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#2266705 - 04/25/14 02:41 AM Student growing tall  
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pianoplayer84 Offline
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I have a student who has grown...quite possibly an entire foot... in the last year. His playing has come to a halt and even regressed slightly. I'm fairly sure the growing is the root of the problem, but I don't know if it is the cause for such a stand-still in his playing ability. He is 14, and is probably 6'2. What can I do to help him adjust to his rapidly growing body and hands? He is a very talented individual and I don't want to see him give up.

Originally posted this question in a different forum and was told this one would be more helpful. First time using the site smile

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#2266774 - 04/25/14 08:00 AM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Welcome to the Teacher's Forum! laugh

That is an interesting question, but wow, to grow a foot in a year, you are right to consider this a part of the issue. Not only physical changes and awkwardness, but the emotional changes getting confident in a new body.

First, however, I'd make sure he's practicing and find out how he practices. That is usually the root of all lack of progress. I don't think drawing attention to the fact that he's grown will help even if that plays a part in this. Instead, address it like, "we're playing much harder music and so the demands are different than it used to be."

Be very encouraging, and when preparing for a recital or performance, then you can address things like standing tall when walking to and from the piano, etc. Of course, don't let him slouch while playing, instead tell him how much better he looks when he sits with good posture.


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#2266913 - 04/25/14 01:07 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: Morodiene]  
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jdw Offline
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Originally Posted by Morodiene


First, however, I'd make sure he's practicing and find out how he practices. That is usually the root of all lack of progress. I don't think drawing attention to the fact that he's grown will help even if that plays a part in this. Instead, address it like, "we're playing much harder music and so the demands are different than it used to be."



Morodiene,

I'm curious why you think it wouldn't be helpful to mention the growth as a possible factor. I would have thought it could help--because it seems to me likely that the student is aware of lack of progress and could be getting frustrated. Having a possible cause that doesn't involve blame to him (and is temporary while getting used to growth) might be a relief.

Of course, I'm sure you're right that practice habits are likely contributing too.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
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#2267008 - 04/25/14 04:15 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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Gary D. Offline
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I grew almost that much in one year. It didn't slow me down in the least, so I would say other factors are at fault here.


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#2267020 - 04/25/14 04:33 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Many boys quit piano at age 14. It's an age thing, not a height thing.


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#2267078 - 04/25/14 06:28 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Many boys quit piano at age 14. It's an age thing, not a height thing.

Exactly!!!


Piano Teacher
#2267124 - 04/25/14 08:19 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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hreichgott Offline
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Everyone is a clumsy mess during growth spurts. Just work at whatever pace you can, and assure yourself (and him) that it will pass.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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#2267172 - 04/25/14 11:00 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: jdw]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by jdw
Originally Posted by Morodiene


First, however, I'd make sure he's practicing and find out how he practices. That is usually the root of all lack of progress. I don't think drawing attention to the fact that he's grown will help even if that plays a part in this. Instead, address it like, "we're playing much harder music and so the demands are different than it used to be."



Morodiene,

I'm curious why you think it wouldn't be helpful to mention the growth as a possible factor. I would have thought it could help--because it seems to me likely that the student is aware of lack of progress and could be getting frustrated. Having a possible cause that doesn't involve blame to him (and is temporary while getting used to growth) might be a relief.

Of course, I'm sure you're right that practice habits are likely contributing too.


I'm thinking more in terms of awkwardness. If you go through so much change all at once, someone who is sensitive to how things feel (more tactile learner) would definitely be thrown off by this. Not only that, but the emotional impact as well.


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#2267174 - 04/25/14 11:03 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: Gary D.]  
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Polyphonist Online content
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Many boys quit piano at age 14. It's an age thing, not a height thing.

Exactly!!!

+1 to that. I never had a problem.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2267193 - 04/25/14 11:49 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: Morodiene]  
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pianoplayer84 Offline
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He practices a minimum of two hours per week, and loves to play. He also plays tuba. I of course encourage a little more practice, and it very well could be that he is not practicing efficiently. I was just curious if the growth factor could contribute to some of the issues he is having. One of the things I am noticing is that he often moves too high or too low on the keyboard when there is a pattern like in a Waltz/Nocturne form where the first beat is lower with an octave+ hand position change for the following chord. I have asked him if he is enjoying playing and enjoying the pieces we are working on and he very enthusiastically states he loves to play and loves his pieces.

