Golf instruction and golf lessons...

mancest

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I've taken lessons from five different PGA professionals. These four things were in common with each:

1) No improvement
2) The same weakness was never identified twice
3) Me as the student
4) A good deal of effort was made to apply what was being taught

These are facts... the root cause of the failure is up for debate. While like any profession there are good and bad instructors, I choose to accept #3 as the biggest reason.
So this is something I would say in way to long of a manner, I am now working with my 4th instructor in the last 3 years I guess. 1st one... I can't say he was a bad instructor, but I don't know if he was a good one. He is no longer instructing, but that could be because he had a student so bad he left the profession... hoping if that is the case it wasn't me, but it is entirely possible.

I did some searching and found an instructor that worked out of a gym, he had his own area that was netted and fairly private. Fit well as I started with him in the winter time. Our main focus together was getting my grip and set up to a better place. I have historically been very weak with the left hand and sat back into a stance standing very far away from the ball. This promoted a much too flat take away that fed into a severe over the top move. Took a bit, but piece by piece those fundamentals improved dramatically, but he is a very old school coach and wanted me to start working the ball both directions (which would have been fine, but I wasn't comfortable even hitting a ball one direction with much confidence) and when he went in my bag and told me to get rid of hybrids and that I needed to be carrying 3/4 irons and possibly a 2 iron that I realized it was time to look for something else. Nothing wrong, I learned quite a bit and left the training in a better spot than when we began despite my scores remaining much the same prior to starting with him.

3rd coach I went to another indoor facility but one that has all the modern "tools". Gcquad, force places, multiple cameras etc. Since my setup/grip were in a better place we were able to start working on the next biggest issue, my backswing. Getting it more upright so I have room to come down from inside the ball. It started off well, but plateaued after a couple sessions despite me practicing at least once a week. at our 3rd lesson I was fully planning to see about getting a refund for the remaining lessons on our package or if there was another instructor I could work with because it just wasn't working. Somehow when I get to the lesson he introduces me to another guy and says he is going to sit in our lesson if that is ok. This new guy (4) is several years younger than 3 (and even quite a bit younger than me) and he explains 4 is coming to work here and is learning the ropes.

4th coach quickly kind of took over the lesson, and things started clicking for me. I never said anything about refund or asking for a change, came back for my next lesson and 4 was there with 3 and again ran the lesson. At the end of the lesson 3 informed me he was moving out of state and 4 would be taking over his clients.... which worked out great for me. 3 wasn't a bad instructor in my opinion, but it didn't work for me. 4 has worked for me, BUT, I think the biggest thing that I learned is for me, the cameras during the lesson combined with the club data from quad have helped me learn so much faster than not having them.

So that is also part of it, learning what helps you incorporate the teaching. some of us are verbal, some of us are visual, some of us react well to positive reinforcement, some to negative for bad outcomes. If I had to find a new place to learn at I don't think I would consider somewhere that didn't have at least some of these tools.
 

JonMA1

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If you aren't excited to see your instructor (and the positive gains that they bring to your swing/game). Get a new instructor.
If I had to find a new place to learn at I don't think I would consider somewhere that didn't have at least some of these tools.
I agree with both of these points. I don't need the best instructor in the world, but more the one who best fits me. An instructor who cannot tailor their method of instruction to individuals wouldn't be a good match. I'd also appreciate an honest assessment instead of "you do these things and there's no reason you can't break 80". They would have to recognize that every student has unique potential. I've never looked for - nor expected - a perfect PGA-like swing in route to single digit golf.

My goals have always been modest and until last year, the time and effort had always been invested in getting as good as possible. It would have been nice to have found that perfect instructor to change my bad habits enough to become a 15 HC or at least a bogey golfer, but there are worse things in the world than not being an average golfer.
 

