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#2116230 - 07/11/13 05:30 PM Imagination?  
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Have you ever encountered a child inexperienced with using their imagination?



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#2116241 - 07/11/13 06:04 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Not really. I have found children who could not entertain themselves or direct their own play. They are very difficult children to work with... But even they could pretend to feed a doll or build a fort out of sheets and pillows or become a superhero in a costume.


#2116253 - 07/11/13 06:24 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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When I was classroom teaching (in a somewhat disadvantaged area) I certainly came across many children whose imagination seemed to depend totally on the TV shows of the moment. Maybe that wasn't all that different to mine as a child, which drew heavily on all the books I'd read - but these kids just didn't read books.

Do you mean they can't pick up on some illustration you're using, or something like that?


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#2116279 - 07/11/13 07:01 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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YES!

This happens to kids who are raised in a bubble, like plants inside a greenhouse. They've never experienced sadness, loss, poverty, pain, hunger, anguish, anxiety, and any number of humanistic conditions. About the saddest thing that has ever happened to them is losing a soccer match. And the happiest thing is getting a video game for a present.

Reading avidly doesn't help everyone, either. Some of my most voracious readers (of novels!!) are also the ones with the lamest imagination.


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#2116327 - 07/11/13 08:44 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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While not exactly what you asked, I think the below quote (and corresponding link to the original post) is an interesting discussion/solution on the parallel topic of students being introduced to piano lessons, but having no musical taste whatsoever (not necessarily in that they have poor tastes, but that there's been so little exposure to music of any kind, that the student has literally no taste). The solution was to (if not refuse to accept the student or accept the student on the condition of a probationary period in which they must acquire some taste(s)) provide the student with a short musical course, if you will, in the form of a cd to listen to that contains "over 70 pieces of different styles, periods, composers, all of superior repertory and all manageable by any beginner." Perhaps a similar solution could be conceived to provide a foundation in imaginative thinking (since the parents obviously aren't providing the tools for it).

Edit: this of course assumes that the reason for the thread was that you either are debating enrolling such a student or encountered such a problem with a current student and thus correspondingly posed the question. If this is not the case, please excuse my assumptions.

Originally Posted by Bernhard
Now of course, every now and then one comes across a student (the stuff of our nightmares) that when asked which piece they would like to play, stare blankly at you and mumble “I don´t know”. In my experience these are children who are coming to have piano lessons because their parents want them to. They would rather be playing football or watching TV.

If I decide to take on such a student (which I very reluctantly would), then s/he is not yet ready for piano lessons. S/he needs music lessons, that is, listening to a lot of music, participating in music groups activities (singing, drumming, clapping), the kind of stuff that you see in schools. For unless a child likes music, the whole enterprise will be a waste of time (and a torture session) for both teacher and student. The student, in short, must want to play the instrument. And it follows that s/he must want to play something specific. If you have that, then piano lesson may start straight away. In the words of an instructor of mine: “I am good shoemaker, and I can make very good shoes, but you must bring me good leather”.

What if the student does want to play the piano, but does not quite know what s/he likes? Or likes some abomination (“I want to play the last single of Britney Spears”)? Then I will provide a CD with over 70 pieces of different styles, periods, composers, all of superior repertory (not teaching pieces, mind you) and all manageable by any beginner. S/he is then given the assignment of choosing at least 5 pieces (or as many as s/he wants) from that list, and to arrange them in order of liking. Once I have the list I will have an idea of his/her musical tastes, and can suggest more pieces.

Part of piano practice is listening / watching (e.g.on Youtube) piano pieces with an exploratory aim. That is, the student is expected to listen /watch to as many pieces s/he can manage with the simple aim of finding out pieces s/he likes. Wanting to play the piece is the only criterion. In fact, this is also part of the piano lesson. Many times I may spend a whole lesson listening / watching anumber of pieces that may interest the student (Again, my primary concern is not to find pieces that are good for the student, or that will develop his playing, but rather find which pieces s/he likes)

Last edited by Bobpickle; 07/11/13 11:41 PM.

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#2116341 - 07/11/13 09:21 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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#2116344 - 07/11/13 09:36 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Bobpickle]  
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Originally Posted by Bobpickle
Originally Posted by Bernhard
Now of course, every now and then one comes across a student (the stuff of our nightmares) that when asked which piece they would like to play, stare blankly at you and mumble “I don´t know”. In my experience these are children who are coming to have piano lessons because their parents want them to. They would rather be playing football or watching TV.
Maybe. But sometimes the child is just shy. I've known children who do indeed love music but are unable to articulate this, and they don't know what they "should" say when asked this question. I don't see this as "the stuff of nightmares", but an opportunity. So it may end up that they have zero interest. But what they may just have is zero background.


