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#1972605 - 10/13/12 04:28 AM be patient or change something??  
Joined: Mar 2012
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newinstru? Offline
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newinstru?  Offline
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SoCal
I was hoping I could get a little advice...

My daughter started taking lessons about 5 or 6 months ago. Her teacher started her in Helen Marlais' series....she just finished the primer level and is starting level 1. She is doing fine, but......she really doesn't like it. I thought she would love piano lessons because she would play around several times a day, picking things out, adding a chord here or there....watching older siblings play she never really had to learn lifting or how to hold her fingers.....she seems to have a good sense of things. But....

Part of the reason she doesn't like it is that she says it is "too hard." I told her then she doesn't understand what hard means.....she really catches on very quickly, and according to the teacher could have gone faster in her books if she wanted to go ahead. I'm kinda busy with 5 other kids and so didn't really make her go ahead or anything, but this week I encouraged her to learn an extra one, and another from another book I learned from many years ago. I'm not a pushy parent, I'm just thinking if we get going faster she may enjoy it once she starts to play things she likes. To me the books seem boring (I have not told her this!), but I can see what they are trying to do.

On the other hand, she loved the couple of little things I had her do out of John Thompson (I know I know....I've read a bit about that on here, and never thought about it before and have to agree...same hand position etc....I was just kind of experimenting here) But....I like the music in it much better!

Her teacher is nice, likes feedback and is open to doing things differently if need be. My daughter never hints to her that she doesn't like it though, so she doesn't know. She sometimes seems a little frustrated that my daughter isn't doing what she could.

Am I just being difficult, or should we try to find a series that is different? I don't really want to hop around trying too many things....and I don't want my daughter to think she has to love everything she does....she is progressing.....it would just be nice if she could enjoy it like I thought she would.

This seemed like a big ramble, so sorry, and thanks in advance for any advice.

Last edited by newinstru?; 10/13/12 04:52 AM.
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#1972671 - 10/13/12 08:36 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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Overexposed Offline
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How old is your daughter?

#1972683 - 10/13/12 09:17 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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pianogirl87 Offline
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Have you considered supplementary books that you could use in addition to the lesson books? For example, there are books with pop, rock and roll, classical, jazz etc. Discuss this with the teacher. I'm sure the teacher picked this particular method book for a reason. Method books are usually picked based on the needs of the student and their particular learning approach. Switching method books altogether may lead to more confusion, since every one is different from each other.
There's supplementary music out there for just about every level of playing, so ask your teacher if they can find one suited for her.


Pianist/Accompanist/Piano Instructor
#1972688 - 10/13/12 09:23 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Helen Marlais is a much kinder learning curve than JT. Tbh, JT is fairly outdated and while you can supplement anything with anything, once the novelty has worn off, JT is best just chucked. Just my opinion.

Kids sometimes find it a real strain having to concentrate and get anything 'right'. If it's more like hard work than anything else in their lives, who can blame them? Nevertheless if they just stick at it, bit by bit, they learn. The first two years are the hardest. But I've found saying that to kids doesn't help! laugh

#1972692 - 10/13/12 09:37 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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MaggieGirl Offline
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I don't know how old your daughter is - but mine started piano at 9. One thing that engaged her was playing the simple songs and matching the mood with the song title. Then playing the same song she would play it differently based on a character. For example, one song was called the magician. Her teacher told her to play it spooky with eerie magic. At home she would try to make is spookier and then I asked, what if the magician were a silly boy pretending t be a magician? So then the mood changed. Or a rickety old man. What if he were a poor magician with no magic?

Sure it was a simple song that got old, but being silly with it got more practice that was really enjoyable.

One thing I noticed is that you didn't say your daughter was playing on the keyboard and has been begging for lessons.

If it wasn't her idea and she didn't want to take lessons, then you have a harder path.

#1972708 - 10/13/12 10:26 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: Overexposed]  
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Oops. I thought I had mentioned her age. She just turned eight last week.

#1972718 - 10/13/12 10:37 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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Minniemay Offline
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I agree with your daughter! I think the music in that series is dull. Her teacher needs to know this. There are SO many options from which to choose and, imo, have much more interesting and engaging music.

There are also loads of supplementary books the teacher could help your daughter choose from. She should be playing things she enjoys as she learns new skills.

Talk to her teacher.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
#1972731 - 10/13/12 11:29 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. You"ve given me different things to think about.

Maggiegirl, I had kind of an aha moment there when you wrote that she had not asked for lessons. True! I just saw something untapped there, think music is important and want all my kids to do some.

Ten left thumbs. I wasn't really pushing for JT, although I think the pace would be fine....just seeing if she would like what was in there, although 2 selections admittedly is not much to go by. And you're right. Reading those pesky notes is "work" for her.

