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Originally Posted by btb
When a discussion on “fun” in music is laboured
with ghastly isms like

method books
well versed in all the pedagogical materials
Faber series
‘Students who practice more and better will,
more often, find piano study satisfying.’’
"This may be a bit too hard for you, but I think you'll love it,
so I really want you to do it anyway,"
“Music is a social activity.”

One can be assured that the unfortunate child is being fed through a straw.

Sorry chaps ... I’m not trying to put your valiant efforts down,
but to home in on the critical concept of keyboard “fun”.

Gary D (and chasing-rainbows) are quite right in suggesting

“How do we get students to play well enough
so that they can satisfy their own hunger to play WHAT THEY LOVE?”

confused
...feel free to actually ADD your own concrete, helpful, suggestions, instead of just criticizing others...

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All this talk about what "fun" means made me think of a conversation I had last fall. I was thinking of accompanying a new choir in town, and when talking to the director, he said, "oh, we do a lot of fun music," and when I asked him to elaborate, he said "We're singing Winter Wonderland, White Christmas.." and I said, "Oh. I thought you meant FUN music .. like Bach."

But I liked what someone earlier said about fun vs. satisfying. I have a teenaged step-daughter who isn't the most ambitious person in the world, and it occured to me that she doesn't know what it feels like to work really hard at something and succeed. I think there is an immense feeling of satisfaction when you have to work hard to achieve something great (and to me, it's almost an addictive feeling), but if someone has never experienced that before, what can you do to inspire them to put the work in? My dad always told me, "It's fun being the best", but I don't like what that implies, so I usually say, "It's fun being good at something".

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+10000000000000000 for improvising/playing by ear/arranging. How old are these kids? If they're at an age where they are developing their own preferences, fashion, opinions then this could be VERY helpful and engaging to show them how to pick out tunes and create their own arrangements at the piano. It will give them something they can control and do independently. They can choose the song, they can work out an arrangement they like, and they will most likely be pretty proud to show it to their friends.

I didn't get any training in these skills growing up so I'm playing some major catch up as an adult... I have a ways to go but I'm at the point now where I can sit down and just play around for a bit. It's a lot of fun to be able to make music without having to look at a page of lines and dots. It's even more fun to share this experience with my students! I just found out that a student of mine had written a song based on a little 4 or 5 note motive she heard on a TV show. It was just a little blip they played between scenes but she really liked it and turned it into her own composition, which she played for me just the other day. It was beautiful and I'm so happy she shared that with me.

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Originally Posted by kissyana
If they're at an age where they are developing their own preferences, fashion, opinions then this could be VERY helpful and engaging to show them how to pick out tunes and create their own arrangements at the piano. It will give them something they can control and do independently. They can choose the song, they can work out an arrangement they like, and they will most likely be pretty proud to show it to their friends.

I was thinking about this a bit more, and I'm certainly not opposed, but one of the problems with this particular family, is that I'm really not sure they "know" any music. Like, it's not a part of their life. I have to verify this with the mom, but I'm pretty sure they're not religious, and she has made reference to how they don't watch tv. From where else do kids "hear" songs? In our culture, we don't sit around at campfires and sing folk songs anymore! From where is a kid going to hear a song that he wants to figure out on the piano, especially if pop culture isn't really part of his life, and he doesn't go to any weekly event where singing is involved, like church?

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The 7th inning stretch?


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Originally Posted by red-rose
From where else do kids "hear" songs? In our culture, we don't sit around at campfires and sing folk songs anymore! From where is a kid going to hear a song that he wants to figure out on the piano, especially if pop culture isn't really part of his life, and he doesn't go to any weekly event where singing is involved, like church?


Do these kids have MP3 players/cell phone? Play video games? Go to the movies? Have music class at school? Listen to the radio in the car? There must be somewhere they may be exposed to music. If not, this might be a good opportunity to recommend to the mom that they attend some free concerts or listen to some music recommended by you. This might spark some interest in a particular style. If the parents are having the kids learn piano, they must want music to be a part of their kids' lives, right?


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Music not a part of their life? So odd! My parents are largely responsible for turning me into a music monster although neither of them are musicians. Still, it's something we all connect with somehow.

Anyways, the internet is a huge music resource. They also share with each other so your students surely must be exposed to some kind of music while they are at their friends' houses.

Once they hit the "tweens" they usually have some sort of interest in a particular type of music.

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Pop music...there are a lot of current songs that work well for piano although generally I end up having to make my own arrangements to simplify them. If you have a few good ones of these to offer I guarantee you that you be considered more fun. For a disinterested student often I may ask what is a radio song that they really like now...then I research and make an arrangement. Makes all the difference in the world. Good luck!

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Back to the original question for a moment:

Draw their attention to the fun aspects of what you are teaching them. Wasn't it fun to play that chord! Using this correct fingering helps you play this section fast-how fun! Your left hand is doing this while your right hand is doing that--So cool and so fun!

Be specific about how and what you want them to practice, make assignments realistic, and give positive reinforcement when assignments have been done.

Pay attention to the kids, and enjoy them.


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Well, I guess I don't have to deal with this particular situation at least anymore... they just called and left a message saying they wouldn't be continuing at least for the summer... frown
It may have partly had to do with scheduling for them, but I also wish she would have given me another opportunity to try and figure out what songs the kids might know that might be "fun."
(Like I sort of said above... I thought the kids were doing FINE. I've only been teaching them about 4 months, and some months we only had 2-3 lessons, and other than the occasional times when she asked how they were doing, she never really let me know that they weren't up to her level of expectation of *enjoying* piano... hm... or maybe she did but I wasnt listening in that way? Not sure. Oh well... live and learn. Maybe I'm making too big a deal about this, and they really will call back for the fall? sigh...)

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I've been following this thread for awhile, and I finally just have to say what I've been thinking all along. Since when is it a piano teacher's job to "entertain" their students? Learning to play the piano is sometimes hard. It requires work and self- discipline. The "fun," or perhaps I should say "joy" comes when you've mastered that difficult passage or piece and you are making real music. Someone a while back used the term "satisfaction," and that applies too. How satisfying to play that piece well, and have your teacher praise your efforts or to stand in front of an audience and take a bow after you have performed well.

Don't beat yourself up over this, red-rose. It sounds like the mother is totally unrealistic in her expectations of what piano study is all about.

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The sad part for the kids is that they will now have to get to know yet another teacher, who will probably also not be "fun" enough, and then their mom will move them on to the next teacher.
It's sad.

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Originally Posted by sonataplayer
I've been following this thread for awhile, and I finally just have to say what I've been thinking all along. Since when is it a piano teacher's job to "entertain" their students? Learning to play the piano is sometimes hard. It requires work and self- discipline. The "fun," or perhaps I should say "joy" comes when you've mastered that difficult passage or piece and you are making real music. Someone a while back used the term "satisfaction," and that applies too. How satisfying to play that piece well, and have your teacher praise your efforts or to stand in front of an audience and take a bow after you have performed well.

Don't beat yourself up over this, red-rose. It sounds like the mother is totally unrealistic in her expectations of what piano study is all about.

thanks! smile

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