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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2508911 02/10/16 12:24 AM
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I keep giggling reading the fist post. Totally and happily clueless patent and child. I hope it gets better! If not, you won't need a lesson plan, it will be like groundhogs day, the same lesson over and over.
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I was asked to sit in on a lesson one time. I was very uncomfortable, it eas small and I felt like I was breathing to hard. My daughter has had lessons for everything and I have never been asked by the teacher to sit in.

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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2510167 02/13/16 02:47 PM
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Another couple of funny stories, Valentine's related-

1. Cute 1st grade boy comes in to wait for his lesson, and I notice he is holding a "bouquet" of lollipops. "Oh, sweet, I am getting a treat!" I thought. (This boy has brought me drawings and gifts before.)
During the lesson before his, I can smell the sugar as he is obviously eating a lolly.

I turn around to tell him when it time for him to unpack for his lesson, and FIVE lolly wrappers are on the desk. He ate them all!!

Oh well... I had teacher treats in the break room. smile

I asked him to do a few jumping jacks before we began his lesson.

2. 2nd grade girl hands me a treat box in the hallway- "these are for you, Miss Belle!" And I notice the box says they are from another student, TO the child in front of me.

She responds, "Yeah, I did not like the flavor so you can have the whole box!" (sour jellies)
I made a hands out motion, of "that's ok!" and the opened box tipped open and sour jelly beans rolled all around on the floor.
We both gathered them up on hands and knees before her very nice lesson. She is sweet girl that is very earnest, and tries.

(I tossed the box in the trash bin after she left.)

So, do you have any funnies or frustrations to share?


Learning as I teach.
Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2557911 07/21/16 09:47 AM
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Reviving my old thread!

Had sisters start lessons just for summer. After lesson three, mom informed me that oldest would be in band, playing flute, instead of singing in choir, for school in the fall, so therefore she would have to drop piano.??????? (No, child will not be taking flute lessons )

She then told me that for the youngest, it was very confusing having so many books, and that my assignment notebook had her using lesson book,to theory book, and then a song sheet, and then back to the lesson book, and she would rather I just did lesson book. It was too hard to flip around all the books.

She said it was disorganized.

I use Piano Adventures. Child is 1st grade.

Apparently mom does not want to mess up her manicured nails. At least she was reading the assignment notebook!

On the flip side, I have a senior that wants to study piano in college so we have been totally geeking out with theory and music history.

Somehow, I said, "this is Mac and cheese. We are going to turn it into a casserole". (by adding to the music- dynamics, artistry, interpretation, etc...). She laughed and complimented me for being fun and easy to explain things.

Honestly, I think I was just hungry at the time. 😂

How are YOUR summer lessons going?


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2557940 07/21/16 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
How are YOUR summer lessons going?

Most students came back from their summer vacations. My schedule is once again supremely busy. Several students are in the summer doldrums--it's like my trying to inspire the uninspirable--their little brains are sunbathing on the beach. And then there are several students who are making tremendous progress.


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
dogperson #2558034 07/22/16 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by dogperson
I asked AZN about the student who IS prepared, who DOES practice even though there is no parental involvement. What if the student is self-motivated without parental motivation and therefore is not clueless?

Sure, IF that ever happens, I'll be more than happy to teach these kids.

Do you enjoy asking hypothetical questions on situations that never (or rarely) exist?


If you read the thread, this was not a hypothetical question... but my own personal history. I find it difficult to believe I would be the only student that would fit this same scenerio.

The question about the flexibility of the rules is one that deserved an answer.


I just read NeuroTribes:
https://www.amazon.com/NeuroTribes-...9172&sr=8-1&keywords=neurotribes

While not deep in science, it was an excellent overall history of the recognition of autism spectrum disorders (some of which he feels should not be called disorders.)

There was one comment I thought relevant here. Most children in school, in the early years at least, learn because they are motivated to please the teacher. Some children have little social awareness and that concept is meaningless. They learn out of a pure desire to learn, and often get locked into a deep fascination with some single subject in great detail. Learning is its own reward, something that is not true for the majority.