Acesteve

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I think there is too much emphasis on swing. I have had 3 playing lessons that were hands down the best learning for me. Why is this rare? My short game lessons were also far more important than any swing lesson I have taken. Thank you Brian Eekhoff, RIP buddy.
this post struck a cord with me on two fronts. a playing lesson would be great. easier to jack balls in rythem on a range then hit driver then 8i when it counts. The post also reminds me that for the hundreds of hours I tried to hit a full swing better that learning to be a decent putter helped and the unintended benefit of helping my overall swing in ways that lessons or self study did not. Specifically learning tempo, moving left shoulder and arm as a unit, and taking my dominant side out of the swing
 

Chef23

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Covid interfered with my desire to attend a 3 day golf school last year and now this, but I think an hour lesson is futile unless you find someone stellar. Find the time to immerse yourself in game improvement for a full day or a number of days with instruction interspersed with practice, video analysis etc. Now hoping I live until 2022 so I can get this done. Lots of information out there about best instructors in your region. I also start each season re-reading the 5 fundamentals of golf by Hogan.
Unless you are looking for a band aid a single hour lesson is probably a waste. A series of weekly hour long lessons where you work on things during the week between absolutely adds value.

I attended a golf school quite a few years ago and did get a lot out of it but I got more out of the short game work than the full swing. I was a better than average golfer at the time though.
 

WLG1952

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I saw this little "tid bit" on failed golf instruction.while looking through one of my golf books.

"Communication error........what is said, versus what is meant, versus what is heard........all the ingredients to a perfect can of worms".

I kind of think this made sense.
 

TrueMotionMatt

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Unless you are looking for a band aid a single hour lesson is probably a waste. A series of weekly hour long lessons where you work on things during the week between absolutely adds value.

I attended a golf school quite a few years ago and did get a lot out of it but I got more out of the short game work than the full swing. I was a better than average golfer at the time though.
💯Short game can be learned in a one or two day clinic with sustained results, i.e. the skill doesn't dramatically disappear once the coach is gone.

Learning however, takes time, the repetition of a motion pattern the correct way, not mindless range time, and it takes a watchful eye (yours or the coach). @GolfLivesMatter knows what I'm sayin...😉...Imagine learning the piano or any musical instrument. You learn how to read the music, play one note, then multiple notes together, then songs. It takes time. For some reason, golfers have this idea that they can play Bethovan's 12th like this guy 👇without practicing or learning.

 

GolfLivesMatter

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💯Short game can be learned in a one or two day clinic with sustained results, i.e. the skill doesn't dramatically disappear once the coach is gone.

Learning however, takes time, the repetition of a motion pattern the correct way, not mindless range time, and it takes a watchful eye (yours or the coach). @GolfLivesMatter knows what I'm sayin...😉...Imagine learning the piano or any musical instrument. You learn how to read the music, play one note, then multiple notes together, then songs. It takes time. For some reason, golfers have this idea that they can play Bethovan's 12th like this guy 👇without practicing or learning.

Good post Matt. The learning processes are very similar. To play a song at that pace and accuracy means he's memorized the song because trying to read music and play at that speed is nearly impossible....or similar to trying to tell oneself what to do during a golf swing.

My friend just got a new guitar (beginner) and is eager to play Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles. He has a beginner book and is strumming the chords....good....chords are G, C, D with relative minors in the first position. Then he looked at a Tab book with the actual chords / positions played in the song and his brain fried. I told him "don't look at Tab book because you're not ready". But he went off to play the Tab is got lost in about 2 seconds. He will eventually find out that note by note, measure by measure, with a metronome can be laborious but but the best way to learn.
 

titleist981

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I love when instructors tell you to do something on their videos and they're clearly not doing that move....I guess its hard to explain a feeling.
 

robrandalgz

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I love when instructors tell you to do something on their videos and they're clearly not doing that move....I guess its hard to explain a feeling.
Just like the old adage: feel isn't real. It's why a lot of times an instructor will make you exaggerate a particular move. At speed it doesn't look anything like how it "feels".
 

bobellis75

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just digging through this thread...good thoughts here. I'm struggling (ongoing since last fall) right now. In the fall...it got to a point where I just kind of threw my hands up and started spending my free time on other activities (and I just got busy with work, life, etc).

