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#1344843 - 01/09/10 03:42 PM Do children progress faster than late starters  
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musdan Offline
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I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten - and here I am plodding along after almost nine years. It sometimes gets to me - I do enjoy learning to play and all that it entails.

Just every once in a while it gets me thinking. Talk about a late start, I was 60. Thanks for reading this post. smile

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#1344853 - 01/09/10 03:55 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]  
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I'm thinking the same thing, although nine years behind you, ready for my first lesson at 57, struggling to figure out what piano to buy and whether I'll have the fortitude and patience to stick with it until I can play anything even minimally satisfying.

For you and me both, I hope it's never too late.

Last edited by djmsalem; 01/09/10 03:55 PM.
#1344977 - 01/09/10 06:17 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: djmsalem]  
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I think it's never too late to start! You have to be in it for the journey and the process more than the results or you will never be happy, though, no matter how advanced you get.

In my experience as a teacher, adults learn the early concepts much faster than very young children, but as time goes on, the adults slow down in their progress as the children pick up speed. But, as I said, always enjoy the learning process, and judge your success by whether you feel more skilled than you did one year ago or longer. If there is progress year by year, you are doing great. I've had students give up out of frustration, but I always thought they were doing very well. Don't be hard on yourself. smile


Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
#1344999 - 01/09/10 06:36 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]  
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Originally Posted by musdan
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten


I guess you have never seen kids who are still in method books after five years of piano lessons, can't memorize "Twinkle Twinkle" for a recital, and quit piano by fourth grade.

I hate to make generalizations, because for every example, you can find ten counterexamples. There's an old adage about, if you work hard enough, you can succeed in anything. Too bad it only holds true 37.25% of the time. wink


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1345591 - 01/10/10 11:35 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Thanks for your good advice.

Rachel, there have been times when I've said "enough already", learning to play has been a dream of mine and there is so much to learn. I would love to sit down at the piano and just play whatever is in front of me. My father was an accompianist and he made it look so easy.

AZN you are right - guess for every kid that can play Chopin there are many as you say are "still in method books---"

Dj - enjoy the journey - ups and downs comes with the territory - we're in it together.

#1345606 - 01/10/10 12:13 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]  
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If only those who could improvise a souflee were allowed to cook, the world would die of starvation.

If only those who could handle Chopin were allowed to play, the result would be very similar.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1345617 - 01/10/10 12:34 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]  
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Yes they progress faster but not further - that takes an adult sensibility and a well studied one at that.


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#1345638 - 01/10/10 01:02 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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I don't think the question really matters at all because anyone and everyone should be able to have the opportunity to begin where they are when they discover they might like to get started.

One of the biggest things I cope with in teaching adults is how many doubts surface about adult abilities and progress from within. I would love to meet and teach adults who could just enter, buckle down to the work and let time and their effort show them who they really are musically and let them answer their own questions about things like this.

Reality is the only response that can be made because each of us is on our own path to musicianship. Just because I started playing at 9 and have been teaching piano for 39 years and have accomplished a lot musically doesn't give me an advantage over any one else. I am still on the path to discovering things I haven't learned yet in music. Music continues to evolve in the world and that is a catalyst all by itself. That is why, to me, these questions don't much matter very much. It's the being on the path and doing your thing that is the victory. It doesn't need to be graded or examined, it just is...where you are in the present moment in relationship to your desire to be musical.

It's all based on the individual's capacity and follow through at whatever age he approaches it. To me, there is no advantage to getting started at 3 or 4 years old on the piano. Music activities can be very enjoyable for young children, but it is not the same piano specific education you will get, understand and use when you are older and more cognizant of what being a "learn-ed" musician is all about.

When the work load hits in music making and you stretch and rise to the occasion, that's where you realize that the question of when "should" I have started gets answered. That to me would be something like "you started just at the opportune time for you". If you've put your piano time faithfully to good use, you'll hear yourself saying positive things about your musical self. That's the thumb's up/high 5 celebration of all that you've been through.

So the only thing that matters in my opinion is that you got started when you did and that you finally (all that time and effort) have arrived.

Betty

#1345660 - 01/10/10 01:23 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: musdan]  
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Originally Posted by musdan
I sometimes wonder if it's true when they say "I shoulda done it when I was six.

Some kids are able to play Chopin, Mendelsohn etc - I remember my nephew playing all the variations to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when he was about six, and concertos when he was about ten - and here I am plodding along after almost nine years. It sometimes gets to me - I do enjoy learning to play and all that it entails.