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#2116345 - 07/11/13 09:38 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by currawong
came across many children whose imagination seemed to depend totally on the TV shows of the moment.

I had a "friend" like that as a kid; unfortunately she was the little girl who lived closest to me. Not that I didn't watch a ton of TV (as well as reading lots of books), but this girl would get upset if the details of our play diverged from the TV show. It took all the fun out of playing!


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#2116393 - 07/11/13 11:37 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: currawong]  
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Originally Posted by currawong
Originally Posted by Bobpickle
Originally Posted by Bernhard
Now of course, every now and then one comes across a student (the stuff of our nightmares) that when asked which piece they would like to play, stare blankly at you and mumble “I don´t know”. In my experience these are children who are coming to have piano lessons because their parents want them to. They would rather be playing football or watching TV.
Maybe. But sometimes the child is just shy. I've known children who do indeed love music but are unable to articulate this, and they don't know what they "should" say when asked this question. I don't see this as "the stuff of nightmares", but an opportunity. So it may end up that they have zero interest. But what they may just have is zero background.


Yeah, this does assume a level of comfort on the student's part. However, this could be ascertained from the parent as well - or the question could at least be posed in the initial interview when the parent is present so as to help make the environment as comfortable as possible. You make a good point, though.


Originally Posted by ezpiano.org
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Sure.


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#2116500 - 07/12/13 07:34 AM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Maybe, imagination and 'to express ourselves' lie close together, too.
I've had several students over the years who not only couldn't play the piano with feeling and expression (although some of them were pretty good pianists and I tried to show them how to do it), they didn't seem to miss expressing themselves.
I think that imagination is connected with our inner emotional world, and it has its roots in the personality of a person, but also can be influenced by the style of education and upbringing. And we all know that this is something concerning our students we have no influence - unfortunately.


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#2116601 - 07/12/13 01:11 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: pianomouse]  
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Originally Posted by pianomouse
And we all know that this is something concerning our students we have no influence - unfortunately.

But it certainly is worth a try!

When I teach piano, I don't just teach music. I teach the entire student, filling in gaps of knowledge and experience whenever and wherever it's necessary.

The education system here trains a bunch of robots without the ability of original, individual thought. So much import is placed upon getting the "correct" answer and teaching students to get the "correct" answer in the most efficient way possible (often through rote memorization). Thus, when I read the students' essays, science projects, or math homework, I don't see one ounce of originality. Even the very idea of conveying ideas coherently and cogently is a challenge for most kids.


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#2116671 - 07/12/13 04:01 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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This is so interesting. This child is only 5, yet seems to not experience an active fantasy life that most 5 yr olds seem to have. I even tried playing with an stuffed toy monkey with her and the only responses I got were facts about actual monkeys. She could not enter the make-believe world.

Cultural, perhaps? Parental environment?


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#2116676 - 07/12/13 04:12 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Parental environment.
I had a 5YO before that do not know anything about Disney cartoon whatsoever because parent won't allow TV at all at home.


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#2116677 - 07/12/13 04:12 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Autism Spectrum Disorder?

#2116679 - 07/12/13 04:17 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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I don't think this is autism. She has normal social interaction. I do know that her parents push push push academics. They tried to overinvolve themselves in her piano study until I told them to back off.


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#2116686 - 07/12/13 04:38 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Very interesting.
How is she doing musically? Does she smile when she plays?

#2116687 - 07/12/13 04:52 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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My older son first visited Disney when he was 5.
He had fun, exited to see every character, calling out loud the names, many that I don't even know.

That night, when we were walking to the parking lot after the fireworks, he finally expressed his disappointment: "They are all fake, just people in costumes!"

The world was just never the same to him ever since. cry

#2116688 - 07/12/13 05:00 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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She smiles when we talk, but not while she plays.


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#2116690 - 07/12/13 05:03 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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I've tried improvising with her and I've had her try creating her own pieces during the week (not writing them down, of course -- just creating). No luck.


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#2116694 - 07/12/13 05:15 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
They tried to overinvolve themselves in her piano study until I told them to back off.

And they listen to you?

Have you tried to tap into the kid's other senses (other than visual)? Maybe the kid is more in tune with her sense of smell and taste, and you can relate the intensity and feeling associated with these senses to the sound that you make at the piano.


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#2116697 - 07/12/13 05:20 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Actually, yes, they listened to me! I was shocked. But I've never blown up at a parent the way I did at this one. No, I didn't yell, but I certainly expressed my deep frustration. I think she was really surprised.



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#2116705 - 07/12/13 05:53 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
She smiles when we talk, but not while she plays.