I have let the clubs lie all winter...doing projects around the house instead. Went to the range yesterday afternoon and took a couple wedges and an 8 iron. Hit a bucket of about 70 balls - mostly terrible.

Last year I was working hard on my swing...taking everything I'd been taught, every flaw I knew I had, and just working through stuff at the range. Got the swing going pretty well. At some point...playing a couple rounds of golf..I just lost it. Bad. One day real bad. Nothing worked. I hit like 2 good shots. Then my brain started acting up, overreacting, probably. Anyway...I'm at a point now where I just don't know what I'm doing anymore. Golf....am I right?

So my options are - just try to keep going to the range and working my tail off until I break through. Or, I'm considering ponying up for lessons. I have done lessons in the past. Minimal. About 5 years ago maybe is when I started playing again after a very long (like years) layoff due to being a dad, not having time, etc. I took some extended lessons at that point...found a local guy who I really gelled with. We communicated well, he was explained things/demonstrated things great. Really got me on track to get me playing again. I have reached out to him, and he's currently not teaching (it was a side job for him anyway) due to COVID, etc. I get that. He dug back through some photos and videos and sent me some pointers of where I might be off track based on what he helped fix before.

My other thought - Golftec opened a location close to my house - like 3 miles away maybe. Considering throwing in for a package of some kind. One thing I am alittle afraid of...dropping a bunch of cash for something and then not liking the guy's methods, communication style etc...and it being a huge waste. My other guy was very good about going "Okay - you have a good natural swing plane, let's work with what you have here". It was easy and...well...not effortless, but it felt like fun. So my dilemma here is he's not in the picture for a while - likely until vaccinations are widely distributed. And I'm not opposed to overhauling some things to a degree, by any means. Maybe that's what I need.

Point being...to all this...I'm in a rut. And just venting I guess.

Anyone have any particularly strong thoughts about the Golftec model of what they do (I know mileage will vary due to different instructors...but their basic business model/ideology...). I don't like the instructors who kind of have that attitude of "my way or the highway" - I want a guy who will be flexible and not "force" something that just isn't there. if that makes sense. I didn't know of Golftec kind of was a "here's how we tell our guys/gals to teach" and it's a "one size fits all" where they try to fir you into a mold, etc.
 

titleist981

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Unless you are looking for a band aid a single hour lesson is probably a waste. A series of weekly hour long lessons where you work on things during the week between absolutely adds value.

I attended a golf school quite a few years ago and did get a lot out of it but I got more out of the short game work than the full swing. I was a better than average golfer at the time though.
I totally agree. Just for reference, what's a half hour lesson at your average Muni going for these days?
 

millsan1

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Finding an instructor that you work well with is key. I have an excellent instructor and have dabbled with a few others that were also very good. I have had lessons with several instructors who did not gel with me. Not saying they were not good, but they didn't work for me.

One thing that many people fail to think about is that a lesson teaches you what to practice. You then have to practice, and practice with a purpose.

If you find a good instructor, that works well with you, and you put in the time to practice, you will improve.

I am nothing special. Reasonable athletic ability for a middle aged guy, but badly out of shape.

In 3 years I went from "which end of the club hits the ball?" to a 12.2 Handicap. 12.2 might not be great, but it's better than average and I'm proud of it. I am on a quest for single digits and I am confident I will get there.

Did I spend a lot of money on instruction? Yes.
Did I practice with a purpose and do all the boring drills, etc? Also yes.
Did I play a lot in those three years? Yep.

But it just points out that with hard work, and good instruction, anyone can get pretty decent. Trust me, if I can do it, it can be done.

I'm still on a quest for improvement, and probably always will be.
 