#2267200 - 04/26/14 12:53 AM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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Candywoman Offline
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I think the growth factor could have an impact. I once had a student who improved from age 6 to 13 and then actually regressed until she quit at about 15. It was the strangest thing. She practiced fairly consistently, but simply lost dexterity and the ability to focus. I could only attribute it to her age and the effects of peer pressure.

#2267254 - 04/26/14 06:16 AM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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musicpassion Online content
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I agree with the others who think physical growth isn't the main factor. While I understand the thinking... my experience just doesn't support it. I didn't experience that difficulty when I grew and I haven't observed it with my students either.

There are definitely challenges associated with that age, however. Emotional, peer pressure, changing school requirements, etc.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2267256 - 04/26/14 06:24 AM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
Joined: Dec 2012
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musicpassion Online content
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musicpassion  Online Content
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Originally Posted by pianoplayer84
He practices a minimum of two hours per week, and loves to play. He also plays tuba. I of course encourage a little more practice, and it very well could be that he is not practicing efficiently. I was just curious if the growth factor could contribute to some of the issues he is having. One of the things I am noticing is that he often moves too high or too low on the keyboard when there is a pattern like in a Waltz/Nocturne form where the first beat is lower with an octave+ hand position change for the following chord. I have asked him if he is enjoying playing and enjoying the pieces we are working on and he very enthusiastically states he loves to play and loves his pieces.

Sounds like you've got excellent music selections for him, then. Good work on that!
Practicing leaps is something all it's own. Try some practice with eyes closed might help the leaps.
I don't think he's getting anywhere near enough practice if he's serious about it. At his age, if it's important to him, 2 hours a week is very little time. For a recreational pianist an hour a day might be reasonable, which of course is 7 hours a week. If he really enjoys music, 2 hours a day might be a reasonable goal.


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#2267540 - 04/26/14 10:15 PM Re: Student growing tall [Re: musicpassion]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by musicpassion
Originally Posted by pianoplayer84
He practices a minimum of two hours per week, and loves to play. He also plays tuba. I of course encourage a little more practice, and it very well could be that he is not practicing efficiently. I was just curious if the growth factor could contribute to some of the issues he is having. One of the things I am noticing is that he often moves too high or too low on the keyboard when there is a pattern like in a Waltz/Nocturne form where the first beat is lower with an octave+ hand position change for the following chord. I have asked him if he is enjoying playing and enjoying the pieces we are working on and he very enthusiastically states he loves to play and loves his pieces.

Sounds like you've got excellent music selections for him, then. Good work on that!
Practicing leaps is something all it's own. Try some practice with eyes closed might help the leaps.
I don't think he's getting anywhere near enough practice if he's serious about it. At his age, if it's important to him, 2 hours a week is very little time. For a recreational pianist an hour a day might be reasonable, which of course is 7 hours a week. If he really enjoys music, 2 hours a day might be a reasonable goal.


Definitely 2 hours per week is not enough. That's only 15 minutes a day if he practices daily. That's the bare minimum I expect from my young beginners. The amount of time isn't as important, but still, it should be at least as long as his lessons.


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#2279174 - 05/21/14 10:05 AM Re: Student growing tall [Re: pianoplayer84]  
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Jonathan Baker Offline
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There is no point in discussing the boy's height with him since it leaves him with absolutely nothing to say because there is nothing he can do about it - a situation no adolescent enjoys. At 6'4" I have plenty to say on the subject, both sociologically and pianistically, but unless you have experience in your personal physical development with the subject that can be relayed to him for immediate practical value I would not raise the subject.

The 12 - 15 year old age group is so volatile! Any boy's hormones are off the charts. No longer a boy but not yet a man, he is neither fish nor fowl - and it is a miracle anyone survives that transition with their sanity intact. Being a steady and benevolent influence is perhaps the best you can offer in your position at this time.

My experience has revealed to me that talent is secondary to compelling curiosity. All the natural facility in the world means nothing if there is merely tepid or passive interest in a subject. If he is working two hours a week, that speaks for itself. I was working about four hours a day at that age, and nobody was pushing me. If an excellent student is working very hard, making great progress, then drops off suddenly, that is another matter, but that does not appear to be the case.

Knowing that he has a loyal mentor in you, and I believe your words clearly indicate that, probably has deeper long-term meaning for him than he can realize at this time. Sometimes music is another constructive conduit for general developmental growth, and more important that the mastery of this or that piece of music.


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