this implied sense of competition for students at my job, since more students=more money. The best student teachers are going to get the most referrals for students, and the biannual recitals are a kind of way for student teachers to ‘advertise’ their skills to parents who may in turn tell their friends/relatives about it in case they have neices/nephews/etc that are going to be taking piano lessons. Also, being on the bottom of the totem pole both skill-wise and experience wise (started student teaching last January this year) means most of the students I do teach are ‘problem students’, kids so hyperactive you have to practically tie them to the bench to sit still for 5 seconds, kids that are violent, or kids with parents who are impossible to deal with. Its hard on my self-esteem right now, especially because I have had many students quit on me. I also get parents that make me justify my existence as a teacher (“why should I be paying you to teach my son/daughter?” which puts me in a bind mentally.

Heh. You’ve reminded me of “Two Pianos, Four Hands,” a kind of a musical by two less-than-top-notch (but still damn good) piano players, Ted Dykstra & Richard Greenblatt. One of my favorite bits comes as the guys are drinking and regretting their “failed” careers:

That’s pretty funny :stuck_out_tongue:

I am hoping things will improve in the future. Its just that being new to something like this can be really discouraging- a lot of the success in this job is building up a reputation and good standing with people. There are always the inevitable confrontations with parents when their child is struggling- I insist they need to practice more, the parent insists I need to teach them better, etc etc. Right now I have so few students that I kind of just ‘suck it up’ with problem families who threaten to leave because I really can’t afford to have ALL my students quit on me.

The job itself is pretty fun and pretty ‘cushy’ in that I geet paid to sit in a chair and listen to kids play the piano. In between students I use the free time to practice my own pieces, study for school, or flirt with the girl who teaches in the Guitar program in the store :wink: I think one of the reasons I’m fretting about it so much is because I think this job is a really great thing to do- and the scheduling is so flexibile that I could definitely do this on the side on top of working full-time (which is what my mom does)