Duffer Seamus

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One of the problems I perceive with traditional instruction, where you may see the coach/instructor once/week, is that, once you no longer have that person watching that you're actually doing what you were taught, you lose it. I think @TrueMotionMatt's comments are spot on in this respect: Learning a proper swing takes a lot of repetition. A lot of correct repetition.

@GolfLivesMatter's example of his wannabe-guitar-playing friend is an excellent example, to me, because I once thought to learn to play the guitar. I did not succeed for the simple reason that I was unwilling to put the time into the "wax on, wax off" exercises necessary to develop the skill set.

Traditional instruction was only marginally successful, for me, for two reasons: 1. My instructor taught "what," but not "why." 2. Other than starting out teaching us half swings (he called them "baby swings"), there were no WOWO (wax on, wax off) drills.

Regarding that 2nd point: Sure, he expected us to practice what he'd taught us, but with no observation, no suggestion of watching ourselves in a mirror or videoing ourselves, there was no way for us to know if we were practicing correctly. And we often weren't.

Now I'm trying off-season training with True Motion. Here is what I perceive the biggest advantage to be, at least for me: They address the various bits that go into a good swing and teach you those bits individually. They isolate and drill those things into you with a lot of repetition. (Thus "Wax on. Wax off," from Karate Kid :).) Here's how fundamentally and slowly they build up your swing: I submitted videos of my swing to them on Jan. 12. Other than losing a week from having gotten something wrong and doing a week of remedial work, and missing one day due to unavoidable circumstances, I haven't missed a day. I've yet to have swung a club. Imagine that: Nearly a month-and-a-half of golf swing training without having once even swung a club.

ICBW, but my gut feel is it'll work a lot better than an hour of in-person instruction, followed by hours and hours on the range or in my back yard trying to replicate it. Then another hour of instruction, followed by...
 

IndySC

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Finding an instructor that you work well with is key. I have an excellent instructor and have dabbled with a few others that were also very good. I have had lessons with several instructors who did not gel with me. Not saying they were not good, but they didn't work for me.

One thing that many people fail to think about is that a lesson teaches you what to practice. You then have to practice, and practice with a purpose.

If you find a good instructor, that works well with you, and you put in the time to practice, you will improve.

I am nothing special. Reasonable athletic ability for a middle aged guy, but badly out of shape.

In 3 years I went from "which end of the club hits the ball?" to a 12.2 Handicap. 12.2 might not be great, but it's better than average and I'm proud of it. I am on a quest for single digits and I am confident I will get there.

Did I spend a lot of money on instruction? Yes.
Did I practice with a purpose and do all the boring drills, etc? Also yes.
Did I play a lot in those three years? Yep.

But it just points out that with hard work, and good instruction, anyone can get pretty decent. Trust me, if I can do it, it can be done.

I'm still on a quest for improvement, and probably always will be.
Still can't believe how well you played in SC given how new you were to the game. Same goes for @LoffKat. Hope you're both doing well.
 

MWard

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Golf is a hard game, and people are quick to dismiss what their teacher is trying to get them to do because of something they saw on the internet or read in a magazine. Or something their friend is doing that happens to be working. There's as much trust needed between instructor and student as there is between student and actually doing the work.
 

GolfLivesMatter

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I think the bigger issue in learning is sticking with a program. I know when I started my swing revamp I had a terrible time....until I did a LOT of mirror work. What I found was I was blending old habits that could only be discovered in a mirror or on video. Much of my training is without a club. I don't do nearly as much "range work" as I used to because unless I'm constantly videoing my swing I start to meander off into mindless hitting. While working with mirrors I close my eyes and feel the movement which seems to help a lot.
 

leftshot

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One of the problems I perceive with traditional instruction, where you may see the coach/instructor once/week, is that, once you no longer have that person watching that you're actually doing what you were taught, you lose it. I think @TrueMotionMatt's comments are spot on in this respect: Learning a proper swing takes a lot of repetition. A lot of correct repetition.
I like this. Put another way: If the instructor goes away and you find you no longer do what they taught, then you really didn't learn it.

