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#1474312 - 07/14/10 04:50 PM "I dunno what to practice"  
Joined: Apr 2009
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Barb860 Offline
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Barb860  Offline
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northern California
Have you experienced this situation:

10 year old Johnny does not like to practice. So he tells his mom, "I don't know what I'm supposed to work on". Mom believes him, contacts me (his teacher), and asks for clarification.
I remind Mom that Johnny's assignments are written in his binder at each lesson. Dates and notes are written on pages of his pieces to work on, also. Johnny and I review his assignments at every lesson. I have told Mom this but she insisted that Johnny does not understand what to work on.
When I ask Johnny about this at his lessons, I get this response: "I don't like to practice, so I tell my mom I don't know what I'm supposed to work on". crazy
I have shared Johnny's comments with his mom and now she thinks the whole thing is funny.
Am I wasting my time or what?
Johnny is working out of Piano Adventures level 3A method, and some pop music of his choice.


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#1474326 - 07/14/10 05:11 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Barb860]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Mom is wasting her money. I'm often tempted to say, "No reason to waste gas money, just send me the monthly check."

Seriously why don't you invite mom to sit in on a lesson, and then spend the entire lesson on how and what to practice, what order, how to evaluate practice, etc.?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1474335 - 07/14/10 05:30 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Haha John! Love it!. Though I'd never say it.

I would ask the mom to arrive 5 minutes early to pick up Johnny and listen as you recap with her and him what he is supposed to be working on, pointing to each item in the assignment notebook. Ask them if either of them are unsure of what is supposed to be done during the week, and if no questions send them on their way.

Also, have the mother go through the practice sessions with him, making sure that he does each of the items on the list. Tell her how often you think he should be practicing. I know every day is ideal, but that might be hard for someone who never practices. I usually get kids started by asking they practice more days than they don't, without missing more than one day in between - so basically every other day.


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#1474367 - 07/14/10 06:18 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Morodiene]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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The reason I suggested having mom sitting in on the lesson and then focusing exclusively on practice, is that mom obviously doesn't know what's involved, and just telling her isn't sufficient. I think she really needs to see it to grasp what's involved.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1474389 - 07/14/10 06:52 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Barb860 Offline
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Barb860  Offline
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northern California
Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I have asked Mom to sit in on lessons but she says this is not possible because she has 4 other young children, including an infant. My student is age 10 and her oldest. He was doing very well the first year of lessons, but recently he's losing interest and not practicing. I sense some rebellion and him taking advantage of things--being manipulative.


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#1474423 - 07/14/10 08:06 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Barb860]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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John, I understand and agree with mom sitting in. Since that's not possible on a regular basis, however, perhaps she'd be able to do it just once. I think even that would help, and then come 5 minutes earlier for the recap. My guess is that mom just says to Johny, "Go practice your piano" and he sits an dinks around for 10 minutes. Mom is too busy with the other 4 kids that she can't really monitor what he's doing, and he knows this. Perhaps it's an attention-getting ploy (which you don't necessarily want to encourage, but certainly it's an important thing for the boy to feel like he's getting enough attention). Anyways, it's beyond your jurisdiction. A talk with mom about participating more in his lessons and practice sessions, however, may go a long way to helping.


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#1474470 - 07/14/10 09:36 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Morodiene]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Morodiene, I would have profited greatly - I mean really big time greatly - if my mom had sat in on just one of my lessons over the 10 years or so I was taking lessons during my public school years. As it was, I could and did constantly pull the wool over her eyes about practice, but in reality, was just short changing myself (I was a slow learner, didn't figure out I was just hurting myself until I reached college). And yes, I had three siblings who raised holy heck most of the time, so her hands were full.

That's why I personally stress to parents to get involved in their child's practice and why I make the effort to send home DVDs.

Would it be possible for dad/aunt/grandma/grandpa/sister to watch the children for just one lesson some mom could give her undivided attention to Johnny?

Without exception, my students who have at least one adult actively interested in student's lessons invariably out-perform those who do not. They don't have to be musical, though that helps, but most just interested and attentive!


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1474540 - 07/15/10 12:11 AM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Candywoman Offline
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There might be a benefit to having his siblings hear you instruct the boy for the five minutes at the end of a lesson. He will have to look dutiful for his siblings, and the kids down the line will understand you mean business. Perhaps one of them will carry the torch.

#1474586 - 07/15/10 01:57 AM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Candywoman]  
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yumo Offline
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He may either need a break or some parental guidance. Either way, it's probably out of your control.

Last edited by yumo; 07/15/10 01:59 AM.

Disclosure: I shouldn't even be here and I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to pianos, piano playing, teaching music, or politics.
#1475601 - 07/16/10 02:25 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: yumo]  
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Andrew McLaughlin Offline
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Andrew McLaughlin  Offline
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Time to find something else for Johnny to do. Obviously Piano is not his forté [sic]... :P

Piko

#1475631 - 07/16/10 03:32 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Andrew McLaughlin]  
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Barb860 Offline
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Barb860  Offline
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northern California
Originally Posted by Andrew McLaughlin
Time to find something else for Johnny to do. Obviously Piano is not his forté [sic]... :P

Piko


I agree that this is probably the case. Johnny's mom wants him to continue with piano lessons for another year. Mom and I are stepping up the communication between the 2 of us. I am emailing Mom after each lesson to review and confirm exactly what is going on, which may seem over the top, but I think necessary in this situation.
She has a lot going on at home but realizes that even though Johnny is her oldest child and has been studying piano for 2 years, he still needs more of her support with piano progress.
His last 2 lessons went much better: Johnny is completing his assignments and has dropped the "attitude". I'm taking this one week at a time.


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#1475647 - 07/16/10 03:51 PM Re: "I dunno what to practice" [Re: Barb860]  
Joined: Jul 2010
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Andrew McLaughlin Offline
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Andrew McLaughlin  Offline
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Good to know he's getting better. Did Johnny ever like Piano making this just a recent development? I know that when I was a kid, I really didn't enjoy it the older I got. It wasn't until college that I took on an appreciation for music, but switched to Guitar. It's only in the most recent 5 years that I've decided to really tackle Piano and master this art form.

As for my son, I'm going to take on a more classical approach to education (as we will be home schooling him). So, I'm in the process of building a conservatory which will be stocked with every kind of musical instrument that I can get my hands on (without breaking the bank). We'll see which one (or ones) he gravitates towards. smile

Piko


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