Minniemay. Thank you. Then it's not just me. In the course of her lessons she did come across a couple that she liked, and they were " not hard.". Not that she has to like everything....just more would be nice.


Last edited by newinstru?; 10/13/12 11:34 AM.
#1972805 - 10/13/12 03:06 PM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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I suspect that some kids say 'its hard' because its a routine for them. My daughter started playing piano when she was five. Sometime around 6 or so she started saying its hard almost every time she started a new piece. Its gone down a bit now, but she still says it most of the time. Yet, she is really quick at picking up new pieces (and even faster at forgetting them afterwards). The other thing she says is 'I hate it' soon after she gets her arms around it. At least you don't have to deal with that -- yet.

She tends to be picky about what she likes. Her current teacher usually lets her pick from an assortment of choices what she wants to learn next. For the heavier pieces she would usually ask her to listen on youtube or give her a CD to listen to and pick which one she wants to learn. For the lighter stuff, usually the decision would be based on playing a few bars from the piece.

#1972813 - 10/13/12 03:24 PM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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dumdumdiddle Offline
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Another thought....

She may not like it because it doesn't seem 'fun' to her. Music is social activity. Perhaps talk to the teacher about adding a partner-type lesson with another student of similar age and level.

I teach group piano. I am always hearing from parents how their child (particularly beginners) LOVES to come to piano class. The singing, the making friends, the sharing with other kids and parents, the games, etc... make for a fun lesson and motivate them each week.

Also, I'm not familiar with the pieces in the new Marlais series, but Piano Adventures by the Fabers has always had wonderful music, particularly from Bk 2 on up.


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#1972959 - 10/13/12 11:21 PM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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Crayola Offline
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I've tried to teach from Helen Marlais' book and only made it through two students and two books - I went back to using the Fabers' Piano Adventures for my beginners, because the songs were so much more creative and the lyrics interesting. Perhaps you can ask the teacher if there are other method books she's comfortable teaching from, and suggest that she give them a try.


Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA
#1972962 - 10/13/12 11:32 PM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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newinstru? Offline
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Here's something else I was wondering. Between her practice book and recital book she does 5, 6, or 7 little pieces a week. What do you think about doing fewer that are more challenging?? I can see how doing more has helped her note reading, but now she is almost sight reading some of them. Even if she wasn't I was curious as to what you all thought about it.....do you generally assign lots of easy ones to get through the book, skip ahead, or do fewer that are a little more difficult.....or some sort of combo??

In any case I will talk to her teacher at her next lesson.

Thanks, everyone.

#1972964 - 10/13/12 11:35 PM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: rlinkt]  
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rlinkt, I don't think it's routine yet, but I do think it's too easy and for the most part uninteresting.

#1972993 - 10/14/12 02:12 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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rlinkt Offline
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You may want to mention to the teacher that your daughter seemed to enjoy the material from the other book. The teacher may have some intuition for what made it more attractive to the student.

#1973429 - 10/15/12 03:31 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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Originally Posted by newinstru?
On the other hand, she loved the couple of little things I had her do out of John Thompson (I know I know....I've read a bit about that on here, and never thought about it before and have to agree...same hand position etc....I was just kind of experimenting here) But....I like the music in it much better!

No no no no no no no no!!!!!

Please refrain from using John Thompson. It's bad in many ways.

I like Helen Marlais' books. I find the music engaging (if a bit easy) and the accompanying CD is fabulous!! She is so enthusiastic.

But if your daughter doesn't like it, then by all means try a different set of books. Faber (Piano Adventures) is also very good--I'm just tired to hearing the same stuff over and over--but I admit it's a solid series, and many kids like the music.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1973490 - 10/15/12 08:24 AM Re: be patient or change something?? [Re: newinstru?]  
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I hold back on choosing method books for a few weeks until I get to know a student better. Then I might offer them a choice of suitable materials because so many of these books do pretty much the same things anyway. There are the traditional middle c tutors and then the ones that focus more on intervals and there are pros and cons of both. What's important is that a child at least enjoys the music and arrangements.

As far as 'too hard' goes I wouldn't pay much attention to it. All kids say this and it usually means they can't be bothered. It's a natural response and sadly is becoming more common these days. Learning to play an instrument is hard. Probably much harder than anything else they will do at this point in their lives and they have to learn and understand that it requires practice and dedication and the rewards will be there further down the line. That's hard for kids. As a parent your job is to encourage and motivate and when they complain that it's too hard just insist that they keep trying. Tell them you really like hearing them play certain pieces even if you don't! That usually inspires them to stick at it.

Do talk to the teacher about this though. We are not mind readers and very often kids don't give anything away so we have no idea there is a problem.


Pianist and piano teacher.

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