We all know the many *students* who crammed for the test, got the passing grade, and by the time they got out in the work world didn't remember--much less apply--most of what they were taught. It's the same here. If you were taught something, but never repeated it, rehearsed it, and practiced it to the point where you could apply it on your own, you really didn't learn it.
 

orchard53

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I think more students need playing lessons. Only on the course can an instructor see where does your game go awry under pressure - trees, lies, hazards, etc. My instructor did a 6 hole playing lesson and I played what I thought was the correct shot. Then he had me play what was a much easier shot to execute - for example a 9:00 swing with my PW rather than a full sand wedge. Or punching out with a driver rather than a 4 iron. Really helped so my bad hits were reasonably playable.

It's about the score, not how good your swing looks on the range.
 

TrueMotionMatt

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One of the problems I perceive with traditional instruction, where you may see the coach/instructor once/week, is that, once you no longer have that person watching that you're actually doing what you were taught, you lose it. I think @TrueMotionMatt's comments are spot on in this respect: Learning a proper swing takes a lot of repetition. A lot of correct repetition.

@GolfLivesMatter's example of his wannabe-guitar-playing friend is an excellent example, to me, because I once thought to learn to play the guitar. I did not succeed for the simple reason that I was unwilling to put the time into the "wax on, wax off" exercises necessary to develop the skill set.

Traditional instruction was only marginally successful, for me, for two reasons: 1. My instructor taught "what," but not "why." 2. Other than starting out teaching us half swings (he called them "baby swings"), there were no WOWO (wax on, wax off) drills.

Regarding that 2nd point: Sure, he expected us to practice what he'd taught us, but with no observation, no suggestion of watching ourselves in a mirror or videoing ourselves, there was no way for us to know if we were practicing correctly. And we often weren't.

Now I'm trying off-season training with True Motion. Here is what I perceive the biggest advantage to be, at least for me: They address the various bits that go into a good swing and teach you those bits individually. They isolate and drill those things into you with a lot of repetition. (Thus "Wax on. Wax off," from Karate Kid :).) Here's how fundamentally and slowly they build up your swing: I submitted videos of my swing to them on Jan. 12. Other than losing a week from having gotten something wrong and doing a week of remedial work, and missing one day due to unavoidable circumstances, I haven't missed a day. I've yet to have swung a club. Imagine that: Nearly a month-and-a-half of golf swing training without having once even swung a club.

ICBW, but my gut feel is it'll work a lot better than an hour of in-person instruction, followed by hours and hours on the range or in my back yard trying to replicate it. Then another hour of instruction, followed by...
I couldn’t have said it better myself...🙏 Once the 💡 goes off for players, it’s game on for getting better 💪
 

DG_1234

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What's wrong with todays golf instruction....
Few instructors teach the address technique fundamentals, which are the foundation for a consistently effective and repeatable swing.
 

GolfLivesMatter

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One of the problems I perceive with traditional instruction, where you may see the coach/instructor once/week, is that, once you no longer have that person watching that you're actually doing what you were taught, you lose it. I think @TrueMotionMatt's comments are spot on in this respect: Learning a proper swing takes a lot of repetition. A lot of correct repetition.

@GolfLivesMatter's example of his wannabe-guitar-playing friend is an excellent example, to me, because I once thought to learn to play the guitar. I did not succeed for the simple reason that I was unwilling to put the time into the "wax on, wax off" exercises necessary to develop the skill set.

Traditional instruction was only marginally successful, for me, for two reasons: 1. My instructor taught "what," but not "why." 2. Other than starting out teaching us half swings (he called them "baby swings"), there were no WOWO (wax on, wax off) drills.

Regarding that 2nd point: Sure, he expected us to practice what he'd taught us, but with no observation, no suggestion of watching ourselves in a mirror or videoing ourselves, there was no way for us to know if we were practicing correctly. And we often weren't.