I never smile when I play, and neither do my students, although they often smile when *I* play. smile


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#2119874 - 07/18/13 09:57 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
This is so interesting. This child is only 5, yet seems to not experience an active fantasy life that most 5 yr olds seem to have. I even tried playing with an stuffed toy monkey with her and the only responses I got were facts about actual monkeys. She could not enter the make-believe world.

Cultural, perhaps? Parental environment?


Perhaps too much structure at home, with no down time. Just a thought.

Interesting thread.


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#2119901 - 07/18/13 10:52 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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I've always thought my most important role was one of modeling [ not runway].....what I mean is I try to figure out how they learn and I adapt my teaching as necessary. I'd like to think the most important thing I do is share the love of the piano but it really is the love of humanity and their capabilities.

rada

I rarely show face emotion when I play...I don't want my listeners to watch my face....I want them to close their eyes and listen and if needed watch my hands....

#2120264 - 07/19/13 05:38 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
Actually, yes, they listened to me! I was shocked. But I've never blown up at a parent the way I did at this one. No, I didn't yell, but I certainly expressed my deep frustration. I think she was really surprised.



Minniemay, did the parent sit in on lessons and interrupt? How did the parent interfere? I would be very interested to learn how you expressed your frustration.


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#2120364 - 07/19/13 10:41 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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The parent interfered by doing everything counter to my instructions in home practice. The father was the offending parent, but I blew up at the mother because she was there.

It started with me inviting her into the lesson half way through and asking her some questions and offering some observations about what I saw happening with the child. When she described what the dad was doing at home (having previously been shown what was necessary and what should not be done), I actually started pulling at my hair and and telling her exactly how frustrated I was, that if this continued, I would not continue to teach them. I did actually raise my voice.

She took it seriously and things have been going better.

I think Barb nailed it on the head. These children are constantly structured and pushed. They are two girls that don't have dolls! I don't think imaginative play is encouraged.


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#2120428 - 07/20/13 05:49 AM Re: Imagination? [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
When I teach piano, I don't just teach music. I teach the entire student, filling in gaps of knowledge and experience whenever and wherever it's necessary.


You sound like a really good teacher. I teach high school kids (not music) and I often find myself attempting to teach them things like kindness, grace, manners, patience, general knowledge. I think lessons learned about life are just as important as the subject studied.


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#2120778 - 07/20/13 11:01 PM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
She smiles when we talk, but not while she plays.


I honestly don't know if this is on topic or not.

My handbell choir has mastered the "look of grim death."

I start every performance the same way. "Bells down." All bells on the table, all ringers at attention. "Bells up." All bells come simultaneously to the shoulder ready to ring. "Eyes up." All eyes fixed on me, ready for my downbeat. "Smiles up." Brief grudging attempt at a smile, followed by quick sag into "look of grim death." And then we play.

They enjoy it at some level, yet the concentration required for amateurs to perform in public seems to add considerable stress.

I rarely ring but have done so at festivals filling in for a vacancy, and I find that shortly after starting the music catches me and I can't stop that inane grin from spreading over my face. Same thing happens when I play brass, the embouchure demands may prevent a real smile but it's there internally.

I've also played piano for church services, at the ragged edge of my capability with a train wreck possible at every beat, and I guess it's not impossible I was unable to smile. Until it was over. <g>

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#2120848 - 07/21/13 03:32 AM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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"grim look of death" haha! So true!

I not only grimace when I play, but I adopt a variety of ugly concentration faces.


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#2120873 - 07/21/13 05:22 AM Re: Imagination? [Re: Minniemay]  
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Originally Posted by Toastie
I think lessons learned about life are just as important as the subject studied.


Personally, I think lessons learned about life are *more* important, especially with a subject like piano. Few of the pupils being talked about here will ever become professional musicians in any way, shape or form. Many will play for a few years, and then stop forever, or only play very occasionally after.

AZN has previously described some of his students as 'sheltered' and 'unused to adversity'. He might not be able to train all of them to become great pianists. But I guarantee that even those who stay with him for only a couple of years (and learn relatively little, musically) will remember him for having taught them how to persevere when things don't come falling out of the sky into your lap.

My second piano teacher, to whom I will be forever grateful, got me to the point where I could play one of Bach's Little Preludes in nine months or so. Which I gather isn't bad, but I never played it all that well. Far more importantly, to me, she taught me to be OK with making mistakes in front of others. Although that remains a work in progress (and will remain so for a long time, I think), I have to say that it's a skill that comes in handy far more often, and in a far wider variety of situations, than being able to sorta-kinda play a three-hundred-year-old piece of music.

So yes, do teach the entire student. Try to provide what the parents can't, or won't. Sit down with this girl, and make her listen to an epic orchestral work, and imagine the story that goes with it. Somewhere down the line, she'll be glad you did.


Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.
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