Just every once in a while it gets me thinking. Talk about a late start, I was 60. Thanks for reading this post. smile


Well being old does not mean that you are slower than the younger ones in catching up in lessons. It is always up to you, the one who wants to learn, if you really want to learn. Just enjoy. Feel the music and let your mind do the rhythm of everything.

#1346385 - 01/11/10 01:29 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Betty Patnude]  
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
I don't think the question really matters at all because anyone and everyone should be able to have the opportunity to begin where they are when they discover they might like to get started.

One of the biggest things I cope with in teaching adults is how many doubts surface about adult abilities and progress from within. I would love to meet and teach adults who could just enter, buckle down to the work and let time and their effort show them who they really are musically and let them answer their own questions about things like this.

Reality is the only response that can be made because each of us is on our own path to musicianship. Just because I started playing at 9 and have been teaching piano for 39 years and have accomplished a lot musically doesn't give me an advantage over any one else. I am still on the path to discovering things I haven't learned yet in music. Music continues to evolve in the world and that is a catalyst all by itself. That is why, to me, these questions don't much matter very much. It's the being on the path and doing your thing that is the victory. It doesn't need to be graded or examined, it just is...where you are in the present moment in relationship to your desire to be musical.

It's all based on the individual's capacity and follow through at whatever age he approaches it. To me, there is no advantage to getting started at 3 or 4 years old on the piano. Music activities can be very enjoyable for young children, but it is not the same piano specific education you will get, understand and use when you are older and more cognizant of what being a "learn-ed" musician is all about.

When the work load hits in music making and you stretch and rise to the occasion, that's where you realize that the question of when "should" I have started gets answered. That to me would be something like "you started just at the opportune time for you". If you've put your piano time faithfully to good use, you'll hear yourself saying positive things about your musical self. That's the thumb's up/high 5 celebration of all that you've been through.

So the only thing that matters in my opinion is that you got started when you did and that you finally (all that time and effort) have arrived.

Betty

Betty, you just expressed something I've been feeling but couldn't put into words.
I'm 46 years old, and have only been playing 9 months. I never questioned whether or not I could learn, nor how far I could go. A lot of that might result from being a musician for 20+ years already(guitar), I do not know. I do know, however, that I have the one thing many of those very young children don't. A single-minded, all-consuming focus to learn to play this thing we call piano. I absolutely love it! I believe I can go exactly as far as I want to. No limits except those I place on myself, and I don't plan on placing any. Life's too short.


Mike
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#1346490 - 01/11/10 07:45 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
If only those who could improvise a souflee were allowed to cook, the world would die of starvation.

If only those who could handle Chopin were allowed to play, the result would be very similar.


Great comment. With piano, we do seem to have that sentiment though.

I have stumbled through many a church service playing, knowing there were several listeners at levels far more advanced. But they were souffle makers, and the job needed a short order cook with more nerve than skill.


gotta go practice
#1346502 - 01/11/10 08:33 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]  
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Originally Posted by pianonewb
I do know, however, that I have the one thing many of those very young children don't. A single-minded, all-consuming focus to learn to play this thing we call piano.
If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.


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#1346509 - 01/11/10 09:01 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Rachel J]  
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Rachel, I've been thinking about this for days and hesitated in replying - for one thing fearing I'd end up with another treatise in trying to articulate thoughts.
Quote

In my experience as a teacher, adults learn the early concepts much faster than very young children, but as time goes on, the adults slow down in their progress as the children pick up speed.

I've highlighted "concepts". It does not make sense to me that adults should slow down and kids speed up like that. Something else must be going on. I'm trying to formulate a thought. When my son returned from his first year university, they were all doing the most elementary beginner things (strings) - a straight even bow stroke and fingers landing perfectly on each note in slow practice. First of all, this is what beginners do: the point (beginner) where your adults shine because they get the concepts. But secondly, this is a straight, naked direct experience of the senses interacting with the instrument: what a child does. But that direct experience is the building block for the advanced musician. To go further, he has to draw on the elementary things, which is why these advanced musicians had to do this.

What if the adults catch concepts, but don't enter "direct experience" mode? What if that catches up to them later on? When music gets complex, and when the technical challenges are greater, you can no longer conceptualize. It's too much to hold in the head and picture. What if the nature of doing has to change, and it is not a matter of limitations?

