How a good or a bad piano teacher can change your experience

By lmt-editorFebruary 4, 2022
Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Throughout my piano studies, I encountered both fantastic and terrible piano teachers. Some were incredibly motivating, while others were scathing and discouraging. One does not always realise the harm that destructive instructors can cause, and I would advise you to discontinue your piano lessons immediately if you do not feel inspired or motivated. 

As a student at one of the world's most prestigious music academies, I couldn't simply walk away. I was forced to follow the curriculum and attend the lessons taught by these ungodly people. It is not uncommon for piano teachers who aspired to be well-known concert pianists but ended up in a classroom to exact their vengeance on their students. It's completely unacceptable, and I hope no one else has to go through it. 

It is unhealthy to be afraid of your piano teacher and to leave each piano lesson with tears in your eyes. It is not constructive and will only cause students to lose confidence. Breaking someone down is not beneficial, and I believe that encouraging someone is far more beneficial. Why criticise someone whose playing isn't up to par? Isn't it the role of a piano teacher to demonstrate and assist in the resolution of problems? 

I am not going to name names...

I'm not going to name names or spend too much time talking about those who made my piano lessons unpleasant. As I previously stated, I believe they were dissatisfied individuals who should never have been hired as piano teachers at a prestigious music university. 

I am, however, eager to share my most memorable experiences and how they have influenced my life. 

Master pianist Edson Elias

Master pianist Edson Elias

I am, however, eager to share my most memorable experiences and how they have influenced my life. 

As I write this, I am especially thinking of Mr Edson Elias, who was a fantastic piano teacher as well as an outstanding pianist. He was much more than that, though: he was a true piano master. He tragically died in 2008. 

Edson was a remarkable man. Because of his Brazilian heritage, he was extremely friendly with all of us. We weren't just a group of students in our piano class at The Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris; we were a family. Edson had this amazing ability to make us love and support one another instead of competing with one another. I have some amazing memories from my time studying with him! 

Our first meeting was also unforgettable. I called him one evening when I was 16 years old, on the advice of Mrs Francois, the widow of the famous French pianist Samson Francois. He immediately inquired as to whether I had received a press release or if I had won an international competition. I was speechless and terrified. I was still very young and had nothing to offer him. He probably thought I was a nice girl, so he invited me to a piano seminar a few weeks later. It was the start of an extraordinary relationship. On this day, my relationship with the piano also changed. 

I understood what all my previous piano teachers were trying to explain to me about interpretation and sound production in just one lesson, on Liszt's Les Jeux d’Eau a la Villa d'Este. Edson didn't say anything; he was just singing next to me, lightly touching my shoulders and back as I played. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. 

I am eternally grateful to Edson for teaching me everything I know about piano playing today. Thank you very much, Edson! 

Please accept my apologies for being overly enthusiastic, but studying and being so close to Edson was fantastic! 

I've shared my personal experience because I want people to understand that picking a piano teacher isn't like picking a ready-made meal. Your piano teacher can either transport you to a magical world or turn you off from piano playing entirely. 

With all of my students, I have always tried to be the mentor that Edson was for us, and I hope that I have always inspired them as much as I intended. 

Years later, when I met Thierry Lang, I had a similar experience. After finishing my studies in Paris, I met this wonderful man in Switzerland. He got me into jazz music. My sessions with him were not your typical piano lessons; it was my favourite hour of the week, and I used to miss him terribly during school holidays. 

Make sure you study with a piano teacher with whom you have a connection... make your piano dreams come true!

Study with a piano teacher with whom you have a connection!

I have mentioned two pianists, but I am confident that you can also meet this incredible piano teacher who will change your life and transport you to a world you didn't know existed. If your piano teacher is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and assisting you in becoming the best pianist you can be, you will undoubtedly make much faster progress. When you face obstacles and difficulties, you will discover your inner strength. Even if you are exhausted from a long day at work, you will find the courage to practice and improve your skills. Whatever piece you are playing, the music will flow through your fingers. You will gradually grasp the inner meaning of each composition, and your enthusiasm for piano playing will skyrocket. 

Taking piano lessons with a piano teacher with whom you have no connection, on the other hand, will have the opposite effect. It may cause you to lose motivation and interest in playing the piano. You've probably decided to learn how to play because of a particular composition that inspired you to dream, and you don't want to lose your enthusiasm and love for the piano. 

Make sure to do your homework before enrolling in a piano lesson because I can assure you that studying with a good or bad piano teacher can make a huge difference in your piano education. You have the option of flying to the moon or digging in the ground! 

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