Probably very few students start with a self motivating love of music - most are trying to please the parents and teachers, and maybe with luck some get hooked. Dogperson is maybe one of those exceptional self motivated people; they seem to be really rare.


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
TimR #2558058 07/22/16 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR

Most children in school, in the early years at least, learn because they are motivated to please the teacher. Some children have little social awareness and that concept is meaningless. They learn out of a pure desire to learn, and often get locked into a deep fascination with some single subject in great detail. Learning is its own reward, something that is not true for the majority.

Tim, we live in a time of labels. Everyone is "something", and until they get their own label, things are not quite right. wink

We have now gotten to the point where anyone with a passion and even an obsession for excelling in something is likely to at least be given the "Asperger's" label.

So a little kid who just has to hit a tennis ball against a well for hours is automatically labelled as being a bit weird. But that description fits many of the world's greatest tennis players.

I would say that extremely self-motivated, driven people are relatively rare, but so are extremely intelligent people.

The best students I have worked with had/have that kind of drive to make music. They aren't pleasing anyone but themselves, or at least their self-drive is what is at the heart of everything.

However, without any doubt a good percentage of these people are probably in the "spectrum", as it is now being defined.



Last edited by Gary D.; 07/22/16 11:23 AM.
Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2558088 07/22/16 04:39 PM
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Yes, my long winded diversion into yet another discussion of Asperger's and the autism spectrum obscured what I could have said more simply.

While we have an expectation kids will love learning for its own sake, that is rare. What motivates most children is the relationship with the teacher and the desire for approval. In lessons the parental involvement is a big part.

Then there are those few children less sensitive to social approval but driven by a different need.

I find this a bit weird, but. My parents have long since passed, I'm 63, but my 90 year old mother-in-law heard I'm still taking lessons, and she thinks it's a great idea and is very encouraging.


gotta go practice
Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2558095 07/22/16 05:59 PM
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A piano mom texted me yesterday. While on vacation, her son struck up a conversation with the accordion player ta the restaurant, all about the circle of fifths. The child is 10, and precociously wonderful.

He can also work an abucus and enjoys discussing coins.

He could be considered...odd...but his parents have taught him well to be respectful and to be considerate of others, esp. those who don't wish to hear a ten minute lesson on how many pennies were minted in random year.
😃


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2558106 07/22/16 07:19 PM
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An observation on this part:
Originally Posted by missbelle

She then told me that for the youngest, it was very confusing having so many books, and that my assignment notebook had her using lesson book,to theory book, and then a song sheet, and then back to the lesson book, and she would rather I just did lesson book. It was too hard to flip around all the books.

She said it was disorganized.

I use Piano Adventures. Child is 1st grade.

During my time at teacher's college we had educational psychology as one of the courses, but even more effective was the internship I had with one grade one teacher (what she taught went hand in hand with the ed. psych.). Namely, a young child cannot handle multiple instructions. Her example was as follows:

- for older children you might say "Do questions 1 - 12 on p. 25, and the problems on p. 6 in your problem books." For young children you say: "take out our spelling book" (wait until they have done so) "open to page 25" (wait until they have done so) "put your finger on question 1" etc. "Open your note books" and so on.
- In dismissing the class, it was also done step by step: stand up, row 1 line out the door, now row 2 etc.

Your instructions to this grade 1 student involves going back and forth between several books. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but the mother has to play a role. If she doesn't know that she must guide her child, and how, then those problems might be real.

Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
TimR #2558108 07/22/16 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR

While we have an expectation kids will love learning for its own sake, that is rare. What motivates most children is the relationship with the teacher and the desire for approval. In lessons the parental involvement is a big part.

Then there are those few children less sensitive to social approval but driven by a different need.

I agree in part, but have a different take on it. The love of learning for its own sake - the curiosity that drives young children - is indeed innate, but as a society we extinguish it. I first saw this when I was teaching grade 2 before having my own children. The kids had been bribed in kindergarten and grade 1 through rewards, trinkets, and punishment, and I was already fighting to revive curiosity at that age. I had to extinguish their desire to please me and reignite their natural curiosity, because it had already been damaged through those tactics. Fortunately at that age it was not too late. To a large measure the "social approval" thing has been created by our society and its institutions. That is why I am against the idea of extrinsic rewards, esp. when done excessively.

Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
keystring #2558127 07/22/16 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by TimR

While we have an expectation kids will love learning for its own sake, that is rare. What motivates most children is the relationship with the teacher and the desire for approval. In lessons the parental involvement is a big part.

Then there are those few children less sensitive to social approval but driven by a different need.

I agree in part, but have a different take on it. The love of learning for its own sake - the curiosity that drives young children - is indeed innate, but as a society we extinguish it. I first saw this when I was teaching grade 2 before having my own children. The kids had been bribed in kindergarten and grade 1 through rewards, trinkets, and punishment, and I was already fighting to revive curiosity at that age. I had to extinguish their desire to please me and reignite their natural curiosity, because it had already been damaged through those tactics. Fortunately at that age it was not too late. To a large measure the "social approval" thing has been created by our society and its institutions. That is why I am against the idea of extrinsic rewards, esp. when done excessively.


That's a very interesting tak on this subject, and one I hadn't considered.

You could very well be right on this. I'll have to think about it a bit. It may affect how I approach my students.


gotta go practice
Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
AZNpiano #2558136 07/23/16 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I have a similar student, a transfer wreck, with over 5 years of piano "lessons." She showed up today without the books I told her mother to order online. She can't read bass clef. She gets confused by finger numbers. She just HAS to put her thumb on middle C--I corrected her several times, and it's like her thumb is literally attached to middle C. She doesn't know what "step up" or "skip down" means. And she takes private singing lessons and plays clarinet at school!?? Either she's a complete airhead or we have some really incompetent music teachers in the area. Or maybe it's both!
We started over from scratch. 5 years of piano lessons flushed down the toilet.
May be worth to rebuild the concept of lessons so that there was an atmosphere of children's game - fun, in which music, notes, keys are the constituent elements.






Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
missbelle #2558839 07/26/16 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by missbelle
New student, 2nd grade, comes to my piano room in a private K-12 school, about 3pm, with mom, for her very first piano lesson, ever.

First lesson-
I always ask in my intro letter to have the student bring to me a written statement of WHY they are taking piano lessons, and then I assess what books to use, and ask, do they have a piano. (Yes, I have had students with no piano, not even a keyboard. Yikes!)

I offer to buy the books but the mom has to let me know in three days so I can plan a trip to the music store. If she does not let me know, I assume MOM will get the books on her own.

(I have extra books, but that is my standard line. Lets me see how the parent is on follow-through and communication.)

I provide a binder with some pages to do with finger numbers and some keyboard topography and exploration, and write what to do in the assignment notebook, after demonstrating, and having the student try it, also. Get hands on the piano and explore- so exciting!

Second lesson-
girl comes alone, with only the binder, no assignment notebook, no books.
"I think my mom bought them, but the order has not come in yet."

So, I write out the assignments on a small composition notebook page (smaller, so the pages can be later taped into the regular sized spiral assignment notebook)
and we work through the binder pages.

Ooops, nothing done. Girl said she did not understand. I asked her to show me what she did not get, and she confessed that she had not practiced at all. Mom had not reminded her, she stated.

At end of 2nd lesson, mom picked her up, with money to pay for the books.

Fortunately, I had the extras with me, and hurriedly handed them over.

Normally, I make a big deal of giving the student a choice of colored marker to write their name on the cover, and peruse the books a bit, to entice them. Missed opportunity.

Third lesson-
Girl shows up alone again, empty handed.
What???

"Mom and I wondered if I should bring my books, but were not sure, so we did not pack them."

I review items from the first intro lesson, and she has still not practiced, at all.

Sweet girl, just hampered by cluelesness.

End of third lesson-
greet mom in hallway, with two other families less than three feet away, and we have a brief chat about YES, please bring ALL materials and books to lessons.

The mom responded, just like her daughter, 'Yes, we both wondered about that, but we are new to piano lessons, have never done it before, so we were not sure what to do!"

