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#1508970 - 09/04/10 01:52 PM "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies."
twest625 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/10
Posts: 1
Loc: South Carolina
How do you teach a precocious five-year-old? I’ve only done one sample lesson with him, and he’s already got me flying by the seat of my pants. “Billy” (name changed for privacy) reads words with ease, and thus rushes past me on the page when I try to do exercises with him. How do I keep him engaged? What techniques could I use to make his lessons as fun as possible without having to make him drag through page after page? He’s very mathematical, claims that he enjoys hard work, and is very experimental (wrote his own song based on the "hot cross buns" progression), and very curious (tough to explain, but he accidentally dropped a little, red rubber band onto a key, observed that the key had moved, thought the rubber band had caused such a thing, but then quickly realized he had caused the key to move himself when the sleeve of his shirt brushed with it in reaching out to catch). Furthermore, he is very much a talker. Are there any Dr. Knickerbocker-esque games that I could use to get him involved?

As background, I’m using the Alfred Prep Course Lesson & Solo books as my basis and am working through my university’s youth piano program. My 'studio' is a practice room with one upright piano. Billy has an electric keyboard and an upright at home. I have no previous pedagogical experience, so a child such as this is quite the nail-biter. Can anyone help me? Any suggestion will help.

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#1508978 - 09/04/10 02:14 PM Re: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." [Re: twest625]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10780
Loc: Williamsburg, VA

No, seriously! Well, or something like it. Whatever his little hands can fit comfortably. Young ones can feel real accomplishment by mastering little bits that take real work, but which can be learned in fairly short order (i.e. it doesn't take weeks or months to get it right). He may be brilliant, but he may still have the attention span of a little one. For this type, technical exercises can be enjoyable. And you said he was very mathematical. This may appeal to him.

Laying down a good technical foundation in a very young one can launch them.

I am not a piano teacher, so take this .02 for what it's worth.

#1509005 - 09/04/10 02:58 PM Re: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." [Re: twest625]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
You need some training in early childhood (as well as early childhood music) and look at programs that are specifically designed for young preschool/kindergarten age kids. The worst thing to do is to take a method designed for an older child and try to make it fit the needs and development of a preschooler.

As far as methods for private lesson study, try 'Music For Little Mozarts' by Alfred (one of the authors helped write the curriculum for the Yamaha method), or Faber's 'My First Piano Adventures'.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#1509014 - 09/04/10 03:23 PM Re: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." [Re: twest625]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15435
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I second ddd's post. Use something that is intended your younger beginners who need to get off the bench more. Do lots o activities away from the piano, walking/marching/dancing to the beat of some recorded music (it can even be the next piece he's going to learn), tapping rhythms drawn on postcards and then picked from a hat (its' even more fun if you have some little percussion instruments - you can even teach him how to make his own with an empty water bottle and some rice, bells, corn kernels, etc.). Singing the words to the songs he's learning will help develop his aural skills so that when he plays he can then tell if he's made a mistake.

There are tons of great ideas out there, but you need to inform yourself. You also need to have a lesson plan. Plan to do a lot, but don't worry if you don't get it all done. It's better to have things that you can switch gears to then to not and lose momentum. Younger beginners tend to have a shorter attention span, so having several different activities is best, even if they cover the same concept.
private piano/voice teacher FT


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