I had an experience with two language students while I was an adult music student. I taught them separately. There was a point of grammar with declensions which had to be understood, since the language functioned differently than English, and also used. The father understood the concept and went hog wild with it. They both had to memorized 9 case endings: 3 each for masc, fem, neutral. The father "couldn't" memorized them because he got in his own way - it was too simple. He tried to "understand" the endings (they make no sense: they just are). He worked hard, creating complex exercises to master them. He could not accept that it was that simple and direct: write 9 endings on a card, glance at them a few times every day. I recognized myself at some stage as a music student and so saw what was happening. He had to accept that it was simple. It is very hard to accept that it is simple. (!!!!) Don't think about it. There is nothing to understand. Do.

The next part may also link to music. This student's goal was to speak freely in a foreign language for business. He had to master vocabulary and also grammar and use them: like performing music and not just understanding it. Because he did not have those 9 endings "at the tip of his tongue", he could not formulate a simple sentence like "The man sees the apple" because he could not put the right ending on "man" and "apple" even though he understood the concept. The daughter had simply done as she was told without worrying about whether it would work so she had the endings. The result was just as you describe: father was ahead of daughter in the beginning and then fell far behind. Once he did the simple and direct thing, the endings were his within a few days, after months of being stuck.

There is still another thing that I could relate to as an adult student. He didn't realize that he had now mastered the endings and could use them. I caught on, because in the next lesson he looked in the air like you do when you recall something rather than trying to glance at a piece of paper. In a perverse way, we might not accept that we have acquired a skill in a simple manner and that we actually have it, because we need to "understand" and work hard. It can't be real. Something like that.

I don't doubt that you are observing these things with your students, Rachel. But if it's because of what we do rather than how we are through being adults, maybe that can give something? This idea of conceptualizing getting in the way of music is something I'd heard before, which is why I caught on to it. Is this a possibility?

#1346512 - 01/11/10 09:04 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.

Is this another side of a similar coin? We posted at the same time.

Kbk, when I began lessons I was purely curious about everything. I advanced in droves. Later I thought I should start get serious and be a "real student". That's when it started to fall apart. I had thought the playful curiosity was frivolous but it wasn't.

#1346527 - 01/11/10 09:32 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
[quote=pianonewb] If you knew children you would know that their advantage is 'a single-minded, all-consuming focus', period. Their 'all-consuming focus' is not burdened with 'to learn'. Just watch a child at play. If your enthusiasm can get that back you'd be well on your way. With adults though, it's that very enthusiasm that gets in the way.

I am not a teacher of young children, but I do know that this sounds wrong. As an example, I started a lot of things late in life. One of them, for example, was martial arts(Tae Kwon Do). As a result of my late start(I began in my late 30's)I studied alongside a lot of very young (9-12 y.o.)kids. There were some adults, but a great many children. Even those that were highly enthusiastic about Tae Kwon Do could not maintain focus long enough to get through a lesson without going off on a tangent and having to be reigned in by their instructor. Their attention span just wasn't sufficient for that. The slightest things shifted their focus.`They are very enthusiastic about everything they like, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, they find it difficult to maintain such enthusiasm. Instead, it gets shifted to the next most fascinating thing that comes their way. My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.


Mike
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#1346528 - 01/11/10 09:32 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
What if the adults catch concepts, but don't enter "direct experience" mode?
This is what I'm saying. It's a can't-have-your-cake-and-eat-it kinda thing.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346531 - 01/11/10 09:37 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]  
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Originally Posted by pianonewb
My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.
You confuse maintenance of focus for depth.


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346535 - 01/11/10 09:43 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Originally Posted by pianonewb
My experience, but the children I know are not known for their focus.
You confuse maintenance of focus for depth.

No, i simply refuse to get into esoteric or ethereal philosophical discussion. Unfocussed focus is not focus(kind of an ironic statement considering that first sentence, eh? ;)). We can dance around semantics all day, but at the end of the day, to learn something you must knuckle down and actually " do the work". My opinion.


Mike
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#1346536 - 01/11/10 09:44 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]  
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There are levels of paying attention.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346539 - 01/11/10 09:46 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
There are levels of paying attention.


Exactly.


Mike
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#1346541 - 01/11/10 09:49 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]  
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You can pay attention with just your mind, or your whole being. Children learn in the zone.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346546 - 01/11/10 10:03 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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"Children" is a broad term: in the case of children learning to walk, or to talk, it is AMAZING how focussed they are at acquiring the new skill, and how undiscouraged they are when they do not immediately succeed. Adults are often terribly easily discouraged when working on acquiring new skills, and while they may have the ability to focus on a task at hand, they don't have the deep commitment to gaining skills that very young children do have.