A mom behind her had to struggle to not have her jaw hit the floor.

And the girl bounced down the hallway with her mom, off until next week.

I was so shocked that it did not dawn on me until that evening back home, that in my intro letter,I literally spell out what to bring, in bold font!

I have been teaching for years, and have many that "forget to practice" or forget to bring books, or have to deal with nannies more than parents, etc...

but I have never had such blithe "oh, well, we just la di da through life and really do not care that we are three weeks behind by lesson four."

I get paid regardless, through the school, as the parents pay up front per semester.

Now, I have over 30 students, and have been complimented on how patient I am, especially with young students...
Did things improve with this student from your original post?


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
Nahum #2558896 07/26/16 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I have a similar student, a transfer wreck, with over 5 years of piano "lessons." She showed up today without the books I told her mother to order online. She can't read bass clef. She gets confused by finger numbers. She just HAS to put her thumb on middle C--I corrected her several times, and it's like her thumb is literally attached to middle C. She doesn't know what "step up" or "skip down" means. And she takes private singing lessons and plays clarinet at school!?? Either she's a complete airhead or we have some really incompetent music teachers in the area. Or maybe it's both!
We started over from scratch. 5 years of piano lessons flushed down the toilet.
May be worth to rebuild the concept of lessons so that there was an atmosphere of children's game - fun, in which music, notes, keys are the constituent elements.

This is an old thread. The student in question has since moved on to my colleague, who also started her over with 5-finger patterns. Then she quit piano for good.

Nobody can teach this kid. Nobody.


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
AZNpiano #2558968 07/26/16 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Nobody can teach this kid. Nobody.
Ie You say the following: she doesn't have a musical ear, doesn't sing a single song, because no one can teach her to sing?

Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
Nahum #2558988 07/27/16 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Nobody can teach this kid. Nobody.
Ie You say the following: she doesn't have a musical ear, doesn't sing a single song, because no one can teach her to sing?

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. How did you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion? wow


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
AZNpiano #2559018 07/27/16 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. How did you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion? wow
Then you say that child has an ear for music, can sing songs and can learn a new one?

Last edited by Nahum; 07/27/16 09:33 AM.
Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
AZNpiano #2559084 07/27/16 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by DameMyra
I also cannot understand parents, especially of younger students, who don't sit in on lessons. I have a six year old and was only able to get his mother to sit in on the first lesson.

These are parents who can't be bothered!! I deal with these people on a weekly basis.

In these cases, I just treat it like a job. To pay bills. I don't get emotionally or intellectually invested in these children. They can sink or swim on their own.


AZN, this is exactly what I mean about cases where a teacher has no choice but to lower expectations -- we are not miracle workers. We do our best in every lesson to inspire and educate, but once they walk out of the lesson room, it is sink or swim on their own.


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
Nahum #2559087 07/27/16 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. How did you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion? wow
Then you say that child has an ear for music, can sing songs and can learn a new one?

Again, I don't know how you arrived at that conclusion. yawn


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Re: Really? Just a short story about a beginner
chasingrainbows #2559093 07/27/16 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, this is exactly what I mean about cases where a teacher has no choice but to lower expectations -- we are not miracle workers. We do our best in every lesson to inspire and educate, but once they walk out of the lesson room, it is sink or swim on their own.

Okay, maybe it's time to play the percentages. Are you saying that 95% of your students are the "sink or swim" type?

For me, I just fired four of those "sink or swim" students this past month. My schedule is still somewhat cluttered, but it feels much better now, and I have more flexibility. As a result:

70% of my current students are on track to getting to Advanced Level. A few are already there.

20% of my students are the recreational "have fun" students. But I like them and enjoy working with them.

10% of my students are waiting to be fired.

I can be vociferous about the 10%, but that doesn't mean I'm going to lower my expectations for the 70%.

I do lower my expectations for the 20%, but they are enjoying the process, and I don't mind spending time with these students, who are genuinely having fun.

Hopefully, this makes things clear. I think we are talking past each other.


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