Now I'm trying off-season training with True Motion. Here is what I perceive the biggest advantage to be, at least for me: They address the various bits that go into a good swing and teach you those bits individually. They isolate and drill those things into you with a lot of repetition. (Thus "Wax on. Wax off," from Karate Kid :).) Here's how fundamentally and slowly they build up your swing: I submitted videos of my swing to them on Jan. 12. Other than losing a week from having gotten something wrong and doing a week of remedial work, and missing one day due to unavoidable circumstances, I haven't missed a day. I've yet to have swung a club. Imagine that: Nearly a month-and-a-half of golf swing training without having once even swung a club.

ICBW, but my gut feel is it'll work a lot better than an hour of in-person instruction, followed by hours and hours on the range or in my back yard trying to replicate it. Then another hour of instruction, followed by...
Thanks for the mention Duffer! Mirror work is now a critical path not only learn my swing but also to maintain my swing. It's harder to get off track with mirror training which starts without a club, then with a club but of course no ball. The next step is impact bag to replicate a full swing. The final step is the range whereby I start off with various drills before even hitting a full shot.

The other aspect is no matter what program or type of swing you prefer, it's also critical to stay with the program. I personally moved to S&T for which I bought the book by Bennett and Plummer (which has tons of sticky notes in a pages) and I constantly watch and re-watch one of the best teachers online out of Singapore, along with taking lessons from a S&T instructor. Every time I read the book, take a lesson, or watch the same videos over-and-over the pieces (positions, cause and effect) become clearer. Now I can easily correct my swing on the course because I know what happened to cause a certain "miss". Plus, drives have gone from say 235-ish up to almost 270 at times. Where I used to hit a weak full-swing PW 115 yards I can now hit a 3/4 punch PW 125. The other thing is to not listen to what other guys say "works" or "doesn't work", whether S&T or "traditional" swing. They are quite often the guys who didn't put in the "wax on, wax off" effort....they want quick fixes.

It's also quite interesting that some of the best dancers, like on DWTS, spend mountains of hours practicing in front of a mirror wall. You'd think they could do the Fox Trot in their sleep, and they can, but even they have to constantly check positions to make sure they're not losing posture or falling into bad habits....and often they're dancing without a partner for much of the practice time.
 

Duffer Seamus

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It's also quite interesting that some of the best dancers, like on DWTS, spend mountains of hours practicing in front of a mirror wall. You'd think they could do the Fox Trot in their sleep, and they can, but even they have to constantly check positions to make sure they're not losing posture or falling into bad habits....and often they're dancing without a partner for much of the practice time.
About that: It has occurred to me that I'm going to want to remember my lessons, what TMG has had me doing, going forward. How many times have our swings gone to the dogs and we don't know why? I'm thinking that, when that happens to me, I'll want to be able to replicate how I learned what I'm learning to get back on track.
 

GolfLivesMatter

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About that: It has occurred to me that I'm going to want to remember my lessons, what TMG has had me doing, going forward. How many times have our swings gone to the dogs and we don't know why? I'm thinking that, when that happens to me, I'll want to be able to replicate how I learned what I'm learning to get back on track.
TMG's method probably seems "odd" for folks who have the mindset of "If I just get this one extra thing down I'm going to break 90", or for those who believe hitting balls at the range will cure their swing issues. I think TMG's method is far better....get rid of the club and do "a dance"...LOL...but actually that's a much faster way to learn. Heck, play music and do the swing moves to a certain song rhythm, but maybe not to Van Halen's Eruption....:cool:
 

DG_1234

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I once asked Michael Breed "if an instructor taught address technique fundamentals, grip-posture-alignment, and the student learned-practiced same, would the student end up with a good looking effective swing?"
Breed replied "absolutely, yes".
I then asked him "so why don't you and other instructors just teach grip-posture-alignment?"
Breed replied "students pay money and expect complicated teaching, they don't want to be told simple fundamentals work well".
 

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