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them. As a teacher I've often found that a child might seem to be off on a tangent, but when I take the time to figure out their train of thought I discover just how seriously they are working on an idea, skill or issue.

Last edited by Elissa Milne; 01/11/10 10:04 AM.

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#1346548 - 01/11/10 10:10 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Hey, welcome to PW Elissa! You're real smart, do stick around.


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346554 - 01/11/10 10:19 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Thanks keyboardklutz (goodness, I feel really impolite calling you that!) for your welcome!


Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
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#1346556 - 01/11/10 10:28 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Just read some of your blog. Not just a pretty face then?


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#1346579 - 01/11/10 11:01 AM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
"Children" is a broad term: in the case of children learning to walk, or to talk, it is AMAZING how focussed they are at acquiring the new skill, and how undiscouraged they are when they do not immediately succeed. Adults are often terribly easily discouraged when working on acquiring new skills, and while they may have the ability to focus on a task at hand, they don't have the deep commitment to gaining skills that very young children do have.

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them. As a teacher I've often found that a child might seem to be off on a tangent, but when I take the time to figure out their train of thought I discover just how seriously they are working on an idea, skill or issue.

Don’t we have brilliant minds here? Welcome Elissa and thanks for sharing.


Nguyen - Student Pianist
#1346649 - 01/11/10 12:49 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: Elissa Milne]  
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 225
pianonewb Offline
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pianonewb  Offline
Full Member

Joined: May 2009
Posts: 225
No. Va.
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne

Children also may seem to lack focus, but that is generally because they are not focussing on what someone else wants them to focus on. They are great at being focussed on what interests them.

That's kinda my point. In a great many instances, they did not choose, their parents did. While you may be able to get them focused for the short time you are teaching them, there are repeated posts by teachers here expressing frustration at not being able to get them to continue that focus at home. The adult beginner chooses for him/herself to learn. I believe that is a distinct advantage.
Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
children learn "in the zone".

Perhaps, but it would be very presumptuous to assume that I or any other adult beginner do not or cannot do so as well.


Mike
Casio Privia PX 120

The only thing nescessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.
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#1346654 - 01/11/10 12:53 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Betty Patnude Offline
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Betty Patnude  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,896
Puyallup, Washington
Hi Elissa,

I am celebrating being able to welcome you to the forum as you have not only something very worthwhile to say but you do it with humor too. I've read all 5 of your to date posts today and your website and I'm excited to think that things are picking up in the Piano Teacher's Forum! Welcome!

Betty


#1346668 - 01/11/10 01:04 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: pianonewb]  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keyboardklutz  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 10,856
London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted by pianonewb
Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
children learn "in the zone".

Perhaps, but it would be very presumptuous to assume that I or any other adult beginner do not or cannot do so as well.
Try it. Children are not miniature adults, they often go where angels can't tread. (or am I being presumptuous?)
Quote
Poem lyrics of The Rainbow by William Wordsworth.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!

The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1346693 - 01/11/10 01:18 PM Re: Do children progress faster than late starters [Re: keyboardklutz]  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Kreisler Offline
Kreisler  Offline


Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 13,837
Iowa City, IA
Children benefit from having their brains wired for learning in a way that adults do not.

Adults can benefit from experience, but I have come across adults who do not have much experience and/or don't know how to learn from it.

The biggest hurdle for adults is coordination/movement. They tend to try to solve problems with their brains, thinking that if you know how to do something, you will be able.

Children, especially younger ones, are less likely to ask "how." You show them something, they try it, fail, and try again. They're used to working out coordination by themselves, whether it be holding a fork, opening a door, or figuring out a video game controller.

If you take a kid into Best Buy and lead them to the video game demo, they'll walk up to it and start playing, even though they have no idea what the controls do. Hand an adult the same controller, and they'll ask "so what do the buttons do?"

Find an adult who's comfortable diving in and playing the game, and you'll have somebody who will make remarkable progress at the piano, because they won't wait to be told "how" all the time.

I've always wanted to design an experiment where you take 10 adults with desk jobs and 10 construction workers, physical/occupational therapists, hair stylists, gardeners/florists, or surgeons and teach them all to play the piano. I have a theory that the people whose jobs require solving problems with their hands will do much better than people who type and talk for a living.

(I could be totally wrong, but it'd be a great experiment!)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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